The first sentence of Henry David Thoreau's On Walden Pond is, "Simplify, simplify." Maybe Tim Finchem and the Big Tour Thinkers should head out to the pond from TPC Boston. (You could get directions on Google maps, or go Thoreau-style, on foot.) Go there for inspiration and clear thinking. Because the fact is, the whole FedEx point system, it's not even close to working. It's way off. It's way to complicated.
The goal of the playoff system is to get more name players playing more PGA Tour events after the final major of the year, the PGA Championship. More stars means more TV viewers and paying spectators, and it's good for everybody, including rank-and-file Tour players, to whom Finchem must always pay close attention. (They hire and fire him, indirectly.) Worthy goals, I suppose.
Maybe you've seen the Tour's TV spot for the FedEx Cup playoffs with Joe Torre, the manager whose professional life has been defined by October playoff baseball. The Tour wants you to think golf playoffs are like baseball playoffs. Or basketball playoffs. Or any sport with a real playoff season.
But in any other sport, you play all season to get in the playoffs and then you basically start all over again. You earn your salary during the regular season. You earn glory in the post-season. But in golf, the players earn money and glory in its well-established, April-August High Season. After that, it's funny money. And even now with the FedEx play, it's still funny money. So the question becomes, how do you get Tiger and Phil serious about funny money, and how do you get the public to care?
I propose this and I'm sure it would need a boatload of tweaking:
You play all year, through the PGA Championship, to establish a list of 144 FedEx Qualifiers. Do it straight off the money list; forget the point system. In week one, top 72 make the cut. The bottom 72 are out for the whole four weeks. Next week 72 play; top 36 make the cut. The rest are out for the remaining two weeks. In weeks three and four, 36 play both times. Four 72-hole stroke play events, with a $1 million to the winner each week. The winner of the hole is the low man for all 288 holes.
You want to win, you have to play the whole thing. You want to keep going, you have to make cuts. You want to watch guys puking their guts out, all you have to do is put on your TV.
Keep it simple and fun. You're not doing some grand thing here -- golf has enough of that already.