SEA ISLAND, GEORGIA | The Jones Cup,
played annually at the fabulous Ocean
Forest Golf Club at Sea Island, Ga., represents the first stirrings of the new year for
competitive amateur golf in America.
This year, several of the competitors,
and several more who were not here, are
facing an important decision about their
golf careers: To turn, or not to turn? That
is the question.
Do I turn pro in 2012 before the PGA
Tour overhauls its Qualifying School process, or do I wait?
The question arises due to expected
changes the PGA Tour will make in 2013
with the traditional Q-School. This change
is a domino in a chain that began with
a decision by Nationwide Insurance to
discontinue sponsorship of its namesake
developmental tour at the end of 2012.
Selling sponsorship in this environment is
a chore at best, and the Tour was finding
few takers at the price tag they put on it.
So, the traditional Q-School became
collateral damage in an effort to hang
more bells and whistles off the developmental tour. Beginning in the fall of 2013,
the Tour plans to run a three-tournament
series made up of the next 75 players who
did not make the FedEx Cup playoffs and
the top 75 players from the developmental
tour. Fifty of those 150 players would earn
Tour cards. The rest would go to Q-School
to earn status on the developmental tour,
not the big tour.
That means no more Rickie Fowler- or
Dustin Johnson-like situations, where they
went from college straight to the Tour.
Currently, Texas is the top-ranked team
in the nation and has to be considered the
favorite to win the national title.
Several others are likely looking carefully at this situation, weighing the pros
and cons and listening to their parents,
coaches and agents. It is a shame that
these kids are being put in this situation,
but they are learning very early in their
career that pro golf is a business. l