Michael Garten is out as the executive director of the WGC Match Play and Greg Hansen explains the factors that led to a change.
A tepid Southern Arizona economy took a bite out of Match Play's second season. Ticket sales were off by about 8,000 from the 2007 inaugural event. That's roughly $1 million in revenue shortfall. In addition, corporate sales didn't match '07 totals. That should have been predictable and unavoidable.
Moreover, the novelty had faded. Many potential ticket buyers were scared off by reports that The Gallery Golf Club's hilly South Course was decidedly not friendly to spectators. Unlike 2007, this year's tournament was not a five-day sellout.
Some first-year sponsors, such as now-defunct First Magnus, which spent about $100,000 as a Match Play booster, didn't return. The six-figure financial involvement of home-building giant KB Home also diminished greatly. And so on.
The irony is that interest in the WGC event has skyrocketed since it moved from La Costa, Calif., where it was staged for seven years, some of them with fewer than 3,000 fans on the course. This year's TV ratings established records for the Golf Channel (the Tiger Woods factor).
"The event really found a new life in the Southern Arizona market," said Garten. "Our brand equity has solid footing. The future is promising."
I'm wondering, who actually decides when you have brand equity? Is it the brand equity fairy? The Grand Master of brand equity?