Rubenstein: Canadian Tour fate to be known Thursday
Published on Thursday, May. 09, 2013 12:01PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 02:49PM EDT
The PGA Tour and Canadian Tour have notified media of a teleconference at 10:30 AM ET Thursday to "discuss the future of the Canadian Tour." The PGA Tour has been contemplating what would amount to its taking over the Canadian Tour. The expectation is that if this happens, the PGA Tour would rename it as the PGA Tour of Canada.
Jeff Monday, a PGA Tour senior vice-president, has been taking a long look at the Canadian Tour this season - due diligence, that is. He attended some tournaments, looked at interest in various markets, spoke at length with Canadian Tour officials and sponsors, and, presumably, has made his report to the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour held its board meeting this week at its headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Its relationship with the Canadian Tour was on the agenda.
The PGA Tour has already been involved with the Canadian Tour. Details are here in a report from my Globe colleague Jeff Brooke. Monday emailed Brooke on Oct. 11th informing him that "We are finalizing our review and will have a decision in the coming weeks."
It would appear that a decision has already been made. Otherwise, why schedule a conference call with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, the Canadian Tour’s commissioner Rick Janes, and Pierre Blouin, the chairman of its Board of Directors? Golf writer Ian Hutchinson reported the other day that Janes met with PGA Tour officials last week. He wasn’t there on vacation.
Still, the notice of a conference call doesn’t mean that the PGA Tour’s decision is to assume responsibility for the Canadian Tour. We won’t know what it’s decided until the conference call itself. The PGA Tour has been providing some resources, including financial, to the Canadian Tour this year. It’s already expressed an interest in this way, then.
But will the PGA Tour want to take on, or over, the struggling Canadian Tour, which has been losing money and tournaments? Is it interested in using it to feed players to the PGA Tour? The PGA Tour already has a relationship with a tour in Latin America, so it could sew up another major region as it winds down its qualifying school.
The PGA Tour also, of course, owns the Web.com (formerly Nationwide) Tour. That’s the main feeder tour into the PGA Tour, and will become even more significant in 2013 because q-school ends after this year.
Meanwhile, Matt Hill, the Canadian Tour’s leading money-winner this year, thinks it would be a good think if the PGA Tour did get more involved. Hill played the PGA Tour’s Frys.com Open last week on a sponsor’s exemption, and tried to learn what was happening. He didn’t get any information.
"I asked a PGA Tour official what was happening, but he had no idea," Hill said from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where he lives now. Hill is from Bright’s Grove, Ont.
"I hope the PGA Tour does it," Hill said of the possible takeover. "I think every Canadian player does. It would also be good for the PGA Tour since they’re getting rid of q-school and need another tour [to move top players along to the show]."
Hill pointed out that the size of the crowds at Web.com Tour and Canadian Tour events he’s played have been almost the same. Canadian Tour players have always felt it’s very well-run. Purses, however, are generally small.
"The last three tournaments this year, the purses were only $100,000 each," Hill said. "If we have a big name tour (that is, a formal affiliation with the PGA Tour), we’ll get more money and better courses."
As for Monday, the PGA Tour’s point man on the matter, Hill said he has "always had good things to say about the Canadian Tour."
The bottom line is we’ll learn on Thursday morning where this is all going. Let’s hope it’s somewhere that works for everybody.
RELATED LINK: More blogs from Lorne Rubenstein
Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein