Max Homa defends ‘risky’ golf TV innovation one year after debut

Max Homa defends ‘risky’ golf TV innovation one year after debut

Max Homa bites his golf glove during the 2024 Sentry

Max Homa won the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open after making some golf TV history.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

One year ago this week, Max Homa took part in a little bit of pro golf and TV history at the 2023 Farmers Insurance Open. The star American pro agreed to be the first subject of a mid-round “walk-and-talk” interview.

Despite causing a small amount of controversy, the innovation, stolen from similar interviews in other professional sports, worked out quite well for CBS, the PGA Tour and Homa; he went on to capture his sixth PGA Tour victory that week.

But at Homa’s pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, his title defense was the not the first subject broached by reporters. Instead, Homa’s “historic” walk-and-talk was the topic of choice, and Homa was happy to sit and talk about it.

In detailed answers, Homa explained that while the idea was “risky,” it had turned out to be a success, and he fully supports pro golf going further in that direction.

“I think that the walk-and-talk at least was kind of something risky and different, but I think it turned out quite good,” Homa said on Tuesday. “I’m sure there’s other variations that we could do, but just in general I think that’s kind of the direction at least, I’ll just speak for myself, I’d like to see golf go do. It’s not too crazy, it’s not too unbelievable to have people do something like that. I thought that it was nice.”

While Homa didn’t directly acknowledge any detractors against the walk-and-talks, he did mount a justification for innovations like it. In short, pro golfers need to start acting like “entertainers” to attract viewers in a crowded sports landscape.

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“I think it went really well with all the guys who went and did it. I contend that when we were kind of first talking about doing it, it wasn’t necessarily that this was the end all be all, but I think we as players need to make it as a tour was to start to realize that we’re entertainers, we’re not just necessarily great golfers,” Homa argued. “So we need to entertain people and I think maybe getting out of your comfort zone here and there and doing something to give back to the viewership so that it gives them, one, a reason to watch and two, to keep watching.”

While some critics worried the mid-round interviews would interfere with players’ games, Homa’s victory last year after participating in the very first walk-and-talk provided the perfect counterpoint, which he acknowledged on Tuesday.

“I mean, it’s nice to do it and then win and then look at people who said it might be distracting and then at least have that to say.”

When the topic came up again later in the press conference, Homa used the examples of two of his favorite pro sports, the NBA and MLB, to further argue in favor of making risky innovations in pro golf.

“I just think that the main point is like [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver, [MLB Commissioner] Rob Manfred this year did two things in their sports that I thought were insane,” Homa said. “In-season basketball tournament I thought was a terrible idea, courts looked weird. And the pitch clock was crazy, I thought that was never going to work and wasn’t going to make enough of a difference. They seemed really extreme.”

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But, as he went on to explain, both ideas turned out to be big successes.

“I absolutely loved what they did in baseball. It was from day one you were getting a strike called on you if you weren’t in the box ready to hit. I was watching baseball games in 90 minutes sometimes and it was fascinating. Yeah, it was a jump and it was a stretch, but it worked. And then the in-season tournament, I would turn on a game and see these crazy courts and immediately know this was an important basketball game.”

The way Homa sees it, pro golf needs to take cues from these success stories in other sports and continue to push the boundaries in terms of entertainment and innovation.

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“So as crazy as those things sounded, I as a fan of those sports was like really pleased with what I saw. So I think whether it’s my, you know, thought in my head of what we could do after this walk-and-talk. I would imagine something different as I’m not the smartest. I just think trying stuff to entertain is really what the point of this all is, just kind of evolving and being creative and things of that nature.”

But what would Homa do to further up the entertainment-value of pro golf? He wasn’t spilling the details, but he assured reporters that he has ideas.

“I mean, I have my ideas. I don’t know if they would do it, but I have my ideas.”

Homa tees off for the first round of the 2024 Farmers Insurance Open on Wednesday at 1:40 p.m. ET alongside Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele.

Kevin Cunningham

Kevin Cunningham

Golf.com Editor

As managing producer for GOLF.com, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on GOLF.com, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep GOLF.com humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.

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