Much of the golf news of late has been dominated by two things; the LIV Golf Tour and Matt Fitzpatrick’s U.S. Open Championship at Brookline. While they’re outwardly completely separate elements, they each have something in common with our goal for National Match Play.
If you somehow missed it, Fitzpatrick’s triumph at The Country Club in Brookline, MA wasn’t his first victory on that course. As has been widely reported, Fitzpatrick also won the U.S. Amateur at TCC in 2013. To me, Fitzpatrick winning the Amateur is notable, because just like NMP, the knockout rounds are head-to-head match play competitions. That makes it one of few major golf competitions (the Ryder Cup, President’s Cup, and WGC Match Play being the most prominent) that use the match play format to determine a champion. For my money, the advantage National Match Play offers is that players of all skill levels can compete head-to-head and with the ability to stay in contention even if you have some tough holes.
The other thing I find notable about Matt Fitzpatrick is his size. Checking in at about 5’10”, 155 lbs, Fitzpatrick isn’t a big guy by current Tour standards. But at the Open — and everywhere else on the Tour lately — he was among the longest hitters off the tee while often outdriving the bigger, stronger players. Granted, those of us who aren’t pro golfers don’t have the time or money for a full-time swing coach, high-tech swing analysis and endless hours on the range. But ultimately, Fitzpatrick’s rise does reinforce my belief that anyone can have fun and be competitive in golf with players of equal skill. And that’s the goal of NMP!
Aside from Matt Fitzpatrick’s Open win, the LIV Golf Tour has been generating plenty of headlines, and they haven’t all been favorable. While everyone certainly has their own opinion of the LIV Tour, the money behind it, the players who’ve chosen to participate, and their rationale for doing so, I want to focus on two other elements.
The one thing the LIV Tour is doing to draw more interest is the team play format. The golf traditionalist may not appreciate it, but it is at least an attempt to make golf more fun for players and the fans. Again, many may not see the value in that, but for me, it’s an attempt to liven up stroke play, create more excitement, keep more players and fans involved, and make golf more enjoyable.
The second element I find interesting about the LIV Tour storyline is how it might wind up affecting the Ryder Cup teams. While players who’ve cast their lot with the LIV Tour have been banned from the PGA Tour, how that might apply to a player’s eligibility to play or coach in the Ryder Cup has yet to be determined. Whether that will ultimately mean some new faces or the same familiar names from recent Ryder Cups is creating plenty of speculation in the media. Either way, it promises to shine a brighter spotlight on the Ryder Cup. And that will mean more interest in the match play format, and that will, by extension, let more golfers see the fun and excitement to be had with National Match Play.
Regardless of who competes for the Ryder Cup, we’ll still be crowning the inaugural National Match Play Champion in Austin this December. Think it could be you and a partner? You’ll never know till you tee it up, so sign up soon!