News & ToursJanuary 5, 2016

Three things we love -- and three things we don't -- about the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions

Although the PGA Tour revamped its league calendar in 2013, many still view the Tournament of Champions as golf's de facto season opener. Understandably so: It's a new Gregorian year, and the tour is returning from a month-long sabbatical.

Still, while the sport's diehards welcome this week's event with open arms, it feels like many are apathetic about golf's return. Following thorough investigation and mediation, we think we know why. Here are three things we love -- and three that we don't -- about the Hyundai Tournament of Champions:

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Love: It's in Hawaii!

With the holidays over, it's easy to fall into a seasonal depression, because -- FACT -- January and February are the worst months of the year. From a social standpoint, there's nothing exciting on the radar, and now that winter has started acting like winter in the United States, the idea of golf -- like the Tooth Fairy or "David Hasselhoff, Oscar winner" -- seems fictitious.

So when our TVs light up with players strolling down sunny fairways next to blue waters and canopy-laced mountains, you're excused for giving a double-take. "What's this? Golf? (Looking out window to sleet and fog) How is that possible?"

Even if we're not teeing it up, the fact that someone is playing gives hope that the game's return is on the horizon. In the dark days of winter, a little light at the end of the tunnel goes a long way.

Plus, it's not like the event is on a goat track. As courses are major characters in the theater of golf, the home of the Tournament of Champions -- Kapalua Resort, Plantation Course -- is one of the best estate's Hawaii has to offer, finishing second in our latest state rankings.

Eh: It's in Hawaii

Meaning, late viewings for those on the East Coast. Don't get me wrong: Golf in prime time can be a welcomed, enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, in this case -- a potential 10:30 p.m. EST finish come Sunday -- it's a tad too late.

Love: The "win to get in" requirement!

No sponsor's exemptions, or players coasting off accomplishments from five years back. Kapalua is intended to showcase the best of the best, and, to event organizers, capturing a title within the past year seems the best way to accomplish this feat.

And that name! "The Tournament of Champions." It's proud without being pretentious, simple yet sophisticated. From the outside looking in, it should be one of the premier destinations on the tour calendar.

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Eh: The weak field

Eight of the top 15 players in the world aren't playing in Maui, five of whom failed to qualify. That's probably more an indictment on the world ranking formula than the tournament's construction, yet it's still a detriment to the competition.

One of the eight is Rory McIlroy, who, while eligible, is skipping the event. Same goes for Justin Rose and Jim Furyk. Sure World No. 1 Jordan Spieth and No. 2 Jason Day are playing, but it's not a great look for the tournament when top-10 players decide the trip isn't worth their time.

Plus, the winner's-only prerequisite, while prestigious, equates to a truncated field, with only 32 players on the grounds this week.

Love: Live golf is back!

I loved Golf Channel's holiday special of Shell's Wonderful World of Golf; conversely, there are only so many Big Break, club infomercials and lesson reruns a human can watch. To satiate the golf appetite with, you know, actual golf? That, my friends, is the life.

Eh: It coincides with the NFL playoffs and Golden Globes

Saturday's golf coverage will battle against two NFL playoff games, with the Tournament of Champions facing a nightmarish doubleheader in football (popular Green Bay against big-market Washington) and the Golden Globes, which draws 20 million viewers, on Sunday night. Golf fans with their team still in the postseason will undoubtedly favor football, and those with wives or girlfriends may be forced to switch to the awards show.

Yes, golf is back. But we understand if you're taking a mulligan on this week's tournament.


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