New Meaning To Green Fees: Play-For-Pay On The PGA Tour Still A Hot Topic
The debate over whether the PGA Tour should offer appearance fees to some players was revived this week with Tiger Woods choosing to play in Abu Dhabi this weekend instead of at the Farmers Insurance Open, and NBC’s Jimmy Roberts said, “The fact of the matter is we already have appearance fees on the PGA Tour." Roberts: "It’s just they’re kind of under-the-radar, and the tournaments and their sponsors they pay players to do events.” Golf Channel’s Gary Williams asked, “Do you think that after the Open Championship that Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar and Anthony Kim wanted to necessarily -- and it’s a great event -- go to the RBC Canadian Open? They’ve got it on their sleeves and on their bags. So we have it for all intents and purposes” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 1/26). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jay Busbee and Shane Bacon discussed the topic of whether it was time for the PGA Tour “to start paying appearance fees to its marquee players.” Bacon wrote, “I know it's a slippery slope with this, but just LOOK at the comparable fields. Tiger, Rory, Lee, Luke, Sergio vs. Phil and Bubba? It seems like a no-brainer which tournament is a bigger draw.” Busbee wrote, “The PGA Tour has to realize that it's no longer the only show in town, and home-country loyalty will only get them so far. … But how do you implement this without setting off a. a bidding war or b. resentment and fury among the Mark Wilsons of the world?” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/25). Golf Channel’s Jason Sobel said, “I would never begrudge a player for taking an appearance fee. ... If ‘Grey Goose: Abu Dhabi’ asked me to come on the show this week for ten times more than I’m making right here, I would be on ‘Grey Goose: Abu Dhabi’ right now” (“19th Hole,” Golf Channel, 1/26).
FUTURE OF Q-SCHOOL: In California, Brian Hiro wrote if the PGA Tour's plan to revamp Q-School “had existed in years past, players like Murrieta native Rickie Fowler would have had to serve at least a year on the Nationwide Tour before reaching the PGA Tour.” Fowler received his PGA Tour card in ‘09 by “tying for 15th at Q-School less than three months after turning professional.” Fowler Wednesday said, "It definitely seems like they're leaning for the switch. I know that the Nationwide Tour is a definite concern.” Fowler added, “It's a tough situation because you want the Nationwide Tour around and you want to have the title sponsor. At the same time, you want to have that open tour for the local club pro to be able to make it into the final stage and have his chance of making it on the PGA Tour” (NCTIMES.com, 1/25). ESPN.com’s Farrell Evans wrote under the header, “Don’t Destroy The Beauty Of Q-School.” Evans: “I hope the tour recognizes that Q-school is a unique place in sport for men to realize their dreams." The PGA Tour “would do well to find a middle ground, where the Nationwide Tour becomes the primary feeder to the big tour, but where Q-school can still be a direct portal to pinnacle of the game for some fortunate souls good enough to play well over six rounds” (ESPN.com, 1/26).
HELPING GROW THE GAME: Jack Nicklaus was at the PGA Merchandise Show Thursday to promote the PGA of America's Golf 2.0 initiative to attract new playes, and he said he thinks the plan will "help bring people into the game, will help keep people into the game and help enhance the pleasure and fun of the people that are the game." Nicklaus said, "We had to think out of the box. ... We're talking about larger holes, we're talking about bigger golf balls that are more user-friendly, all these things to try to help get people in the game. Once we get them in the game, we want to keep them in the game” (“Fast Money Halftime Report,” CNBC, 1/26). Nicklaus added, "“I've got 22 grand kids, and they all play a little bit, I mean a little bit, really a little bit. They play less than I do, and that's not very much. Other sports are grabbing their attention. We need to introduce our kids to the game of golf. We need to introduce it to them in a way that is friendly, and a way that they can have some early success and stay with the game. The same with women" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/26).