This month Compleat Golfer’s playing editor Brandon Stone talks about the PGA Tour schedule and how next year’s will be better.
Perhaps I’m too much of a traditionalist. I know things change with the times – those ugly numbers and names on the back of the cricketers’ Test whites in the Ashes series being an example – but sometimes I think things change for the sake of it.
There are times when I subscribe to the adage, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. A prime example is the PGA Tour schedule.
I hope they don’t revisit what they did this year with their programme. To all intents and purposes, 2019 was over in August when it came to the PGA Tour. I’ll tell you why I say that: The Players Championship was in March, The Masters in April, The PGA Championship in May, the US Open in June and The Open Championship in July, followed by the concluding Tour Championship in August, which Tiger Woods won in 2018 at the end of September.
Bringing The PGA Championship forward on the schedule, from its usual position in August was odd and from what I’ve been hearing, it did not go down well with everyone. Now, this has nothing to do with the event itself. This year’s tournament at Bethpage Black was incredible. Brooks Koepka put on a show and validated his position on top of the World Ranking.
So, you may ask, if that’s not the issue, then what is?
It’s a simple matter of timing. To be more specific, it threw the schedule out of kilter, as if the golfing world had been tilted on its axis. The American and European golfing season runs from April to September. Yet we found ourselves with no more Majors by the end of July. To me, and many others, that doesn’t feel right.
I agree with former world No 1 Justin Rose, who said: ‘For me Major championships should be the things that are protected the most. That’s how all of our careers ultimately are going to be measured. Thirty, 40 years ago there wasn’t a FedExCup so if you’re trying to compare one career to another career, Jack versus Tiger, it’s the Majors that are the benchmarks.’
My sentiments entirely. The ‘new’ 2019 season was to protect the FedExCup playoffs. Being able to push back the FedExCup by a month would help TV viewership, since they wouldn’t have to compete with the NFL and NBA in the USA. The entire world knows the power the PGA Tour holds over the game and they just showed it once more.
However, the PGA Tour change could benefit the European Tour. With the BMW PGA Championship being moved to September, after the FedExCup, the event could see one of the strongest fields of the season. The likes of Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Hendrik Stenson and Brooks Koepka could be lured by the prestige of the European Tour’s flagship event.
Next year, however, sanity has prevailed when it comes to the PGA Tour schedule. I am inclined to believe their arm was twisted by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will see golf being played from 30 July to 8 August.
I was fortunate enough to represent South Africa at the 2016 Rio Olympics and I can assure you it was a big highlight for me. I think golfers will be more keen to be part of Tokyo than they were of Rio, where the ‘Zika virus’ became a big topic of discussion, as did the clash with the PGA Tour schedule.
Next year’s schedule now includes The Players Championship (March), The Masters (April), The PGA Championship (May), the US Open (June), The Open (July) and the Olympics, which is inked in as the only event on the calendar for that week.
And after that there are only three more events, culminating in the Tour Championship at the end of August, meaning the next wraparound schedule (2020-21) starts next September. That timing also helped the European Tour attract a few idle stars chasing the big jackpots.