By Mark Concannon Special to Published Aug 18, 2010 at 2:23 PM

"There's a changing of the guard on the PGA Tour, a new breed," said CBS announcer Jim Nantz near the end of Sunday's telecast from Whistling Straits.

Nantz, who is paid handsomely to broadcast golf, was clearly trying to muster up some audience enthusiasm and a sense of promise for the game's immediate future. But his proclamation sounded hollow. Something about the tone of his voice that suggested that even he didn't believe what he was saying. There's no doubt that most American sports fans don't buy it.

The reason? Most American sports fans will never get the chance to see "the new breed" play in person. As soon as these "young lions" establish themselves as big stars, they'll follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. They'll just stop playing. Outside of the majors, the Players Championship, Jack's tournament in Ohio, Arnie's event in Florida, the World match play tournament and some of the Fed Ex Cup playoffs, these guys will shut it down. Because they can.

When Tiger Woods made his professional debut at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open, I was part of the press corps covering a massive, impromptu news conference after he completed his opening round (there's a picture of me as part of that media throng in Tiger's book, "How I Play Golf." My brush with greatness!). When the interview was over, Woods strolled back to the clubhouse. "Take a good look," a colleague said to me. "That's the last time we'll ever see him in Milwaukee." My colleague was right. Tiger never came back here. Because he didn't have to.

What other sport has a set up like this? Imagine if NASCAR allowed its drivers to compete in only the races in which they wanted to run.

Sorry, all you folks in Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond, Dover, Darlington, New Hampshire and Watkins Glen. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Dale Jr., Kurt and Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick are skipping this week. But you can see them at Daytona, Talladega, Charlotte and Indianapolis!

Do you think NASCAR would be enjoying anywhere near its current national popularity if that were allowed to happen? Racing fans stay loyal because they've been able to see the drivers up close, running on the tracks in their areas. And these fans watch every race on TV because all of the best drivers are competing.

No one is suggesting that pro golfers play in all of the events in a given season. But right now, they only need to enter 15 tournaments to keep their tour cards. The elite compete in their select events, make their money and ignore the rest of the schedule. So the tour stops in Memphis, Hartford, Greensboro, Hilton Head, Texas and Arizona become glorified JV games.

As a result, TV ratings are not just down, they're disappearing (yes, even when Tiger is competing) because there is no consistent, promotable star presence.

The PGA needs to get its house in order. Increase the minimum event requirement to 22. And starting with next season, make it mandatory for every golfer (who has playing privileges) to play in every event on the calendar (that doesn't conflict with a major) over the course of three years. That way, every tour stop will get to see Tiger, Lefty, Ernie and Vijay periodically, with the guarantee that at least a couple of mega-stars will show up each year.

Yes, it is true that there is a changing of the guard happening on the big tour.

Eight of the top 13 money winners in 2010 are 32 or younger. Fice are under 30. And that list doesn't include Sunday's PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer (25) and Irish sensation Rory McIlroy (21). But a changing of the guard without changing the format of how the guard plays is really no change at all.

Mark Concannon Special to
Mark Concannon moved to Milwaukee in 1987 when he started at WITI TV as weekend sports anchor. He began hosting Wakeup News, signing the new program on the air in 1990. He anchored Wakeup until the spring of 2010. In his 23 years at the station, Mark won four Emmy Awards and multiple local, state and regional honors.

Before arriving in Wisconsin, Mark was a TV sports director at stations in Greensboro, the Quad Cities and Fort Smith, Arkansas. He got his first job at the ABC affiliate in Syracuse during his junior year at Syracuse University where he majored in TV and Radio at the Newhouse School.

Mark is an avid fan of all sports. He covered the Packers at Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans and has also reported on the Final Four, the Daytona 500, the Rose Bowl, the NLCS and the PGA and U.S. Open golf championships. He covered the GMO for 20 years. Mark played soccer in high school and is a passionate supporter of "The Beautiful Game." One of his greatest experiences was attending a UEFA Champions League game hosted by Real Madrid at Bernabeu Stadium.

Mark was born in Philadelphia but has happily made the transition from cheese steaks to cheese heads and is thrilled to now call Wisconsin home. He is currently president of Concannon Communications LLC and working on projects involving, writing, producing, voice-overs and public relations.