- Clubbing Down
Would a world tour be good for golf?Will Tidey August 21, 2013
When reports surfaced suggesting the PGA Tour was plotting a takeover of its European equivalent, two emotions did battle for my head.
The first was concern - at the potential loss of identity to a tour that has somehow managed to boast huge stars yet always retain the essence of something smaller. It's a huge, global operation, but for the players there's still a clubhouse feel to it all - you see that played out in the Ryder Cup.
To that end, it would be a sad day to see it change hands and a new order take hold.
But the second emotion I felt was excitement. Not at the thought of the PGA Tour inevitably turning European golf into a slicker, more profitable operation, but at the possibilities owning the two biggest tours in golf might open up.
We already have the World Golf Championship (WGC) events, and they're consumed like diet majors. We also have a World Cup of Golf, a low-calorie Ryder Cup. But what of unifying the US and European tours, and creating an elite calendar of super tournaments that all the top players in the world would play in.
What of finally creating a 'Golf World Tour'?
Greg Norman famously pitched the idea in the 1990s, but it never took off. Erik Adelson, writing for ESPN The Magazine, suggested Tiger Woods could launch a mini-Tour based on his standing on the game.
So far, nothing's happened. But what if it did?
What if the US and European Tours became one entity and scoured the globe for the very best tournaments, on the very best courses? If you start with the four majors and the four WGC events, you already have eight bankers.
A concentrated season of quality might only need 17 more, to give you a grand total of 25 events. Those 17 should all be held in different countries - taking the tour from Australia to Austria, and from China to Colombia (or wherever a tournament to the standard is available).
If you combined the prize money from both tours you'd be able to put up huge purses. And huge purses would bring huge players. The requirement would be to play 20 tournaments or miss out altogether.
Players would sign up. And suddenly Tour golf would become vital again.
It might even improve the standard below, as jobbing Tour players from all over the world battled it out for prize spots on golf's biggest ever gravy train. The lower tours would be sprinkled with household names; fans would be watching them strive desperately to escape.
There would be fewer elite tournaments, but most would agree we're saturated and need a reason to watch. Golf is beginning to feel like baseball in that regard - an endless run of drawn-out competition with the occasional highlight. The Golf World Tour would feel like a major every week, or at least that's what the promotional material would say.
The downside, for American fans mainly, would be less elite golf on their doorstep. When you consider British golf fans only get the BMW Championship and the occasional Open, we'd be no worse off in that regard however.
So that's that. My pitch for a Golf World Tour. Get Tiger to sign up to 20 tournaments and the rest of the world for quickly follow.
The only problem is that the European Tour have no intention of selling. And neither do the PGA Tour. So for now the two brothers will continue to stay at arms length. But one day soon they will have this same conversation, if they haven't had it already.