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PGA Tour strengthening Web.com Tour ties everywhere… except the U.S.?

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Give credit where credit is due: the PGA Tour is to be commended for recent measures that have helped expand its reach across the globe. It has brought the Canadian Tour into the fold in the form of the rebranded PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica has established PGA Tour hegemony in Latin and South America. More recently, the PGA Tour announced an associated tour in China. All of these entities are or will be formal feeders to the Web.com Tour.

But call a spade a spade: for all the PGA Tour’s new hands across the globe of golf, there is no “official” Web.com Tour feeder tour in the United States. To many, this is problematic.

Instead of a full season’s worth of American events through which aspiring stars can gain chances to ascend to the coliseum that is the Web.com Tour, there is Q-School, which, rather than sending its top finishers to the PGA Tour, feeds the Web.com Tour. This is a massive change that has accompanied the establishment of the four-week Web.com Tour Finals, which took place for the first time this past late-summer.

PGA Tour Latinoamerica will have held 16 tournaments that will serve as an official entrée to the Web.com tour. PGA Tour Canada has 10. In China, an even dozen. But in the United States, that number is one. And it’s an expensive one.

Those needing to pre-qualify owe an initial entry fee of $2,500. If they advance to the first formal stage of qualifying, it’s another $2,700 to $3,500, depending on when they sign up. Some players are exempt into the second stage of qualifying; their entry fee is between $4,000 and $5,000, again depending on their time of entry. Finally, some players are exempt all the way to the final stage of the grueling multi-week event. Their passage costs a mere $3,500 to $4,500.

In other words, given the exponential dropoff in purse size from the PGA Tour to the Web.com Tour and the colossal further dropoff from the Web.com Tour purses to those of the likes of the NGA Tour and the eGolf Professional tour, Q-School costs a fortune.

Consider that the eGolf Professional tour’s current money list leader, Frank Adams III, stands at just under $70,000 through 23 events, with No. 50 on the same list, Barrett Kelpin, at $13,620 after 14 events. Things are going a little better on the NGA Tour, but not much: Jon Curran, longtime friend of Keegan Bradley, currently leads with nearly $103,000 in 14 events, while Paul Brown sits in 50th at $18,447. Countless other mini-tours yield a fraction of that to their own top players.

Trying to play professional golf is daunting. Kudos to the PGA Tour for forging a more concrete path to the Web.com Tour through outlets in South America, Asia and Canada. Is it not time to open up an avenue at home in the United States?

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. NaBUru38

    Apr 5, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    The PGA Tour could expand the Q-School to a full season from October to December, with tournaments in Florida, Texas and California, and similar purses as in Canada and Latin America.

  2. Raleigh

    Nov 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Great article, I myself am a professional golfer and have played egolf and NGA tour tournaments. The NGA is offering web.com exemptions but you’re correct. It is a long and daunting task to make the PGA and it would be nice to have a better 3rd tier system to get to the web.com.

    • Harvey

      Nov 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      They shouldn’t of changed it.. They only made the web.com the only feeder to the PGA so more Americans got on tour. Suits me fine, we’ll keep the Ryder cup a few more years 😉

  3. Jack

    Nov 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    So are American golfers going to be moving overseas to compete? If they’re serious about making the web.com tour they probably should.

  4. bl21

    Nov 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Great Insight! I agree that something should be done.

  5. Zach

    Nov 15, 2013 at 4:45 am

    They follow the money.

    • Merrick

      Nov 18, 2013 at 3:09 am

      They also follow the publicity and basically anything that benefits them.

    • Harvey

      Nov 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Ignorant.. The top 10 in the world maybe but not at this level. You play where you can afford to play, the money is terrible unless you win and normally have to finish top 5 to make a profit on the week.

  6. D Louis

    Nov 15, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Tim, You are absolutely right. You would think that the PGA Tour would take care of their home turf first and implement a better 3rd level development system there.

  7. marko

    Nov 15, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Fred Funk said it today”Americans are becoming a minority on the PGA Tour”.

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The Wedge Guy: The 5 indisputable rules of bunker play

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I received a particularly interesting question this week from Art S., who said he has read all the tips about how to hit different sand shots, from different sand conditions, but it would be helpful to know why. Specifically, here’s what Art had to say:

“I recently found myself in a few sand traps in multiple lies and multiple degrees of wetness. I tried remembering all of the “rules” of how to stand, how much to open my club, how much weight to shift forward or back, etc. based on the Golf Channel but was hoping that you might be able to do a blog on the ‘why’ of sand play so that we can understand it rather than memorizing what to do. Is there any way you can discuss what the club is doing and why you open the club, open your stance, what you’re aiming for when you open up, and any other tips?”

Well, Art, you asked a very good question, so let’s try to cover the basics of sand play–the “geometry and physics” at work in the bunkers–and see if we can make all of this more clear for you.

First of all, I think bunkers are among the toughest of places to find your ball. We see the tour players hit these spectacular bunker shots every week, but realize that they are playing courses where the bunkers are maintained to PGA Tour standards, so they are pretty much the same every hole and every week. This helps the players to produce the “product” the tour is trying to deliver–excitement. Of course, those guys also practice bunker play every day.

All of us, on the other hand, play courses where the bunkers are different from one another. This one is a little firmer, that one a little softer. So, let me see if I can shed a little light on the “whys and wherefores” of bunker play.

The sand wedge has a sole with a downward/backward angle built into it – we call that bounce. It’s sole (no pun intended) function is to provide a measure of “rejection” force or lift when the club makes contact with the sand. The more bounce that is built into the sole of the wedge, the more this rejection force is applied. And when we open the face of the wedge, we increase the effective bounce so that this force is increased as well.

The most basic thing you have to assess when you step into a bunker is the firmness of the sand. It stands to reason that the firmer the texture, the more it will reject the digging effect of the wedge. That “rejection quotient” also determines the most desirable swing path for the shot at hand. Firmer sand will reject the club more, so you can hit the shot with a slightly more descending clubhead path. Conversely, softer or fluffier sand will provide less rejection force, so you need to hit the shot with a shallower clubhead path so that you don’t dig a trench.

So, with these basic principles at work, it makes sense to remember these “Five Indisputable Rules of Bunker Play”

  1. Firmer sand will provide more rejection force – open the club less and play the ball back a little to steepen the bottom of the clubhead path.
  2. Softer sand will provide less rejection force – open the club more and play the ball slighter further forward in your stance to create a flatter clubhead path through the impact zone.
  3. The ball will come out on a path roughly halfway between the alignment of your body and the direction the face is pointing – the more you open the face, the further left your body should be aligned.
  4. On downslope or upslope lies, try to set your body at right angles to the lie, so that your swing path can be as close to parallel with the ground as possible, so this geometry can still work. Remember that downhill slopes reduce the loft of the club and uphill slopes increase the loft.
  5. Most recreational golfers are going to hit better shots from the rough than the bunkers, so play away from them when possible (unless bunker play is your strength).

So, there you go, Art. I hope this gives you the basics you were seeking.

As always, I invite all of you to send in your questions to be considered for a future article. It can be about anything related to golf equipment or playing the game–just send it in. You can’t win if you don’t ask!

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