RBC/PGA Coverage — What Gives?

I was looking forward to seeing some of the perspectives on yesterday’s announcement between the PGA of America and Royal Bank. From my way of thinking, it is a significant deal, with implications for the Canadian Open now and in the future.

Needless to say, it was the Web-based reporters that actually put some thought into the story.

The National Post seems to have passed on the story altogether, and didn’t even both having a marketing or business reporter cover it for the Canwest chain. Similarly, the Globe and Mail didn’t dispatch veteran columnist Lorne Rubenstein to write about it — leaving it to a CP story that appeared only online and simply lifted its info from the press release.

The Toronto Star did have a reporter cover it, but it is clear that no one at the Star understands the significance of these deals or doesn’t have the contacts to put them in context. The Star, instead focuses on — wait for it — Tiger Woods. Right, as if this deal hasn’t been in the works since last summer…

Here’s the Star’s take:

Also, it got the deal on highly favourable terms, Little said, though he said it had nothing to do with Woods’ absence from the game.

Woods, who was the sport’s top ranked player, withdrew from play after running his SUV into a tree Nov. 27 amid an argument with his wife. He later admitted he had been cheating on her. He’s now in therapy for sex addiction.

The controversy has cost Woods millions in lost sponsorships and raised questions about the wider impact on the sports. Woods is a major draw who helps boost audiences and advertising rates for the game.

“Tiger Woods has got to be a factor,” said sports marketing consultant Roy Roedger, president of SDI Marketing, of Toronto.

So who adds something to the story? The usual suspects.

Score’s Bob Weeks said:

Little said that the bank came into golf two and a half years ago with a step-by-step plan that included helping to save the RBC Canadian Open. Its grown that event into a significant showcase and the banks clients have reacted positively.

If you want to invest in golf then this is certainly a great time to do it, Little said. Golf has given us huge brand awareness; its worked very well.

There had been rumours floating around that RBC would sponsor another PGA Tour event and apparently that deal was an option, but Little said the bank got everything it wanted in the agreements with the PGA and the three players.

He said he did meet with the PGA Tour on Tuesday in Florida and there was discussion around four or five different topics. But dont look for a date change for the RBC Canadian Open any time before the end of the current contract in 2012. He believes these deals will help strengthen the RBC Canadian Open as well by showing just how serious a player RBC is in golf.

I asked Little if there were any more announcements in the RBC barrel, ready to be fired. He said that hes pleased right now with what he has but that he is always looking for ways to improve, always keeping his eye on the horizon. writer Ian Hutchison was in FLA for the announcement and added this:

RBC is planting seeds in a game that has been struggling of late with a tough economy and other issues. Like a smart investor, it sees potential in a product that may be in tough times now, but could rebound in a big way in the future.

I think the recession and some of the tough times in the economy helped accelerate some of that value, so as we added all those options together, the PGA of America, being a very local, bottom-up, community-based organization, really fit, said Little.

We figured it would give us a great brand hit for the marketing end in the U.S., where weve got 15-18,000 employees and business throughout the country, he added. Its giving us an immediate hit in the U.K. (through the Ryder Cup), where were building our brand there.

Golf is really proving to be a great marketing platform for us. Our clients and our employees are telling us that and theyre very excited, said Little.

Of course, later he takes Little’s quote at face value saying the deal with the PGA is not related to the PGA Tour’s inability to come to the table and fix the Canadian Open. Yeah, right.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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