Is it adios time for the Aloha season?

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Every January I count down the days to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.  Imagine an event where only winners are invited to play – what could be more exciting than that?

Well, actually almost anything this year.

Last weekend I had it on in the background while I did more stimulating things – like tallying year end expenses for my taxes.

Normally when the Aloha season kicks off on the PGA Tour on Maui, I’m glued to the TV, looking to see how the best of the best play Kapalua. 

But this season, with so many of the world’s best taking a pass on this event, I listened to the telecast, but my heart was just not in it.   If it weren’t for Steve Stricker being in the field, I’m not sure I would have even listened to it.

Three out of the four, 2011 major winners did not feel the event was worth their time (Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Darren Clarke).  The number one player in the world (Luke Donald)  had other things to do.  Numbers 4 and 6 (Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott) were also missing in action.

And Lefty hasn’t shown up in years, allegedly because the Plantation Course doesn’t suit his game.  How can a course not fit the game of someone took home the trophy twice in 5 years (Phil Mickelson won the event in both 1994 and 1998).

Nope!  There is something seriously wrong when the most exclusive event of the year is excluded from the calendars of the best players in the world.  With both Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller in the booth, there were bigger stars behind the cameras than in front of them.  How sad is that!

Now don’t get me wrong, the young guns are fun to watch (well, at least those who don’t carry broomsticks in their bags), but we need big name draws at this event or it might go the way of the Champions Skins Game. 

Yes, sadly after an 11-year run on Maui, the Champions Skins Game is taking a leave of absence (or should I say, the sponsors are taking a leave).  Sniff…

The Royal Ka’anapali hosted the event from 2008-2011 and prior to that the legends of the game enjoyed 7 years competing at Wailea. 

I’ve always wanted to attend the Skins Game and thought it was just a matter of time before I would walk the fairways with the greatest players of our time, and my favorites of all time — two-time defending champions, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

Tom and Jack take home $310,000 at the 2011 Skins Game (Photo credit: Ka’anapali Resort)

But time may have run out on me.  Jack and Tom were ready to play this year if someone was ready to pay a fraction of what Hyundai paid out at Kapalua. 

The total purse for the Champions Tour this year was $5.6 million; Skins – $770K.

Stricker took home: $1,120,000; Jack and Tom had to split $310K.

Why do I suddenly feel like I’m talking about the LPGA? Sigh…

Forgive my first rant and rave of the new year, but something’s just not right here. 

If fans make enough noise about the Skins Game, IMG and ESPN might put a little extra effort into getting it back because the men want to play!  Jack and Tom have already said they’d be back.

But what about Hyundai?  If I was the CEO, I wouldn’t want to invest my money in a tournament where the best players bail every year.  But it wouldn’t be Hyundai’s fault if they withdrew their sponsorship and the Tournament of Champions collapsed; it would be the the players themselves we should blame. 

Golfgal

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3 comments

  1. I share the same sentiments. These guys have SO many opportunities to earn that they can afford to pass. Even the Maui weather isn’t that big of a draw. They typically play in resort areas all over the world. It’s a 365 day global sport now. 126th on the PGA Tour money list was Bobby Gates. He lost his card but got $666,735 for his 126th place efforts.

    Have to disagree on the Skins Game. Always put me to sleep.

  2. thanks AG!

    It’s getting crazy for sure. I hear Tiger is starting his year in Dubai. I wonder what his appearance fee is this time 🙂

    As for Skins, you must be younger than me. 🙂 Just watching those two play makes me believe in golf as a “gentleman’s game”.

    Cheers!
    Gayle

  3. There’s something about these types of golf tournaments that gives added confidence to the long shots in the field. I like that.

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