PGA Tour
Golf Tidbits: PGA needs to improve tournament promotions

Kevin Currie, Golf Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you watched as much college football and basketball as I did over the holidays, you know one thing for certain... The Masters is coming to ESPN in April.

Really, I swear. And the Ides are coming in March, Labor Day in September and Thanksgiving next November.

If you are not a diehard golf fan, however, I bet you couldn't tell me what next week's PGA Tour event is without looking at the schedule.

My point is this: where is the PGA advertising money going?

I watched very little of the Golf Channel over the holidays, mostly because there was no golf on, but I did catch some of their Tiger Week coverage. During that brief time, I caught a few commercials for last week's Mercedes- Benz Championship, and an equal number of ads for the FedEx Cup. I also saw a few commercials for the Aloha season on the Golf Channel, which includes two PGA Tour, one LPGA Tour and two Champions Tour events.

Over the holidays, the only golf ad I saw not on the Golf Channel and not for The Masters was for the Mercedes-Benz Championship. Where did I see that ad? On Versus, which is owned by Comcast, as is the Golf Channel.

Why couldn't the tour or a sponsor of one of the first few events buy some advertising time during the Bowl Championship Series and run an ad on Fox? Is it because Fox doesn't cover golf? That could be it, but I don't buy it.

There were several college football and basketball games on CBS and NBC over the holidays, and neither had any golf commercials. Both of those channels are part of the PGA Tour's large TV contract, so why not slide a few commercials in during the holidays, when viewership for sports is up, and try to steal a few more viewers?

ESPN's commercial for The Masters caught my eye again the other day when it said, "coming in April". No mention of the actual dates (April 9-12) though.

The Masters is actually the 16th event on the PGA Tour schedule. The only reason ESPN is advertising for it already is that this will be the first time that network will broadcast the tournament and it is also the first ESPN golf broadcast of the year.

As for the other 15 events, you would need a keen eye to find any advertising for them. I subscribe to three sports magazines - Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and Golf Digest.

One would think with the new season starting there would be some advertisements in these magazines promoting the start of the new campaign.

For two of these magazines, that wasn't the case. The January 12th and January 19th issues of SI had zero golf-related ads, while the January 12th ESPN publication also ran no ads for the new golf season.

Only Golf Digest had advertisements related to the start of the new season. The January issue had a variety of ads, including one reminding readers that the season started January 8th, in addition to listings about two other on- course events that are not PGA Tour-related.

At one point, there were three ads in a five-page segment promoting the opening of the season, as well as mentions of the first four tournaments. There was another advertisement promoting a trip to the TPC of Sawgrass, with small print stating "Home of The Players Championship."

The February Golf Digest issue is on sale now, and while it has the same Sawgrass advertisement, there are no ads mentioning specific tournaments. However, it does have a promotion for the FedEx Cup.

Where I am going with this long rant? I am trying to point out that the PGA Tour and its advertisers need desperately to improve their advertising for events. By my count, nine of the first 15 events are big-time events in which several of the top players in the world will be on hand.

Sure, you know who won't be there due to his knee injury, but there should be plenty of talent at upcoming tournaments like the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play Championship, the WGC - CA Championship, the Buick Invitational and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, to name a few.

You know who, of course, is Tiger Woods. He is the one player that can drive the tour by himself. Even though he is already hitting shots with his long irons and driver, I wouldn't expect him back on the course until the WGC - CA Championship at the earliest.

Part of that is his desire to have his game in perfect shape when he returns from knee surgery, but the other side of the story is that his wife, Elin, is due with the couple's second child in February.

So the West Coast staples such as the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am will look to players like Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas to carry the banner for those events.

Given the tough economic times, spending more on advertising likely isn't in the PGA Tour's budget. I am suggesting they use their money more wisely than they are. Why can't there be cross-channel promotions?

Sounds easy, and I am sure it isn't that simple, but for a tour facing economic issues, finding new viewers any way it can is important for the tour's well-being going forward.

SCOTT'S KNEE ISSUES

I read an interview recently with Adam Scott. The story touched on many subjects, but the main theme concerned the dislocation of his kneecap while running on a beach in Australia in December.

Scott withdrew from the Australian Open, but recovered in time to play the Mercedes-Benz Championship last weekend. His best round was a 67 on Friday, but that was his only sub-70 round of the week.

Long thought of as one of the best players in the world, people wonder why Scott hasn't gotten over the hump yet and won a major.

There are many reasons for that. No. 1 on that list is that Scott is playing in the same era as Tiger Woods, who seems to win at least one major a year.

No. 2 on that list could be his knee. Dislocated kneecaps are no joke. If you suffer that injury, you could also tear your patella tendon. These injuries keep most athletes out of action for a year or more.

Why do I mention all of this? The 28-year-old Scott admitted this was the SIXTH time he has dislocated said kneecap. He described his kneecap as hyper- mobile and he went on to state that six different doctors have given six different recommendations as far as surgical procedures.

Scott denies his knee has held him back, but his results say something different.

MINI-TIDBITS

- President-elect Barack Obama may be the most sports-minded President in recent memory. Obama plays golf and plans to have a basketball court installed at the White House. His brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, is the head men's basketball coach at Oregon State. Obama also has a direct link to the PGA Tour through player Parker McLachlin, whose father was Obama's high school basketball coach.

- The European Tour is expected to announce who will captain the 2010 Ryder Cup team in two weeks at the Dubai Desert Classic. Jose Maria Olazabal is the leading candidate for the position.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Kevin Currie at kcurrie@sportsnetwork.com.

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