3. The FedEx playoffs move to Chicago, and Conway Farms, a 1991 Tom Fazio design. Would there be more interest if the venue were Medinah, Cog Hill or one of Chicago's other Tour-centric courses, or is the host sire irrelevant?
Passov: I've never been to Conway Farms, but I don't know that any of Chicago's more famous tournament courses are appreciably better. However, when your event has no real identity of its own (when it was the Western Open, for like, 100 years, it actually meant something), I would think pairing it with a more esteemed -- or at least more distinctive -- venue would be helpful.
Bamberger: The host site is always relevant. Players are the best promoters of traditional golfing values, when given the chance. Bring the Chicago stop to Chicago G.C. A man can dream, right?
Morfit: It's all about who wins. Course takes distant second.
Walker: The problem with changing venues so much is that fans watching on TV aren’t familiar with the courses, especially the key holes. The Tour has the same problem with the New York event. How can you build an event’s identity if you keep moving the location around?
Van Sickle: Medinah and Cog Hill don't blow anyone's skirt up, either. The BMW is, by necessity, the equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back in the Stars Wars trilogy. It's a necessary middle step without a true end. Well, except the year Vijay Singh clinched it … and no one knew until an hour later and he was already gone.
Godich: Ask me next week, after I've gotten a look at Conway Farms. That said, what's so wrong with moving the event around.
Sens: Irrelevant. This isn't the Masters. They could play on a tarmac and the interest would be pretty much the same.
4. Miguel Angel Jimenez took exception this week to organizers of the European Tour's European Masters awarding a sponsor's exemption to 13-year-old Ye Wo-cheng of China, saying, "A 13-year-old should be playing alongside other 13-year-olds." Should we mandate age requirements, or should playing ability and gate attractiveness be the standards?
Passov: I'm getting a little weary -- numb, really -- from younger and younger golfers being thrust into adult tournaments, with the accompanying spotlight glare. I'll admit the novelty value of precocious players swayed me for a while, but now I feel that if you aren't old enough to obtain a license to drive a courtesy car, you shouldn't be teeing it up on Tour that week.
Sens: We're not talking about drinking, voting or driving a car. Let the kid play. If he's not good enough to compete, we'll find out soon enough. Meantime, the tournament gets a good storyline.
Bamberger: Whatever M-A J says, I'm right there with him. The man's a genius.
Morfit: I think 13 is too young. It's silly.
Van Sickle: Sponsor's exemptions are the choice of the sponsor. As long as tournament sponsors are allowed to invite anyone, there's no controlling who gets them. It's about generating interest. If that means inviting Michelle Wie or Mark Rypien or Michael Jordan or a 13-year-old kid or a juggling clown, that's the way it goes. Personally, I wouldn't invite any amateur that wasn't at least in college or college age.
Walker: I appreciate the traveling carnival element of a professional golf tour, but 13 is way too young.
Godich: We heard the same rumblings about Guan Tianlang leading into the Masters, and I was among those who said the kid would be lucky to break 80. Then he made the cut. Let the kids play. Besides, who's going to decide what age is too young?