The seemingly endless march of PGA Tour golf could scratch us as fans. There’s always a tournament to watch as we relax on the couch on a Sunday afternoon or scroll through golf twitter and fire off succinct comments.
In the middle of winter, PGA Tour events offer an escape to warmer climates – Kapalua warms our bones while snow piles in the northern states. However, golfing could be better, more dynamic, and more fun if the PGA Tour had a real off-season.
If the PGA Tour had an off-season, the game as a whole would have room to breathe, and we’d very likely still be watching golf, but it would look very different from 72-hole events.
Some sports have found a way to make the off-season relevant. The NFL has its extravaganza draft, and the NBA has its hectic free agency time with superstars moving teams and requesting trades.
International competitions and summer leagues help stem the tide for those who need tires in their lives. Scroll social media and get tires in Los Angeles with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and James Harden (when he’s not in the club …) could fill your feed.
If there was a three month off-season on the PGA Tour (say October through December), golfers, agents, and charities would have time to produce events that aren’t the 72-hole dart-throwing spectacle that we basically run for 48 weeks see a year.
Asking about an off-season is not the same as asking about no golf.
The off-season is more about having time for different types of golf – challenge matches are the lowest fruit like Bryson vs. Brooks or Billy Horschel vs. Steve Stricker.
The entrepreneurship of independent contractors could offer other great opportunities. Maybe we will see a team event, a golf trip or a mixed event with PGA and LPGA players. Fans love to see great golf. There is no doubt.
But golf fans also love to see versions of the golf they play on the weekends: the best ball match game or alternative shots with a little trash talk and a touch of humanity. The possibilities are endless. If the players had a little time, they would fill the void if they wanted to. Even if they didn’t want it, the PIP money would beckon.
The pandemic forced golf into an off-season from March to June in 2020. The break created charitable opportunities and crossover competition. It produced a couple of golf events meant for television, like having us hollow out Tom Brady’s ripped pants while Charles Barkley talked him into it.
These events were bumped together to give golf fans something to chew on during a terrible time when we were all locked in our homes waiting for the next episode of The Last Dance to air.
The golf break also spawned the Bryson DeChambeau Transformation. Say what you want to say about DeChambeau, but if he hasn’t had this time to focus 100% on transforming his body, it probably won’t happen.
If that doesn’t happen, golf is in a very different place right now, both in the mainstream media and in the depths of the golf twitter. What DeChambeau has done is the same as what many athletes do in their off-season. He decided to develop a skill and showed up at the beginning of the season to show it off.
The players have also said they are tired, especially after the last 18 months. Rory McIlroy was the loudest.
However, guys like Collin Morikawa who looks utterly exhausted or Matthew Wolff who is dealing with some really challenging mental health issues make it clear that without the FOMO of missing out on massive purses, they’d be doing this game and its players some serious good .
No sport has a real off-season anymore. The message cycle is moving too fast. However, if the PGA Tour had stepped aside for a few months, the sport would have room for new stories and anticipation for the PGA Tour season like other sports do.
The PGA Tour sometimes feels like a jealous friend keeping his girlfriend busy with endless weekend plans and nights to keep her busy.
With the Premier Golf League snooping around and promising huge payouts to small fields, the PGA Tour doesn’t seem ready or willing to give its players three months to explore the game in a variety of ways. That’s a shame because it would make the game more interesting in the long run.