Last year, the Players was the fourth strongest tournament of the year. The year before that, it was was the second strongest. The prior two years, it was the fifth strongest and fourth strongest.
So what’s to debate? The Players is, ipso facto, a major. Being a major, it’s time to wear big boy pants. Time to vacate Sawgrass. Face it, Sawgrass ain’t Augusta. Sawgrass is not a course suitable for a major more often than Whistling Straits or Shinnecock or Oakmont or Chambers Bay. (Or Colonial, where it has been played in the past!)
How much more publicity would the event garner if it traveled to new cities every year? Our mission, as golfers, is first and foremost to grow the game. You don’t do that by (1) sticking an event on a coast, thereby halving the territory within a 300-mile driving radius, (2) selling the same product every year, (3) selling that product to the same people every year.
By gutting the Florida Tour with the Doral to Mexico City transfer, we’ve shown we are no longer beholden to the fine folks of the Sunshine State. The WGC saw green pastures, and so too should The Players.
If an annual event at Sawgrass is some kind of unassailable tradition, then do a switch. Play the Genesis Open at Sawgrass and The Players at Riviera.
Another idea would be to play the Byron Nelson at Sawgrass and the Players at the soon-to-be-open Trinity Forest outside Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Trinity Forest was built, according to their website, “explicitly to attract prestigious golf championships back to Dallas.” A major would be prestigious, no?
Imagine the anticipation if we were looking at a visit to Chambers Bay. DJ, the hottest player on the planet, would be returning to face his demons. We’d have Prime Time golf, too. Talk about growing the game.
Dream up your own course scenarios. The possibilities are endless. One of my favorites would be to move the WGC back to Doral (re-establishing a Florida Swing) and moving The Players to Mexico City.
A major is always a big deal for golf fans, but we can’t help but think this week’s event is far less “major” than it could be.