Fergus Bisset: The never-ending story

Fergus considers the treadmill of the professional tours, and of his own golfing schedule.

Luke Donald

Luke Donald's phenomenal performance to win last week's Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic marked the end of the PGA Tour's Fall Series. By taking the winner's cheque for $846,000, he wrapped up this year's money list title. So that's it for of the 2011 PGA Tour season.

No, wait a minute; this week is the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia with a purse of over $6,000,000. Right, then that'll be it until next year. Well no, obviously there's the WGC HSBC Champions next week in Shanghai, then the President's Cup, the World Cup, the Chevron Challenge, the Wendy's 3 Tour Challenge, the Franklin Templeton Shootout... Aarghh why won't it stop...?

To be fair on the PGA Tour, the European treadmill is even worse. There are tournaments every week from this until December 8-11 and the "season-ending" Dubai World Championship. Then, the first event of the 2012 European Tour, the Africa Open, will take place from January 5-8 next year - a break of less than a month. Believe it or not, this is an improvement on last year when there was a gap of just two weeks between the end of the 2010 season and the start of 2011's.

Now, I'm a massive golf fan and love watching the action from both main circuits on the TV. But, the sheer number of tournaments does dilute the excitement to a certain extent for me. The last few weeks, there have been European Tour events in Spain, Portugal, Spain again and, oh, Spain again. I must confess that, without looking up the results, I'm struggling to separate them, (and I watched them, then wrote about them.) I remember Sergio won one on his home course, but was that the Castello Masters or the Andalucia Open? Come on brain... OK, Tom Lewis won and there was an event in Madrid.

20 years ago, the 1991 European Tour season began on February 21 in Spain and ended with the Volvo Masters on October 27. Then there was an off-season of three months before the 1992 circuit kicked off. As that first tournament of 1992 approached, excitement among true golf fans would have been building to a fever pitch. Imagine, three months of no European Tour. I would certainly seriously miss it. Would a longer lay-off rekindle excitement in the circuit and draw more viewers back in the New Year?

Possibly, but there's TV revenue, sponsors and all the other associated global business interests to consider and the European Tour has, of course, made huge strides in recent years to expand and attract investment. All golf fans on this side of the Atlantic have greatly enjoyed basking in the reflected glory of the European Tour over the last few seasons. No, you just can't have it both ways.

I was thinking of this yesterday as I considered the never-ending cycle of my own golfing schedule over a pint of lager in the clubhouse.

Last Saturday, a Texas Scramble marked the end of the 2011 season at my home club. But, yesterday I was playing competitively again in the North East Alliance at Cruden Bay. I'll continue to play Alliance tournaments every week through the winter until the championship on March 21. The Saturday following that will be the first club competition of the year at Banchory... Aarghh why won't it stop...?

I know, I know, I could quite easily stop it all if I wanted to. Believe me, given the current state of my golf game, I really should. But, no matter how great the urge to lock my clubs away in a vault before throwing the key into the River Dee, I just can't. As long as there's golf to be played, I'm playing. And I guess it's the same with the pro tours - as long as they're on the TV, I'm watching.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?