Let’s avert our eyes temporarily from the more horrible aspects of the news — our state’s unpreparedness for serious flooding, a travesty of a confirmation hearing for a secretive Supreme Court justice, that thing Stormy Daniels said about the mushroom character from Super Mario Kart — and turn to something more pastoral and positive for our community right here.
This week the PGA, the governing body of professional golf, gave Greensboro’s Wyndham Championship a serious upgrade.
Starting next year, the tournament will have a big cash injection: the overall purse increases by $30 million, and the Wyndham’s status as the last regular-season tournament will be acknowledged with a playoff structure and the naming of a regular-season champion.
And it’s time the Wyndham got its due.
Twenty years ago, when the tournament was known as the Greater Greensboro Open — or, alternatively, as the “Pop-Top Open” — it was something of a joke, held in the spring when the field was still wide open, bereft of status or a heavy purse for the winners.
But when the tournament began in 1938, it was one of the biggest golf events of the year. Sam Snead won it eight times, the last in 1965. Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Chi Chi Rodriguez and Seve Ballasteros all won it before 1980, when it began to lose its luster.
Moving the tournament to August in 2007 was a masterstroke. By making it the last opportunity for golfers to make the playoffs, it began to attract bigger names and better television audiences. Sedgefield Country Club’s Donald Ross course inspired the proper reverence from the PGA faithful, and also from the players, who have been known to put up season-high scores on the cozy fairways and small greens.
And frankly, it should have happened a few years ago. But golf, as fans of the game can attest, moves pretty slowly even in the face of such an obvious opportunity.
Now, there’s too much money and prestige to be denied. We’ll start attracting better golfers next year. The Wyndham will be the starting point for a new playoff structure that has profound effects on the game. And Greensboro will regain its position in golf pantheon with a major tournament, and all that goes with it.
Sure, it’s just golf — like all professional sports, a diversion from the real world and its problems. But we needed some good news around here.
This is big a win for Greensboro, for the tournament and for the game. Not even Trump can sully this.
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