GET INTO GOLF: The way it was, and the way it is
January 4, 2019
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? When something began might be based on perspective. Or, in our game's case, it could be geography.
Just a few years ago, the PGA Tour schedule, points list, money list, etc. was based on a calendar year…like normal people. For over a century, that's the way it was. And, for six decades (or three score for you history buffs), each year was kicked off with an event filled with a field of the previous year's winners. A warm spot, with fairly predictable weather, was chosen and the Tournament of Champions was born.
Yet, as Get Into Golf has touched on previously, sometimes money gets in the way. You see, FedEx has an annual points list that is touted at every PGA Tour stop. They want to get every mile (has to be a pun in there) out of their advertising dollars. I suppose we can't blame them for that. They provide millions culminating in a late summer, playoff style series of tournaments.
However, with the traditional calendar, the fall events were lost in the shuffle. The big names take time off and it became known as the 'silly season'. So, in an attempt to give these events more credibility, and television ratings, this lucrative partnership agreed to start the point events in October. This has become known as the "wrap around" schedule.
Candidly, this hasn't done much for the elite player's schedule or the average person's television. They still don't play, so there's not much reason for us to watch.
For those of us who live in generally sunny California the season starts now. Okay, it's a little misty out there and if you stand outside very long, it may not seem like the start of the season. But, the new year means the start of the new schedule.
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Of course, this is all made possible by an average temperature of 80° on the island of Maui. This week is the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Resort. Each year, since 1953 the Tour kicked off the season with this invitational event for those who were victorious during the previous year.
There are about forty PGA Tour stops, and if some of the guys don't participate or have more than one win, the field can be even smaller. Whereas most tour events will have about 120 players, the 2019 Tournament of Champions will have 34 participants out of last year's winners.
The event has continued since it's inception at the Desert Inn Country Club in Las Vegas, Nevada, through 1966, and then at Stardust Country Club in 1967 and 1968. After that, it began a 30-year stint with La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California, which lasted until the event was moved to its current location at the Kapalua Resort in Hawaii.
For several years this tournament on Maui was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, but in 2010 it was the SBS Championship, in 2011 it was Hyundai and now Sentry has become the title sponsor.
This year's cast is going to be fun to watch with Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas in the field. But, be careful letting your spouse or partner watch it with you, they'll be searching the real estate listings and checking airfares.
John Renslow is a PGA Professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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