August 25, 2009

The Tour Returning to Westchester in 2012

Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y. will once again host The Barclays tournament in 2012. The club had been a regular PGA Tour stop for more than 40 years until 2007, when the Tour pulled out of its agreement and moved to one year stops at Liberty National, Ridgewood Country Club next year, and Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J. in 2011.

Various golf writers have commented on the move away from the mainstay location in Westchester, all saying that two reasons existed for their exit from the annual Tour rota:

“We won’t be mourning the loss of Westchester C.C. Neither will players, who complained of aging rooms, lack of hot water for showers and a definite feeling of being unwanted by the staff.” –Gary Van Sickle

“Moving the Barclays to Liberty National was a good move–Tiger Woods simply was not going to play Westchester again…” –Jim Herre

“Tiger didn’t like Westchester. That’s why the Tour isn’t playing there. Period.” –Farrell Evans

In some corners, Westchester is hailed as one of the last old-style courses on the PGA Tour schedule, while in others, it is derided as having a ridiculously demanding membership. Last year on, Sam Weinman noted that Tour officials said Westchester's "club's members were too demanding and out of touch, insisting that they be allowed to continue to play tennis and golf in the middle of a $7 million Tour event."

In the same article, Weinman said at the time (2008) that it was unlikely that the Tour would return to Westchester, especially after tense buyout negotiations complete with recriminations and leaks to the press by the Tour and Westchester camps. Apparently, however, that's water under the bridge and the Tour will return to its former site, at least for one year -- no mention of 2013 and beyond was noted in the article.

Et Tu, Tiger?

As for Woods not playing Westchester, the issue is a study in the swirling debate of "is Tiger good for the game?"

While some insist that he has brought golf far more than he demands in return - vastly increased purses, incredible TV ratings, etc., others seem to take that for granted and are incensed that Woods would choose to skip a particular event. That latter group always seems to forget that no PGA Tour member plays every single event, and that many willfully choose to skip tournaments because they don't like the course, the club, or maybe even the town the event is held in. Whatever their reasons are, they are their own and moreover, they are not required to play...and that applies as equally to Tiger Woods as it does to Tim Clark or to James Driscoll. Certainly, Woods is primus inter pares -- first among equals -- on the PGA Tour, but with all due respect to the likes of Clark or Driscoll, you won't hear many fans griping about them skipping Westchester or anywhere else.

That said, it appears that the PGA Tour has willfully chosen to return to a course that they know that Tiger doesn't care for. Whether he chooses to show up in 2012 is his own decision, but at least for once, the PGA Tour has given the Tiger naysayers at least part of what they have been carping about for years now.


  1. I've heard the same things about Westchester and the membership there - but they do make good points on how destructive a PGA Tour event can be to the course, the club, and the surroundings. It can take months for a course to recover.

  2. I have a number of really close friends who belong to Westchester... it's only about 20 minutes from my house... it's gorgeous and regal. And like Winged Foot of another era, from whence comes so much of it's charm. :)


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