My jaw dropped when I learned of the PGA Tour’s new Player Impact Bonus program. To sum it up, the tour will divide $40M annually amongst ten players that “generate the most off-course buzz from fans and sponsors.” Wow. A league sanctioned entity awarding compensation unrelated to on-course performance.
Under the program, players will be ranked by Google search ratings, media mentions, exposure ratings from Nielson Q Scores, and a non-performance MVP index algorithm. This was a response to the threat the Tour felt from the fledgling Premier Golf League, that was trying to gather a select set of stars to compete in events with smaller fields and larger purses. Well, that effort flopped and this bonus is a flopper waiting to happen.
There is so much wrong here, it’s hard to unpack. First, the PGA Tour is the world’s top golf tour where the greatest names come to compete. Is this not enough? The simple ability to test oneself against the world’s best is why many foreign players have relocated permanently to the United States. Second, the tour has NEVER paid any money for non-performance; why start now? The European PGA Tour is arguably the second-best circuit but has been roundly criticized for allowing six and seven figure appearance fees to lure players to its events. Third, advocating self-promotion is a distraction the players do not need. I’d rather have them focused on making birdies and winning rather than how many Tweets they can send out real time. I’m getting flashbacks of Joe Horn’s NFL cellphone celebration – ack! Please leave the self- promotion off the course and don’t pay anybody to do it.
The Tour recently hired Dan Glod to run its global sponsorship development. I wonder if this is his brainchild? A new identity for the Tour is definitely forming. Did you notice it at last week’s Zurich Classic in the fourth round? As the players were introduced, they were playing walk-up music on the first tee. Really? Save it for the WWE.