Sep 23

PGA and European Tour Merger?

Many Questions Arise if the European and PGA Men’s Tours Effect a Merger

Rory McIlroy has been musing lately about the idea of Europe and the U.S. seeking a merger, at least the men’s golf part. That’s right, the PGA and European Tour in a hypothetical merger. There are so many talents between the two, and there isn’t always enough time in the schedule to get them all together. Such a merger would stand the game of professional golf most of us grew up with on its head. That’s not necessarily such a bad thing, but a few concerns jumped to mind – so here goes.

A merger would mean two schedules worth of tournaments rolled into one. Which ones would stay? I assume that no one would dare touch the Masters, and fooling with the Open – that is the British Open – would be fooling with centerpiece of modern golf history. Where the U.S. Open and PGA go, I have no idea, but the new organization would almost have to find a place for them. But would the Grand Slam stay the same, and in an effort to get tournaments on both continents on the schedule, what would the travel regimen look like? Granted, the modern grand slam is not the grand slam of Bobby Jones, but it’s the principle of the thing. I’m not going to watch anything if all the nostalgia is taken out of it. And by the way, with all the potential jet lag, would we have more players bowing out to rest up?

What about the Ryder Cup, and events like it? I guess we can still play match tournaments, shirts and skins style, between American and European players, but it might not get quite as intense being brothers for the rest of the year. Where’s all that anti-American sentiment and Yankee imperiousness toward European snobbery going to go? Will wagers be paid off in dollars or Euro?  And speaking of a two-continent merger, where will the power centers go? Will the headquarters of the European Tour duke it out with the USGA over the rule book, and where would this golf counterpart to the United Nations building be located? On Malta?

One giant tour covering the European continent and much of the North American continent could possibly alter the destinies of many people. What about the national programs of Canada and Mexico? What happens if the Canadian Open loses space, and what of the other tours? If the men combine their forces in such a large geography, would the LPGA be far behind? It’s one thing if all the greats come with it – Ko, Thompson, Henderson, Feng, and any of a number of South Korean golfers. But, if there’s any exclusion due to a more packed tour, forget about it.
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There have been changes over the years about how young golfers qualify to enter the big leagues. What changes would occur in an international merger? Would qualifiers pit Europeans and Americans against each other, or would we still be tested against our own before going into the majors? And here’s a good one. What would it mean for the television companies that cover the tournaments? Would such a merger be a boon for business, or a big fat pain in the neck?

Before we forget, there’s also an Asian Tour going on out there, and some of the countries involved supply a fairly large percentage of great players on today’s stage, at least they do for the women’s tour. Are they invited into this merger?  If we see a merger of the two large tours, whose ball will be used? If they do this, maybe I’ll finally get to try the smaller British ball we crowed about when we were kids. Gee, I wonder what the new logo will look like.
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