Friday, January 13, 2006

Rabbit Out Of The Hat

In a stunning announcement, Mark Brazil revealed that Greensboro's PGA TOUR stop will move to a mid-August date on the 2007 golf calendar. The last of golf's four majors, the PGA Championship, has held that calendar spot for decades. Now, the Greensboro tournament will fall between the PGA Championship and a four-tournament playoff.

The date is better than the October date the tournament has held the last few years, but it is not nearly good as Brazil's announcement claims. Most top players will have qualified for the four-tournament series and will sit out the Greensboro stop to get rest before playing the next four weeks in a big money shootout. However, second tier players who are not locked into a spot in the four-tournament playoff will probably come to Greensboro to secure there spot in that big money series. It's the difference between getting Tiger Woods and Fred Funk.

There will be several challenges for tournament organizers. Forest Oaks continues to be a course that most pros do not like. That hurts efforts to attract a top field. Also, it will be difficult for the course to be in top condition in the heat of mid-August. It's the same reason the PGA Championship was rarely played in the south during the week our tournament will now be played.

One of the other big problems Greensboro faces is its lack of pamper factor. PGA TOUR pros are spoiled by the treatment they receive on a routine basis. I know several TOUR players, and they consider the hospitality by our tournament to be lacking. I think our hospitality is probably fine, but it does not compare to the way the red carpet rolls out at many other TOUR venues.

Getting a date before the TOUR closes up shop in mid-September was critical for Greensboro, and I am pretty surprised tournament organizers pulled it off. But in the delirium of the moment, be aware that there will be plenty of challenges ahead and plenty of other cities trying to take Greensboro's spot when the schedule is revised in about four years.


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