Home' Australian Golf Digest : May 2017 Contents 80 australiangolfdigest.com.au | may 2017
IG-TIME professional golf,
anchored by the US PGA Tour,
is an intricately constructed
mosaic designed to bring the
best players to the best courses
for the right tournaments
without upending the
international circuits that
produce an increasing supply
of the world’s elite. It’s a marvel
of co-ordination, painstakingly fine-tuned.
Somehow, it usually works.
But not perfectly, which is why the whole
megillah is under constant assessment and
Over the years, some of the biggest tweaks
have included the all-exempt tour in 1983, the
Official World Golf Ranking in 1986, the World
Golf Championships in 1999, the FedEx Cup in
2007 and the wraparound season in 2013-’14.
But for all the improvements, there’s an
underlying consensus that the golf season
is too long, too crowded, too much the same
from event to event, and irregularly paced.
It starts at a crawl in the northern autumn,
crescendos briefly at Augusta before hitting
another lull, then has a steady beat from the
US Open through the US PGA Championship.
However, the finale is an anticlimactic blur
that mostly feels like a quixotic battle against
the behemoths of pro and college football.
The ending never felt more cluttered
than last year, when golf in the Summer
Olympics for the first time in 112 years forced
a scheduling squeeze culminating in a Rio-to-
Ryder Cup rush that, while at times thrilling,
was clearly going to be unsustainable for the
game’s stars, let alone the rank and file. The
2016-’ 17 wraparound season began only 11
days after the United States won the cup.
As golf has in the past, but with more self-
awareness than ever, the game is responding
with a proposed fix. On the surface, it
seems straightforward: move the Players
Championship from May back to March –
where it was played for 30 consecutive years
until 2007 – and the PGA Championship from
August to May. Of course, it won’t be simple to
agree on or execute, but if the change comes to
pass – possibly as soon as the 2019-’20 season –
the professional game will be condensed into a
leaner and more logical product.
It will be the next big move, arguably
bigger than all the others. One that might
even finally provide that elusive feeling of
completion, like the last satisfying click of a
suddenly solved Rubik’s Cube.
Here’s why. Currently, after the PGA
Championship concludes in mid-August, the
tour plays four consecutive events that make
up the FedEx Cup playoffs, concluding with
the Tour Championship in late September
(and followed almost immediately by the
Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup). But if
the Players and the PGA could be moved to
new dates, the Tour Championship could
be completed by early September. The net
effect would be an important tournament
highlighting each month from March
through August in this sequence: Players,
Masters, PGA, US Open, British Open, Tour
Championship. With its most important
strokeplay tourna ments finished before the
audience-eating NFL football season, golf
would have the sports fan more to itself and
presumably gain value as a television property.
What about the Ryder Cup? Whether it’s
moved up in September or retains the same
finish in late September/early October, it
would still bump into football. But the
transcendent crossover event’s ratings and
buzz have proved it can flourish no matter the
TV competition. The Presidents Cup, which
has gained momentum over the years, hasn’t
been as successful but has proved feasible.
FINDING A FIX
The new solution evolved out of two main
tipping points. The first was the Olympics.
Based on the seemingly unanimous opinion
that getting golf in the Games served the
greater good, the PGA willingly moved its
championship at Baltusrol up two weeks,
and the US Tour accepted the crunch that
followed. But after the embattled Rio Games
turned out well – it will be a surprise if the
IOC doesn’t vote this year to extend golf in
the Olympics beyond 2020 – creative minds
began thinking about how to make the fit
permanent, rather than scrambling with
improvisations every four years.
The other tipping point is the momentum
of having a new US Tour commissioner for
the first time since 1994. Jay Monahan, 46, is
naturally eager to assert his ideas. No accident
that the tour was the first source of news
stories about the proposal, and in Monahan’s
first interview as commissioner, given to the
Wall Street Journal, he came on strong:
“ That’s certainly something that we would
like to see happen,” Monahan said of the
changes. “Having big events every month,
culminating in the FedEx Cup playoffs in
August prior to the NFL season, that would be
a very powerful schedule.”
The territory marked and the point made,
Monahan softened subsequent comments,
emphasising the collaboration needed for
the proposal to fit into the larger picture.
the new 12th hole, a driveable par 4 of 260 to 295 metres, features a shaved bank leading to water on the left.
5/04/2017 2:43 pm
Links Archive June 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page