As the Barclay's gets underway at Plainfield Country Club today, the New Jersey event is completely sold out. No Tiger Woods, no Rory McIlroy. Just good, solid PGA Tour names, and the promise that it's the start of a great month of golf for fans to ease their way our of the 2011 season.
I'm reminded of a column I wrote this time last year for TheSandTrap.com, titled "Loving the Much Maligned PGA Playoffs." Nothing's changed, and in fact, I think I'm an even bigger fan this year than in the past. It's picking up steam, if you ask me.
"For years, the golf season effectively started at the Masters and ended at the PGA. But the introduction of the PGA playoffs offers up golf straight through September," I wrote. "I'd go so far as calling it a month-long major, with the added drama of a week in, week out cut."
In my mind, getting golf into cities that typically won't host a PGA Tour stop, aside from a major a few times per decade, is a big boost. Rotating the Barclay's through several venues, including previous USGA national championship hosts Plainfield (U.S. Amateur, U.S. Women's Open) and Bethpage Black (two U.S. Opens) is a great move. It makes the setting unique for fans and more accessible without ever getting stale.
Plus, when you're hosting a tournament just outside the biggest media market in the world, you get to do things like Sergio Garcia's publicity event to unveil adidas' launching its newest high-tech footwear – the adidas Golf TOUR360 ATV (All-Terrain Versatility). In support of the launch, adidas commissioned renowned 3D artist Joe Hill to illustrate and dramatize the “Toughest Shot in Golf.” The art will be displayed at Oak Ridge Park in Clark, N.J., about three miles from The Barclays tournament site.
If he did that launch in Nebraska, for instance, would I know that "the new adidas TOUR360 ATV utilizes innovative forefoot flexibility and zonal traction elements to deliver maximum grip, comfort and stability on every lie. An ultra-flexible sole helps golfers adapt to the ever-changing conditions of a golf course"? Probably not, but now you know, too.
What I'm saying, in a roundabout way, is that when the Tour arrives in New York, Boston, Chicago and Atlanta, it spurs excitement within those markets. It's good for golf and it's good for the fans. And anything that extends meaningful golf into the gap between the PGA Championship and the NFL season, sign me up.