PGA Major Meltdown!

TigerWinsQuick question:  What’s the measure of greatness in professional golf?  Short answer:  The number of major victories one has accumulated.  We don’t consider money rankings, driving distance, Vardon Trophy (scoring average), or even FedEx Cup championships.  The sole measure of historical excellence is how many Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship victories one has.  This is not dissimilar to the NFL where Super Bowl titles are the standard, or Major League Baseball where World Series victories are king.  Tennis, the other major individual sport, measures its greats by number of Grand Slam titles won.

So why is the PGA Tour compromising the integrity of the major championships with it’s insane scheduling in 2016?  Take a look at the backside of the 2016 PGA Tour schedule and you’ll notice for the first time The Open Championship and PGA Championship are being contested only 11 days apart!  This is simply not enough time for the world’s best to recover physically and mentally, make the journey back across the Atlantic, and for excitement to rebuild in the fan base for the final major.  In a normal year, each event is generally spaced one month apart, with the exception being the two months between golf’s Masters and U.S. Open.

At first glance I attributed this to the presence of the 2016 Olympic golf event which is scheduled for August 11-14 and happens to fall right smack on the PGA Championship’s traditional window (one month from The Open).  But Olympic Golf is not the growth panacea everyone thought it was and The PGA Tour knows it.  At best it’s an inconsequential event with an unfair qualification process (only four players per country are allowed to participate eliminating many of the world’s best).  At worst, it’s a classic example of exceeding the economic law of diminishing returns with too much golf on TV.  I think after a couple tries, it probably will join baseball on the list of dropped Olympic sports.  Think otherwise?  Think Olympic golf will command the TV stage?  Think again.  The suits at PGA headquarters have scheduled the John Deere Classic to be contested simultaneously with the Olympic tournament.  And the USGA put the U.S. Senior Open in the same time slot as well.  When baseball was last played in the Olympics in 2008, Major League Baseball played right through the window and didn’t even give the Olympic tournament a sniff of concern.  I’m hoping golf plays out in a similar fashion.

Olympic golf feels like an attempt to force growth in an incorrect way.  The recent golf market contraction is due to the receding Tiger Woods wave.  As Tiger plays less, fewer folks tune in.  It’s a natural phenomenon that can’t be fought.  But cheapening the integrity around the existing major championships is absolutely the wrong approach and needs to be fixed.  The tour has the ability to shift schedules around and should flip-flop The PGA Championship with The Wyndham Championship, and move the former into the August 18-21 window.

On a global scale, the good news is that golf has a chance of re-entering a golden age with a core of young superstars take the sport by storm.  To allow natural rivalries to form between Jordan, Rory, Jason, and Rikie, the PGA needs to ensure the integrity of its competitions is on the highest level.  It should start with an adjustment to the 2016 schedule.

What do you think they should do?

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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6 Responses to PGA Major Meltdown!

  1. Brian

    I agree with you assessment of the two majors being 11 days apart. The winner of The Open, and some of the other top players, will be hard pressed to repeat this amazing feat in such a short time. I do attribute the changes to the Olympics. Although it is not good for golf, the Olympics is watched around the world and the North American stations want to cash in on this to the detriment of golf. I think it is all economics and the TV channels are not going to change.

    Cheers
    Jim

    • Brian Penn says:

      Jim thanks. I’m wondering how some of these players are going to attempt the compressed major schedule, followed by the Olympics, FedEx playoffs, and Ryder Cup. I’m getting tired just thinking of it!

      Best,

      Brian

      • Brian,

        I wonder how many top players will not go to the Olympics because of the crazy schedule this year? I think pros should not be in their sport in the Olympics anyway, but that is a different conversation!

        Cheers
        Jim

        • Brian Penn says:

          Jim, it’s hard to say who will play and who will skip. I do know that I will skip and be watching the US Senior Open instead. I love the Olympics but only watch the sports with amateur participants. USA Dream Team basketball? You can have it. The only pros I’ll take a look at is hockey in the winter, and even that doesn’t hold as much meaning for me as I know it does for you guys in Canada. I’d much rather see my team win the Stanley Cup stocked with Russian, Canadian, and American players than have Team USA win the gold medal. Just can’t dig the concept of pros in the Olympics.

          Thanks!

          Brian

  2. Brian,

    I agree about the scheduling, it’s very disappointing. The PGA should absolutely be on the week of the Wyndham. A one week turnaround for majors is ridiculous. Not to mention how much it will hurt the Canadian Open in between. There won’t be any higher echelon players considering the Canadian Open with that schedule. A good opportunity for other players to get into the event, but a hit to that event overall.

    I’m not overly interested in Olympic golf. I’ll probably tune in out of curiosity to see how it plays out, but I can’t imagine it being very captivating like the majors or the Ryder Cup. Seems like more of a hurdle to get through this year than something to look forward to on the calendar.

    Cheers
    Josh

    • Brian Penn says:

      Josh, great point about the RBC. The Tour should have seen this coming last year when the stars started sitting out FedEx playoff events because of exhaustion. They have got to move the PGA back before it’s too late.

      Thanks,

      Brian

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