KAPALUA, Hawaii – It’s been less than seven weeks since rookie Mackenzie Hughes won a frigid playoff at the RSM Classic to close the 2016 portion of the 2016-17 PGA Tour schedule.
On Thursday, the boys of spring, summer, fall and winter will get back after it at the SBS Tournament of Champions, a reality that leaves some feeling as if the Tour is suffering from a severe case of overexposure.
As the old saying goes, always leave them wanting more.
But when it comes to non-stop golf and the Tour’s wraparound schedule, which began in 2013, some contend that absence can be a powerful enticement.
Even the world No. 1, Jason Day, figured there can be too much of a good thing, saying in Kapalua that, “The season is too long to be honest. But that's just my honest opinion. If we can shorten it down a little bit, you might see a few more guys play in certain areas.”
But if the early signs sent up by new commissioner Jay Monahan are any indication, don’t expect to see the circuit subscribe to a less-is-more philosophy any time soon.
“I really don't hear that much about the wraparound schedule. I hear a lot of positives about the wraparound schedule, but I don't get a lot of questions about why or whether it's working,” Monahan told PGATour.com. “I think the reality is that, again, going back to demand, there's such demand for the PGA Tour and for professional golf that obviously if you can put 47 events on the calendar, you're doing something right. And if you were to make changes, and I'm not suggesting what those changes would be, but if those changes resulted in fewer events, that creates openings on your schedule that the demand will fill.”
There’s nothing more pure and enticing than the start of spring training in baseball, with every team optimistic and every fan hungry for a game that had faded into the memories of the previous season’s Fall Classic.
But Monahan & Co. aren’t selling nostalgia or the promise of warmer days, they’re hawking pro-am tee times, television revenue and bigger purses. If the Tour decides to end it’s season earlier, and there is a push afoot to wrap things up on Labor Day before the NFL season moves into full flight, and nix the fall portion of the schedule, someone will fill that void.
Whether in Europe, Asia or beyond, there will be tournaments played during those relatively quiet fall days and Monahan, just as his predecessor Tim Finchem, is a businessman.
Successful CEO’s don’t get to the top of the ladder by shrinking their own business or ignoring opportunities. If the RSMs, CIMBs and OHLs of the business world are willing to write checks for tournaments played in the fall with relatively weaker fields than don’t expect Monahan, or any other self-respecting chief executive, to walk away from a revenue stream. It’s Business 101.
Never-ending golf might be bad for the core golf fan, but reducing the number of tournaments to simply manufacture a reasonable offseason is bad for business.