The moment of the reveal of a PGA TOUR schedule is like finally unwrapping the box too big to fit under the Christmas tree. You've picked it up, shaken it and wondered what's inside. Sure, you've been granted a few peeks along the seams, but true satisfaction doesn't exist until it's open.
Today is the day, so let's explore what we need to know.
The schedule has undergone its first overhaul since the FedExCup was introduced in 2007. Because of the inherent awareness of the endpoints of any schedule, the first thing you'll notice is that the 2018-19 season will conclude on Aug. 22-25, a month earlier than usual.
There are 46 tournaments scheduled. That's down two from 2017-18, which is down one itself due to the one-time cancellation of the Puerto Rico Open.
From the Safeway Open (Oct. 4-7) through the Genesis Open (Feb. 14-17), the first 15 tournaments are in the same order and will be contested on the same courses as they were in 2017-18. It's the remaining two-thirds of the schedule in which the assortment of modifications will occur.
The juggling act centers on THE PLAYERS Championship. It returns to March (March 14-17), where it was a staple before sliding into May in 2007. TPC Sawgrass is infamous for its absence of horses, but the new date could trigger an evolution toward repeated success. No doubt, Pete Dye would snicker at that supposition.
With THE PLAYERS repositioned, the now-uninterrupted four-week stint in the Sunshine State will begin with The Honda Classic on the first weekend of March. This adjustment gives the concurrently contested World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and Puerto Rico Open a transitional week between the West Coast Swing and Florida Swing. It's the second of five doubleheaders, the last two of which will be conducted in consecutive weeks in late July.
The move of the PGA TOUR's flagship event opened the door for the PGA Championship to assume the vacated slot in May (16-19). That, in conjunction with other alterations, yielded the reality of finishing the season in August.
Along with the return of the Puerto Rico Open on Feb. 21-24, the inaugural 3M Open will be contested on July 4-7. These are the only tournaments that weren't on the 2017-18 schedule.
TPC Twin Cities will host the 3M Open. Along with Royal Portrush Golf Club, which will host The Open Championship, those are the two fresh courses on the schedule. However, including TPC Southwind, nine tournaments will be contested at different or new courses and all within a three-month window from mid-May (PGA Championship) through mid-August (BMW Championship). Because they lean heavily on course history, One & Doners who are front-running entering this stretch will want to hold their breath.
Pebble Beach Golf Links hosts the U.S. Open for the first time since 2010. Of course, it's already an annual stop in February, so be sure to sharpen your focus on the goings-on as a number of those who commit to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am will be scouting for their appearance in the major four months later. While the course will play more difficult and the conditions will be different come mid-June, the value of sightlines and a general understanding of where to miss will soften the learning curve.
After its customary position in late July, the RBC Canadian Open now leads into the U.S. Open. In celebrating its 100th anniversary since it first hosted Canada's national open, Hamilton Golf & Country Club returns to the rotation after hosting in 2003, 2006 and 2012. It'll be back in 2023 as well.
Meanwhile, the following tournaments that are part of the 2017-18 season are not included in 2018-19:
• Houston Open. Its new, five-year partnership with the Astros Foundation will begin in the fall portion of the 2019-20 season at Golf Club of Houston. This gives way to the Valero Texas Open to move into the week before the Masters in 2019.
• FedEx St. Jude Classic. TPC Southwind transitions into its new role as the host of the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and shifts from its traditional slot the week before the U.S. Open in early June to the last weekend in July. The new WGC event at TPC Southwind replaces the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which means that Firestone Country Club's South Course is off the schedule.
• A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier. No official word yet, but it could be part of the fall portion of 2019-20.
• Dell Technologies Championship. It's currently the second stop of the FedExCup Playoffs at TPC Boston.
With the contraction to three FedExCup Playoffs events – and note that they will be held in consecutive weeks as opposed to the occasional off-week such as the break before the TOUR Championship this September – there's only one less tournament contributing to the FedExCup season than the 44 in 2017-18. As a result, targets to finish inside the top 125 of the FedExCup standings, achieve Special Temporary Membership and other partial-season objectives should be nominal in variance as compared to recent seasons.
Because of the seismic shifts during the latter two-thirds of 2018-19, reshuffles for the Web.com Tour graduates, golfers with conditional status and those in the Beyond 150 category are going to require some adjustment. However, the primary objective of getting off to a hot start will not change, and that itself begins with a strong showing at the Web.com Tour Finals for opening position.
It could prove valuable particularly at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, which will be reducing its field by 12 to 132 this fall (after four seasons as a 144-deep competition). For evidence of the importance of opening position, look no further than Rod Pampling prevailing at TPC Summerlin in 2016 after gaining entry as the seventh-to-last man in that field.
Eligibility criteria for many tournaments also will experience some updating, but they are likely to be affected primarily by the shifting of time frames and deadlines of positioning in the various rankings that grant entry, not specific achievement.
Naturally, as time passes, we'll keep you informed about any and all introductions, modifications and the such regarding fantasy games at PGATOUR.COM. My weekly array of content will continue as usual, and I'll have my annual full-membership fantasy ranking out as soon as possible once the 2017-18 season is in the books.