Lesson #1 from today's State of the Tour press conference? Leave the joke telling to Jackie Burke.
Deafening silence from the assembled inkslingers. We continue...
COMM. TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Bob. We're delighted to be at this venue. The word "venue" reminds me of when we went to Champions in Houston and Jackie Burke took me aside and said, we're delighted to have you here, this is about ten years ago, and your people have sent me this contract to play here. You used this word "venue." I want you to know when I played on the PGA TOUR we played on the golf course and I don't know what a venue is, but we're going to play some golf this week.
This morning rather than recap the year, I think all of you have done a good job recapping the year as we've gone through the year. We had a great year and have had a great year...We spent most of the year focusing on the future. And as we look at the future, we look at we reevaluate ourselves. For the past year or two, we've asked ourselves where are we and where should we be headed.
Okay Yogi, are you cutting tournaments or not?
We're not going to talk about the details of our schedule today, but when we do announce it after television I think you'll look at it and see that it's stronger, it has a better flow, we have better golf courses, better sponsor groups, et cetera, to make a good schedule.
Oh good, better courses means Bellerive and Hazeltine. Can't wait. So for all of the betterness, things aren't so bad today, right?
In terms of the business side of the equation, our sponsorship today is by far the strongest it's ever been. We have the strongest collection of sponsors on the PGA TOUR, we have the strongest collection of marketing partners, and the number of marketing partners we have, that's tripled in the last five or six years from 18 to 54. And we have a good group of marketing partners.
I think we have our key word of the day...marketing partners. Or is it strongest? What is a marketing partner anyway? Forget it. What about the Players Championship? Excuse me, THE PLAYERS Championship.
And then with respect to our tournaments themselves, starting with THE PLAYERS Championship, we will rebuild the infrastructure for THE PLAYERS Championship and changes the marketing approach for that tournament. We will bring and heighten the impact of our tournaments across the board going forward after 2005. So all that is in play.
And the way to do that?
...there is one pressing need, we think, to help us compete, and that is the need to define our season. You may remember 20 years ago almost now, this tournament started. And the reason it was started was to deal with the challenge of defining a season for our fans. We have a long season, a very long season. And in that season are tournaments which are week in and week out much more impactful than some other weeks.
(Note to the Commissioner: impactful gets a big nasty red line underneath it from MS Word).
Here's a little 135 sentence that I bet you can't read without rolling your eyes:
We think it's a system that will relate well to fan interest in trying to bring to those 112 million fans something they can focus on week in and week out, something that will create more value for our sponsors, something that will create more compelling television for our television partners, something that will create more excitement for our players, more opportunities for our players to be involved in something meaningful each week, and obviously more financial benefits to our players, and also something that we think will help us drive toward that second billion because we now have announced the commitment to get to the second billion so working with our tournament structure to really build the strength of our charitable giving back is fundamental to everything we do, including a year long competition.
Isn't it something that allows us to catch our breath after this first Drive to a Billion before we plug the daylights out of the Second Drive to a Billion?
As for the newly announced FedEx Cup points race:
Let me now turn to the FedEx competition, the FedEx Cup, and talk a little bit about the details. I want you to know that the details at this point stop at a certain point because a lot of the detail is not going to be worked out until 2006, and when that detail is worked out, we will have another visit where we lay out the promotional schedule and promotional themes of the Cup and our relationship with FedEx and how that's going to work, how the point system is going to work and things of that nature.
I know fans are on the edge of their seat about that promotional schedule and promotional theme concept, but here's where the details stop:
Players will compete for position on a points list starting the first week in January and going through late August. There will be a point where that portion of the competition stops, players will then be seeded for a four week championship series. The four week championship series will culminate here at the TOUR Championship presented by Coca Cola, but the first three weeks of that four week series will be at other tournaments around the country.
What these seedings actually mean remains a mystery.
One, the players need to play to position themselves in a seeding position for the championship series, and the championship series will then be structured on points, which will be the most impactful series of events in the history of the sport.
There's that impactful stuff again. Here's where it gets confusing:
After the TOUR Championship, you can think of the fall series a number of different ways. One of the ways is that actually what players are doing is playing to position themselves to be in the Cup the following year. But in addition to that there will be overall eligibility on the PGA TOUR, securing a card, possibly a continuation of the Top 70 for certain events.
So in the fall they'll be playing to keep their cards and position themselves for the following year's Cup (really original name idea there by the way, Cup...I wonder where that came from?). Later on someone asked for clarification on this and I'm not sure they got the answer they hoped for.
Okay, warning, MBAspeak answer of the day:
There are a number of benefits strategically to the stronger season. First of all, we think every one of our events is going to be strengthened. We think players are going to be motivated and incentivized to actually play more. Our television we think is going to be not only more impactful but more balanced because we'll have a better number of huge profile events at the end of the season which can tie to our different television packages. We think overall field strength will be supported, as well, and we think fan interest and some of the other things we're going to do, different platforms, can bring fans to be related to FedEx Cup competition during the course of the year.
Incentivise, impactful, strength, strengthened and of course, platform. Great stuff.
He opened it up to questions from there, which will be looked at in a later post. Oh, and they also presented Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Olin Browne to confirm how great everything is, even though they didn't get to see a schedule either.