PGA TOUR, PGA of America 'scratch the surface' with increased partnership
Finchem, Bishop news conference before The McGladrey ClassicPrior to the The McGladrey Classic, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem and PGA of America President Ted Bishop talk about the two bodies of golf and their cooperative future.November 06, 2013
By Helen Ross and Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem has always enjoyed the designation that the TOUR's signature event, THE PLAYERS Championship, offers the largest purse on TOUR.
Among the news stemming from Wednesday's announcement of new joint initiatives between the TOUR and the PGA of America will be that THE PLAYERS and the PGA Championship will each have the same purse of $10 million starting next year -- meaning THE PLAYERS will now have to share that designation.
Or will it?
"Maybe $10 million and $1," Finchem joked during the announcement held at St. Simons Island, Ga., site of this week's The McGladrey Classic.
All kidding aside, the spirit of cooperation between the two organizations took a big step forward Wednesday with several initiatives planned. It's the closest the organizations have been since 1968 when the then-Tournament Players Division split from the PGA of America and ultimately became the PGA TOUR.
"It's an exciting day for the PGA of America," said President Ted Bishop, who joined Finchem in making the announcement. "I think that there's probably never been a better time of collaboration and cooperation between our two organizations since the PGA TOUR and the PGA of America split back in 1968. ...
"I think that really in a lot of ways we're just beginning to scratch the surface in ways that we can really impact the game positively when we work together."
Finchem said that the last 12 months have produced a "very positive period for our two organizations in terms of our interaction, our focus, our recognition that we are important to each other. If golf is going to go where we'd like to see it go, we need to work together."
The commissioner then added, "While we continue to be separate associations, we will now going forward be working much more closely together."
Last year, the PGA Championship offered a purse of $8 million, while THE PLAYERS Championship had a purse of $9.5 million. The PGA of America is adding $2 million this year to the purse of its signature tournament, while the PGA TOUR is adding $500,000 to THE PLAYERS.
Since 65 percent of the PGA Championship field consists of players on the PGA TOUR, Bishop said it was important to show that kind of financial commitment to the touring pros.
"We felt like the timing was good from our standpoint to make a statement with those players and the TOUR," Bishop said.
Finchem said the PGA TOUR players will certainly be appreciative of the 25 percent increase in the PGA Championship's purse. In addition to having the strongest field in the four majors, the PGA Championship will now have the biggest purse among the majors. The other three majors each had $8 million purses in 2013.
"The step the PGA has taken to increase the purse by 25 percent will be one that's well received by our membership," Finchem said.
In addition, there are several components to a program that will highlight the role of PGA of America pros in teaching and growing the game. Included are public service announcements that will air during PGA TOUR telecasts, as well as on PGATOUR.COM and Sirius XM PGA TOUR Radio, and weekly segments on "Inside the PGA TOUR" during which the host PGA pro of that week's TOUR event discusses how the course might play.
PGA of America pros will also interact with fans at various PGA TOUR events, providing mini-lessons and other instructional information. The events involved are THE PLAYERS, the three domestic World Golf Championships, The Barclays, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, the Northern Trust Open and The Presidents Cup.
Finchem called the initiatives a "significant ratcheting up of concrete things we can and should be doing" to help the two organizations realize their mutual goal of growing the game. He pointed out that PGA TOUR members compete in the PGA of America's three marquee events -- not just the PGA Championship, but also the Senior PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup (on both teams).
Bishop, who called the relationship with the TOUR a "breath of fresh air," was quick to add that PGA TOUR players are also members of the PGA of America. His organization is also offering Ryder Cup points for the first time at the fall events that mark the beginning of the TOUR's wrap-round schedule for the 2013-2014 season.
He also said that the spots in the PGA Championship reserved for the 20 top finishers in the PGA Professional National Championship are "critical" to the legacy of the season's final major.
"That is not anything that is going to change in discussions or collaborations we have with the PGA TOUR," Bishop said.