The LPGA is changing the path to the LPGA Tour, namely eliminating its Q-school, and that new road could be unveiled as soon as next season.
While the details aren't firm, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan has spoken about the outline of his planned transformation to Golfweek, then Golf Channel, and appears confident the change will have a positive impact for players, particularly amateurs and collegiate players.
Here's the outline of the plan:
- LPGA Q-school will be eliminated altogether, ending a process that spreads out months from September to December. Instead, a Symetra Tour Q-school would replace it ahead of the new LPGA qualifying structure.
- The stages of Q-school will be replaced by a two- or three-tournament series that will be held in the same general geographic area (Florida would be a good contender) over a month or so, potentially in October while the LPGA has its fall Asian swing. The series would be an aggregate-score competition.
- The field would be approximately 120 players, drawn from the players who finish in the top 25 or 30 on the Symetra Tour money list, somewhere from the top 100 down on the LPGA money list and invitations to highly-ranked players who don't already have LPGA status.
- Anywhere from 35-50 LPGA cards will be on the line. Right now, 20 players get cards through Q-school, with another 25 getting limited status.
- The total series, which would have a title sponsor, would have a purse ranging from $300,000-$500,000, and Whan is looking to have it televised in some fashion. (Golf Channel?)
The benefit to college players, in particular, is that they wouldn't have to attend final stage of LPGA Q-school in December and decide after that tournament whether they want to turn pro right away or go back to school and try to balance out a job and getting an education. College golfers who got Symetra Tour status through that Q-school could delay turning pro as the Symetra Tour season starts in earnest in April. Those college players would have time to wrap up school and start the transition to life as a pro golfer.