Adiós PGA Tour Q-School?

by Derek on March 22, 2011

in Nationwide Tour,PGA Tour

Anthony Kim at Congressional

Anthony Kim went straight from college to the PGA Tour via Q-school in 2006

The NY Times is reporting that the PGA Tour is considering a dramatic change to the end of the season that would significantly reshape how players earn PGA Tour cards.  The net of the idea is that the players who don’t make the FedEx Cup Playoffs would play in a series of 3 tournaments against Nationwide Tour players.  The series would have a points structure and the rankings at the end of the series would determine who gets a PGA Tour card for the following season.

The current speculation is that the tournaments would consist of 75 PGA Tour players and 50 Nationwide Tour players competing for 50 PGA Tour cards.   The Tour’s policy board has given preliminary approval to the concept and began informing players of the decision by memo yesterday.

With the proposed change, Q-school wouldn’t go away, but it would only provide access to the Nationwide Tour.  This would effectively eliminate the possibility of a player going straight from college or the mini-tours to the PGA Tour.  Tour officials think that this will improve the quality of tournament fields on Tour (I didn’t know they needed strengthening).

That may or may not be true, but it means that we wouldn’t have success stories from players like Anthony Kim or Rickie Fowler, who went straight from college to the PGA Tour to the Ryder Cup last year.  Yes, Fowler is the exception to the rule, but he was a much needed exception last year given Tiger’s lackluster play.

There are still plenty of details to work out and quite a bit could change between now and then.  I’m assuming this would take the place of the fall series (at least part of it), but that’s not completely clear right now.  According to PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw:

The number from the Nationwide that goes to the three-tournament series hasn’t been determined yet.  And the question of how many cards has not been, either.

This change would certainly add drama to the end of the PGA Tour season (although I think it already has plenty).  And it would also have the benefit of focusing additional attention on FedEx Cup (bleh!) standings throughout the season, which I’m sure Tim Finchem would love.  But honestly I don’t like the idea of taking away the chance, however unlikely, that an unknown pro can show up at Q-school, play his heart out, and find himself teeing it up against Tiger and Phil a few weeks later.

All of this begs the question: Why?  $$$:  Nationwide is not renewing it’s sponsorship of the Nationwide Tour after 2012.  The PGA Tour is shopping for a new sponsor and by funneling players through the Nationwide Tour (or whatever it will be called in 2013), they presumably increase the value of the sponsorship.  It’s all about the Benjamins.

Given that players were just informed about the proposed changes yesterday afternoon, keep your eyes peeled for reactions this week at Bay Hill.

[Image Flicker/Chase McAlpine]

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan March 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

So this would turn the Nationwide Tour into the minors (which it is) but you can’t get to the majors without going thru the minors. But it takes away the fun you mention in your penultimate (look it up!) paragraph. I’m on your side on this one!


Derek March 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm

See what happens when you try to get all highfalutin? I add a new penultimate paragraph explaining the (presumed) reason behind the change. Hah!


Adam Kelly March 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I think that they shouldn’t change something that has been working. I hope your right and we will get some sort of reaction from the players this week at Bay Hill


Dr. J June 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm

I think the “suits” over at the PGA should add some tweaks to the series of tournaments. Why not give an avenue for amateurs to automatically qualify. The NCAA champion, or the US Amateur champion for example would gain entry into the year ending tour events. That way, amateur golfers could jump directly to the “majors”. Just a thought…..


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