No Brave New Dawn For Global Golf
Underwhelming. That’s one word to describe today’s “strategic alliance” announcement from the European Tour and PGA Tour. If this is the brave new dawn that’s going to protect golf’s “ecosystem,” then maybe the global game isn’t in for much of a shake up after all.
What was the sum gain for global golf? Three co-sanctioned tournaments, one blue chip European Tour event and two bottom of the PGA Tour food chain events will now be open to players from both tours. Oh, and two WGC tournaments have fallen off the global schedule.
The Scottish Open will now count towards the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points race, while the Barbasol and Barracuda Championships will be included in the Race to Dubai. Never heard of the Barbasol and Barracuda tournaments? That’s not surprising, they are held the same week as the Open Championship and WGC–FedEx St Jude Classic.
“I think today is a win-win for everybody involved,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said.
Not sure many are buying that line Keith.
The Barbasol and Barracuda are $3.5 million tournaments on a tour where the average purse is about $8 million. Only two events on the PGA Tour are worth less. As former colleague Adam Schupak pointed out on a media conference call with Pelley and Monahan, giving PGA Tour players the chance to play in a prestigious Rolex Series event on the European Tour in exchange for two of the lowest funded tournaments on the PGA Tour doesn’t sound fair.
So much for the strategic alliance being an equal partnership. Seems obvious from this dynamic the PGA Tour is calling the shots.
Of course, Pelley and PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan wouldn’t agree with that last sentence, or the word that starts this blog. They talked up yesterday’s announcement, one that was nearly nine months in the making – and this is the best they can do? – as if it was going to revolutionise the game.
“When we announced the strategic alliance at the end of last year, we said it was a landmark moment for global golf’s ecosystem that would benefit all members of both Tours,” Pelley said.
Monahan stuck to the script:
“With today’s news, I am pleased to say that the PGA Tour and the European Tour are both stronger than at any time in our history, as we are positioned to grow – together – over the next 10 years faster than we have at any point in our existence.”
The Irish Open purse grows to £6 million from this year’s $3 million, but that’s $1 million less than when it first became a Rolex Series event. Remember, these tournaments were supposed to be a minimum of $7 million.
Conveniently skirted around was the disappearance of the two WGC events. Wait, weren’t the WGC tournaments supposed to bring the world of golf together, a chance for PGA Tour and European Tour players to count the four on their respective schedules?
Er, yes, is the simple answer.
To be fair to the two protagonists, they promised today’s announcement was only the start of exciting times, that there was more coming down the pike. Monahan said:
“This is just the beginning of what our future product model will look like.”
Pelley chipped in with:
“It's an important first step. You'll hear me say it over and over again, I think that's exactly what it is: it's a first step. There is much more to come from this alliance.”
Let’s hope so, because today’s announcement is hardly going to send shock waves through the global game. Those behind the proposed Premier Golf League must be shaking in their boots.
#JustSaying: “If professional golf were to vanish from the earth tomorrow, golfers around the world would observe a moment of silence and then go right on play.” George Peper