A great golf course has one interesting hole after another. You never feel bored, and it keeps you riveted right to the end.
The new PGA Tour schedule, appropriately, is like a great golf course.
Gone is that endless gap between the Masters and the U.S. Open, filled in only marginally since 2007 by The Players Championship. No longer do the FedEx Cup Playoffs feel like an afterthought, fighting for attention with the start of the NFL season.
The continuity should be consuming.
And it will be particularly noticeable for golf fans on the West Coast, who get to watch the greatest players in the world early in the year. For us, the golf season will feel like a nine-month ride that never slows down.
In case you missed the big announcement last year, here are the most exciting elements of the new schedule:
- The Players Championship moves back to its original date, in March.
- The PGA Championship moves from August to May.
- The playoffs begin in early August and are one week shorter – three tournaments instead of four. That means they’ll conclude before Labor Day, while NFL teams are playing tedious exhibition games.
This makes so much sense in so many ways and is perfect for us on the West Coast. Each month will be reserved, in our minds, for one major focus:
- January-February: West Coast tournaments
- March: Players Championship
- April: Masters
- May: PGA
- June:S. Open
- July: Open Championship
- August: Playoffs
- September: Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup
Let’s start at the end. The previous playoff format was way too long, especially with the week off in the middle of it. Golf already was fighting for attention after the PGA was over, and by September interest was flagging unless there was some unusual attraction, such as Tiger Woods’ sudden re-emergence.
It also will give the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup a chance to catch its collective breath. Having to go right from Atlanta, site of the Tour Championship, to France for the Ryder Cup certainly didn’t do wonders for the U.S. team this year. The Americans, especially Tiger, looked tired.
But in addition to containing the playoffs in August, it’s just as important that they’re shorter. Now, everyone will play in the first event, the Northern Trust in New Jersey, and the top 125 will qualify for the BMW Championship at Medinah. The Tour Championship the following week will be reserved for 70 qualifiers.
The biggest move, of course, is the PGA, which will create an interesting dynamic. Having it in May means opening it up to southern courses again because the heat and humidity won’t be so overwhelming.
Conversely, the May could make rain more of a concern in the Northeast, and this year it’s at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y.
There are several notable changes to lesser events:
- The WGC-Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club is no more. In its place, the FedEx St. Jude Classic became the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
- There are new tournaments in Detroit and Minnesota, on back-to-back weekends in late June and early July.
- The Houston Open and The Greenbrier are moving to the fall portion of the schedule.
So here we go. It all begins this weekend with the traditional opener at Kapalua.
With Woods back in the mix and so many other great players vying for attention, our great game has never been better – or more interesting.
Just like a great golf course, we can’t wait to tee it up.