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Money Never Sleeps: PGA Tour acquires Canadian Tour

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PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and officials from the Canadian Tour held a press conference today to announce a key move in the expansion of the PGA Tour’s global reach. The PGA Tour will assume operational control of what was the Canadian Tour. It will become the PGA Tour Canada in 2013. The conversion will begin Nov. 1 of this year.

The PGA Tour Canada will provide a way for players to qualify for the PGA Tour by granting the top finishers in the Canadian Order of Merit access to the Web.com Tour.  The No. 1 finisher receives full exempt status for the Web.com Tour, while the next four finishers receive “conditional” or partial exemption to tour events. The Web.com Tour is now the sole means of qualifying for the PGA Tour. Canadian Tour officials acknowledged that the PGA Tour had been offering both operational and financial support throughout the 2012 season, and that the Canadian Tour had long sought to build a formal collaboration with the PGA Tour.

“Having gained a thorough understanding of the golf landscape in Canada over the course of the 2012 season, we are confident that by fully dedicating our assets and resources, PGA TOUR Canada will be well positioned to play an increasingly important role in professional golf,” Finchem said. “With a solid foundation of existing tournaments along with outstanding opportunities to establish new events, we are confident PGA TOUR Canada will strengthen and grow in the coming years.”

The Canadian Tour is a 10-speed bike compared to the high-powered race car of a tour that is the PGA Tour. Even in the challenging economy of the last five years, the PGA Tour has maintained its sponsorship levels, prize money has held steady and the TV money is still rolling in. The real question is: why was the Tour in acquisition mode for  a unique fixer-upper of a property?

One of the answers is players, both professional and amateur. On the amateur side, approximately 21 percent of Canadians play golf, twice the percentage of Americans. This represents a group that is ripe for the marketing machines that the PGA Tour can bring to bear in the country. Not least among the marketing teams that will be anxious to start planting signs will be Royal Bank of Canada. Despite their blue-ribbon sponsorship level they have zero consumer branches in the U.S. An opportunity to appeal to a broader base of customers will be very attractive to RBC and will help to keep them snugly in the PGA Tour portfolio.

On the professional side, there is an arms race between the U.S. and European Tour. The Euros have conceded that the very best of their Tour will come to the U.S. to compete for fortune and glory. But they are determined to keep the best of the rest in Europe. Just last week, the European Tour announced that they wil be adding the Turkish Open to their schedule, and they are aggressively courting the same big-name sponsors that the U.S. tour seeks. In the current business environment, there isn’t enough sponsorship money or playing talent for everyone. There will be winners and losers and both sides are in it to win it.

You have to give credit to Finchem. The acquisition of the Canadian Tour comes almost a year to the day of the creation of the PGA Latino American Tour, another circuit that provides young players a path to the big show. Under this NAFTA-like umbrella, Finchem has created a strong allure to bring the best young players in the world to North America and keep them there into the 50s and beyond. He has also created a marketing area for potential sponsors that covers two continents seamlessly. With a global tour becoming more and more of a certainty than a possibility, Finchem has positioned some strong pieces in the chess game that is to come.

He summarized it perfectly.

“We have great support in Canada. If you just look at when we play tournaments up there, the turnout and the response, and the support of sponsors at all levels and the fans have been extraordinary. It just kind of makes sense that the extension of that to the early period of professional players careers, that is the qualifying part of it be part of that down to the grass roots. We think that all fits very well as well. We’re very optimistic about the opportunities to reach out to the business community in Canada and bring in that kind of support.”

Now, if someone would just do something about the LPGA Tour.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

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Podcasts

TG2: Talking about the new 2020 Cobra gear

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New 2020 Cobra clubs are out and we start talking about the specs. New SpeedZone drivers, fairways, hybrids, and irons look great and are packed with technology. What do we like and what don’t we like.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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The Gear Dive: Callaway Golf Tour Rep Simon Wood

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In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Titleist, Johnny sits down with Callaway Golf Tour Rep Simon Wood on MD5, his Top 3 Callaway wedges of all time and the excitement of launching Jaws on Tour.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Birdie holes and other myths

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I am an ardent observer of self-destructive things I see golfers do and hear golfers say, and one that really gets me is when I hear someone stand on the tee and proclaim, “This is a birdie hole.”
Really? How do you know when you haven’t even hit your drive yet, much less your approach? If you’re a 12 handicap, let’s say, there are really only 5-6 “par” holes out here; how can you think this one is a “birdie hole”?

This game is tough, and making birdies is the toughest achievement out there. Very few are made without hitting two better-than-average shots, or at least one remarkable one, whether the approach or the putt. Think about that for a minute. You could be a scratch golfer and never make one! Eighteen pars and a bogey or or two will get you to scratch on most courses. If you are an 8 handicap, that means you average about 82 or so, which equates to 8 pars and 10 bogeys in a round – what are you doing thinking about making a birdie at all, much less while on the tee?

My advice is that if you are a 10 handicap or higher, your singular thought on the tee should be to not make a double or higher. Chances are you don’t hit the driver 280-plus and you don’t hit even half the fairways. If you track your rounds, I’d bet you will find a high relativity of drives out of the fairway to doubles (or worse) put on the scorecard.

So let’s assume you got off the tee well, now what? When you face your approach shot, my advice is to figure out which side of the green gives you the best chance of getting up and down and the least odds of facing a short-side difficult pitch. And there’s never anything wrong with targeting the fat middle of the green, regardless of where the pin is located. On most courses, a ball in the dead center of the green will give you a half dozen or more reasonable putts, and the rest will not be overly long or difficult. The next round you play, just stand in the middle of the green after you are done and survey the putt that ball position would have given you.

Here’s another interesting and enlightening drill for you if you find yourself out for a day of learning on the golf course. On each hole, after your drive and approach, play a second ball from the “safe” side of the green, just as if you had missed your approach to this safe side. Then hit a pitch or chip and putt it out. Keep that score on along with the score you actually made and see how you come out.

I’ve been blessed to have played to a low handicap my whole life, and I am an entrepreneur…but I really do not have a gambler personality. On the golf course, I want to have fun, and I’ve learned that trying to save pars from the short side really doesn’t deliver that. If I’m tuned in to my game, I play the safe side of fairways off the tee and the safe side of the hole with my approaches. I make my share of birdies, and keep big numbers and bogeys on short holes to a minimum by taking this approach.

Of course, I find a 73 or 74 with only one or two birdies more fun than a 78 with 3 or 4. You might not.

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