It is clear that the PGA Tour schedule needs an upgrade. One of the major criticisms is that the current season is too long, with tournaments wrapping up at the end of September, close to the start of a new season. There was also a concern that there wouldn’t be a headline tournament in the month of March, before the Masters tournament in April.
The PGA of America has listened to concerns and has released the schedule for the 2018-19 season. It is filled with significant changes that will make the schedule shorter and ultimately, better for the game of golf. Let’s take a closer look at some of the changes.
Major Championship Swap
Currently, the major championship order was the Masters in April, U.S. Open in June, The Open Championship in July and concluding with the PGA Championship in August. In the new schedule, the PGA is now the second major of the year, taking place in May.
The Players Championship that takes place in tropical TPC at Sawgrass every year, is now bumped to the month of March. This means that there is a major, headline tournament in the months of March through July.
Exciting changes await.
Check out the changes to the revamped 2018-19 PGA TOUR season schedule. https://t.co/b0jbXcYcvm
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 10, 2018
This opens up opportunities for the PGA Championship in terms of future host sites. While the northeast United States is favoured for the next few championships, don’t be surprised if the PGA decides to go to more southern American courses, since the weather will be a lot cooler in the month of May.
FedEx Cup Playoffs is Shorter and Ends Earlier
The current format of the FedEx Playoffs consisted of four tournaments and concluded at the end of September. Given that the FedEx Cup was crowned in the backdrop of regular season NFL Football games underway, it is clear that the TV ratings for those tournaments took a massive hit.
As a result for 2018-19, the PGA Tour has decided to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs only three tournaments: the Northern Trust Open at Liberty National, the BMW Championship at Medinah, and the Tour Championship at East Lake. The TPC Boston will alternate every other year in the New York City area.
Hello and Goodbye to Certain PGA Tour Tournaments
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron, Ohio, which was the premier tune-up event to the PGA Championship, will be no longer. Instead, the World Golf Championships is partnering up with St. Jude to put on the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, taking place in the month of August.
Tiger Woods’s Quicken Loans Tournament is no more in the 2018-19 season. The PGA will be heading to Minnesota, implementing a tournament called the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities, happening in July. In addition, the Greenbrier will be moved to the Fall and replaced with the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, Michigan.
Masters and U.S. Open Prep Will Look Different
The Houston Open was always the signature tournament for players to prepare one week before The Masters in April. This competition is now moving to the Fall months and is being replaced by the Valero Texas Open.
The RBC Canadian Open for the last few years has taken place a week succeeding The Open Championship in the U.K. Now, Canada’s tournament will be slotted in one week before the U.S. Open. This is a very good move for the tournament organizers, especially trying to attract top golf talent north of the border.
“It’ll make it a lot easier to attract all the great players that I know want to come up and play but maybe just haven’t been able to fit it into their schedule before,” said Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., the highest ranked Canadian on the PGA Tour. “This will elevate this tournament back to the stature that it has had.”
PGA Tour Moving in Right Direction to Increase Popularity
Any major change to the schedule always requires a period for fans to adjust. But it is clear that the PGA is moving in the right direction, putting together a shorter season that will enhance TV ratings and engage more fans in the game of golf.
“We are extremely pleased with the way the schedule has come together, particularly with the number of changes that were involved and the strength of the partnerships required to achieve this new look,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
“It’s been our stated objective for several years to create better sequencing of our tournaments that golf fans around the world can engage in from start to finish. This will enhance the visibility of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and overall fan engagement with the PGA Tour and the game as a whole.”
The one shocking revelation of the new schedule is that golf superstar Tiger Woods will not have a tournament of his own. The Quicken Loans has always been a staple for Tiger, not only to showcase his brand but also to pay respect to the military and the brave men and women that preserve the freedom of America.
Jack Nicklaus has his tournament in Dublin, Ohio. The Bay Hill Invitational is dedicated to the late Arnold Palmer. While Tiger has not won a tournament for many years and has experienced a significant decline in the rankings due to injury, he has transformed the game of golf in more ways than one. It would not be surprising if the PGA Tour gives him a tournament in a few years when the Big Cat retires and his legacy is cemented into golf lore forever.
For golf fans all over the world, these new changes are much-needed and long overdue. There will be a signature tournament from March to August. The PGA Tour season will end well before the NFL season commences, which means football fans don’t have to worry about sacrificing their precious time watching the pigskin to watch golf.
I would say the PGA Tour has succeeded.