Is the Euro Tour At A Crossroads?
The New York Times reports that the European Tour “may be something of a crossroads for a European Tour losing its best players, struggling for sponsors and finding it increasingly hard to host events in its own backyard.”
The problem, it seems, is that the European Tour is a bit of a developmental tour for the PGA Tour. It develops top talent, only to watch them migrate to the US in search of bigger paychecks. Three of four Majors also are held in the US, so it’s to the advantage of top players to practice more in the States.
Ian Poulter noted: “It’s a tough situation for the European Tour because there’s not much money around and it’s very hard to convince sponsors to put big tournaments on. The tour need to work with the players on trying to find new sponsors.”
There’s no reason for the European Tour to play second fiddle to the US in terms of money and tournaments. Consider the following:
GDP European Union $17 trillion
GDP US: $15 trillion
Population European Union: 503 million
Population United States:314 million
The European Union has the advantage of money and population here. Throw in East Asian, African and Pacific Rim money and population and there should be no contest. That leaves leadership. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Tim Finchem has done a remarkable job in guiding the PGA Tour to a position of wealth and stability. I don’t follow the European Tour closely, but my initial reaction is that George O’Grady has not performed as well.
Freakonomics on Golf
Freakonomics author Steven Levitt says
the attention given to anchored putting is a distraction from the real issue that bedevils golf: pros hit the ball too far and everyday golfers hit the ball too short. Pros hitting the ball too far is a problem because there is a huge stock of old golf courses, the value of which are greatly depreciated by the increases in distance. Classic old courses aren’t hard enough to challenge the pros. In response, large investments are made to stretch the distance of these courses to keep up. And changes in the tournament courses alter the perceptions of golfers.
Levitt’s suggestion: a ball that flies the same for slower swing speeds, but that puts the brakes on as swing speeds increase.
Sounds like fantasy to me. The real answer is bifurcation. I think it is the thing that saves golf.
Watson Against Olympic Golf
Tom Watson is a lone voice in the wilderness, arguing that golf does not belong in the Olympics:
“I still think of Olympics as track and field and not golf, to be honest with you. We have our most important championships [the four major championships]. You have golf in the Olympics. You have diluted the importance, in a sense, of the four major championships.”
We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
In related news, Tom Watson says he’d like to captain the Ryder Cup. A collection of golf writers seem to be against the idea, but I think its a good one. My guess is that Watson commands a great deal of respect. I think he would have no problem giving orders to the troops. I can’t imagine any of them talking back to the legend. And, as someone on the downside of his playing career (which has by some miracle gone twenty years longer than it should), he likely has two years to devote to the matches.