Living now on the early side of 80, many of us old timers might recall in the 1940s buying our 20 cent Saturday afternoon children's matinee movie ticket and a 20 cent “double-dipped” ice cream cone before the movie began. Strangely, perhaps, today in professional PGA golf, the term double-dipping takes on an entirely different meaning for the 50 and older Senior Champions Tour players.
Both PGA tours ruling bodies embrace senior players’ decisions to “double dip” and play in both the regular and champions tours whenever their scheduled tournament dates don't conflict. The “double dipping” practice is less publicized and has become not only excessively popular but also very lucrative “competitive gravy” with total 70 hole purses well into the millions for all players making the 36 hole cut.
For instance; this years’ PGA Champion, Jason Dufner, won a whopping $1.44 million for his victory. More tellingly, the total purse was so lucrative that Senior Champions Tour double-dipping player, Darren Clarke, finished last in the field and still won $14,500; and finishing in from last, another senior, V.J. Singh, won $15,000. Not too bad for just four 18 hole rounds.
There are currently several high profile US Tour prayers moving into the age when they are beginning their slow, steady, spiral toward the 50-year-old golden years when many have a goal just to play 54 holes without some sort of pain, or having to use a cart for the final day's play. Two such age-defying players are: 45-year-old Darren Clarke and 49-year-old Steve Stricker.
Both seniors-to-be cannot only still contend, but can also sustain 72 holes of play and win on Sunday's final day of play. Without a doubt both Clarke and Stricker will be double dipping when they soon turn 50 years old and become eligible for the Champions Tour.
The regular PGA Tour field usually averages about 132 - 144 players, with a maximum of about 152 depending upon the time of year and the number of player sponsor exemptions extended, The 36-hole cut is usually the law; 70 - players and ties.
It's a new era in which golf has become a global game with a tournament scheduled somewhere every week in almost every continent besides the US Tour's regular 41 events, ending in the post season with the President's Cup the first week in October. The Americans have won it seven out of nine times.
The development of a World Tour in the near future isn't that improbable; it has an air of realization about it. And when this happens: there will be three major tours: the U.S., the European; and World.
My final thoughts: Given all of that, you have to wonder just how long double dipping by senior PGA players continues to be a practice embraced on the regular tour. It is, if nothing else, fodder for future discussion by the games' ruling bodies.
The issues condemnation will most likely result from a growing criticism from the 20-something rookies Q-school cardholders who guest each week hoping to secure a playing spot in the field of 132 - 144. Arguably, perhaps, the practice should eventually be banned by the Player Policies Board and the ruling bodies of both tours.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.