7 fascinating changes to the PGA Tour’s new set event format
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Sometimes it helps to remember that the PGA Tour is new to this whole “designated events” business.
Like a twenty-something making his first dating profile, the tour’s good intentions were sometimes obscured by the clumsy missteps of inexperience. This is to be expected. No one said things were going to be easy as the chain-smoking, leather-jacketed rebels of LIV forced the Tour to re-enter the world of golf advertising. So many years of competitive stability had made the Tour resilient to change at any pace, let alone that dictated by the fire-breathing upstarts.
But the changes had to come fast, which is why the tour launched a semi-completed event concept after a players-only meetup in Delaware last summer. The tour’s uneasiness about changing those proportions was peppered in their early proposals, right down to the naming convention. In just a few months, the tour’s official nomenclature for their bold new initiative changed four times: from Elevated Events to Elevated Events, then to Designated Events before finally settling on Designated Events.
On Tuesday morning, at a PGA Tour players’ meeting (and later at his annual Players Championship press conference), PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan outlined what may be the boldest changes to the proposed format, cementing a radically different future for golf’s greatest tour to begin with Beginning of the 2024 season. Although most of the changes outlined by Monahan on Tuesday mirrored those sent in a memo to players last week, some of the latest details expand on the newly laid out structure that will make golf’s biggest events even bigger and them at the same time giving a more thoughtful consideration is excluded from the rota.
We’ve got another nine months until these changes take effect in earnest in early 2024 (well, seven months if we count the fall season), but here are seven changes that we think could be the most impactful.
7 fascinating changes for the PGA Tour
1. No cuts, limited fields
This is considered old news, but it still holds great significance for the future form of the tour. Starting in 2024, all designated events will no longer have cuts and the field size will be reduced to “70 to 80” players.
Those changes, covered in Monahan’s memo last week, represent what Rory McIlroy called a “tonne of innovation” for an “antiquated” pro golf product – a change McIlroy attributed to LIV Golf, which had a no-cut last year format released.
“I’m not going to sit here and lie,” McIlroy said. “I think the emergence of LIV, or the emergence of a competitor on the PGA TOUR, has benefited everyone who plays elite professional golf.”
For golfers who qualify for the scheduled events, guaranteed paychecks (due to the no-cut rule) and larger ones (due to fewer players) are just around the corner.
Admission to designated events will also be revamped, with a renewed emphasis on equity. Under the new schedule, the following individuals will qualify for the scheduled events:
– The top 50 players from last year’s FedEx Cup standings
– The top 10 of the current FedEx Cup rankings
– Top 5 FedEx Cup point earners in the “swing” of that tournament on the PGA Tour schedule (West Coast, Florida, etc.)
– The tournament winners of the current year
– The Top 30 of the OWGR
– 4 sponsor exemptions
But these parameters also include two important exceptions:
– Those who win alternate field tour events will not gain access to the designated events due to the “Current Year Winners” exception
– In the case of events designated as pre-season, the “current FedEx Cup Top 10” exception includes the top 10 finishers from the fall schedule.
3. A new tournament cadence
The new schedule will follow a two-week-on-2-week-off cadence, according to the tour – a change aimed at improving player schedules and addressing the imbalances created by the rushed 2023 schedule ( (think: the Honda Classic, which was smashed up between three specific events).
4. Less designated events
The new tour schedule will only feature eight set events (outside the Players Championship, FedEx Cup Playoffs and Majors), as opposed to 2022’s nine set schedule.
Per the PGA Tour, this change was made to ensure a better New Year’s schedule and allow for a break between scheduled and non-specified events to improve non-specified tournament attendance.
5. Different venues?
The new eight-event PGA Tour schedule includes the Sentry Tournament of Champions, two preseason events and five others. It is expected that the three Invitationals (Riviera, Bay Hill and Memorial) will be among the eight, leaving only four other tour events eligible for status.
Browse the tour schedule and you will realize that this means someoneis left out. Of course, the tour could choose to keep their existing set schedule minus the Dell Match Play, which will no longer be contested once the 2023 season concludes, but doing so would run the risk of skipping undesignated (but still significant) events like the Canadian , Scottish or Farmers Insurance opens.
It’s a tricky problem that the Tour is still working on solving.
6. Designated events remain unchanged from year to year
Perhaps the biggest bombshell the tour uncovered in the new schedule structure is that certain events are unlikely to change from year to year. Rather, the eight events selected for the 2024 schedule will be the same events used for the intended schedule for years to come.
The tour stated that the reason for the change was due to tournament cadence and availability. While it would be great to spread the love between each event on the tour calendar, the burden of adjusting the schedule each year to the new established cadence would wreak havoc on players’ travel plans, tournament logistics and those responsible for organizing each course Host hosts in tournament state.
However, these changes mean that some marquee tour events will fall out of the designated limelight well beyond 2024.
7. Increased FedEx Cup point values
As expected, FedEx Cup points awarded for designated events are weighted more heavily than non-designated events. According to Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard, beginning in 2024, a designated event win will be worth 700 FedEx Cup points, while an undesignated event win will continue to be worth 500 points. This means that according to the structure outlined, a 10th place finish in a specific event is worth the same point value as a 3rd place finish in an unspecified event.
This has always been a likely reality of the new system, lest the Tour risk too much revenue at the scheduled events and remove the sport’s top players from the action. Still, it was also a particular sticking point for those outside the top 50, many of whom feel the schedule changes are dividing the tour into groups of “haves” and “haven’ts.”