Jay Monahan is set to replace Tim Finchem as PGA Tour commissioner. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with one big item Monahan should address early in his new role.
By RYAN LAVNER
As successful as the PGA Tour has been since 1994, when Tim Finchem took over as commissioner, there still are clear areas for improvement.
The biggest is the Tour’s transparency problem.
Under Finchem, the Tour employed the ol’ bury-your-head-in-the-sand strategy when it came to issues of player misconduct. Once, Finchem rather infamously stated: “We don’t think the fans really want to know about most of the stuff we would be talking about.”
Maybe not, but by taking this stance in regards to player fines and suspensions, the Tour differs from every other major sporting organization. Others have long realized what the Tour has not — that a public reprimand is often the best deterrent.
The Tour would also benefit from a more transparent process with its anti-doping program and slow play, sending a clear message to both players and fans that it takes all of these issues, both large and small, seriously.
By REX HOGGARD
When Jay Monahan finally settles into the big office at the PGA Tour, there will be no shortage of issues, both large and small, to be addressed; but the most pressing may be the Tour’s very identity.
For the majority of Finchem’s tenure as commissioner, Tiger Woods was the undisputed top draw, bringing new fans to the game and driving interest and television ratings to all-time highs.
Whether Woods is able to regain something close to that level of competitive relevance remains to be seen following multiple back procedures and more than a year on the disabled list, which means Monahan will likely have to look to a star-by-committee concept going forward.
Much like the NBA when Michael Jordan retired, the Tour will have to make the collective the conversation, a prospect made easier by a group of talented young players – from Jason Day and Rory McIlroy to Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth – that have emerged.
Parity isn’t necessarily a bad thing in sports if presented to the public correctly, which means it’ll be up to Monahan & Co. to frame the narrative properly going forward.
By RANDALL MELL
If Jay Monahan is putting up a suggestion box outside his office door, here’s an idea: How about a Major League Baseball type Opening Day for the PGA Tour in the future?
How about trying to get the new year – not the wrap-around season – off to a big bang start, instead of this soft Tournament of Champions start in Hawaii? Too many champions aren’t even showing up there anymore. Outgoing commissioner Tim Finchem did a terrific job creating a lot of big events through the PGA Tour schedule, but the rest of sports barely notices the PGA Tour is up and running again come January.
Yes, of course, there are challenges beginning the new year amid the NFL playoffs, but leading off with the WGC-Match Play Championship would get the PGA Tour some attention, especially if the Tour went back to the event’s old format, where the first- and second-round matchups created such a nice buzz.
Yes, there’s the danger of an anticlimactic weekend, with big names leaving early, but the electricity created in those first two rounds would finally give the PGA Tour an Opening Day feel people would notice.
By WILL GRAY
The new commissioner should walk into his new digs and immediately take a look at the calendar. When he does, there’s a chance he’ll realize that less is more.
This season the Tour will conduct a whopping 47 events across seven different countries. It’s a testament to the accomplishments of Monahan’s predecessor, but it has also created a sense that the competitive schedule extends in perpetuity.
The term “off-season” is thrown around with tongue planted firmly in cheek, often in reference to a stretch of days or weeks instead of months. More importantly, the stretched schedule tends to water down the overall product and creates a scenario where the Tour’s efforts to conjure a climactic close to the season run squarely up against the start of football, when the attention of the TV audience is fragmented.
And while the 2016 schedule was more hectic than most, it’s still a troubling sign when players from Jason Day to Justin Rose have to sideline themselves because the injuries accrued over a busy summer simply haven’t had enough time to properly heal.
Granted, this is a good problem to have, and as long as sponsors are lining up with checks in hand the Tour will – and should – gladly accept their money. But if Monahan hopes to carve out a more distinct identity for his product, he might want to start moving a few pieces around on the calendar in his office.