The First Call readers offer mixed opinions on whether the iconic Atlanta course should be the PGA Tour's permanent site for the season finale or if there are better venues
Question of the Week [Aug. 29-Sept. 4]: From 1987 through 1997, the Tour Championship was played at seven different venues. Since 1998, 22 of the 25 Tour Championships have been played at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. Would you like to see the PGA Tour move its Tour Championship around the country? If so, which course.
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Tradition has always played a major role in golf. Keeping the Tour Championship at East Lake would add to that rich tradition. Designed by Donald Ross and the home course of Bobby Jones as a youth, East Lake has played host to several major events over the years (1963 Ryder Cup, as an example) and is the perfect site for the best players in the world to compete for the FedEx Cup. In light of the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at players to lure them away from the PGA Tour, we need to hold on to our priceless traditions.
East Lake is fine. It's better when its dry and fast — and, unfortunately, it was neither this year.
However, can we talk about the current format? I had no problem with not having the winner of the FedEx Cup not necessarily being the winner of the tournament. Given the current FedEx Cup points leader a "head start" seems unreasonable to me. Scottie Scheffler finished T-2 but if the tournament were played from scratch, he would have been 13th. Winning the season championship in other sports gets you byes or home field advantages, but not a head start.
It should be rotated through different courses like it used to be.
Saint Johns. Florida
A very loud no.
Just like the Masters, it is fun to know what hole is next and the challenges or opportunities facing the players.
East Lake is historic and perfect.
I’d like to see the championship played on a different course. This one is too easy. Firm and fast greens are more challenging and the rough is too short. Set up needs to be more USGA-like and par is a good score.
Variety is the spice of life.
David K Brookreson
Vero Beach, Florida
I like one designated course for the Tour Championship. From a TV viewership perspective, the TV fan gets familiar with the golf course. You know, even before the announcers tell you, when they hit it in different places if the shot is good or bad. When you see the ball in different places on the green you know the putt may break 15 feet.
Just like the Masters, everyone knows the golf course, and that's a lot of the fun watching it on TV year after year. Whether East Lake is the right course, that's up for debate. It's pretty good viewing. There's plenty of trouble if they hit it crooked and plenty of reward if they don't. A driveable par 4 on the back nine may spice it up a little. Rory McIlroy shot 17 under, which is a little too low, but wet conditions and ball-in-hand for two days led to a lot of that. That can happen anywhere. So pick a course, whether it's East Lake or not, that makes for good TV and is fan friendly, and let the pros give us another great show.
I believe East Lake is the right spot for the PGA Tour finale. It is great for the community and is enjoyable to all who participate. I mean would the Masters consider changing the venue to Augusta Country Club or the Players shift from the TPC at Sawgrass to the Ponte Vedra Inn Golf Club? I think not. East Lake can be tweaked if the concern is the low scores, but I, for one, am quite happy with where the season finale is played.
The Villages, Florida
1, Laurel Valley, Ligonier, Pennsylvania; 2, The Concession, Bradenton, Florida; 3, Tobacco Road, Sanford, North Carolina.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
They should be two entirely different competitions played separately on different weeks and venues. Continue the Tour Championship at East Lake and rotate the FedEx Cup Championship's final event, the same as the other two leading up to the final.
Beverly Hills, Florida
Glad to see the topic being brought up for discussion.
I live in California and bellyache regularly about why all the playoff and championship venues are all within daily driving distance for the folks in the southeast. A territory, I might add, that receives regular — and often — rain during the playoff season, forcing long delays and painful interruptions in the flow of the golf.
If the intent of having all the playoff venues close by for travel purposes, then I get that, but only for a small minute. Packing up and moving everything every week is the norm for every major sport in the U.S.
If you feel you need to limit travel, then Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach, PGA West and Phoenix are all relatively close. Perhaps on Rider Cup years, the Tour Championship is on the east coast, and on Presidents Cup years, it's on the west coast. Everyone wins.
Though I enjoy East Lake as I have grown to know each hole and the strategy to play the course, I do think it should be rotated with a west coast venue. I don’t like the wet shirt look that most players have, and also think finishing up in prime time would serve the Tour well. Chambers Bay is an obvious choice — great weather and a primetime finish.
As we all know, men’s professional golf and the PGA Tour is dramatically changing. Going forward there will be little to no fan input — what would you like to see? As we know, the key driver will be money and that will totally dominate all future decisions regarding venue and location.
Atlanta is an important city in light of sponsorship support from Coca Cola and Southern Companies. If the PGA Tour does look to make a change, you can bet it will be major metropolitan centers such as New, York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Houston. These large commercial cities have major corporations in their areas and are the source of massive sponsorship dollars. It will be much less about the venue and more about financial support for a very expensive golf tournament.
As a consequence, we will need to move away from the quaint concept of “what we would like to see?” There is no money in that.
First, regarding the moving to other venues, there is an upside to having a consistent venue like the Masters where fans learn more and more about the course each year.
As for the scoring format, get rid of it. Scottie Scheffler almost won all the marbles with only a 10-under score, while McIlroy shot 17 under for the tournament. How is that a fair ending? Especially with the winner earning $18 million vs. $6.5 for the runner-up.
Another commenter suggested an aggregate scoring method for the playoffs, where the best score aggregate for the last 30 players wins. Simple, easy to understand and no gimmicks like a staggered-score start. Every player in the final 30 actually has a chance to win. I like that.
Now, how do you compensate Scheffler for an extraordinary season ... ummm, you already did when you paid him about $10 million for winning four times.
I would like to see the Tour Championship move around to great courses much like the U.S. Open — Oakmont, Winged Foot, Merion, etc. Maybe find some pro-PGA Tour members at Cypress Point and Pine Valley??? How great would that be?
Also, I would like to change the format. Keep it four days, but the first day is a medal-play qualifier. The top 16 players out of the starting 30 or 32 qualify for a three-day match-play finish. First day, No. 1 plays No. 16, No. 2 plays No. 15, etc. The second day there are four matches, followed by the last day with two semifinal matches in the morning and final in the afternoon. Or, if 36 holes is too much for the last day, then make it a five-day championship week. Anyway, I think there are creative ways to make the championship more compelling and fun to watch.
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
BRING ON MONDAY NIGHT GOLF
Looking forward to Monday night ringside golf with the PGA Tour. [TMRW Sports unveils Monday night golf format]
Raleigh, North Carolina
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