|After years of economic prosperity, the PGA Tour is now in the same position as most Americans and needs to save money where it can. (Courtesy photo)|
As the entire globe faces an unprecedented financial crisis, the world of sports is already feeling the crunch. The NBA, once the most lucrative sporting league on the planet, is cutting jobs and tightening its belt. Other leagues are already looking for ways to save money as the economic noose tightens.
For fans of the PGA Tour, the economic downturn couldn't come at a worse time. Already suffering the loss of Tiger Woods due to a knee injury, television ratings are dipping lower and sponsors are growing more concerned. After all, young stars like Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley and Camilo Villegas have drawing power, but none can fill Woods' absence, especially when so many Americans are struggling to make ends meet.
Like all other sectors of society, the PGA Tour is now looking for ways to save. Luckily for PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, there are plenty of ways to cut costs and increase revenue. From the sublime to the ridiculous, here are some examples of how the PGA Tour can stay profitable during troubled times:
Give Michelle Wie a sponsor's exemption to everything
If there is one thing we've learned over the past several years, it's this - Michelle Wie could shoot a 122 and still draw more fans than FedEx Cup winner Vijay Singh. The PGA Tour has already sold out by giving Wie numerous sponsor's exemptions, so it really can't hurt at this point to give the teen unlimited sponsor's exemptions.
Let her play in Skins games, the Grand Slam, the Masters, the U.S. Open, etc. And to insure that viewer ratings stay high all weekend, give Wie an exemption so she always makes the cut, regardless of her score. Wie's fans have proven to be incredibly loyal. It's time for the PGA Tour to really cash in on her popularity.
Recycle golf balls
Everyone's going green and the PGA Tour has a huge opening to not just show off its love of the environment, but also save a ton of money. The PGA Tour's long-held motto of "These guys are good" can finally be truly tested as all players would be forced to use range balls. Not only will using range balls save money (you can buy about a billion of them for $1 on eBay) it will also help connect with "Joe Sixpack" golfers. Because honestly, who among us hasn't used a range ball during their round at least once?
Nationalize the PGA Tour
No other sport on the planet is as connected with banks and corporations as professional golf. If Americans can stomach their government bailing out banks and mortgage companies, then they can deal with the PGA Tour getting a few billion. Let the PGA Tour become a part of, say, the Department of Interior, and make it a part of the government. This will not only ensure the Tour's survival, it will also create literally hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Because with the Feds in charge of things, you can guarantee it will take 100 workers to do the job one person used to do.
Force Tiger Woods to play on one leg
One day soon, Tiger Woods will be a billionaire. And he'll have the PGA Tour to thank for his incredible riches. It's time Tiger gave back to the Tour. By playing on a knee that's not fully healed, he'll not only ratchet up excitement levels at tournaments, he'll give other players perhaps their best chance to beat him consistently.
Winner take all
The PGA Tour has spoiled its members. These days, a golfer could finish every tournament in 40th place and still earn several million dollars a year. In a time where normal folks are struggling, it's time to stop rewarding failure and stop rewarding golfers for playing it safe. With a winner-take-all format, you'll really see some battles for titles. One winner, one payday, everyone else goes home empty handed.
Join the War on Terror
Everyone supports the troops. Everyone hates terrorism. By having all PGA Tour members join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or National Guard, professional golfers will have double duty - they'll fight for birdies as well as fight terror. You want big television ratings? Having Tiger Woods hold up a winners trophy with one hand and the head of Osama bin Laden with the other would draw 100 percent viewership.
Make qualifying tournaments death matches
Hey, radical times require radical actions. There are literally thousands of golfers out there who would give anything to earn their PGA Tour card. So let's take them at their word. You want your Tour card? Well, you better bring your game, because if you tee it up at a Q-School event, there will be two possible results - do well and get your Tour card; fail and get thrown into a lake full of crocodiles. If Mixed Martial Arts can make big bucks on pay-per-view, so can death golf.
By following these simple steps, the PGA Tour should continue to thrive despite economic turmoil. In the end, it comes down to protecting average Americans from financial problems depriving them of great golf. And while we don't expect Finchem to follow all these plans, we are quite confident that he's prepared to do whatever it takes. After all, this is the man who created the FedEx Cup.
October 15, 2008
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
We all love golf course rankings, but there's quite a bias involved, huh? Host a major championship and you're basically guaranteed a spot on the list. What about the average duffer who's more impressed with the beer list than the slope/rating - or prefers friendliness over the fine, imported lotion in the locker room? Where's our list, hackers? Answer: Right here.
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