Why is 2017-18 PGA Tour season so long? It's all about the players

ATLANTA -- The PGA Tour released its 2017-18 schedule Tuesday, one that includes 50 tournaments in nine countries, if you count the Ryder Cup. It starts on Oct. 2 of this year, ends unofficially on Sept. 30 of next year and spans a total of 364 days.

On the 365th day, they rest.

Sure, there's a six-week break at the end of this year, and with tournaments double-booked on five occasions, it's hardly as if any players will be competing nonstop. But the immensity of the schedule alone is enough to leave players and fans asking a familiar question.

At what point is it all too much of a good thing?

Jay Monahan has heard the query before. He expects it these days. And the PGA Tour commissioner is always prepared with an answer.

"You go back to 1967, there were 47 events on our schedule; the schedule started the first week in January, ended the second week in December," he explained during a Tuesday news conference. "You go back 60 years ago, there were 48 events on our schedule. So this schedule's been pretty consistent for a long period of time, and I expect it to be that way going forward."

That's not to suggest Monahan is averse to change, but he also isn't inclined to change just for the sake of changing.

In other words, he doesn't see it as the Catch-22 some believe it is.

The cons of a year-round schedule are plentiful: Namely, it doesn't allow players a chance to enjoy an offseason and it doesn't afford fans a chance to yearn for competitive tournaments to return.

The pros of the schedule are, literally, the pros themselves.

Fans of the PGA Tour might want to cover their eyes for the rest of this paragraph. That's because they aren't the No. 1 priority in the organization's mission statement. Nor are the sponsors or even charities. No, the biggest priority is the players -- specifically, offering up enough playing opportunities for all of them to get a fair shake on the sport's most lucrative circuit.

For the season that will conclude with this week's Tour Championship, the number of players with PGA Tour status totals more than 200. For every Jordan Spieth or Dustin Johnson, guys who can play wherever, whenever they choose, there are a half-dozen rookies or journeymen or past champions, types who need every potential opportunity they can get.

All of which explains why the next schedule extends for one day shorter than a full year.

Until a time when the PGA Tour either downsizes jobs on the highest level by cutting back the number of players with some type of status or loses enough title sponsors without finding suitable replacements, any proposed contraction will simply be wishful thinking.

Either that, or the mission statement changes. If creating the most competitive atmosphere and the most exciting environment for the fans ever eclipses the current priority of playing opportunities, then maybe -- maybe -- the schedule would look profoundly different, with elite players competing each week for six months, with a six-month hibernation period to recharge their batteries and reinvigorate everyone else's thirst for the competition.

That change won't happen anytime soon, though. For now, if a player wants to take time off and create his own personal offseason, he can easily do that, even if his peers will still be teeing it up.

"Our players are independent contractors," Monahan said. "They have 49 remarkable opportunities next year. They're never going to play all the events. They've got to pick and choose the events that are going to get them in the best possible position for this week or to win the FedEx Cup or for other goals that they set over the course of the year.

"The fact of the matter is if you create an offseason, you create openings, and there's so much demand from fans. You see it in Malaysia, you see it in Korea, you see it in China, you see it in new events that we're adding. That gap will be filled, and we think it's our job to maximize playing and financial opportunities. We're going to continue to focus on that and do it in the interest of the fan, but at the same time I think you have to listen to what players are saying. We don't have an answer or solution, but we understand that this is going to be part of the discussion for some time to come."

At what point is it all too much of a good thing?

Well, we probably reached that point already. But as Monahan always points out, the schedule barely differs from what it was 50 or 60 years ago.

So enjoy your rest on that 365th day. You'll need it.