Now Sean Murphy, a 40-year-old player who is taking a break from golf while recovering from surgery, is fighting an uphill battle to change the system.
For the past 18 months, Mr. Murphy has waged an impassioned campaign to get the Tour to offer pension benefits to every player on its three main circuits: the famous PGA Tour, the second-string Nationwide Tour and the Champions Tour for seniors 50 years of age and older. He has debated the issue with Tour officials, argued his case at a players' meeting in Erie, Pa., and has been pressing his cause in Congress.
Mr. Murphy, who has played on both the PGA Tour and the Nationwide Tour, will be eligible to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in pension money when he retires. Still, he calls the system discriminatory and says it goes against the Tour's stated mission "to substantially increase player financial benefits." He also asserts that it violates IRS rules for nonprofits by offering pensions to some independent contractors but not to others.
It has often been said that architects have designs for 18 greens and that the same ones are used over and over again on the various layouts. A successful architect of today does not follow that system. His greens are born on the ground and made to fit each particular hole.