Boo Weekley isn't a fan of the wraparound schedule and said so last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship, a.k.a Mississippi's major.
Weekley's contention, at least after I ran it through a few Google translators, is that Commissioner Tim Finchem adds tournaments because he's incentivized to do so. And Weekley misses the old system of the fall events being about the hungry up-and-comers and veterans holding onto their cards.
"It ain't doing nothing, but it is what it is. It's supposed to be the players tour. It's Tim Finchem and them's tour is what it is."
Weekley has certainly benefitted from fall golf, as Jim McCabe points out in trying to put down Weekley for criticisms that almost assuredly earned the veterain tour player a fine.
During lean years, 2011 and 2012, Weekley was struggling and very much needed good play late in the year. The PGA Tour was there for him, offering fall events; Weekley played four of them in ’11 and four more in ’12.
Of course that was when tournaments were part of the same year's schedule and the events wrapped up the season on a very quiet, lowly rated note, not around it. But the difference is important: one is promising to be the start of a new year, the old system was merely wrapping up the season's business by dealing with the fates of the second tier player and offering sponsorship opportunities at a lower price for companies unwilling to pay the huge tab a standard tour event demands.
McCabe rebuts Weekley this way:
In 1980 the PGA Tour season consisted of 44 tournaments. In 2014-15 there were 47 tournaments. It’s still a lot of golf, only it’s packaged differently with the wraparound season, a concept that marquee names clearly don’t like. They’ve come to the realization that they might need to play two or three times in the fall, to avoid giving young and hungry players a massive head start, unless they want to roll the dice that they play extraordinary well in 15-19 tournaments starting in January or February.
At least this year. That's because 2016's schedule is a mess. Whether it's a trend or a one-off to compensate for next year's madness remains to be seen.
Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com considers the Weekley comments and says that world ranking points available for fall events are up this year, confirming McCabe's point. But Hoggard also notes this in reaction to Boo's comments about the reduced time for fishing due to the need to play some fall golf even after having secured his card:
With apologies to the man from Milton (Fla.), cutting into Weekley’s extracurricular outdoor activities is the least of the Tour's problems. Instead, rest and recovery are in short supply at the highest level and more than one Tour swing coach has lamented that the slim offseason window has made it virtually impossible to institute any meaningful changes to a player’s game.
It’s the Tour’s mandate to create playing opportunities for every member, but as is the case in most businesses, quantity doesn’t always equate to quality.
While I enjoy the different philosophic approach, the numbers are not lying. While the ratings about to be about the same as they were last year and maybe up just a tiny bit since the PGA Tour's fall events became leadoff events, the buzz simply isn't there. Fans are speaking with their remotes.
SportsTVRatings lists Saturday's live WGC-HSBC from Shanghai, with McIlroy, Spieth and other impressive names in the TV window, drawing a 94,000 viewer average over five hours. Granted, those are late hours for half of America, but the Presidents Cup was recently on in the middle of the night and drew big numbers because the "product" is different and compelling.
While it was noble (and maybe a contractual obligation), Monday afternoon's rain delay finish of the Sanderson Farms drew an average of 69,000 viewers. I could go on and on listing examples of fall events which are not showing the uptick suggesting these start-of-the-season events have been legitimized in the eyes of the most hardcore fans.
The fans do matter to the PGA Tour, right?