PGA Tour Confidential: Phil's schedule strategy, Tiger vs. Rory and our favorite courses in Scotland

Phil Mickelson
Getty Images
Scotland's Cruden Bay: Alan Shipnuck wishes he was here.

5. What accounts for the decline of high-profile hit-and-giggle golf events like the Skins Game and the Battles of Bighorn? Do you miss them?

LYNCH: I suspect those events died for lack of genuine characters in the game today. Fred Couples drove home a Brinks truck from the Skins Game for years, but you'd have to be feeling very charitable to call Couples one of the game's more engaging characters. The Skins Game initially worked because it was lively old legends who had spent a lifetime selling the game, not bland pros for whom it was just another stop on the way to the bank. The first Skins Game featured Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Watson. The last three winners were K.J. Choi and Stephen Ames twice. Who giggled at that? Other than Stephen Ames. If we're looking for good golf-as-entertainment, bring back Shell's Wonderful World of Golf -- legends facing off at fantastic courses. Just make it match play. And don't invite dull pros.

BAMBERGER: They never did anything for me. They're dying or dead because payday-golf has been devalued. Every week offers the promise of a change-your-life payday.

SHIPNUCK: The money got so big during the real season that no top pros were motivated to play in the Silly Season. And without star power, the events were doomed. Which is fine by me -- I never loved 'em anyway. 

PASSOV: I miss the days when I actually found them to be compelling theater -- as in the 1980s Skins Games. When Fred Funk took to wearing an "Annika" skirt at one of the Skins Games, however, it reminded me that I had some work to catch up on. If the organizers and players weren't going to take it seriously, neither would I. Gotta say, I still like the Father-Son event. I think that means something to those guys. 

RITTER: I liked watching them, but low TV ratings did them in. Golf needs more rivalries that are fueled by actual dislike between players. Tiger and Rory are two of the best players in the game, but they're buddies. I doubt their match would move the ratings needle, and TV people must also agree.

VAN SICKLE: Those silly season events lost their calling card. The Skins Game was for $1 million, big money at one time. Now players like Phil and Tiger get bigger appearance fees for a week than that. Also, it needs chatter and lively personalities to carry the show and that pretty much went away once Fred Funk wasn't invited. I was always partial to the Skills Challenge, where pros tried a variety of different shots. That was fun to see just how good these guys are, like watching Chi Chi spin a wedge shot through a tree. An exhibition match would be slightly more watchable if it was match play, not stroke play.  

6. In the November issue of Golf Magazine, our own Alan Shipnuck wrote about his dream buddies’ trip to Scotland to celebrate his 40th birthday and named Cruden Bay his favorite Scottish course. What’s your favorite course in Scotland and why?

BAMBERGER: Elie in the wind, with a friend. The Old Course in the sunshine. Machrihanish with my wife walking with me. Auchnafree in my dreams.

PASSOV: The Old Course at St. Andrews is still my favorite. It's not the quirkiest or the most attractive, but it is relentlessly fascinating, and it’s the tee time I covet the most. The sense of history is so overwhelming, it never fails to affect me. As Herb Kohler once told me, "Do you realize that they were playing golf at St. Andrews before people realized the world was round?" I think of that every time I'm there.

VAN SICKLE: There's something about the lighthouse, castle ruins, airmen memorial, gorse, ocean views and sunsets at Turnberry that put it over the top. I'd never pass up a chance to play the Old Course in St. Andrews, where history drips off every old roof in town, or the two courses just up the road, Kingsbarns and Crail.

LYNCH: The Old Course for architecture and history, Turnberry for aesthetics, and North Berwick for sheer, unadulterated fun. Oh, and Muirfield for po-faced members.

RITTER: St. Andrews because it's a blast and you feel the history as you make the walk. It's also nice that the course doesn't beat you up too badly in between all those pauses to snap photos.

SHIPNUCK: Cruden Bay, obvs. The place is simply magical.

The PGA Tour Confidential debate continues Monday on our new weekly show hosted by Jessica Marksbury. Tweet her your questions @Jess_Marksbury.

Forecast
PGA Tour News
Trips
Travel & Courses
Lessons
Tips & Videos
The Shop
Equipment News & Reviews