The article below was written by Matt Chivers of National Club Golfer.
The PGA Tour have revealed a number of changes to its schedule from 2024. And let’s just say there have been mixed reviews.
If you missed it, you can read all about it here, but parallels have been drawn between this new elevated-purse, no-cut events and the LIV Golf League, which itself has been scrutinised for its format.
The drastic changes – which PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has described as “substantial, can’t-miss tournaments” – have, rather predictably, divided the golf world. And we haven’t had enough of that in the past couple of years…
The arguments for the PGA Tour schedule changes
There are a couple of schools of thought on the matter. We’d encourage you to take a look at Nathan Hubbard’s thread on Twitter if you are still torn on the new PGA Tour schedule changes.
The brother of Tour player Mark Hubbard offers an insightful explanation of the current situation between the plights of both the Tour and LIV Golf.
Speaking ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, four of the PGA Tour’s biggest names explained why the changes can only be a force of good.
“I love it. Obviously, I’ve been a part of it and been in a ton of discussions. I think it makes the Tour more competitive. I think we were going that way anyway.
“The Playoffs used to be 125, 70, 30. This year they have gone to 70, 50, 30. I’m all about rewarding good play. I want to give everyone a fair shake at this, which I think this structure has done.
“There are ways to play into it. It’s trying to get the top guys versus the hot guys, right? I think that creates a really compelling product, but in a way that you don’t have to wait an entire year for your good play to then get the opportunity. That opportunity presents itself straight away.
“You play well for two or three weeks, you’re in a designated event. You know then if you keep playing well, you stay in them.
“We’ve always had no-cut events on this Tour. If you think of the four WGCs, you’ve got the three playoff events, you’ve got the CJ Cup, and the Zozo. So there’s precedent there for no-cut events.
“The only reason no-cut events are a big deal is because LIV has come along. So there is precedent for no-cut events. There have been no-cut events since I’ve been a member of the Tour and way beyond that as well.”
“If you imagine you have 120 guys in the fields this year, those 50 additional guys that are not going to be in the fields next year are all playing the events this year and you’re seeing a lot of other tournaments on our schedule suffer because of that.
“Because, let’s say if you’re the 100th guy in the world or over, you’re going to try and play in those $20 million purses and if you’re in the event, how can you skip it? It’s double the money.
“I think it’s exciting because you’re going to have the top guys in the world playing against each other more often.
“You’re going to be able to guarantee the sponsors that those guys are going to be there four days. If you’re coming out to an event to watch on Saturday and Sunday and, if I’m imagining myself as a kid I would like to get out there early.
“Let’s say I’m having a bad week, some kid can come out and watch me play early in the day and you can guarantee that Rory McIlroy’s going to be there on Sunday, Jon Rahm’s going to be there on Sunday. I think that’s a lot of value added to TV and for sponsors.
“The guys that may not be able to get into those 70-man fields are going to be playing a lot of other events where the purses aren’t going down. So I think it’s going to benefit the membership as a whole.”
“I love the new changes. I could rant on this for a while, which I might.
“The reason I wanted to join the Player Advisory Council, which is what I’m on now, and was on a bit last year, is because I think I do provide a unique perspective. I guess I’ve just seen all kind of levels of professional golf between the Korn Ferry Tour and the PGA Tour.
“And I believed in this back then and I believe in this now. I didn’t maybe see exactly what is being done. I’m not quite smart enough to have planned this one out.
“But the product is important. I think it’s easy to frame these changes as a way to put more money in the top players’ pockets.
“But it has been made to make it easier and more fun for the fans. I know it’s low-hanging fruit to jump on – ‘Oh, this is just a money grab’ [but] this is to make it better for the fans.
“It is more opportunity for the top players to battle it out late on Sundays. Which, you look back at times of Phil and Tiger, the two best players growing up for me watching, and they had like maybe two real battles.
“The non-designated events are the same purses with, on paper, weaker fields. So financially that doesn’t change a whole lot. And there’s a lot of room for growth throughout that.”
“I think they’re really exciting changes. I think they will make the Tour stronger going forward. I think as it pertains to no cut – the biggest advantage of it is locking in the stars that play those events into four days.
“So if you’re a little kid in whatever city that a tournament, one of these tournaments is going on, LA, for example, and you can only go on Sunday, for sports or that’s when your mum or dad can take you, you know that if Tiger Woods enters the tournament on Sunday you can go watch him.
“Rory, you can go watch him. I think that’s really powerful.
“I think we’re going to see now that the non-elevated events will most likely have stronger fields. I think you won’t see any fields as you saw at Honda last week.
“Because when you have 120 or 130 players all playing those designated events, they have to take a week off somewhere or they will play five weeks in a row.
“I think one of the real good changes with this is not only because the fields are limited, but there won’t be as many designated events and they were very cognizant of making sure that there weren’t any weeks that would most likely have a bad field, just because of their slot on the schedule.
“I think the full-field events will have much stronger and deeper fields throughout the course of the year.”
The arguments against the PGA Tour schedule changes
Several of LIV Golf’s most outspoken players took to social media to air their – largely sarcastic – views on the situation, while one DP World Tour player was a bit more thoughtful in his response…
“I’ve spent the last year reading how good full fields and cuts are!
“So [the PGA Tour] do away with the WGCs, load the OWGR in your favour, create 10 limited-field events for just PGA Tour members (like WGCs). Add to that four majors, The Players, [and] the FedEx Cup.
“That’s a full schedule for a top player. That’s growing the game. What strategic alliance?”
So.. Do away with the WGC’s. Load the OWGR in your favour. Create 10 limited field events for just PGA tour members(like WGC’s). Add to that 4 majors,Players,FedEx cup. That’s a full schedule for a top player. That’s growing the game😉. What Strategic Alliance?— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) March 1, 2023
“Oh my my my. When will the penny drop with so many? It really doesn’t take a [rocket scientist] to work it out.
“And [it] sounds very similar to another product that’s been spoken so badly about by media and commentators.
“I’m all ears now. I’m waiting.”
Oh my my my…. When will the penny drop with so many of what’s actually happened here. 🤷🏼♂️ It really doesn’t take a 🚀 👩🏼🔬 to work out. And sounds very similar to another product that’s been spoken so badly about by Media and commentators. I’m all ears now 👂🏼 I’m waiting https://t.co/lxYg6B8goy— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) March 1, 2023
“How does this help the so-called strategic alliance with the DP World Tour? The 10 players will have zero chance of getting in these limited-field events, making their chances of keeping their playing rights VERY difficult.
“[It] just proves that the PGA Tour has no interest in this alliance. And, of course, this is “growing the game”. $20 million, limited field, no cut… sounds familiar.”
“In mid-2018, I bogeyed the last hole in back-to-back events in Germany and Ireland to miss the cut by one shot. It killed me. I went home, thought about s***, and then came second at the Scottish Open and (nearly) won the Open at Carnoustie (with a hangover).
“A year on in 2019, thanks in part to those two good performances in Scotland, I recall playing poorly in both the WGCs in Mexico and Memphis, and not caring about anything during the final round. Missing cuts is essential for growth as a professional golfer.
“We could argue that the top guys who will be playing the elevated events in 2024 have already done all their “growing”, but you’d be surprised how much it means to make a cut when your backs up against the wall and you’re struggling. It’s a mini-win, and it breeds great things.
“So whether it’s LIV or, now, the PGA Tour, as someone who has played competitively for years, removing the cut is one of the worst things to happen to the game in the last 12 months.