PGA Tour Canada: the courses and the veterans

The Canadian Tour PGA Tour Canada had a limited conference call last week — just four writers were invited to participate  — and it is interesting to see what each of the scribes came up with. On the call was Jeff Monday, president of the new PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour commish Tim Finchem.

Lorne Rubenstein, writing for the Golf Canada site (and the Globe, though I don’t know whether this was in the paper or not), discusses the courses of the tour. Not surprisingly, Finchem didn’t know much about them — he’s more of a big picture guy when it comes to the tour, and probably couldn’t tell Dakota Dunes from The Lakes in Cape Breton:

Anyway, the courses. The stronger the courses that host the tournaments, the more appealing they’ll be. One of the primary objectives of PGA Tour Canada is to provide a means for players to get to the Tour, and, ultimately, to reach the PGA Tour. Golfers who have competed on challenging courses will be better prepared as they stretch themselves to the higher levels of the game. I asked Finchem about the matter of the courses.

“That’s an important part of the equation,” Finchem said. “If you consider what was originally the Hogan Tour and is now the Tour, it’s been a constant evolution of courses. You want to make every effort you can to create the competitive environment players will face when they get to the next level.”

What’s interesting is that I don’t think PGA Tour Canada has had any impact on the quality of the courses — at least yet. In fact, the former Canadian Tour has regularly played pretty strong courses, that’s something I took away from hanging out at the Tour Championship at Scarboro last year. All of the players, especially the Americans, had plenty of nice things to say about the quality of the courses.

The Times-Colonist, which sponsors the first tour event in Victoria (which is the reason they were given a spot on the call incidentally, according to PGA Tour media relations), had writer Mario Annicchiarico cover the conference. I can’t say I’m familiar with Annicchiarico’s writing, but he quotes Finchem as talking about the “strong fan base” that led the tour north. Pardon me, I thought it was the fact that the Canadian Tour was broke, and that the PGA Tour needed a feeder system for its new qualifying structure, but I digress:

“In a consequence, I think branding this tour as part of the PGA Tour is having a positive effect from the business community from a sponsorship community and the fans as well,” said Finchem.

“Given the new focus of the tour, we anticipate what has been a traditionally strong competition will be more enhanced as they make their way on the PGA Tour that will create more interest and support in the Canadian markets as well.”

 I particularly like Jeff Monday’s take on what they’re doing to expand interest in the tour:

“And lastly, a broader media exposure, both in market and across the country with our PGA Tour Canada highlight show [which began Friday on TSN2] and using the assets and resources of media relations staff to get the word out.

Media relations? Like having four writers on a conference call? I guess that’s what you do to “get the word out.”

Winnipeg Free Press’ Tim Campbell is a fine writer — but I’m surprised that even he could make sense of Finchem’s comment about the tour’s future:

“Our assumptions are that given the specific road… that in and of itself is going to create more interest and a real focus for potential (PGA Tour) players on playing in these tournaments,” Finchem said as PGA Tour Canada gets ready for its first official event of the season next week in Victoria. “Given the new focus of the tour as part of the roadway, we anticipate that what has been traditionally strong competition will be even more enhanced and as these players going forward make their way onto the PGA Tour and some of them become successful, that will create more interest and more support in the Canadian markets as well.”

Holy run on sentence Batman. If the commish spoke in sentences that long the whole call maybe it makes sense to have four interviewers on — after all, they’d probably only get one question each.
Interestingly, in Campbell’s story, Finchem makes it sound like the tour is a new entity, not a continuation of the former Canadian Tour.
Which brings us to the last of the quality quartet of stories, this one from SCORE’s inimitable editor Jason Logan. He asks Finchem about changes to the veteran’s category on the tour, and though Finchem is seemingly never at a loss of words, he doesn’t really have much to say on this one:

On a Friday morning conference call with four members of the Canadian media, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was cryptic when I asked him if he could tell me why the change was made.

“Maybe I could, but I might get myself into a controversy,” he said.

I’m not sure why he avoided the question. With due respect to the tour’s veteran players, the reshuffle of categories (and the extinction of the veteran category starting next season) is prudent. PGA Tour Canada is a developmental circuit and as such its focus should be on stocking fields with developing players.

Logan is likely right — old school veterans need to perform or find other gigs. And Finchem and Monday are clear — this is a new look tour with a new flavour and a new name.



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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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