The most exciting thing about watching players like Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay play such strong golf isn’t the belief that they have numerous victories and major championships in front of them…it’s the knowing that we’re about to enter into a long relationship with these guys.

Golf is unlike almost every other sport in that players can have careers that span three and four decades. Compare that to football where the average player makes it five to seven years. Basketball allows guys 10-15. Tennis stars are often washed up before they turn 30.

But, guys like McIlroy will be playing meaningful golf for the next 30 years. We’re still following players like Fred Funk, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomrie as they try to qualify for major championships in their late 40s and 50s. Translated, that means we’ll all probably still be keeping tabs on McIlroy in 2041.

Probably the most loved golfer in my lifetime has been Phil Mickelson. And, while Mickelson has grown into a highly accomplished golfer…fans fell in love with him for all his near misses. He was on Tour for 12 years before he earned his first major championships. Had he pursued another sport and come oh-so-close for 12 years, he probably never would have been crowned a champion.

Golf is different. We meet many of these guys when their in their late teens and early 20s. We follow them through their lives. We hear news of their marriages, their children, their personal and professional successes and failures. And, maybe more than in any other sport, we get the sense that we truly know them.

That’s what excites people about Rory and other young guns like Cantlay, Fowler and Dustin Johnson. It doesn’t matter if they contend for Jack’s record of 18 major titles. All that matters is that win, lose or somewhere in between — these guys will be playing for years to come.