Over the last couple of days, I’ve run across a slew of editorials from various communities that have been cut out of the new PGA Tour schedule. The Binghampton paper was grasping at straws, hoping that the PGA would at least grant them a Champions Tour event. A columnist at The Toronto Star seemed genuinely angry at the horrible placement of the Canadian Open. And an article in the Briston Press talks about the simultaneous loss of the Buick Open’s summertime spot, and it’s title sponsor.
There also were many, many more that I won’t enumerate here.
I’m sure that the PGA Tour has done its calculations. And I’m sure that replacing (or moving to an irrelevant spot) some of the “smaller” tournaments is the best way to increase revenues for the current contract. And I know that stripping tournaments of their traditional names for the names of corporate sponsors pays off (How long before the players travel to Irving, Texas to play in the International Cell Phone Company Open, never knowning that it once was the Byron Nelson).
But I wonder if the PGA Tour isn’t sacrificing it’s long term health for short term gains.
I can’t help but think that some of these “second tier” events—with their army of dedicated volunteers and strong community commitment—are one of the current strengths of the Tour. These events have character, and the people in those communities genuinely care about the tournaments, and PGA Tour golf. Selling out that bedrock for ever higher dollars doesn’t seem like a good long term strategy to me.
When, somewhere down the line, Big Box cancels its sponsorship of the MegaMart Championship at the Entirely Manufactured Golf Club in the City of the Week, no one is going to care. And when the PGA Tour moves that event to another city, and renames it the MultiCorp Shipping and Packing Championship at the Soulless Corporately Designed Fake Links, no one is going to notice.