No doubt, last week's Deutsche Bank event was a thriller, anytime you have the two most popular players on tour duking it out Mano-a-Mano, it's gonna bring drama.
That's the problem.
Thanks in part to the Fed Ex Cup, the PGA is creating a situation where they are conditioning the golf fan to be interested only when there is a lot riding on the line (vis-a-vis Majors), or when Phil or Tiger play each other.
Take this week's BMW event...it was reported that less than 200 fans lined up to see Tiger tee it up Thursday, and with the combination of rain impacting the event...and Phil not playing...the BMW is looking more like The Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech, instead of the show-stopper it was intended to be.
It's not that golf fans don't love golf, it's that the PGA is undermining their own popularity by giving the fans a reason that they have the power to prioritize what they watch (can you say hello football).
It's the reason baseball and football Unions have leverage. Unions know that if the players go on strike, fans will figure out new ways to occupy their time, and lose focus of the implied importance of every game. It makes it that much harder for team owners to recapture the audience.
So the PGA is left with this huge problem, and really no way out of it. It will mean a lot less money to fringe events (50% of next years' tournaments), and a lot more money to whatever event is on Tiger's schedule (with the implied guessing-game that Phil will be there too). The imminent danger is that the PGA is losing it's brand image, and it is becoming a bunch of individual brands (think NFL, and how they go to unbelievable lengths to protect its brand so the name is larger than the players). The PGA needs to look at all the problems the NFL players have had this year, and it won't even touch the NFL brand. It's masterful.
One tournament that is going to reap absolutely gargantuan rewards from this PGA gaffe, is next weeks Tour Championship in Atlanta. That event will be the most watched, most talked about, most exciting tournament this year. Thanks to last week's taste the fans were given of that Tiger/Phil duel, The Tour Championship will be pulling out all the stops to showcase its premier match-up.
The events big sponsor Coca Cola, will get a muche deserved redemption from last years' abrupt pullout of Tiger.
Coke's new ad campaign is all about the consumer getting rewarded from buying coke products.
But next week Coke will get rewarded...and, as the vintage ad goes: in perfect harmony.
Thanks for reading. Keep it in the short-grass,
While it is a well argued point the flipside to this argument is that the Tour officials will turn around and tell us look at the amount of interest we have been able to generate even after the regular PGA season and that is a fact that we cannot deny.
Irrespective of where one stands with respect to his or her allegiance towards the FedEx Cup, it has ensured that the focus has remained and the PGA Tour officials are not complaining one bit. The only thing that probably hurts their cause is the lack of support that they have received from the players. Other than that they can for sure go ahead and prove all their detractors wrong by telling them that the FedEx Cup has ensured even during post season everyone is talking golf. Now with the tope 3 on the leaderboard, Tiger Woods,Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson expected to play at the final playoff there are quite a few people rubbing their hands in glee.
Whether this can be sustained through the years remains to be seen and the only real factor that wil affect that equation is whether the players start giving this event a lot of weightage.
I really enjoyed this "playoff" type atmosphere! And seeing Tiger play 3 out of the last 4 weeks and play so well was great!
I agree with a few of your points, especially that the casual golf fan is more likely to tune in when Tiger and Phil are battling it out. However, true golf fans don't even follow Tiger and Phil when they are at the course live. Unless you are inside the ropes, it is just too difficult to follow their group and get consistent in person looks at their swings. I was at the DB and chose to stay on the 9th tee for hours and watch some of the greatest players in the worl tee off 3 feet from where I was standing. While being at a tournament is OK for following the standings, I look at it as a much better opportunity to get up close and personal with the world's best, even if some of them are unknown to the casual fan. Of course, while at home watching on TV, the Tiger and Phil coverage is what I am hoping for. Nice article.
Thanks for all your great comments!
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