PONTE VEDRA, Fla. – While there are no records available when it comes to golf course weather, for the most part, the recent Players Championship may well have been the soggiest golf tournament ever played. Certainly, for the first three days.
While it was a drenching beginning, the good news is that finishing in bright sunshine was generously welcomed. Fans seemed to enjoy the improvement in weather on Sunday and Monday without complaining about the frustrating start.
When the tournament got underway on Thursday, we were reminded that when it rains, it pours. It was the sort of soddened entrenchment that would have kept Noah hammering with overt alacrity and rushing to get the animals in the queue.
However, there are three million, six hundred thousand reasons, that Monday was the sunniest day ever in the life of Cameron Smith, who took home first prize. (Lee Hodges finished last and was paid $41,000 dollars)
When this tournament was played for the first time, back in 1974 at the Atlanta Country Club, Jack Nicklaus received $50,000 for winning. The first time the event paid a million dollars for first place was in 2000 when Hal Sutton was paid $1,080,000 for winning the championship. Total prize money for this year’s tournament was $20,000,000 million dollars. So, what is the big fuss about Greg? Phil?
Based on recent history, the size of purses on the PGA tour are only going to increase not by the year, but by the day. In addition to having an opportunity to play for purses which are an embarrassment of riches, to most fans, the tour has in place retirement packages that are better than Vito Corleone’s. When it comes to money today, damn near half the tour players are godfathers when it comes to counting money.
One can take a cynical stance and allow that we should not worry about the weather when it comes to the competition in that, if the Players had been canceled early Sunday morning, the players would still have gotten paid. The most deserving on the golf course—the loyal fans—should have the good fortune to enjoy following their favorite player while basking in warm sunshine.
Historically, the rap on playing this event in March was the discomfort that came with the gusting winds off the Atlantic Ocean. Weather was a factor in moving the Players Championship to May. Moving the Players back to March allowed the PGA an opportunity to get away from the brutal heat of August when this event was traditionally played.
While the Players Championship is not considered a major, it is more major than the Masters, U. S. Open, British Open and PGA when it comes to the quality of the field and the total prize money paid. It has the best field; it has the biggest purse.
All the Players needs is good weather. No tournament is exempt from ill weather if you think about it. I have seen the rain coming down in sheets in England and Scotland. I have seen fans scared half to death of thunderstorms at the three U. S. based majors. When it comes to fan discomfort, there is nothing like a heat wave in Scotland in July when you have brought over woolens and clothing to deter the low temperatures on a summer day in the land of single malt whiskey.
If the tour players would pour themselves a single malt or a maybe a Guinness or a Diet Coke; then take a seat in their new Lexus and reflect on the existing tour positives, would they not agree that the tour has served them well for many years. Tour players are the beneficiary of the best retirement system of any of the professional organizations.
The projected revenue this year from the tour is $1.55 billion dollars with 58% of that allocated for players. Touring pros have the best possible life plying their trade with the best of competition out there for them with a byproduct of impacting charities and communities to say nothing of doing something good economically for the U. S. of A. Isn’t loyalty important anymore?