PGA, Canadian Tours forge a new partnership
JEFF BROOKE / JOHN MARCHESAN
Published on Thursday, May. 09, 2013 12:01PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 11:12PM EST
The PGA Tour has come to the Canadian Tour’s rescue, giving the struggling circuit financial assistance and its expertise in such areas as tournament development and sponsorship.
The 40-year-old Canadian circuit approached the PGA Tour for help this fall after a challenging year in which it lost sponsors and tournaments and ran a deficit. Some media reports have pegged its red ink at $700,000.
Under an agreement announced late Wednesday, the world’s richest golf tour has granted its Canadian cousin an “operating loan” to ensure its survival at least through 2012. The agreement will be evaluated at this time next year and could be extended.
The Canadian circuit will only stage domestic tournaments next year. In recent seasons, it had held winter events in warm-weather countries such as Mexico and Colombia to give its members playing opportunities before the Canadian thaw.
Canadian Tour commissioner Richard Janes said the assistance is not a bailout, a buyout or a takeover. “That’s not the case,” he told The Globe and Mail. Instead, he characterized the agreement as an extension of a working relationship that began at least 10 years ago.
In 2001, for example, the PGA Tour agreed to give the Canadian circuit’s top performers a pass into the second stage of its qualifying tournament, or Q-school. Since then, the tours have co-operated on such matters as drug testing and the Canadian Tour helped promote the Presidents Cup when it was in Montreal in 2007.
Janes added the agreement is much like the one the CFL reached with the NFL several years ago when the three-down game was in trouble.
But even still, the agreement was clearly vital to the Canadian Tour’s continued existence. “We were very close to losing the Canadian Tour,” Janes acknowledged.
Individual tournaments likely would have carried on, especially those in Western Canada, where the tour is popular and growing, he said. “It’s just the operating infrastructure may well have dwindled to a skeleton of what it is today. Not that it’s currently a big operating entity but it would have been difficult.”
Canadian Tour players approved the deal Wednesday.
For the PGA Tour, the agreement means the Canadian Tour will continue to be a feeder or developmental system. “Our goal is to help lend stability to the Canadian Tour, which we believe plays an important role in professional golf and has proven to be a valuable system for developing players over the years,” Ed Moorhouse, co-chief operating officer of the PGA Tour, said in a statement.
Recent graduates of the Canadian circuit include Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., and Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask. Historically, players such as Mike Weir, Steve Stricker and Stuart Appleby learned their craft north of the border before going on to international stardom.
With the deal in place, Janes said his attention will turn to bolstering the tour on home soil by adding new tournaments, particularly east of Manitoba. There were no events in Toronto and area, Quebec or Atlantic Canada this year.
“It’s Eastern Canada where we need to grow,” he said. “We think there are as many as 15 good playing dates in Canada over the course of our golf season. In 2012, we will likely have nine to 10 events. The growth next year will come in Eastern Canada. We are hopeful to announce a new event in the Atlantic region. We are also working on Quebec and the [Ontario]corridor from Windsor on through to Kingston and Ottawa as well.”