(Editor’s note: Robert Bruce of Game Under Repair argues for a more dramatic, clear-cut conclusion to the PGA Tour season.)
Contributed by Robert Bruce
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
DOES THE PGA TOUR have an identity problem? Take this pop quiz:
1) Name the biggest event in the NFL.
2) Name the biggest event in Major League Baseball.
3) Name the biggest event in college football.
4) Bonus Question: Name the biggest event on the PGA Tour.
Numbers 1-3 are fairly easy, right?
But is there an easy answer to the bonus question? You have several options, don’t you?
There’s your problem. The PGA Tour doesn’t have a single, grandiose season-culminating event—at least one that produces the drama it should.
With all of the major sports, the season culminates with one grand spectacle: the Super Bowl, the World Series, the hypothetical college football national championship game. No brainers.
In my opinion, the three biggest events—in no particular order—are the Masters, U.S. Open, and Ryder Cup. And the other issue: Excluding the biennial Ryder Cup, golf’s largest events take place long before the season is even close to ending.
Granted, the Tour is trying to ramp up the latter part of the season with the FedEx Cup Playoffs, culminating with this past week’s Tour Championship. But, even so, does the hype, the media presence, the vibe for the Tour Championship even come close to matching that of the Masters? Nope.
How do you fix this?
As I’ve mentioned at my blog, the PGA Tour needs to end its season in late August, right before football starts. They need to change the format of the Tour Championship to a match-play tournament with a 32-man field.
I’m a pretty ardent golf viewer, but even I quit watching golf when football starts up. It’s just a reality. But a Tiger Woods versus Sergio Garcia winner-take-all match in late August? Now that’s pressure. That’s drama. That’s something, I believe, casual fans would watch.
When your biggest event occurs in April—or maybe June, if you are partial to the U.S. Open—then you are just setting yourself up for a large cup of anticlimactic nothing.
I watched the Tour Championship, at least during the commercial breaks. After all, the event had its share of drama. But the Tour is missing an opportunity to amp up the drama even more.
Make the season shorter. Bring in match play. Make the Tour Championship more of a spectacle. Fans should be able to point to one event on the calendar as the end-all-be-all golf event of each season. Should it really be in April?
Could the Tour Championship ever equal the Super Bowl or the World Series in popularity? No way. But the PGA Tour can do better. Much better.
Robert Bruce is a full-time writer and part-time golf blogger in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit his golf blog at www.gameunderrepair.com.