The 2017-18 PGA Tour schedule has a staggering 50 tournaments. Fifty. There are 52 weeks in the year, and the Tour is really only off from late November through the New Year. Do the math, and there’s basically slightly more than one PGA Tour event for every week of the season.
However, next season’s schedule may not look nearly as crowded. Change is coming — some planned, some forced. And the end result may be a schedule missing some long-standing tournaments, with the Tour not present in big population centers.
This season, there are three tournaments on the schedule without a title sponsor: the Houston Open, the renamed Ft. Worth Invitational and Tiger Woods’ The National. All lost title sponsors from the year prior. The Houston Golf Association lost Shell after a 26-year run announced in 2016. The National lost Quicken Loans, which was the second title sponsor in the event’s 11-year history. The Ft. Worth Invitational was known just months prior as the Dean and DeLuca Invitational, but the boutique food store and eatery couldn’t make good on their agreement with Colonial Country Club to pony up in Year 3 of their contract, so the club was forced to cobble together a four-company consortium to pay up to remain on the PGA Tour schedule for one more year.
There’s not been news from Houston, Ft. Worth or Washington, D.C., to suggest a new sponsor for any of those events is imminent.
It seems this will be the end for The National, an ironic swan song as host Tiger Woods returns to form and the tournament field, likely to drive up attendance and interest back to his and the event’s healthier days.
The HGA is on the hunt for a sponsor, but their pre-Masters date has been given to the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, the oil giant’s stipulation to signing a 10-year contract extension to sponsor the event.
The Ft. Worth Invitational could simply go away, with a portion of Colonial’s membership kind of OK with ending the long-standing event. How that plays out when those final final phone calls are fielded, we’ll see.
The PGA Tour two-step in Ft. Worth and Dallas will likely be split into pre- and post-PGA Championship dates with the PGA of America moving their championship to May as the year’s second major, while The Players Championship moves back to March.
Then there’s the FedEx Cup playoff event an hour outside of Boston. Dell Technologies stepped up to host for a few years when Deutsche Bank’s deal expired. However, the PGA Tour is set on reducing the playoff docket from four to three, and that will mean the event goes — although the Associated Press reports The Northern Trust could welcome the Boston area into its current New Jersey-New York rotation.
What about The Greenbrier Classic? The event has been a good showcase of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s resort and property offerings, but there has been talk the Justices would prefer their event in autumn. The resort has a contract to be on the Tour schedule through 2021, but when it’s played may change.
The FedEx St. Jude Classic is about to ditch its pre-US Open date for an upgrade to the World Golf Championships level, moving to August. Memphis is hot in August, but TPC Southwind will be welcoming the world’s best there as the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational appears to be in its final year this season. John Feinstein has repeatedly reported Bridgestone wants out of Akron, Ohio, at Firestone Country Club. He reports Bridgestone wants an event in Japan as part of the growing fall Asian Swing. Firestone, then, could become a host of the Senior Players Championship.
The OHL Classic has been a solid early-season event for the PGA Tour since the wraparound schedule, but OHL’s deal as sponsor ends after this year. While there aren’t many rumors making their way up from Mexico to the US, could the OHL Classic benefit from a schedule upheaval which will see The Players return to March for a full Florida Swing and the PGA Championship move to May?
Down the line, the Wells Fargo sponsorship of the Charlotte event ends in 2019. While a healthy event, Quail Hollow club has made no bones about wanting to be a big-event host. After hosting the PGA Championship last summer, a Presidents Cup is coming in 2021.
While some events could go away, it seems new ones are in play as well.
Detroit has been rumored for years to be seeking a PGA Tour event, and the AP reports negotiations for such an event are well underway. Perhaps Quicken Loans, which is located there, could slap their name on a tournament in their hometown, whose revitalization is part of their marketing pitch to customers.
The 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota has also voiced their desire to become a regular PGA Tour stop, upgrading from the PGA Tour Champions. That could happen with an open slot.
The PGA Tour hopes to share its full 2018-19 schedule in May at The Players Championship. That would mean a lot has to be settled in six weeks. Much of it simply can’t be, including the sponsorship issues in Texas. However, with a lot of shuffling and change comes opportunity, and there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of tour stops in the coming future.