I read an interesting article today over at Devil Ball Golf that made me start thinking about the future of the PGA Tour and seriously brought to mind what could happen down the road. The article at Devil Ball Golf referenced an article by Tim Rosanforte, the great golf writer for Golf Digest and the on air “insider” for PGA Tour broadcasts, saying we could be getting close to the PGA Tour invoking the 1-in-4 rule meaning members of the PGA Tour would have to play every tournament on tour every four years.
The reason being is how can the Bob Hope Classic compete with the Abu Dhabi Championship when the Abu Dhabi could quite possibly pay players to travel over there and attract the bigger stars, leaving the PGA Tour to fight for the survival of the Bob Hope. I wrote the same thing yesterday after Bill Haas won the Bob Hope. The top players in the world do not want to play this tournament. It’s a circus playing with celebrities hitting it all over the place and taking six hours to complete a round. Events like Torrey Pines and Riviera attract the bigger players because they are better courses and have a normal week which these guys are used to.
Just think if Bill Haas shoots 30 under at La Quinta, what could a player of Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods’ caliber shoot at those courses? 40 under? 50 under? Who knows. But there is no way you can get those players there with 18 handicapper celebs playing. And if Abu Dhabi is paying players to travel over there, what would you choose?
I do see the case the PGA Tour should raise to the players. But there is no way you can force these guys to play every tournament every four years. These guys will go somewhere else to play. They will go play European events 12-15 times a year. Then come home to play the majors, the WGC events, and get a few sponsors exemptions here and there and you it all adds up to 25 or more events. Without ever being a member of the PGA Tour.
I do believe they need to do something for the future. What if Tiger Woods wins his 2oth major over the next five years. He may only play ten events a year. Who knows in five years how much Phil will play each year. If these guys are only playing ten events, sponsors will bail and tournaments will fail.
This is something they will have to face eventually and the PGA Tour should be looking at it already. But personally I think tournaments like the Bob Hope and other Pro Am events should look at making changes to the format.