Get your calendars (and Sharpies!) out.
After nearly a two-month delay due to various hiccups, the PGA Tour announced its much-anticipated 2018-19 schedule on Tuesday (although some of it we already knew). It was supposed to be unveiled by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan at the Players Championship in May, but things hadn’t fallen into place by then. A major issue was the Houston Open, which lacked a title sponsor until Houston Astros owner Jim Crane jumped in to help get a deal done. Houston’s limbo, and ensuing deal, led to other dominos falling, but in time the schedule started to take shape.
But why is the 2018-19 schedule so different? Let us explain. Here are the 13 things you need to know about the Tour’s newest road map.
1. The Players is moving from May to March. This is the first of the two biggest changes, although it also isn’t that new for the Players, which was played in March for 30 years before it moved to May in 2007. This move, along with the PGA Championship change, means one marquee event for six straight months from March to August. The Players is March 14-17 in 2019.
2. Here’s the second of the two major changes. The PGA Championship is moving from August to May. The first May PGA will be at Bethpage Black on May 16-19 in Farmingdale, N.Y. Speaking of the PGA…
3. It will be interesting to see what happens to PGA Championship host courses going forward. The move from August to May seemingly brings more southern courses into play (which could be considered too hot in August) while at the same time might hurt courses in the upper Midwest or northeast from being in top form to host a May major. The PGA has a heavy presence in the northeast going forward. After the 101st PGA at Bethpage Black next year, Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., is scheduled for 2022 and Oak Hill in Pittsford, N.Y., is in 2023. As for weather effects on the Players? On average, the move from May to March should drop the temp by about 10 degrees to the mid-60s. Historically, March also brings slightly more rain than May does to the area.
4. The FedEx Cup Playoffs will end the week before Labor Day (instead of Sept. 23 like this year) and — here’s the key — before the NFL season begins. There will no longer be a fight for viewers, which was never good for the Tour.
5. The playoffs themselves will be shorter. Three FedEx Cup Playoffs events used to precede the Tour Championship, but one is gone, making the entire golf postseason three events. The top 125 in the standings will play the first event, which is whittled down to 70 for the second stop and 30 for the Tour Championship. For 2019 it looks like this: The Northern Trust (Aug. 8-11) at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J., The BMW Championship (Aug. 15-18) at Medinah in Illinois and the Tour Championship (Aug. 22-25) at East Lake in Atlanta. TPC Boston will alternate a playoff event every year with the New York City area.
6. Recap! March: Players; April: Masters; May: PGA; June: U.S. Open; July: British Open; August: FedEx Cup Playoffs; September: Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup
7. The FedEx St. Jude Classic is no more (after 61 consecutive), but the Tour isn’t leaving Memphis. In 2019 St. Jude will take over as the primary sponsor for a World Golf Championships event, thus the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. It’s slated for July 25-28 next year, the week after the Open, which won’t be ideal for players. That also mean…
8. The WGC-Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio, is out. Firestone instead will receive the Bridgestone Senior Players through 2022.
9. Also no more is Tiger Woods’s D.C. tournament, which operated as the Quicken Loans National the past few years.
10. Hello, Detroit! Detroit Golf Club will be a new venue beginning next season, hosting the Rocket Mortgage Classic on June 27-30 at Detroit Golf Club.
11. Hello, Minnesota! The Land of 10,000 Lakes will host the 3M Open through at least 2025 at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine. (It used to host a Champions Tour event, which will move to South Dakota.) Dates for 2019 are July 4-7.
12. The pre-Masters warm-up, for those who like to play the week before big events, has long been the Houston Open, which did its best to replicate Augusta National conditions. Now, the Houston Open, along with The Greenbrier, are moving to the fall portion of the schedule but are skipping 2019 and returning for the 2019-20 season. The Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio is now the pre-Masters stop. Masters prep will be a little different for some.
13. These changes didn’t just affect the PGA Tour. After the PGA/Players moves were announced months ago, the European Tour decided to move its flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, from May to September (dates not yet released). With the move the Euro Tour hopes to attract more big names who would have otherwise been playing in competing U.S. events.