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First published in Ponte Vedra Recorder
The Players Supplement
Major Changes to PGA Tour: How Pros Keep PGA Tour Cards in The Future
Your Favorite Golf Hole in Chocolate!
PGA Tour Designated Tournaments:
What They Are and How They Happened
First published in Ponte Vedra Recorder
The Players Supplement
Kathy Bissell has more than 35 years experience as a golf writer and television producer.
This could be the most amazing gift ever!
Short of a diamond necklace or mink coat, that is.
Now, you can have your favorite golf hole painted
on chocolate, and then, like a Hershey bar, break
off squares to eat and share with your friends,
maybe as a celebration or remembrance of playing
a particular bucket list golf course.
Like the 17th at TPC Sawgrass!
Yes, it would be a shame to do that, but you could
save it for a year, we are told, without refrigeration,
and it will still be good. Just don’t delay any
longer than that.
The company that makes this delicacy is
Nouveautes, Inc., located in Fairfield, N.J.. They have an easy to negotiate website called www.chocolatetext.com or www.immunitygoodness.com that features some very recognizable golf holes painted by their artists who are actually artwork restoration experts when they are not painting chocolate masterpieces.
If you want an immediately ready, already painted golf hole, they have three very famous par threes: the 12th at Augusta National, complete with blooming azaleas and dogwoods and a perfect for a centerpiece for your Masters party, and the 7th at Pebble Beach, with waves crashing up over the rocks, which you could order to enjoy while watching next year’s tournament. Of course, the piece de resistance, the very nasty TPC Sawgrass 17th, with it’s hard to hit island green, complete with water surrounding it.
In addition, they have a ready to send painted on chocolate image of The Old Course at St. Andrews featuring the 17th green, Swilcan Bridge and the 18th hole, complete with the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse and the Grand Hamilton apartments -- including its recognizable turret-- in the background. Take your choice of these items for $250 each.
The only person who might not want a TPC Sawgrass 17th hole in chocolate is Bob Tway. He once made a 12 there. It was a special occasion, for sure, just not the kind he cherishes.
A special-order golf hole, like the 18th at your home course which is something they don’t already have in stock, will be $300, because there’s a $50 set-up charge. However, in quantities, the price would be lower.
The "paint” used by artists is cocoa butter in various colors. Very edible.
Now in addition to images being hand painted on chocolate, you can choose your preference in a chocolate “canvas” from Belgian Milk Chocolate, Belgian Dark Chocolate, Belgian Dark Chocolate infused with Vitamin D, Belgian Milk Chocolate Mocha Presso (with crushed espresso beans), and Belgian Milk Chocolate Elderberry (infused with natural elderberries). The chocolate is created by culinary trained chefs from premium Belgian or American gourmet chocolate in their facility which has been FDA inspected since 1997.
The dark chocolate has no less than 56% cocoa. Each chocolate artwork measures 9x5.5x1/2" and weighs 10 ounces. The back of the artwork is scored to make 60 pieces to share with friends.
Now if golf isn’t your thing, you don’t have to have a golf painting in chocolate. You can have a person, a building, a home, or a copy of something like that famous painting “The Scream.” (We’ve all had days like that!) Or maybe you like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Maybe you want your favorite flower or a French village photo from a special vacation. Whales you saw in Alaska? The Eiffel Tower? Sydney Harbour Bridge? Hilton Head’s lighthouse?
You can easily upload a photo or image of your choice to the www.chocolatetext.com Edible Art website. You do need to plan your gift giving of masterpieces a little bit ahead. Remember, unless it’s one of the in-stock designs, each one is painted just for you, and the price may adjust slightly accordingly, depending on your request. The minimum time for a new piece of art is a week, plus shipping time. And there’s a timeline choice of 0-3 months up to 12 months and there’s a category for “other.” Regardless, it’s best to plan your chocolate masterpiece ahead so you won’t be disappointed.
The idea for chocolate art belongs to David Little, who calls himself the “President and Chocopreneur” of the company. He likes to have fun with his chocolate ideas and his company. For instance, calls one of his artists Coco van Gogh, which is totally not her real name.
Little’s forte is really in healthy supplements, like vitamin C and Vitamin D, and he got the idea to combine healthy ingredients with chocolate. Of course, you can make the choice to forego the healthy parts and just go for the chocolate!
As Chief Chocopreneur, he can pretty much do anything he wants in chocolate. To show how creative he’s been, he has created Chocolate Text in a box. You create your own text message in chocolate squares, each in its own separate candy holder. You decide what the message is going to spell. You can add emoji wrapped chocolates if you want or foiled hearts, chocolate wrapped baseballs, footballs, golf balls, soccer foils and more. You can say whatever you can write on the available number of chocolate squares, not to be confused with Hollywood Squares, and send it in a Chocolate Text.
Chocolate Text boxes come in 3x5 (15 letters or spaces), 4x6 (24 letters or spaces, 4x7 (28 letters or spaces), 4x8 (32 letters or spaces) and 6x8 (48 letters or spaces) squares. The letters and space blocks are all premium Belgian milk chocolate. Pricing starts under $35.
But Little didn’t stop with that. He came up with Selfie Tins. You can put a photo of yourself doing something amazing, like winning The Players. Well, ok, that’s probably not going to happen, but it could be your son’s baseball team or your daughter’s soccer team, or a group photo of the gymnastic club, or your tennis team. Then you fill them with chocolate or cookies or candies, something that tastes incredibly good. You get to pick from a wide assortment. There’s even an option for a tin for your pet friends which you can fill with pet treats. (We all know chocolate is very bad for dogs, right? So don’t send that!) The tins come in round or square shapes and prices start at $25.
After Selfie Tins, Little went big with Stadiums. OK, replica chocolate stadiums with a sport appropriate imprint in the center. It’s a pound of chocolate that he calls a Colossal Coliseum. Inside the seven-and-a-half inch tin is filled with foil-wrapped chocolate footballs or soccer balls or baseballs or tennis balls or basketballs inside. There’s even one with a golf green (foil wrapped golf ball chocolate candies) and another with a lacrosse field. And those active athletes probably burn enough calories to be able to eat the chocolate without gaining an inch.
With so much variety, it’s hard to imagine what Little will come up with next. Probably chocolate planets. Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be great if Jupiter was made of chocolate?
A lot of things you thought you knew about the PGA Tour just changed. Well, not just this second, but over the last few weeks with more in the upcoming months. It’s all in an effort to secure the place of the PGA Tour as the most elite, competitive golf organization on the planet. To understand this new system, you’ll need to know these numbers: 125, 70, 50, 30, 20 and 15.
First, the top 125 PGA Tour players in FedEx points at the end of this season will still be exempt for the next season. Exempt means they are guaranteed a PGA Tour card. But the way it’s determined will change slightly starting with this year’s FedEx Playoffs.
Here’s the big change: The top 125 won’t get to enter the Playoffs. Just the top 70. That is about half of the number that previously played. Or oops! If your favorite pro ends up at #71 or 72. He doesn’t get to participate in the Playoffs, but he still has a good chance to retain his card for the next season, during which he can maybe get back to that top 70 position. The top 50 get something better: entry into the designated events.
In the FedEx Playoffs, there are some changes.
The first playoff event will be the FedEx St. Jude, and that’s the one where only the top 70 will be eligible. That is just under half of the number that previously played, which was 125. Anyone who makes that top 70 is guaranteed a PGA Tour card for the next year, meaning they can play in any event, including invitationals and events with the biggest purses.
Then, the next two Playoff events are cut to top 50 for BMW and top 30 for Tour Championship. The BWM was previously 70 players. So that’s 20 more who will be going home early, but they are still in good shape for the next season.
If your favorite makes the top 30 and the Tour Championship, he’s good for the next two years, even if he did not have an exemption for a victory. That’s a big change. Two-year exemptions have not been given for anything but victories in the past. However, in recent years, we have had several rookies, some non-winners and the occasional veteran get to the top 30 in a season. This modification encourages stars to stay with the PGA Tour.
The other thing all these changes do is to amp up the competition a lot. Golfers have to perform to stay on the PGA Tour. No lollygagging. No taking a while to tweak a swing even if they have five-year PGA Tour exemptions for winning majors or The Players.
Now, here’s the get out of jail free card.
After the Tour Championship, those who did not make the top 70 will be able to add to their point total in the fall tournaments to upgrade their status. Nobody has announced how that will work as yet, so there are questions, particularly for those who are in the 50 – 70 point list. Could they get bumped out of their spot? Probably not, but there are unknowns at this juncture.
Regardless, the fall events will allow those placed 71 and above to improve their point position for the following season by playing in the fall events. We don’t know if those at 70 and better on the list will be able to add to theirs, but no one has said they can’t. It is sure that guys who are in the 126-150 slots will do their darnedest to unseat players in the 70-125 group. If you like full contact golf, this is as close as it gets. Every point will matter when it comes to having a chance to play the following season.
This is not altogether different from the days before FedEx points when it was top 125 in money or before the all-exempt tour, when it was top 60 were guaranteed a place to play, period. In those years, players lower in status would play in the fall to add to their money list total and move up to get a better shot at entering tournaments in the next season. Same idea here.
End of season tournaments may allow some who are in the 126-175 or so to move into the top 125 and secure a card and a better chance at entering tournaments. Right now, the lower priority a guy has, the harder it is for him to enter an event. We don’t know what will happen with jostling in this category, but some are going to go away unhappy with their performance at the end of the season.
Advancing in points during the fall is made harder by the fact that the Zozo and CJ Cup are limited field events that invite a specific number of players. In addition, two of them have many exemptions for golfers on the Japan Tour (Zozo) and the Korean Tour in (CJ Cup).
When the dust settles, what happens is the top 70 get a guaranteed slot in every PGA Tour event, including invitationals. They are set. Once a player is in the top 70, he’s good for the next year. If he doesn’t stay there, he has problems.
Then, starting next January, the future seasons will begin with the calendar year. There is no more wrap-around season. No more sort of starting in September and then going to the following September. (Thank goodness!)
In addition to the top 70 becoming the new benchmark, there is another change in the pecking order, too.
Lifetime status comes sooner if you are a prolific winner. In the past, a player had to have 20 victories and play for 15 seasons on the PGA Tour to get Lifetime status. Lifetime means he can enter any regular, non-invitational PGA Tour tournament, even if he is lower than the top 70. Davis Love III, for example, is in this category, although it’s hard to believe any tournament would ever say no to him.
Now, if a player wins 20 times, he doesn’t have to wait for the 15 years. Let’s call this the Rory McIlroy rule, but it could just as easily be the Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus or the Arnold Palmer rule.
McIlroy joined the PGA Tour in 2010 although he’d been a pro in Europe for a few seasons before that. He reached that magic number 20 in the fall of 2021 with a victory at the CJ Cup. He’s gathered up three more since then. But the 15-year criteria wouldn’t give him lifetime status until 2025. Now, he has it. Deservedly so.
To compare to legends in the game, Woods had 20 PGA Tour victories by the middle of 2000 and he started his career in the fall of 1996. So that’s 20 victories in less than five years. Jack Nicklaus won 20 times in his first six years on the PGA Tour. Arnold Palmer won 20 between August of 1955 and June of 1960.
There are 14 more golfers who have 20 or more PGA Tour victories who are still alive. Can you name them? Two of them have flown the coop. They’re on another tour.
(Answer: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Vijay Singh, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Dustin Johnson, Gary Player, Raymond Floyd, Davis Love III, Lanny Wadkins, Hale Irwin and Greg Norman.)
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First published in Ponte Vedra Recorder
The Players Supplement
Starting this season, the PGA Tour has announced that there will be what they are calling Designated Tournaments. They called them something else for a few months, but finally settled on the “Designated” moniker as a way to describe them.
The Designated events are special because they have more money in the tournament purses than other tournaments. And we’re not talking a few pennies here. It’s more than a doubling of most purses. We’re talking giant bags of cash. Millions. That gets everybody’s attention.
In all honesty, these high paying opportunities were created to keep the great players on the PGA Tour playing on the PGA Tour. It was a way to stave off the threat from LIV Golf, which has poached several players from the PGA Tour by offering them big bags of Saudi money.
In an effort to figure out how to handle what we could call the LIV problem, 20 or so top players met on their own last summer and then told Commissioner Jay Monahan what they had decided. First of all, they agreed to play in high purse events, as many as 19 or 20 of them as it turned out. That was pretty surprising. If you are in any group, you know how hard it is to get everybody to agree to the same thing, much less a bunch of gazillionaires who are used to getting their way a lot of the time.
This was only the second player meeting of its kind in the history of the PGA Tour, according to the commissioner. Strangely, both were as a result of Greg Norman trying to start a competing tour. Enough about Norman. (And believe me, the Tour has had enough of him at this point.)
After the player meeting, the PGA Tour bean counters went to work and assured the membership that because of the new TV contracts, it would be possible to pay out the higher purses.
But it might not have been. The pandemic, according to Monahan, actually created some scenarios where the Tour could have collapsed from lack of funds. They did some belt-tightening to be able to continue. Fortunately, the PGA Tour survived, and golf became the first sport to return to live competition after the pandemic started.
The other upshot of the player meeting was that a few tournaments became “Designated” in the years ahead, while others will rotate in and out of this new elite status. But we don’t really know yet how it will work in future years. We only know which tournaments are affected this season.
Tournaments that are in this core category this season are Sentry Tournament of Champions, The Genesis Invitational (Tiger Woods’ event), Arnold Palmer Invitational (Arnold Palmer’s family is still involved), The Players, WGC-Dell Match Play, the Memorial Tournament (Jack Nicklaus’ event), FedEx St Jude Championship, BMW Championship and TOUR Championship.
(WGC-Dell Match Play is in its last year.)
The prize money for Sentry became $15 million. For The Players, it became $25 million. For the Tour Championship, it became some number so high we can’t count. And all the rest of the tournaments in this category have $20 million purses to pay pros.
In addition to each of these events, the Tour promised to add another four upgraded tournaments which would also have $20 million purses. These would rotate among the rest of the schedule. For 2023, the upgraded or wildcard events are WM Phoenix Open, RBC Heritage, Wells Fargo Championship and Travelers Championship. While we expect four different ones to be selected for 2024, that announcement has not been made.
In case you wondered, for all non-designated PGA Tour tournaments to have a chance to be in the $20 million purse category, it would take five years if no tournament repeats and if it’s four new ones each season.
As a result of these changes, one long-time sponsor has reportedly gone away mad because they were sandwiched between two upgraded events. But maybe they were going away anyway. These things happen in golf and life. It has since been announced that future tournaments will not have this happen. It is likely to be two designated tournaments then three non-designated events and so on through the season. No one has any idea what the fall schedule will be for this year or next year.
We are not privy to all the PGA Tour’s business, but the history of the Tour is that sponsors and tournaments come and go. Right now, there are more tournaments wanting to be in the regular season than there are weeks in the regular season, January to August. That is a good situation for the PGA Tour.
Meanwhile, the player-created, designated-event situation, basically a 20 or so players for 20 events deal, is a pact that the players made with their organization to help keep it strong in the future. Even that has some issues.
A few golfers who have dual tour memberships asked for the “Mother May I Opt Out of One,” which Commissioner Monahan can approve at his discretion. And he’s likely to approve.
What happens if a player opts out of two events? He’s likely to lose out on his PIP (Player Impact Program) money, which is a bonus pool of $50 million that gets shared between the top 20 players. Not a bad bonus for mostly doing what you were going to do anyway.
If it were me, I’d find out the commish’s favorite brand of golf balls and his preferred cookies and see that they are both delivered often. Never hurts to be nice to the commish, just to stay on his good side when looking for a favorable decision.
So, which is it, Jay? Peanut butter? Oatmeal raisin? White chocolate chip and macadamia nuts? Regular chocolate chip?