Explaining the Silly Season in Pro Golf

"Silly season" is a term that many golf fans (and many pro golfers) apply to unofficial-money events that are played outside of the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour schedules. Such events typically take place late in the calendar year, in the gap between the end of one tour season and the beginning of the next. Silly season tournaments also sometimes incorporate unorthodox competition formats.

"Silly season" is a term mostly used in and applied to American golf.

Golf's silly season falls in the last couple months of the calendar year. In October, November, December (but not necessarly only those months), there have been tournaments over the years that are not official tour events, that do not award money that counts toward money list standings or points (such as FedEx Cup points). These tournaments are not "serious" like a regular PGA Tour event is, since the PGA Tour event impacts a golfer's tour membership and major eligibility via money and points lists.

Some such events fall into the made-for-TV category — a network might be looking for some kind of golf event to air during an otherwise sports-light holiday season or other stretch of the calendar.

The Best-Known Silly Season Tournaments

What are some examples of silly season golf tournaments?

The Skins Game, which ran from 1983-2009, is probably the most-famous of them. That made-for-TV event gathered four golfers who played for winner-take-all pots on a hole-by-hole basis. The skins game betting format is well-known today, but that is thanks to the televised Skins Game, which, when it debuted in the early '80s, boasted Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Tom Watson as its four competitors.

Other silly season examples include the JCPenney Classic, which paired an LPGA player with a PGA Tour player in a team format; and the Shark Shootout, which combined alternate shot, better ball and scramble formats.

Another well-known example is the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge, with teams representing the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and LPGA Tour.

During the heyday of silly season tournaments (they were far more popular in the 1970s through 1990s than now), Fred Couples earned the nickname "King of Silly Season" because he played so many such events and won so much money in them.

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