What If the PGA Tour Held a NFL-Like Combine?

By Jon Ackerman 02/24/2014

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    With the NFL Draft Combine in full swing, football prospects are getting tested, analyzed, judged, poked and prodded with the hopes of improving their status in the upcoming NFL Draft. They run to show speed, bench press to show strength, and wear a lot of spandex to show size.

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    What if golf used "tryouts" like this to find its next PGA Tour stars? What if the tour invited a few dozen of the highest performers from the college ranks and ran the prospects through drills to gauge how they'd perform at the next level? And just like NFL prospects can improve their draft status at the combine, the golfers can improve their status on the pro tours by performing well at the golf combine.

    Taking some existing football combine drills and mixing them with some new but familiar maneuvers, the PGA Tour Combine might look something like this:

    40-Yard Dash Putt: Golfers sprint 40 yards to a caddie holding their putter. Upon arriving at the green, they have five seconds to sink a 15-foot putt. They repeat until a putt is made.

    Purpose: Get the player's heart racing to replicate how they might perform when needing to sink a pressure-packed putt to win a tournament.

    Bench Press: NFL prospects bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible; let's knock 100 pounds off that and see how the golfers do.

    Purpose: Strength correlates to distance off the tee, and ability to swing through thick U.S. Open rough. Or if you're Victor Dubuisson, swing through cacti.

    Vertical Jump: The athletes stand flat-footed before squatting, jumping and reaching their hand as high as possible.

    Purpose: Judge a player's lower-body power. Strong legs come into play on those awkward bunker shots, or when you're ducking underneath a tree. Also, the higher the jump, the better a golfer's celebration ability. Remember Phil Mickelson after the winning his first major, the 2004 Masters? That leap of joy was pathetic. The iconic photo could've been so much better had he worked on his jumping ability prior to a PGA Tour Combine.

    Mile Run: The golfers are timed in a mile run, which must be completed in less than nine minutes.

    Purpose: Pace of play is really an issue these days on the PGA Tour. Guys coming up need to work on their endurance so they can pick up their pace between shots. Slower golfers might find themselves with less status, and thus fewer tournaments, which encourages more time on the treadmill.

    Target Practice (guns): Set up targets on the driving range and hand each player a rifle. May also be done after running a sprint.

    Purpose: Accuracy with guns indicates one's ability to line up putts. And if done after sprints, scouts can again judge a player's ability to control their heart rate.

    Target Practice (wedges): Obviously, scouts need to see these prospects hit some golf balls. Set up targets five yards in radius 50, 100 and 150 yards away from a tee box, to both the golfer's right and left. Sort of like Rory McIlroy's battle with the robot.

    Purpose: To judge a player's wedge play. The more shots a prospect lands within the targets, the higher their PGA Tour status becomes.

    Test Drives: We're going to need to hold this golf combine near a football field to accommodate this last drill. The golfers line up 200 yards behind the gridiron and get 10 swings to land as many of their drives on the field as they can. Football fields are 53 yards wide.

    Purpose: To test a player's driving accuracy. Bonus points go to players who send their drives through the goalposts and/or stop their balls within the hash marks on the football field, which are six yards apart, the same width as the goalposts.

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