On Saturday, the PGA Tour did the only thing that it could with flood water ravaging the state of West Virginia and more specifically, overwhelming The Greenbrier. The Tour cancelled The Greenbrier Classic that was to have been held in there in 10 days.
Certainly, golf fans who wanted to watch on TV in two weekends will be disappointed, but, realistically, there’s no one in West Virginia who considered this tournament as a priority once the pouring rain of mid-week turned into a natural disaster. We are talking about loss of life, homes and possessions for hundreds of thousands of affected people, many of whom will have to start life over. And, that matters immeasurably more than any golf tournament.
As for the PGA Tour, this a smaller scale loss. But it’s a loss none the less.
With an adjusted schedule because of the upcoming Olympics, instead of playing the final PGA Tour event prior to the British Open, they are now left with a void in the schedule. It doesn’t, however, have to be that way.
The last time the Tour lost an event was 2009, when it rained and rained and rained some more in Mississippi, and the Viking Classic (now Sanderson Farms Championship) was washed out. But that was a scheduled tourney that never got off the ground the week of play. This cancellation is in advance, and there is opportunity to do something with what currently exists, in the breach.
So here’s an alternative.
The Quicken Loans National concluded at Congressional on Sunday afternoon. The Tour now typically would break everything down: electronic scoreboards, TV Towers and infrastructure, hospitality tents and everything that goes with setting up a PGA Tour event. My suggestion? Leave it all where it is.
This is the perfect opportunity in the perfect location to come back in 10 days for a special one-time event. Instead of a full-field PGA Tour event, create an impromptu 32-man match play event that would run Thursday-Sunday. And, because it’s a Tour exclusive, you would go off the existing FedEx Cup standings to select the field.
Obviously, a good many of those players weren’t intending to play at The Greenbrier, either preparing at the Scottish Open or simply wanting to take the week off and rest up. Getting all of the best players to compete, however, isn’t the point. As you go down the FedEx Cup list, there would be numerous players who either would have already been in the Greenbrier field or would now take this opportunity.
The tournament would be a straight bracket-style event, with a player needing to win five matches to win. The Tour would guarantee a payday each just for showing up, paying the top 10 for their time and talents. The Tour could still give the winner $90,000 more and second $40,000 on top of the guarantee, and the other two who lost the semis $15,000 additional. But, this would leave $2-3 million of The Greenbrier Classic’s planned prize money to donate to the relief efforts, while hopefully raising money from fans who would attend and watch on TV.
Further incentive would be to get the winner in the PGA Championship in a few weeks and the Kapalua “winners only” event for next year, as well. It would be up to Augusta as to whether they would let the winner play the 2017 Masters.
All of this would make for great drama on the weekend and likely, something that they will be talking about in terms of relevance and the Tour giving back, for years and years to come.
Of course, the members of Congressional would have to be willing to wait to take back their course an extra two weeks, but somehow appealing to their sense of helping their fellow humans or even shaming them into would not be that difficult.
So, what do you say?