The PGA Tour might be able to do something about big names skipping the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, and Adam Scott are all sitting the Arnold Palmer Invitational out. Is this wrong?

Shouldn’t these top golfers be putting a peg in the ground for this week in honor of the man who ensured their paychecks are 50 times what they might have been otherwise? Is there something to be done?

Look, there’s no doubt that the PGA Tour calendar is crowded in the lead up to the Masters. And top players are, rightfully, most concerned about major championships. Secondarily, both because of OWGR points and money, World Golf Championships events are of importance to the Jason Day’s and Dustin Johnson’s of the world.

SEE ALSO: Tiger Woods has the same Masters odds as the 11th-ranked player in the world

There’s no right or wrong way to prepare for a major—beyond the understanding that playing every week is suboptimal. Some golfers like to play the week before a major (Mickelson, Spieth) and some don’t.

Here’s what the PGA Tour calendar looks like leading up to the Masters. For top-tier players who are exempt for all events and have secured a Masters invite, there are tough decisions to be made.

  • Pebble Beach: Feb 9-12
  • Genesis Open: Feb 16-19
  • Honda Classic: Feb 23-26
  • WGC-Mexico: Mar 2-5
  • Valspar Champ: Mar 9-12
  • Arnold Palmer: Mar 16-19
  • WGC Match Play: Mar 22-26
  • Houston Open: Mar 30 – Apr 2
  • The Masters: Apr 6-9

The reality is, unless a player makes a commitment to play the API as a tribute to Palmer and ensure the strength of the tournament (ala Billy Horschel), it’s easy to fill up the “con” column. And if a player is of the “play the week before the tournament” variety, he isn’t necessarily playing the three weeks before the Masters. That’s generally regarded as too much golf for optimum major preparation.

Arnold Palmer’s grandson, tour pro Sam Saunders, echoes the sentiments of those top players who choose to compete.

“It’s very important to golf to keep what we’ve done, to keep the Arnold Palmer Invitational relevant,” Saunders said. “I’m saying this as a guy on tour … To keep it the focus for a long time. His was such a good example. Such a great way to go about playing the game. We all get to play for a lot of money, but it’s about trying to do things other than just being out here for yourself.”

As ESPN’s Bob Harig points out “The PGA Tour in recent years stepped up to enhance the Arnold Palmer Invitational by increasing the purse and giving a three-year exemption to the winner.” But is this all they could be doing?

For example, looking just at this year’s calendar: The Valspar Championship would hate this, but what if the API and The Valspar switched spots? Players would be able to take a week off after the tournament ahead of the must-play WGC Match Play.

  • Valspar Champ: Mar 9-12
  • Arnold Palmer: Mar 16-19
  • WGC Match Play: Mar 22-26
  • Houston Open: Mar 30 – Apr 2
  • The Masters: Apr 6-9

While the schedule changes slightly every year, the point is this: If players are going to be criticized and questioned for not playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational, it’s only right to extend that questioning to the PGA Tour as well.

SEE ALSO: The Arnold Palmer Invitational will be extremely special this year