Punch Shot: Pros, cons of PGA, Players moves

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It was officially announced on Tuesday that the PGA Championship will be moving to May and The Players Championship to March, beginning in 2019. Did the PGA of America and the PGA Tour make the right call? Are these all the right moves? Chatting back and forth on Slack, a real-time messaging system, GolfChannel.com senior writers Ryan Lavner and Rex Hoggard weighed in and debated the issue:

Ryan Lavner
OK, Rex. So the news that we've been anticipating for months finally became official Tuesday: The Players is returning to March, and the PGA is moving from August to May. What's your immediate reaction: A good move, or a mistake?

Rex Hoggard
Good move, but like most good moves there are some issues. The PGA is giving up some northern venues with the new date and what has been the event's identity - the year's final chance to win a major.

Ryan Lavner
And that's my ONLY problem with this move: What will the PGA be known for? Having the most top-100 players? The only major with 20 club pros? It now falls into a weird spot, as the second major of the year. As for eliminating the northern venues, I'm not buying it – yet. Yeah, maybe this rules out Whistling Straits and Hazeltine going forward, but let's get past Bethpage (2019) and Oak Hill (2023) first. That will tell us more.

Rex Hoggard
And it adds new venues in the south and southwest, which may end up being a good trade off; but the best thing about this move is it keeps the PGA from becoming an afterthought every four years during the Olympics. It was their only option.


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Ryan Lavner
One other thing, before we move on: It's another month of torture for golf fans. Now they have to wait from late July to early April to get their major fix. The diehards reading this website will still care about the playoffs and the European Tour's postseason, of course, but aren't you worried about an even longer break between the events that sports fans care about most?

Rex Hoggard
Aren't you the guy who wanted to dig into the "no off-season" idea today? Which way do you want it, a condensed season with five consecutive months of marquee events, or an extra month to drag things out? This is a big piece to solving the Tour's most concerning issue, going head-to-head with college and pro football.

Ryan Lavner
I have no problem with the pre-Labor Day finish. There's no sense competing against football, and players, for the most part, would seem to agree. But the biggest complaints I've seen from fans about this – if my ravaged Twitter account is any indication – is the extended break.

Rex Hoggard
This afternoon Rory McIlroy was asked about the possibility of an "extended" break and talked about how that "exclusivity" makes it more special, much like you look forward to spring training in baseball. There will still be golf in the fall for diehard fans, but not major championships.

Ryan Lavner
Let's move on to the second piece of this announcement: The Players is going back to its mid-March date. Having any flashbacks to pre-2007?

Rex Hoggard
Couldn't help but go back to '07 when the Tour would tell anyone who would listen that TPC Sawgrass would play better in May because of better weather. Now they will have to convince folks it will be fine in March. Good fun.

Ryan Lavner
Oh, you must be talking about the EXTENSIVE analysis the Tour types did. Right. Back to March it goes, but it’s once again the centerpiece of the Florida swing – where it belongs.

Rex Hoggard
The PGA and Players’ moves were simply a part, albeit a big part, of a larger schedule shakeup for 2019 and beyond. The Florida swing will look much different – with the Tampa stop likely going to the fall portion of the schedule – as will the rest of the season.

Ryan Lavner
The only "meh" part of this move, to me, is where will players get a true Masters tuneup? It's not gonna be at PGA National. It's definitely not at Sawgrass. Or Austin CC. Or TPC San Antonio. Ugh. Bring back Doral.

Rex Hoggard
I would contend that moving The Players back to March will prompt players to get into "mid-season form" a little quicker. There are guys who show up at Augusta National that are playing their third or fourth event of the season. That won't happen with the schedule change.

Ryan Lavner
My biggest takeaway from this whole thing is that the Tour is waving the white flag, saying that it's tired of going up against football. That's a big concession ... but it's the right move.

Rex Hoggard
It's the right move, but it will be interesting to see the rest of the pieces fall into place over the next few months. There is a clear plan in place at Tour HQ, but I've been told that many of the players don't like how the circuit wants to head down that road. You may not want to know how this meal gets made.

Ryan Lavner
And that's what we call a cliffhanger.