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The Majors & the Future


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I had a discussion with a friend the other day and thought I would highlight some of our thoughts and hopefully get some additional insight.  As a general premise, all things are subject to change as the years pass (if you disagree, talk to a teacher of mine who, long, long ago, told me that the Berlin Wall would never come down in our lifetime).

One thing that I think will eventually change is the make-up of the tournaments recognized as the 'major' championships.  Ultimately, as the game begins to grow worldwide, there will be pressure or a movement to conduct at least one more major off of U.S. soil.  This leads to a number of thoughts/questions....

1.  Of the three "US" majors, which is the most likely to be "dis-recognized" as a major championship?  I think the U.S. Open is solid, so it is really a quesiton of hte PGA or the Masters.

2.  Is it more likely that a 5th major is added, or one of the existing US majors dropped for the addition of a major at a non-U.S. venue?

3.  Do you think the boys at Augusta have (and are) taking steps to ensure that it is not the U.S. major that is dropped -- i.e., it has a strong (recent) history of apeasing Asian players, arguably to build up goodwill/loyalty down the road; it also looks like they will be adding a female to the membership...hmmmmm....is this more about doing the right thing, or ensuring future relevance for the tournament?

Please feel free to throw out related issues/questions.....this kind of stuff is pretty interesting to me....

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I think #2 is the easiest question to answer: a 5th major would be added before one would be dropped.

The Masters isn't going anywhere.  It's probably the easiest major to identify with for the casual U.S. golf watcher: it's at the same, recognizable course every year, it's the first major of the season in a typically slow sports season (no in-season baseball and no football to speak of), and a lot of the winners have been readily identifiable and popular.

I think the driver behind a lot of these questions would be financial concerns.  Lots of marketing dollars and revenue are generated behind the "Major" events.  The affiliates wouldn't want to lose that revenue, and would be more likely to want to find a way to add more (via another "Major").

Brandon

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If a major is to be dropped, it should be the PGA because it lacks the identity that the other 3 majors carry. Augusta carries with itself too much tradition as with the Open. The US Open's identity is it's difficulty. The PGA, I don't know what identity it has besides it's name.

If a major is added, the venue should be rotated between Asia, Australia, and South Africa. In my opinion, this is where a lot of the international players hail from.

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I am fairly certainly that neither a major will be added or deleted in the next 20 years.

What would be the purpose?  The the four current majors are as international a mix as you could expect.

Asian tour is getting stronger but all tours worldwide are getting stronger.  I just don't see it.  The world championships kinda fills that void for now.

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There will be no more majors.

The PGATour pretty clearly would love the Player's to be one. It isn't. It won't be. We have 4. It willl stay that way.

The WGC events will be played more widely and there might be another series that is respected by players and public alike, but the majors as we know them will not change.

You are never going to have a situation where someone breaks Nicklaus's record (or Tiger's) with an extra major thrown in and have people accepting it.

As for comments such as this, from RPMPIRE

The PGA, I don't know what identity it has besides it's name.

You would do well to research its identity. It will take you about three minutes and you will realise the folly of your statement.

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Originally Posted by Shorty

You are never going to have a situation where someone breaks Nicklaus's record (or Tiger's) with an extra major thrown in and have people accepting it.


I wouldn't say never.  I mean, we accept all of the current baseball records even though they get to play more games a year than Ruth and Cobb.  That's why we have asterisks.

But I don't really know how "they" would just go about adding a major.  All of the majors are run by different groups already, so who would make the decision?  You'd have to get a lot of people on board to get that ball rolling.  Seems like it would have to just happen organically.

And which would it be?  Like Shorty also mentioned, the Players has always been recognized as that next step down so if a tournament stepped up to be the fifth one, that would seem like the logical one.  But OP's idea suggests a fifth outside of the US, so that wouldn't work.

I don't know, as much as I agree with OP about change in general, I agree with ND Fan that I just don't see anything happening for awhile.  It ain't broke, so don't fix it.

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I am in agreement that a 5th major probably won't be added, but the question was "which is more likely?"  I think that is much more likely than one being dropped.

Brandon

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The thing is, nobody has the power to make an event a major. As already noted, the PGA Tour has done everything it can to make the Players a major for the last 20 years, and nobody is buying it. If the PGA Tour can't do it, nobody can. American fans would not accept it if the Euro Tour, let alone someone in Asia or Africa, designated one of their events a major. The number "FOUR" was pretty much set in stone when Bobby Jones won the Impregnable Quadrilateral. The US and British Opens were part of that, and are not likely to be replaced. The Masters and PGA were not necessarily always the obvious choices to comprise the remaining two majors for pros, but they were by the time TV started hyping golf, and after 50+ years being considered majors by consensus, it would be almost as difficult to replace them. The fact is that the only thing that makes a major a major is public consensus. There are events with stronger fields than the Masters, there are events with larger purses than any of the majors, and there are events played on tougher courses than many Open or PGA layouts. The only official difference I'm aware of between a major and a non-major is the WGR points awarded, which most fans don't know or care about. Good luck trying to get millions of golf fans, from all over the world, to agree on anything, let alone a new major. One more thing --- the LPGA and Senior Tours have tried to increase fan interest by adding majors. I don't know if I'm in the majority, but for me, all they did was dilute the meaning of "major" when they did it.
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I do not know why, but the PGA has never quite resonated with me as a major on par with the other three.  So I would be fine with a replacement major for the PGA that is a true world wide event hosted by different venues around the globe and a production of all the various tours -- but a bit more encompassing than the Players Championship.  It might even require two weekends so that a large field could be assembled and then qualified for the final weekend.  Almost sounds like an every year Olympics just for golf.  No matter how hard the PGA has tried, the Players as it is, has not quite made the jump to the lofty status hoped.  Maybe a new event to replace the PGA and the Players could be the Professional Golf World Championship.  This suggestion may not be popular with the US PGA, but perhaps it would be more prestigious than the current PGA event, and it would make a Players like tournament a real major.

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The PGA, I don't know what identity it has besides it's name.

Besides a tradition of nearly 100 years, the PGA now typically has the strongest field of the year.

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I'm not saying it will happen (and I doubt it will), but if one major does fall of, I'd bet it was The Masters. If the people who run the club make one too many stupid changes, I could see it falling out of favor. It would have to be a perfect storm of sorts though. The course would have to get ridiculous, the purse would have to dwindle, players would gradually leave, and there would need to be a long run of no one challenging Jack and Tiger. Again, I think the chances of it happening are extremely slim, but out of the three I think that's the most likely.
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Originally Posted by brocks

Besides a tradition of nearly 100 years, the PGA now typically has the strongest field of the year.


Yup. Plus I think the fact that they own the Ryder Cup will continue to matter.

I don't see anything changing in the next 20 years.*

* I'd originally typed 40. So even now I'm hesitant. :)

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Originally Posted by brocks

Besides a tradition of nearly 100 years, the PGA now typically has the strongest field of the year.


It does now, it used to have the weakest, with virtually no non-US representation except those playing on the US tour. They realised that they were being left behind in the mid-80s and changed their overseas qualify criteria. I think at one point they were exempting in the previous year's European Ryder Cup team as part of the criteria.

I suspect that the WGC events will get bigger without getting to the stage of being Majors and more of these will be overseas. Having said that we've been down that road and it didn't work for whatever reason. The enthusiasm amoungst players for the WGC in China seems luke-warm at best.

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It does now, it used to have the weakest, with virtually no non-US representation except those playing on the US tour. They realised that they were being left behind in the mid-80s and changed their overseas qualify criteria.

I doubt that the PGA has ever been the weakest of the four. It was probably the weakest of the *three* before the Masters was founded, but the Masters was the weakest in the 30's. And you're right that it was virtually all American for a few decades after WW II, but those were about the same years that the British Open was virtually non-American, and when most of the best golfers were Americans --- especially after WW II decimated (correct usage :-) ) a generation of British golfers.

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Originally Posted by brocks

I doubt that the PGA has ever been the weakest of the four. It was probably the weakest of the *three* before the Masters was founded, but the Masters was the weakest in the 30's.

And you're right that it was virtually all American for a few decades after WW II, but those were about the same years that the British Open was virtually non-American, and when most of the best golfers were Americans --- especially after WW II decimated (correct usage ) a generation of British golfers.


I was talking about a relatively short period of time, all of the three US based majors were very hard for Europeans, mainly Brits and Irish then Seve and Langer to get into. I think the PGA was the last to catch on.

I thought the American's didn't come because they couldn't beat Bobby Locke and couldn't ban him from the Open . I'm sure Thompson (3non top 10 finishes in the open in 21 years - weaker fields or not wtf) would have stacked up pretty well against the Americans at the time as well. Obviously neither of those are Brits but they played a large amount of golf over here.

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If someone would come interview me, then I'd tell them:  "If I could only win my club championship, next month's island-wide skins game, and the Commander's Cup, then I'd have a kind of slam of my own."  Then the viewing public would catch on, and they'd be talking about how I have a chance to match Mr. Jones' achievement.  Soon the world would be talking about those events as Majors.

That's pretty much how we got the four Majors we have now, when Mr. Palmer said the same after winning the 1960 Masters and US Open.  So I guess it's possible.

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Interesting thoughts...

My first instinct is to say that if one of the major leaves us it would be the PGA... I agree with the ideas of too much tradition at the other three I suppose (not that the PGA doesn't have it's fair share).  I guess if anything a 5th major would be added, but I think if that was the case you would hear a lot of whining about how it waters down the meaning of winning a major.  Not to say it won't happen though as things have changed before; I mean, the Western Open use to be considered a major and the PGA use to be a match play event so things evolve.  Only time will tell how this works itself out.

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