Welcome to the new season of Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Jonathan Wall take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @jonathanrwall. Today, Mr. Wall is absolutely on fire about the PGA Tour's new Q School plan.
Wall: This appears to be it, sir: After years of living with the same old seasonal schedule and player-development process, the PGA Tour appears to be on the verge of scrapping the entire system starting next year. I could go on a rant about this, but I won't ... at least not yet.
For now, let's get into some of the details, including the decision to scrap Q-School, move the start of the season fall and go to a wraparound season, and make the Nationwide Tour the new pipeline for aspiring tour pros, thereby forcing up-and-coming college kids and European players to forget about their dream of obtaining a card the old-fashioned way. In my opinion, this is the equivalent to college football bypassing a play-in game and going to a 64-team playoff. I don't know about you, but I think this idea is bound to fail.
Busbee: Sweet heaven, where to even begin? Let's split this in half. First, the schedule. I actually like the idea of starting the season in the fall and wrapping it around so that the Tour Championship is the series-concluding event. It makes more sense that way from an aesthetic standpoint. However, the rumor that the Tour might make those season-opening Fall events worth less, relatively speaking, toward the FedEx Cup is patently unfair and absurd; you don't just screw over your partners that way. But on the schedule reworking, I say yes. You?
Wall: Are you trying to get me to admit I like some part of this cockamamy plan, because I'm not sure I can do that. I will admit, however, that the wraparound schedule could work, especially if it means the Tour Championship ends in September and misses out on going head-to-head with the NFL. But that's it. I'm not going to agree with any other part of Tim Finchem's plan!
I think watering down the Fall Series events and giving half the FEC points is also joke (especially if the goal is to make mid-tier event sponsors happy). But the biggest beef I have with this new setup is the decision to get rid of the five-decade old Q-School setup. I understand you want the best players on tour each year, but the greatest thing about Q-School was that anybody could catch lightning in a bottle and go from mini-tour nobody to PGA Tour pro in the blink of an eye. I really think the tour is going to miss having those storylines.
Busbee: Man, I'm getting out of your way on this one! Just to play devil's advocate, though: how much do you think this will really affect the overall game of golf? Sure, we'll miss out on the golf version of the Cinderella team reaching the Final Four, but on balance, doesn't talent eventually find its way to the top?
Not saying I agree with the plan, because golf was built on the stories and legends of its players. But if we're talking purely about putting the best product on the course every year, and in so doing preparing young players for the grind of the Tour, isn't this a more effective way of doing that?
Wall: I think that's a question that needs to be answered. I know the Nationwide Tour route should allow the best players to make their way to the tour each year, and the tour needs to put forth the best product possible each week. But even if that's the case, I think forcing guys like Harris English (who was an absolute stud in college and won a Nationwide Tour event while he was still playing golf at Georgia) to go straight to the Nationwide Tour and work their way up isn't fair. The same thing goes with forcing European players to do the exact same thing.
In my opinion, the new system just makes the tour feel more insulated, and I'm wondering if that's going to turn some players off. That's a great thing for the European Tour because they'll most likely get some really talented youngsters, but if the PGA Tour really wants to thrive, I feel like they need to leave an open avenue for incredibly talented college kids and Euros to play their way on right away. Q-School was that avenue. Whether you agree or not, I think we can both agree the run-up to the 2013 season is going to be mighty interesting.
Busbee: [slow clap]
Your turn, friends. Your thoughts on the new PGA Tour season and Q School plans?