The First Call readers offer their opinions on whether the PGA Tour needs to change the format of its tournaments and should players be loyal to the PGA Tour
> Question of the Week (Feb. 7-13): The yet-to-be-named Saudi-backed golf league is reportedly going to feature 54-hole, no-cut tournaments, along with a team element. Considering the PGA Tour schedule features 46 stroke-play events, should it consider changing or adding new formats?
I think a successful format would include the top male and female players. It would be a league of 32 or 36 teams representing cities around the world, just like every other sport does now. A team would consist of 12 men and six women — plus subs. The schedule would be a Ryder Cup-format with each team playing a 20-week schedule with one set of matches played every week. The teams would travel to a city and play Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then move to another city the following week. The season would end with a four-week playoff based on the top 16 teams.
The weekly format would pit a mix of players (male and male, female and female, male and female) made by a draw the evening before play. Whoever comes out of the draw plays the alternate shot on Friday and the best-ball on Saturday. It could be males vs. males, females vs. females or male-female vs. male-female. Sunday's singles would again be a blind draw. The first player drawn from Team No. 1 plays the first player drawn from Team No. 2 and down the lineup. The women would need some kind of course set-up adjustment when playing against men.
The players' contracts would be owned by the city they represent and they would earn a base pay plus performance pay based on victories, including playoffs. There would be a draft, players could be traded and there would be tryouts for walk-ons.
If this league played its matches from Oct. 1 to the end of the playoffs in March, the PGA Tour and the four majors could be played from April to Sept.
Mixed professional tournaments are the future.
Far as I know the JCPenny Classic "rocked" from teams to spectators. Time to revive interest.
Mixed team, alternate shot, a mid-week tournament on the west coast during football season, real single-loss match play, require top-10 players to support less glamorous events — with Fed Ex Cup points available — are all ideas that will draw new faces to the game. The four majors, the Players Championship, the WM Phoenix Open are must-watch TV. After that a quick glimpse on the weekend is all I need unless something unique is happening or bad weather draws me in, especially in the summer. The European Tour makes efforts and the early morning play is awesome on the east coast.
> Question of the Week (Jan. 31-Feb. 6): : Do you believe the PGA Tour's best players should be supporting this week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am instead of playing in the Saudi International?
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am will always be entertaining because of the course — Pebble Beach — and the celebrities who play and are on display. If the best players are not there, it gives lesser known players a chance to shine. If the top players all stopped playing on the PGA Tour, there would be new players to rise and become known. I think this could only be good for the game.
Nope, if the PGA Tour can’t find a way to run a profitable event with all the tools at its disposal, why doesn't it admit the need for help. The Tour is already treating the players like serfs, already treating the Saudi event as tainted by blood money and, lastly, treating Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson and other players as a persona non grata.
Not here to claim that Norman is a saint and Mickelson a savior, but in pointing fingers at two players who helped make the Tour great is bad form and shows a lack of credibility. Clearly, the Tour doesn't like Norman or Mickelson questioning its authority — seems to be a common authoritarian position these days.
If the PGA Tour’s mandate is to "grow the game" — make me gag — they need to question its direction.
I feel as independent contractors the players are free to choose their own path. My objection to the Saudi League is the Saudis. Would I go to work for a murderer, rapist, sexist, butcher for a pay raise? Would I forsake all moral standards to increase my living standard? Players have made their choice. They can live with it. The number and diversity of players makes it impossible for me to boycott any particular brand or product, but there are several players that I used to respect that I find to be guilty of, ironically, (Phil Mickelson?) obnoxious greed.
George M. Delaney
The PGA Tour has had a winning format for years — best players, constant public interest and love of the game.
Michael J. O'Brien
New York, N.Y.
Tour players are professional athletes. They are entitled to the same benefits as baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and football players. Why the fuss? We’ve been sports fanatics in the U.S. for decades and we’ve always complained about athletes being over paid. The Tour players practice just as much as other athletes — probably more. They deserve every penny they can get. They are the ones that make the sport, not the administrators.
Royal Oak, Mich.
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