Would It be a Bad Thing if Some PGA Tour Events Disappeared in 2011?

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2010

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 25:  Detail of the 18th hole tee box during the fourth round of the Frys.com Open at Grayhawk Golf Club on October 25, 2009 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If the SBS Championship and the Sony Open had never taken place, would anyone have even noticed?

If you woke up tomorrow and there was no Bob Hope Classic, would you shed a tear?

Would you even care?

Or better yet, would you be thrilled that you would never again have to see Michael Bolton take another porterhouse sized divot out of a PGA Tour fairway just because he can afford the $35,000 pro-am fee?

The NFL Playoffs are in full swing, and unless you subscribe to the Golf Channel, professional golf doesn’t exist in your world of high definition satellite television until NBC begins covering the San Diego…sorry, the newly named Farmers Insurance Open on January 28th.  

Would you be up in arms if The Honda Classic didn’t take place every March?

How about the Transitions Championship which is scheduled to take place March 18-21.  After all, the Transitions Championship is certainly a tradition like no other. We can all set a clock by what we will be doing every third Sunday in March, right?

What about the John Deere Classic?  Does that still exists?

What about the Greenbrier Classic? 

Well, we can expect to see a good old fashioned shootout between the likes of Mat Jones and Cliff Kresge at an event of that stature. Unless the PGA Tour changes their stance on appearance fees, the likes of Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, or Padraig Harrington will be far more likely to travel to Abu Dhabi than venture into rural West Virginia.

How about the Wyndham Championship?

Didn’t some Swede shoot a 61 there a couple of years ago?

Then we have the PGA Tour’s Fall Series which are the black sheep cousin of the Fall Classic.

The Fall Series is more or less a knowledge building exercise for those fans that eat, breath and sleep golf. After all, who else would know that Cameron Beckman edged out Kevin Southerland to take the 2008 frys.com Open title?

There are 46 events on the PGA Tour schedule in 2010, plus the Ryder Cup, the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Chevron World Challenge.

That means that there’s a PGA Tour event taking place nearly every single week from January through November. Folks, that even longer than a hockey season.

The PGA Tour is a business, and believe it or not, most businesses are still out to make a profit these days without government intervention.

So, the more events on the PGA Tour schedule, the more cash flows into Ponte Vedra Beach.  

On another note, the PGA Tour donates more money to local charities than any other sporting organization in America.  So, more events also mean more money for local charities, which is, of course, a good thing.

But the main question is do we really need all of these events on the PGA Tour schedule?

There’s a certain line, that when crossed, the novelty wears off and the product begins to become depleted.

Aside from translating well to television, the NFL has become must-see television because there are only 16 games played each year, plus the playoffs.

The NFL season is short, each game is important, and for the most part, the league’s top players are on the field each week.

Golf is on television almost every single week of the year, yet the game’s biggest stars only play in around 40 percent of all tournaments.

With 46 events plus the Ryder Cup, the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Chevron World Challenge, golf has by far the longest season of any professional sport in America, but around 70 percent of the time the general public is simply not interested.

No matter how much the PGA Tour attempts to promote events such as the Wyndham Championship or the Viking Classic, very few people are going to tune in to watch Will MacKenzie and Brian Gay involved in an intense Sunday afternoon battle in Madison, Mississippi.

Most people couldn’t point out Madison, Mississippi on a map.

These days the big news is the same as it has been for the past year and a half. It’s the economy.

Will the PGA Tour secure new title sponsors for 2011 and beyond?

Will current sponsors be able to keep their heads above water for the duration of their sponsorship deals?

When a PGA Tour event looses a sponsor these days, it’s as if a doomsday event has just occurred.

But in terms of the overall product, would it be such a bad thing if six or seven tournaments simply disappeared from the schedule in 2011?


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