by Jeff Skinner
The PGA Tour usually makes changes by the inch not by the mile. But the news that they are considering changing the rules surrounding retaining tour cards comes as a shock. The proposal to drastically transform the way PGA Tour Players, Nationwide Tour Players and Q-School Graduates earn and keep their tour cards is more like a giant leap than a small step. The change would pit PGA Tour players outside the top 125 in Fed-Ex Cup points at year end against top Nationwide Tour finishers in a contest for tour cards for the following season. That’s a drastic change but an even more radical proposal faces Q-School. It’s being proposed that Q-School grads won’t “graduate” to the big league PGA Tour as they do now. The grads would only qualify for the Nationwide Tour.
There may be some merit to looking at how the PGA Tour hands out their membership cards but taking away the cards from those top 25 Q-School grads isn’t just wrong, it’s downright sadistic. Anyone that makes it through those multiple qualifying stages and those final, torturous six rounds should get a PGA Tour card and then some.
Any thought to taking away that “graduation gift” should be squelched quicker than a Tiger Woods snap hook. Q-School is one of the most nerve wracking, drama filled, rewarding events in sports. The PGA Tour is really missing the boat here. They should promote Q-School like The Players Championship, after all Q-School has 25 winners and is a more life changing win than The Players. Want real evidence? The guys at PGA Headquarters should read John Feinstein’s “Tales from Q-School…Inside Golf’s Fifth Major.” There’s more glory and heartbreak in that than at any Players Championship.
It’s a shame more attention isn’t paid to covering Q-School. Yes, winning a major championship changes a player’s life, absolutely. It puts that player on a new level of professional golf. But Q-School changes the lives of the 25 grads in an amazing way, not to mention the heartbreaking stories of those that miss out on the top 25. The joy and pain that occurs during Q-School week is legendary. It won’t be the same if that tour card only gets you in to the Nationwide Tour and not a pass to the big league PGA Tour.