Every Sunday night, Golf.com conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.
1. The Players Championship and the PGA Championship are both going to have $10 million purses in 2014. Has the astronomical rise in purses made professional golf better or worse?
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): The money, like all the TV exposure, has helped to make golf more of a big-time enterprise, so that's a good thing. But no doubt many talented players have grown fat and happy and failed to realize their potential, which may explain why this era has produced so few legends.
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@GaryVanSickle): The public doesn't care that much about the purses. The crazy money has become a disincentive for players, however. The best players today play fewer times than the best players of 25 years ago--I'd have to look that up to verify. When you've got $3 mil in the bank, why bust your ass? It's easier to go the Stricker-Mickelson-NIcklaus route and play a limited schedule because you can afford to. Ideally, you want the best players to play as much as possible.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine (@CameronMorfit): Worse. I don't see too many players with Lee Trevino's work ethic. Maybe a young Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh in his early forties, but otherwise I see a lot of players who are doing very well finishing in the top 10 every so often. They will counter that it's harder to win now than it was in Trevino's day. Whether or not that's true, there are certainly more distractions, and money is one of them.
Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf.com (@michaelwalkerjr): The money is obscene, but no different than any other big-time sport. Overall, it’s a plus. These purses show that the professional game is healthy, fields are deeper than ever, and the game is truly worldwide. And I believe the very best players burn to win tournaments as much as players of any era.
Joe Passov, senior editor, courses and travel (@joepassov): Worse. So much money is great for the rank-and-file players, but it's changed the competitive nature of professional golf. Back when Jack and Arnie were rocking it in the '60s, you had to win tournaments to make any real money -- and claim any significant endorsements. These days, one third-place finish and three sevenths and your year is considered successful (financially) and you're likely considered endorsement-worthy. Too many players back off late in tournaments because of available money, FedEx Points, Ryder Cup points. In the days of my youth, it was all about the Ws.
Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine (@JoshSens): Worse. On the one hand, there is the trickle-down economics benefit of creating more opportunity throughout the game. But mostly what it does is make the top players even more pampered, aloof and unresponsive to the game's greater good than they already are.
2. Chris Kirk held off Briny Baird to win the McGladrey’s against a star-challenged field. Do PGA Tour events such as the McGladrey's deserve full FedEx Cup points and Masters invites to the winner when the majority of the Tour's top players are playing elsewhere in the world?
SENS: Any mention of Briny Baird should come with the warning: "Do Not Attempt to Operate Heavy Machinery While Typing His Name. And Certainly Not While Watching Him Play." Happy for him that he almost won but not a good sign for the tournament itself, whose winner should not get full FedEx Cup points or a Masters invite. The field is just too watered down.
WALKER: That’s precisely why the McGladrey’s winner should get FedEx Cup points and a Masters invite: to help these PGA Tour events compete against flashy international tournament with lucrative appearance fees.
SHIPNUCK: Sure, why not? Winning a Tour event is a big deal, and playing in the Masters is an important stepping-stone for a guy like Kirk. He conquered a good course and a pretty good field, so let's give Kirk his due.
PASSOV: I'm torn on this one. I guess if you're going to hand out the serious hardware for star-deprived tournaments such as Memphis, Greensboro, Texas and the John Deere then go ahead and do so for these former Fall Series events. It just feels so hollow, when nearly every current superstar is either skipping the event, or playing in Turkey or Australia -- much like the Fall Series tournaments always were. I keep hearing that the depth in the tournaments is far superior to where they were a year ago, but I'm not convinced that these tournaments are any more deserving of full-benefit status than they were last year.
VAN SICKLE: The McGladrey's should get a Masters spot and FedEx Cup points. It's a PGA Tour event. It's no McGladrey's fault that some top names went elsewhere. Besides, the field wasn't all that bad. Many of the new Q-school qualifiers weren't able to get in the McGladrey's field -- or most of the other fall events.
MORFIT: The Masters organizers are going to do their own thing and are way more likely to drop an event with a weak field. But if you're the PGA Tour you have to award full FedEx points to those events in order to try to protect them. The new wraparound season is going to take some time to come into focus.