This week’s “Off the Fringe” looks at the LET/LPGA Tour merger; LIV Golf’s supposed sparse Las Vegas crowds; the Arthur Blank Award; and the drunken mess in Arizona on the PGA Tour.
LET & LPGA Merger Off
It seemed like a win-win and had been discussed for a couple of years, but the formal merger of the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA Tour will not happen or at least not happen this year.
LPGA Tour is growing and has seen a record increase in purses and the LET can use the help to provide playing opportunities for their players and rebuilding their circuit. But after the LET players voted for the merger, Golf Saudi – a division of Public Investment Fund – asked for more information or they would halt the funding of LET tournaments for the $11 million they had previously committed.
In case it doesn’t ring a bell, the Saudi-backed PIF is the money behind LIV Golf who are negotiating with the PGA Tour for an agreement to merge/blend/combine the two tours, an agreement that was supposed to be in place back in January.
Maybe LIV Should Advertise During the Super Bowl
Given that a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl costs $7 million and LIV Golf was already in town it might have been worthwhile for them to buy the time to attract fans for next year assuming they again match their schedule to the NFL’s championship game.
LIV even constructed a party hole, the 8th at Las Vegas CC (shown above), to rival TPC Scottsdale’s 16th and it was poorly populated by attendees, but so was the entire tournament.
A media guesstimate was for the three days LIV held their event the total number of fans didn’t come close to the 20,000 plus on the 16th on each day at Scottsdale.
Arthur Blank Award
The Sports Business Journal awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to Arthur Blank in recognition of building a sports megacompany in Atlanta. The co-founder of Home Depot didn’t take a rest when he retired in 2000 and has since purchased the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL, the Atlanta United of Major League Soccer. He also owns and operates the Mercedes-Benz Stadium where both teams play.
For golfers his deep involvement in the game led to his purchase of PGA Tour Superstores, the largest golf-specific retailer in the country and a franchise team in the Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy TGL simulator league.
PGA Tour: Razing Arizona
At 2:00pm on Saturday of the WM Phoenix Open the Fire Department closed the tournament front gate to fans entering citing a backup of 25,000 to get on the TPC Scottsdale course.
Scottsdale police stopped sales of alcohol as well and it was reported lines were up to 50 deep at bars and bartenders complained they lost large amounts of tip revenue which they rely on. On Sunday Zach Johnson, Billy Horschel and others raged at fans rants while hitting shots.
To some of the crowd Nick Taylor’s playoff win over Charley Hoffman seemed incidental. It’s about time the overserved, over enthusiastic, over the top behavior be addressed by tournament officials.