The PGA Tour is missing a tremendous opportunity with its Tour Championship. Rather than going mano-a-mano against weekend football, the Tour should reinvent the penultimate event of the FedEx Cup as a four-day, mid-week, prime-time sporting event.
Scheduling the Tour Championship as a Tuesday through Friday event would offer a tremendous opportunity to capture both sports fans and casual audiences. Aside from some local baseball coverage and the odd Big East football game on Thursday, September weeknights are largely devoid of sports.
The mid week format would work for television coverage if they moved the venue from East Lake to somewhere in the Pacific Northwest—say, Brandon Dunes—or to Hawaii. At this time of year, sunset is at 7:55 PM in Oregon—nearly 11 pm on the East Coast. So with just thirty players in the event, the final group could tee off at around 2:30 local—or 6:30 Eastern. That’d put the back nine for the last few groups in prime time. Just to be safe, they could put up klieg lights on the final few holes. In Hawaii, Prime Time on the continent is in the middle of the afternoon, local time.
Brandon Dunes would look great on television, and I doubt Oregon has the same dead greens problem that have plagued East Lake. And from what I understand, September is a good month, weatherwise to visit Hawaii. Either offers more exciting vistas than East Lake, which is a fine course, but offers no visual distinction.
To make this work, you’d also need a week off between the third and fourth events. But that just might make the players happier, since the most they’d have to play would be three events in a row. The week off also would give the Tour a chance to promote the heck out of the final event, just as NFL has taken a week off before the Super Bowl.
And if the Tour REALLY wanted golf on a Sunday afternoon, they could televise a Sunday pro-am before the Tuesday start. Thirty players and thirty golf-serious celebs—no comedians; good golfers only.
Scheduling its biggest event in prime time would be a big, bold move for the PGA Tour. And I think it would work.