The Memorial Tournament, 2 others that need to be permanent Signature Events


In August 2022, the PGA Tour changed its schedule to counter the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan revealed that the 2022-23 schedule would include “designated events,” meaning $20 million purses and the top Tour players needing to play those tournaments.

He then re-branded these tournaments as “Signature Events” for the 2024 season, but they still serve the same purpose. They have all the top players competing for top dollars on the same course. Some of these events also lack a 36-hole cut, thus guaranteeing television partners that the best players will play on the weekend, no matter their score. These tournaments also feature limited field sizes, hovering around 70 players.

The top 50 players from the 2023 FedEx Cup Standings earned exemptions into each of the eight Signature Events of 2024, while the other 20 to 25 spots are determined via exemptions and other qualifying criteria, such as the Aon Next 10 and the Aon Swing 5. Those two metrics fill out the fields based on who has played well this season.

This year’s Signature Events are listed below:

  1. The Sentry at The Plantation Course at Kapalua
  2. AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach
  3. Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club
  4. Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge
  5. RBC Heritage at Harbour Town
  6. Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club
  7. The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club
  8. Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands

I believe three of these tournaments should remain as Signature Events every year while the other five rotate in and out.

The Genesis Invitational, hosted by Tiger Woods; the Arnold Palmer Invitational, hosted by Palmer and his family; and the Memorial Tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, should all remain elevated permanently. Thanks to the distinguished individuals hosting them, each of these events already has elevated pedigrees, and the tour understands that.

Hence, the tour kept these three tournaments in the Signature Events rotation this year, but they should be elevated every year.

Make these three tournaments anchors on the schedule, just as Tiger, Arnie, and Jack are stalwarts of the game and comprise the triumvirate of golf.

Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Masters

Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods (left to right) during Friday play at the Masters on April 11, 1996.
Getty Images

Palmer and Nicklaus made considerable strides to establish what the PGA Tour is today in the late 1960s, while Woods brought the game to extraordinary heights in the late 1990s and early 21st century.

Woods continues to impact the game significantly, as he now sits on the PGA Tour Policy Board. As such, the 15-time major winner has been involved with the tour’s ongoing negotiations with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), as the two sides hope to re-unite professional golf again.

Nevertheless, Woods, Nicklaus, and Palmer have 40 major victories among them. Hence, Monahan and the tour should elevate their respective tournaments annually.

Riviera Country Club, which hosts Woods’ tournament in February, is one of the best courses in the country. It has an iconic layout, sits in America’s second-largest city, and the Southern California weather is never an issue.

Since it takes place in mid-February, the Genesis Invitational can serve as the marquee event of the PGA Tour’s annual west coast swing for years to come.

Two weeks following the Genesis Invitational, Bay Hill Club and Lodge would host the second permanently fixtured event. The Arnold Palmer Invitational would become the staple of the PGA Tour’s Florida swing in early March. Like Riviera, Bay Hill is another terrific layout that continually produces great championships and would welcome the world’s best each year to honor the late King.

It also helps that dozens of tour players reside in Florida; some of whom live in Orlando, where Bay Hill is located.

Moreover, these two tournaments help golfers and fans prepare for the sport’s pinnacle: the Masters Tournament in early April.

Later in the spring, as the calendar flips from May to June, the golfing world descends upon central Ohio, where the Golden Bear hosts the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, the course he built.

Woods won the Memorial a record five times, as many other notables have had the good fortune of shaking Nicklaus’ hand as the winner.

Jack Nicklaus, Jon Rahm, The Memorial Tournament

Jack Nicklaus congratulates Jon Rahm on the 18th green after Rahm won the 2020 Memorial Tournament.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With the PGA Championship taking place in mid-May, and the U.S. Open in mid-June, the Memorial is the perfect tournament sandwiched between the two majors.

Muirfield Village poses a daunting challenge every year with its picturesque holes, gnarly rough, and undulating greens. It has even hosted a Ryder Cup (1987) and a Presidents Cup (2013), something Riviera and Bay Hill cannot claim.

Of course, television networks play a big role in this, too. CBS and NBC would love to draw in as many viewers as possible.

Signature Events will never draw as much as a major, but if these three tournaments become further cemented as big events on the schedule, they will continue to get more recognition as time goes on.

More recognition leads to more eyeballs, generating more revenue for all involved. And these huge-pursed events need to make money, or they will collapse from within.

Nonetheless, the formula to succeed with the tour’s new schedule exists.

These three tournaments need to be elevated permanently, and they are easy to decipher since they are associated with Arnie, Jack, and Tiger.

So when watching the Memorial this weekend, with the best players on the PGA Tour playing at Muirfield Village, consider this: the world’s best should play at Jack’s place every year.

It all makes too much sense.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.





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