Thoughts on another rainy day here while waiting to have a roofer perform leaks to my roof for the second week running:
The PGA of America rolled out a major announcement involving its championships and Congressional CC:
The PGA and Congressional have a monumental announcement to make… pic.twitter.com/UjZO8un3Kh
— PGA of America (@PGA) September 18, 2018
To borrow one of their old marketing terms, this is major. Let’s go to the video:
KPMG LPGA Championship: 2022, 2027
Senior PGA Championship: 2025, 2033
Junior PGA Championship: 2024
PGA Club Professional Championship: 2029
PGA Championship: 2031
Ryder Cup: 2036
Staggering. Badly needed. I’ve written previously how the PGA Tour leaving this area with their revamped 2018-19 “wrap-around” season was one of the dumber things they’ve done (more on that later), and in comes the PGA of America with 8 championships to be held at Congressional. That Keith Foster (h/t to Brandon Porath for letting me know about this) will ‘hopefully’ redo Congressional and undo much of Rees Jones’ work is the whipped cream and cherry on top of a delicious sundae.
Let’s start with the LPGA. Their tour should be playing the best courses in the world (this includes majors). They’ve played at Oakmont for a US Open (Christina Kim raved about Oakmont; good enough for me) and Pinehurst #2. Pebble Beach should be on their rota of US Open venues. The women can, and should be playing the same rota of courses as the men. Their tour is more than capable and deserves it.
The Senior PGA comes back twice (RTJ is more than worthy if they want a venue in Virginia) and they get the same; iconic course in a big media market.
The Junior and PGA Club Professional events aren’t high-profile but holding them at Congressional is a nice signal that they want to upgrade the caliber of courses. Good for them.
The PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup speak for themselves. The Ryder Cup is very much a ‘one shot’ deal (not to get too far ahead but by September (please let September be dry that year) of 2036 Patrick Reed will be 46, Rory McIlroy will be 47 which is that sweet spot for captains). Assuming the PGA Championship doesn’t move off its new May slot, in DC May ‘can’ be really nice and is typically devoid of the swamp-ass humidity of summer (hopefully concurrent with a deep Capitals run to the Conference Final where they lose to my beloved Leafs while the Nationals get off to a roaring start).
The announcement today about changes for the 2019 Tour Championship are, at best, foolhardy and at worst, the single dumbest idea in professional sports. From the Golfweek article:
The player who has the most FedEx Cup points after next season’s BMW Championship will start the first round of the 2019 Tour Championship with a score of 10 under par and a two-shot lead over the second-highest FedEx Cup point earner who will begin at 8 under. The player ranked third will start at 7 under, while the golfers who arrive at East Lake in fourth and fifth will start at 6 under and 5 under, respectively. The next five players on the list will begin at 4 under par, with scores regressing by one shot for every five golfers until the players who enter the Tour Championship ranked between 26th and 30th start the events at even par on the first day.
Drinking bleach sounds better than this steaming turd.
I have spent two days trying to come up with anything remotely close to it in terms of a comparable. The pro tennis tours wouldn’t let the #1 player start up 2-0 in the first set. Track & field doesn’t let the fastest qualifier have a 10 meter head start. No professional team sport lets a team start a game up in score over the other team. You know who did this?
The original American Gladiators (the one that started in 1989).
Take that in. The PGA Tour looked at American Gladiators and thought “hey, they’ve got something there.”
So that’s where professional golf is. The obvious answer of having a match play Tour Championship doesn’t work for TV because they’re afraid of a bad final match-up (I’m just spit-balling here, but if your top 30 players can’t produce a decent final round that will get eyeballs, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of your marketing efforts). So we’ll rule that out because of…reasons.
The other option is play a Wed-Sat 72 hole event, and the top 4 (or 6) make the Final Round; a one-round low-score wins it all deal (easy to market; 4 or 6 players, one round, low score wins the Tour Championship and the $15 million). If you go to the top 6 and want to reward season-long excellence, give the top 1 (or 2) finishers in the standings an automatic berth in the Final Round. A top seed earning a bye? Yeah, there’s a ton of evidence showing this happening in other sports. If you want to give the top seed something, let them pick who they play with in the Final Round and if they go out in the first or second group (maybe you pick a couple guys who you’re comfortable with rather than a couple guys you don’t get on with).
Another idea is a form of gradual elimination. Start by playing 2 rounds of ‘qualifiers’ (like the first two rounds at most events) and let the top half advance into the next stage (giving the top 2 or 4 finishers an automatic bye into the next stage- their benefit after a long season is a less grueling path to the Final Round), and then have 2 rounds of single-round eliminations. Say you get the top 30 whittled down after 2 days to the top 14 or 16. Round 3 cuts it down to 10, round 4 cuts it to 6, and then the top 6 play a Final Round for everything. It’s about elevating your game for the playoffs. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard athletes talk about that before.
You could play the Tour Championship on the West Coast (nothing against East Lake) and finish in prime time on the East Coast on either Sunday or Monday (start on Golf Channel, switch to NBC). It’s not like the TV landscape in late August is over-run with better options unless the orgy of so-called reality TV shows and reruns has some grand appeal.
The argument that is being made is down to what value does the regular season have? Does being the best player over the course of a long season matter as opposed to a ‘playoff’ system that the Tour seems to want. In team sports, it’s the team that performs best in the playoffs that wins the championship. In the NFL, a 14-2 regular season record is great but teams have lost Super Bowls to teams with 9-7 records. Is the 14-2 team better because of their record over a 17-week regular season or is a 9-7 team better because in the Super Bowl they were the better team on that day? Note- either case has valid points. What you can’t do is say to the 14-2 team that you’re going to start the Super Bowl up 14-0 over the 9-7 team.
That, dear reader, is what the PGA Tour is trying to do. They want their Super Bowl, but they want to give the team with the best record a head start. It’s a terrible idea; the Tour and its fans deserve better.