Four Ways Tiger Can Make His “Invitational” Special

While most fans will not feel much impact from the Genesis Open’s new “invitational status”, Tiger Woods has an opportunity to leave a special legacy with a few moves.

He can use the example set by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer with their events, put his own twist on the Genesis, and give fans reason to believe last week’s announcement will have a profound impact on this historic PGA Tour stop.

 

Maintain The Open Status 

Last week when the new “invitational format was announced, I was a bit surprised to watch PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan unable to answer a straightforward question about whether the 94-year-old Los Anglees “Open” would retain components of its original status in the form of Monday qualifying, a spot given to the local PGA section and an amateur spot of some kind. After the new invitational format was announced, I heard from many Angelenos wondering if it meant the end of Monday qualifying. The answer we got: TBD.  And the name? Genesis Open is out, to be replaced by something clunky like Genesis Invitational, Genesis Classic or The Genesis.

The narrative for Tiger is a simple one if he agrees to maintain elements of this tournament’s past: “I love Jack and Arnold’s events but this has always been an ‘open’ event, and as long as I can remember I dreamed of qualifying before I got an invitation in 1992 to play that was vital to my career. So even as we go from 144 to 120 players, my foundation will use sponsors invitations to maintain the open nature of this tournament: two Monday qualifying spots, an exemption to the Collegiate Showcase winner, an exemption to the local PGA of America sectional qualifier, and of course, the Charlie Sifford Exemption. Those five spots will maintain ties to this tournament’s past while also not prevent any worthy players from participating. Tiger would be a hero to golf geeks in SoCal and even PGA Tour pros would have to tip their cap at him maintaining the tournament spirit and name.”

 

Hooray For Hollywood 

Tiger has the ability to attract star power like no one else in golf. Since the LA Open’s early days, stars have either been part of the week as spectators or the pro-am. This connection is an essential to distinguishing the Genesis Open going forward for marketing and atmospheric purposes.

The new Celebrity Cup brought out A-listers from screen and sport, while the Wednesday pro-am played in lousy weather brought out fascinating names from sports, business and Hollywood. From a word-of-mouth point of view, the sight of big names early in the week helps attract local television and national media attention. From a fan point of view, seeing major names whapping it around Riviera gives the stop something no other tournament will enjoy.

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Create The Western Hollywood Bowl 

If you’ve ever been at Riviera’s 18th green when a large crowd has assembled, you know there is nothing remotely close in golf. A few thousand people can fit in a very small, shockingly vertical space and the atmosphere is electric. But there is also a tradition at the 18th green dating to the tournament’s early days as a popular place to sit and watch the players come to you. Some of that tradition was built on Scotty Chisholm’s back. For decades, the tournament co-founder would announce every group and their score as they came to the 18th in his trademark kilt. He even performed a modified version in Follow The Sun (1:25 in). I say bring back an 18th green announcer—Chris Harrison and Carson Daly are Tiger/Riviera friends—and get a modern video board situated so that fans can follow the action—there was just a small PGA Tour stock board in the trees 100 yards short of the green.

The focus has clearly been on elaborate corporate structures that do look sensational, but the focus going forward should be on making the 18th green at Riviera one of golf’s most important places to be all week, but especially on Sunday. An announcer, a video board and some promotion as the February edition of the “Bowl” will work wonders for attracting even more fans.  

 Go to the 1:25 mark to see Scotty Chisholm in Follow The Sun:

Win No. 83 At Riviera

With two wins in 2019 and Tiger can return to Riviera next year looking to break Sam Snead’s record at a course where the all-time PGA Tour leader in victories won twice. It would also mean Tiger breaks the record at his event.

The script writes itself!

Hooray for Hollywood!

Chicken Legs Of The World Rejoice! PGA Tour Unveils New Shorts Policy

Prioritizing player comfort, convenience and entitlement or maintaining a sense of gravitas, the PGA Tour will now allow players to wear shorts in practice rounds and pro-ams.

Given that most of the players who’ve worn shorts have been lacking in the tanning and muscle department, I say let ‘em get their Vitamin D.

But if I were Commissioner, I’d point out that athletes in other sports are dressing better and rising up the Forbes list while golfers are dressing down and moving down the list of top-paid endorsers.

The timing is also strange given that golf pant fashion has never been better in terms of fit, quality and look, with the performance pants worn by golfers appealing to non-golfers and giving off an athletic vibe.

But hey, these big macho athletes want to be comfortable no matter how it looks. Tiger once famously embraced the policy even though he acknowledged it’s not his strongest physical attribute.

"A lot of the tournaments are based right around the equator so we play in some of the hottest places on the planet," he said. "It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

He resurfaces in Mexico City this week where daily highs in the 70s and 80s are forecast.

BTW, do you think the tournament everyone wants to be like, everyone wants to go to and every player would donate a limb to win, will adopt this policy?

Of course not.

Live Under Par's Architect Departs As PGA Tour CMO, No Word Yet On If He'll Take That Awful Slogan With Him

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The Forecaddie reports on the departure of PGA Tour Chief Marketing Officer Joe Arcuri, architect of the hellacious “Live Under Par” slogan that turns one next month.

It seems Matt Kuchar is still not clear on the difference between the slogan and the tour’s streaming television product. Which about says all you need to know on many fronts.

It's Come To This Files: Adam Scott Begs To Take A Slow Play Penalty Just So The PGA Tour Will Finally Start Enforcing Its Rules

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Over the years I’ve seen my share of slow play stories and silly quotes—mostly Tim Finchem’s infamous moratorium on penalizing slow pokes—but this takes the cake.

After the 144-player Genesis Open officially became a 120 player event in part because pace dictates a change, Adam Scott has offered to be the first player (of note) to be penalized in hopes of the PGA Tour finally enforcing its rules.

It’s come to this. And Scott isn’t even slow.

From Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com:

Adam Scott said he recently told the PGA Tour’s chief of tournaments and competitions Andy Pazder that he’d be willing to take a penalty in order to get guys to speed up, the theory being that the tour would show that it was serious about pace of play and enforcing a penalty that is rarely enforced.

“Make me the victim,” the 2013 Masters champion and 13-time PGA Tour winner said. “I’ll take the penalty. The only way it’s going to work is if you enforce it.”

Scott goes on to explain that some of the problems with pace—like spending 20 minutes around walking to back tees—is out of the player’s hands. Some is solely a slow-poke issue. And all of it starts at Tour HQ where, for over 25 years, the idea of tainting a player’s brand with a penalty stroke has been considered sinful.

Opportunistic Whining? Tours Had A Seat At New Rulemaking Table

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You all may recall chief Keith Pelley chirping on behalf of outraged European Tour players at the sheer non-game-growing new rule that cost Haotong Li two strokes, though as I noted at the time you didn’t hear PGA Tour players griping because they clearly were more up on the new rules. And Pelley was taking his tour to Saudi Arabia, so a distraction card was also being placed on the table.

When the PGA Tour players started running into issues in Scottsdale, the inevitable cries of rulemaking unfairness were followed by the cheers from current and former players for the PGA Tour finally showing the amateurs in St. Andrews and Liberty Corner how it’s done. The PGA Tour’s statement after the McCarthy episode:

“It is clear that there is a great deal of confusion among players and caddies on the practical application of the new rule during competition, as well as questions surrounding the language of the rule itself and how it should be interpreted,” the Tour announced in a statement on Saturday. “As a result, with the full support of the USGA and the R&A, the rule will be interpreted whereby the two aforementioned situations as well as future similar situations will not result in a penalty.”

One problem, the PGA Tour and the European Tour were all in on the new rules meetings, as was the PGA of America.

Rex Hoggard at GolfChannel.com takes a tough but appropriate stance on any PGA Tour player and executive revisionist history.

Although the Tour has had a voice in the rule-making room for some time, the USGA and R&A agreed to give the circuit, as well as the PGA of America, more influence over potential changes when the organizations found themselves at odds during the anchoring debate a few years back. The Tour, which is represented on the rule-making front by senior vice president of competitions Tyler Dennis, may not have veto power over potential changes but it does have a prominent seat at the table.

For the Tour to dig in against the new rule, or at the least the rule’s ambiguous language, just as public opinion against it was poised to reach a crescendo, seems opportunistic if not duplicitous.

Ultimately the mistakes lie in not having a soft unveiling of these rules and perhaps a few fall events to work out the kinks, not necessarily in the rules themselves. At least, most of them.

First Female Tour Head: VP Of Marketing Partnerships Named Web.com Tour President

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The first female president of any the Tour’s tours is indeed historic and exciting, but also noteworthy is the Monahan era tendency to reward marketing experience over golf backgrounds in moving up the Ponte Vedra ladder.

For Immediate Release

PGA TOUR announces Alexandra “Alex” Baldwin as new President of Web.com Tour

Baldwin becomes first female Tour President in PGA TOUR history

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida – The PGA TOUR announced today that current Vice President of Marketing Partnerships, Alexandra “Alex” Baldwin, has been named President of the Web.com Tour. With the announcement, Baldwin becomes the first female in history to lead one of the PGA TOUR’s six global Tours as President.  

Dan Glod, who has served as President of the Web.com Tour since January of 2017, has been elevated to Senior Vice President, Global Sponsorship Strategy and Development in a corresponding announcement.

“We are excited to announce Alex as the new President of the Web.com Tour in what is a watershed moment for our organization,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. “In her role as Vice President of Marketing Partnerships, Alex has spearheaded our efforts to provide increased value to our PGA TOUR partners and I know she will have that same level of success on the Web.com Tour. We thank Dan Glod for his tremendous leadership with our partners, tournaments and membership over these last two years and know the Web.com Tour has a great foundation which Alex can continue to build upon.”

Baldwin joined the PGA TOUR in 2017 as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, where she was responsible for co-leading the Marketing Partnership team and overseeing key partner account teams including Morgan Stanley, Dell, Omni Hotel and Resorts and United Airlines, among others. In addition to spearheading partner oversight, she negotiated extensions and new programs with partners including Avis, MD Anderson, Rolex and Citi.

“I am thrilled for this opportunity to lead the Web.com Tour while drawing on years of experience in golf, sports and business,” said Baldwin. “The Web.com Tour is a tremendous avenue through which we’re able to develop the next generation of PGA TOUR stars, and I’m eager to learn as much as possible about our partners, tournaments and communities as we look to build on the Tour’s incredible 30-year foundation.”

Prior to joining the PGA TOUR, Baldwin was a Corporate Consulting Executive at CAA Sports in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, working with major brands on their strategy and activation plans in sports and entertainment. During that time, she worked strategically with Waste Management and the Waste Management Phoenix Open as well as Synchrony Financial, CVS Health and Concur among others.

For 10 years prior to joining CAA, Baldwin was with Boston-based Fenway Sports Management, consulting clients and driving sales efforts around premier golf properties, including the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Baldwin’s career began in 1992 as an intern with International Management Group (IMG), where she eventually rose to agent, representing the likes of LPGA stars Karrie Webb and Suzann Pettersen, as well as PGA TOUR winners Brad Faxon and Carlos Franco.

PGA Tour Orders Takedown Of Funny, Harmless And Viral Video Of Tiger Getting Rejected For Pizza

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As an eyewitness to this adorable little moment in Wednesday’s Farmers Insurance Open pro-am, I can attest that it was 100% comedy and totally innocent.

Here’s what happened: Tiger Woods tees off at the 13th and walks to the forward tee where a local pizza vendor has been commissioned to hand out pies to pro-am participants. The legendary golfer and one of the most famous people on earth is rejected because, it turns out, a health inspection was taking place at that moment and they could not hand out pizza. Tiger doesn’t know this but laughs off the rejection with Joe LaCava and his pro-am partners.

Everyone had a good chuckle at the sight of Woods getting turned away in the same way Roger Federer’s rejection from entering the Australian Open locker room last week went viral.

Brandon Stone of San Diego’s KUSI captured the whole thing and posted it on Twitter. He also wrote about the light moment here and the star-struck lad who loves Tiger but had to say no because of the inspection taking place. Stone’s video of the moment went viral, of course. But Stone also Tweeted the news of the video takedown notice from the PGA Tour.

Copies are floating out there and while I’d like to share one, I don’t want the blood of a takedown notice on my hands here.

But the bigger point: the PGA Tour runs the dreaded “Live Under Par” ad campaign encouraging fans to post photos and videos of fun things happening at PGA Tour events.

As they are getting killed by the European Tour on the social media front when episodes like this happen, you can bet the Euros would have had a blast with Tiger over this. Why common sense did not prevail, we can only imagine.

Deadspin: "Why Does A Leader Of The Indonesian Genocide Get To Play In So Many PGA Tour Pro-Ams?"

Looks like the vetting process needs to get a little tighter at PGA Tour Pro-Ams, as Deadspin reports Japto Soerjosoemarno—once leader of a far-right paramilitary group called Pancasila Youth and self-confessed murderer of mass numbers of Indonesians, is a huge fan of the pro-am. In particular, the Desert Classic.

The narrative thrust of The Act of Killing is that few of the hatchet men involved in the CIA-backed massacre of between 500,000 and 3,000,000 Indonesians ever faced consequences for the killings, and many of them don’t even harbor remorse. Their nonchalant openness about the murderers is what makes the documentary so chilling. Pancasila, which played a major role in the genocide 50 years ago, is still very much active and very much for hire for any, say, European conglomerate that wants to break up a nascent union by force. 

He played in last week’s event according to Deadspin, though his name is not listed now.

Most recently, Soerjosoemarno was one of the amateur partners for PGA Tour pros Jim Herman and Rod Pampling at this year’s Desert Classic (he shot a 201 over three rounds.) Soerjosoemarno is especially fond of playing in the Coachella Valley, where the PGA has held a January event for 60 years.

So far, no replies from the Tour…

Deadspin reached out yesterday to two Desert Classic representatives about Soerjosoemarno’s long-running involvement with the tournament, and whether or not they knew he admitted to participating in the 1965-66 genocide. They did not reply. Deadspin also asked three PGA Tour reps if they would allow Soerjosoemarno to participate in future events, and whether or not they condemned the Indonesian massacres of 1965-66. They did not respond either.

Mooch? Former PGA Tour Player Gillis Says Kuchar Paid Local Caddie Only $3k After Collecting $1.3 Million Check

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Former PGA Tour player Tom Gillis took to Twitter suggesting Matt Kuchar, 2019 Sony Open leader, former Players Champion and winner of $45 million in his PGA Tour career, might want to pay his caddie this week more than the $3000 he claims Kuchar paid “David” upon winning last fall’s Mayakoba Classic.

The win garnered Kuchar a $1.3 million winner’s check plus presumed bonuses. You may recall that David was a local caddie Kuchar used when he entered last minute and his normal looper, John Wood, had a previous engagement.

Gillis’ Tweet:

To his credit, Gillis answered and Tweeted questions from skeptics unsure of his sources or motivations.

Following his third round at the Sony, Kuchar denied the amount quoted and said it was not a story. From Rex Hoggard’s GolfChannel.com story:

“That’s not a story,” Kuchar said. “It’s wasn’t 10 percent. It wasn’t $3,000. It’s not a story.”

You may recall that the euphoria over David’s effort prompted Michael Bamberger to dig a little deeper, writing this following up for Golf.com back in November 2018:

10. In a qualifier for the tournament, Ortiz caddied for a Mexican golfer, Armando Favela, who made it into the tournament and finished in a tie for 16th, making him the low Mexican. Favela earned $108,000.

11. Asked if he made more money than Favela last week, Ortiz said, “I hope so!” He had not yet received or discussed his pay with Kuchar. He knows the standard caddie bonus is 10 percent of the winner’s share. Kuchar earned $1.3 million for his win, his first since 2014.

So far just Brandel Chamblee has come to Kuchar’s defense, suggesting the pay was legitimately fair for a local caddie.

Steph Curry PGA Tour Event Abandoned, For Now

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Reading Ron Kroichick’s SF Chronicle account of Steph Curry’s proposed PGA Tour event falling through, it’s hard to understand what exactly went wrong other than the looming deadlines involved with a September event.

But negotiations with potential title sponsor Workday, the finance and human resources software company in Pleasanton, unexpectedly broke off. Tour officials didn’t have time to find another title sponsor, especially given the course changes Lake Merced would need to make in eight months.

“We are still committed to bringing an event to San Francisco,” Curry told The Chronicle. “It just won’t be this year.”

The question then may be, why didn’t the PGA Tour just sponsor this in year one to ensure they’re in the Steph Curry business.

Lawsuit Behind Him, Vijay Happy To Get Back To Taking Up Spots In PGA Tour Fields

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The NDA’s are flying so we won’t know how many more forced social media posts we’ll have to endure as the irrelevant Vijay Singh takes up spots in PGA Tour fields, but he at least indicated to GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard what we all know. He settled more than amicably with the tour in his lawsuit over a deer antler spray suspension.

Although a confidentiality agreement prevented Singh from disclosing any terms of the settlement, he did seem pleased to move beyond the distraction of the lawsuit.

“I can get on and do my own stuff and not worry about anything anymore,” he said. “I think both sides are happy, although I might be just a little bit happier.”

Ahhhh…maybe one of the guys can ask him this week on the range how much Vijay’s win took out of the retirement accounts! That’ll liven up the range chatter.

As previously noted, Vijay has only made 11 cuts in his last 28 PGA Tour starts and hasn’t snipped a top 10 finish in that time.

PGA Tour Commish: "Hard to argue you should be changing anything right now because the sport is growing and thriving."

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It’s hard to get past the above quote from PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan made in a 2019 Sentry TOC media session and reported here by Golfweek’s Dan Kilbridge.

The Commissioner’s views on distance are no secret: he wants to hype younger and longer players because he believes that’s why people watch the game despite all of the grandstands being at greens and not tee boxes.

You can take your pick of reasons for a short-sighted stance that even his youth-obsessed predecessor never went so far overboard to make. But more alarming is the view that the sport is growing and thriving, so why change a thing?

“We’re gonna be a party to all these discussions,” Monahan said. “We’re going to understand everybody’s perspectives as the USGA and R&A move forward with their Distance Insights project, but it’s hard to argue you should be changing anything right now because the sport is growing and thriving.”

If it’s growing and thriving, why do we have all of these expensive grow the game initiatives to jumpstart participation?

Why is the golf course industry fearful of a recession and a new tax code eliminating entertainment deductions if the game is thriving?

There is also the PGA Tour as a product. He should be hoping for a variety of players and a variety of playing styles to make the game thrive, not a one-dimensional power game. No sport that’s gone all in on technology and power has come out better. As a fan of sports, Monahan should know this. And he should know better.

I Guess We Now Know The Vijay Singh Settlement Included A Social Media Component

Vijay pretending this medicine-ball-on-A-Stick is Tim Finchem

Vijay pretending this medicine-ball-on-A-Stick is Tim Finchem

It wasn’t enough that Vijay Singh emptied some PGA Tour offshore accounts with his pre-trial settlement over a deer antler spray violation gone public, but who saw an image rehab social rollout as the cherry on what was probably a multi-million dollar Sunday?

Here’s Vijay living under par in not one, but TWO almost random PGA Tour Champions Instagram posts to kick off the New Year.

There is no truth to rumors that negotiations broke down over Vijay’s insistence these propaganda pieces appear on the PGA Tour account. You know, the PGA Tour he plans to take up spots on this winter instead of sticking to the Geezers tour, where he has a chance to record top 10’s.

Anyway, GIF makers rejoice!

And this Awkward Family Photos nominee…

View this post on Instagram

Set your goals high like @vijaysinghgolf.

A post shared by PGA TOUR Champions (@pgatourchampions) on

Rory: "It's all about world ranking points" And European Tour A "Stepping Stone" To PGA Tour

We’re off to quite a start! We’ve got players whining about the prospect of on-course interviews—as if they’re being asked to do their own laundry—and now Rory McIlroy goes all Bobby Joe Grooves on the European Tour while professing the vitality of world ranking points. These guys know how to pull at fan heartstrings!

From Dave Shedloski’s Golf World story at the Sentry Tournament of Champions:

“It’s so one-sided,” McIlroy pointed out. “Look, you can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points. I think as well with the world ranking points, everyone out here, all of their contracts with sponsors, it's all about world ranking points. If players are getting paid more and earning more world ranking points, why would you play over there?”

It sounded harsh, but he was only speaking the truth, and he continued.

They might play there because they play the game for the love of it, with the riches coming from that passion? Oh there I go again!

And this won’t be in any European Tour slogans this year…

“The ultimate goal is here,” McIlroy added. “The European Tour is a stepping stone. That's the truth. The European Tour is a stepping stone. That's the way it is. It's tough. I still want to support the European Tour, and I talk about this loyalty thing with Europe. … [But] it's not as though I'm just starting out and jumping ship. I've done my time. I've done everything I feel like I need to do to say OK, I’m going to make my own decisions and do what I want.”

I’ve done my time.

Looking forward to what his cheering section in the UK has to say about this! Happy New Year!

PGA Tour Revisiting Mid-Round Interviews, Players Sound So Incredibly Not Enthused

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Given that most of the players have little of interest to say after a round or shy away from offering insights for fear of revealing their team’s vaunted trade secrets, I’m not sure this will go very far. Nonetheless, according to Doug Ferguson, the PGA Tour has begun asking players what they think and surprisingly it’s the younger generation sounding resistant.

Justin Thomas? Not so much.

Thomas talks plenty during his round, usually to himself or with caddie Jimmy Johnson. The idea of stopping for a quick interview was not appealing to him.

“I’ve just been asked about it,” he said. “I said, ‘No.’ It’s not me. I do a lot of self-talking. That’s mine and Jimmy’s time, whether we’re talking about whatever, or even the next shot. For me, there’s no benefit. It’s only going to make me look worse.”

I can see Thomas’s point on looking like a young Gregg Popovich since he’s someone who puts on a game face and turns a bit feisty inside the ropes over the course of five hours.

Rory’s view caught me by surprise, however:

“I’ve been approached in Europe because they’ve done it for a couple of years,” McIlroy said. “And I’ve said, ‘No,’ every single time.”

Well, ok then!

Done correctly, an on-course interview can be incredibly charming, especially on Thursdays and Fridays. If anyone has seen or heard one of Tim Barter’s for Sky Sports, you know what I mean.

A couple of samples:

PGA Tour Live On NBC Sports Gold: Christmas Price While Supplies Last!*

PGA Tour Live moves to a new U.S.-only platform in 2019 and purchases before January 20th are $49.99, jumping to $64.99 or $9.99 a month when coverage begins at the Desert Classic.

The package again includes all pre-Golf Channel or pre-network coverage as well as Featured Group coverage until network coverage begins. For those with a cable subscription, the app will be updated to include Golf Channel and NBC coverage for an easy switchover when the events are on the network (see photo above). For CBS weeks, you’ll have to switch over to the CBS or PGA Tour apps.

For Immediate Release below. Most noteworthy is the pledge to have tracer technology on all holes, a huge increase in hours and a lot more featured group coverage:

PGA TOUR LIVE LAUNCHES BIGGER & BETTER PACKAGE ON NBC SPORTS GOLD IN 2019

Now with Four Days of Coverage, PGA TOUR LIVE to Provide Nearly 900 Hours of Premium, Live Tournament Programming, More Than Doubling Total from Last Season

Exclusive Live Coverage of the Best Players in the World From 28 PGA TOUR Events, Including THE PLAYERS & FedExCup Playoffs

PGA TOUR LIVE Now Accessible via Double the Number of Supported Platforms: Roku, Chromecast and More, in addition to Apple TV, and Android and iOS Devices 

PGA TOUR LIVE Season Pass On Sale Now on NBC Sports Gold for Early-Bird Season-Pass Price of $49.99; Regular Price $64.99; Monthly Pass $9.99

ORLANDO & PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLA.  December 17, 2018 – The PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced that PGA TOUR LIVE, the PGA TOUR’s direct-to-consumer subscription video service that live streams extensive Featured Groups coverage of the best golfers in the world, has been enhanced and is now available for purchase in the United States on NBC Sports GoldNBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product. PGA TOUR LIVE season passes are on sale now for an early-bird price of $49.99, available through the Desert Classic (Jan 17-20), while a monthly pass can be purchased for $9.99. After January 20, a season pass will cost $64.99.

In 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE will present the most robust service in its history, now with four days of live coverage from 27 PGA TOUR events, new 10-minute “Speed Round” recaps for Featured Groups players, expansive VOD content, and integrated scoring and statistics. It is also available on double the number of supported platforms vs. 2018.

“The demand and growth of PGA TOUR LIVE has been incredible since we launched in 2015,” said Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer of the PGA TOUR. “In 2019, we are thrilled to announce that our live coverage will be more robust, more accessible and significantly better for subscribers of PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold.”

In 2019, fans can get the gift of an unprecedented amount of PGA TOUR coverage across more platforms than ever before,” said Mike McCarley, President, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “Building upon years of partnership, NBC Sports and the PGA TOUR are enhancing PGA TOUR LIVE by more than doubling the live hours and number of platforms and expanding live coverage from two to four days. Fans will benefit from the addition of PGA TOUR LIVE to NBC Sports Gold.”

A complement to the hundreds of hours of televised PGA TOUR programming, PGA TOUR LIVE will provide exclusive, live Featured Groups coverage during all four days from 27 PGA TOUR events, including THE PLAYERS and FedExCup Playoffs, after kicking off with Thursday-Friday coverage at the Desert Classic on January 17, 2019. New for 2019, PGA TOUR LIVE has expanded Featured Groups coverage on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning at approximately 9 a.m. ET and running until the start of the PGA TOUR’s NBC and CBS coverage windows in the afternoon. Additionally, PGA TOUR LIVE will provide free Featured Holes coverage complementing NBC and CBS broadcasts every weekend.

Through NBC Sports Gold, PGA TOUR LIVE is now on more supported platforms than ever before. In addition to web, iOS, Android and Apple TV, the subscription service is available for the first time on Roku, Chromecast, and more. In July, the PGA TOUR and NBC Sports Group announced a multi-year digital partnership to carry PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold. PGA TOUR Entertainment produces all live coveragefor PGA TOUR LIVE.

PGA TOUR LIVE on NBC Sports Gold includes:

o   870 Hours of Premium, Live Featured Groups Coverage: up from 414 hours last year – including expanded Featured Groups coverage across four days at 27 PGA TOUR events;

o   Integrated Statistical Feeds: users never have to leave the action with integrated live leaderboards and player scorecards;

o   Speed Rounds: fans can get caught up on the day’s action with new condensed rounds from each player in the Featured Groups coverage, allowing them to watch every shot in approximately 10 minutes;

o   Event Recaps: watch an event recap in an hour-long cut down show that highlights the best of that week’s tournament;

o   Expanded Integrated Statistics and Scoring: viewers can explore stats at their fingertips while watching live coverage;

o   Shot Tracing Technology: used for every hole on the golf course;

o   Video On Demand: upon launch, PGA TOUR LIVE will be stocked with the following archival programming: 2018 PLAYERS Official Film; 2018 FedExCup Playoffs Official Film; and 2018 PGA TOUR Rewind of 16 tournaments.

Lake Merced Making Modifications For Steph Curry's PGA Tour Event

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Ron Kroichick reports that it’ll be a busy year at Lake Merced Golf Club, hosting by the LPGA and the debut event of Steph Curry’s PGA Tour stop in September.

Either before the LPGA or in between, Rees Jones will work more of his magic in taking what once looked like a pretty stellar design and injecting his unique gift for extreme blandness to get the range and course to PGA Tour modern-athlete standards. Still, as Lake Merced displayed last year, it should make for a player-friendly stop.

Too bad there was no mention of putting back some of the lost MacKenzie…

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Follow Up On PGA Tour College Program: Champions Question As Another Young Player Turns Pro (Prematurely?)

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As the inevitable (and certainly understandable) cries of “that’s what Q-School was for” tumble in, the PGA Tour’s exploratory look into a system that feeds college players to their various tours is being met with expected criticism. As someone who loved Q-School (and wrote many blog posts in favor of saving it), the criticisms are legitimate from the geezers who remember the old system (Brentley Romine reports for GolfChannel.com).

That said, the ship on a proper calendar year schedule has sailed until fall sponsors realize they are badly overpaying for very small audiences.

In the meantime, college players, who make up the majority of polished, long-term PGA Tour players that fans get to know and watch grow old because they arrive on tour a complete player, are turning pro earlier than ever.

Check out Romine’s latest exclusive for GolfChannel.com on Alabama losing senior Davis Riley a semester short of getting a degree and finishing off a storied career for the Crimson Tide. Of all the players I saw at the U.S. Amateur, Riley was the most polished and complete. Maybe he didn’t have the extreme upside of eventual winner Viktor Hovland or runner-up Devon Bling, but his prospects are certainly strong. And yet, the only reason he’s turning pro can only be chalked up to the current schedule and system that has agents convincing him sponsor’s invites await, setting up Davis to maybe make enough money in 7 starts to earn a card.

This is a longshot players are repeatedly convinced to take by agents and families, with very few succeeding. Which is why any system that encourages players to finish out their careers makes more sense than what we have now.

Could The PGA Tour Be Onto Something Brilliant With College-To-Tour Concept?

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Nice work here by Golfweek’s Brentley Romine to reveal some details of a PGA Tour plan to get in the business of connecting college golf with the various tours.

The plan is clearly in the early stages. And the PGA Tour’s acknowledgement quote (below) suggests they are looking for feedback on an ambitious plan to reward season-long college play with spots on various PGA Tours. We don’t know which tours or how many spots. But given the damage the wraparound season has done to men’s golf, along with the recent oddity of top college women playing LPGA Q-School mid-season, it’s refreshing to see a pro tour taking a proactive approach to the silly rush to turn pro.

Anything designed to encourage players to stay in school and develop their games and character should be celebrated. We’ve already seen too many young players fail because of immaturity, with more on the way in a sport that may be getting younger, but not that young!

The potential program, as outlined by Romine, could slow down the rush to turn pro for some and make aspiring players in college stick around longer.

“The PGA Tour has been working to develop a new program that will identify, prepare and transition top collegiate golfers to professional golf,” according to a Tour statement sent to Golfweek. “This program will be designed to reward season-long collegiate play with varying levels of playing access to tours operated under the PGA Tour umbrella, while upholding the principles and virtues of collegiate athletics.”

In other words, the best college golfers would be guaranteed status on one of several tours, ranging from PGA Tour China to the PGA Tour.

One Tour official with direct knowledge of the project called it “unprecedented.”

It certainly would be and if successful, the program could even impact the disastrous current system in the NBA.

We discussed today on Morning Drive.


Zaslav On CNBC: "We're trying to create a golf Netflix"*

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Like many stories on Tiger’s new deal with Discovery and the PGA Tour, this interview Discovery CEO David Zaslav glosses over one key element of the Tiger Woods-is-coming-to-your-living room-next-year-narrative: he’s not, if you live in the United States. (At least not on Discovery’s GolfTV, he will be seen on PGA Tour Live, Golf Channel, NBC, CBS and TNT, among others).

Nor is Tiger going to be seen on American screens until 2022 at the earliest as part of this content play that more like the PGA Tour building its own network while wisely consolidating its international presentation, as something looking to satisfy viewers.

More interesting for those on the television side of this story is the increasingly debatable vision of a world where we all watch things on a phone. Zaslav emphasizes repeatedly in this interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, even holding up his phone twice to highlight his predictable “Netflix” comparison.

Anyone who has watched golf on a phone can tell you that the viewing experience is generally limited since it is not shot for such devices nor can it ever be made compelling as a cell phone product give the length of a round. Then again, maybe this will finally encourage the PGA Tour to do something about slow play!

Conversely, on a large screen golf is brilliant, giving the sport an aesthetic advantage over others. Sponsors pay handsomely to be viewed in as many homes as possible and to have their logos seen as easily as possible, without being obtrusive. The phone push seems to conflict with the needs of sponsors.

Maybe they see a future without the sponsorship model, with golf tournaments bankrolled by streaming fees?

Anyway, check out the interview, if nothing else to hear one particularly incoherent question at the 3:50 mark or so from Andrew Ross Sorkin. The New York Times columnist appears to know no particulars of the Discovery-PGA Tour deal. Zaslav rides it out artfully. That’s why he gets the big bucks.

Here is the full chat with Zaslav:

Tiger appeared after with Zaslav joining the questioning and talked about getting to answer fan questions, including the ones he really wanted to answer after all of the dumb ones the media asks. Ok.

Tiger also speaks of getting to do content on his own terms and bringing “new youngness” to the game.

He also speaks about getting to make direct contact with his fans by putting instruction and content on phones and tablets. Yet again, no mention that this grow the game effort is only outside the United States for the next three years. Seems misleading. But maybe that’s the point?