On its premise, the announcement that the PGA Tour was enveloping the Canadian Tour was not a surprise. The PGA Tour spent too long doing due diligence to walk away from the Canadian Tour. But beyond that, it needed the Canadian Tour — or something like it — to buttress its strategy of reworking the Web.com Tour and PGA Tour qualifying school. So the meagre eight events the Canadian Tour ran last year was at least a starting point.
The details, to my way of thinking, are interesting, though not integral to the bigger picture:
- Commissioner Rick Janes is on the way out. He’s been assigned a “consulting” role that has not been defined. Looks like a golden handshake to me. I almost always got along with Janes, but he wasn’t widely liked by the players, especially those that wanted him pushed out last year. On the other hand, he had a tough gig — trying to sell a tour with little media exposure in a difficult sponsorship market. As one person told me recently, the Canadian sponsorship market is 15 years behind the U.S. So Janes faced an uphill battle, but wasn’t helped by the fact his players, tournament promoters and even staff didn’t care for him.
- The top winner on the Canadian Tour will get a spot on the Web.com tour. The next four will get status that’s almost full, at least until the players are reranked. Beyond that, the details aren’t clear. How many will get into second or third stage of Q School, which will now feed into the Web.com Tour? No one seems to have that figured out. (Or as one commentator mentioned on G4G, No. 6-10 on the money list will get into the final stage to get on the Web.com tour — thanks PE.)
- There will be a minimum of eight events next year with purses of $150,000. That’s a nice improvement over this year.
But beyond PGA Tour commissioner’s platitudes about “finding the next Mike Weir,” is there much meat to this announcement? Sure the Canadian Tour survives, and a handful of employees keep their jobs — that’s the good news.
On the other hand, this was almost a lost year. The tour needs to grow, but no new tournament sponsors were going to step up without knowing the tour’s future. They simply sat and waited. Are they going to sign on now that the PGA Tour is involved?
That seems to be what one promoter feels — though I think he’s wrong. Here’s David Lee-Fay from Linx Marketing on the Vancouver market in a story by Brad Zeimer:
“It’s always harder to sell something when it’s ‘this might happen’ as opposed to ‘now it has happened,’ ” Lee-Fay, a partner in Linx Marketing, said after Thursday’s long-rumoured announcement. “Hopefully there will be a lot of enthusiasm around the fact it is PGA Tour Canada and companies will be more interested in getting involved.”
Maybe, but there are a lot of unanswered questions. Where’s the value for a company? On one hand there is local value to sponsors, but finding a title sponsor, one with national aspirations, might be tough. Everyone immediately talks about RBC, but only because they are too obvious to ignore. And there’s an assumption they are keen on more Canadian golf assets. And what would they be sponsoring? Eight tournaments in mid-sized markets (with the exception of Edmonton)?
It strikes me that PGA Tour Canada now needs to define itself. Is there a TV deal for even a weekly magazine show? Surely the PGA Tour could lean on Golf Channel for that.
But Finchem seems to suggest there’s more in the works:
Again, the goal is to build upon a foundation that’s been established and strengthen PGA TOUR Canada. We plan to work with all Canadian media, and our current television partners, Shaw GlobalTV and TSN to broaden coverage of this TOUR.
- The Winnipeg Sun talks about how it’ll impact that city’s event.
- The same goes for Victoria.
- Score’s Rick Young has a different take from mine on PGA Tour Canada’s business prospects.
- Score Editor Jason Logan gets some interesting reaction from players.
- Globe columnist Lorne Rubenstein feels slightly melancholy about the announcement.