Golf is in good hands with a young core of players keeping the sport fun

Published 4:12 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What a fun time to be watching golf.

Sunday, first-time major winner Justin Thomas went on a birdie spree to claim the PGA Championship. This guy is 24 years old and only just beginning what is sure to be an illustrious career in the PGA. Four wins this year is quite the accomplishment.

He should celebrate now, but his win means more for what’s to come.

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Thomas is a cornerstone player in the most recent paradigm shift in the golfing world. After the rather stale years following Tiger Woods’ fall from grace, a new, extremely young crew of players is carving their names into this sport’s 800-year-old lore.

Let’s just look at this year’s major winners: The Masters, Sergio Garcia; the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka; The Open, Jordan Spieth; PGA Championship, Justin Thomas. The average age of this bunch is 28, and it’s only that high because of the outlier that is Sergio (37). The other three are still in their 20s, the last two barely 24.

With youth comes excitement, I think. It brings a more rambunctious energy that is contagious. To find the center of that energy, we can look at the four guys who make up the annual Spring Break Crew. Spieth, Thomas, Smylie Kaufman and Rickie Fowler take a trip to an exotic location every spring and document the entire adventure on social media. You can find the images pretty easily on Google, and to say they have a blast is an understatement.

It’s nothing inappropriate or vile, just kids living it up (responsibly) and enjoying the successes of their careers.

That kind of energy is then brought to the golf course when it’s time to compete. When they succeed, it’s an explosion. People just love to see these guys win.

When Spieth holed out from the bunker at the Traveler’s last month, his chest bump with caddie Michael Greller was the talk of the sport for the rest of the week.

When Thomas finished his round yesterday, Spieth and Fowler were waiting for their friend by the 18th green, giving him high fives (and slapping his bottom).

That’s what these guys are becoming known for: winning and rooting each other on. They form the foundation of a young, fresh era of players that bring more vigor to golf without abandoning the tradition and decorum.

I’m all for it.