“OFF the FRINGE” – Golf Commentary by Ed Travis

Welcome to the first edition of "Off The Fringe" created by award-winning golf scribe Ed Travis. In golf, "Fringe" refers to any grass adjoining the putting surface that is mowed to a height only slightly higher than the grass on the putting green.

Off the Fringe” is a new feature with our take on some of the current topics in our game. Think of it as what might be brought up sitting with friends after a round and as always, some will have opinions with which you agree and some you won’t.

SSG PGA Tour Investment

So a group, the Strategic Sports Group, is anteing up to $3 billion to invest in the new PGA Tour “for profit” subsidiary with players having an ownership stake. This obviously provides some breathing room for the Tour in its ongoing battle with the Saudi’s LIV Golf. By now the two were to have had a merger agreement in place but they don’t and there’s no completion date in sight. The SSG money can be used to fund Signature Event purses with the idea of retaining Tour stars from jumping to LIV as Jon Rahm did recently. A big problem for the Tour though is that besides key tournament sponsors like Honda, Farmers and Wells Fargo opting to drop their events the Department of Justice still hasn’t signed off on the LIV merger. The uncertainty of pro golf’s future is starting to turn off fans. The solution to rekindle fan interest is if somehow, someway is having the top players–McIlroy, Spieth, Scheffler, Koepka, Rahm, etc.–play against each other every week. Don’t hold your breath.

PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan (left) and John W. Henry, Principal Owner of Fenway Sports Group and Manager of the Strategic Sports Group, finalize the launch of PGA TOUR Enterprises. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

LPGA Majors for 2024

The “Old Course at St. Andrews” heads the list of major tracks where the LPGA will contend its five majors for the 2024 season, however the rest of the venues are impressive and speaks to the continued growth in stature of the Tour not to mention the quality of the play. The Chevron Championship is at the The Woodlands Carlton Club, the U.S. Women’s Open plays over Lancaster Country Club, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., the Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-Les-Bains, France. The major season concludes with the AIG Women’s Open at St. Andrews, The Old Course.

Perhaps due to the turmoil in men’s professional golf fans are taking more interest in the LPGA Tour. For 2024 there are 33 events and season prize money will be a total of $118 million which is up $3 million from 2023.

All in the Cole Family

Eric Cole received the 2023 Arnold Palmer Award as PGA Tour Rookie of the Year but at 35 wasn’t the oldest to win, that was Todd Hamilton at 38 back in 2004. However, he did participate in a mother/son record that likely will never be broken. His mother Laura Baugh was the LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 1973.

In 1973 Laura Baugh was LPGA Rookie of the Year and her 35-year-old son Eric Cole earned 2023 Rookie of the Year honors 50 years after his mother did so on the LPGA Tour.

Seems Like Only Yesterday

Jack Nicklaus turned 83 in January, but for some of us it seems like only a short time ago he became a professional and won his first tournament, the 1962 U.S. Open.  Of course back then, he was in the process of dethroning “The King“, Arnold Palmer, and was tagged with the nick name of “Ohio Fats.”

PGA Tour Calendar Year

It’s obvious the PGA Tour’s switch back to a calendar year schedule from the awkward September through August schedule was the correct move. The 2024 season has 38 events plus the FedExCup Fall series which can be seen as the “Second Chance Tour” for those needing to boost their standings for the regular season. Eight Signature Events (the first was last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am) of the 38 have raised a controversy since they are limited field (80 players) and some toursters don’t care for the restriction of their playing opportunities. The answer to this is as always…play better.

While Out Getting a Beer

They must have changed the rules of arithmetic while I was out of the room. Every week you hear golf coverage announcers say if a player is two strokes back “He’s within two of the lead.” Doesn’t he have to be one back to be within two? Or is it one and a half?

Tiger Woods may soon be debuting a new clothing line with TaylorMade called “Tiger Red.”

Tiger’s Switch

The PGAT/LIV mess isn’t the only drama in men’s professional golf. Tiger Woods kicked Nike to the curb after 27-years to launch his own clothing brand in partnership with TaylorMade Golf said to be called Sunday Red. Coverage by the media of this ho-hum event because it is Tiger was intensive but then, some of my fellow journalists find drama in changing their brand of toothpaste.

Lexi’s Switch

Speaking of drama, fan-favorite LPGA star Lexi Thompson dropped her ball deal with Bridgestone and company CEO Dan Murphy said, “After a long and prosperous relationship, Bridgestone Golf and Lexi have parted ways. We thank her for her years of support and partnership.” Lexi is leaving behind Bridgestone’s other top staff member Tiger Woods, and she has signed with Dick’s Sporting Goods to play their Maxfli ball, a brand without any other staff professionals.

Enjoy your week and keep it in the short grass! – E.T.




Ed is a national award-winning golf journalist and has carried on a lifelong love affair with the game. His work covering the business of golf, equipment, golf personalities and travel is prominently featured in numerous print and electronic publications. He has competed in tournament golf both as an amateur and senior professional and though his competitive days are behind him, Ed still plays regularly and carries a handicap of 4. He lives on a water hazard in suburban Orlando. His email address is GolfScribe@outlook.com.

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