The Champions Tour At 25

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review has a good article on the state of the Champions Tour as it turns 25.

In spite of its relatively low profile, things seem to be going pretty well:

Attendance has increased almost 10 percent each of the last two years.

Charitable contributions, the backbone of all professional golf tours, have increased 20 percent in that time.

Twenty-six events have title sponsors committed through 2006 and several of those through 2007 or 2008.

Official prize money is almost $52 million and the average tournament purse is nearly $1.8 million.

Part of the reason for this success, apparently, is the Champions Tour’s concerted effort to become the most fan friendly tour in town:

In 2002, a Fan Features Program was put into place, with the hope of being able to provide fans with a unique golf experience either at tournaments or on television.

Things like:

Honorary Observers: Ten (separate) groups of two persons each can follow along “inside the ropes” with a group of Champions Tour players during a competition round.

Gallery in the Fairway: This allows fans on Sunday to walk in the fairway and up to the green with the final group on No. 18, Nos. 17-18 or Nos. 16-18, depending on the set up of the golf course.

A number of fan enhancements have been designed as “Behind the Scenes” experiences: Visit to the Broadcast Television Compound; Behind the Director’s Chair.

Clinics: Clinics are available at tournaments for all fans on either the practice range, practice green, or “walking clinics” on the actual tournament golf course.

Fans are selected by the tournament in the months leading up to the event, with those selected generally being sponsors, youth groups and consumer promotion winners.

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