Where does a season end and a new one begin on the European Tour? As some top players are giving sound bites with phrases such as “good way to end the season” others are using the “hope this will be a great year for me” classic.
In the early evening of November the 23rd 2014, Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy were stood on the 18th green of the Earth Course receiving their DP World Tour Championship and Race To Dubai trophies respectively. The brief media interviews that followed spoke of “a hard European Tour season” and “a long year” but then Henrik Stenson flew off to play in Tiger’s comeback tournament and Rory didn’t put the clubs away either. In fact 11 days after the Race To Dubai season came to a dramatic and fitting conclusion, the Race To Dubai started again on the European Tour.
Economics of course is the reason. In the US, the PGA Tour didn’t even have one week in between its seasons ending and starting. You can’t argue with the economics. If a sponsor is prepared to stump up the cash to stage a tournament, it’s a foolish governing body that turns it down. The problem for some golf fans though is that the whole excitement level gets diluted.
While my TV is more than likely tuned to live golf, I am watching with little passion. I like to see a good shot and a bit of imaginative course management but I’m well aware that the first meaningful moment of the season will occur in April at Augusta. The four Majors come thick and fast once the Masters gets underway and then bam… the wait again.
Now you may think I am leading towards a call for a 5th Major or a re-calibration of the existing Major slots. But no, I am in fact a supporter of the status quo. I quite enjoy the months of adequate yet star-less tournaments on TV. A Fowler, a Johnson or a Bubba may turn up in one of the events and finish in a tie for 15th place but I wouldn’t change it. It’s what makes the Majors so special.
Football (or soccer for you PGA fans) has lost its sense of awe. The big names and big teams seem to be clashing almost every week. Derby games are common place and the 6 week break in the summer is now usually cut down to 4 and every two years there’s a European Championships or a World Cup.
Tennis. Is there a week where Novak and Roger don’t play each other at some point?
So keep these wrap-around golf seasons if they make business sense for all those involved. Each week you might see a journey man pro win a car or a trip into space. A new ‘hot prospect’ may win what will ultimately prove to be his only trophy. And when all else fails just keep the camera locked on Miguel Angel Jiménez.
But for 4 weeks in the year, things get very special. The stars come out, the stakes are raised and Rory and Henrik don’t have to feign anything. The ‘seasons’ that surround them should be considered as very long appetizers and desserts.