The Lure of “Florida Swing” not what it used to be!

Two of the four "Florida Swing" events had plenty of star-power due to the $20 million purses but two had decreased fan attendance and dismal TV ratings.

THE VILLAGES, Florida – For golf enthusiasts here’s a burning issue to consider. Do the PGA TOUR’s four tournaments in four weeks, in the State of Florida, put the Cognizant Classic and Valspar Championship in an awkward position?

Does the lack of “marquee” players at the two tournaments dissuade fan attendance?

Do the best players pick the two higher purse tournaments over the other two every year?

Does “March Madness” draw fans away from the Valspar Championship?

The social media post above is not one he PGA Tour wants to see.

The recent “Florida Swing” makes me wonder if the PGA TOUR has turned its back on the two tournament’s sponsors and the fans by not offering them the same purses and field that play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship.

Asking for a friend but maybe the PGA TOUR should add financial bonuses for players that play three of the four or four of the four “Florida Swing” events.


Let’s take a look at the top players by the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) that participated in the first 3 Florida tournaments this year. This should help bring to light just what is happening when the PGA saturates a state by promoting four tournaments in four weeks within 200 miles of each other with unequal prize money for the same amount of work required to win.

The 2024 Cognizant Classic was this year’s Sunshine State’s first PGA Tour event February 29-March 3. The purse was $9,000,000. The winner’s share was $1,620,000. Although the Cognizant Classic isn’t one of the PGA Tour’s “Signature Events”, the purse still got a boost this year up from last year’s $8,400,000 which factors out to a $600,000 increase over 2023.

Fans watch play from the hospitality venues along the 17th green during the third round of Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at PGA National Resort the Champion Course on March 2, 2024 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

This year’s Classic had 19 of the top 50 players in the OWGR lead by Rory McIlroy ranked (2), Matt Fitzpatrick (9), Tom Kim (16), Cameron Young (23), Sepp Straka (25), Chris Kirk (26), Matthieu Paton (27), Russell Henley (30) and Rickie Fowler (31).

The 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational was March 7-10. This was a PGA “Signature Event” with a total purse of $20,000,000. The winner’s share was $4,000,000. This Signature Event had a cut after the 2nd round.

The API had 42 of the top 50 players in the OWGR lead by Scottie Scheffler (1), Rory McIlroy (2), Viktor Hovland (4), Xander Schauffele (5), Patrick Cantlay (6), Wyndham Clark (7), Max Homa (8), Matt Fitzpatrick (9), and Brian Harman (10).

The 2024 Players Championship was the PGA Tours third event March 14-17. Before LIV Golf it was sometimes referred to as the 5th Major due to its large player purses, high profile golfers and the Sawgrass Golf course’s long-standing tradition of challenging the very best players in the world.

The colorful presentation of the 2024 Valspar Championship made for an appropriate backdrop to Peter Malnati’s emotional victory March 24 at Innisbrok Resort but attendance and TV rating were way down. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

This year’s total purse was $25,000,000 with a winner’s share of $4,500,000. The first 5 finishers all received more than $1,000,000 each. The Players Championship purse is second only to the $100 million purse at the 2024 FedEx Cup championship with $25,000,000 going to the winner.

This year’s Players had 48 of the top 50 players in the OWGR lead by Scottie Scheffler (1), Rory McIlroy (2), Viktor Hovland (4), Xander Schauffele (5), Patrick Cantlay (6), Wyndham Clark (7), Max Homa (8), Matt Fitzpatrick (9), and Brian Harman (10).

The 2024 Valspar Championship was the final PGA Tour event of the year in Florida March 21-24. It was not a “Signature Event.” The total purse for the Valspar was $8,400,000. The winner’s share was $1,510,000. The 2023 total purse was $8,100,00 and the winners share was $1,458.000. The 2024 purse was $300,000 larger than last year and the winner’s take was $52,000 more and the field had 16 of the top 50 players


It’s obvious that running four tournaments back-to-back with different purses gives the players the freedom to pick and choose which tournament(s) they feel they have the best chance to win or finish high on the money list.

Looking at the World Ranked players that played in the Cognizant Classic and Valspar Championship, it seems that they were looking for a chance to win against a weaker field or had a sponsor commitment that required them to play.

Florida Swing felt the strain of winter from effects of an unusually cool and wet El Nino cycle have put many courses throughout the Sunshine State on the defensive including Hole No. 3, Champion Course at PGA National Resort.(Photo: PGA National Resort)

The API and Players Championship drew the largest daily attendances because of feasturing the most “Ranked” players competing. The 2nd or 3rd positions at The Players paid more money than finishing in 1st place at the Cognizant or Valspar.

Corporate sponsors seem vested in the two “Signature Events” in the “Florida Swing” even though fan attendance was down and, more importantly, TV rating were down dramatically, especially for the Valspar seeing a 27% decrease in viewship.

I doubt the PGA TOUR will change the Cognizant Classic and Valspar Championship to Fall dates to give them a better chance of being more competitive with players, purses, corporate sponsors and fan attendance?

Anyone in Florida planning on taking the family to a professional golf event and most of the top 20 players were not playing, will they still go?


The PGA TOUR is feeling a financial backlash from its most important asset, The Fans! They are not supporting a “Watered Down” product that has deteriorated into a “Signature Event” only showcase.

In my view the PGA TOUR and professional golf are in free fall! The future of the “Grand Old Game” is shaky if they continue to use “smoke and mirrors” to promote the product!

Bill Sangster, a life-long golf aficionado and former Sergeant in Marines, moved to Cape Cod in 1974 where he raised his family while working as educator with the Sandwich School System for 23 years. With his Falmouth home adjacent to Paul Harney’s Golf Course, Bill spent many days learning and playing the game of golf. He was a member of White Cliffs Country Club and Sandwich Hollows Country on Cape Cod. In 2018 he continued his love for the game of golf by moving to “The Villages” in Florida. He now will admit to anyone who asks that he is addicted to the game of golf! Bill can be reached at

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