The last time the U.S. Open came through Oakmont in 1994, the story was Ernie Els winning his first major championship and Arnold Palmer playing in his final U.S. Open. But Whitten’s story was about an overgrowth of trees that had sapped the once mostly barren course of its character.
“The membership was so (angry) at me that they wanted to jerk my U.S. Open media credentials,” Whitten said. “But after the tournament there was a group that took that article and slowly, quietly persuaded members that there needed something to be done. So they had a midnight chainsaw massacre where they’d go out, literally at 4 in the morning, and cut down three trees and clean them up. … They’ve now taken 5,000 trees out, and the place is back to looking where you can stand there and look at this sweeping, gnarly landscape.”
If he’s not scouring the site of the next major, he’s just as likely to be paying his way onto a public course. One week Carnoustie, Scotland, the next the local sand greens course.
“I get really tired of playing with the pro, the superintendent and the club president, who are just lobbying the hell out of me,” he said. “I’d just as soon play with real people … who don’t know squat about me. It’s fun to interact and find out what real paying customers are looking at.”
And what has he learned?
Not everybody is counting the number of trees. Not everybody appreciates golf from his perspective.
“The average golfer doesn’t give squat about architecture,” Whitten said. “Condition, that’s everything. … Now everything is climate-controlled. Now everything has life-support systems, and we all expect our golf course on the opening day in March to be in the same condition that it will be in July, August and October. And that’s not realistic.
“I’ve written about it for 30 years. It’s a losing battle. We’re used to air conditioning. We’re used to cushy seats, and we’re used to having our golf carts with our ice chests and ball washers on them. … It’s crazy. So I’m sounding like an old man, ‘Back in the good old days …’ ”
Frequently the natives resent the invasion of the golf pioneer . . . Once an irate farmer emptied a thirty-three at myself and the engineer at a range of only five hundred yards, and he made us take cover too. He was a renter, and knew that we were there for no good. As he took no interest whatever in the Royal and Ancient.
Steve Campbell writes about the Houston Open's attempts to set up Redstone like Augusta National.
"We want to make it as Augusta-friendly for the pros as we can," Goettsch said. "We want to make it the best possible venue prior to the Masters that we can make. That's our goal: Get the golf course to that kind of condition and standard. We've tried to give them the type of shots they'll have at Augusta."
One of Goettsch's marching orders was to get the green speeds to at least 12 on the Stimpmeter. Another mandate was to shave the banks alongside the greens and water hazards, thus raising the cost of a slightly mis-struck shot. Closely mowed chipping areas are another ode to Augusta, which places a premium on creativity with the short game.
The rough of the 7,457-yard Redstone layout will be cut to an Augusta-esque 1 1/2 inches, which figures to bring the art of the recovery shot into play. That should come as welcome news to all the players who grouse about the mindless, hack-and-gouge play that tends to result from 4- and 5-inch rough.
"I think it's going to be a pretty darn good test," said Joe Ogilvie, who is the player director on the PGA Tour policy board. "(Virtually) every hole is a hook. At Augusta, (virtually) every hole is a hook. From a ball-striking standpoint, it's probably a perfect warmup."
And and there's a catch. Because as blogger Tom Kirkendall points out, there's one major difference between the two courses: the greens.
Mickelson -- who has not played in the SHO in years -- replied that he is not playing this week because the Tournament Course at Redstone is nothing like Augusta National and Redstone's bermuda greens will do nothing to prepare him for Augusta's bentgrass greens. Mickelson's comments were a clear shot at the SHO and the PGA Tour's decision to move the tournament to a date the week before The Masters.
So much for that "resemble Augusta" approach to reinventing the SHO.
Paul Forsyth talked to Geoff Ogilvy for a Sunday Times profile. Thanks to reader John for reminding about this.
“I’m not against the course being lengthened, but the fairways were never meant to be narrow. The point was that you had a paddock to hit into, but you had to make a decision as to what side of the fairway was good. Now you don’t have a choice.” Ogilvy regrets that technology has drastically changed many of the world’s great courses, rendered some of them redundant, and diminished the game’s entertainment value. By responding to Tiger Woods’s every achievement with more rough and more yards, they have made the spectacle more boring.I like this...
“You don’t need an array of shots any more, and that’s not good for spectators. Who wants to watch us drive into the rough, chip out to 80 yards, and try to get up and down? There is no excitement in that, no imagination or strategy. One day, somebody will realise that the score relative to par does not reflect the quality of a golf tournament.”
By now, Ogilvy is getting everything off his chest, suggesting a think tank of the 100 smartest minds in golf to address the game's problems. “It is in everybody’s interests because it appears, in America anyway, that fewer and fewer people are playing the game. In the old days, you went out in a Saturday threeball, and in under three hours, you would be back in the clubhouse having a beer. Now, it costs you £150 and it takes five hours. At some courses, you’re driving a cart, so you don’t talk to anyone, and you’ve lost eight balls in the rough. Somewhere it has all gone wrong.”And on the state of world golf...
There ought to be more, however. Henrik Stenson, the Swede who last month denied Ogilvy a successful defence of his WGC-Accenture Match Play title, is still having to justify his rise to fifth in the world. “It’s incredible,” says the Australian. “Henrik plays well, and they all start questioning the validity of the world ranking system, but he has won four times in the past year. In the Match Play, they were talking as though this guy had never played golf before, and yet he had beaten Tiger in Dubai two weeks earlier. Some people here have a hard time looking past the borders of their own country.”
Ogilvy could do with another big win to cement his reputation. His US Open triumph would not have been possible without the dramatic collapse of Phil Mickelson, Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington. “Another major would make the first one more credible, but I’m not in this to influence what people think of me,” he says. “I just like doing it. Standing on the 18th tee at Winged Foot was the most fun I have ever had in my life. We don’t know how lucky we are.”
I guess you really aren't a sports agency without an in-house architect to serve your clients need$.
And now we have agencies stealing other agency architects! Isn't this fun.
Terry Baller Joins Gaylord Sports as In-house Course Architect
Spent last nine years in the field worldwide with IMG
SCOTTSDALE, AZ. (March 26, 2007) -- Terry Baller, who for the past nine years worked as a staff golf course architect at IMG, has joined Gaylord Sports Management as the Director of Golf Course Design. Gaylord Sports currently represents Hale Irwin, Phil Mickelson, Dave Pelz, Rick Smith and David Toms in the area of course design and real estate development.
“As we continue to broaden Gaylord Sports’ services, Terry gives us the opportunity to extend our reach in the golf course design segment and provide outstanding service for our clients,” said Gaylord President David Yates. “His worldwide experience with a company the stature of IMG will be a huge help in growing our clients’ course design and real estate business.”
Baller, 34, has a wide range of experience. He led the team that developed the IMG Golf Academy practice facility at Bradenton, Fla. He worked with Mark O’Meara on the Talisker Club’s Tuhaye Course in Deer Valley, Utah, currently on Golf Digest’s list of the top 10 new private courses in the country. Baller collaborated with designer Bernhard Langer on Le Toussrok, a spectacular course on an island off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean that debuted at No. 10 on Golfworld International’s list of the world’s best courses. And with designer Colin Montgomerie, Baller executed Zhuhai Golden Golf Club in China, ranked as that country’s best new course of 2003.
“I’m really looking forward to bringing my experience to Gaylord Sports and helping take our business into a new dimension,” said Baller, who has earned a degree in civil engineering at Cleveland State University and certification in turfgrass management at Penn State University. “We have ambitious plans in this area and I’m absolutely delighted to be a part of the team.”
Part of Baller’s responsibility will be to coordinate projects for the clients and the development partners. He will report to Tim Ummel, Gaylord Sports’ Vice President of Business Development.
“We now have an internationally accomplished in-house architect who can provide a range of services to our clients, developers and real estate partners,” said Ummel. “That opens a world of possibilities for us and we think it separates us from other groups in our industry.”
As promised during his spellbinding sitdown with Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller, Commissioner Tim Finchem has contacted Sergio Garcia about his spitting-in-the-cup incident Saturday at Doral. And because they were done with their setup at Alberto Gonzalez's house (now that he's a goner), my NSA sources were able to obtain the instant message exchange between the Commissioner and Garcia.
twfPGATOUR©: Do you have a minute?
SharketteHunter: Anything for my favorite Commissioner.
twfPGATOUR©: About that distractive behavior Saturday at the CA Championship.
SharketteHunter: The thing with the marshall?
SharketteHunter: Oh the courtesy car?
SharketteHunter: Wait, the guy I flipped off down at South Beach?
twfPGATOUR©: No. I am referring to the oral secretion that you discharged into one of Doral's cups.
SharketteHunter: Oh that. Well it was a clean hit. I just nailed the little opening where the flagstick goes.
SharketteHunter: You know, like when Luke Skywalker dropped that hit into the Death Star in Star Wars. Clean shot all the way.
twfPGATOUR©: I'm sure it was, but that's not the issue. This was behavior distractive to the PGA Tour, our brands, consumers, our good friends and corporate partners at CA, and not to mention, to your brand.
twfPGATOUR©: It's the adjective form of distracting.
SharketteHunter: So why don't you just say distracting?
twfPGATOUR©: There are many dynamics at play that make it a less appealing choice of words. Just review my interview with Dan Hicks today and I think you'll see that of all the possible permutations, it really was the best choice.
twfPGATOUR©: I should note that we ran several metrics and it tested best.
SharketteHunter: Well what do you want to know, Tim? I dropped a big loogey in the cup. Take the fine out of my account like you always do.
twfPGATOUR©: And as always, charity will be the real winner.
SharketteHunter: Whatever you say. Anything else?
twfPGATOUR©: I was thinking that we might be able cut into what I believe will be a record compulsory contribution to charity.
SharketteHunter: Tim, I'm not doing any FedEx Cup ads. That Shackspear thing is the dumbest ad I've ever seen.
SharketteHunter: Whatever. What do you want?
twfPGATOUR©: You are currently proactively engaged in pre-marital interfacing with Greg Norman's daughter, is that correct?
SharketteHunter: We're dating, if that's what you mean.
twfPGATOUR©: Do you ever ask Greg if he gets the urge to compete, say, on the Champions Tour?
SharketteHunter: Tim, it's not going to happen.
twfPGATOUR©: I know, I know. But, if it ever comes up and you feel that you can influence his platform agenda, that would be great. I'll make it up to you. I'll guarantee you will not be paired with Ben Crane at the Players.
SharketteHunter: Wow, great.
twfPGATOUR©: Thanks, I would really appreciate it. Also, have you tried Greg's 2004 Cab?
SharketteHunter: Yeah it tastes like it's been stored in a cab. I'm a Michelob man, remember?
twfPGATOUR©: Oh right. Well good to know. We've got a really nice plum bite to our '04 Cab, I'll have our people send you a case. We're very excited about it.
SharketteHunter: Excellent. I'm starting my own label, did you know?
SharketteHunter: Yeah, Greg saw that Luke Donald was starting one and thought that the day had arrived when it was not necessary to have a major on your resume to start one's own label.
twfPGATOUR©: Well you're in good hands there with Greg's advice.
SharketteHunter: I'll tell you him you said that.
twfPGATOUR©: That's not necessary.
SharketteHunter: Yes it is! :-)
twfPGATOUR©: And please Sergio, let's try to not have any more oral secretions on the golf course?
SharketteHunter: I'll do my best Tim.
twfPGATOUR©: For the brand's sake, if nothing else.
SharketteHunter: Right Tim.
twfPGATOUR©: Give my best to...
SharketteHunter: She says hi back!
SharketteHunter: Adios amigo.
After winning at Doral:
Q. How many times in the years you've played the Masters have you gone to Augusta the week before you get there?
TIGER WOODS: Only when there's changes. Only when they decide to rebuild the place.
Q. So most.
TIGER WOODS: Lately.
Actually, not many media outlets print much of anything said by Singh, for the simple reason that he rarely says anything worth printing. Just this past week, your correspondent e-mailed one of America's most respected journalists to ask if Singh had ever commented publicly on the possibility of steroid use in golf. The response was short and to the point: "Has he ever commented publicly?"
He has, but not often. Two years ago, Singh was approached by a journalist - OK, me - on the practice ground at Pinehurst just prior to the US Open. He was asked to name his three favourite holes in Scotland, a subject that both surprised and intrigued him. Not only did he take a few minutes to ponder his decision, he was interested enough to ask what holes other players had offered up. It was, to my lasting shock, a pleasant little interlude.
So he can do "nice" if he wants to; it's just that Singh rarely seems to want to.
Paul Forsyth reports from Doral, where the highlight of the day was Sergio Garcia spitting in a cup while cameras were rolling.
If any under the age of 35 were actually watching the telecast, we would already be reliving this great moment in etiquette history on YouTube.
His defense is priceless:
"But it (the spit) did go in the middle (of the hole) and wasn't going to affect anyone else. If it did, I would have wiped it off."
Ah right laddie. You would have been down on hands and knees with a towel mopping up the cup. Right!
**Thanks to FX for the spotting the YouTube posting.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PGA TOUR ROLLS OUT NEW SPOTS IN YEAR-LONG MARKETING
CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE INAUGURAL FEDEXCUP SEASON
Tiger Woods To Make His PGA TOUR Ad Debut; Phil Mickelson and Other Stars in Marquee Roles
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL (March 23, 2007) – Starting this weekend, the PGA TOUR will roll out a new set of ads featuring some of the TOUR’s top players, including the most recent No. 1 golfers in the world, Tiger Woods (2006) and Vijay Singh (2005). The campaign, created by the PGA TOUR and its advertising agency, GSD&M of Austin, Tex., is designed to show in a lighthearted fashion the players’ competitiveness and determination to win the new FedExCup.
The six new 30-second spots will air during network and cable golf telecasts, and in other sports programming on network and cable. The ads are part of an unprecedented year-long campaign promoting the inaugural FedExCup competition, which culminates with the first-ever four-tournament PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup beginning in late August. The campaign will be supported by print, online and radio executions throughout the season.
Highlighting the campaign in his PGA TOUR ad debut are two spots featuring Woods in support of the FedExCup. In the first spot, “Voices,” Tiger points out there is one significant accomplishment he hasn't won…yet. In Woods' second spot, called "Sign," he seeks a sign from the portrait of legendary golfer Bobby Jones to let him know if he has a chance to become the first-ever FedExCup winner. Mickelson, who also is featured in another “Voices” spot, relays that some challenges in golf are more fun than others, like becoming the first season champion.
“This campaign focuses on promoting the most exciting and significant change in the TOUR’s history – truly a new era in golf,” said Ric Clarson, PGA TOUR senior vice president, Brand Marketing. “From Tiger to Phil to Vijay and the more than 20 players featured in the campaign, the passion and desire to win the FedExCup is clear and evident in these humorous spots.”
Are they humorous spots because the players are exuding a passion and desire to win the FedEx Cup?
“We are proud to work with the PGA TOUR during this exciting time in golf,” said Roy Spence, president and founder of GSD&M. “The new work builds on our existing relationship with the TOUR and is the most compelling and inspiring creative to date. It connects the fans with the competitive edge of the players and their desire to win the FedExCup.”
Oh Roy wins this quote-off, hands down.
A further look at the campaign:
FIRST KISS – features a mix of young PGA TOUR stars, including Adam Scott, courting the coveted new FedExCup trophy by reciting lines of poetry in a Shakespearean style.
MIRROR, MIRROR – features 2006 Rookie of the Year Trevor Immelman talking to himself in a locker room mirror pretending to be interviewed after winning the inaugural FedExCup, when he’s caught by veteran Vijay Singh.
BELLHOP – features Retief Goosen and J.J. Henry being duped into forking over a hefty tip by the bellhop after arriving at a hotel for a tournament and being told they’re “his pick” to win the inaugural FedExCup.
Wow, there's a future staple of YouTube.
WINNING PUTT – features Stuart Appleby practicing on an empty course, whispering to himself and dreaming that his next putt is to win the FedExCup.
DO NOT DISTURB – features Ben Curtis playing a trick on Zach Johnson in a hotel the night before a tournament in order to get an edge in the FedExCup points race.
What, Chad Campbell was doing stand up that week and couldn't do the spot?
The April Golf Digest features several aerial overviews of Augusta National, and while the "second cut" continues to make the once wall-to-wall tight grass layout look like a thousand other inland American courses, it's the tree planting that says, this could be any country club you see flying into O'Hare.
Most shameful of all is the 15th/17th corridor, which I had to look at twice to convince myself that it wasn't the super narrow 7th hole, but in fact the 17th on the left. Look how narrow those landing corridors are.
...because the LPGA releases their banned substances list. Annika comments:
``I'm not very familiar with any of those substances, and I don't really know what they are other than caffeine (which is not banned) and cocaine, I think,'' she said. ``I have a lot of learning to do. But I think it's an important statement that we're making.
``It's a new era for the LPGA,'' Sorenstam said. ``We're standing behind it.''
Golfobserver.com's Lorne Rubenstein, quoting Gary Player talking on Tiger Woods:
"I've seen him do a few things, and it's frightening," Player answered. "Tiger Woods is a phenomenon. He's a phenomenon in the gym. I'll tell you what I saw him do. I was in Dubai five days ago and he was playing in the afternoon. I was over there designing golf courses. I was in the gym. I turned around and he had two 25 pound weights." Player then went into some sort of pantomime while trying to show exactly what Woods was doing with the weights. It wasn't so much the weight Woods was lifting, because 25 pounds aren't much. It was more what he was doing with them, and, Player said, that he was working with them before playing that afternoon. "This is his warmup," Player said. His point was that Woods was being an animal in the gym before he would play a competitive round, and that he had no problem preparing that way. He was fit enough to handle the stress on his body."
April Fool's Day came early this year?
Here I thought reader Tuco was playing an elaborate hoax until I found the link. And no, it's not from The Onion.
Craig Copetas writing for Bloomberg News:
March 22 (Bloomberg) -- It's a soft 3-iron shot between miracles along the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus of Nazareth walked on water and New York-based Americas Partners LLP General Partner Joseph Bernstein is spending $46 million to build the first 36-hole championship golf course in Israel.
``This is God's proving ground and the most exciting deal I've done in my life,'' Bernstein says of the Galilee Golf Club seaside course atop Mount Arbel. Construction begins after the holy days of Passover and Easter, with celebrated golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. sculpting fairways from the ``green pastures'' that inspired the Jewish King David to compose the 23rd Psalm and where the multitudes gathered beneath myrtle trees to hear the Christian savior deliver his Sermon on the Mount.
``It took 10 years to get the Israeli government to approve the deal,'' says Bernstein, whose past real-estate developments include the Crown Building and Americas Tower in Manhattan. ``The project is unique,'' the 58-year-old attorney adds. ``It's like building a golf course on Mount Rushmore, and that doesn't get close to the historical significance of Mount Arbel.''
For Israel, the significance of a championship course with the cachet to lure marquee players such as Tiger Woods, stage professional tour events and host affluent corporate golf outings flows even deeper.
``Mount Arbel is the symbol for the booming Israeli economy,'' Bernstein says. ``The Galilee Golf Club is a leitmotif for a country that has rid itself of isolation to become part of the global economy.''
Leitmotif? Like coterminous and indices, I had to look that one up.
Although Hebrew University Professor Robert Aumann, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics, politely suggests the God of Abraham might prefer a less secular tour guide for the Jewish state, Bernstein is right. International investors in 2006 pumped a record $23 billion into Israel, fueling economic growth by 5.1 percent and pushing unemployment down to a 10- year low in the fourth quarter.
Israel's central bank says foreigners purchased $1.4 billion of property last year and $262 million in the first two months of 2007, and that consumer spending rose 4.8 percent in 2006.
``Our economy certainly works best when everybody is looking out for themselves, but there are two big dangers,'' Aumann says while playing with his grandson in Jerusalem. ``Israel simply being physically wiped out is the first.
Such a minor detail. Why quibble?
The second is the lost character of the Jewish state. Idealism created the state, it's what we strive for, what makes us unique in the Western world. Yet the survival of Israel is paramount.''
Therefore, build a golf course!?
On July 4, 1187, near the site of the Galilee Golf Club pro shop, Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt, Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia, crushed the Crusader army dispatched to recapture the Holy Land. Today, Saladin's decisive victory at the Battle of Hattin arouses al-Qaeda, Fatah al-Islam and other jihad groups such as the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades to adulate his name and venerate Mount Arbel's soil.
Bathed in the angst and delirium of fanatics, the ancient battleground is a main terrorist target for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his satraps in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon. During Israel's 33-day war against Lebanon last summer, Iranian-funded Hezbollah terrorists to the north pocked what the Galilee Golf Club prospectus describes as ``a cozy citadel in the Promised Land'' with 20 Katyusha rockets.``We'll convert their craters into bunkers,'' says Moshe Shapira, Bernstein's partner in the venture and general manager of Israel by the Sea Resort & Club, a sprawling estate of luxury golf villas and spa residences coordinated by Ritz- Carlton hotel chain co-founder Horst Schulze and scheduled to open in early 2009 alongside the first 18 holes.
Where can I book this now?
The club will accommodate 1,500 full-time and 100 founding members, including former New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams. Memberships range from $37,500 to $150,000, and Shapira says he isn't having trouble finding takers.
``I'm more concerned about what the government intends to do about a peace agreement with the Palestinians and continue Israel's economic growth into the future,'' Shapira says after whistling past the graveyard that doglegs left off a wheat field earmarked to become the 18th fairway.``Israel must be a country that welcomes everybody's business -- Jews, Muslims, Christians -- and I want all of them to come to Mount Arbel for golf before visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem.''
Remember, 9 days until April Fool's.
``Jews now don't any longer know why they are here in Israel,'' the 76-year-old Aumann frets. ``What people want is a golf course. They pursue this and don't want to join the army and be bothered with all the conflicts. This is not a good thing.''
Says Bernstein: ``Nowadays, all young Israelis want to be Bill Gates. They have a mad sense of needing to achieve. It's not about money and the old stereotypes.''
The "IMG World Congress of Sports" included a Wednesday panel gathering that featured USGA CMO Barry Hyde,
The Golf Channel's GOLF CHANNEL's Dave Manougian, Golf World's Geoff Russell and the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw. Oh, IMG's Mark Steinberg was also listed as a participant at The Pierre, but he's not included in this snippet of topics, intros and highlights (we've been mercifully spared the full transcript.) Instead a suit from FedEx named Bill Margaritas filled in (no, this is not an excerpt from Dan Jenkins' next novel).
Anyway, brace yourselves. Lots of product and growth references in "Growing The Business of Golf in the Years Ahead."
The issue: What is the state of golf?
The skinny: In an audience poll on the health of golf, only 14 percent said golf is healthier now than it ever has been; 28 percent said it was healthier than in 2000. Votaw: “All indices (prize money, sponsorship, TV partnerships) are up.”
Russell: “I half agree with what Ty said. The business of golf is pretty healthy, but it’s always a challenge to keep it going. That success is going to be hard to maintain.”
Most panelists agreed that fan interest in the game is up. Manougian: “We think the sport’s in great shape.” Russell: “It is for you, you’ve got the (cable) contract now.”
You know these writer types Dave, always ready with a pithy comeback to taint the brand.
Manougian later added, “We must take the necessary steps to becoming a true, fan-friendly sport.”
Margaritas expressed excitement about the changing demographics of fans and top players in regards to sex, nationalily and diversity.
Top players are changing sex? I mean, I know about Mianne Bagger, but who else?
Greatest hit: Votaw: “I’m not sure it’s healhier than ever, but I think it’s certainly healthier than it was in 2000.”
In 2000, did they have to scramble to find sponsors and fill spots on the schedule to replace tournaments that died? Help me, my memory is just not what it used to be.
The issue: Tiger Woods’ effect on the PGA Tour.
The skinny: Russell: “If you’re a sponsor of a PGA Tour event and you look down the road and you know you’re not going to get Tiger Woods you’ve got a real marketing problem. You’ve got to come up with another way to make your tournament interesting.”
Votaw grimaced during some of Russell’s comments, then said, “There are a lot of dymanics about whether sponsors sign with tournaments, and that’s beyond Tiger.”
Ah, the MBA's answer to squirming out of a tricky topic: dynamics. There are many dynamics involved and all you idiots just don't understand them!
The issue: Measuring the success of the new FedEx Cup playoff format.
The skinny: Margaritas: “I think its going to be good with or without Tiger. It’s going to cast the spotlight on some other players.”
Are we already conceding that Tiger is not going to be a full time participant in the playoffs?
Russell: “I’m waiting for Tiger Woods to say, ‘This is fantastic, I’ll be at all four events and I can’t wait to win the FedEx Cup.’ I don’t remember him saying that.”
Votaw: “You’ll see some interesting creative in that regard in the next several weeks.”
Some interesting creative. Oh goodie, more lame PSA's!
Russell: “I think when we do it once it will be interesting. But if Tiger doesn’t play then you’ve got a problem.”
Votaw: “If he does play every event are you going to write what an unqualified success it is?”
Russell: “You’ll probably see more positive words about it than if he didn’t show up.”An audience poll found 45 percent of believe some top players won’t play more events this season.
Manougian: “When we get into the playoffs I don’t think there’s any question there will be more excitement about (those events) than ever before. People will debate the degree of success.”
Greatest hit: Russell: “For this thing to work you have to have those top players play.”
Glad we settled that.
The issue: The Tour as a TV product.
The skinny: Votaw addressed the type of the demographics of viewers watching Tour telecasts, saying, “I think you can say old is unnattractive, but you can say rich is very attractive. …The afflueunce, educational and income levels and executive levels make golf very attractive. We wouldn’t be fully sponsored or have the number of broadcast hours.”
And why is it again that you are consumed with youth and pandering to the 18-34 year olds?
Hyde said, “When you’re talking to media buyers they’re saying they love golf because it’s the corporate office plus the high end consumer audience.”Votaw said of the new cable TV deal with Golf Channel, “We’re not going to making short-term assessments or adjustments based on what’s a long-term deal. That’s why we made a 15-year deal.”
Oh that makes sense. A 15-year experiment to see how it works.
The issue: Michelle Wie’s future in golf.
The skinny: An audience poll found 67 percent believe Wie should no longer play in men’s events. Most panelists agreed that she needs to find success on the LGPA [sp.] before attempting to cross over.
Russell said, “Being in the business of covering her, I don’t think it’s in her or our best interests when she doesn’t play well. It’s tough not to start to get jaded as a journalist to watch her withdraw from tournaments. … We’re in the business of being critical of people when they play like that.” Votaw said, “If that happens and you continue to be critical of her, the marketplace will catch up to that at some point and it will no longer be a compelling situation to have her in the field. The market will ultimately determine whether or not she should or should not play on the PGA Tour.”
Ah those market forces. And here I thought it was a matter of her breaking par.
And believe it or not there was one good suggestion on the panel.
Panelists where asked what they would do as LPGA or PGA Tour commissioner for a day.
Hyde said, “Create more difference week to week. Some alternative formats and work hard at creating a personality for every tournament.”
You see Barry, alternative formats require thought and for players to adapt. Same with varied course setups. Very dangerous ground we'd be on here. You risk engaging platforms that are very complicated like the Stableford scoring or match play. That distinct variety impacts the indices and delivers too many dynamics that might engender consumer confusion.
Manougian said, “Making the brand relevant to Gen Y.”And on that note...
Greatest hit: Votaw said, “There’s no upside for me to answer that question, really.”
This really just sums it all up so beautifully.
Paul Azinger, as quoted by Tim Rosaforte in this week's Golf World (no link):
"I don't have a problem with [converting the holes], but it's more of a Band-Aid, really," said Paul Azinger. "The manufacturers have outsmarted the rules of the game and we don't have a commissioner in place who plays golf, so he has not clue what to do. It's just a shame that it's come to that."
I'll be setting up a Paypal option for those of you who'd like to help Paul pay the inevitable fine for this brilliance.
This landed in my email box today and appeared just as you see it below. Captions please...
March 21, 2007
Norb Gambuzza Named VP-Business Development
at PGA TOUR’s New York Office
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – Norb Gambuzza, a 15-year veteran in integrated marketing, media and sales, will join the PGA TOUR’s New York office as Vice President, Business Development and General Manager, effective March 26.
Gambuzza will be responsible for developing media and sponsorship relationships, with a particular focus on working with the TOUR’s network television partners, CBS, NBC and GOLF CHANNEL, to generate integrated advertising programs. He will report to Jon Podany, the TOUR’s Senior Vice President, Business Development.
“We are very pleased to have Norb join our business development team in the important role of leading our New York office,” Podany said. “Norb brings a diverse background with proven results in integrated media sales and sports marketing/sponsorship, and has a strong knowledge of the golf industry. We believe he will be a great representative of the PGA TOUR in New York.”
Gambuzza comes to the PGA TOUR after holding senior positions for the past five years with Golf Digest Publications in integrated marketing and events/sports marketing. Prior to that, he was with Fusient Media Ventures, where he was instrumental in developing the business plan for College Sports Television, as well as other consulting projects, including work with the TOUR and USA Network.
Gambuzza also has served as the Director of Sports Marketing at Sports Illustrated and held marketing and sales roles at ProServ Inc. and National Media Group.
“The portfolio of PGA TOUR media and marketing assets has never been stronger,” Gambuzza noted. “I look forward to representing the TOUR in New York and see great opportunity in putting those assets to work on behalf of marketers.”
The PGA TOUR office opened during the summer of 2004 with the purpose of establishing a New York City presence and enhancing the TOUR’s business development area, particularly in regard to integrated advertising sales to support its network partners. The office contact is Megan St. Germaine at 212-752-8687.
About the PGA TOUR
The PGA TOUR is a tax-exempt membership organization of professional golfers. Its primary purpose is to provide competitive earnings opportunities for past, current and future members of the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour; to protect the integrity of the game; and to help grow the reach of the game in the U.S. and around the world.
In 2007, the three Tours will compete in approximately 110 events for approximately $340 million in prize money. Tournaments are being held in six countries outside the U.S. and in 36 states.
In addition to providing competitive opportunities for its membership, TOUR events also generate significant funds for local charities. In fact, the three Tours have surpassed the $1 billion mark in overall charitable contributions. The PGA TOUR's web site address is www.pgatour.com and the company is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.
Note that the PGA.com version of the AP notes column omits this anti-corporate, anti-brand equity story all together. Touching to see the PGA of America looking out for their good, good friends in Ponte Vedra.