Another top player is joining Rory McIlroy in PGA Tour administration
Much has been made of Rory McIlroy’s role in the governing bodies that lead the PGA Tour in recent years. He’s served both as the chairman of the Player Advisory Council in 2021 and now as one of the four player directors on the Tour’s policy board.
McIlroy will soon be joined in that role by another top 10 player in the world: No. 4 Patrick Cantlay.
During a meeting on March 1, Cantlay was unanimously selected by the four current player directors (McIlroy, Kevin Kisner, James Hahn and Charley Hoffman) to serve a one-year term on the board, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. Under normal circumstances, players serve three-year terms on the board, representing their fellow Tour players, but this was not a normal promotion.
Back in 2017, the once eight-person board increased in size by one non-player as the Tour set out to negotiate the contracts for its media rights. In the wake of that decision, the policy board held players in a technical minority, owning just four seats in a nine-person board. Adding Cantlay to the mix now makes it a 10-person board, with players owning half of the seats.
Cantlay was selected in part because of his standing within the Tour Advisory Council (PAC), a secondary, 16-person group that serves a consultative role for the board. Cantlay ran for co-chairman earlier this year but lost out when Webb Simpson and Peter Malnati were selected. They will both join the policy board in February 2023 when Kisner and Hahn’s terms come to a close. Billy Horschel, who also ran for a co-chairman PAC role, will not graduate from the PAC.
The Tour’s advisory council includes players from all levels of the Tour’s various rankings, providing a sound cross-section of the membership. But only chairmen move on to join the policy board, which ultimately makes Tour-impacting decisions.
So, why does it matter that Cantlay is going to take on that role? Well, it’s entirely likely that he will continue to be a top 10 or 15 player in the world ranking — same for McIlroy — and top-ranked players have been the focus of various brands, bodies or breakaway golf tours approaching the PGA Tour. To have another top-ranked player on the policy board makes it plausible that decisions in favor of top players are more likely to be passed, or at least will have more favor among the player directors on the board.
Within the Tour’s memo that was sent to all members Thursday, announcing the Cantlay news, was veiled messaging about future scheduling changes that could arrive on Tour. The note reads as follows:
“The discussions are conceptual in nature and center around evolving the PGA Tour product in the future to align with emerging themes coming from the membership, in particular from top-ranked players, as well as continued efforts to improve our global pathway, reinforce the strength of our business and create valuable media and sponsorship rights in the future. As it relates to schedule, the discussion has been mostly focused on the fall portion of the calendar and a number of ideas to enhance this portion of the season while addressing the above objectives.”
While the decisions required to make changes have not even been fully solidified yet, the PGA Tour’s fall season could be ripe for alterations. Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel reported last month that the Tour discussed plans for a three-event team series that involves just the top 50 players from the previous season’s FedEx Cup standings. It would involve no-cut events across the world with heavily-increased purse sizes.
While the early talk about that proposal received mixed reviews from players, it was just another discussion point during the contentious week of the Genesis Invitational, where many of the best players in the world pledged their allegiance to the PGA Tour. The on-going saga is nowhere near completion, either. But the Tour informed players potential schedule changes to meet this moment will continue to be a topic of discussion at advisory council and policy board meetings the rest of this season.