Golf News

New fall schedule geared toward stars who won’t play anyway

Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm named to 2023 European Ryder Cup team

The season-ending Tour Championship usually signals season’s end only for the PGA Tour’s elite, those whose obligations post-East Lake are limited to hit-and-giggle cash grabs and comme il faut appearances on home circuits overseas. The finale hasn’t actually been a finale for everyone since 2006, when Atlanta concluded matters in November.

For the next half-dozen years, the Tour Championship was in September, followed by a handful of events held in the fall that generated less discussion than a fumbled pass in that week’s least-watched NFL game. Ten years ago, the fall stops were recast as the opening stretch of a wraparound schedule. As of this week, those tournaments become a hybrid of their prior iterations: a continuation of the season that was and a determinant of the one to come. Seven events between now and Thanksgiving will dictate the status of most Tour members for ’24, when a calendar-year schedule returns.

Through all of the changes to the fall line-up, one thing remained constant: the stars mostly stayed home, effectively rendering the autumn a Head Start program for journeymen, a chance to reap cash and FedEx Cup points before the best players returned in the new year. Now, this formerly nebulous period finally has something meaningful at stake. It’s still largely a playground for the proletariat on Tour, but the head start has morphed into a life alert system, its competitors not so much getting ahead as catching up.

Like everything else on Tour these days, the new dispensation for the fall is designed to satisfy players who seldom darken locker rooms after Labor Day. The elite wearied of showing up in January to find themselves distantly trailing tradesmen in the FedEx Cup points race. In this new system, their security is cemented. The top 50 who qualified for the penultimate playoff event, the BMW Championship, earned unfettered access to every lucrative tournament next season. Fall events can offer them only prize money and competitive sharpness. The series now underway is for those who must work to improve their lot for ‘24, while ensuring they can’t adversely impact the Tour’s one percent who have better things to do. It’s a wonder Bernie Sanders isn’t marching on Ponte Vedra to protest the rigging of the system against the majority of hard-working millionaires.

Despite the nakedly political considerations and concessions that shaped this new-look fall schedule, it’s an improvement on the status quo. It…


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