PGA Responds – Broadcasts, Charities

PGA Streaming Rights Relocating, Charity Profile Heightened

Perhaps this is all a coincidence, but with the recent talk of a rival tour featuring only the top players, the PGA has offered a public reminder of its presence, and what it does best. I’m not all that happy about the first one, despite being in the almost non-existent minority, and am thrilled about the second.

If the Premiere League is to steal the thunder of the men’s tour away from the PGA, it’s going to be an uphill battle. The most recent news on streaming broadcast rights is that the whole thing is going to ESPN, Disney and Hulu. What that means for old guys like me is that for the first time in our lives, we can’t just turn on our old Motorola, bring a sandwich from the kitchen, and watch a professional golf tournament. All one had to do back then was buy a TV and remember the address to the tube store (for younger folks, we were always prying our way into the back of the contraption to replace burned out tubes).

The entire world has adapted to all the new technology, and I am no exception, except for a problem with cable, dish, or whatever provider wants to give me 800 channels of anything. When I got internet service, I declined the TV portion of the offer, because if I have 800 channels during the golf year, football season and an election cycle, I’ll never get anything done (and there’s plenty I want to get done). Now, when the next spot on the tour rolls around, I can either pay ESPN $4.99 for the right that used to be mine, or I can pay Disney and Hulu $12.99 for what I used to get for free. Things have certainly moved a long way from the days of the Mousketeers. Annette Funicello would never have done a thing like that to me.

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Whether it is intended to or not, the PGA struck a blow for its state of supremacy by reminding us of the tremendous charitable aspect of its corporate existence. The tour has announced that the level of charity has reached the three billion dollar mark, with no signs of letting up. I suppose that a rival tour could do the same thing, considering the deep pockets willing to fund it. Similarly, the great players are as generous as anyone else playing the game, despite the caveat that they can afford to be. At the least, charitable giving can serve as a great tax deduction, and at best, a deduction and a satisfying response to a critical human need. All the tours have proven themselves a generous bunch, and I hope that a new tour’s vision, swimming with dollar signs, can manage to find the same soft spot in itself.

As its companion tour, the LPGA fosters and monitors a vast industry of youth golf programs. One wonders if a new tour will take the same trouble to ensure its own future in replacing the PGA. Individual players are, I’m sure, attentive to charitable work as well, but the motivations of the money people behind the scenes remain to be seen. In short, if someone is going to take over for the PGA, they will have to cover a lot of ground separate from the actual tournament.

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As for watching it, anybody with the money, product, and profile can compete for broadcast rights. For me, I can reconnect cable, and enjoy my new existence as a couch potato, or I can go to the nearest sports bar and watch it on the big screen, although college and pro football tend to crowd other sports out. Let’s see, burger and fries, beer, gas to get there, fight for screen time versus a call to my cable server.  It will really burn me if NOT paying ESPN, Disney or Hulu is more expensive. Oh, Annette, what’s happening?

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