Despite all the dire predictions and player withdrawals due, supposedly, to over-hyped Zika virus fears, the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics golf turned out to be a fantastic sporting event last August.
Then last October, the biennial Ryder Cup between the United States and Europe was as exciting as it has even been. First-pumping and trash-talking are golf taboos, but the crowds, and the players loved it.
The Olympic golf format was standard stroke play. Four days, four rounds, lowest total score wins. Great Britain’s Justin Rose took the gold medal over Sweden’s Henrik Stenson by two stokes in a great tournament.
But other than the medal ceremony, it was little different from any other tournament on the PGA tour. The Olympics are about representing your county, so why not shake things up and make it a scramble.
In stroke play, which is how most golf tourneys are configured, it is every golfer for himself or herself.
But in a scramble, it is a team format. It is usually four players, but it can be two or three. Each player tees off. Then the group decides on the best lie, then they all hit again from there. That process is continued until the ball is in the cup.
Like most golfers, I’ve played in a lot of four-man scrambles. I’ve seen scores in the mid-to-low 50s win most of the time. Usually the top teams contain a couple of former college golfers who can really play. But none involved PGA tour pros.
Also, while I would never call anyone a cheater, let’s just say a little fuzzy math might be involved on some scorecards from time to time.
But think about the possibilities. Four professional golfers. On the same team. How low could they go? Of course PGA courses are set up longer and tougher than your local country club events.
The lowest recorded score in a PGA event is a 58 by Jim Furyk in 2016 on a par 70 course. He shot a 12-under. So assume a course with a par of 70. Birdie on every hole gets you to an 18-under 52.
An eagle, or two under, on each hole, would yield a 34. That is completely unrealistic, as it would require a hole in one on every par three. Not even a foursome of PGA pros is going to do that. But if you assume a birdie on every hole, plus a few eagles mixed in, a 21-under would card a 49.
Could a team of four PGA players do it? Could they break 50? How low could they go into the 40s? Throw in a few mulligans and I bet we could really have some fun.