NORTON, Mass. – After two years of speculation and rumors about the future of PGA Tour golf continuing in the Bay State, the decision is final, and New England golf fans will be disappointed, especially since the Commissioner of the PGA Tour – Jay Monahan – is a Boston-native.
The PGA Tour made major changes in its schedule starting next season, and after 15 consecutive years at TPC Boston – 13 as the Deutsche Bank Championship and two as Dell Technologies Championship – the end is here after this Labor Day weekend.
Today the PGA Tour announced that the FedEx Cup Playoffs has been reduced from four events to three beginning in 2019, and the Dell Technologies Championship has been eliminated from the schedule.
The change was made so that the 2019 Tour schedule will be completed in August and avoid overlap with the NFL. The Northern Trust will remain the first FedEx Cup Playoffs event and will be held at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, NJ, from Aug. 5 to 11 in 2019. Known as one of the world’s most picturesque courses with views of the Hudson River, Manhattan skyline, and the Statue of Liberty, Liberty National has previously hosted the first FedEx Cup Playoffs event in 2009 and 2013
According to the announcement from the PGA Tour, The Northern Trust tournament will alternate between the New York/New Jersey area and Boston will host the event in August 2020.
TPC Boston first played host to the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003 with huge interest from the “Tiger boom” and golf was “trendy.” Adam Scott blazed the field with a 24-under par 264 score, to edge runner up Rocco Mediate, who posted a 268 total. Other winners include: Vijay Singh (2003 & 2008), Tiger Woods (2006), Phil Mickelson (2007), Rory McIlroy (2012 & 2016), Rickie Fowler (2015) and Justin Thomas (2017).
“The Greater Boston area is an incredibly important market to the PGA Tour, and we’re excited to have a solution in place that brings PGA Tour golf back to Boston in 2020,” said Rich Brady, the executive director of the Dell Technologies Championship. “We’re incredibly fortunate that our partner Northern Trust has agreed to host their event in New York in 2019 and Boston in 2020, which allows us to continue to bring playoff golf to both areas. The loyal fans of this tournament who are accustomed to seeing the biggest names on the PGA Tour at TPC Boston will continue to witness one of the best fields in professional golf compete in a FedEx Cup playoff event of significant importance.”
When the Deutsche Bank Championship bolted two years ago and the PGA Tour and PGA of America moved the PGA Championship to May and The Players Championship to March as part of a schedule overhaul, the Boston stop was doomed. It didn’t help that golf was in a recession up until Tiger Woods return six months.
Attendance over Labor Day weekend was declining and last year first day attendance was noticeably sparse prompting a quip from Travelers Championship CEO Andy Bessette that more fans attend the Travelers Championship in one day than the entire week at TPC Boston.
Also, TV ratings were sliding and corporate sponsors were noticeably scarce. The PGA Tour spinmeisters won’t say it but the tournament was on life support for the last four years. Despite some pros publicly claiming to like coming to Boston, many complained privately that they were exhausted from too much golf with Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup obligations every September.
Despite obstacles it didn’t matter to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, a born-and-bred Bostonian, who served as the first director of the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003. He was an executive at Fenway Sports Group prior to joining the PGA Tour in 2010 as senior vice president for business development.
“We are extremely pleased with the way the schedule has come together, particularly with the number of changes that were involved and the strength of the partnerships required to achieve this new look,” Monahan said in a prepared statement on the PGA Tour web site, trying to sugar-coat the drastic loss to New England golf fans. “It’s been our stated objective for several years to create better sequencing of our tournaments that golf fans around the world can engage in from start to finish. And by concluding at the end of August, the FedEx Cup Playoffs no longer have the challenge of sharing the stage with college and professional football. This will enhance the visibility of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and overall fan engagement with the PGA TOUR and the game as a whole.”
TPC Boston was originally designed by Arnold Palmer Golf Design Company before undergoing a transformation in 2007, spearheaded by golf course architect Gil Hanse with consulting from former PGA Tour player Brad Faxon. The event has always been held over Labor Day weekend hosting the top-100 FedEx Cup players but has struggled to attract sponsors and fans in recent years.
The par 5, eighteenth hole at TPC is the among the worst finishing holes in professional golf, with limited access for fans, because the entire right side is environmentally sensitive land. The last few years the tournament lacked energy and interest after its hey-day final round battles featuring Tiger, Phil and Vijay in the early 2000s.
The tournament became the second FedEx Cup Playoff event during the format’s inaugural season in 2007 before undergoing a shift in sponsorship last year to become the Dell Technologies Championship. Michael Dell, chairman of Dell Technologies, ordered a new directive to sponsors, fans, volunteers, media and concession stands that the tone of the event will be less rowdy and that alcoholic beverage sales will be limited throughout the tournament, which upset many longtime attendees, who attend to drink and have a good time.
So, mark your calendar for the playing of the final PGA Tour stop in Massachusetts – the Dell Technologies Championship from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4.
The dates for the 2020 Northern Trust have not been set. The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which will include golf, run from July 24 to Aug. 9.
2018-19 PGA Tour schedule
Oct. 1-7: Safeway Open, Napa, Calif.
Oct. 8-14: CIMB Classic, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Oct. 15-21: The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, Jeju Island, Korea
Oct. 22-28: World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, Shanghai, China
Oct. 22-28: Sanderson Farms Championship, Jackson, Mich.
Oct. 29 – Nov. 4: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Las Vegas, Nev.
Nov. 5-11: Mayakoba Golf Classic, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Nov. 12-18: The RSM Classic, St. Simons Island, Ga.
Dec. 31 – Jan. 6: Sentry Tournament of Champions, Kapalua, Hawaii
Jan. 7-13: Sony Open in Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii
Jan. 14-20: CareerBuilder Challenge, La Quinta, Calif.
Jan. 21-27: Farmers Insurance Open, San Diego, Calif.
Jan. 28 – Feb. 3: Waste Management Phoenix Open, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Feb. 4-10: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Pebble Beach, Calif.
Feb.11-17: Genesis Open, Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Feb. 18-24: World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, Mexico City, Mexico
Feb. 18-24: Puerto Rico Open, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Feb. 25 – Mar. 3: The Honda Classic, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Mar. 4-10: Arnold Palmer Invitational, Orlando, Fla.
Mar. 11-17: The Players Championship, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Mar. 18-24: Valspar Championship, Palm Harbor, Fla.
Mar. 25-31: World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, Austin, Texas
Mar. 25-31: Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Apr. 1-7: Valero Texas Open, San Antonio, Texas
Apr. 8-14: Masters Tournament, Augusta, Ga
Apr. 15-21: RBC Heritage, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Apr. 22-28: Zurich Classic of New Orleans, New Orleans, La.
Apr. 29 – May 5: Wells Fargo Championship, Charlotte, N.C.
May 6-12: AT&T Byron Nelson, Dallas, Texas
May 13-19: PGA Championship, Bethpage, N.Y.
May 20-26: Charles Schwab Challenge, Fort Worth, Texas
May 27 – Jun. 2: The Memorial Tournament, Dublin, Ohio
Jun. 3-9: RBC Canadian Open, Hamilton, Ontario
Jun. 10-16: U.S. Open, Pebble Beach, Calif.
Jun. 17-23: Travelers Championship, Cromwell, Conn.
Jun. 24-30: Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit, Mich.
Jul. 1-7: 3M Open, Blaine, Minn.
Jul. 8-14: John Deere Classic, Silvis, Ill.
Jul. 15-21: The Open Championship, Portrush, Northern Ireland
Jul. 15-21: Barbasol Championship, Nicholasville, Ky.
Jul. 22-28: World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Memphis, Tenn.
Jul. 22-28: Reno-Tahoe Tournament, Reno, Nev.
Jul. 29 – Aug. 4: Wyndham Championship, Greensboro, N.C.
Aug. 5-11: The Northern Trust, Jersey City, NJ
Aug. 12-18: BMW Championship, Medinah, Ill.
Aug. 19-25: TOUR Championship, Atlanta, Ga.