Nov 17, 2009 at 03:25 PM
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Does the PGA Tour Model Need A Makeover?

Just 10 weeks til tee off at Torrey Pines, The San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the Century Club and the PGA Tour are still on the hunt for a title sponsor for the Century Club of San Diego Invitational, formerly the Buick Invitational.

Tod Leonard writes that the current crisis has awakened the PGA Tour:

'Yet here the Century Club stands, a suitor spurned by numerous possible brides over the past three months. Not because the former Buick Invitational isn't handsome or worthy, but because Dad doesn't have enough money to pay for the wedding.

This is a dilemma far more dire than the concerns of the Century Club, and if the PGA Tour was slow in realizing that — and it's very clear now that it has been — the suits in the headquarters in Ponte Vedra, Fla., — and the players — are starting to come around.

“I've seen it in the last 90 days. The PGA Tour is completely aware the world has changed,” said Tom Wornham, the chairman of the Century Club, who along with tournament director Tom Wilson has been entrusted with finding a new sponsor.'

Tournament officials had previously said there goal was to have a sponsor on board by the end of September. While that deadline came and passed, officials say that several prospects are considering the opportunity.

Leonard says that given sponsor constraints, the Tour's current compensation model must change:

'Now look at it from the PGA Tour's perspective. Over the next two years, the tour has around a dozen events that need to re-up with sponsors. If one of its premier events in San Diego is having so much trouble, what does that mean for everyone else?

It means the model will have to change. In a setup unique to major American sports, the golfers are their own bosses, and they're going to have to decide to take a pay cut, because the only way deals are going to get done is if the sponsors are paying less.'

PGA Tour Sign September 2008

In September Deutsche Bank CEO Seth Waugh echoed similar sentiments on player compensation.

“I think [the PGA Tour] needs to think about things,” Waugh said. “I would not have raised purses last fall, not because they couldn’t, but because it was the wrong message. Every model of every business is under pressure, and you have to create more value for people, either by doing it cheaper, or by creating more value. People want a deal. They want to feel like they are getting more. They have to think their way through that, having people feel good about the experience, as opposed to being dictated as to what it is.”

“We have created a lot of value,” Waugh said. “We took a dead [Labor Day] date, delivered Tiger Woods, delivered a world-class event. I don’t mind paying for that, but I also don’t want to get charged for the value I created.”

What do you think? Does the search for new Tour sponsors need to start with adopting a wholly new compensation model for players?