Transcript: PGA TOUR, PGA of America announce cooperative initiatives

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November 06, 2013

Courtesy of ASAP Sports

THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  We'll get it started.  We'd like to welcome everyone here to the fourth edition of the McGladrey Classic.  We're pleased to have PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem here with us today and also PGA of America President Ted Bishop.  With that we'll turn it over to Tim Finchem.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Thank you.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thanks for joining us.  First of all, before we do today's business, I would like to comment that we're delighted to be here today at the McGladrey Classic, and we recognize McGladrey, and we appreciate their support.  They've developed into a terrific partner of ours on the TOUR in growing this tournament.  We're pleased with the efforts they've made to raise the purse here working with Davis and the Foundation significantly over the last year.  We have a good field and a great golf course; and of course, the atmosphere here is ‑‑ I almost fell asleep when I came on the property ‑‑ very relaxing.  So we appreciate all that.

Today we're here with Ted Bishop, the President of the PGA, to make some comments about our relationship, and to start things off, I'll just say that over the last year we've had a number of conversations about how our two organizations interact and how they should interact.  And today we'll be announcing a number of steps we've agreed to take that will enhance that partnership and cooperation.

I think all of this stems from the understanding that we both share that in a number of areas our critical interests overlap.  I'll just mention two of those.  One is growing the game of golf.  Certainly from a PGA of America standpoint, that is the major focus of what they do.  And from a PGA TOUR standpoint, it is one of our three ‑‑ the three legs of our corporate mission.  So we are engaged in everything that relates to supporting the PGA of America and their efforts to grow the game.

The other area is in the management and presentation of significant tournaments.  The PGA of America with the major championship, the PGA Championship, of course, the Ryder Cup and the Senior PGA Championship; and then the PGA TOUR with the now six tours that we manage here and around the globe.  And the reason I reference that is because it is our members that populate the events that the PGA stages.  I think roughly 65 percent of the field of the PGA Championship is our members.  All the members of the American Ryder Cup team and a lot of the members of the European team are our members.  Most of the field, if not all the field, of the PGA Senior Championship is our members.  So we ‑‑ those circles overlap again, and our interests are the same as it relates to the highest possible presentation of those tournaments on a global stage.

So with that understanding, Ted and I, Pete Bevacqua, who just came in, the CEO of the PGA, Ed Morehouse and Ty Votaw who are here on our team have worked to identify areas where we can enhance what we did with and for each other.  And if I could just start by referencing a number of things that we're focused on at this point.

First of all, a big part of what we can do on the growth of the game side is to communicate and support programs that are managed by the PGA of America.  And going forward we intend to include PSAs in our broadcasts on all three tours that communicate and support these initiatives, initiatives like "Get Golf Ready," and other steps to get more people into playing the game.

Secondly, we will have increased exposure of these programs on pgatour.com, and we'll also have features on these efforts by PGA members on Sirius XM's PGA TOUR channel, which has developed to be a very popular way of fans to follow our tournament structure.

In addition, we'll have a weekly segment on "Inside the PGA TOUR," on The Golf Channel, which will feature host professionals sharing their knowledge about the particular tournament of any particular week.

With respect to our tournaments, we are in the process of inviting the PGA of America to provide activities at as many of our tournaments on all of our tours as possible that relate to growing the game.  This could take on any number of directions, but the most likely direction is that it would be in some fashion a replica of what the PGA currently does at the PGA Championship, having their members provide golf lessons and education to the fans at that tournament.  And we will begin the process of discussing the rollout of this kind of program with all of our tournaments when Ted and Pete join us in Ponte Vedra the week after Thanksgiving where we have a meeting this year of all of the tournaments on the three U. S. tours.

So we are pleased to take these steps, and we are anxious to provide the support that we think is important to grow our partnership and to hopefully grow the efficacy of the programs of the PGA of America which are critical to the future growth of the game.

And with that, for further comments, I'll turn this over to Ted Bishop.  Ted.

PRESIDENT BISHOP:  Well, thank you very much, Tim, and you know, I think it's an exciting day for the PGA of America, and 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.

And you know, I want to really take this opportunity to thank Commissioner Finchem.  You know, really from the outset of my term as president of the PGA of America, he has been all about what our two organizations could do to come together for the good of the game, and I think what you're seeing here today really are the fruits of our labor over this first year.  And the thing that's exciting to me is that 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.

You know, an example of that would be what you see taking place here this week and throughout the entire Fall Series in the fact that this is unprecedented.  It's the first time that the PGA of America has actually awarded Ryder Cup points for these events that are being played in the Fall Series, or as part of the new wrap‑around season that the PGA TOUR has.  And I think that it was pretty obvious to us at the PGA of America that these were significant events in the schedule of golf, and we certainly wanted them to factor in to who makes the Ryder Cup team in 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland.

You know, one of the things that, you know, was probably the first major initiative that we did in 2013 with the PGA TOUR was the collaboration that the PGA of America had with the PGA TOUR Wives Association on a habitat build project that we did in Rochester, New York at our PGA Championship.  And you know, Amy Wilson and Sara Moores with the PGA TOUR Wives Association were really instrumental in helping the PGA of America put together an initiative where PGA of America Wives teamed with PGA TOUR Wives to not only build this house in Rochester at the PGA Championship, but really impact the life of the Nelson Galletti family who's going to move into the house.

Nelson had an 8‑year‑old son, Elijah, and we were able to introduce him to golf, actually gave him his first set of golf clubs through the habitat project, and I'm happy to tell you, Commissioner, that he and his dad are now taking golf lessons together.  They've got it set up where they're going to do that throughout the entire winter, in Rochester, New York, of all places.  So it's just a classic case of, I guess, building the game one player at a time through a phenomenal initiative like habitat.

You know, I can't tell you how proud I am to represent the 27,000 men and women of the PGA of America, but on top of that, how proud I am that members of the PGA TOUR are also members of the PGA of America.  And you know, that's an important part of our association.  PGA TOUR players are very important members for the PGA of America.

And as Tim outlined, you know, there's going to be a lot of initiatives that we're going to continue to refine and to work on throughout the course of the year, but you know, we also know that the Ryder Cup could not take place or even exist without the participation of PGA TOUR players.  And so our leadership felt like that it was very important for us to show our appreciation and support to the PGA TOUR and its players by announcing today that we're going to raise our PGA Championship purse to 10 million dollars in 2014.  And this is a major purse increase for the PGA Championship.

And you know, we know how coveted the Wanamaker Trophy is to the best players in the world.  That being said, the PGA Championship is the only professional major championship and it's the only major championship conducted for professionals, by professionals.  And in August we, once again, proved that our field is the strongest among the four majors where we had 99 of the top 100 ranked players participate at Oak Hill Country Club before Jason Dufner won the Championship.

And you know, I think with today's announcement, we're certainly excited now that the PGA Championship features the highest purse among the four major championships.  It's been an exciting fall for the PGA of America.  I think next year is going to continue to be even more exciting, and we're anxious as we embark on our annual meeting in San Diego in a couple of weeks to announce some real tangible benefits that we're going to be able to offer PGA members from around the country who are going to benefit from this collaboration with the PGA TOUR and some other things that we're doing in golf.

And Commissioner, we really appreciate the opportunity to be here this week at the McGladrey and to announce this purse increase at this point.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Thank you, Ted.  And a couple of additional comments from me before we ask for your questions.  First of all, let me just add to the distribution of Ryder Cup points, we think that there's been a significant enhancement for our fall events this year.  Some of that has to do with FedExCup points, of course, but also participation in Ryder Cup points is another enhancement, and something we'll be communicating on a weekly basis going forward.

Also, I'd like to say that, you know, for years and years THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP has been the No. 1 purse in golf.  We like that designation.  So I'm happy to announce that we will be at 10 million dollars, maybe 10 million dollars and one.  (Laughs).  10 million dollars next spring.  And we think that the step that the PGA has taken to increase their purse by 25 percent will be one that will be well received by our membership.

And then lastly, I'll just say that, as Ted mentioned, the last year has been a very, very positive period for our two organizations in terms of our, I think, interaction or focus, our recognition that we are important to each other.  If golf is going to go where we would like to see it go, we need to work together.  It's in the interest of the PGA of America members and the interest of the PGA TOUR player, and while we continue to be separate associations, we will now going forward be working much more closing together.

And with that, I'll be happy to ‑‑ Ted and I will be happy to try to answer your questions.

Q.  I don't want to suggest anything along the lines of what took so long, but it's still kind of interesting that you guys went your separate ways really almost 50 years ago.  Do you see any, I guess symbolism in the fact that you've kind of come together even though you maintain your own identity?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Well, I guess Ted and I might differ in our take on that.  I don't know.  I think, you know, we have been with all the golf organizations doing more and more stuff together in the last 15 years, with the collaboration of the Hall of Fame and collaboration to work together to get golf in the Olympics, World Golf Foundation and other activities.  But I think this is a significant ratcheting up based on the recognition I talked about of concrete things we can and should be doing.

We're anxious to use our communication efforts to help see Ted's programs succeed, to help grow the game.  And by the same token, our players benefit significantly from participation in these three tournaments we've been talking about, so we want to do everything we can there.

And then there's a lot to that that we're not talking about today in terms of day‑to‑day working together on a range of things, and we'll be saying more about this over the next year or two, I suspect, but I think today is a definite movement from where we've been, and a very positive one.

PRESIDENT BISHOP:  No, I would totally agree with that, and again, I get back to what I said earlier, just about the, you know, the, I guess, almost an embracement in a lot of ways by Commissioner Finchem, you know, a year ago when the PGA of America underwent a new leadership structure.  And you know, I'll give him credit that I think he extended the firsthand and said, hey, maybe we could do a more effective job working together in terms of what we can accomplish going forward if we actively do get involved in some of the same initiatives.

And I think the great thing about the PGA TOUR and the PGA of America is I think we both have enough confidence in the championship events that we run.  We both know their place in the game of golf today.  There's no rivalry.  There's no competition.  As he said, those events and their players complement each other.  So it's just been a really refreshing breath of fresh air, I think, in our relationship, and hopefully we've laid the foundation for many years to come with some great things to happen.

Q.  This is a relatively minor thing, but I wonder in the spirit of cooperation if this might happen again is, you know, there are some PGA TOUR events who have reserved spots to section champions.  Arnold does it.  Bay Hill used to happen at Doral before it was a World Golf Championship.  Just wondered if there might be more access in this regard to PGA of America professionals who, like I said, win the section, you know, other things like that, maybe accessing more TOUR events?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  It's something we're discussing.  I will say that, you know, for a number of years we've been providing support to the National Club Pro Championship and section events as well, and that we are definitely going to enhance that support going forward.

I think everybody knows that we participate as an organization in the ‑‑ some of the revenue base that's generated by the Ryder Cup, and we'll be enhancing our investment of that back into ‑‑ through the PGA to their sections and their competitions.

And you know, what the best competitive mix is going forward and how we can help with that is something that we'll continue to talk about.  But we're definitely going to be supporting those tournaments more aggressively than we have in the past.

PRESIDENT BISHOP:  Yeah, I think the other thing I would like to say to any of the PGA members across the country who are watching this press conference today is that, you know, I think the 20 spots that we have in the PGA Championship are critical to the tradition and the nuance of that championship.  And I think that Commissioner Finchem would be the first to tell you how important the PGA TOUR views those 20 spots to be.  So that is not anything that is going to change in any way, shape or form in the discussions or the collaborations that we have with the PGA TOUR going forward.

I mean that's an important fabric of who we are.  Our championship stands on its own merits based on the strength of its field, you know, with those 20 club professionals in the field, and that is certainly one playing opportunity that is not going to be diminished in any way, shape or form by this.

Q.  Considering you guys were on the same page when it came to anchoring, does this collaboration or cooperation strengthen your position if you ever choose to establish your own rules?

PRESIDENT BISHOP:  You know, let me speak to that since we ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Apparently it should be stronger.

PRESIDENT BISHOP:  You know, I think that, you know, obviously the PGA of America was the first to make a public stance on anchoring.  You know, that being said, you know, the Commissioner and I talked a lot about anchoring and how it might affect the game throughout the comment period, and it was certainly great for the PGA of America when the PGA TOUR, you know, eventually took its stance.

And you know, I would like to think that, as he said, there are a lot of commonalities that both the PGA of America and the PGA TOUR have when it comes to growth of the game, things that are important for the well‑being of the game and the business of the game.

And I would hope that together we combine for a powerful voice in saying that as changes are implemented in the future, they need to align with what's positive for the growth of the game and the business of the game.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Yeah, I would agree with that.  We're always looking for collaboration, and I think Ted and I agree that the other golf organizations the extent to which we overlap some of their interests, we should be collaborative.

The fact that we're going to differ from time to time on a specific question or a specific rule of golf should not take away from the fundamental that in order to do what needs to be done in golf, the golf organizations need to work together, so I think we'd be looking for more collaboration, recognizing that from time to time we're just not going to agree on certain things.

The fact that we didn't agree on an issue this past year and a half should not temper in any way our enthusiasm for collaboration.  So we hadn't really looked at it from that perspective of having a stronger position, because who knows, we may not agree ourselves on something like a rule.  But that's small potatoes in the big scheme of things.

Q.  If the U.S.S.G. (inaudible) take the purse to 12 million, do you guys go up?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  I think we've said our purses for 2014 are set, but it would be a lovely problem to have, especially from a player perspective.

Q.  This is kind of small, I mean as it relates to the Ryder Cup, but if we had another Jordan Spieth type of a year where a guy is doing great, but he's not yet a PGA TOUR member, I think previously he still would have gotten Ryder Cup points where with the Presidents Cup I think he would have had to have been a member, how would that affect going forward?  Does that make any sense at all?

PRESIDENT BISHOP:  Yeah, it does.  I mean you have to be a member of the PGA of America in order to be eligible to play on the Ryder Cup team.  So he would not be eligible unless he was a member of our association.

Q.  Tim, just a tad bit off the subject, but can you talk about how the new schedule format has gone at this point, and do you think the TV ratings will improve as the public, the golf fans get used to this new arrangement?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Well, we like the vast majority of what we've seen thus far, the way the finals of the Web.com worked, the flow of ending the season on every aspect at the same time for the first time during the FedExCup period, everything coming to an end.  We really like that.

Strengthening the fall events, as we were talking about earlier with Ryder Cup points, FedExCup points has led to stronger events.  I don't think there's much question about that.

Global interests really plays a role in the fall because we do ‑‑ you know, we played a great event this year in Malaysia, had a very well‑attended, impactful event in China; and now we're headed down to Australia here in a couple of weeks for the World Cup.  So the world stage is in play very much in the fall.

Sometimes we get, I think, too caught up in when you're deep in the football season in this country, it's tough to cut through from a television standpoint.  That's the reality.  That's one of the reasons we moved the TOUR Championship up where we did.  But globally we still maintain interest, and that's important.

So I think we're comfortable from a television standpoint.  It's just, you know, watching these tournaments develop.  Right now we're focused on watching the fields, seeing what's happening with the fields, seeing the access that plays out for the qualifiers, the 50 card holders this year.  Thus far the field strength has gone up a little bit, so it's been a little tougher than maybe some of us expected for some of the rookies to get in tournaments.  So that's something to watch.

But overall I think we feel pretty good about it and we'll wait to see how the numbers play out.

Q.  What was the catalyst that led to this moment?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  I don't think there was any one thing.  I think this moment grew out of a number of conversations we've had during the year going back to a point when the PGA was going through a change in leadership both with the new president coming in and a new CEO and at the same time; fairly strong seat change, and we just elected to use it as a reason really to sit down and sort of consider where we were, what the history had been of the two organizations, what had been accomplished, what hadn't been accomplished, is there a better way to skin the cat.  And you know, enthusiasm built, I think, on both sides in terms of, you know, there are things we can do that we haven't been doing, and there are ways we can help each other.  And a lot of collaboration came out of it.  So it wasn't that it was planned.  I think it evolved really.

And I don't think it's done evolving.  I think it's very healthy what's happening here and we seem to be now at a point where we're very open to talking to each other about just about anything.  And it feels really good.

PRESIDENT BISHOP:  No, I would agree with that, and I think we at the PGA of America feel that we're the tangible connection between those that play the game and the courses they play at, and I think that the PGA TOUR is the visual connection between golfers and golf fans and the sport today.  And I think that while it's ‑‑ you know, it's kind of interesting, I mean there was no magic to the timing of this press conference today.  It was just a conversation that Tim and I had had three or four weeks ago, and when you really start to list all the things that we have been able to accomplish together in 2013 and when we pointed to the future and looked at this purse increase, you know, the timing of this type of announcement was really good.  And I think, you know, it's great timing on our part, being two or three weeks away from our annual meeting in San Diego.  I think it's going to create a lot of excitement with our PGA membership, and we've got some specific details and things that we really want to announce and highlight at our annual meeting, and this is kind of a first step in the direction of being able to do that.

Q.  This is for Ted.  When you look at the landscape of the majors in golf, Masters, U. S. Open, British and the PGA, do you think it was necessary from a PGA's perspective to kind of make a splash by increasing it to 10 million?  I mean money speaks obviously, but in the landscape of the majors, this is obviously a pretty big decision.

PRESIDENT BISHOP:  Well, you know, obviously it was, and I think the thing that we have always prided ourselves with in the PGA Championship is the fact that it truly is the strongest field among the four majors.  It's the only all‑professional tournament among the four majors, and I don't think that necessarily by increasing the purse, you know, were we trying to do anything that was going to upstage any of the other major championships in any way, shape or form.  You know, that wasn't what the intent or the motive was.

I think as much as anything, it was part of this overall collaboration that, you know, we had been through with the PGA TOUR, and as I said from the outset, I mean we depend on PGA TOUR players who are also members of our association to play in our championship and to be part of our Ryder Cup team, and I think that we felt like the timing was really good from our standpoint to make a statement to those players and the PGA TOUR in general, and that's what we did.

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Well, gentlemen, we appreciate your time.  Thank you all for coming.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  By the way, we agree that the PGA Championship is the strongest field of the major championships.  (Laughs).

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