Q-School Not in Session?

By John HawkinsMarch 23, 2011, 8:09 pm

The PGA Tour’s plan to abolish Q-School and replace it with a qualifying process held over three Fall Series events is an interesting one – a project that would amount to radical change by the Tour’s unwavering standards.

As veteran David Toms said Tuesday on the practice range at Bay Hill, “we might as well blow up the whole thing and start over. Lower the Champions Tour [age] minimum to 45.” Toms was smiling when he said it, but he wasn’t joking around, nor was he condemning the notion of progressive thinking at a company known for sitting on its hands.

Since the schedule reconfiguration of 2007, when a collection of lesser tournaments known as the Fall Finish was designed to shake out matters involving exempt status and the top 125, Q-School has seemed like an outdated concept. The number of Tour cards awarded for a successful season on the Nationwide Tour has grown steadily over the last decade, owing to the theory that such promotions should be earned for excellence over an entire year, not six days.

Besides, the Fall Finish lacked significance. Events have come and gone, and if hardcore golf junkies are the only ones who have paid any attention, the product wasn’t strong enough to warrant consideration from a major network or 30 seconds on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” There was simply too much going on to forge an unyielding commitment to the Viking Classic. After nine months of FedEx Cup points and $5 million purses, enough was enough.

This proposal brings the potential of Q-School suspense to a packet of events that need relevance. “The guy who understands marketing can see how Q-School is a very valuable property,” said Joe Ogilvie, a former policy board member. “I think we’ve largely undersold it. You look at what [Donald] Trump did with ‘The Apprentice.’ Why isn’t our rookie class going on the ‘Today’ show?

Perhaps anything is possible, to paraphrase the Tour’s marketing slogan, but until the particulars of the qualifying changes are finalized, it may be healthier to think small and dream big. Any mix of Nationwide Tour players and those who failed to make the top 125 doesn’t leave room for guys like Rickie Fowler, a college star who turned pro, then earned his card through the six-round nerve-jangler. Those trying to make the leap from amateur golf to the big leagues would have no direct route to the Tour, which would be a shame since many of the game’s premier players didn’t stop for a cup of coffee at the Café Nationwide.

A Fall Series qualifier would also pave the way for bigger changes in the tour schedule, notably expansion to Asia, where each new season would actually begin in November. Make no mistake – Camp Ponte Vedra sees golden opportunity on the far side of the Pacific, its favorable reaction to the HSBC Champions serving as the most recent example. By settling the top 125 in late October, the Tour could kick off its season a couple of weeks later, something it can’t do with conventional Q-School, which is played the first week of December.

As the game becomes more global, pro golf as we know it today is likely to look very different 10 years from now. The simple laws of economics and history of league mergers in other sports tell us that a consolidation of the U.S. and European tours is, for the most part, an inevitability. Asia is a hot property, a key ingredient in the long-term equation, but until the PGA Tour cleans up the end of its season, it can’t really embark on an honest migration. The Q-School alterations are just one step toward the grand scheme, a big picture better known as the future.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.