The talk of growing the game had limits, though. Bevacqua said the championship would remain in the United States for the foreseeable future, despite golf’s greatest growth occurring in Asia. Proof of that was provided by Si Woo Kim of South Korea, who won the Players Championship in May, and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who has climbed to No. 3 in the rankings with a multiple-win season.
“Will we ever do an international P.G.A. Championship?” Bevacqua asked. “I think the answer is not in the next 10 years, but it’s something we will always consider because, potentially at the right time for the organization, it could be an interesting move.”
In the men’s world rankings, seven of the top 10 players are not from the United States, suggesting that the time might be right to hold a men’s major in a non-English-speaking country.
Credit Erik S. Lesser/European Pressphoto Agency
But it took years of discussion and “a full-blown analysis,” as Bevacqua described it, to make a schedule change that, on the surface, seems pretty obvious. Maybe in another 10 years, if eight of the top 10 players in the men’s rankings are from Asia, as is the case on the L.P.G.A. Tour, the suits can reconvene and open a yearslong discussion about a continent change.
Bevacqua shared the dais with the PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan, who announced that the Players Championship, which has been held in May since 2007, will return to its March date in 2019 — a move that “will greatly enhance the golf calendar,” he said. The date switch involving the Players Championship will place the men’s main events at more regular intervals, like steppingstones to navigate more easily the competitive calendar from March to August.
But the more the schedule changes, the more men’s professional golf remains the same: one endless loop of competition, with no downtime for the players to recover from nagging injuries, or overhaul their swings, or try out new equipment.
Jimmy Walker, who will try to defend his P.G.A. Championship title here this week, was ready to relax after his major breakthrough, which was followed by the FedEx Cup playoffs, which were capped off by the Ryder Cup. He had three weeks without a tournament before he opened his 2016-17 season in Shanghai in October.
“We seem to play golf 24/7, 365 anymore,” Walker said.
He was forced to take a monthlong break this spring after contracting Lyme disease. He said that not a single PGA Tour official reached out to him after his diagnosis to see how he was doing.
“No calls, no texts, nothing,” Walker said.
It gave him pause. Are the players partners with the PGA Tour, or thoroughbreds ridden by the tour until they break down and are replaced by younger, fresher horses?
Walker said he would welcome an off-season, if only so the schedule could save him from his competitive self, which struggles to sit out a tournament (or a few) because he worries he will fall behind in the points race for the FedEx Cup playoffs. If nobody is grinding, everybody is recharging.
“I think they’ll get more people to play golf that way,” Walker said, adding, “Don’t water down your game.”
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson said the fans as well as the players could benefit from an off-season.
“Look at football,” he said. “You don’t have that for seven months. I know I can’t wait till it comes back, and I’m definitely not the only person.”
Credit Warren Little/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy, who counts two P.G.A. Championships among his four major titles, is serving two tours — the PGA and the European — which means his downtime is limited to the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That is his window for renewing his enthusiasm and, if necessary, retooling his game.
He doesn’t consider it a coincidence that after a calendar year in which he had little time off, he sustained a rib injury in early 2017 that forced him to the sideline for more than a month.
“I’ve always thought that an off-season in golf would be good,” said McIlroy, who won the FedEx Cup last year. “Not just for the players to get a little bit of rest and work on their games and whatever, but just from a fan perspective. You know, create a little bit of hype before the season starts again.”
He added: “People don’t understand how difficult it is. You’re playing from January till November. You have December off, but you want to spend time with family, have a nice Christmas, Thanksgiving, whatever else. We need a world tour at some point. That’s the only way it’s going.”
Surely the officials of the world’s various golf tours can figure out some scheduling compromises that work for the McIlroys and the Walkers and the Johnsons who, after all, mingle with their sponsors and play in their pro-ams and generate interest in the game.
Further schedule changes are expected, including moving up the FedEx Cup tournaments so they end by Labor Day and thus holding biennial team events like the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup earlier. Another benefit of such a calendar: Golf would not compete with pro and college football for attention in the fall.
But one benefit Monahan was not interested in was a longer off-season, insisting golf was better off as a year-round affair.
“I think that works very well for our product, and candidly, as a sport, a true international sport, being on all the time and showcasing the world’s best players over that period of time,” he said.
Even if an off-season is what the players want?
“As a whole,” Monahan said, “there are a lot of players who are very happy with the FedEx Cup schedule and our entire season.”