Welcome one and all to the first Takeaway of 2017. It has been laying semi dormant for some time now, but with the return of the Tournament of Champions, another season rolls around. Recently, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, taking over the reigns from outgoing Tim Finchem, has hinted that the PGA may pursue a much smaller window of operation.
This is to avoid scheduling conflicts with the all-powerful NFL and college football. The idea of Monahan’s condensation of the season, which would include moving The Player’s Championship to its original March spot, which seems reasonable, but even more audacious is changing of the PGA Championship to May, no longer making it the final Major of the year. Indeed the FedEx Cup Playoffs would be moved to August, hoping to end prior to Labor Day. Monahan’s rationale being “big events every month, culminating in the FedEx Cup playoffs in August prior to the NFL season, that would be a very powerful schedule.”
This wouldn’t come into effect until 2019, where it would work to allow a greater ramp up for the Olympic golf scene for Tokyo in 2020. You have to get the feeling that this would be a good way of appealing to casual observer in America for a start. No conflict with the nations pastimes would be a major marketing boon, but you have to wonder what effect it will have on those great courses in the North East that stage the culminating events of the FedEx? What I haven’t seen brought to light is the effect this would have on the European and subsequent tours.
With the shorter season, some PGA players may try to participate more on the European tour, as the Race to Dubai heats up. Indeed, many cited the blip that Speith suffered at the Masters as a result of fatigue from playing in Malaysia and Australia. This, after a drawn out season on the PGA Tour, and travelling, and sponsorship duties and so forth. I was impressed that Speith even went to Australia to participate in their Open, not to mind win it. Most would be using it as downtime, but if the changes are implemented you may see bigger names plying their trade down under, in a big golfing market that would only help it grow. Speaking of Down Under, in other news, Jason Day announced that he will return to the glacial pace that made him the bane of networks and others alike.
Esteemed golf guru John McHenry wrote of his disappointment of Day, alluding to the copycat nature of the average golfer wishing to emulate his style. While I agree at a fundamental level, I think it’s the onus of the Tour to clamp down on him. Nothing says hurry up better than a penalty, but Jason will look to serve his own interests first. That’s what got him to world number one.
As for being a role model, is that his responsibility at the end of the day? He is paid to play golf, not to shape a generation. Admittedly, if he uses his fame to help worthy causes that is admirable, but slow play should not dwell too high on the totem pole.