New PGA Tour season is serving a purpose

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press
Jordan Spieth

Napa, Calif. — The PGA Tour went 17 days from when Jordan Spieth’s putt ended one season until Will MacKenzie’s tee shot started another.

For Steven Bowditch, who played in the Presidents Cup, the offseason felt even shorter.

“It was a 10-hour flight from Korea,” Bowditch said.

The offseason on the PGA Tour has become open season for the critics who harp about a sport that never goes into hibernation.

Did it ever?

Ten years ago, the PGA Tour had 48 official tournaments squeezed into 44 weeks in a calendar year. The season began Jan. 6 at Kapalua, and there was a tournament (or two) every week until it ended Nov. 6 at the Tour Championship.

Now that the Tour has gone to a wraparound season that runs October-September, the numbers actually are slightly lower. There will be 47 events in 2015 spread over 43 weeks. Only the starting line has moved.

Still too much golf? Probably.

Then again, those who think the PGA Tour should have a longer offseason usually aren’t playing golf right now, anyway.

One thing hasn’t changed. Players can take off as much as time as they want.

The length of the offseason is up to them.

Brandt Snedeker is part of a growing number of players who only know a PGA Tour schedule built around the FedEx Cup.

“When we started the wraparound season three years ago, I was against it,” he said. “I thought we needed an offseason. We needed time when we’re not competing against football and all that stuff.

“But now that we’re in the third year of it, I think it’s been good. It gives guys an opportunity to play if they need it. For rookies, it’s a chance to get their feet wet. They’re not taking two months off and freaking out about it. They get right into it.”

And that’s what should be considered.

When there was talk 10 years ago about a shorter season, Woods and Phil Mickelson were leading the charge. Woods said he would like to see the season end around Labor Day, though he figured that was unrealistic.

Mickelson, if he had his way, would get rid of the fall tournaments entirely. Remember, he was a strong voice on that Ryder Cup Task Force that chose to ignore the Fall tournaments and not award Ryder Cup points until January.

His logic was reasonable. It was giving the “bottom half” of the tour a head start over the “top guys.”

Brooks Koepka got his start during the wraparound season. He now has a PGA Tour card and is No. 12 in the world. Would he have made it onto the tour without those opportunities? Probably. Great players are never held back. But it sure helped.

With a three-month offseason, how many events would Justin Thomas have played last year? How many does Patrick Rodgers get this year? How much longer before anyone outside golf knows anything about Emiliano Grillo?

Really, the offseason hasn’t changed at all — middle of November until January in Maui.

Is anyone paying attention?


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Shriners Hospital for Children Open

Course: TPC Summerlin (7,255 yards, par 71), Las Vegas

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday

TV: Golf Channel — 5-8 p.m., 8:30-11:30 p.m Thursday; 4-6 a.m., 5-8 p.m., 8:30-11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 4-6 a.m., 5-8 p.m., 9 p.m.-midnight Sunday


Taiwan Championship

Course: Miramar Golf Country Club (6,450 yards, par 72), Taipei, Taiwan

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday

TV: Golf Channel — noon-4 p.m. Thursday; midnight-4 a.m., noon-4 p.m. Friday-Sunday