Since Masters fever hit me early this year, I almost missed the news about the PGA Tour Policy Committee's proposed changes for how players qualify for the Tour and the Nationwide Tour. As you know, the PGA Tour's Qualifying School (Q-School) one of the few ways a player can make it to the "big dance" instead of toiling on any one of the developmental tours or companion tours around the world.
According to an article on www.pga.com , the change was explained this way:
At the end of the regular season in Greensboro, N.C., the top 125 in the standings would go to the FedExCup playoffs and the money list would be closed for the year.
The next 50 or 75 players would join the top 50 or 75 players from the Nationwide Tour to play the "Finals Series," comprised of three tournaments that amount to a different kind of playoffs. The top 50 players from those three tournaments would earn their cards for the next season. Consider it 12 rounds of Q-School spread over three weeks.
The pressure could be just as great. The quality of competition would be stronger than ever.
As for Q-School?
It still would be played at the end of the year, but the only cards available would be for the Nationwide Tour. If not for a player's pride and patience, there shouldn't be a problem."
The best part of the story, to me, was this...
Statistics show that players who spend a year on the Nationwide Tour typically are more prepared for the PGA Tour than someone straight out of Q-School. They learn to cope with success and slumps while traveling from week to week. It's life on the tour, minus the courtesy cars and press coverage.
Have they looked at the list of guys that make to the final stage of Q-School? So many of those guys are or have been on the tours from week to week, some making peanuts, and working their behinds off to try to get ready for Q-school. Only 25 cards are handed out at Q-school, another 25 go to Nationwide players that meet their "statistics" above. It's not like there's 50 guys coming from nowhere who make all the way through with no touring experience. And if there is, now that's a great story!!
Under the new plan, if they're not already in ranked under 200 on the PGA Tour money list, or on the top 50 or 75 on the Nationwide Tour the best they are playing for is a spot on the Nationwide Tour at the "new" Q-School. I don't know, it just doesn't seem right.
And how about the Nationwide guys? Right now, the top 25 players on the Nationwide Tour get cards. Now they will be in a battle with current PGA Tour guys for 50 cards - it's possible that the top money winner on the Nationwide Tour could not make it if he has slump during the final 3 events. That's not right either.
But most importantly, it's about the dreamers. I don't care what you say, it's just not enough that guys go through the Q-school process only to only to get to the Nationwide Tour. The whole idea, as romantic as it may be, is to join in on the journey of all of these guys, from all over the world, chasing their dream, or trying to hold on to their dream, of playing on the PGA Tour. I'm sorry, it just won't be the same.
I'm not sure what it is about the system they don't like...I don't know why they have to take away the dreams, journeys, and stories of what it's like to get ready for the biggest golf challenge out there.
In the words of Billy Joel, "I like you just the way you are", Q-School!
Filed under: Q-school, Cathy Erickson