The European Tour’s Race To Dubai finished on a sour note, as Golfweek’s Alistair Tait notes in pointing out the defections of name players like Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Rafa Cabrera Bello. Each player gave up a sizable bonus check by not playing.
If the absence of star players sat heavily on Pelley’s mind, he didn’t show it in Dubai. The bespectacled Canadian may be diminutive in stature, but he’s got that hockey player’s mentality of never backing down from a scrap.
“Our two critical KPIs [key performance indicators] are playing opportunity and prize funds,” Pelley said. “The 100th-ranked player in 2016 made €275,000. This year, they are going to make over €400,000.
“This year on the schedule, I think there are 4,382 playing opportunities, which is a little up from last year but it’s five or six hundred more playing opportunities than a couple of years ago. As a members’ organization, that’s key, providing opportunities for people. We’re thrilled with the media value and we’re thrilled with what the Rolex Series has brought to the tour.”
Rolex might think otherwise. The luxury watch company probably couldn’t care less about the 100th ranked player. Star players skipping lucrative events isn’t what they signed up for.
This is ultimately the struggle of all tours: providing playing opportunities versus what is the best “product” to put forward.
Right now, the Race To Dubai is a bonus system not even able to give out bonuses when players take a pass.
On Morning Drive we discussed the struggles of all tours to find an entertaining middle ground between rewarding season-long play and a fun concluding event.