My latest Sympatico column, which went live on Friday, discusses the concept of a Champions Tour event in Montreal and its chances for success. Here’s the first few paragraphs:
It has been eight years since the golf circuit for old guys “ then called the Senior Tour, now referred to as the Champions “ has been part of the Canadian landscape.
It died a quiet death after sponsor AT&T pulled out. Hardly anyone seemed to care and it disappeared with little protest. Every so often someone would ask whether the event could be resurrected by the Royal Canadian Golf Association. And every so often someone would be told there was no interest.
Which is why this week’s announcement of a Champions Tour event in Montreal starting this July, complete with $4.7-million in taxpayers’ dollars, is so curious. Does anyone care to watch vaguely competitive former golfing greats like Mark O’Meara, Ben Crenshaw, and Fred Couples play for a $1.8-million purse? David Skitt thinks so.
It was Skitt’s sports marketing company, Synchro Sports, that conceived the Champions Tour idea after discussions to bring a Nationwide Tour event to Montreal stalled in 2006. Since 2004, Synchro ran a successful Canadian Tour event in the city, but Skitt says sponsors yearned for something more than 5,000 fans over the four days of the tournament. With a PGA Tour event outside the financial capabilities of the firm, they came up with the concept of running a Champions Tour event.
“We wanted to present a different opportunity to our sponsors,” Skitt explains. “Our sponsors were really interested in corporate hospitality and when you’re selling an experience like the ability to play with Gary Player, well that’s a real consideration.”
You can read the remainder here.