Wait, Why Isn’t The PGA Championship In The PGA Tour’s Video Game?

This is something that always confounded me. In the career mode of Tiger Woods PGA Tour, the fourth major championship is not The PGA Championship, but the “EA Sports Championship.”

Now, The British Open does not appear either (it is simply “The U.K. Open”) but that I can understand and chalk up to licensing. But the PGA Tour licenses this video game. So I asked EA Sports what gives?

“Confusion between the PGA Tour and PGA of America is quite common,” EA Sports’ Craig Evans, the game’s director of marketing, told me. “The PGA Championship is a tournament managed by the PGA of America, not the PGA Tour.”

Plainly, that’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour in the title, not Tiger Woods PGA of America.

“It requires a separate licence which we do not currently have,” Evans said.

What’s interesting also is that this year, the only Major appearing in the game is, of course, The Masters. The U.S. Open, which was featured in last year’s game, has been replaced by the “U.S. Golf Championship.” EA Sports let its licence with the U.S. Golf Association, which manages the Open, expire after last year’s game.

It’s curious that for the longest time, The Masters was the only Major not to appear in a video game, and now, a year after its debut, it is the only Major in EA Sports’ title. But golf simulations don’t seem to depend on this as much as one would think.

The Masters is the most popular of the four (in North America, anyway) largely because it is played at the same course each year. All of the others rotate, and keeping up with licensing, developing and devoting disc space to new courses, if EA Sports doesn’t yet feature one, can be prohibitively expensive and time consuming if there isn’t a real consumer attachment to playing golf there.

It’s different for, say a tennis title, whose tournaments are held at the same venue every year. That persistence and familiarity creates a greater expectation if you’re playing a tournament by its real world name: Wimbledon has to be at Wimbledon, for example. So in golf, if you’re not going to include the course, it makes the licence for the event expendable, too, especially if the game includes a tournament that overshadows all others, such as The Masters.

Have a burning question about a sports video game? Send it to me and I’ll see if I can get an answer.

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