From the Rough

Golf without discretion

PGA Tour tournament changes could be on the horizon

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Last week’s story of a possible change to make second-tier tour events mandatory for some of the game’s top golfers appears to have been a precursor for a bigger issue that could have the tour changing in a number of different ways over the coming years.

As usual, Golfweek’s Sean Martin was at the heart of the issue, getting to the bottom of what could be some interesting moves by the tour brass to get the galleries and fans watching at home into the center of the action.

Here’s a look at the potential changes for the upcoming year:

The first, which was already discussed on this site last week, would require top the game’s best to one tournament from a designated list each year.

The program, entitled “Designated Tournaments,” would require tournament winners and the top 50 finishers on the FedEx Cup points list to play at least one event per year among a handful that have been designated by the PGA Tour Policy Board. The proposal would help bring bigger names to events they have bypassed in recent years.

The PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council was “supportive” of the proposal, according to the memo. The proposal will be presented to the PGA Tour Policy Board for preliminary approval on July 27. If subsequently ratified, it would become effective for 2011.

2011, huh? That would be next year, meaning this rule would directly affect the players finishing in the top 50 of the FedEx Cup points list. Let’s assume Tiger Woods doesn’t finish in the top 50 this year. Could you imagine this rule keeping him from having to follow along with the rest of the tour?

I can assure you the rule is being made for two players, and one of them is Woods.

The tour is also looking into giving the fans a glimpse into the heated discussions between players and their caddies during tournament rounds:

The PGA Tour will test the miking of players and caddies at the Reno-Tahoe Open, Greenbrier Classic and Turning Stone Resort Championship later this year. Many believe that putting microphones on players and caddies will enhance broadcasts by giving viewers an “inside-the-ropes” view of the discourse between them, especially during shot selection.

The audio collected during the tests will not be broadcast, but used to gauge the audio’s quality and entertainment value. The PGA Tour has recently explored ways to improve telecasts, in part because its contract with NBC and CBS expires in 2012.

I know for a fact that some of these conversations can become extremely heated. So where would you draw the line with what’s deemed “appropriate” for television? I think the idea is a good one since it gives fans a look “inside the ropes.” But is it big enough to draw new fans to watch on Sunday when Tiger’s in contention?

I doubt it. But maybe the tour know something I don’t.

But those decisions pale in comparison to what I think could be a huge change to the tour’s rules: the acceptance of cell phones on the course during tournament rounds:

The PGA Tour may allow fans to bring cell phones to the course during competition days.

Recent research showed that fans considered not having a cell phone for the day a “major hindrance” to attending golf tournaments, according to the Tour memo. The PGA Tour may allow fans to bring phones to a tournament later this year as a test, and could implement the policy as early as 2011.

Cell phones on the course? Really? I don’t see the reasoning behind this. Sure, having your phone taken up at the gates can be a pain, but I honestly can’t see a way this doesn’t blow up in the tour’s face. Phones will go off during swing, players will get pissed, and the rule will have to be reevaluated.

Sure, allowing fans to tweet or blog about their experience on their phone is a great way to get the fans involved, but I’m not sure allowing cell phones on the course is the best option here.

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Written by Jonathan Wall

06/11/2010 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Media, PGA Tour

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