When the National Football League added a 17th game to its regular season, pushing the league calendar back one week deeper into February, it certainly caused some problems for the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing.
The PGA Tour showed last week just what it could do about the challenge of having events played against an additional week of the NFL, and unfortunately for the Tour, the evidence is there isn’t much that can be done.
With the 2021-22 schedule release for the pro tour, only one change was made to the West Coast Swing. The Waste Management Phoenix Open, which had traditionally been played the same weekend as the Super Bowl, will move a week later in the season and still be played against the Super Bowl on Feb. 13. The Phoenix tournament considers its on-course party during the week at the TPC Scottsdale to have enough drawing power to hold its own against the Super Bowl.
To accommodate the move, the AT&T Pebble Beach tournament, which certainly did not want to be played the weekend of the Super Bowl, moves a week earlier to Feb. 6, the prized open week between the AFC and NFC championship games and the Super Bowl. But there is still bad news for two West Coast events.
One is The American Express in La Quinta. For most years, that tournament has been played the weekend of the two conference championship games, meaning the Sunday final round at PGA West was played at the same time as the two games that determine the Super Bowl teams. Now the American Express will watch as the NFL plays two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday the same week as the La Quinta event.
A tough draw for some tournaments
The Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, which has enjoyed being not only the first tournament of the calendar year on CBS but also being played the empty week before the Super Bowl, will now face the Sunday conflict with the AFC and NFC championship games. That, in turn, will be a problem for CBS, with lead golf announcer Jim Nantz sure to call the AFC Championship that weekend rather than golf.
There are a few other small things that have changed for the 2021-22 schedule. A few tournaments will be happier, and a few tournaments will not be happy at all. But the shuffle on the West Coast swing and the opening of more chances for global golf are certainly the highlights. And it may be the beginning of more shuffling in years to come.
Larry Bohannan is The Desert Sun golf writer, he can be reached at [email protected] or (760) 778-4633. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @larry_Bohannan.