NEWS: PGA Tour Announces East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga., as the permanent home of the season-ending Tour Championship.
MESSAGE: Actually its the Tour Championship Presented by Coca-Cola which makes it logical and somewhat understandable that commissioner Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour gang would allow for such a thing. Coca-Cola has roots in Atlanta, I know. East Lake Golf Club is the home course of legendary Bobby Jones, I know. But Ive got serious issues with this.
The state of Georgia already has two PGA Tour events each year (Masters and BellSouth Classic.) It actually used to have three until the former Buick Challenge at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain left the schedule a few years back. Two is plenty, and given that one of them is in suburban Atlanta already makes it an even poorer decision in my mind. Throw in the fact that Atlanta also gets a major every now and again (PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club) and I really get edgy.
Follow me on this: The Tour Championship presents a field with the top 30 money earners on the tour in that given year. In other words, the best 10 or so players in the world are guaranteed to play each year. That doesnt happen every week. In fact, take away the majors or the WGC events and it doesnt happen at all! We all know that each and every week, tournaments and tournament directors are stuck defending their fields based the number of top ranked players participating. The Tour Championship doesnt have any of that working against it.
Heres another problem, as I see it. Certain courses fit certain horses. And if things like the money list, scoring title and Player of the Year honors are up for grabs, should anyone have a certain advantage each year that they show up at East Lake? Dont tell me that Augusta and the Masters is the same, because those awards arent decided that week.
So do the right thing and use this showcase event as a chance to showcase the best the PGA Tour has to offer. Move it around to different states, different cities and different courses that will allow some the chance to see what they might not otherwise get a chance to see! See what I mean?
Look, I know Ive said Canada gets the short end of the stick when it comes to PGA Tour golf before. And if not for The Tour Championships dates each year (Novembers first weekend), then Canada would be a great spot in the rotation.
That said, many states in northern tiers of the U.S. wont cut it either. For instance Indiana, which has no PGA Tour stop, or Michigan, which boasts some of the very best golf in the country. Id love to see the event played in Washington or Oregon. But given November weather there, you just cant make it happen.
I also wouldnt take it to Texas. Not because the weather wouldnt cooperate. It would. Not because there arent enough options for cities or courses ' because the options are numerous. In my view, the state already has four PGA Tour events and thats quite enough, in my opinion.
So .lets go by states, shall we? How about New Mexico? Albuquerque is a great city with no major golf of any kind heading in and out each year. How about Oklahoma? Oklahoma City deserves a chance to jump into the running, doesnt it?
How about Missouri? St. Louis has great golf, and while it wouldnt be exactly balmy in November, I think the top players could find a sweater in the closet for the week, dont you? Tennessee is a great state and you can bet Nashville would know a thing or two about how to entertain the PGA Tours best.
You want to be more specific? How about we look at some great courses. Now East Lake Golf Club certainly qualifies. And the fans there are terrific, but Im just not peachy about settling for what we already know.
Ive gone to Golf Digest for some suggestions, using their 2003-2004 ranking of Americas Top 100. Some of these are private and some are public (which I think would be an even better choice of venue to drum up excitement for determining the Arnold Palmer Award for the PGA Tour s leading money winner.)
In no order of preference, here are some choices with each courses location as well:
The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, SC
Pasatiempo Golf Club, Santa Cruz, CA
Pinehurst Resort and Country Club No. 2 or No. 8, Pinehurst, NC
Kiva Dunes Golf Club, Gulf Shores, AL
Twin Warriors Golf Club, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
Olympic Club, San Francisco, CA
The Homestead (Cascades), Hot Springs, VA
The Honors Course, Chattanooga, TN
Forest Highlands Golf Club, Flagstaff, AZ
The Estancia Club, Scottsdale, AZ
Now, I realize we also need to check average temperature for that time of year and not having played many of these courses, I will understand that some might not be able to accommodate large crowds or corporate hospitality.
Im just trying to think outside the box for a minute. And if it were me, just off the top of my head, then Id say The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn., sounds perfect. Yes, it's only 2 hours north of Atlanta, and yes, the Volunteer state already has a PGA Tour event (Fed Ex St. Jude Classic in Memphis), but Chattanooga once upon a time had a PGA Tour event and folks in the area might like to re-live some memories.
Plus, I couldnt think of a better promotion for the tournament than: Dont miss the PGA Tours best settling all the awards. The 'final exam' for the Top 30 taking place at The Honors Course.
I know were in a world of corporate dollars doing more talking than anything else. But when it comes to an event where the richest get richer anyway, cant we just try and do something that makes some sense for the GAME and those whod like to watch it too?
Sorry, but I didnt get invited to the meeting, so I just felt like I needed to speak up after reading the press release.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann