PGA Tour: Why New Wrap-Around Schedule and Lack of Q-School Are Bad Ideas

Fred AltvaterContributor IIJune 30, 2012

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has announced changes to PGA Tour scheduling for 2013.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has announced changes to PGA Tour scheduling for 2013.David Cannon/Getty Images

Over the past few weeks, the PGA Tour has announced changes to its tournament scheduling and its qualifications for PGA Tour membership.

Although the exact details are still somewhat sketchy, we do know a few things.

FedEx Cup points and PGA Tour money list earnings will begin to accumulate for the next year, beginning with the Fall Series events that will be played in October and November after the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Tour Championship.

The argument for this is two-fold.  The Fall Series events will give younger or lower ranked players a chance to get a leg up on the higher ranked players by starting their season in the lower quality fields.

It also will give the hardcore golf fan the chance to see golf tournaments on television in the heart of football season.

Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Kathy Bissell posted a very informative article supporting the PGA Tour schedule changes for 2013.

I tend to disagree with the PGA Tour’s arguments for these changes.

First, I like Q-School and I hate to see it go away. 

PGA Tour Q-School, however, is universally hated by PGA Tour players. 

The most common gripes are:  It is too much of a grind, it places too much importance on just six days of play, too many good players get left behind, and it is not a harbinger of future success on the PGA Tour.

Bill Haas won the 2011 FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship
Bill Haas won the 2011 FedEx Cup and the Tour ChampionshipSam Greenwood/Getty Images

Hogwash!  Competition is the American way!  It brings out the best.  The cream always rises to the top.  The little guy has a chance to get to the win.

If you want to avoid Q-School, play better throughout the PGA Tour season.

Under the new qualification system for PGA Tour membership, prospective players would serve an apprenticeship on the Web.Com Tour (previously called the Nationwide Tour). 

Players could also earn enough prize money during the new Fall Series tournaments to get their card for the upcoming season, if they can qualify to get into them.

The new qualifying requirements and lack of Q-School are the reasons that we are seeing the top young amateur golfers running to collect sponsorships and declare their professional statuses this summer. 

Purses and sponsor dollars are a lot less on the Web.Com Tour than on the PGA Tour.

The other main change is to the fall scheduling. 

The fall events will now start the following year’s FedEx Cup points and prize money earned in the Fall Series will count toward the following year's money title and rankings.

This wrap-around scheduling is similar to the European Tour’s method of starting their season in the fall.

In the United States, football starts in September.  Tim Finchem and PGA Tour executives believe that all of America tunes out golf and only watches football.

Tiger and Phil normally don't start their year until February in California.
Tiger and Phil normally don't start their year until February in California.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If you put lesser tournaments opposite football, that may be true.

Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups do very well in the October-November time slots.

The FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Tour Championship are not that old and are still gaining history. 

They are held too early in the year, but have been relatively successful and seem to be gaining momentum.

The FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Tour Championship should be the culmination of the professional golf season. 

Play the Fall Series events after the PGA Championship and before the Playoffs begin. 

This gives the top players a chance to rest prior to the start of the four weeks of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.  Plus, it provides a definitive end to the golf season.

A bigger problem for the PGA Tour has always been the start of the season in the first week of January.

It is difficult to get Phil and Tiger to fly all the way to Hawaii to play in a no-cut, big purse event that is soon after the New Year. 

The PGA Tour season begins with a PFFT, rather than a BANG!

The tour should take a lesson from NASCAR who starts their year with their super bowl the first week at Daytona. 

Start the season with a WGC event in Hawaii.

Double the world ranking points, the big purse, and promote Hawaii surf and sunshine.  Get all the big boys to show up, even Phil and Tiger.

One thing about professional golfers:  If you pay them enough, they will come.

If the big boys show up, so will the television rankings.