Monday, July 28, 2008

An Eerie Peek Into the Past

We're going to keep with the running LPGA theme today - though I will post the pic of the guy getting choked in Canada and some bikini babes from the Russian Open. This is an interview conducted by Ed Pazdur for Executive Golfer Magazine with LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. I don't have a date for this publication because, unfortunately, there isn't one on the webpage.

The interview covers a variety of topics with a very light tone. It does present good background on a her tenure to date - at least through the middle of 2007. I found this section on Bobby Ginn particularly interesting given the news over the weekend:

“You must have a criteria in mind for approving a sponsor, a location, and a date for any given tournament. Right?”

“Right,” she said. “A lot of things have to come together for a tournament to be born. There has to be a spot on the schedule for that geographic region with a golf course that can accommodate the fans, has enough parking, and a sponsor that’s interested in that particular part of the country.”

“Based on your criteria for sponsors,” I suggested, “Bobby Ginn has certainly raised the bar for professional golf tours and for fans in particular. The inaugural LPGA Ginn Open in Orlando last April was getting billed as four days of golf and music.”

It pulled 51,378 fans for the tournament and over 9,500 at the concerts, televised over seven hours of national exposure, had over 100 media reps, sold $178,000 in merchandise, and provided the LPGA’s third largest purse with $2.5 million—all to the benefit of the LPGA.

“Bobby Ginn is a wonderful partner,” said Bivens. “His courses are spectacular. His organization goes out of its way to make sure that women have the very best hospitality, that caddies are taken care of, and that fans are well accommodated.

“He does the best job of bringing in local galleries through radio ads, outdoor billboards within 75 miles of the course—and outstanding evening concerts.

“Bobby’s impact on the LPGA goes beyond tournaments,” said Bivens.

“Would you say he’s a great model for others to follow?” I asked.

“Absolutely!” declared Bivens.

Bivens certainly is right. Bobby Ginn and his company really put a lot of effort and money into making the Ginn sponsored events into a big deal. He has put together opportunities with the Golf Channel, Annika Sorenstam, the PGA Tour umbrella of tours, and other places in the sport. It is curious, though, that the LPGA Tour was knocked off of the totem pole in lieu of retaining sponsorship with the Champions Tour - arguably a weaker product. (But, given the financial reach and muscle of the PGA Tour, that may not be true.)

ADD ON @ 4:15p 7/29:

It looks like Adam Schupak of Golfweek either read my post or found the Executive Golfer interview on his own (much more likely the latter).

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