by Jeff Skinner
When the PGA Tour plans to open its season in Hawaii each year I bet they don’t give too much thought to a rain delay. After all this is paradise, right? It never rains in paradise. Or at least it never rains this much. Over five inches of rain in the past two days has washed out the first round of the Sony Open and left the tour scrambling and hoping for the weather to clear to get all four rounds in by Sunday night. The players haven’t hit a shot at the Waialae Country Club in two days as the Pro-Am was cancelled and all the practice facilities were also closed. The tour may have to work some magic to get four rounds in and some players may face tough decisions if they have to finish on Monday as the next tournament, The Bob Hope Classic starts early on Wednesday of next week.
I feel for the players but how about all those regular vacationers that decided to vacation in paradise this week only to have their “trip of a lifetime” turn into a soggy mess. Vacationing in Hawaii is indeed special and the number of things to do in Hawaii is mindboggling but almost everything involves outdoor activities. Rain isn’t normally part of the plan, for the Tour or the vacationers.
There is some debate flying round the web as to why the PGA Tour decides to go head to head with the NFL for television ratings at the start of their season. The NFL is in the middle of their playoffs as the tour starts and the tour loses most of their audience to the NFL not only on Sunday but Saturday too. The suggestion is for the tour to start their season on the last weekend of January which the NFL uses as a bye week before the Super Bowl. The thought being that all those football fans won’t have to decide between watching the tour or the NFL. Golf really has no chance of winning that one as we all know the NFL is king of the ratings numbers. Viewers could employ the “Multiple Television” option as I do and enjoy both the NFL and the PGA simultaneously.
If the PGA Tour were to slide its schedule a few weeks and begin on that “open week” before the Super Bowl it may indeed get a few more viewers but the season would then pay a price. Moving the start of the season would then move the end of the season further into fall and cause the Fall Series to be played later, not to mention The FedEx Cup Playoffs. After all, that was one of the basic ideas with the “Playoffs” when they were formulated. The tour thought the way to get more viewers was to copy the NFL and NASCAR style of playoffs. The success of the FedEx Cup is debatable but moving it further into the NFL season wouldn’t help. With a season as long as the PGA Tour’s is, from January to November you are battling for ratings with every sport all season long. Are they going to drop tournaments and shorten the season? Absolutely not, as long as there are corporations willing to pay they’ll be willing to play.
As it is now the PGA Tour will have to live with life in the shadow of the NFL and other sports. They have their niche and they’ll need to change a few things to appeal to a younger generation but what business doesn’t. The Tour in Hawaii isn’t going anywhere as both sponsors are signed up for years and the Tour loves the Hawaiian showcase. As far as I am concerned these Sundays are indeed paradise. Watching the NFL playoffs and the PGA Tour over the weekend is great. Remember, on the east coast here the NFL games are finishing up just as the Sony Open is heating up on Sunday evening. Now if my New York Jets would just shut up, play football and beat the Patriots it would be a perfect weekend. Paradise isn’t only in Hawaii.