Major scheduling has become major mess
SAMMAMISH, Wash. – If the Champions Tour has five majors, I have 15 toes.
Major championships are a sore point with me. Just because the Great Oz in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., tells us there are five majors on the Champions Tour, it ain’t necessarily so.
Three of these so-called majors (Senior British Open, The Tradition, Senior Players Championship) are questionable. That leaves the Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open as time-honored and legitimate majors.
Here at the U.S. Senior Open, the biggest question surrounding the majors is this: Why are two of the five played in back-to-back weeks in locations that are eight time zones apart?
The Senior British Open ended Sunday, July 25, in Carnoustie, Scotland. The U.S. Senior Open started four days later here on the west coast of the United States.
I just took this trip – 8-hour flight from Glasgow, Scotland, to Philadelphia, 5-hour layover, 6-hour flight from Philly to the west coast. For more than a week, I woke up about 3 a.m. in the morning. My body and brain thought they were still in Scotland.
Players have been grumbling all week. “The body’s hurting, and I’m worn out, and I can’t make any putts,” Tom Watson said. “I’m just tired – tired and hurting. When you wake up at 1:00 in the morning and can’t go back to sleep, it’s kind of tough to play.”
The complaints will be renewed next year, because the situation will remain the same – back-to-back once again, albeit with easier connections from London, England, to Detroit, Mich. (the U.S. Senior Open will be played at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio).
Finally, in 2012, the two events will not follow each other. Let us hope the powers that be can keep them separated.
There is a one-world explanation for this back-to-back fiasco: television. ABC and ESPN are obligated to televise the British Open, Senior British Open and Women’s British Open, the three of them played back-to-back-to-back.
The U.S. Golf Association and NBC have been unable to change dates for the U.S. Senior Open, creating this time-zone trauma.
Mark Calcavecchia echoed Watson’s sentiment: “I’m tired, my back hurts, I have a blister on my toe, I’m ready to get the hell out of here. If you want to talk some more, call me at 3:30 in the morning. I wake up every day at 3:00.”
Even the stoic Bernhard Langer was critical of the scheduling. “I had a late tee time,” he said of his opening round. “My body clock was not normal. My tee time was 1:00, which was 9:00 (p.m. in Scotland). So my body was playing from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., which is tough to do.”
If these are really major championships, there is no way on God’s green earth they should be played in consecutive weeks half a world apart.
That’s what I call a major mess.