finchemAs long as I’ve been a hardcore PGA fan, I’ve disagreed with some of the actions taken by its commissioner, Tim Finchem.  I believe the game has stagnated since he’s been in charge, and because of his incompetence, the best and most visible display of the game we all love is now tarnished and a veritable fish out of water.  In this series, I’m going to look at a few of the critical mistakes Finchem has made.  And while I’m critical, I do realize he has done some good for the game, but what he’s messed up has overwhelmed said good deeds.

In theory, the World Golf Championships were a fantastic idea, a stepping stone to a hopeful unification of the world golf tours, and a great place to see some of the world’s best players that you would otherwise not get to see.  The setup was smart…award more World Golf Rankings points than even the highest profile regular tour stops, and much larger purses, hopefully enticing the world’s best to tee it up, and so they do.

So what’s the big deal then?

Well, for starters, aren’t they called the WORLD Golf Championships?  Of the three individual tournaments, the Match Play, the CA and the Invitational, none have currently hosted outside of the United States since 2007.  Commissioner Tim Finchem said this was due to the increased exposure of the American tour as well as the higher payouts compared to events hosted elsewhere.  Well, in two short years, not only has that notion fallen completely apart, but it’s been a hot topic amongst golf fans across the world.

I’m as American as apple pie, but when it comes to something like this, it just doesn’t make a lick of sense.  The United States is already home to three of the majors as well as the prestigious Players tournament, widely considered the fifth major.  While there has been somewhat of a revival of the top European players staying in Europe (I use that term loosely because the Middle Eastern events are arguably the most marquee tourneys aside from the Open), the majority of top Euro pros still find their home in the States.  So, instead of giving top European courses a chance to host an event with European stars, yet another event in America is staged, simply being a glorified dog and pony show.

Now, some things just don’t make sense to me.  Sure, the CA Championship (Doral) and the Invitational (Firestone) are held at two FANTASTIC American courses, but what’s the point of having the Match Play at some terrible desert course that is about as appealing to golf fans as a fine steak dinner at Outback?  Of all the events, the Match Play is the one that would be most suited to a rotation of courses around the world, say Australia or the Middle East or Southern Asia.  Not only would this accomplish the goal of a WORLD Golf Championship, but it would give golf fans a chance to see the top players battle it out at a course that most golf fans would never otherwise see.

The other thing that really bugs me is that the European Tour has not only adopted the WGC’s lofty goals, but taken them to a whole different realm, and making the European Tour THE global tour.  European Tour fans get to see events held all over Europe, Africa and Asia.  The European Tour has three very prestigious events in the Middle East, including their MUCH better version of the FedEx Cup in Dubai.  Isn’t this exactly what the WGC’s set out to accomplish?

So, let me get this straight, the European Tour does something incredibly well and doesn’t have a whole lot of fanfare and blaring trumpets to announce it, yet Tim Finchem starts off with a great goal in mind, but doesn’t have either the cache or the foresight to carry it out.  Yep, that sounds about right.

Now, is this entirely Tim Finchem’s fault?  Yes and no.

Sure, there are other interests that come into play, most notably money.  And if the American economy didn’t suffer a vicious blow, then his reasoning behind America being the setting wouldn’t have backfired, but at the same time, where’s the foresight?  Where’s the imagination?  Where’s the planning?

There is an extremely simple way to remedy all this criticism, one that in today’s global economy, would not only make sense, but be incredibly fruitful for all international tours.  Why are we stuck at three events?  Why not add in a fourth, or fifth event in a different country?  Surely there are investors who would kill to put their name all over an event, a British or Asian version of Accenture or CA or Bridgestone. Why not have a precursory event in Great Britain that serves as a high profile warmup for the Open?  Something that leaves a week after US Open to rest and a week before the Open to play Loch Lomond?  You mean that the top 64 golfers wouldn’t use that as a great opportunity to get used to the links style courses and to keep their skills sharp?

What about an event in China or Japan or Hong Kong?  Why not put Match Play permanently in Australia, somewhere like Royal Melbourne where weather is never an issue aside from heat?  I understand Finchem’s rationale behind keeping prestigious events at Doral and Firestone, but do we really need to pigeonhole them into a WGC event?  Seems to me that the Wachovia at Quail Hollow doesn’t suffer at all from attracting a top field, and you get no more additional World Golf Ranking points from that than you do a win at the FBR Open.

My criticism of Finchem is harsh because I view him as a poorly organized leader who is too set in his ways.  Visionary leaders of sport do not sit by and let something as wonderful as the WGC’s fall into the trap of cute money from American sponsors and holding great, unique events at shitty American desert courses.  Great leaders of sport don’t sit by and take global criticism for being lazy and not thinking ahead.  It was easy to see that there was something wrong with the event scheduling, but instead of making something cool out of it, Finchem sat by and did pretty much nothing.  Is that not grounds for criticism?

Now, you could be saying this is rather innocuous, and something that I’m unfairly railing on Finchem for, but this is just one, in a series, of events proving that this man’s reign is that of gross oversight and incompetence.  As you’ll see in the next installments, Finchem has not only handicapped the PGA, but hurt the game itself.  This is just the tip of the iceberg of what can only be the tenure of one of the worst commissioners in the history of organized sport.