More Professional Golf Fragmentation? Or Unification?

South Africa’s Sunshine Tour is offering an event with a $10 million purse in what it’s commissioner, Gareth Tindall,  says is “the most significant thing that has happened to South African golf in its history.” The “Tournament of Hope” will he held the first week in December, opposite Tiger’s Chevron Challenge. It would be the fifth WGC event, and the top 70 players would be invited.

Tindall says it’s the beginning of a “world tour,” but I wonder if it won’t just result in still more fragmentation. Australia apparently is looking at its own WGC event, as are European, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern interests. By my count, that’s at least nine different WGC events on five continents. But that doesn’t constitute a “World Tour.” And even including the American Majors (all of which lie outside the jurisdiction of the PGA Tour), it’s not enough to constitute a full schedule for PGA Tour players. Nor would it be enough for the European Tour players—even including their own “Majors.” I also don’t see the organizers of the PGA and European Tours cooperating to allow the cannibalization of their own schedules. The most likely defense would be to tighten up restrictions on minimum tournaments played for PGA and EPGA Tour membership, and to restrict the number of outside events a player can sign up for.

My guess is that players will continue to play on whatever tour they call “home” and—if the money and timing are right—skip an event or two to play in the WGC Events. That’ll have the effect of weakening existing events—not a desirable outcome, either.

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