I know that it’s 4 years out, but seeing the raft of players (almost all men) opting out of going to the Olympics, something has to be done to the PGA Tour schedule for the 2020 Summer Olympics, and I am that someone doing something (if by something you mean coming up with a workable solution for the professional tours and the networks that cover them). The game worked far too hard to get on the Olympic program only to have it removed because of disinterest from the male professional tours.
If the PGA and European Tours don’t do something, the IOC is going to bounce golf off the Olympic program tout de suite (remember bowling and softball?) and the sport is going to lose an opportunity to grow the game that it will never get back. Compare this with the other sport added for Rio 2016 (rugby sevens) where players from other codes/sports are trying to get on their country’s team for this event. Something had to be done, and as they say, I was the person to do it.
It took 2 double scotches (from which genius flowed), 45 minutes, and a spiral-bound notebook of notes, but I’ve come up with a plan that reduces travel for the players, doesn’t overload any point in the year, creates several mini-swings, and gives them a reasonable schedule and a 2-week participation window. I moved a few things around in order to make this work, but in the end, it adds an event to the LPGA schedule and creates a month-long “season” in Hawaii when you start the Champions Tour with a January tournament the week of Jan 23rd-26th. I’ve also created a joint PGA-LPGA event where they’re playing 4-ball (or 2-man best ball).
The other thing you do is even out the big events. By pushing the US PGA Championship to the end of February, you create a reason for players to play those West Coast swing events. March doesn’t have a major but it does have 2 WGC events with different formats than traditional stroke play. April has the Masters, May has the Players Championship, June the US Open, July the Open Championship, and August the Olympic tournament.
The other thing you’ll notice is that there is a Stableford event, 2 team events, and a match play event. It’s designed to hopefully help the US be better prepared for the Olympics and the Ryder Cup. So on that note, here we go.
2020 PGA Tour Schedule
Jan 2nd-5th: Sony Open. It flips with the other Hawaii event to get a full-field event as the start of the year.
Jan 9th-12th: LPGA/PGA Tour 4-ball championship in Hawaii (1st LPGA full field event will be Jan 16th-19th in Hawaii (the following week)- moving up from April date). Event can be aired in prime time in the US and gives the LPGA a nice shop window. Have 2-player teams (1 man, 1 woman); with daylight an issue I’d limit it to no more than 30 teams. You could either have a “fantasy” draft (mine involves a bottle of Glenlivet 25 year, 2 rocks glasses and Christina Hendricks but that’s not important), or randomly draw teams. Teams play alternate shot on Thursdays and Saturdays, and foursomes (2-player best ball) on Fridays and Sundays.
Jan 16th-19th: Phoenix Open (flipping for this year only).
Jan 23rd-26th: Torrey Pines/Farmers Insurance Open
Jan 29th-Feb 1st: Career Builder/Palm Springs (Wed-Sat to avoid the Super Bowl on 2/2).
Feb 6th-9th: LA Open/Riviera (2 hour drive from Palm Springs)
Feb 13th-16th: AT&T Pebble Beach Open
Feb 20th-23rd: US PGA Championship (already confirmed to be held at Harding Park in San Francisco)- it’s 2 hours by car from Pebble Beach. If you look carefully, you’ll see a five-week California swing that culminates in a major championship (the first of the year which puts a nice end to the West Coast swing.
Feb 27th-March 1st: Honda Classic/PGA National
March 5th-8th: WGC Team Championship at Streamsong Resort (take 2-man teams by country). Yes- Doral is no longer being used as the PGA Tour has opted to move the event to Mexico (this is for one year only). Streamsong is an hour from Orlando and similar to Torrey Pines, has 2 (soon to be 3) courses. Take 48 2-man teams by country; cut to 28 teams after 2 days for final 2 rounds.
March 12th-15th: Bay Hill Event (Orlando). This allows pros a “home stand” since many live in Orlando area.
March 19th-22nd: Valspar @ Copperhead/Tampa (Tampa is 2 hours from Orlando.
March 25th-29th: WGC Matchplay at Seminole GC (extend Florida swing, easier travel for players). Several players are already members. You have the Tour in Central Florida 4 weeks running which will cut down on travel for many of the players based out of this area. If not Seminole, there are several tracks in the Orlando area who could host events (Windermere for one).
April 2nd-5th: New Orleans (hopefully better weather than what they’ve had the last few years)
April 9th-12th: Masters Tournament (falls over Easter weekend- they’ll manage)
April 16th-19th: Hilton Head/Heritage
April 23rd-26th: Charlotte/Wells Fargo Championship
(April then becomes a southern swing of sorts)
April 29th-May 3rd: Players Championship (a week earlier for this year only)
May 7th-10th: Houston Open (for giving up the pre-Masters slot, they’ll get Mothers Day weekend and be the start of the Texas Swing).
May 14th-17th: San Antonio/Valero
May 21st-24th: Dallas
May 28th-31st: Fort Worth
(With four events over consecutive weeks in Texas, the tour can and should market this as the Texas Swing). Ideally, the winner of the Texas swing would get an additional exemption year.
June 4th-7th: Columbus OH/Memorial Tournament
June 11th-14th: FedEx/Memphis St. Jude
June 18th-21st: US Open (Winged Foot; NY)
June 25th-28th: Travelers (Hartford/Cromwell CT)-moved this event up since it’s only 2 hours by car from Winged Foot to cut down on travel.
July 2nd-5th: John Deere Classic (giving them a July 4th spot but keeping their “week before the Open” slot).
July 9th-12th: Open Championship (British Open). Moving the Open Championship up a week.
July 16th-19th: Wyndham Championship (moving them up in the order for this year to try to separate the Canadian Open).
July 23rd-26th: Greenbrier
July 30th-August 2nd: Canadian Open (Vancouver). Cutoff for the 2020 Olympic tournament. By having the event in Vancouver (and not Toronto/Glen Abbey), it’s an easier flight to Tokyo for the players going to the Olympics and will enable players to over and participate in the Opening Ceremony. West Coast means that the tournament can have a prime time (east coast) finish. Ideally, the IOC will charter a plane for players and caddies. I would move the women’s Canadian Open to Vancouver as well (Shaughnessy G&CC can host over consecutive weeks and has already hosted the men’s Canadian Open). Vancouver has a heavy Asian-pacific influence so there’s plenty of marketing that can be done. It’s a temperate climate and gives Vancouver time to promote the event (they did a great job with the 2010 Olympics).
August 6-9, August 13-16: 2020 Olympics (if the sport is going to be serious they can’t run events concurrent with the Olympic tournament proper. The dates show golf as August 11-14 so there can be no other pro tours running concurrently). I’ll go with what others have said; it needs to be a 2-man best ball competition. Allow up to 2 teams per country.
August 6-9: Opposite field event (top 5 get spots in the Barclays/FedEx Cup playoffs)/Reno.
August 13-16: NO EVENT
August 20-23: WGC Stableford (moved to Cherry Creek in Denver). I chose Denver because it’s easier for travel purposes, and it’ll be a slightly shorter flight coming back from Tokyo. Cherry Creek has hosted the BMW Championship and major championships. See next week.
August 27-30: Barclays @ Firestone GC (FedEx Cup Playoffs week 1). For giving up their spot which would have fallen around the Olympics, Firestone takes the FedEx Cup Playoffs week 1 spot. The New York area got the US Open so they aren’t being shut out. With the additional spots being allocated, the first week will go from 125 to 135 players, but the cut after the Barclays will still be to the top 70.
September 4-7: Deutche Bank/Boston (Week 2). No change; they keep their Labor Day slot.
September 10-13: BMW Championship (Congressional) Week 3. You’ll notice that I didn’t have a spot for the Quicken Loans event. For them giving up their slot, they will get the BMW Championship. It gets the tournament out of the meat of the DC summer and for Congressional, their club isn’t being torn to bits in the middle of summer and doesn’t force the members to lose access over the summer. If they don’t want it, I’d look at Caves Valley, RTJ, or TPC Potomac (in that order).
September 17-20: Tour Championship (Atlanta).
September 24-27: BYE
October 2-4: Ryder Cup (Whistling Straits/WI)
What you see is a workable schedule that is practical, cuts down on the workload and travel, and won’t alienate sponsors. It creates a window for the Olympics and ensures that golf will be able to stay on the Olympic program. As for 2024, I might be biased but the one city that is probably best suited to host it (and has hosted it successfully) is Los Angeles. They have facilities already built along with infrastructure, and a climate that is suitable (and for golf, they’ve a host of options). I lived in Southern California during the 1984 Olympics…people went on vacations and left town, and it worked out great.