The PGA Tour’s Rewriting Of History Is Amusing and Sad

past-present-and-future-keys-show-evolution-or-aging_GJQBjZPOThe constant shuffling of PGA Tour sponsors leads to some amusing and disturbing mental gymnastics.

Today, for example, I learned in a PGA Tour press release that:

Ben Hogan, in 1946, is the only player to win the AT&T Byron Nelson and Dean & Deluca Invitational in the same year.

Hogan would, I think, be surprised to learn that he had won either of those tournaments.  The grocery store Dean & Deluca has only been in existence since 1977. Similarly, I wonder at his reaction to having won a tournament named after his former caddie rival (although to be fair, it was known as the Byron Nelson during Hogan’s lifetime).

Here’s what the PGA Tour press release from last year said:

Ben Hogan (1946) is the only player to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and HP Byron Nelson Championship in the same year.

Crowne Plaza was founded in 1983. HP came into existence in 1939, so at least it was around in 1946. Still, Hogan’s Crowne Plaza and HP titles have been set aside in the official records, and replaced with the new titles.

Over the years, the tournament now known as the Dean & Deluca Invitational has been the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Bank of America Colonial, MasterCard Colonial, Southwestern Bell Colonial and Colonial National Invitational.

It is all very confusing. When I first saw the Dean & Deluca on the schedule I had to look it up to see what it was. I thought it was a new tournament. Even now, I have to remind myself that the Dean & Deluca is the “Colonial.” The tournament has now lost all sense of its place in golf.

(None of this should be seen as a criticism of Dean & Deluca. They are simply doing what is best for their dollar.)

The constant shifting, I think, robs the PGA TOUR of some of its history and continuity. Both of those are quite important for the game in the long term. I think a great loss occurred when the Western Open, with roots going back to 1899 suddenly became the BMW Championship. In a couple of years it may become the Facebook Championship, or the Angry Birds Challenge. In the mercurial and transitory pursuit of financial gain, meaning and significance is lost.

At the very least, when signing new sponsors, the PGA Tour should insist in some stability in the name. The Dean & Deluca Invitational should have been the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial, so that people would know that this is Hogan’s Alley … the tournament that the legend won five times. The BMW Championship — now no longer an “Open” — could have been the BMW Western Championship. That, at least, would put the tournament in its proper golf”s historical timeline.

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