Before considering the PGA Tour offseason, let’s begin with the offseasons in the major professional sports for the sake of comparison.
MLB: 152 days
NFL: 215 days
NBA: 136 days
NHL: 118 days
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that these sports need longer offseasons for two reasons. 1: All are grueling physical sports (baseball less so), and there only so much punishment a body can take. This is hardly the case in golf. 2. Players need time to recover from said punishment and condition their bodies for another year of abuse.
Also important to note: While technically correct, the PGA Tour’s “one-week offseason” is something of a misnomer. It is true, however, that the PGA Tour’s offseason is incredibly short.
This week, the week of the Presidents Cup, is technically the “offseason” between the 2016-2017 PGA Tour season and the 2017-2018 PGA Tour season. Looking at the calendar, that’s it. Next week the season starts; the Safeway Open begins October 2. From that point, there are tournaments through the RSM Classic, which wraps November 19.
After that event, however, there are only three unofficial events (Hero World Challenge, QBE Shootout, PNC Challenge) for the remainder of the 2017 calendar year. The next PGA Tour calendar event isn’t until the Tournament of Champions, which begins January 1.
Thus, in a sense, the “offseason” extends from November 19 to January 1. There are plenty of big names we won’t see much (if at all) until the Farmers Insurance Open, January 26. For many golf fans, the season doesn’t really begin until the Masters in April anyway.
So, why so many tournaments? The PGA Tour, as we know, is all about its stated mandate of “providing playing opportunities for its members.” This isn’t going to change. Cutting the season down would hit players in the pocketbook, and the Players Advisory Council and others will never allow that.
Move tournaments around, as the Tour did with The Players and plans to do with the PGA Championship, fine. But cutting down the schedule in any meaningful way? Not going to happen.
However, as the FedEx Cup Playoffs continue to fail to draw viewer interest, and they benefit only the creme de la creme on the PGA Tour, we could see a modification to the number of playoff events. The objective, of course, would be for the playoffs to wrap before the first week of the NFL season (first week of September). It would also buy top players a couple of weeks off before the Ryder/Presidents Cup.
The popular argument that “fans need an offseason so they can miss a sport” holds water. The predictable rhythm of the offseason-spring training-season-postseason in baseball, for example, is doubtless beneficial for baseball. However, as long as the PGA Tour is primarily concerned with the interests of its members (and secondarily concerned about the fans), golf will continue to have an incredibly short offseason.
But let’s wrap up the playoffs before football starts. Please? Fortunately the recently appointed commissioner, Jay Monahan, seems amenable to the idea.