Life Under Par: PGA Tour Issues Take Down Threat To Funnyman Instagram Influencer Bob Menery

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 6.32.30 PM.png

I’m at a loss to understand why a Matthew Wolff winning putt put into the Menery mode was worthy of a takedown notice, but the under-par living Instagram influencer was ordered to take down his exuberant post.

He’s already posted a replacement thanks to an under-par living spectator.

Gary Trock presents the almost-full story of Menery and the takedown message his received via Twitter.

He was shocked Monday when the golf organization sent him a direct message that read, "We will issue a takedown on this video by this evening if we don't hear back from you."

The video in question had to do with pro golfer Matthew Wolff sinking a 26-foot eagle putt to win the 3M Open tournament last weekend.

Menery thinks the PGA may not appreciate his use of comedic vulgarity in his videos, but believes the "world is shifting" and people just want an outlet to laugh, which he provides.

He also points out that he does not monetize any of his videos from the PGA, and believes he played a big part in getting "kids to be interested in the game of golf."

Surely there is more to the story from the Tour’s perspective—maybe player or broadcast partner complaints—but that part of this story is uncertain. But what is certain? The idea of Living Under Par, the Tour’s silly slogan cooked up by marketing executives seeking authenticity and younger audiences, has never sounded more insincere.

Will AT&T's Debt Slashing Ways Preclude A Lucrative PGA Tour Bid?

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 10.29.06 PM.png

That’s the question on some minds as the PGA Tour nears the end of its current television contracts in 2021 and looks to potentially line up suitors for both broadcast and cable rights.

AT&T, with golf-loving CEO Randall Stephenson, who also sits on the PGA Tour Policy Board, is believed to have an interest in a major investment, even potentially turning a current channel acquired from Time Warner into a standalone sports or golf network.

But Nabila Ahmed, Eben Novy-Williams and Scott Moritz write for Bloomberg, a sale of its regional sports networks appears all about reducing debt after $180 billion in acquisitions of DirecTV and Time Warner.

A sale of the regional sports networks -- known as must-see content for avid fans -- highlights AT&T’s ongoing struggle to fix a debt-heavy balance sheet. The company, which has to spend money on a number of priorities, including an expansion of its 5G wireless network, has been financially handcuffed after amassing more than $180 billion in debt with the acquisitions of DirecTV and Time Warner Inc.

Despite a steady decline in TV subscribers, AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson has said the company’s top priority this year is to reduce debt. As part of that plan, he has been raising cash by selling holdings, including its stake in Hulu and its New York offices. The two deals fetched $3.6 billion in proceeds.

Garrigus: PGA Tour Should Remove Marijuana From Banned Substance List

After serving a three-month ban after going over the limit in his medical marijuana use, Robert Garrigus tells Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that the PGA Tour should consider removing marijuana from its banned substance list because it “doesn’t help you get the ball in the hole.”

Worth listening to if you have an interest in the Tour’s drug policy or the debate over what helps a player and what does not.

PVB VP's Wonder What Will Become Of Their BWM Leases: BMW Wrapping Up PGA Tour Playoff Sponsorship

Screen Shot 2019-06-25 at 8.30.56 PM.png

Teddy Greenstein says BMW is shifting its U.S. golf spending from the PGA Tour’s old Western Open to the 2020 Ryder Cup, undoubtedly at a much lower cost than they’ve paid as sponsor of the FedExCup’s second playoff event.

From Greenstein’s story quoting several saying they were very confident a replacement will be found, But at this price, the list of options has to be getting short:

“Golf remains an important global platform for BMW,” said Tim Rittenhouse, experiential marketing manager of BMW of North America.

Industry sources put the annual cost of title sponsorship of a FedEx Cup playoff event at $16 million to $18 million, and a new partner — or partners — could be announced soon.

“We are in active discussions with several companies,” said Vince Pellegrino, senior vice president of the WGA, “and are very confident we’ll have a long-term agreement in place starting in 2020.”

This year’s event will be played at Medinah, while next year’s edition heads to Olympia Fields.

And don’t forget the event will now be played two weeks after the Wyndham Rewards has been decided, so fans may yet be over that excitement.

LPGA's Whan Still Yearning To Get His Tour More Broadcast Network Airtime

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 10.10.13 PM.png

Intriguing stance by Commish Mike Whan’s in believing network television is still the place to get more notoriety and purse growth for the LPGA Tour. From Beth Ann Nichols’ Golfweek story posted after Whan discussed the close on a two-year Golf Channel extension and the PGA Tour’s involvement in handling negotiations:

Whan points to current No. 1 Jin Young Ko as a prime example.

“If you gave me 39 weekends a year, I promise you I could make you love Jin Young Ko,” said Whan. “You’re going to get to know her story and swing. You see her five times a year, she’s just a name I can’t pronounce. That’s a shame. If you give me 39 weeks there’s a lot of guys on the PGA Tour I wouldn’t care about.… When they become people you know, you want to watch them.”

However, as the Nichols story points out, the U.S. Women’s Open on Fox was outdrawn by NBC network broadcasts of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Diamond Resorts TOC, with strong Golf Channel and promotional tie-ins on other NBC outlets, suggesting that a mere broadcast network presence isn’t enough.

It’s also hard to see a broadcast network taking on the LPGA Tour at the PGA Tour’s negotiating insistence when even PGA Tour events do not all get broadcast network coverage. Seems obvious who will get priority in negotiations, but stranger things have happened.

From Ben Hogan To The Korn Ferry Tour...

A 24-handicapper follow-through…but he’s got a white belt because that’s what the kids wear!

A 24-handicapper follow-through…but he’s got a white belt because that’s what the kids wear!

There is so much to marvel at in the mid-season naming of Korn Ferry Consulting as the title sponsor of the Web.com Tour.

The firm signed a ten-year deal as Web.com did in 2012, but a new buyer of Web, Siris Capital, clearly wanted out and got their wish. The transition mid-season is showing, as PGATour.com is still sporting the old sponsor’s name.

Screen Shot 2019-06-19 at 9.31.29 PM.png

Anyway, Web.com joins Ben Hogan, Nike, Nationwide and Buy.com as former tour sponsors since the inception in 1989.

The firm specializes in high-priced job searches, and besides widespread social media mocking of the peculiar name and timing, already got its name up-front in a news story by Golf World’s Joel Beall. Impressions!

The lede:

Evan H. Vollerthum, a caddie on the Korn Ferry Tour, was arrested Monday for human trafficking and attempting to sexually exploit a child.

Vollerthum was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Topeka, Kansas, according to an ICE news release. Topeka is about two hours away from this week's Wichita Open.

Jerry, I have Jay Monahan on line one, he’s saying something about a game of cornhole on a ferry. You want me to send it to voicemail?

For Immediate Release:

PGA TOUR announces Korn Ferry as umbrella
sponsor of newly named Korn Ferry Tour

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida – The PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) announced today a 10-year agreement making the Los Angeles-based, global organizational consulting firm the Umbrella Sponsor of the newly named Korn Ferry Tour. 

In replacing Web.com, Korn Ferry’s sponsorship takes effect June 19 and extends through the 2028 season. The Korn Ferry Tour will continue to award PGA TOUR membership to the Tour’s 50 leading players, including the top 25 from the Regular Season points list and the top 25 from the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals points list.

The announcement was made jointly by PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan, Korn Ferry Chief Executive Officer Gary Burnison, and Korn Ferry Tour President Alex Baldwin on Wednesday morning in New York City.

“We welcome Korn Ferry to the PGA TOUR family with today’s announcement,” said Monahan. “Our thanks to Gary Burnison and his team for a partnership that will promote Korn Ferry’s mission of helping people and organizations exceed their potential, collaborating with a Tour that has proven to identify the next generation of PGA TOUR talent over the last 30 years.”

Korn Ferry also becomes a PGA TOUR Official Marketing Partner as the “Official Leadership Development Firm” of the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, and Korn Ferry Tour. Additionally, Korn Ferry will assume sponsorship of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance in Evansville, Indiana – the third and final event in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. 

That’s right, the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

“We’re excited to partner with the PGA TOUR. Our organizations are both all about talent – getting players and people to that next level and advancing their careers. People will never discover their full potential until they are provided an abundance of opportunity. Korn Ferry and the Korn Ferry Tour provide that opportunity,” said Burnison. “This sponsorship will further elevate our brand as a global organizational consultancy and extend awareness of our firm to new audiences around the world.”

No where to go but up!

Korn Ferry develops and coaches 1.2 million people a year, puts someone in a new job every three minutes and has worked with companies to evaluate and assess nearly 70 million professionals. The firm has offices in more than 50 countries and 8,500 employees.

Korn Ferry works with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. The firm helps them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. Korn Ferry also helps professionals at all levels navigate and advance their careers. 

“This is a tremendous day for our organization, and we are eager to work with Gary and his team as we continue to build the Korn Ferry Tour from the strong foundation already in place,” said Baldwin, the first female to be named president of one of the PGA TOUR’s six global Tours earlier this year. “Korn Ferry has an impassioned desire to enhance the careers and brands of our players through this incredibly competitive Tour. This partnership will allow us to further those goals while elevating the Tour and our tournaments for our partners and fans.”

With 50 available PGA TOUR cards for the following season (since 2013), the Korn Ferry Tour is the path to the PGA TOUR. Twenty-five TOUR cards are reserved for the leading points earners at the end of the 24-event Regular Season. Another 25 are up for grabs at the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals that follow the Regular Season in August and September.

During the PGA TOUR’s 2017-18 season, eight players from the Korn Ferry Tour Class of 2017 won titles, including Aaron Wise, whose victory at the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson was the 500th by a former Korn Ferry Tour player – a list which includes 24 major championships and eight PLAYERS Championships, including Gary Woodland’s win on Sunday at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Four players from the Class of 2018 have won on the PGA TOUR this season – Cameron Champ (Sanderson Farms Championship), Adam Long (The Desert Classic), Martin Trainer (Puerto Rico Open) and Max Homa (Wells Fargo Championship).

Other notable PGA TOUR players who got their start on the Korn Ferry Tour include major champions Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson.

The release mentions no dollar figures, but the announcement prompted some to point out stagnant purses on the Korn Ferry Tour.

And then there were the reactions to the name…

And somehow, poor Tiger got dragged into the sell:


Finchem Rakes In $10.6 Million Bonus And Then A Some In First Year Of Retirement

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.59.00 PM.png

Maybe this explains why they’ve got mandatory cost cutting down in Ponte Vedra Beach. Still, even after retiring in 2016, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was well compensated in 2017. Maybe Jay Monahan found some uncashed paychecks in the top drawers and Finchem took them down to the local Suntrust ATM.

My math has him at $18,886,755 in 2017 baesd on this report from Roxanna Scott of Golfweek.

USGA Increases Purses, Including $1 Million To This Week's U.S. Women's Open Champ

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 11.25.01 AM.png

With all the player whining about USGA purses in Golf Digest’s U.S. Open confidential, it’s noteworthy that the U.S. Open’s will both have the largest prize funds in championship golf (the $12.5 million for the men ties the Players). The PGA Championship did not increase its purse this year, sticking with $11 million, while the R&A has not announced an increase to the 2019 Open fund that will already be low with a weakened pound.

On the women’s side, the KPMG LPGA jumped to $3.5 million in 2017 and has seen bumps each year, now sitting at $3.85 million in 2019.

For Immediate Release:

USGA Solidifies Largest Purses Among All Major Championships

Prize money to be raised by $500,000 for 2019 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open

 LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. (May 28, 2019) – The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced that it will increase the purse for both the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and the 74th U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston by $500,000, furthering its commitment to provide competitors with an unmatched championship experience.

The purse for the 2019 U.S. Open will be $12.5 million, making it the largest of all major championships. This year’s U.S. Women’s Open purse will total $5.5 million, positioning it as the largest in women’s golf and ensuring that its champion – provided that she is a professional – will receive $1 million for the first time.

The announcement builds on substantial investments the USGA has made in all of its Open championships. Along with the debut of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open in 2018, which provides the largest purse in senior women’s golf at $1 million, the organization hosts the U.S. Senior Open, which also leads its demographic with $4 million in total prize money.

The USGA also provides a portion of the purse to all professionals who miss the cut at all four Opens. Amateurs in the field, a number that nears 30 in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, receive reimbursement for travel expenses incurred during the championship week.

“The USGA is committed to providing an unparalleled experience to every player competing in its championships,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director, championships. “Through strategic investments in our player relations program, we are continuing the effort to create a competitor experience commensurate with the game’s most prestigious championships, and that includes an increased purse and a continued commitment to make playing in an Open championship unforgettable for the world’s top amateur players.” 

In March, longtime PGA Tour player and four-time U.S. Open competitor Jason Gore was hired as the association’s first senior director, Player Relations. His primary role focuses on interacting with professional and elite amateur players across the game, particularly competitors in the USGA’s Open and amateur championships. He also leads a full-time staff dedicated to player relations, including Liz Fradkin, who in her new role primarily focuses on women’s championships.

Commish Hints At PGA Tour Gaming "Participation" Announcement By Year's End

Screen Shot 2019-05-23 at 8.06.17 PM.png

As legalized sports betting has so far fizzled after the initial euphoria, the PGA Tour is forging ahead with integrity programs, beefed up stats and partners in various arenas. And now PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has hinted that an announcement will come by year’s end that could have the PGA Tour taking the vig.

Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge reports and includes this quote:

“We’ve spent a lot of time over the last two and a half years clearly understanding all of our options and getting ourselves in a position where we can participate,” Monahan said. “Participate with the right partners, and participate in a way that we think resonates with fans. Without getting in front of it, I think you can expect to hear developments from us in the second half of this year.”

It’s an amazing leap from the days of Tim Finchem getting creeped out by the Tour’s association with fantasy leagues and certainly one worth trying. Though after The Match last year where stats were part of theoretical play-along gambling, I’m still struggling to see if live in-round betting will really click given the general lack of prop bet imagination shown by the gaming industry.

In theory the slow speed of golf should lend the sport to some of this gambling, but fantasy leagues and week-to-week pools should remain a focus given the communal nature of those and the more benign notion of picking players based on track records at courses or recent form.

It sounds like that is the case:

Monahan is continually trying to get ahead of the issue to ensure the Tour is in position to maximize the benefits.

“There’s so many different points of entry, from operators to daily fantasy to just games within broadcasts that are non-betting games, just to the way you orient yourself understanding the way people are consuming information,” Monahan said.

Discovery Buys Golf Digest And PGA Tour To Sell The Ads: A New House Organ Is Born?

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 6.22.48 AM.png

It’s certainly pleasing that Golf Digest has been saved from extinction by Discovery and that many golf writers will remain employed, but it’s hard to see how the PGA Tour taking over sales for the magazine and website is a positive.

Keith Kelley reported on Page Six (link not live) that Discovery paid $30 million for Golf Digest, Golf World and assorted elements after a “bidding war” with NBC/Comcast. Multiple sources tell me, however, that no bid was even made by Comcast.

The $30 million figure noted by Kelley, if his reporting is accurate, marks a steep plunge from the $430 million Conde Nast paid for Golf Digest in 2001. But they were also buying a robust monthly then with millions in lucrative monthly ad sales and a staff full of must-read writers.

The purchase price also looks particularly paltry given Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s pay the last two years: $42.2 million and $129.5 million in 2019.

Most surprising, however, was this line late in Sam Weinman’s GolfDigest.com story announcing the new “global editorial powerhouse”:

The Discovery acquisition will also feature the introduction of a new sales structure in which Golf Digest and the PGA Tour will combine to create a one-stop digital network in which advertisers can engage with fans across Golf Digest, PGA Tour, and GOLFTV platforms.

It seems hard to imagine any other scenario where the PGA Tour driving and selling the content by Golf Digest is a plus. Some fans may like that this keeps the operation viable, but I’m guessing most golfers wanting coverage of the game will be disappointed in where this leads.

Needless to say, this will also radically re-shape Golf Digest’s coverage of the PGA Tour and the business of golf.

For Immediate Release (Warning, b-speak is flowing!):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Discovery, Inc. Acquires Golf Digest From Condé Nast

Creating the largest digital golf media business in the U.S. in partnership with the PGA TOUR

Golf Digest’s multi-platform content to be distributed globally on GOLFTV streaming service

Golf Digest Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde to Join Discovery Golf

NEW YORK, May 13, 2019 – Discovery, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) announced today it has acquired Golf Digest from Condé Nast. Golf Digest is the world’s No. 1 golf media brand and will extend Discovery’s global golf media business to the U.S. market through Golf Digest’s multiplatform distribution and reach.

The acquisition creates a powerful programming engine for GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR, adding world-renowned Golf Digest content to a platform that is built on competition coverage from the PGA TOUR, European Tour, and the Ladies European Tour, as well as the Masters Tournament in select territories outside the U.S. and Discovery’s exclusive global content partnerships with Tiger Woods, winner of 81 PGA TOUR events and 15 major championships, and Francesco Molinari, winner of 10 pro events worldwide and the reigning Open champion.

The addition of Golf Digest boosts Discovery’s global golf ecosystem with a leading platform in the U.S., and will now reach golf fans with everything associated with the game, including instructional videos, equipment advice, course rankings, travel destinations, online bookings and more.

Additionally, Discovery and the PGA TOUR are expanding their groundbreaking 12-year strategic partnership with a new content and sales relationship in the U.S., among other initiatives. The organizations will join forces to create the largest digital network in golf with a one-stop activation platform now including Golf Digest, for advertisers to engage with fans and players, across a full suite of editorial coverage, live and on-demand video streaming, digital, social, print and branded content opportunities. The current Golf Digest sales teams will continue to be responsible for ad sales during a transition period until the Discovery / PGA TOUR sales integration is complete.

David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery, Inc. said: “Golf Digest is a world-class brand that has become the ‘go-to’ authority for millions of golf enthusiasts, professional players and global advertisers. It’s a natural strategic fit with Discovery’s goal to be the leading golf media platform in the world through our investments with the PGA TOUR, the European Tour and our partnership with Tiger Woods. We wanted to bolster GOLFTV’s international offerings with Golf Digest’s award-winning journalism, broad consumer reach and deep content library while also creating the largest U.S. digital golf business with Jay Monahan and the PGA TOUR. They have been great partners, and we are excited to deepen the opportunity to bring these amazing players and all of their terrific play to more people on more devices in every market in the world.”

Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer, PGA TOUR, said: “We’re thrilled to deepen our partnership with Discovery, as well as Golf Digest, which has been an official marketing partner of the PGA TOUR since 2006. By combining our assets in the U.S., we’re now able to offer the most robust digital content and product offering for fans, golfers and TOUR partners. The new PGA TOUR / Golf Digest digital network will be the single largest golf network offering unrivaled breadth and depth of content across platforms.”

Discovery will seek to optimize its exclusive global partnership with Tiger Woods across both Golf Digest and PGA TOUR platforms. GOLFTV is collaborating with Woods on a range of content, such as deep-dive instruction to help players improve their game, which began filming last month, and exclusive access to his tournament preparation. The unique collaboration offers an authentic look into the life, mind and performance of the game’s ultimate icon.

Tiger Woods said: “This is an important step in enhancing and expanding the U.S. and global reach of Discovery and GOLFTV. It gives me another platform to tell my story directly to fans and makes my partnership with Discovery even stronger. This acquisition, along with what Discovery and GOLFTV have already done with the PGA TOUR, is great for the game of golf.”

Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf, said: “This is a big deal for Discovery to add Golf Digest to our golf portfolio. Adding Golf Digest to GOLFTV and our existing PGA TOUR, European Tour, Tiger and Francesco content will be a big win for the sport. We are offering something unique, whether you’re a fan, player, viewer, brand or advertiser. We can utilize the strengths of both Golf Digest and our burgeoning GOLFTV platform, establishing a global editorial powerhouse delivering content across all platforms to engage and inspire millions of passionate golf fans around the world.”

Golf Digest’s award-winning editorial content, including news, instructional videos, and rankings, as well as tentpoles such as ‘100 Greatest Course Rankings’ and its annual ‘Hot List,’ will drive engagement for GOLFTV around the world, provide opportunities for Discovery to leverage its golf content in the U.S. and bring more exciting opportunities to partner the PGA TOUR and all the world-class players.

Discovery will seek to leverage its global scale, with reach into 220 markets and territories, to further grow the Golf Digest brand around the world. Golf Digest, which earns nearly half of its revenues from digital advertising, will continue to publish a U.S. monthly print magazine and Discovery will assume the global licenses for editions serving nearly 70 countries.

Golf Digest’s editorial team will join Discovery Golf under the continued leadership of Jerry Tarde, as Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest, and Global Head of Strategy and Content, Discovery Golf. In addition to overseeing the world-class editorial content of Golf Digest, Tarde will expand his purview to include GOLFTV and report to Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf.

Jerry Tarde, Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest, and Global Head of Strategy and Content, Discovery Golf, said: “Golf Digest has this amazing team of editors, reporters, producers, photographers and contributors – all dedicated to helping golfers improve and be smarter consumers of the game we love. Discovery’s vision to create one global destination for everything a golf fan could want is perfectly aligned with what Golf Digest does every day. As we look to the future, Discovery’s global scale and ability to light up content on all platforms and in every language, combined with the PGA TOUR’s brand, will benefit golf and golfers worldwide.”

Kaplan added, “A critical piece is Golf Digest’s people. We’re thrilled to welcome aboard Golf Digest’s world-class team and its Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Jerry Tarde, who is widely considered the dean of golf journalism.”

Golf Digest reaches millions every month across all platforms:

60 million video views
4.8 million readers
4.8 million digital uniques
2.2 million social followers

Wells Fargo Extends For Five Years Except When Quail Hollow Hosts The Presidents Cup, Reminding Us Of News We'd Tried To Forget

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 10.09.42 PM.png

Congrats to all for extending Wells Fargo’s sponsorship of the Charlotte stop at Quail Hollow, the oft-remodeled and over-extended design that was probably once very charming.

In 2021, when Quail lulls us to sleep during the Presidents Cup, the Wells Fargo will go north to the TPC Potomac outside Washington D.C. where players will experience “Scottish style bunkering”.

Also note this extension takes Quail Hollow through 2024 as host of the Wells Fargo. Remarkably, the club is believed to be a candidate for the 2026 PGA Championship as well. Currently that date is open, which is saying something given that almost all PGA dates have been filled or penciled in until 2031.

Wells Fargo Extends Sponsorship of Wells Fargo Championship by Five Years
Quail Hollow Club remains host site of prestigious event in Charlotte 

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – April 30, 2019 – Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), the PGA TOUR and tournament host organization Champions for Education announced today that Wells Fargo has extended its sponsorship of the Wells Fargo Championship through 2024 after signing a five-year extension. The announcement was made today by leaders from Wells Fargo, the PGA TOUR and Champions for Education.

Quail Hollow Club, home to the Wells Fargo Championship since its PGA TOUR debut in 2003, will continue to host the event.

“Since 2003, the Wells Fargo Championship has established itself as a premier event in the sports-rich city of Charlotte, with a supportive fan base, outstanding host venue and highly engaged title sponsor,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “It also continues to impact the community through the charitable efforts of Champions for Education, for which Wells Fargo has played a major role. The Wells Fargo Championship is a favorite stop among our players, and we are excited to announce that this relationship will continue for an additional five years.”

The 2018 Wells Fargo Championship generated more than $1.5 million for Charlotte-area charitable organizations, raising the tournament’s all-time total to $22 million.

“The Wells Fargo Championship is one of the most engaging expressions of our brand, and we’re thrilled to continue to delight golf fans, Wells Fargo team members, PGA TOUR players and the greater Charlotte community with our sponsorship of this event,” said Jamie Moldafsky, Chief Marketing Officer of Wells Fargo. “We’re especially proud of the positive impact we are able to generate in the greater Charlotte community in support of organizations including the Championship’s three primary beneficiaries: The First Tee of Greater CharlotteLevine Children’s Hospital and Teach for America.”

Jason Day returns as defending champion, winning last year by two strokes over Aaron Wise and Nick Watney. It was his 12th career PGA TOUR victory.

“The Wells Fargo Championship is an important part of the fabric of the community and today’s announcement allows us to continue to support our charitable efforts,” said Wells Fargo Championship Tournament Director Gary Sobba. “It is also an exciting time for our 2,300 volunteers—many of whom are Wells Fargo team members. We are fortunate that our tournament has become a popular spring tradition for PGA TOUR players, our partners and fans throughout the Carolinas.”

Quail Hollow Club President Johnny Harris said, “Today’s announcement is special for Quail Hollow Club members and staff. From the beginning, our goal was to create an exciting environment for the players, patrons, and partners as we gather to celebrate the game of golf and incorporate the tremendous support of the community. We are so honored by the success of this annual event and are grateful for all who have helped us along the way. We have been fortunate to host the best players in the world and are looking forward to welcoming them back for years to come.”

Because of the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club in 2021, the event will move for one year to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Washington, D.C. Known for its natural rolling terrain and Scottish-style bunkering, this well-regarded venue has played host to past PGA TOUR events.

Has The Official World Golf Ranking Outlived Its Usefulness?

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 10.30.09 PM.png

Rex Hoggard examines the PGA Tour’s increasingly hostile view of the Official World Golf Ranking and suggests the best way to fix the ranking is to stop using it.

The PGA Championship uses its own points list, a one-year ranking based on official earnings, along with a variety of other criteria. Not included in the qualification for the year’s second major is a player’s position in the world ranking, although officials do historically dovetail special exemptions to those inside the top 100 to assure no one slips through the cracks.

The point remains valid, however. There are now endless ways to identify competitive merit without becoming mired in the world ranking weeds.

Perhaps the game’s best minds can conjure a solution to the current ranking problems, but if we’re being objective the entire analysis is starting to feel like an exercise in diminishing returns. Organizations like the PGA of America and R&A don’t need the world ranking to identify the best players any longer.

The point is a strong one assuming that any replacement in use to fill a field does attempt to weave in the entire planet. Or else we’ll just end up with a new ranking again.

Sports Betting Legalization Effort Lagging, Only Six States In So Far

Screen Shot 2019-04-18 at 11.54.38 AM.png

Given golf’s interest in legalized sports betting, the early returns from states that were all in combined with lagging efforts by most states, suggests the expected windfalls may be slow to come, writes Timothy Williams of the New York Times

It’s well worth reading if you know anyone banking on sports betting windfall. The PGA Tour has largely positioned their interest on fan engagement via fantasy leagues and the mobile experience, so the early struggles with sports books as outlined by Williams may pertain less to golf. Then again, if legalization only happens in a few states, that will slow the inclusion of any expansion on any platform.

The reluctance of state lawmakers, gambling analysts say, is based on a growing consensus that legal sports betting may not bring the windfall that economic forecasters predicted only a few months ago.

“There were a lot of people who didn’t know what they were talking about,” said Allen Godfrey, the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, which oversees the sports betting ventures around Tunica.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision last May, which raised the prospect of hundreds of millions in new tax revenue, just six states have given final approval to allow legal sports betting. In a seventh state, New Mexico, Native American tribes have begun offering sports betting with federal approval.

Our Long National Nightmare Ends: World Ranking Points Will Be Awarded At The Tour Championship

While we await the bizarre new format to decide the FedExCup and then await its replacement, your prayers and thoughts have helped deliver precious official world ranking points to the field after a policy board approval.

I’m not sure anything is less interesting to the golf fan than world ranking points, but to the players it can be the difference between a nice guarantee at the season’s start, a place in majors or endorsement bonuses.

From Doug Ferguson’s AP story explaining how the new system would have worked last year—Tiger fans, cover your eyes :

Under the new system, Woods would have started at 2 under as the 20th seed, and thus finished at 13 under. Instead of winning and getting 62 ranking points, he would have finished second. Rose was at 6 under, but he would have started at 8 under as the No. 2 seed and finished at 14 under.

The world ranking could not have given Rose points for “winning” when his real score had him tied for fourth.

The Tour Championship has such a strong field that not awarding ranking points could have cost players endorsement money, because most contracts have an incentive tied to the world ranking. It’s even more critical now because of how tight it is at the top.

I’m pretty sure fans would be more intrigued by the endorsement contract ramifications than the FedExCup leaderboard.

Rossi, if Justin makes birdie here, he’ll finish T14, putting him over the edge for that $125,000 Bonobos bonus for finishing the season world No. 1. What’s he got?

"Money driving PGA Tour gravy train"

Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 11.35.40 AM.png

Part 1 of Ron Green Jr.’s eventual two-parter looking at sports betting coming to golf is worth checking out to understand what the PGA Tour has in mind.

Two things stood out to me in Part 1, starting with this on sports betting in the U.S.:

Of that estimated $150 billion wagered, approximately 2 percent – $3 billion – is bet on golf.

Monahan said making money off legalized sports betting is not the main reason the PGA Tour is invested in what will be a new world order. The hope is to get one-quarter of 1 percent of the money wagered on the PGA Tour. That’s approximately $7.5 million annually if the estimates of what’s being bet are accurate.

That seems like a modest goal and modest amount given how the Tour has invested in various programs in anticipation of legalized sports gambling. Hardly a gravy train, but maybe this is the most conservative estimate?

Then again, if it’s about living under par, i.e. engagement…

“What that’s going to do is give fans the ability to not only bet on the winner and the low score of the day but you’re going to be able to bet much more granularly,” Levinson said.

“You’re going to be able to bet shot by shot. You’re going to have a situation where fans are going to be locked in and engaged throughout the competition. It’s going to be a fun way to bet.

“Our sport is unique in that we have 72 balls in the air at any given moment as opposed to one. For people who like to engage in sports betting and may not be interested in the PGA Tour golf, this is going to be a really fun sport to get engaged with.”

Levinson is one of the tour’s sharpest minds, so I trust that he’s seeing things to make them believe shot-by-shot betting will be fun and functional.

Our first glimpse into the merging of a match and stats came at last fall’s match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. As slow as golf is, the match did not seem to move slowly enough to assess a shot and the player’s stats before placing a bet in time. But that may change with better-designed apps that react by crafting a wager immediately after a shot has come to rest, sending us a phone notification of the
”opportunity” and making the bet option fun and fast.

USGA Names Jason Gore Senior Director Of Listening To Players Complain

Screen Shot 2019-03-23 at 10.18.49 AM.png

Congrats to the former Wave, Walker Cupper and all-around nice fellow Jason Gore on accepting the unenviable task of listening to pro golfers gripe about course setups and the rules they haven’t read.

For Immediate Release…

USGA Expands Player Relations Capabilities in Naming Longtime PGA Tour Player Jason Gore as Senior Director

Four-Time U.S. Open Competitor, 1997 Walker Cup Team Member Will Lead Player Relations Team, Engaging with Elite Amateur and Professional Players Across the Game

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. (Mar. 22, 2019) – Following an extensive search, the USGA has appointed longtime PGA Tour player and four-time U.S. Open competitor Jason Gore as its first senior director, Player Relations.

The appointment launches a comprehensive program aimed at sharing information and strengthening engagement with players in areas of importance to the USGA. These include initiatives to grow and advance the game, research critical to the game’s health, and continuing to incorporate the players' perspective in its work to advance the sport.

Gore’s primary role will be to interact with professional and elite amateur players across the game, particularly focusing on competitors in the USGA’s Open and amateur championships. He will lead a team of full-time staff dedicated to player relations, including Liz Fradkin, who assumed her player relations role last fall. Previously the manager of the USGA’s Curtis Cup Team and a member of the U.S. Women’s Amateur staff, Fradkin has already been a fixture at several LPGA Tour events. 

They will be joined by Robert Zalzneck and Ali Kicklighter, who will manage USGA player services with an emphasis on onsite services at the USGA’s four Open championships. 

“Jason is a dynamic individual who has a great passion for the USGA and the game of golf and is widely recognized and respected by Tour players and staff, as well as industry influencers,” says John Bodenhamer, senior managing director, Championships. “Filling this role has been a strategic priority for the organization for some time and in Jason, we have someone who will bring us player insights and share our position on matters of importance to the game.” 

A Southern California native, Gore, his wife, Megan, and their two children, will relocate to New Jersey in the coming months. A brief bio is below:

 Jason Gore

  • Graduate, Pepperdine University (2000 – psychology); 1997 NCAA Division I team champions

  • Member of the 1997 Walker Cup Team

  • Competed in the U.S. Open in 1998, 2005, 2008 & 2010; final Sunday pairing with Retief Goosen at Pinehurst in 2005

  • Competed in the U.S. Amateur in 1992, 1993, 1995 & 1997

  • Competed in the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1990

  • Captured 12 professional wins: One PGA Tour win (84 Lumber Classic in 2005) among 16 top-10 finishes; all-time record seven Web.com Tour wins; four additional professional wins

  • Amateur wins: 1996 Sahalee Players Championship; 1997 Pacific Coast Amateur; 1997 California Amateur; 1997 California Open (as an amateur)

  • Competed in more than 500 events on the PGA Tour (291) and Web.com (233) tours

  • Served on the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council (PAC) nine times

“I have the utmost respect for the USGA and proudly tell everyone that my experience in the 1997 Walker Cup was the highlight of my golf career,” said Gore, 44, who won the PGA Tour’s 84 Lumber Classic in 2005 and played in Sunday’s final pairing of the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. “I’m incredibly honored to have been invited to play this role and can’t wait to get started.”

Added Bodenhamer: “While we’ve often engaged with players on a variety of projects and enjoy many longstanding relationships, this is the first time we have dedicated a team of full-time staff members to serve as year-long ambassadors for the USGA, as well as a voice for players. We’re excited to see what has been a long-term priority coming to fruition.”

World Ranking Points System Coming Under Increasing Scrutiny, Providing Unintended Comic Relief

Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 9.07.24 PM.png

There’s actually much to laugh at in Doug Ferguson’s AP story on the world ranking points system coming under increased scrutiny of late. Comedy and the OWGR are not usually mutually exclusive, but this has to be one of better giggles you’ll get today:

Against a field as strong as some majors, Tommy Fleetwood shared the lead after 18 and 36 holes, played in the final group and was still in the mix at The Players Championship until a tee shot into the water on the 17th hole. His three-way tie for fifth was worth 16.53 ranking points.

Earlier that day, Guido Migliozzi won his first European Tour title at the Kenya Open, which until this year was a Challenge Tour event. The strength of its field was slightly weaker than the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on the Asian Development Tour in January.

Migliozzi received 24 ranking points, the minimum for the European Tour.

Of course this is no laughing matter given the reliance on the OWGR to determine major fields, including two weeks from now when the Masters invites the top 50 not already exempt.

2019 Valspar Another Beneficiary Of Strength Of Field Rule

Screen Shot 2019-03-21 at 8.48.07 PM.png

Gary Van Sickle at MorningRead.com explains how the Valspar Championship managed decent star power despite a tough post-Players date, with 37 top 100 players, including Dustin Johnson.

Johnson played only 20 tournaments in the 2017-18 season. So, he owed the PGA Tour an appearance at an event that he doesn’t regularly play. Johnson chose the Valspar Championship.

“I had a few to pick one, and this fit the best in my schedule,” Johnson said. “Of the courses I had to choose from, I like this [Copperhead Course] the best, if you’re playing well. The golf course is tough, but I feel like my game is in good form, so it’s a good course for me.”

Johnson nearly avoided the Valspar on a technicality. When he won in Mexico, it was the 20th victory of his career. Twenty is the threshold to become a PGA Tour life member, and the strength-of-field rule doesn’t apply to life members, or to players 45 or older.

The timing coincided nicely with Valspar announcing a sponsorship extension through 2025. Included is a better date next year.

USGA Hiring A Tour Liaison?

That’s what Michael Bamberger reports for Golf.com in his weekly 7 Best Things column:

The USGA is in the final stages of making a hire for a new and senior employee who will oversee and seek to improve the USGA’s relationship with the PGA Tour and the LPGA. A guess is that if you are reading this you will know the person’s name when it is revealed, which should happen well before the Masters.

There is no such job listed at the USGA website but the idea is an interesting one given the state of affairs between pro golfers and the governing bodies. Communication was a big theme in Jay Monahan’s late-Players week comments to Global Golf Post’s John Hopkins, including this:

My concern is there is all this discussion about rules, when we have so many great things happening inside the ropes in our tournaments every single week…we don’t write the rules. We are a partner to the organizations that do but it ends up being a sizable distraction.”