My fantasy golf calendar
This week’s confirmation of a WGC event in South Africa, plus the conclusion of the SA Open date-swap saga, has got me thinking about the way the global golf season looks.
I’m about to delve into fantasy here. This is how I think the pro schedule should run. It’s fair, it’s global and it’s brilliant for golf followers around the world. It makes no concessions to egos, interests or money, which is why it will be difficult to achieve. But here’s what I’d push for if I were president of the world…
It’s time for a proper world golf tour. No-brainer. Clearly there are not enough weeks in the year for all the big tournaments going on in both hemispheres – it’s about to get worse with the SA WGC event in December – and even a cursory glance at Twitter will tell you the players themselves are crying enough of all the flying.
To avoid clashes and a 52-week schedule, the PGA Tour, European Tour and all the rest will need to become feeders for the world tour. That means second-tier players will play for less money. So be it. That’s capitalism. Viewers and sponsors aren’t interested in second-tier players. Ask Tim Finchem.
The European Tour might have to spend a bit more time in, um, Europe, as smaller purses might mean intercontinental travel can’t be justified. But that’s an aside.
Sure, the world tour cannot fix the problem of golf running most of the year, but I believe it could certainly be condensed into 10 months. Look at Formula 1 – it’s a global show running from March to November, and it uses precisely those months to visit the southern hemisphere when the weather is decent. My world tour would do the same.
So, we have a shorter playing season, and we’re also going to have fewer tournaments. We’re going to have quality, not quantity. Perhaps 18 events, so that each and every one of them pulls a terrific field and is really worth watching. Again, kind of like Formula 1.
I think any pro would go for a sensible 18-tournament season, even though it would involve a little more flying for some. Overall, I think, they’d get more time to recharge so they could produce great golf in the big ones.
So what’s on the calendar? Sorry America, but you’re going to have to share the love a bit. You’ve been spoilt for far too long. South Africa is producing the winner of every second Major and its going to get two tournaments, which even then is probably less than we deserve.
The concept of WGC should fade away in the context of a global tour, so that the only tournaments with extra recognition would be the Majors. Which is exactly how it should be.
I will also have four match play tournaments, because everyone enjoys watching matchplay but nobody running any of the tours right now takes the slightest bit of notice of that. It would also introduce some much-needed variety.
Let’s start the year with the South African Open in early March – even in the Cape the weather will still be fine. This tournament will have a roving venue, as any Open should.
Then there will be another big tournament in South Africa – essentially the ‘WGC’ event. Possibly matchplay, to provide something different from the previous week.
After that it’s off to South America for an event in Argentina, which has produced some fine golfers without the slightest acknowledgement in terms of hosting anything worthwhile.
OK, now America can have its share. I’d go for a big California event and a big Florida event. Say Torrey Pines/Riviera and then Doral. One of these should be matchplay. They could alternate. Make it fun!
That takes us into the Masters, and then we’ll go to the Dubai Desert Classic while northern America and Europe warm up a little more. And that’s it for the Middle East. The weather may be nice and they may have money, but it’s a hell hole and has no golf tradition.
That’s seven so far, and we’re into May. I’d head for southern Europe now, with the Spanish Open and then, after a couple of weeks, a tournament in England or Wales. Not Wentworth. Please. Somewhere fun. Perhaps a links course?
Next up is the US Open and the Memorial, after which we cross the Atlantic again for the Irish Open (on a links, please!) and the Open Championship. (The Scottish Open will have to drop to the European Tour). Then we’ll have a big tournament in Germany, possibly matchplay.
That’s 14 tournaments. The PGA Championship is next. Yanks, before you start moaning, please note that this is our third visit to your country, more than anyone else has had. And you still have three Majors.
Then we take a break – the Ryder Cup could slot in here and get some decent weather for a change. If the Presidents Cup is in the north, it goes here too.
In late September it’s off to China for the ‘WGC’ event in Shanghai. Not that I think much of China, but you’d never get away with not going there.
Then there’s one more event in Asia, possibly a roving matchplay tournament. Japan deserves a big one now and then, but India is also fun – I’d love to see a tournament at Royal Calcutta!
The season will conclude with the Australian Open in early November.
Note – my calendar leaves tons of free weeks for things like the Presidents Cup!
I guess the one big question is how it would work for players on the periphery. Would they have to try and play the world tour and a lesser tour at the same time? Well, I think there should be a promotion/relegation system. If you perform well on a feeder tour you have a world tour card for the following season. Likewise, the bottom few of the world tour will drop out at the end of each season and have to earn their way back.
With only 18 events, everyone on the world tour would play every tournament, barring injury and imminent fatherhood. So you’d have a very similar field for each event – all the stars, guaranteed.
And now for the biggest question…what do YOU think?