Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's Not the Game, It's the Money

Once again it’s time for the readers of Eye On Golf to provide a little feedback. Within the past week a couple of the ruling (albeit self-appointed) bodies of golf have demonstrated exactly where their priorities are concerning the game. I am grateful to Geoff Shackelford for providing these two tidbits although he did not make the connection.

Exhibit A: The USGA convinced 82 people, apparently all Amex card members, to pony up $900 each for the privilege of enjoying a 2007 U.S. Open Preview Day. The day was supposed to include lunch with a seminar on how to prepare for a U.S. Open and a round of golf at this year’s U.S. Open site, Oakmont C.C. But being the marketing wizards that they are from the county of Oz in northern NJ, the Blue Coats produced Tiger Woods and Mike Tirico to conduct the festivities. Tiger just happened to be at Oakmont for two or three practice rounds and I’m sure Tirico was hanging around ABC Sports with nothing to do this time of year.

Exhibit B: The PGA Tour is set to introduce a new scoreboard featuring the latest in high-tech “stuff.” And you can make a safe wager that there is definite coincidence that the initial run will be at the The Players Championship beginning May 7. Perfect timing for those golf fans headed to the TPC. However, when talking about the new scoreboards and the fan base that the PGA Tour attracts, Tom Wade, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the PGA Tour, expertly summed up the whole situation. NY Times reporter Michel Marriott got the whole thing…

“Technology is moving down the road and we’re moving with it,” he (Wade) said. “If you don’t move with it, you(‘re) not going to be around. You’ve got to serve the fan.”

Call it part of the Tiger Effect, the significant migration of a younger and more racially and ethnically diverse group to golf since Tiger Woods turned professional in 1996. Although much of the PGA Tour’s fan base remains mature and affluent, Wade said, significant numbers in that group are “heavy technology adaptors.”

“As we say: We don’t reach everyone. Just the people with all the money,” Wade said.

Ah, well said, Mr. Wade. It's all about the money, not the game.

We will now allow our perceptive and discriminating readers to produce their own insightful conclusions to the above incidents.

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