Q&A: Tom Alter, PGA Tour executive

By his own admission, PGA Tour executive Tom Alter is not a statistics expert. “I’m a golf geek,” he acknowledges. Yet a big part of his role as the Tour’s vice president of communications is helping make sense of the FedEx Cup playoffs formula. As Year 6 of the Tour’s postseason concluded at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, Alter shared his insights.

How has your job of communicating the FedEx Cup to the players changed over the years?

They definitely understand it more than they have in recent years, and I think the biggest factor is that this is the third year we’ve used the same points system. The players are buying into it a little bit more.

Is this a system that will require some tweaking?

I think we are achieving everything we want to do, which is reward consistently good play in the regular season, reward really good play in the playoffs and have the best players all playing in every event. All of that is happening. I think we’re getting the right champions. The one thing is, it’s a little too confusing. It would be so much easier if you at home could follow along and we could translate it into a strokes‑based system, where he’s three in the lead, but he’s still just one more shot behind Tiger to win the whole FedEx Cup.

How has your background in communications trained you for this role?

I’m not a math guy. I’m more of a golf guy, and my background is television, so I just feel like (what) the viewer at home would want to know, I can keep track of that. I’m constantly talking to our folks who are in the TV trucks, making sure we’re all on the same page, trying to sell the stories.

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