Six months ago, I asked the question if The Champions Tour needed to lower their qualifying age. I met great resistance and most of the comments received indicated that things are fine just the way they are and a change would upset the balance of the golfing world. Okay, that is a bit of an overstatement, however I am sure you understand my meaning. However, I wanted to quickly revisit this question for just two reasons, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
The Champions Tour is full of great names from the past. Many more seasoned players, like myself, can relate to the names and appreciate their talents. Yet, I am not sure the senior tour will remain viable without an infusion of household names like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Woods, 42, and Phil Mickelson, 47, are the best know players inching their way to the senior tour. Although Mickelson is only 3 years away, I am not sure he will make the leap because of his current level of play. He is still very competitive on the PGA Tour and garners a great media following which is good for sponsorship. Moving to the Champions Tour may not provide the same level of interest.
Tiger Woods may never make it to the Champions Tour if he has to wait 8 years. His physical woes are concerning to may pundits and given his recent challenges, I am not sure he will be able to qualify for the Champions Tour either. It is a long stretch to think he will be physically able to play professional golf for 8 more years.
If we move away from these two golfing greats, look at the younger players coming up the ranks. Many of the big names already experience physical issues and looking into the future 20 or 25 years, it is very unlikely they will be able (or even want) to play on the Champions Tour. And this is a troublesome issue for the seniors. How do they cash in on the big named players in the future? Well, the obvious solution is to lower the qualifying age, but that idea seems to be crazy talk apparently.
Well, I think the qualifying age should change. I suggest it be lowered to 40! Yup, you heard it here first. Most PGA Tour players careers are winding down after 40 anyway. Only the top players remain competitive and the Champions Tour seems like a perfect transition for them. Instead of having to grind out 10 years as a journeyman, the senior tour can cash in on their ability to play well and still relate to the many fans who lose touch with them as they slowly drop down the world rankings. It might be time to rethink the entire issue.
I am a proponent of lowering the qualifying age of the Champions Tour. As it is now, I do not watch this Tour and unless something changes, I doubt I ever will. Who is with me, should the Champions Tour lower their qualifying age or just fade off into the sunset?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
Written by Jim Burton from The Grateful Golfer blog.