We are in Year 1 of QSAD, Q School After
Death. Henceforth, practically the sole means
by which a player can either earn or regain
his PGA Tour card is via the Web.com Tour.
Twenty-five cards are awarded on the basis
of the season-long money list and 25 more are
available in the Finals, a four-tournament series among the top 75 on the Web.com Tour and players who
finish Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.
Graduates of the Qualifying Tournament no longer pass Go
and collect from combined purses approaching $300 million.
They must in most cases serve at least one year of appren-
ticeship on the developmental tour. Or is it one year of exile?
Opinions vary. They also run strong.
Last week in Columbus, Ohio, the nascent experiment—and
the intense examination of it—continued at the Nationwide
Children’s Hospital Championship, the penultimate stop in
the series. Seung-Yul Noh triumphed at Ohio State’s Scarlet
Course, but it was clear that winning hearts and minds would
require more than three weeks.
“The subject of eligibility always tends to be a hot topic,”
conceded Web.com Tour president Bill Calfee.
And it remained hot even as temperatures in central Ohio
plummeted from highs in the mid-90s to the low 40s within
days. But secondary to passing judgment on the new format
was the nearly universal befuddlement over why it was instituted when the status quo seemed satisfactory.
“If you want real honesty, I’m not playing well, so I hate it,”
Tag Ridings said with a grin. “Yeah, there are a lot of us who
wonder why they did this. In theory, I suppose it’s not a bad
idea. In practice, it’s not great right now. Is it doing what they
say they wanted it to do? You could argue
that it’s not.”
The narrative handed down from tour
headquarters was that a postseason
series would create more excitement,
not to mention marketing muscle. Fur-
thermore, snipping Q school’s umbilical
cord to the PGA Tour would elevate
the stature of the Web.com Tour, even
though comparative numbers already
had nudged opinions in that direction.
“We understand,” Calfee said, “that if the system isn’t
broke, why fix it? And our response is that it’s not about the
system being broke, but what can we do better? Maybe a
season-long system and multiple events might be a more
effective way of determining who should get a card.
“Q school might determine who the better players are at a
given time, but it doesn’t do anything to prepare players for
the PGA Tour,” said Calfee. “We understand that we might
be taking away this dream of a player who catches lightning
in a bottle. Perhaps, but we don’t see it that way or neces-
sarily want that to happen because more often than not he
fails, and that isn’t doing him any good and it’s not doing our
organization any good. We think this will present a better
situation for everyone.”
The tour started making its case for altering the quali-
fying landscape to its policy board in November 2010,
but Nationwide Insurance, the longest running umbrella
sponsor for the developmental tour, from 2003 to mid-2012,
initiated discussions even earlier. “The idea for this [playoff
series] was sparked by our desire to raise the profile of the
tour,” said John Aman, associate vice president of strategic
sponsorships for Nationwide Insurance, which is now pre-
senting sponsor of the Memorial Tournament and remains
TALKING POIN TS