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Five Things I’d Change as Commissioner of the PGA Tour

04 SEP 2019

Everybody has fantasies. What would you do if you suddenly found yourself in charge of a multi-billion-dollar enterprise with hundreds of stakeholders, millions of fans and a private jet?

By Peter Mumford

Every so often I fantasize about being Commissioner of the PGA Tour.

The perks would be nice – huge salary, private jet, hob-knobbing with the rich and powerful – but I’m thinking more about being in position to make some changes to the Tour. It’s pretty good now, especially for the players, sponsors and our media partners, but I think we could make it even better for the fans. Here’s what I’d do:

  1. The Tour Championship and FedEx Cup finals were pretty good this year. For once, there was no concern about having two different winners. We like that. Even the goofy handicapping system worked out OK. However, we need to re-calibrate the points during the season so the majors have more impact. Giving 500 FedEx Cup points for a regular season win and 600 for a major doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when we allot 2000 points for winning a playoff event. Our goal should be to make it as likely as possible that major winners, the Players Championship winner and the regular season points leaders are among our Top 30 for the finals. After that there should be no need for any goofy handicapping. Let the best player win!

  2. As Commissioner, I’m admitting publicly what the rest of the world has known for a long time. Our players hit the ball too far. Good for them for having that skill but it’s becoming a joke. Unless we have inclement weather, most of our championships are putting contests. The regular joes tell me they can’t relate – they’re more inclined to watch the LPGA. Sacre bleu! We can’t have that. I’m going to get on the horn and see if the folks at Titleist and TaylorMade can come up with a Tour ball that brings some real skill back into the game. Naturally, we still want the amateurs to hit the ball as far as they want but it’s time we reigned in some of our guys. Besides, they’re making me feel old.

  3. I think everybody is adjusting nicely to the Rules changes that were introduced in January. I see a lot of people putting with the flagstick in and the pros at our various Tour stops tell me that pace of play has picked up because of the new Ready Golf initiative. However, one Rule that was missed concerns divots. In any competition, the idea is to provide similar conditions for all players. Obviously, a player late in the day has more chance of finding his ball in a divot hole or on top of a repaired divot, than one that teed off in the morning. Let’s make all divots, divot holes, divot repairs and any other unnatural disfigurement of the fairways Ground Under Repair. Players get a free drop. Play on!

  4. I’m having a real dilemma with our new schedule. Our sponsors and media partners tell us to have the season wrapped up before the NFL starts. But in most parts of the country, that’s just half-way through golf season. Some of our players said publicly that they didn’t like the season so condensed with the Players and the majors running a month apart. Everybody seems unhappy that there’s no real off season, but I have all these companies throwing money at us to sponsor events in the Fall. I’m starting to feel like Gordon Gekko but maybe it’s all too greedy. Next year, let’s start the season in January, finish at the end of September and then take three months off. Lord knows I could use a break from all that private jet travel and those fancy hotels.

  5. We’ve been getting a lot of flak about slow play. I had a chat with JB and Bryson but I’m not sure it will be enough. We want our players to set a good example for the larger golfing world, but we’re bound by two iron clad rules here at PGA Tour HQ. First, do nothing to embarrass our players; second, maximize everything possible to let the players make as much money as possible. That’s why we don’t make fines and suspensions public and why we have such huge fields for every event. Everybody here agrees that the only sure-fire way to improve pace of play is to start assessing penalty stokes and reduce the size of our fields. Last week, Darren Clarke said we could solve the problem in one week if we assessed penalty strokes. Everybody would get the message real fast. I know I’m going out on a limb here, which is contrary to my training as a lawyer, my fealty to the office of Commissioner and all its perks including the private jet, and my sworn oath not to kill the golden goose, but what the hell, let’s try it! One warning, then penalty strokes for every laggard on the course.

Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @FairwaysMag