The FedEx Cup, “A New Era of Golf.” Or so they’re calling the restructured PGA Tour. Let’s take a look at what the PGA did to try and make the sport more meaningful to the public.
The season is now divided into three parts; the regular season, the playoffs, and the fall series. The regular season is 36 events in 33 weeks from the beginning of January to the middle of August. Players will accumulate FedExCup points to determine their seeding for the playoffs. The Playoffs are a series of four events between late-August and mid-September in which the field is shrunk every week concluding with The Tour Championship. These four events will determine the winner of the FedExCup. The fall series is seven events to finalize the standings of the FedExCup and declare eligibility for the following season.
The scoring system for the FedExCup is fairly complicated but the simple explanation would be the higher you finish in a tournament, the more points you’ll get. Each regular season tournament is worth the same amount points with the exception of the Majors, The Players Championship, and World Golf Championship events which are all worth more. Points for the playoff series are “reset” and allocated based on the players ranking at the end of the regular season.
What the PGA did right:
1) The format encourages the best players in the world to play more often giving the spectators more of a reason to watch. This will increase exposure to the sport and of course, sponsorship money.
2) Moving The Players Championship into May makes the event almost like a fifth major. Most players will tell you how much they enjoy this even but the March weather in Jacksonville, FL seemed to always wreak havoc on the tee times.
3) Speaking of Majors, even with this “new era of golf,” the PGA did nothing to take away from the storied history of the Masters, the U.S. and British Opens, and the PGA Championship. Smart move.
What the PGA did wrong:
1) Kicking off the season in Hawaii is enough of a challenge with the time difference but with the Golf Channel providing the TV coverage, it lacks the presence of a major national event. In fact, there isn’t a major television network televising any of the first three tournaments.
2) Having the playoffs conclude in mid-September leaves the major names of the sport “resting” through the final months of the year. These are the same players who are complaining that they now have to play every week from January till September in order to earn points toward their rankings. So the question becomes why didn’t the PGA just spread out the schedule?
3) What is the “Fall Finish” really accomplishing besides guaranteeing sponsors that the top players in the game won’t be attending their tournament? Why couldn’t a players “regular season” performance determine his eligibility for the next season?
Hopefully, all golf fans will enjoy this new system and the competition it brings and while many questions remain about the FedExCup, the PGA is an organization that has never been afraid to make changes to benefit the sport as a whole.