Maginnes: A rose by any other name

Bill Haas waves to the gallery on the 18th green after winning both the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship.

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The world of sports, or at least the language of sports has gone mad. Boise State and San Diego State are in the Big East. There are 10 teams in the Big 12 and there are 12 teams in the Big 10. The SEC has been expanded to West Texas and apparently Louisiana is in the west. Thank goodness for the game of golf that continues to keep its language simple and logical.

Forget that the United States Golf Association is the governing body for U.S. . . . and Mexico. Or that the PGA of America plays its annual Grand Slam of Golf event in Bermuda, golf still makes sense. Well, maybe the business of golf doesn’t make as much sense as it could but there is a reason for that. We will get to that in a minute.

The PGA Tour has the FedEx Cup Playoffs and although they have redefined playoffs in the sense that they are not like the playoffs in any other sport they are still sort of like playoffs. And the PGA Tour is actually a tour of professional golfers and I suspect it always will be. The moniker USPGA Tour is a creation of foreign entities. And even if it was called the USPGA Tour there are less than a handful of events played outside the actual U.S. The European Tour on the other hand is perhaps as egregious as any of the collegiate conferences in the U.S.

Less than half of the official events on the European Tour are held in Europe. As a matter of fact the only two continents that the European Tour does not have an official event on are South America and Antarctica. (Remember that the majors and WGC events are official event in Europe). The European Tour’s signature event is the Race to Dubai which, last I checked, wasn’t in Europe even when Britain was an empire. The Canadian Tour plays events in Central America and the OneAsia Tour plays occasionally in Australia.

Like other businesses, the world of golf is expanding and the only thing left behind will be the names that don’t make any sense to the world we live in at the time. The PGA Tour is expanding to Asia sooner rather than later. It has also acquired the PGA Latino America and the Canadian Tour in the last year. Somehow all of these entities will be rolled into Qualifying School which is nothing like any school that I ever attended. There are books (yardage books), work sheets (hole location), a little arithmetic and a pass-fail grading system. But even Q-School is changing. Graduates will earn Web.com Tour cards or a chance to earn their undergrad degree and matriculate to the PGA Tour. But if the Champions Tour (once the Senior Tour) name change a few years ago is any indication, I would imagine it will be called the Qualifying Tournament before long.

Other sports are far more guilty than golf with their misnomers, at least for now. It has been suggested that the New York World Newspaper sponsored the World Series many years ago and that is how it got its name. However baseball historians and even the folks at Cooperstown say there is no evidence to support such a claim. The Super Bowl doesn’t have quite such a unique history in terms of naming its championship game. Lamar Hunt, one of the founders, named it after his daughters Super Ball hoping that a better name would be suggested and yet 45 years later it is America’s largest sporting event. There is something endearing about that consistency. The World Series and the Super Bowl are obviously presented by big-dollar sponsors but they are not named for them.

This week in golf someone will walk away with $10 million thanks to FedEx and the PGA Tour. Eventually, because of the nature of sports the FedEx Cup will be renamed something totally different like the BP Cup or the Hilton Cup. Sponsorships change, that is a product of sports. Unfortunately when this one changes it will rename the most important development in professional golf since the PGA Tour broke away from the PGA of America. The problem is that the name Tour Championship was already taken but that is both essentially and literally what is being played for in Atlanta this week. Someone can win the tournament called the Tour Championship and someone will win the FedEx Cup. The problem is that the person who wins the FedEx Cup will have won the season-long championship of the PGA Tour. At least it was played in America.

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