BATTLE OF THE TOURS
The respective heads of the PGA Tour and European Tour will square up on several key issues in 2017 and beyond
JAY MONAHAN V KEITH PELLEY The Big Asian Land Grab
One thing that unites Pelley and Monahan is the need to grow the game beyond their traditional Tour borders. Lurking beneath this issue is the slow burn promise of a Global Tour, which some say exists already in all but name. Monahan has a new PGA Tour event in Korea and a new office in Tokyo. China is the prize both Tours have their eyes on.
A larger presence in Asia is a ‘nice to have’ for the PGA Tour, but it’s an ‘essential’ for Pelley, who formalised the relationship with the Asian Tour. This gives the European Tour a strong foothold in the region, but the boundaries will soon get blurred.
The Season-ending Play-off Schedule
Monahan’s big headache right now is the FedEx Cup Series, which is less popular with American television than it could be, due to its scheduling conflict with the start of the NFL season. If Monahan can somehow persuade the PGA of America to move the US PGA Championship earlier in the year, we may very well see the PGA Tour’s end of season money fest arrive several weeks earlier on the schedule.
Whatever happens with the FedEx Cup will no doubt have implications on Pelley’s own brainchild, the Rolex Series, which includes the events that fell under the Race to Dubai finale. The Ryder Cup is the other key consideration, which is central to the European Tour’s finances but far less important to the
The Acquisition and Retention of Talent
Money doesn’t just talk in golf, it sings and shouts from the rooftops. Monahan has all the cards right now. With the prizemoney in the US so much higher than in Europe, Rory, Justin and the rest of the home grown talent spend their summers in America.
Getting the best players playing in Europe more often is Pelley’s most pressing goal, which has led to the creation of the Rolex Series, which bumps the prizemoney but could divide the Tour into haves and have nots. It’s both bold and innovative. Only time will tell if the players below the top 25 like it or not.
Pelley and Monahan are closer in terms of age, experience and world view than George O’Grady and Tim Finchem ever were. They share common problems – ageing viewership, declining fan base, player power and changing TV habits. They are forward looking and focused on using new media technology to drive the game to new audiences. With these two at the helm, golf will look and feel different in 2017.