Elite professional golfers Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff will face off on Sunday, May 17 in a televised match at the famed Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla.
The event, called the TaylorMade Driving Relief Skins Game, will provide millions of dollars to the relief effort in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be a team game skins game, with McIlroy and Johnson's winnings pledged to the American Nurses Foundation. Fowler and Wolff have designated the CDC Foundation as the recipient of their earnings. Farmers Insurance has also pledged $1 million to Off Their Plate, an organization aiding healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.
The event will be broadcast live from 2-6 p.m. (ET) on NBC, Golf Channel, NBCSN and Sky Sports, and will be streamed for free on PGA Tour Live (NBC Sports Gold and Amazon Prime Video), GolfPass and GolfChannel.com.
The event should be a welcome respite for fans, who have had precious little in the way of live golf to enjoy since the PGA Tour season ground to a complete halt after the first round of The Players Championship on March 12. McIlroy and Johnson are #1 and #5 in the Official World Golf Rankings, respectively. Fowler (#27) is one of the game's most personable and marketable players, and Wolff (#110), who dazzled fans in his maiden PGA Tour victory at last year's 3M Championship, is part of the latest crop of exciting talent to come out of the college ranks. His unique, homegrown swing is another part of his appeal.
Great golfers (and viewers) deserve a world-class course
There is a long history of televised golf matches at famous golf courses, going back to the early days of Shell's Wonderful World of Golf, which in 1962 pitted Gene Littler and Byron Nelson against each other at Pine Valley Golf Club, long considered America's greatest course. In recent years, however, both regular events and the occasional made-for-TV affairs have mostly been held at courses that are functional, but not memorable.
Opportunity to see Ross' Seminole Golf Club
A member of the elite ranks of golf courses that has never been televised before, Seminole breaks that mold, ranking #12 on the most recent Golf Digest 'America's 100 Greatest Courses' list, and #13 on Golfweek's latest 'Top 200 Classic Courses' list.
Opened in 1929, Seminole was designed by Donald Ross. Dick Wilson made some adjustments after World War II and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have restored aspects of the course's original character in the last five years. It sits on a trapezoid-shaped plot of land facing the Atlantic Ocean, making it one of a just a handful of Florida courses where the great blue expanse is within sight. A sandy ridge runs through part of the property, giving the course a surprising amount of elevation change. Coore and Crenshaw reintroduced sandy rough areas to much of the course, giving it an appropriately beachy flair. The compact routing keeps the course from being stretched much past its current back-tee measurement of 6,866 yards, but the quartet of PGA Tour pros competing there will have their hands full with one of the most challenging sets of green complexes in the game, plus a virtually guaranteed healthy ocean breeze.
"Each hole has subtle features that require focus to notice and appreciate and the par 3s are as fine and stern a set of 3s [as] you can find anywhere," writes Golf Channel's Gary Williams in his 2013 review of the course. Few know the course better than Williams; he once served as an assistant pro at the club under legendary head professional Bob Ford.
There are better golf courses in America but there is no better experience if you love golf history and appreciate a true celebration of it on a daily basis. It is a day to cherish.
Seminole's architectural significance and natural splendor make it an ideal choice for an event that seeks to maximize exposure for the noble causes it will serve. With a stripped-down production effort, the players and the course should shine equally. It is also a wise move on the club's part, as this experience should inform the production of the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole next May. In 2025, that event will give spectators and TV viewers another tantalizing look at one of America's greatest and most exclusive courses: Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, Calif.
For golfers who have long heard about what a treat it is to play Seminole but have never scored a coveted invitation to play it, May 17's match will be appointment television.