PGA Tour Must Learn to Stand on Own Feet

Contrary to what seems to be current popular opinion, there was a PGA Tour before Tiger Woods went pro a dozen years ago.

No, really. They held tournaments and everything.  TV.  Winner's checks.  Paying spectators.

In 2009, the general feeling is that if Tiger gets hit by a truck, the tour does too.  And it is Sunday-another Sunday-- without him.  The grand re-entrance turned out to be pretty much of a dud.  A round two exit--played before a TV audience that works at a golf course or doesn't have a job at all.

Listen to sports radio or the network sports news shows you get the impression that Tiger IS the Tour. And there is a certain amount of truth to that just because he's been so damned good.  We haven't seen a player dominate like he has since Jack Nicklaus.  Tiger, of course, is on pace to smash all of Jack's records.

I also get the numbers.  TV ratings sink like a concrete Titleist when he's not playing.   Fans don't come to the second and third tier events when he sits out.  Yada, yada, yada.   It's a twisted sort of tribute to Tiger, I guess, and sports need superstars.  Golf just needs a few more of them.

The Tour tries to sell the other players, I guess, but they need to do more.   As Tiger heads toward 40, chances are he'll cut back the schedule even more.  He may not win as much if the knee becomes an off-again, on-again issue.  And someday--15 to 20 years from now or so--he'll start thinking about quitting.  If the Champions Tour is still around, I can't picture Tiger playing.

Then what?

Tiger is gone.  There will never be another.  What do you do?  Pack up the tent?

Look, there have always been people interested in watching golf in person and on TV.  The sport isn't going away and the PGA Tour shouldn't ebb and flow with every step Tiger takes or doesn't take.  He's a blast to watch.  But there are other players out there who need to be marketed--and who need to market themselves.   It shouldn't be THAT hard.

Tiger isn't really a personality.  People don't hang on his every word.  They just like to watch him play.   Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez didn't outshine Jack and people still watched them.  Wanted to hear from them.  Rooted for them.   They knew they had to sell themselves and sell the sport.  I'm not sure guys today really get that.  Many come from button-down college programs where they're so conditioned to use the time to put themselves in position to get a tour card that they forget--or never learn how--to entertain.  They'll sign autographs.  They'll do boring TV interviews--seldom revealing much of themselves.  For every Anthony Kim and Boo Weekley, there are ten other guys who could trade shirts and sponsors and no one would ever know.  Or care.

The Tour and the players have to get on board with the idea that it's a league and they're entertainers.  All for one.  One for all.  Try something different.   Get on a prime time TV reality show.  Do something crazy.

Just do something.