In the neighborhood of East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia, a paper boat sails towards the first island green ever built in America. On the sixth, East Lake Golf Club’s signature hole, the southeastern breeze blows the boat onto the edge of the green. The boat is not made of newspaper. No, if you unfold it, you’ll discover your invitation to the 2014 Tour Championship.
The Tour Championship, a stroke play, par-seventy tournament, is the final event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It is for an exclusive group of players: only the top thirty qualify to compete. The Championship is the pinnacle of the season and conclusion of the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs. The Tour Championship will start on Thursday, September 11 and end on Sunday, September 14.
Just a few hours west of our home Sugar Land, Texas, is the Oak Hill Country Club in San Antonio where the first Tour Championship was ever played. It was originally called the Nabisco Championship (you get a cookie if you knew that). The contest was created to reward the top players and to end the season with a bang. And who was the winner of that first tournament? It was Tom Watson.
Until 2007, the Tour Championship was one of the final events of the PGA Tour Season and only the top 30 money leaders of the season were allowed to participate. In 2007, qualification and tournament designation changed. Qualification is now based on points and it began closing the four-tournament “Chase for the FedEx Cup.” Beginning in 2009, the points system ensured that if the any of the top-five point’s players won the Tour Championship, they would become the FedEx Cup winner, as well. In 2013, a modification in the PGA Tour designated the Championship as the ultimate and final event of the season.
Champions Golf Club, a well-known course in Houston (and a course we do retrieval on!) hosted the tournament five times: 1990, 1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003. Champions Golf Club was founded in 1957 by golf legends Jackie Burke Jr. and the late Jimmy Demaret. In 1956, Burke won both the Masters and the PGA Championship. Demaret won the Masters in 1940, 1947, and 1950.
East Lake Golf Club is now the Tour Championship’s permanent home. The course is the oldest in Atlanta and was home to golf god Bobby Jones. It was originally designed by Tom Bendelow in 1904 and then reworked by Donald Ross.
The Calamity Jane, a replica of Bobby Jones’ putter, is a sterling silver putter given to the champion at East Lake each year. The original, gifted to Jones from James Maiden in 1920, was used to win 13 major championships. The Payne Stewart Award, along with a grant towards charity from Southern Company, is presented during the week of the Tour Championship to the current or former player with the highest degree of respectability, integrity, and commitment to public citizenship.
Henrick Stenson is the current Tour Champion although Tiger Woods possesses both the aggregate and to par tournament record scores (257 and -23, respectively), due to his stunning success in 2007. This year the purse is $8 million and the winning share is $1.44 million, not to mention 2,500 FedEx Cup points. The number one also receives a three-year PGA Tour exemption. All qualifiers for the Tour Championship automatically receive an invitation to the Master’s Tournament.
We can imagine diving number six at East Lake with all the champion golf balls lying there in wait like sunken treasure. We’ve got a collection of treasure for you at Lost Golf Balls.