I should never comment on a Tim Finchem press conference after sweating away five pounds while trying not to step on a snake in otherwise lovely land for golf, so I slept on his annual season-ending "state of the Tour" gabfest just to see if the buckets of nonsense I read were in fact uttered by the Commissioner.
Oh and for those of you who took the tri-fecta bet on buzzwords du jour value-equity-product, we got all about the equity dropping, several marketplaces and lots of value. Better luck next time!
Here is the Commish on the FedEx Cup, which a reader tells me Scott Van Pelt called the ForcedFedExCup or some such thing on last tonight's Sportscenter:
But in terms of evaluating it, we continue to look at what we set out to do, and that was to strengthen this period of the season, be able to carry the television audience into the football season to some extent, create more value for the players, create more excitement for the fans, and continue to grow the tournaments that are involved in this part of the season, including, of course, the playoff events.
Creating value for the players, so you know what that means...
In every aspect, we think, even though we have one more week to go, a full four days of competition, that it's been a very, very successful run, and we're very pleased with the impact. We're pleased with the steady growth of fan interest during the course of the year. We're delighted with the value that has been generated for sponsors. The tournaments that have been conducted thus far have significantly been elevated in terms of their charitable impact, their sales in the marketplace. We've had big crowds.
At some places.
Great that they are creating value for everyone, and yet it's non-profit, it's to give back. Amen brother.
And thankfully, we now know sponsors don't look at ratings...
We estimate that 25 to 27 million households tuned in during the course of the week last week at some point. I think everybody concentrates on the ratings except our sponsors. Our sponsors look at total viewership. That's what they invest in. That's what they want to know, how many households are focused during the course of many, many hours of coverage -- not that many households sit there and watch television for four hours on a Sunday afternoon. We're pleased with the overall rating, we're pleased with the overall household reach.
On to the topic of fixing the FedEx Cup, a metaphor I would not have chosen for a bucket full of reasons.
If you were to ask me, as you have, what are you thinking about doing, I sort of categorize it in three buckets.
Yes, buckets. MBA's out there, please help. Do they really teach this one or is this something the Commish came up on his own?
One bucket would be those things that relate to making the system itself as compelling as it can be. And by that I mean a system that people can understand, a system that players relate to well, the fans comprehend and look at, things we've seen on television the last few weeks or scenarios of what could happen versus the history, and a system that the media enjoys reporting upon and can report upon reasonably well given the limitations that the media has, whether it be written or electronic or the space that the producer on television is going to give you to talk about the system.
Well that was a bucket full of...sorry, go on.
The second bucket is really a question of the basic schedule. Does the schedule work for the fans, does it work for the TOUR as a whole, does it work for the players. And there are some challenges with the schedule. You know, I think that it's worked well. Obviously virtually all the players have supported it. However, as we go into the -- we do the schedules on a four- or six-year basis, we have to evaluate the extent to which it impacts the events before and after to some extent and whether we can command strong player support and something that the fans can follow easily.
So by that I guess I'm saying that if we had more space in a couple of the years coming up, it would be helpful. Whether we can achieve the space and make some changes, I don't know.
Uh, there is our first admission that the current schedule is flawed.
I don't think it's critical to the future of the Cup if we don't. But it would be better in some instances in some years if we did, and we'll be looking at that.
The third thing is
...bucket Tim, bucket...
I think areas that relate to enthusiasm that players feel for the competitions, particularly the Playoffs. I think you don't have to go in farther than the quality of play to conclude how the players have mentally prepared for this competition of the Playoffs and executed it, it's been phenomenal.
So as we see these emails come in and blogs from the fans suggesting this,
I'm beginning to think he just says blogs because either he does not know what they are or it makes him sound hip to pop culture. Or both.
that and the other, some of them are crazy, some of them are too smart, some of them make a lot of sense, we have determined that starting at the first of the year or as soon as we can execute it, we are going to create a place on pgatour.com where fans can go and speak openly of their attitudes about anything with respect to the TOUR.
Because the army of VP's don't have enough things to check on their Blackberry already.
If they're in the Playoffs and they want to go on and do blogs and say this is the dumbest thing I've ever seen, they can do that, it will be on our site.
So we can take it down!
If they want to make suggestions, they can do that. If they want to applaud Brandt Snedeker for doing a good interview with some of the media, they can do that.
Yeah, fans are going to rush to their computers to send those well-wishes.
It's going to be wide open. The only thing we'll edit on this portion of our site is we might edit for obscenities or things we don't want young fans to look at or something like that.
Protecting the children. Always smart.
But the product and the content of what fans can post is going to be unabridged. It'll be an interesting step.
We really have enjoyed the repartee of arguing amongst ourselves, with the players, with media and now fans about elements of this process. We think it's a healthy thing and we want to encourage it going forward, so we're going to take that step next year.
Wow, freedom lovers finally embracing freedom. Moves me to tears I tell ya.
Fans, when Phil and Ernie missed Boston, some fans felt that -- some of the emails we got, blogs, that a player can't get into the Playoffs and take a week off, that's not right.
They got blogs!
They're pretty intrigued with a system that would create a scenario where Phil would come back in and have a chance of winning. It's not like he jeopardized the Cup because here he is trying to win and doing everything he can to win and going about it in his own way, which is kind of what a player does in our system at the start of the year.
Q. Several of the players have said this year they felt like it was a conscious effort by the TOUR to make the courses tougher, to make the conditions tougher. I'm wondering, is that something at the beginning of this year or the end of last year you and Harry and Mark and whoever is involved, is that something you wanted to do or has that been an evolutionary thing? The second part of that is, do you think fans would rather see more low scores or do you think fans enjoy seeing guys winning with 3-under par like Akron where Tiger is the only guy under par?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think fundamentally fans want to see close competition, preferably with several guys in it. I think those two things, if you have that -- in Boston you had four guys in it and you had close competition. I don't think it's really important how many birdies or pars or bogeys, just close competition, I think that's the fundamental.
Well, high rough and narrow fairways will give you close competition. Not interesting, but close.
Now, at certain stages of the golf course, I've always said in my view that Augusta National is the greatest stage for the game and the best for television because the risk-reward element is prevalent throughout the back nine and you see birdies, eagles, bogeys and double bogeys, and that's nirvana if you're a fan. Not all golf courses are set up that way, but to say you should move from last year's winner won at 14-under, and we want single digits, we don't have that philosophy. We don't adhere to that.
That's more like it!
On the other hand, we try to set the golf courses up to challenge players and make them make shots, and that's resulted in the last six or seven years tighter pins, players play with the square grooves and they can come at the pin from just about anywhere. Our scoring has not gone up. Our scoring has not gone up, and we've got much tighter pins.
Oh boy...the grooves. It's the grooves. That's why they can go at those tucked pins! Not those 340 yard drives putting a wedge in their hand. Good news Far Hills, Tim's in.