Call it the calm before the scheduling storm. It’s not until 2019 that the PGA Championship moves to May, the Players Championship moves to March and (potentially) the FedEx Cup Playoffs are revamped to finish up in August. Which is why the 2017-’18 PGA Tour schedule, officially unveiled by commissioner Jay Monahan on Tuesday at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club, doesn’t look much different from the 2016-’17 edition.
The new schedule includes 49 tournaments, an increase of two from this season’s calendar, with prize money hitting $363 million for the year, a 5½ percent increase. The additions include the previously announced CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges, which will be played in South Korea in October, and the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, a former Web.com Tour stop in the Dominican Republic being converted into a PGA Tour event that will be played opposite the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in March. The addition of the two new international events brings nine tournaments played in eight countries outside the United States.
The fall schedule begins at the Safeway Open, Oct. 5-8, with an event each week through the RSM Classic, Nov. 16-19. After a break, the schedule resumes at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Jan. 4-7.
Of the returning events, one moves from its previous date (the Puerto Rico Open will be in late February now opposite the WGC-Mexico Championship) and a few change venues. The Northern Trust will return to New Jersey’s Ridgewood Country Club and the BMW Championship will be played at Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia.
Listed on the schedule in July under the title The National is the tour stop in the Washington, D.C., area run by the Tiger Woods Foundation. Still without a title sponsor, it was reported on Monday that the tournament also does not have a home course for 2018 with the PGA Tour and Congressional Country Club parting ways. On the official schedule, the tournament’s home course is listed at “To Be Announced.”
During his state of the tour news conference on Tuesday, Monahan said the tour is still talking with officials from the tournament's previous sponsor, Quicken Loans, about an extension but nothing has come to pass.
"We're in a position where we've got to put forward the schedule and that's why we've put the National on the brand," Monahan said. "We need to conclude those discussions with Quicken, but you also need to maintain your flexibility because whether or not Quicken steps up, we need to have all of our options in the event that a sponsor is looking at a different — or we're going to take the tournament in a different direction. I think the fact of the matter is that we're not concluded in those discussions, and if you have to make a commitment now, you can't make it without a sponsor, which is why we at this point in time will not be at Congressional next year and have opted out of that agreement."
Also still looking for a course to host its event are officials at the Barbasol Championship, which previously had been played at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Grand National course in Opelika, Ala. Meanwhile, the Houston Open has a course but is still looking for a title sponsor.
Despite the hopes of many players, unchanged is the order of events that bring the tour’s traditional West Coast swing to the East Coast. After the Genesis Open at Riviera C.C. outside Los Angeles, the tour moves to Florida for the Honda Classic, only to go to Mexico for the WGC event, then back to Florida for the remainder of the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational. Some golfers had hoped that the Mexico stop would come after Los Angeles and before heading to Florida to help with the travel.
One other change in the schedule involves the open week during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Rather than play The Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship, followed by a week off before the BMW Championship and Tour Championship, the dark week will take place in between the BMW and Tour Championship in 2018.