The Tour has come up with a half baked plan to change the way that the traditional season ending PGA Tour Qualifying School (Q School) hands out its cards. Instead of playing well at Q School and earning a Tour Card, those that play well there will now earn a Nationwide Card. What was that you said? They qualify for Q School play 6 rounds and don't get to play on Tour. (some have played as many as 8 rounds just to get to play the final 6!) That's right, possibly starting in the 2012 season, the Tour is essentially pulling up the trap door and saying from here on you need to start your golf career on the secondary circuit and make it to the Tour that way. I have represented players who have qualified and not qualified through the highs and lows of Q school, so have lived the experience with them and these guys are not going to be happy about this.
It's not done yet and all the convoluted qualifying events have yet to be agreed, but just the thought that the Tour is doing away with one of the best season ending events played out over 6 rounds is just plain crazy. Now I'm not saying it has to stay the same because it's been this way for 30 years, but there has to be a better way. Why not have less players keeping their Tour cards - go from 125 exempt to 50 or 75 and let the rest of them fight it out at the end of the year in some way. This new proposal will impact dramatically those looking to turn pro and curtail the better amateurs from staying in the amateur game, which is not a good thing.
We all know Nationwide is not renewing when their contract is up on the secondary tour and this is a desperate effort by the Tour to inject some life (and TV) into it for the new sponsor. The truth is few want to watch a secondary anything (Triple A baseball anyone?) and one of the consequences of this half baked idea will be to drive new talent to the European and Asian Tour where they can play in the major leagues. The management of those Tours must view the PGA Tour's possible closed shop policy with relish.
Last weekend was the deadline for all those interested in purchasing Acushnet. So, I hope you remembered to buy your iPad 2 and submit your bid for Titleist, Vokey and Scotty! With operating income a tad north of $80 million, the price on the company that turns over $1.24 billion (mostly from golf balls) is expected to bring a sale price of $700 million on the low end up to $1.2 billion on the high end. Following the first round of bidders, the field will be cut to 10...then the accountants will do there thing and a spreadsheet frenzy begins. The bidder could still come from private equity as well as the usual suspects, including Nike, TMaG, even Cleveland Golf. No doubt the lawn at Augusta will see some interested meetings as the final scramble for the April deadline approaches.
Following last weeks rant about the PGA Tour and the slow playing professionals it does seem, after all, that they can actually keep up the pace. Especially when it is in their best interest.
At yesterday's World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship (by the way who came up with that ludicrous name? So it's the Championship within the Championships - ah, very clever!) Rory Sabbatini (actually one of the fast guys) helped out his slow poke partners by sprinting to the ninth tee so they could all finish their round. His playing partners were still in the eighth fairway when he did it and for some reason Zack Johnson seems to be claiming the credit even though he was a hole back. The agreement seems to have been whoever hit it closest on 8, would get the baton and start running. Good on yer Rory. They all finished, got a good nights sleep and lived happily ever after.
It begs the question, if they can do it to get a decent nights sleep and no early morning start, why can't they just get a move on each week!
Two and three ball matches on the 2011 PGA Tour are back at a snails pace. Even matchplay as seen in last weeks Accenture event was taking over 5 hours...for a 2 ball. Clearly, there were not too many crys of "good, good"! We understand there is a great deal of money at stake, but for goodness sake you guys...get a move on! As well as the players taking an age to hit a shot, it is inexcusable for the players not to know simple rulings that could easily be discussed and agreed between themselves. On a number of occasions players are calling the referee for ball in the water (really, they don't know the options!), line of sight (ok, a little more questionable, but easily resolvable amongst adults!), or even OB! (It's outta here buddy - hit another!)
The question is WHEN is the PGA Tour going to do something about it? The last time a player was fined or assessed a penalty on Tour for slow play was, would you believe, 19 years ago. That player was journeyman, Dillard Pruitt, who in a shocking case of the ironies is now a PGA Tour referee. Surely he wants to get that monkey off his back? But no, the Ponte Vedra Beach suits are content to let the players dawdle along as television viewers across the country switch off in droves.
We aren't asking them to run around, simply get a move on and do all the things that golf magazines tell us to do every month. Be ready to play, keep up with the group in front of you, assess the shot ahead of time and please, no plumb bobbing for a minute before you hit a putt. Yes, we are talking to you JB - one, it doesn't work and two, you are slowing up the whole field!
The solution is simple and one that the LPGA has already adopted and used. After the allotted time, 45 seconds or 60 seconds for a shot, give them a warning. On the second occasion, slap a 2 shot penalty on their scorecard and start watching them get a move on! Fining them on their 10th bad time for the season the sum of $20,000, which is the current ruling is non-sensical and also hasn't been operational, so why is it there?
Let us know what you think....it sure is time the PGA Tour (and the other governing bodies!) did something positive. Golf is a slow moving game - it doesn't need to get any slower.