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PGA OF AMERICA MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 30, 2007
JULIUS MASON: Before we get started, I would like to introduce our participants here this morning at PGA of America headquarters. It's a beautiful 84 degrees outside. We are joined by several PGA of America employees. First, the chief executive officer of The PGA of America, Mr. Joe Steranka; PGA professional and a 41-year veteran of the PGA of America, Mr. Jack Nicklaus; and joining us from Edinburgh, Scotland, a country that is home of golf and probably Harry Potter mania right now, Mr. Allan Watt, head of group brand communications for The Royal Bank of Scotland.
Before we get started, I would like to let all our participating media know we will conduct a brief question and answer session following of presentation.
Ladies and gentlemen, once again, the PGA chief executive officer of the PGA of America, Mr. Joe Steranka.
JOE STERANKA: Jack, it's been a while since we've had you here at the PGA of America headquarters. As you can see from this standing-room-only crowd, we're very appreciative of you being here, although productivity is obviously going to go down a little bit today as we serve those 28,000 men and women professionals. Anytime we have a chance to have a living legend here from our community but also visiting us at the headquarters, it's a very big occasion, so welcome back.
JACK NICKLAUS: Thank you, Joe.
JOE STERANKA: I would also like to thank Allan for joining us. Had the pleasure of seeing Allan and Howard Moody, Sir Fred Goodwin last week or two weeks ago at the Open Championship. They're also a proud supporter of the R&A.
This is a huge announcement for the PGA of America. We have long recognized the importance of having companies that support not only the PGA from a national association standpoint but more importantly those grass-roots men and women professionals who are dedicated to growing the game.
To have The Royal Bank of Scotland make the commitment that they're making to grow the PGA of America brand and to grow that presence of the important role that PGA professionals play in the business of golf is very, very important.
Many of you have heard me talk about golf as a $62 billion a year industry, which positions us as bigger than the motion picture industry. Right at the center of that are those 28,000 professionals that are very cognizant of the importance of maintaining the values of the game, but also the important role that their courses have in their business communities nationwide.
What does becoming an official patron of the PGA of America mean? Well, it starts with the commitment to promote the brand, the PGA of America brand that our members wear so proudly, but also it extends to recognition in a number of championships that we conduct.
So you'll see RBS promoted not only as our official patron, and it's a designation that will run for several years, but also as the official patron of the PGA Championship, the official bank of the PGA of America, the official patron of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and a proud supporter of the 2008 Ryder Cup matches.
When you look at how that recognition will be achieved, it is also a big step to have a company integrated completely into the Championship. So it's not only the on-site presence, and I'll get into talking about the history exhibit that RBS is going to sponsor, but also presence on network television on CBS, on cable television on TNT, on broadband coverage on PGA.com. So it is a truly integrated approach to sponsorship that I really compliment Allan and the RBS team on how they've gone about it.
The PGA Championship history exhibit, which will be sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland, will make its first on-site debut at the PGA Championship August 6th through 12th at Southern Hills. That Championship will feature an exhibit of 19 PGA champions and their PGA professionals. Certainly one of those folks is sitting next to me. PGA professional Jack Grout had a lot to do in working with Jack in developing his game, but also modern PGA champions such as Tiger Woods with Hank Haney, Phil Mickelson with Rick Smith, and a number of others.
Most importantly it is a great combination of the role that the game's greatest players have and the work that they do with their PGA club professionals to help them tune the very finest games in the world.
Another way that The Royal Bank of Scotland is going to support PGA of America professionals and the game of golf in this country is its sponsorship of PGA Play Golf America Days. Throughout the country, Play Golf America is the rallying cry for PGA of America members to introduce new people to the game, convert some of you. I think our staff had a Play Golf America league program this past weekend up at the PGA Golf Club. And to have the support of companies such as The Royal Bank of Scotland is very important because they carry that message out to new audiences, and certainly all of the customers of Charter and Citizens Bank and many other customers they have throughout many states here in the United States.
The patron program is historic and it's befitting a company with an historic background as The Royal Bank of Scotland. When RBS was planning its golf marketing campaign and sponsorship campaign several years ago, they began with a relationship with an equally historic figure. That's the gentleman sitting to my right.
So, again, the synergy of their support of the PGA of America, PGA professionals, but certainly an extension of their relationship with you, Jack, makes very good business sense, but also it makes us very proud to make RBS the first official patron of the PGA.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to turn it over to Julius Mason and we'll continue on with the program.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you, Joe, very much.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, very anxious to hear from RBS' head of group brand communications, Mr. Allan Watt. Allan, please tell us you're there.
ALLAN WATT: Hi there, folks. Good morning from Edinburgh, which is the headquarters of The Royal Bank of Scotland. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak today.
We are absolutely delighted that we are the first patron of the PGA of America. Joe and ourselves have been talking about this for a number of years. We're delighted we're able to make this announcement to everyone in the U.S. about this relationship.
I think I'd really just like to say two or three things:
The first is, we very much value the growing association with the PGA. We started off perhaps looking at some of the hospitality and advertising opportunities that were available, but I think it's become very clear that the whole network of 28,000 professionals is a very powerful force for RBS to get involved with.
One of the things we were very clear about in setting up our whole golf program is that we would love to be part of the fabric of golf in America - not just through the Championships, but also at the grass-roots level.
One thing that's very clear to us is that Americans love their golf, and I think the 28,000 professional of the PGA of America are obviously very passionate about growing that game and building the number of people enjoying and getting satisfaction from the game of golf.
In particular I think whilst Joe has talked about the Championships, I think the opportunity to get involved in Play Golf America Days and in First Tee, which is an organization helping young people often from disadvantaged backgrounds get into golf, is something we know our staff are very excited about. Whether it's in Bridgeport, Connecticut, or Manhattan, many of our staff are already taking part in the First Tee organization. We think we can extend that moving forward.
For example, we're really excited that during the PGA Championships this year we will be running a special program in Philadelphia to bring Oklahoma to Philadelphia in the downtown area and give some people a chance to have some golf lessons from some of or professionals and also catch up with the action on a live leaderboard.
However, as Joe also said, we have tried to do as much as we can in golf. One of the things we're particularly proud of is the fact we have an association with Jack Nicklaus. We think there's no better ambassador for RBS in America, indeed globally, than Jack. He has been a fantastic ambassador for us. We're absolutely delighted he's there with you today to commemorate this signing ceremony.
I don't want to take up any more of your time. I'm delighted to take any questions. I say thank you to Joe and all of his team for the very professional way they've gone about agreeing this patronship and bringing it forward to today. Thank you.
JULIUS MASON: Allan, thank you. I think you'd be very, very pleased if you saw Jack's shirt right now with the branding. It would put a smile on your face.
It is now my pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, to introduce the five-time PGA champion, spokesman for The Royal Bank of Scotland, Jack Nicklaus.
JACK NICKLAUS: Thank you, Julius. Joe, Allan. Thank you and good morning to everyone. It's a true pleasure for me to be here today to participate in the alliance between two great organizations.
As you can imagine, my history with the PGA of America goes back a long ways. Having won the championship a few times, it certainly obviously holds a significant place in my heart.
My relationship, actually our family's relationship, extends beyond what I've been fortunate to do inside the ropes. Barb and I have been involved in the Junior Golf Foundation for decades. The PGA of America and I currently have a partnership that provides teaching support to more than 150 First Tee facilities around the country. You can argue that no organization works harder to grow the game than the PGA of America.
Often when you try to brighten the future of the game, you celebrate its past. One of the reasons that I'm excited about the PGA's new partnership with The Royal Bank of Scotland, in bringing the famed PGA Championship history exhibition on-site at future PGA Championships, including this year as Southern Hills, is golf fans throughout the country will get a firsthand look at what the storied history is behind this event.
I'm also happy to learn that the RBS partnership with PGA will include the Ryder Cup affiliation. Allan, I'm not sure who RBS is going to root for in that, but anyway I think, as you know, I played in several Ryder Cup teams and have been fortunate to captain it a couple of times. I'm thrilled that RBS now has aligned with the Ryder Cup alongside PGA of America. I think they're going to find that relationship very significant and very rewarding.
I've had a strong relationship now with RBS for several years. I can tell you, this is a company that personifies leadership in providing the best financial services worldwide. They're committed to the game of golf, have been committed to the game of golf for over a hundred years at the British Open. I couldn't be happier to see them join you and the PGA of America and further promote the game of golf worldwide and tell a lot of storied PGA history of their championships.
I want to thank both the PGA and RBS for making me part of this special announcement and for being such a strong supporter of me and my family and the game of golf for years. Thanks, Joe.
ALLAN WATT: You asked who I would be rooting for in the Ryder Cup. Maybe something from British history that might sort of help guide you on this one, which was there's a very famous boat race over here between Cambridge and Oxford. Apparently before the war, Cambridge had won seven or eight in a row. Didn't look like Oxford were ever going to win. The boat club captain from Cambridge was heard to say, Please, God, let them win, but not this year.
JACK NICKLAUS: That's RBS' position?
ALLAN WATT: Possibly (laughter). No, may the best team win.
JACK NICKLAUS: Your involvement will be a great involvement from both sides.
ALLAN WATT: I think we're very excited with the addition of the Ryder Cup to the whole involvement.
JOE STERANKA: We did employ all of Jack's thoughts and ideas and his staff in setting up our venue for the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla. That championship venue certainly has been modernized. Hopefully because of the proximity to many of our players who will get in there ahead of time, we will have a little bit of a home-field advantage. It will be much more challenging than it was in 2000.
JULIUS MASON: Now, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the Q&A portion of our news conference. I would like to introduce the teleconference operators to share some instructions to the media. We'll go ahead with questions.
Q. Mr. Steranka, can you comment briefly on how RBS' involvement now will help in the momentum and enthusiasm and exposure for the PGA's programs, specifically the ones mentioned earlier, Play Golf America and First Tee? Do you have any examples or ideas in mind or is this something that will develop as the partnership moves forward?
JOE STERANKA: That's a good question. In today's business world, you don't take much time to develop things. There has been a lot of planning gone into this. It's an evolution of the PGA's business and partnership relationships.
The relationships we've had with companies such as the Acushnet Company have long been very important because they supported our members through scholarships and equipment and things that helped them in their business.
But this new level of partnerships with some of the leading commercial brands, such as RBS and some of the other patrons that we'll announce in the months and years to come, is a new step to help market the game of golf.
So whether it is Charter or Citizens Bank's involvement in local First Tee programs around the country or Play Golf America Days, their involvement is designed to do two things:
One, to lift the brand awareness of the PGA, but then also to do some tactical retail marketing that helps certainly position their brands as top in mind when people are looking for their local banking relationships, and the PGA professional is top in mind when they are looking for their local golf relationship.
Q. Mr. Nicklaus, if you don't mind a question off subject. We all know the 2007 PGA Championship will be at Southern Hills in Tulsa. The men who have won majors there have won 14 majors. Yet the true icons of the game, yourself - Mr. Palmer, Mr. Watson - were not among the group who won majors at Southern Hills. Do you have any comment on that?
JACK NICKLAUS: We didn't play very well (laughter).
I've always had a hard time at Southern Hills. It's a wonderful golf course. It's a tough golf course. But, you know, there's some golf courses that you just never quite get the hang of. I played the junior there in '53, so I go back. I played the Open there in '58. I played there as a kid.
Always liked the golf course, but never came out with a trophy. I guess there's some other guys that didn't come out with trophies either.
Q. Jack, up until now the history of the PGA Championship exhibit has been hosted off-site prior to a major. As you know, in a couple of weeks that exhibit will head over to Southern Hills. One of those plaques at the exhibit honors your famed teacher Jack Grout, along with other PGA professionals. Could you speak about how PGA professionals have helped define a major champion.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, you know, I go back to 1950. That's the year I started playing golf. I was 10 years old. That was the year that Jack Grout came to Scioto. That was the year I started in junior clinics. The PGA Championship was there in 1950.
I'll never forget that. There was only one or two rounds below 70 in the qualifier, 36-hole qualifier, then they entered a match play. I remember Jack Grout taking me around to the locker room, getting autographs of Skip Alexander and Lloyd Mangrum, Sam Snead, and a variety of the players were there.
What that did for me as a youngster and a kid to sort of get me started in the game of golf was something that was pretty special. Jack Grout was my teacher and like a second father to me for all the years that I played golf while he was alive.
Jack passed away I think in 1989. I was actually on the First Tee at Muirfield Village when he passed away in the tournament. Up until that, for all those years, 39 years, when I wanted support, I went home and Jack Grout would call me, he would say, Jackie Buck, what you doing today?
I would say, J. Grout, what would you like me to do today?
He said, Do you want to come out and hit some balls?
I said, Sure, if you want me to come out and hit balls, I'll come out and hit balls.
I would go out and hit balls whether I wanted to or not because I wanted to spend time with Jack Grout. It was a relationship that we formed.
I'm sure there are other players that had a similar bond with a PGA professional. It started me in the game, kept me in the game, and one of the reasons I'm still in the game today.
Q. Are you considering perhaps, Joe, other patron agreements like this? What other types of partners are you looking at for these kind of agreements?
JOE STERANKA: Yes, it's been part of our plan to have as many as four companies be official patrons of the PGA of America, be tied into marketing the game at the national as well as the level of our 41 PGA sections, even deeper than that into local communities around the country.
Again, having that partnership with some other leading brands that are very adept at retail promotion and marketing is the next step in how we're going to reach the millions of people who don't already play the game of golf and to provide more services to that core group of our very best customers who play the game very frequently now.
So you'll hear more announcements prior to the PGA Championship and certainly over the next two years. But our feeling was if we kept it to four companies, we would be able to deliver a great value to those companies as well as receiving great value in return. We're delighted we're, again, starting with The Royal Bank of Scotland.
Q. Jack, could you tell me what you think are some of the characteristics of Southern Hills that makes it a world-class course and also maybe a couple keys it's going to take for someone to win it this year.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, long, tough, narrow, windy, hard, hard ground. I don't know what the characteristics are. I always had trouble with a sweeping wind coming from the southwest, which is your prevailing across Southern Hills. It swept the ball down the hill. I mean, got a lot of dogleg lefts with the wind coming from the left. I always had a hard time, being a left-to-right player. Southern Hills I think sets up better for a right-to-left player than a left-to-right player. I just had a hard time with it.
But it's proven itself to be a very successful venue. I think I always remember my first Open -- actually it was my second open but the first Open I made the cut was at Southern Hills. I remember it's the first time I saw Gary Player hit a golf shot. In those days, he was wearing all white. I saw that backswing where he had the club, his wrist was laid back, sort of laid off. I said, Well, that kid will never make it. Little did I know he finished second in that tournament.
Of course, that's where Tommy Bolt accused a reporter of calling him, he said, 48 years old when he said he was only 38 years old. He says, It was a typographical error. It was a perfect four, a perfect eight. I changed the language a little bit there (laughter).
But, anyway, I still remember from that my first thing. That's the one I remember that Gary came in the locker room. He played with Ben Hogan. They set in the locker room. Hogan went over to him and said, Young man, you're going to be a fine player. He says, Do you practice hard?
He said, Oh, yes, Mr. Hogan.
Gary said, knowing full well he thought he practiced more than Hogan, which I'm sure he didn't, doesn't make any difference because Hogan practiced a lot, and Hogan says, You practice a lot?
He said, Yes, sir, I practice a lot.
He says, Double it.
But, anyway, that goes back to Southern Hills days. I played the junior there in '58. I think I went to the fourth round as a 13-year-old. I had probably the best lesson I ever got in the game of golf as it relates to the rules. I had a 7:00 starting time in the first round. I was the first match off. I played a fellow named Stanley Zebrowski (phonetic). I walked up on the tee about 30 seconds before my 7:00 starting time. Joe Die (phonetic) and Colonel Lee S. Reid (phonetic) was start things off. I think Reid was sort of a Kentucky colonel from Louisville, little white suit, little white beard.
Anyway, I walked up 30 seconds before my starting time. Joe Die looked at me and said, Young man, 30 seconds later you would be starting one down on the second tee. He said you need to show up to the starting time earlier than 30 seconds. I said, Oops. I'm 13 years old.
Anyway, I never missed a starting time I think largely due to that lesson. May not have won at Southern Hills, but I learned a lot of lessons, had a lot of fun.
Q. Will you be able to attend any of the tournament this year?
JACK NICKLAUS: My plans are not such right now, but you never know.
JULIUS MASON: For all the PGA of America employees, thank you for joining us. If you want to stick around for the next six, seven hours, I think Jack would be glad to share more stories with you.
End of FastScripts