The PGA Tour has released its schedule for the 2013 season. Because the Fall Series will now be the start of the following season, next year will feature a shorter schedule than normal. Our writers chime in with their thoughts on what they like and don't like about the condensed schedule.
By RANDALL MELL
There’s a lot to like with the PGA Tour’s evolving schedule, but there is a glaring shortcoming.
While we’re going to continue to see a big-bang finish with the FedEx Cup playoffs, we still lack the big-bang start.
The Hyundai Tournament of Champions is a solid event, but even its Monday finish won't give the PGA Tour that grand-opening feel. It doesn’t have that special feeling that Opening Day gives Major League Baseball, and that’s a shame. The PGA Tour sort of eases into its schedule instead of starting it with a fireworks show.
While next year’s newly configured fall package will make the start of the 2014 season mean more with FedEx Cup points at stake, it still doesn’t create a heightened sense of anticipation for the start of a new season the way Opening Day does in baseball. At least, it doesn’t as it is imagined.
Give me the Accenture Match Play Championship as the season opener. Give me a World Golf Championship event like that one with the top 64 players in the world competing with the win-or-go-home component, and you'll put a jolt of excitement into the new season’s start.
By JASON SOBEL
OK, so let me get this straight: In its infinite wisdom, the PGA Tour years ago understood that its late-season product couldn’t succeed against the machine that is college and professional football, so executives decided to scale back the schedule under the guise of giving its players a true offseason by implementing the FedEx Cup playoffs, then built in more tournaments after the season was “over,” thereby contradicting its own intention for some downtime and starting next year the newest campaign will come directly after the previous one finishes, creating a never-ending cycle of golf that breeds both familiarity and contempt rather than offering both the players and the consumers a fresh, new, interesting product on the course.
That’s pretty much it, right?
The decision to begin the 2014 season just weeks after the 2013 season is completed is akin to a World Series champion heading to Spring Training while still soaked in champagne. For whatever reason, the PGA Tour has chosen to saturate the market, its obvious approach apparently being that quantity beats quality. Someone needs to tell the folks in PVB executive offices that one of the reasons they wanted to get away from football season is that its popularity is largely based on being a five-month-a-year sport. Miss a game and you’ve missed something big. Miss a PGA Tour event and there will always be another one the next week.
Anyway, that’s my least favorite thing about the upcoming schedule, in case you couldn’t tell.
What’s my favorite thing about it? An extra built-in bye week.
Next year the pros will receive a week off after the first two FedEx Cup playoff events and before the last two, splitting the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship. Then, following the Tour Championship, another bye week before two dozen of the game’s best head to Muirfield Village for the Presidents Cup.
I know. These guys aren’t digging ditches and players who complain about not getting enough breaks come off as whiners. But let’s face it: More players are not only going to play all four events and the Presidents Cup with built-in bye weeks, but play them well. I like that decision. See? Sometimes less can actually be more.
By RYAN LAVNER
The truncated 2013 PGA Tour schedule features few surprises, which is to be expected, with the most radical changes in Tour history – a new qualifying format, split-calendar season, maybe even an anchoring ban – looming in 12 months.
Tournament officials have embraced the week-before-the-Masters slot, turning Redstone Golf Club into Augusta National-lite, with shaved mounds around the greens, slick putting surfaces and mowing patterns from green to tee box. Phil Mickelson has played the lead-in event each year since 2008, and Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel are among the players who have turned up in Humble, Texas, for one final test before the year’s first major.
Unfortunately, with the March 28-31 date, two weeks before Augusta, the SHO likely won’t attract the same caliber of field. Instead, it’ll be up to the folks at the Valero Texas Open to simulate the Augusta experience.
By REX HOGGARD
Let’s call them faux PGA Tour cards, at least that will be the reality if not the official company line from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
To be fair, the transition to a split-calendar Tour schedule will be a “one off” anomaly, rectified with the beginning of the 2013-14 season in October. In the short term, however, there will be the loss of four Fall Series events and the Mayakoba Golf Classic, which will move from the spring when it was played opposite the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship to the fall and the start of the new season.
In practical terms it means a loss of over 600 playing opportunities in 2013, or about five events per player according to one Tour official. For some that will mean the difference between keeping a Tour card or heading back to the circuit’s redesigned qualification process.
Eight events will increase their field sizes in 2013 and the Tour will limit the number of unrestricted sponsor exemptions tournaments can dole out in an attempt to mitigate the loss, but it will be the equivalent of bringing a spork to a knife fight.
The condensed schedule could also be aggravated by a larger-than-normal Q-School class and an onslaught of player utilizing a major medical exemption. The end result will be one of the most demanding schedules in recent memory, particularly for those playing out of the Web.com Tour/Q-School category.
The Tour will not call it a “Tour card Light,” but it should.