PGA Tour Commisioner For A Day…

Most golf fans would love to be commissioner of the PGA Tour for a day. Then, we could all implement our pet projects for the betterment of the game. I for one would change two things in my one day in office. First, I would do away with Q-School completely. Second, I would make it mandatory for each PGA Tour member to play every event at least once in a five year period. Why would I do away with Q-School? (Q-school = yearly 3 stage qualifying tournament for aspiring PGA Tour players) Answer – it’s an antiquated system that no longer does the job of finding the most qualified players. Think about it – you need to play your best golf in one week segments (the length of each stage) and if you don’t — you’re out! No chance to get on tour for another year. It doesn’t make sense. If you want to find the best players to compete on a tour that spans 10 months – why not challenge qualifiers for an equitable amount of time?

As it stands today, the top 25 finishers on The Nationwide Tour year-end money list receive PGA Tour cards for the following year. I say make it more. Make it 35 or 40 and do away completely with Q-school. Then, run the Nationwide Tour like the old days on the PGA Tour, when there were only 60 exempt players and many spots open for Monday qualifying. These qualifiers were called “rabbits.” The great thing about this format was…if you were a good player, you were going to get into an event. And if you were a really good player, you would use this system to win tournaments and forge a career. I say do the same thing on the Nationwide Tour today — 60 exempt players and 60+ rabbits for every event. That way, the best young players in the world today are almost guaranteed a tour to play. And if they have a bad week, they can try again the next tournament and not have to wait a year. In this scenario, you would have the best Nationwide players – determined by a full season – graduating to the PGA Tour. This system almost guarantees a constant stream of battle tested pros graduating to the PGA Tour, which ultimately only enhances the product.

Right now, the PGA Tour has a rule stating each professional must play a minimum of 15 tournaments per year to maintain their membership. However, there is nothing in the rules telling professionals what tournaments they must play. Pros are independent contractors and free to make their own schedule. I believe in the contractor system, but I also believe it will eventually ruin the PGA Tour, as top players disregard second tier events year after year. We are starting to see the residuals of this system now as long standing events are closing down. They just can’t stay competitive without top players making an appearance — because they can’t keep their title sponsors. Sponsors are putting up the enormous title fee (up to $6,000,000 per year) to get a message to customers who want their product. It only makes sense – if the television ratings are higher – more people are getting their message And lets be honest, television ratings are higher every time Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson play. Plus, the daily attendance at top events is always higher with the stars show up. So, as a second tier tournament, trying to secure sponsorship without the best players, is almost becoming impossible. Just ask the folks at “The International”, a long running tournament on the PGA Tour who shut their doors this past year. The tournament director said he just couldn’t compete without Tiger Woods in his field.

I’m not saying the commissioner needs to tell Tiger to play every week to save the tour. Tiger is a global figure who could never play every event. But if there were a rule stating each player must compete in every tournament at least once every five years – I think that solves the problem. Now the folks selling sponsorships can secure five year deals knowing that Tiger and other top players will at least make one appearance. And the fans outside the loop of the greatest tournaments will be treated to watching the greatest players live and in person. This is only good for the game and in turn, will make all the players more money. It’s a true win-win.

So, what would you do as PGA Tour commissioner for a day?

4 Responses to “PGA Tour Commisioner For A Day…”

  1. Brendan says:

    Some very good ideas! I especially endorse the increased importance of the Nationwide Tour – imagine how you’d feel if you finished 26th over the course of the year, then had a couple of putts lip out and miss the Q school intake as well.

    If I were Tour Commissioner for a day, I’d introduce a ‘shot clock’ for putts. It bugs me that the pros each wait for each other to have their putt before going through their look from all sides. The second or third to putt should have already had a look from two, three or even all four sides by the time it’s their turn to putt. They might argue that it disrupts their routine – TOUGH! Change your routine. First person to putt gets two minutes, thereafter you have 60 or maybe 90 seconds or something similar.

    The other thing that I’d do is tell the tv networks that golf fans would much prefer seeing anyone hitting a shot rather than Tiger walking down a fairway or Phil lining up a putt (especially if it’s from all 4 sides!!). I’m constantly amazed that there can be a lesser known player shootiing the lights out but all we see is him tap in on 18 for a 64 and the day’s low round. Surely they can work out before the 18th green that this guy is playing some good golf! On the same line, towards the end of the day, where there might be three groups left on the course, we only see four of the six players. So what is Harry’s hacking it around – his hacking is still better than 90+% of the audience (and whether it goes in the water or is out of a bunker, is still much more interesting than Tiger walking down the fairway…)

  2. Andy Brown says:

    Hi Mark,

    It is funny you should say that as I’m currently using Stephen’s book and pre-round coaching CD to help include my own golf. It is certainly something that has helped my game.



  3. mark shanahan says:

    Andy,You are clearly a man who really has the best interests of the wonderful game of golf at the heart of your existence.I compliment you greatly.In view of this obvious commitment it is hard to ignore your advice to embrace the”Four Magic Moves”which you espouse, to make each & every golfer a better player.However I would like to see you also recommend the modern Energy Therapy Techniques as an additional resource to overcome those intrinsic mental blocks which all golfers suffer from at some stage,often many times in each round!We all need ALL the HELP we can get.How about it ?

  4. Ivan Henry says:

    I could’nt agree more. This is a great idea. It would help every one, sponsors, players and fans. Hope the comissioner sees this and agrees to give it a try.

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