Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - With Max Adler

Inside one of our closed meet­ings.

Ev­ery year we have a closed meet­ing. No pub­lic, no me­dia, no spon­sors, no­body but play­ers and se­nior peo­ple from the PGA Tour. If you’re in the field that week, at­ten­dance is manda­tory.They check your name off a list when you walk in, and the player li­aisons – guys like Ross Ber­lin – sit by the doors so no one can slip out early.

Our meet­ing this year was in Jan­uary, in a ball­room at the Hil­ton where most of us stay during Tor­rey Pines. Er, I mean the Farm­ers In­sur­ance Open.That was ac­tu­ally a main take­away of the meet­ing: When­ever we’re be­ing in­ter­viewed, let’s be more con­scious to prop­erly cite the tour­na­ment.

Usu­ally, the fo­cus of the meet­ing is fi­nan­cial, and so it’s an op­por­tu­nity for our bosses to tell us what a bang-up job they’re do­ing. Lots of slides with im­pres­sive num­bers and charts. I’ve been to about 20 meet­ings, and I can’t re­mem­ber one that went quicker than this past edi­tion.The big change, of course, is that it was the first over­seen by our new com­mis­sioner, Jay Mon­a­han.The guy who in­tro­duced Jay, a banker who has been on our pol­icy board longer than I’ve been on tour, said that although Tim Finchem did an amaz­ing job, he was con­fi­dent Jay would bring fresh en­ergy and do an amaz­ing job, too. Jay then stood up and ba­si­cally said, “I’m go­ing to talk about these three things for 10 min­utes each.Then I’m go­ing to leave 30 min­utes for ques­tions. If there are no ques­tions, this is a halfhour meet­ing.”

Now, play­ers can be a whiny bunch some­times.Who else would get so quickly bored lis­ten­ing to how big their retirement pot is grow­ing? Tra­di­tion­ally, we’ve al­ways been al­lowed to leave once the floor opens for ques­tions – and a chunk of the room al­ways does empty – but never was the prom­ise of brevity put forth so sharply. I saw ears perk. I al­ways stick around for the Q&A in case I might learn some­thing, but there is a con­tin­gent that cares about only one thing – how they’re play­ing – and ev­ery­thing else is just noise.

Jay’s first point – that when we find our­selves near the lead, we all ought to do a bet­ter job talk­ing specif­i­cally about the tour­na­ment at hand, as op­posed to the arch of our in­di­vid­ual sea­son or ca­reer – res­onated with me.When­ever I’m mak­ing birdies and have re­porters stick­ing mi­cro­phones in my face, I’ll get ex­cited and start blab­bing about what another win would mean for me gen­er­ally. Like se­cur­ing my spot in the Mas­ters, lock­ing up my sta­tus on tour for another cou­ple of years, or get­ting me into a WGC event and al­ter­ing my sched­ule, and so forth. Rook­ies, un­der­stand­ably, tend to get over­whelmed by the im­pli­ca­tions of win­ning. But given how gen­er­ously ti­tle spon­sors sup­port us, the right thing to say is,“It would be very spe­cial to win the ________,” and leave it at that.

And if the in­ter­viewer re­ally pushes you to broaden your nar­ra­tive, Jay sug­gests talk­ing about the FedEx Cup points race.

Jay’s sec­ond point was about pos­si­ble changes to our sched­ule.To com­pete less di­rectly with foot­ball for TV rat­ings, for ex­am­ple, events could get re­ar­ranged so that the PGA Cham­pi­onship would be played in May. I un­der­stand the logic, but I’d be con­cerned about los­ing a lot of the clas­sic North­ern venues, like Bal­tus­rol or Me­d­i­nah, that wouldn’t be re­li­ably playable that early in the sea­son. I guess I’m a bit of a course geek.

Jay’s third point was fairly in­nocu­ous, but I will re­port that the Q&A was lively. It didn’t kick off with a ques­tion, rather a state­ment made by one of our sharper guys on the dis­par­ity of pay in tour­na­ments. Par­tic­u­larly, the fact the US Open purse hadn’t risen pro­por­tion­ally with Fox’s new $1.1-bil­lion TV con­tract with the USGA. Jay said he was aware of the sit­u­a­tion and was look­ing into it.

Two weeks later, news hit that the US Open purse was get­ting a $2-mil­lion bump. Pays to at­tend the meet­ing. – with max adler

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