Canandian Tour Commissioner Rick Janes responded to my commentary on the “pro gap” white paper his organization published, taking particular affront to the notion that the Canadian Tour is in trouble. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Janes, and so I publish his remarks unedited.
Here is his response:
This started out to be a disappointing year for the Canadian Tour because of the loss of events on our schedule but at the same time many of our purses are at a record high. The schedule, and particularly the gaps in the schedule, make it less than efficient for players to travel which is something we always try to avoid. We have however just come off one of the best years we have ever had and have more sponsorship interest in the Canadian Tour than ever before.
Our 2009 season was one of the best in Canadian Tour history. It included purse increases at several Canadian events, expansion into Latin America, full membership in the International Federation of PGA Tours, and the performance of our top players not the least of which was that of Graham DeLaet. Coupled with a solid financial performance and a strong balance sheet all of this amounted to a great year.
With the exception of the Montreal Open which is now a Champions Tour event, the loss of events on our 2010 schedule was a delayed reaction to the economic fallout that began in September 2008. We went relatively unscathed in 2009 and actually increased prized money. With companies still feeling the economic pinch last summer, sponsorship decisions made for 2010 affected not only events we had under development in Canada but also those in Mexico and Latin America as well. We lost three events in Canada and another four on our international schedule. This has been a difficult period for everyone involved with sponsorship.
That said, there is more interest from national sponsors in the Canadian Tour today than we have witnessed in many years. While it typically takes twelve to eighteen months to bring a new event online, we currently have seven events under development in Canada of which three or four should come on-line in 2011. Filling in gaps that currently exist on our Canadian schedule is the focus of our efforts and that includes the gap in BC and another in Quebec.
The white paper that we released April 20th is intended to stimulate discussion about the development of elite players and young professionals in Canada. It is also intended to promote the need for a healthy Canadian Tour as an integral part of that development process. It does not profess to have the answers. It is intended to highlight the importance of a collaborative effort to address the “gap period” that has been identified in the Long Term Player Development Program developed by the CPGA and RCGA. It is a starting point and nothing more.
Moreover, any suggestion that the paper is expecting anymore from the likes of Mike Weir and Stephen Ames than they are already giving Canadian golf is an unfair interpretation. The contributions that Mike and Stephen make to the game in Canada are already significant and beyond reproach.
As far as the need for corporate support in the “gap period”, and on the Canadian Tour for that matter, commercial sponsorship is an important marketing tool today with highly measurable value. This is not a philanthropic effort or a call to pass the hat to help develop the next generation of players. Golf as a marketing platform that offers excellent marketing value and highly measurable returns.
With my best regards,
Fair enough. However, if sponsorship is “highly measurable,” why aren’t more companies stepping up to put their cash behind Canadian golfers? Is it ignorance? Or is it that they don’t see a return on investment?
I’ll note that some Canadian golfers — I recall Richard Scott as one example, and Andrew Parr as another — have been very successful in raising corporate support.
As for Janes’ comments that the paper didn’t intend a slight against Ames and Weir, I have no reason to doubt it. But that’s not how it reads.
And finally, I don’t see how adding tour events in South America helps the Canadian Tour when most of its members aren’t in the field. It strikes me the tour has tried Mexico and California with moderate levels of success. Why not focus on Canada — or are Canadian sponsors and cities not up to supporting the Canadian Tour? And if that is the case, why not?