PGA Tour Fallout From The Market Crisis?

Always looking for a golf angle on the news, it occurred to me that the PGA Tour could suffer some sponsorship difficulties as a result of therecent financial market crisis. By my count, eleven of the tournament title sponsors this past year were financial services or banking companies, including: the FBR Open, the Northern Trust Open, the Accenture World Golf Classic, the Zurich Classic, Bay Hill (Mastercard), the Wachovia, the Memorial (Morgan Stanley), the Travelers Championship, the US Bank – Milwaukee, the Barclays Championship, and the Deutsche Bank Championship.

At least one of those companies—Wachovia—is acknowledged to be in trouble. Citigroup has just announced that they will buy Wachovia’s banking arm

Considering the trouble the Tour has had recently in finding replacement sponsors, I wonder what the result of all of this will be. Perhaps a shorter season. The remaining sponsors could be all be tucked into the schedule between January and the Tour Championship, killing off the Fall Series. That would make the big guns, who have been pressing for a shorter season, happier anyway.

I’m also wondering if a shortage of big money sponsors could prompt American stars to head out for the European Tour or other international events, as Phil has threatened to do. There, they can get appearance fees just for showing up.

I’m sure we will hear more about this in the coming weeks, as next year’s schedule is set.

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3 thoughts on “PGA Tour Fallout From The Market Crisis?”

  1. My heart doesn’t break at the thought of big name American golfers suffering with smaller paychecks due to this banking crisis.  The prize money is inflated anyway and this could be a beneficial self correction for the Tour to prepare them for the day when Tiger retires and sponsors realize they are paying out big money for Tiger not being in the field.  As for going to Europe – it’s really going to the Oil Rich countries of Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar – the rest of the European tour events aren’t nearly as lucrative. Gee thanks for supporting OPEC and those high American gas prices.  Frankly, I don’t see many Americans making the trip to go overseas to play.  They had plenty of opportunity to do so before now and were just too lazy (though they will claim it’s too far to go with a family at home – blah, blah, blah).

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  2. Now it would be interesting to see how this works out because the most mileage a sponsor gets from a tournament is in securing the title rights and the tournament has to continue for years together to be associated with that event and be thought of in the same breath. For the marketing brains involved, a successful event for the brand takes a few years to fructify and most people have to plan keeping the future in mind to finally succeed in creating a link between the product and the sport and a seemingly inseparable one at that. Now in the case of the Wachovia Championship could it become the CitiGroup Championship? That would pretty much undo a lot of effort that has been invested in raising the profile of that particular tournament.

    In the last few weeks we have had a few players openly expressing their intent to play more of the European tour events to play on a variety of courses. The ‘Race to Dubai’ obviously is playing a fairly important role in that decision. Now if the PGA Tour begins to struggle with its sponsors it could easily result in helping raise the profile of the European Tour after all it is played across many continents and unlike the PGA Tour is not largely limited to one country. So along with being a true challenge for a golfer who gets an opportunity to excel in different conditions it also presents the players to lay their hands on some cool money.

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