Jack Nicklaus explains why he’s not a fan of the new major schedule

September 3, 2019

This year’s major schedule was markedly different than years past. With the PGA Championship’s move from August to May, the four majors were played in a span of only 15 weeks, from April to July. The condensed schedule was incorporated to accommodate the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and the desire to end the season before the NFL begins in earnest.

High-profile players have already gone on the record to criticize the changes. At the Open Championship in July, Justin Rose said the major schedule was “too condensed.”

“As a professional in terms of trying to peak for something, the process that’s involved in trying to do that can be detailed and it can be longer than a month,” Rose said. “For me a major championship should be the things that are protected the most. That’s how all of our careers ultimately are going to be measured. Thirty, 40 years ago there wasn’t a FedEx Cup, so if you’re trying to compare one career to another career, Jack versus Tiger, it’s the majors that are — they’re the benchmarks. For them to be tweaked so much I think is quite interesting at this point.”

At last week’s Omega European Masters, Rory McIlroy suggested that golf should be more like tennis in its pacing. “If [golf’s majors] are spaced so closely together, will fans only care from the second week of April to the third week in July?” he mused. “I’d like to see them spaced out like tennis does. With the Australian Open in January and the U.S. Open going on now, they have a nice nine-month window of relevancy.”

Now the player who owns the most major titles in history, Jack Nicklaus, is weighing in — and he didn’t mince his words.

“I don’t like the new major schedule, from the standpoint that if you have an injury, or if you’re struggling with one tournament, all of a sudden the other one follows too closely, to get it back,” Nicklaus told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I’m not sure that that’s really a good thing for the game of golf, to have all your tournaments in about 3 1/2 months. And I don’t think it’s good for the other tournaments on the Tour.”

Nicklaus is also concerned about how players taking weeks off to prepare for each major will affect the Tour as a whole. Tiger Woods notably played only one non-major tournament between the Masters in April and the Open Championship in July.

“The guys have got to skip a lot of tournaments — you saw that this year — guys weren’t playing in between majors,” Nicklaus said. “And I think that’s a shame for the Tour. I know that the all-mighty dollar is important, but I don’t think it’s so important that you really lose out on the tradition of the great tournaments that have been played for years and years and years.”

As it turns out, next year’s schedule will be even more jam-packed for the world’s top players, with the Masters in April, PGA Championship in May, U.S. Open in June, Open Championship in mid-July, the Olympics in Japan from July 30-Aug 2, the FedEx Cup playoffs in August, and the Ryder Cup in September.

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