Take a mulligan: PGA playoff system, gimmick?

mulligan, 07 January 2006, Comments Off on Take a mulligan: PGA playoff system, gimmick?
Categories: Uncategorized

Take a mulligan” is a new feature for The Golf Blog: I’ll be posting periodic editorials analyzing a golf issue in greater depth. I’ll be staking out my personal view in these editorials more than I do in other posts. Sunday seems like a good day to “take a mulligan,” so I’ll start today. Today’s topic: the planned PGA playoff system in 2007, culminating in the “FedEx Cup,” with the winner apparently taking in $10 million. You read that right, a sweet $10 million — at least by initial reports.

What the FedEx Cup is: The FedEx Cup is an idea modeled on (or stolen from) NASCAR’s Nextel Cup, in which drivers earn points during the season and the top drivers compete in a playoff race for the championship. NASCAR switched to a playoff system in 2004, in order to draw more viewers during the football season (more here). (Of course, NASCAR is killing the PGA in TV ratings.) Apparently, the PGA will have a similar point system, with three rounds of playoffs (tournaments) in three different weeks leading to the finale Tour Championship in September.

Potential problems: I need to hear more specifics about the playoff system before reaching a final conclusion, but I already can see big problems with it achieving its goal of increasing TV viewers.

1. Majors rule. The obvious problem is that, in golf, there are 4 majors, and everything else. Having a “playoff” in golf seems beside the point, if the 4 majors are the most coveted by players and most watched by viewers.

2. Tiger rules. There’s no denying that Tiger Woods draws in TV viewers more than anything else (sometimes doubling the number of TV viewers). Having 3 rounds of playoffs before the Tour Championship might result in Tiger being knocked out in an early round, which would be incredibly bad for TV ratings. Just think of the Accenture World Match Play Championship when Tiger is knocked out before the finals, and what happens to ratings. If the PGA wants TV ratings, Tiger should get an automatic bye into the finals of the FedEx Cup. I don’t care how much money goes to the winner of the FedEx Cup. You ain’t going to draw more TV viewers unless Tiger’s in the finals.

3. Crowding effect. Golf already has a bunch of tournaments (outside of the 4 majors) in which golfers have to qualify or receive an invite. Let’s see, to name a few, the Mercedes Championship (winners), the TPC (rankings), World Match play, the Memorial, the NEC Invitational, and the Grand Slam (4 major winners). What will happen to the prestige or importance of these tournaments if the FedEx Cup is supposed to the champion of the year, capturing more money than all of those tournaments combined?


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