Is the PGA Tour's Wraparound Schedule Good or Bad for Golf?

Mike DudurichContributor IFebruary 14, 2014

Jimmy Walker overcame Pebble Beach and the conditions to win for the third time this season.
Jimmy Walker overcame Pebble Beach and the conditions to win for the third time this season.Eric Risberg/Associated Press

OK, I understand the fall portion of the PGA Tour's wraparound season was a loser in many ways in its previous form. Small purses (relatively speaking), lame fields, no FedEx Cup points and no invites to the Masters for winners.

And of course there's the matter of money, but isn't there always?

Those tournaments, formerly known as the Fall Series, were beginning to feel the pinch from sponsors who were paying more money and getting less for that money.

So, in conjunction with the elimination of the PGA Tour Qualifying School as we knew it, the Fall Series graduated to become the beginning of the new season.

The PGA Tour season now starts with seven events, takes a month off and then resumes where it has begun for many, many years, in Hawaii and the Hyuandi Tournament of Champions.

Can you see the NFL starting in September, playing until November and then picking up with the stretch run after the first of the year?


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As a matter of fact, football is the main reason the PGA Tour altered its late-season schedule five years ago.

The Tour Championship had always been played in early November, and the climatic events of the season leading up to it bumped against the NFL season that was heading toward its midseason.

In 2007, a radical change was made in the schedule, moving the Tour Championship up to September, renaming the four events leading up to it the FedEx Cup playoffs, all being contested at the very beginning of the NFL season.

What was left was the Fall Series. I'm not a fan of the PGA Tour's solution of making the season a wraparound.

The start of the golf season the first weekend of January in Hawaii had become a tradition. Football was down to the playoffs, and just a few college bowl games remained. Putting the start of the golf season against football wins is a losing proposition.

As a result, what happens in October and November followed by a month off is going to be forgotten by the casual golf fans.

Even with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson playing for the Tour Championship (and the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus), it's not easy to get fans to watch. Hardcore fans will keep up with everything and will know what's up when the season resumes.

Maybe that's OK with the PGA Tour. Maybe the executives figure it's OK to sacrifice those fall events to the most fanatic golf fans and assume everyone else will jump back on in January. I'm not sure about that.

The best part of the concept is the former Fall Series events now mean something: FedEx Cup points and Masters invitations. That's great for the guys who win, but what does it do for the game itself?

I'm not sure it does a great deal. It certainly has created confusion in its first season, but that will fade as time goes on. Remember the outspoken criticism of the FedEx Cup when it was introduced in 2007?

For the time being, it just doesn't feel right. Making it even more "un-right" is how the "regular" part of the season has begun. Woods tied for 80th in the Farmers Insurance Open, shooting a 79 on a course where he's posted eight victories. Mickelson has shot as many rounds over par as he has in the 60s.

Zach Johnson gave the resumption of the PGA Tour some normality.
Zach Johnson gave the resumption of the PGA Tour some normality.Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Zach Johnson won the Tournament of Champions to give a sense of normality to the first month of the season.

But there's no doubt, it's not the same. Jimmy Walker is leading the money list and has made over $3 million, and it's just now mid-February.

Nah, I'm casting my vote for this new wraparound schedule not being a good thing for golf. Change is inevitable, and I'm all in favor of more change until the PGA Tour gets it right.