The Commish popped in the Transitions press room Wednesday and was asked some pretty good questions in between the really timely ones about his AT&T National Pro-Am appearance. Steve Elling offers a shorter and decidedly less snarky version of the session for those of needing less snark in their life. For the rest of you...
Q. Have you been keeping track of whether players have been adding tournaments or not after your off-season pitch to maybe have them visit a couple of locales that they had not done historically? I think one of the magazines tracked it after the California swing. It's been kind of about the same.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: There's been some movement. I think from time to time, we'll highlight a tournament that we would like to see more focus on. There's certainly been some movement among players.
But I mean, what we said to the players was, look, we just need to execute on all cylinders this year in terms of fan relationships, media access, playing, as well, among a number of things.
You guys can go back to being petulant when the Dow hits 12,000.
I've said this before; year-in, year-out they do an excellent job, and that's why we are successful because of what they do. This is just making sure we are not missing any opportunities. It's not asking them to do some quantum leap off of what they normally do. It's asking them to make sure we are focused and make sure we are executing. I do think we have had a more active interface on them with doing stuff.
Wasn't it Arnold Palmer who once said, if you don't have active interface, you have don't a PGA Tour?
Let's get to uncomfortable question...
Q. What did you think of Stenson last week?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You know, it wouldn't be my favorite thing to see a player do. I understand the position he was in without any rain gear or anything. So I would hope that there's no recurrence of it.
But the overall reaction seemed to be sort of ho-hum from fans. We didn't get any e-mails screaming that he had done something immoral or anything.
So it just seemed to be a funny, one-off thing. He's a charming fellow. I did get a kick out of, I guess his wife asked him not to do it again, on 18, which I thought was sound advice.
Oh yes, he's getting fined next time he undresses for the cameras.
Q. You talk about players who quote unquote, get it, and I know it's not a PGA TOUR event, but the Tavistock Cup, guys flying in on helicopter across town. It's quite a display of conspicuous consumption, shall we say. Does it concern you at all how that reflects on the TOUR brand in these conditions?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I didn't get any e-mails on that, either. I don't know how to respond to that question.
See, look how polished his answers are getting on the most important matter facing the tour.
I think that we've been through this discussion recently about client and customer interface and customers coming to a golf tournament and customers being entertained. And the rhetoric around that discussion is so over the top right now because of the climate and because people are angry and everything gets rolled into one thing.
I think it's very unfortunate. It's been distortive. So you know, at some point, I think we have to understand that it's good for the economy for people to spend money, regardless of what they spend it on. I would rather have people with a lot of money spend it right now than sit on it, because however they spend it is going to help the economy.
Their accountants might not agree.
I just don't think we should figure out ways to make what is legitimate -- there's always a subjective reaction to anything by people; ten people will have a different reaction. But if everything is based on the de minimus;
You know during 8th grade Latin I was far more interested in watching Gary Coleman (still a working actor then), pull a head bouncing sleep thing that no description could ever capture. That's my excuse for not being able to offer you an on-the-spot translation. Well, thank God for Wikipedia: de minimus.
if there is anybody that would react negatively and let's don't do it, that's not good for anything. And so I don't want to characterize anybody's activities in any one way, because I don't think it really means anything in the final analysis.
That answer about covers de mininus.
Q. With all of the noise after Northern Trust, and obviously you had some discussions with people in Washington over some of the perceptions, do you strategize at all or even discuss anything like this with your counterparts in the NBA, NFL, LPGA?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Sure, certainly with the LPGA. They are more of a title-sponsor focused kind of organization.
The team sports are in a very different situation. Their platform is different. The focus there is on sponsorship is very different. But we talk to the other sports during the course of the year about a lot of stuff.
I think, again, there has been recently this focus on one little piece of one part of the value proposition. And I can't say it too many times. A title sponsor sponsors a tournament because he gets the best or they get the best branding in sports.
There is no television branding that beats the branding that the PGA TOUR offers, period.
Even something that draws more than a 1.0? Sorry, let's get back to platforms...
Secondly, they get advertising across the platform, and on that platform, they are reaching the strongest fan base mix from an indexing standpoint in certain segments of the marketplace that are difficult to reach, index high in news and PGA TOUR golf, we rank very high in those audiences and are appealing to companies that want to sponsor.
There apparently was no thirdly...
Fourthly they get global exposure, and fifthly, they get a unique business platform to do business -to-business work at tournaments. So this is one of those five value streams, and a piece of it is entertainment, just a little piece. And as I've said to members of Congress and publically, in 20 years of being involved with this business, I have never seen anything that I personally, and that's a very subjective analysis, would look at and say, that's lavish entertainment.
Now, people can differ subjectively on whether Sheryl Crow is lavish or not. I mean, if I got up and sang at the dinner, I don't think anybody would accuse that of being lavish entertainment. And there's everything in between.
Well, you are better paid than Sheryl Crow, so someone might think it was over the top. And if you broke out a cane and top hat, I think that definitely would fall under the lavish description.
But unfortunately what's happened is, and I think companies are sensitive of the entertainment question today, but what happens is the rhetoric spills way beyond that. The rhetoric talks about sponsorship and the rhetoric talks about putting customers up, and ignores the value to companies that legitimate customer relations and developing relations with customers provides to a company.
That's what we have to push back against.
You mean the suffocating business jargon that most of America attributes to Wall Street? Or the stuff you mentioned that's really just an excuse to have a good time?