6 takeaways from the PGA Tour’s official schedule dump
It took nearly 2,000 words for the PGA Tour to explain all the new changes to its 2024 schedule, released in an official capacity Monday afternoon. That’s lot of words for something that isn’t supposed to change much year over year — but these are weird times in pro golf. This was no regular schedule dump.
There are new events, new sponsorships and new layers of intrigue to some of the Tour’s most important traditions. Here are six main takeaways from the pro golf we’ll watch next year.
1. Get used to “Signature Events”
The last 12 months have seen the rise of Elevated Events, a name change to call them Designated Events, and now another change to the moniker of “Signature Events.” In short, they’re the fields with the best players from the previous year and some of the hottest players in the current year, playing for the biggest purses on the schedule.
They begin with the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January and are sprinkled throughout the rest of the calendar, with at least one Signature Event per month, excluding July. Toss in the Players Championship in March, the four majors in April, May, June and July and then the three playoff events in August and we can generally expect the top players to meet 16 times a year.
2. Tiger, Jack and Arnie events elevated further
There are the majors, the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Players Championship that have generally been treated as a cut above the rest of the events on the PGA Tour schedule. Now, we have another rung of events that are just a little more noteworthy than the others.
The Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial tournament will all be Signature Events, as expected, but they will also feature a 36-hole cut, a controversial piece of the tournament-making puzzle in 2023. Should an event with 70 to 80 players feature a cut? Should sponsors reap the benefits of the entire field making it to the weekend? These were the questions many golf figures have debated this summer. With these three events, we remain tethered to that tradition.
Notably, bending away from tradition will be how those events pay out the winners. For the first time, the winner of those tournaments will take home 20% of the purse, an increase from the normal 18%. That means your 2024 Genesis Invitational champion will be holding a $4 million check come Sunday evening.
3. The money is only getting bigger
Tucked into the press release was the fact that the winner of the 2024 FedEx Cup — the year-long battle for points that culminates at the Tour Championship — will earn $25 million on their own. That’s a $7 million (38%) increase from 2023, meaning those birdies and bogeys down at East Lake are more valuable than ever before.
When that bonus money is dolled out, we will inevitably ask the winner what they intend to do with these riches. And we will likely then see another time-honored tradition play out: the winner will no doubt struggle to answer with any definitive plans for the dough. Why? Because I don’t really play for money, they’ll say. And that will be true and false at the same time.
In addition to the mega monies available at the Tour Championship, the Comcast Business Top 10 — which rewards the top FedEx Cup players through the extent of the regular season — will now dish out $40 million, or twice the lot from 2023. That’s $8 million to the regular season champ, meaning if someone sweeps the top spot in everything, we could be seeing the first $50-million season in on-course earnings.
4. Pebble Beach will look different on your TV
The golf course will look the same, don’t worry. But the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am will look very different. For starters, it will be a Signature Event and carry with it a $20 million purse. It will be the first Signature Event that includes the top players from the fall series, creating a real sweepstakes on one of the best courses in the world.
Most importantly, the feel of the event will change as the “Am” part of the Pro-am will only take place over the first two days of the tournament. In years past, the weekend rounds of the Pro-Am transpired in a bit of a slog as pace of play could grind to a halt with many amateurs playing alongside the leaders of the tournament. Now, those amateurs will be swept away from the field as we turn to the final two rounds. It’ll improve the TV product and it might even improve play. Who knows. But it’ll feel different in a lot of good ways.
5. New(ish) events, new sponsors, new places!
The schedule may have been released Monday but it’s still not completely finalized. The late February event that annually visits PGA National in southern Florida will be named The Classic at the Palm Beaches — at least for the time being. A sponsor announcement for that event is expected in the coming months.
Held at the same time as the Wells Fargo Championship will be an additional event called the Myrtle Beach Classic, offering players outside the Signature Series another playing opportunity. That’ll take place at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Then, later in the summer, a similar additional event will be played during the Scottish Open. We just don’t know where. In past years, PGA Tour players who didn’t qualify or want to commute to Scotland have been able to compete in the Barbasol Championship. That event is no longer. What will fill its place? We shall see, but the Tour has made room for “TBA Event” on its calendar.
6. The Next 10 and The Swing 5
These names are going to be for the nerdiest of PGA Tour nerds, but will be important nonetheless. They’ll decide who joins the FedEx Top 50 players from 2023 in all the Signature Events in 2024. So you want to see, say, Joel Dahmen playing in the Wells Fargo Championship? Joel finished outside the top 50 this year, so he’ll have to qualify via the Next 10 or the Swing 5.
The Next 10 is simple: the next 10 players in the current-season FedEx Cup standings who hadn’t already qualified for a spot in the Signature Events will earn their way in via their recent play. Players who perform well in January and February will earn their way into March’s signature events that way. And if they play really well, they might just hold that honor for the entirety of the summer.
The Swing 5 checks a slightly different box, awarding five spots in tournaments via performances from over a shorter, specific time period: as many as four events and as little as two, between the Signature Events. Players who play well at, say, the Myrtle Beach Classic, the Charles Schwab Challenge and the Canadian Open, could go from not playing the “Signature” Wells Fargo Championship right into a spot in the “Signature” Memorial tournament field and the “Signature” Travelers Championship.