Review Fix chats with “Making the Cut: Life Inside the PGA Tour System” author John Fortunato, who discusses the engaging research process behind this excellent look at what it takes to survive on the PGA Tour.
About the Book:
The success of the PGA TOUR lies in the compelling narratives of the golfers’ individual quests for achievement—making the tournament cut, qualifying for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and the ultimate challenge of making it onto the TOUR, where victory is often determined by a single stroke. Based on interviews with more than twenty alumni, this book provides new insight into the TOUR system, the events affecting tournament outcomes, and the career-changing opportunities that result.
About John Fortunato:
John A. Fortunato is a professor at New York’s Fordham University in the Gabelli School of Business, Area of Communication and Media Management. He is the author of five books and has published more than 50 journal articles and book chapters.
Review Fix: What inspired this book?
John Fortunato: I was watching the end of a tournament years ago on Sunday and one of the contenders to win the tournament was Ken Duke, a veteran golfer who never won a tournament. The CBS broadcast was describing all that would happen if he won – play in all the majors, his PGA Tour card for the next 2 years. I became interested in this storyline and watched. Duke won. I keep a notebook with ideas to research and I wrote something about interested in the PGA system, but not completely certain about how it works. More recently, I had a student in class who was a big golf fan and asked me some questions that I was not certain of the responses. I thought it would be a good time to study the topic. The golfers storylines and the ramifications of the tournament outcomes, often by one stroke, made for an ideal book-length project.
Review Fix: What was the research process like?
Fortunato: I emailed the PGA Tour about my idea. I received a note back from a Tour executive, James Cramer, who offered to help. James answered some initial questions that I had and showed me how to reach out to the golfers. I interviewed golfers, used information from the PGA Tour media web site and found golfers’ stories that intrigued me and represented what I refer to as the many dividing lines of the PGA Tour.
Review Fix: What did you learn that you weren’t expecting? Did anything shock you?
Fortunato: The economic system of the golfers. They pay for their travel to tournaments, the PGA Tour provides a hotel at discount and a rental car for the week of the tournament. If golfers don’t make the tournament cut, they don’t get paid for the week. The pressure is immense.
Review Fix: Did you get to speak with any PGA Tour players? What did they contribute?
Fortunato: Yes, I spoke with more than 20 golfers who were at various stages of their careers. I was looking for interesting storylines that explained how the PGA Tour system works. For example, I spoke with a first time tournament winner to learn how that changed his career. I spoke with someone who had won two tournaments, but that did not win for a decade. Golfers who qualified for the PGA Tour for the first time. Golfers who were on the PGA Tour, but then did not qualify to stay on the Tour, had to go back to the then Web.com Tour (now named the Korn Ferry Tour) and make it back to the PGA Tour.
Review Fix: How did this change your appreciation for the sport?
Fortunato: Yes, I understand the pressure that the golfers are under and what the ramifications are for how they finish. A made or missed putt could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars and future playing opportunities. Having went to two tournaments to do research I also now greatly appreciate their talent, mental toughness, and the time they put into their craft. It is not uncommon to see a golfer play a five hour round of golf and then be back on the range practicing. The amount of time they spend working on one aspect of their game (putting, chipping) is incredible. Seeing the talent and how they hit a ball up close is remarkable.
Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy this book the most?
Fortunato: I think fans of the PGA Tour will get a better understanding of what they are watching — but the book will appeal to casual sports fans as well as they will find the golfers’ storylines interesting.
Review Fix: How would you like the book to be remembered?
Fortunato: I most want people who read this book to learn something that they didn’t know — and that knowledge could help them better appreciate what they are watching when they witness a tournament. For example, watching the Masters, the top 12 get automatically invited back to the next Masters tournament. There are so many dividing lines in one tournament and one season, knowing what they are and what they mean will only make the sport and the golfers’ storylines more interesting. If the reader has a few “I didn’t know that is how it works” moments would be great.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Fortunato: I am working on a few different academic journals on a range of topics: sports gambling, college athletes’ name, image, and likeness, and the Catholic Church sexual abuse and cover up crisis. I am starting to think about new book topics. I have a couple in mind, but nothing formalized, yet.