Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PGA Tour Plans to Ditch On Q-School Dreams, And It's a Horrible Idea

Maybe I'm partial to the idea that any John Birdiemaker with a lot of game could essentially make it professional in the game of golf with three incredible weeks of play at PGA Tour Q-School, but the idea presented this weekend at the Heritage sure seems like it destroys one of the really special and unique things the PGA Tour hangs its hat on.

Basically, by 2013, Q-School would just get you a Nationwide Tour card, killing the idea of someone playing through three stages and making it on the PGA Tour. Instead of allowing people to qualify for the PGA Tour through Q-School, players on the PGA Tour outside the top 125 on the money list and Nationwide Tour players will be awarded points and then could compete in some complicated three tournament system at the end of the season loosely named the Finals Series (don't worry, by 2013 it'll be the iPad Finals Series or something) which could last into the next season. That is when players will be given tour cards.

If that last paragraph made your brain hurt, it should. It seems that everyone at the PGA Tour Headquarters is hellbent on making things as complicated as possible. First, we were handed the FedEx Cup, which was basically a way to make people interested in the final part of the PGA Tour season while including a big name sponsor to support it. As we've seen continually, the FedEx Cup just doesn't work. Now, we are getting rid of one of the coolest parts of the PGA Tour, and golf in general, by forcing players to qualify for the minor leagues, and then have to play incredibly well the next season if they want a chance at the PGA Tour.

Why does this anger me? Because it devalues what professional golf is all about. An old friend of mine, Greg Hansen, once wrote that U.S. Open qualifying was like trying to catch lightening in a bottle, but that is the beauty of it; one week you might just do something incredible, like Ben Curtis at the 2003 British Open, and nothing else matters. If a guy is on a hot streak, and plays well through the three stages of Q-School, like Kevin Streelman did three years ago, you should be allowed entry into the PGA Tour, not be forced to do what the Skins Game did in 2001 by forcing players to win or tie the next hole to keep their skin from the previous one. Golf is about what you did RIGHT THEN, not what you're going to do in a year from now.

It just seems a little unfair because it gives the advantage to Nationwide Tour players that have been around the circuit for years, and takes away from the younger players that are just starting out on that tour and learning the ropes.

Just think about it like this ... if this new plan was around two years ago, Rickie Fowler might still be strutting his orange Puma outfits on the Nationwide Tour, because he would have qualified there and then had to work his way up the leaderboard the following season. Trust me, the Nationwide Tour has some incredible golfers on it, that can play on that level and that level only, so if these young studs are forced to join the fray it could mean years of failed attempts and diminished careers.

I'm not a fan of this, and I knew it was coming for a long time. It just seems that one of the coolest traditions in golf is on the way out. What next, PGA Tour, a Masters belt buckle instead of a green jacket?


chris_villasenor said...

You're right Shane. I don't know why Golf is tinkering with this stuff. With the NFL and the NBA heading toward lockouts, it's time to really get their arms around their base of fans. Also, an HBO documentary series about Q-School (Q-School 24/7) wouldn't hurt either.

golf clubs said...

I hope they wouldn't go with such a hasty decision. They ought to think things over before doing a bad marketing move for golf.

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