In introducing this web site's week in review, I wondered why Tim Finchem has received little criticism for so many questionable initiatives, most notably the recently announced FedEx Cup.
Well, the Augusta Chronicle's Scott Michaux not only criticizes Finchem, but undoubtedly will have some Vice Presidents running around tomorrow working to make sure no one ever utters the words "FedEx Cup Evaluation System."
It is difficult to swallow, much less stomach.
What I'm talking about is PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem's undigestible contrivance coming in 2007 dubbed - depending on your threshold for corporate jargon - the FedEx Cup or Finchem's Folly.
A couple of weeks ago, Finchem unveiled the hardly anticipated FedEx Cup Evaluation system, which heretofore will be referred to by its acronym, FECES.
Without boring you in excruciating Finchemesque fashion with any of the details you already don't care about, it is just another list attempting to quantify the relative values of professional golfers in a cluttered landscape that already includes an official world ranking, money winnings, orders of merit, various international team standings, etc.
The only thing that makes the FECES curiously different is the PGA Tour's transparent attempt to mathematically equate its Players Championship with the universally acclaimed four major championships.
Uh Scott, it's now THE PLAYERS. Please, get your facts straight!
Finchem's goal with this whole FECES thing is to create a "playoff-like" finish to his laudably truncated PGA Tour season. Through the first 36 events of the season, the roughly 240 players who start the year with some semblance of official status will be whittled all the way down to 144 lucky few who qualify for a four-week, no-tee-times-barred, battle royale culminating at the Tour Championship at East Lake. For getting hot at just the right time, Finchem will reward $10 million to the man who, in essence, turns out to be the glorified player of the month.
When the FECES hits the fans, will anyone care other than the individual who'll get to fortify his already lucrative retirement portfolio?
Finchem believes he created some kind of excitement that will compare to NASCAR's season-ending chase for its championship or the NFL's compelling buildup to the Super Bowl. Instead he's done nothing but give birth to another flawed BCS concept that ultimately won't resolve anything. He's tried to rationale his baby with another postseason analogy about a 105-win Yankees team having to start over in October, but those Yankees wouldn't have to start over against the last-place Royals.
And he's just warming up.
If this were the only thing that Finchem had overdone in his tenure as commissioner of the PGA Tour, it would be almost excusable. But seeing as he's callously dismantled or neutered some golfing traditions that have been around for more than a century in the process, shackled the tour to the ultra-fringe Golf Channel for an astonishing 15 years and stepped on the toes of every other worldwide golfing entity with his avarice, Finchem's Folly loses any benefit of the doubt.Ah, there's a story that no one really has explored enough.
Finchem is a corporate drone who believes everything is better based upon money. If the Players pays more money than the Masters Tournament, it must be better. If The Golf Channel is willing to pay you more money over the course of 15 years than ESPN would have for the next four, it must be better.
That's why Finchem believes he's doing a good job, because the players he (with one whopper of an assist by Tiger Woods) made rich and spoiled gave him a $27 million contract extension.
More money, however, hasn't made the PGA Tour better. It's made it worse. Extra zeroes only add to the numbing. If you really want to see the best players on the PGA Tour going head-to-head more often, start paying them what they were making back in the '80s and early '90s - when making a million dollars was a season's work for the hardest workers who performed the best instead of a week's salary for a tournament winner or the median annual income for finishing in the top 150.
Just how much of Finchem's decision-making is based upon money? Consider that the only way the nearly 70-year-old event in Greensboro, N.C., was spared the cutting block was because it ponied up $500,000 to agent Mark Steinberg - just to be granted an audience with Finchem in order to make its case.
That was not a benefit granted to, say, the 102-year-old Canadian Open, which was rendered all but obsolete with an untenable date between the British Open and PGA. Or the Western Open, which will be stripped of its venerable title and relegated to semi-annual visits to the Chicago area. Or the tournament outside Washington D.C., which was shut out of the regular season because FedEx attracted favoritism to its Memphis, Tenn., event. Or the Disney Classic and 84-year-old Texas Open, which were all but dismissed without any more dialogue than a curt "thanks for coming."
Not that the overly fattened PGA Tour season couldn't use a little trimming, but Finchem handled the whole process badly.
Finchem constantly displays an arrogant disregard for everything in golf outside of his own tunnel vision. Who cares if the new tour schedule will gut the European Tour's prime events during the spring and late summer? Who cares if its big announcements distract the attention from the LPGA Tour's most important event? Who cares if none of the so-called World Golf Championship events are played in front of audiences outside the United States?
Finchem has unilaterally constructed the PGA Tour to fit his vision. Thank goodness he has no control over any of the major championships, meaning the most important historical results of the year will never be sullied by an inadequate TPC venue or distasteful title sponsorship.
At least that knowledge can settle the uneasiness in the stomachs of the constituents who really matter - the golf fans.