A Game Changer
Golf has had an unusual year. Despite having a ton of money thrown it at, the papers were dominated by lawsuits, spats, and suspensions. However, the birth of LIV Golf took over the headlines and it may have been just what the sport needed. Of course, insults have been thrown back and forth between the camps, but should the professional golf association fans be thanking the rebels and their revolution despite the disruptions?
For months, the PGA Tour‘s future has been dominated by…bad news. The constant trickle of well-known players announcing their departure for LIV and whispers about who might be the next to leave contributed to a sense of impending doom. The Tour was under attack. However, behind closed doors, its top stars were devising battle preparations. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy coordinated a series of discussions among big-name golfers to maximize the Tour’s future without destabilizing its current structure. Here is the result of those discussions and changes outlined by the PGA Tour.
The most significant change for 2023 is the game’s top players’ promise to compete against one other more frequently, most notably in the series of designated tournaments that includes the majors and THE PLAYERS, FedExCup Playoffs, and numerous other high-profile weeks on the schedule. The ladies professional golf association hasnt had this problem, but its been a big problem in the mens game for several years. With these. changes fans will now better understand when their favorite players will be on the tee. The RBC Heritage, Travelers Championship, Wells Fargo Championship, and WM Phoenix Open will all include increased prizes and participation from the top 20 players in the Player Impact Program, as will the player-hosted invitationals, Sentry Tournament of Champions, and World Golf Championships. In addition to the allocated events, the top players must commit to competing in three additional PGA TOUR events.
The Rules of Golf have changed with the new year. The Rules are updated every four years by the american golf association, and the revisions that went into effect on January 1 are the first since the extensive overhaul in 2019. This year’s modifications are fewer, but they continue the trend of simplifying the game and minimizing the number of perplexing penalties that set social media on fire.
The FedEx Cup will be awarded towards the end of August at the Tour Championship, as is customary for the 2022-23 wrap-around season. However, rather than the top 125 players qualifying, the golf association has decided that only the top 70 golfers in the Fed Ex Cup standings following the last regular-season event will be eligible for the playoffs. This is a huge adjustment that is designed to encourage golfers to play more. In past years, the BMW, was trimmed to the top 70, but that will be dropped to the top 50 this year. The top 30 from East Lake will compete in the Tour Championship finale as per previous years.
Earning Assurance Program
Competing against the world’s best players, learning new courses, and playing in front of larger crowds all provide obstacles. In addition, there are numerous logistical and strategic challenges to overcome. Not to mention the weekly expenses of travel, hotel, paying a caddie and other team members, and various living expenses. However, as part of the recently announced Earnings Assurance Program, TOUR rookies and returning members will receive a guaranteed $500,000 league minimum up front against their season earnings for the future season. Additional payments will be accrued after these players earn more than $500,000 in season earnings. If a player does not make $500,000 in a season, the difference is kept by the player.
The PGA Tour has confirmed a $70mm increase in payouts for its regular season events. The monies are primarily derived from rising revenues and Tour reserves, which are unspent funds from past years. These raises will encourage additional golfers to compete on the Tour. Aside from the inflated purses, the FedEx Cup bonus pool will be boosted by $15mm. The PGA Tour will also raise the purses at several significant events. The Players Championship and Tour Championship will each be worth $20mm, while the FedEx St. Jude Championship and BMW Championship will be worth $15mm more. The purse for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play will also be increased to an average of $20mm.
TOUR cards will be issued again at Q-School. The top five finishers of Q-School will be eligible for the PGA TOUR, while the others will be eligible for the Korn Ferry Tour. TOUR cards will be awarded to the top ten finishers in the DP World Tour points competition. The PGA TOUR cards will be presented to the top 30 on the KFT Points List. The PGA Tour Membership will be awarded to the top player from the PGA TOUR University.
Previously, reform on the PGA Tour came slowly. Still, with the launch of rival LIV Golf and its infusion of billions from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, there was an impetus to adopt most of the present adjustments. As with any dramatic change in the status quo, there will be criticism and issues. With many increased purses and elite field events, specific established and recognized tournaments may need help to attract top players. The Honda Classic and the Valspar Championship are two tournaments affected by this possibility. The Honda is sandwiched between the Genesis Invitational and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, both of which are elevated; the Valspar is sandwiched between the Players and the WGC Match Play, both of which are promoted.
Will These Changes Work?
The PGA Tour has been cautioned that they must make a lot of money from their newly increased schedule to compete with LIV Golf. The PGA Tour is competing with its newer rivals LIV Golf to stay the sport’s No. 1 circuit. The Saudi-funded series has attracted some of golf’s top names due to hefty signing fees and substantial prize pools. To keep players on board, the PGA Tour increased its money, upgrading several tournaments with larger payouts for 2023. The Pressure is on the PGA Tour, and they are heavily reliant on these changes working. Only time will tell whether or not these changes will succeed. However, they have certainly come out fighting in the golf war!