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CHAMPIONS TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 25, 2014
GARY WILLIAMS:Â Before we get started, I just want to introduce our very special guests here up on the podium.Â Starting on your far left‑hand side, the President of the Champions Tour, Mr.Mike Stevens, nine‑time winner on the Champions Tour, Mr.John Cook, the 2014 United States Ryder Cup Captain, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, and a proud son of the State of Missouri, Mr.Tom Watson, the Governor of the State of Missouri, Mr.Jay Nixon, the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr.Tim Finchem, the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops and the Big Cedar Lodge, Mr.John Morris, Jim Whalen, who is the Group Head of Technology Account Management for MasterCard, and finally, Dr.Jerry Davis, the President of the College of the Ozarks.Â Thank you all for being here.
With that, I'd like to welcome the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR to the podium, Tim Finchem.
TIM FINCHEM:Â Thank you, Gary, and good day, everyone.Â This is an exciting day for the PGA TOUR, the Champions Tour, our legendary players on the Champions Tour, the game of golf, Missouri, Bass Pro Shops, Big Cedar Lodge Charity, it's just a wonderful day with a lot of parts to what we're announcing today, so let me get right into it.
We're here today to announce that beginning this year, the longest running tournament on the Champions Tour, the Legends of Golf, will be played at the Big Cedar Lodge, and it will be known as the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf presented by Bass Pro Shops.Â I certainly want to congratulate Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops and the owner of Big Cedar Lodge on his vision and today's announcement.
Governor Nixon, we're delighted to have you with us, and we thank you for being here and for the support of the State of Missouri.
I want to thank Jim Whelan and MasterCard.Â MasterCard is a long‑time partner of the PGA TOUR and the sponsor of the Arnold Palmer Invitational for their support as well.Â Certainly want to thank our Champions Tour players who are here, Tom Watson and John Cook.Â John Cook is one of our player directors on the board of the Champions Tour right now.
I'd also like to thank Tom Lehman and Hale Irwin who attempted to be here and got DQ'd because they couldn't get their flights working this morning.Â It was an odd set of circumstances.
I'd also like to mention that we're bringing the Champions Tour here to the Ozarks, it complements, really complements our very successful event on the Web.com TOUR played in Springfield every year.Â The Price Cutter Charity Championship has been a real generator for charity dollars.Â I'd like to recognize that Gerald Andrews, the tournament director for that tournament is here with us today.
If I could take a minute, I'd like to just tick off a half a dozen reasons why we're so excited about what's happening today.Â Obviously, the continuation of the Legends of Golf is very important to our TOUR and to the Champions Tour players who enjoy it so much and to golf.Â If you go back to 1978, and you watch Tommy Bolt, a Hall of Famer, paired with Art Wall in 1979, the second playing of the Legends of Golf, in a playoff against Roberto De Vincenzo and Julius Boros, one of the great television golf happenings in the history of the game.
Those of you who haven't seen that, you'll be seeing clips of it during the telecast this June, but I encourage you to go see it.Â It was a marvelous, marvelous competition.Â It showed the world that not only could players over 50 years of old play‑‑ over 50 years old play good golf, they could play great golf.Â And that started what is now the Champions Tour, of course, so we're delighted, number one, that that's going to continue.
Secondly, we're at a spectacular destination for golf here at Big Cedar Lodge.Â The Top of the Rock, par‑3 golf course is a very special par‑3 golf course designed by a legend, Jack Nicklaus.Â The putting course, the Himalaya putting course, which we were just up looking at, which all of you are going to want to get on, was designed by a legend in Tom Watson.Â The practice area, which is the most spectacular driving range I've ever seen anywhere, was designed by a legend, Arnold Palmer.Â And the Buffalo Springs 18‑hole golf course, one of the top ranked golf courses in the country and certainly in Missouri, was designed by legendary designer Tom Fazio.
So the idea that we can play the Legends tournament in an area of such extraordinary golf facilities is absolutely spectacular.
Thirdly, this is a unique area.Â We were driving around this morning with John, looking at some of the caves of the cliffs and the water, the geology here, the rich history of this area from the standpoint of the history of America is unique.Â And certainly one of our objectives with the Legends coming here is to tell the story of this phenomenal destination resort, the Big Cedar Lodge, but also the area around it in Southwest Missouri for what it is and the activities that it supports.Â If you like to be outside, this is the place to be.
Fourthly, is this unique format.Â This is the first time‑‑ this is really a groundbreaking announcement this morning‑‑ this is the first time that any PGA TOUR event, official money event, has been staged on a par‑3 golf course facility.Â We're excited about this for what it means to the game of golf.Â To educate people and encourage people to use par‑3 golf and to build par‑3 golf.
I don't think many folks recognize, but there are over 800 par‑3 facilities in the United States.Â 85% of them are public facilities.Â There are 3200, 9‑hole facilities in this country, there are 1,000 executive golf courses, short golf courses.Â Together they account for almost 30% of the golf facilities in the United States.Â They provide access for family golf.Â They provide access for juniors.Â They provide access for seniors.Â They provide access for good golf teaching programs and junior golf programs.Â They are less costly from a land standpoint, less costly from a maintenance standpoint, and we want to use this partnership to tell the story of why alternative facilities, particularly par‑3 facilities, can be used to grow the game of golf and enhance the game of golf as an experience for people that play.
Now, just for the record, I'd like to share with you on this subject a couple of comments from the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America.Â The United States Golf Association has been really focused in recent years about the tremendous cost of land, the amount of land that we use on golf courses, and the cost of water to maintain golf courses.Â The PGA of America has been really focused and continues to be focused on bringing more people into the game and growing the game of golf.
First, let me quote Ted Bishop, and this is in your materials, the President of the PGA of America.Â "As someone who grew up working on a par‑3 golf course and who currently manages a 45‑hole facility which includes an 18‑hole par‑3 course, I am very familiar with the many virtues of alternative golf facilities and their capacity to welcome novices to the game in a friendly, non‑intimidating manner.Â I think it is wonderful precedent that the Champions Tour will be showcasing par‑3 golf as a viable and acceptable option to playing full length golf courses, and I congratulate the PGA TOUR for doing so."Â But the real credit is to John Morris for having that vision.
Mike Davis, the executive director of the USGA.Â "USGA is genuinely excited that the PGA TOUR is taking this wonderful step by incorporating a par‑3 golf course into official competition on the Champions Tour.Â The exposure that the Legends of Golf generates not only will help message to a broader audience that a round of golf can be less than 18 holes, but also encourage more people to try alternative courses, whether par‑3, 9‑hole or executive.Â We applaud the TOUR for this forward thinking and significant step which would indeed have a positive impact on future participation."
Just one further footnote on that.Â In the First Tee Program, which has now almost 200 facilities nationally, almost half of them are headquartered at facilities with less than 18 holes.Â 3‑hole courses, 6‑hole courses, and 9‑hole courses, but a lot of par‑3 courses.
The idea that we can go out and tell that story and encourage communities, businesses who are looking at maybe doing part of their business complex or headquartered complex with a golf facility, but don't have the land for an 18‑hole facility, junior programs to pick up and build additional par‑3 golf courses, means the Legends of Golf, which started the Champions Tour, now I think over the years will play a prominent role in moving the needle on growing the game of golf as well.Â So we're absolutely excited about that.
Two more things, first, the partnership.Â John Morris is a visionary.Â He and Bass Pro Shops know sports marketing.Â This is the story of Bass Pro Shops is a fabulous story of sports and a fabulous story of sports marketing.Â These folks know what they're doing.Â So to have them as a partner in bringing this competition forward is an excellent partnership.
MasterCard, which I mentioned before, long‑term partner of ours, knows golf, knows sports marketing, uses golf in all of its sports marketing activity.Â And the combination of these resources is going to allow us not just to stage this competition, but to really drive it home to our fan base here and around the globe.
Last item, charity.Â I know John's going to talk about this more, but to have a solid charity component helping the College of Ozark, I think it's called the Hard Work College, continues the historical, cultural role of golf and charity, and we're delighted about that too.
Now, with that said, I'd like John to come up, because he's going to speak next.Â But as he comes up, I want to share with him two things.Â One, that Arnold Palmer sends his regards today and congratulates you on this partnership.Â And we have an addition, a special message from Jack Nicklaus, that he taped and wanted you, John, to particularly watch, Jack Nicklaus.
JACK NICKLAUS:Â I'm sort of going to apologize because my schedule won't allow me to be with you today.Â But, Johnny, I think you'll understand, I'm off fishing.Â But I wanted to take this opportunity to express my support for this exciting new chapter in the history of the Legends of Golf.Â I also want to thank Johnny Morris for his vision and commitment which are making this day and this event possible.
As you know, the Legends brought to life the viability of a golf tour for senior professionals, laying the ground work for what is now known as the Champions Tour.Â Now, 35 years later, it is once again setting the precedent by introducing the viability of a par‑3 course in an official PGA TOUR sanctioned competition.
Big Cedar Lodge will be an incredible host site for the tournament.Â I'm looking forward to seeing how Top of the Rock stands up against the Legends of the game.
I'm very pleased with how the course turned out.Â You know, we started this course in 1996.Â Since that time we've made a few changes on it.Â Frankly, Johnny's been fiddling around with that golf course for a long time, and I'm sort of anxious to see it again to make sure it still only has nine holes and it's going the right direction.Â No, I think you'll enjoy it.
I hope my friends and fellow pros will find this to be an enjoyable test of golf, while showcasing the benefits of par‑3 golf.
We're at an important juncture in the evolution of our game.Â Is it time we need to embrace innovation, new ideas and out‑of the box thinking that inspires people to get off the couch and play this great game.
As an industry, we need to come up with new golf experiences, whether that is 60 minutes or 90 minutes, whether it's six holes, 12 holes, a par‑3 course, bigger holes.Â We need to think in terms of shorter, faster, and more fun.Â So I applaud the PGA TOUR, the Champions Tour competitors and people like Johnny Morris.Â Someone who shares my love for the outdoors and the game of golf for thinking out of the box.Â They set a great example for the game.
Thank you again for this opportunity, and I hope to see you there in June.Â You know, but right now, Mr.Commissioner, Johnny, you'll understand, that I'm on the flats fishing for bone fish.Â I've got Johnny Miller with me.Â We're going to catch a nice big bone fish here, and we're going to see how jealous you guys really are.
TIM FINCHEM:Â Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, our newest partner, John Morris.
JOHN MORRIS:Â Thank you, Tim.Â Good morning, everybody.Â Thank you, Jack.Â I was going to ask everybody here a question, how many people in this room like to fish?Â A few.Â We know everybody likes golf.Â I was looking up, I do think fishermen and golfers have a few things in common.Â I was reminded of that.Â I looked up there and saw that sign on the conference room wall, it says fishermen are born honest, but they get over it.Â I don't know if any golfers would admit to characteristics like that or not.
I know Tom Watson, he loves to fish, loves the outdoors, Jack certainly does.Â One thing we're real proud of up in our pro shop it's called Arnie's Barn, an old barn, and we have a mount of Jack Nicklaus's monster Marlin that he caught many years ago in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.Â The fish is 1356 pounds, and I think to this day it's the fifth largest fish ever caught on a rod and reel.Â Our governor's pretty fond of fishing too, and rumor has it he's almost as good as the first lady.
But, anyway, some of us here aren't as passionate of golfers as we are fishermen, but I can tell you from all of us at Bass Pro Shops and everybody at Big Cedar, we are so proud and honored to be hosting this event here for many reasons.Â I just happened to look down at my notes.Â I have one other‑‑ my favorite quote about golf I want to share is from a golfer, Sam Snead.Â He said, "I play golf so I can afford to keep fishing the way I want to."
But we're so excited about this.Â It is an honor to have all of you with us today, and it's a real opportunity and an honor to be able to host some of the greatest golfers of all time like John and Tom and the others that are signing up to come and participate here.Â We're also excited in addition to the Legends of Golf and this Legends Tournament that we're having, a fun activity, we're also going to have some fishing competitions, and shooting competitions.Â We have a number of legendary fishermen like Bill Dance and Kevin VanDam, a lot of celebrity outdoorsmen.Â Richard Childress, the racer, Tony Stewart, and many others, and famous shooters coming in here too.
So we hope to have an event that will bring a lot of really legendary athletes and sportsmen together to showcase, as the Commissioner mentioned, our beautiful Ozarks here, and our rivers and our lakes and the gulf, and all that we have to offer here in this part of the world, not the least of which is just genuine, friendly, Ozarks hospitality, from the folks at Big Cedar and that you'll find all through our part of the country here.
This event, when we learned more about it, it's pretty amazing that it will be broadcast to over 200 countries around the world and viewed in over 145 million households.Â So it will bring a lot of exposure here to our Ozarks, and we can't think of a grander way to introduce the Top of the Rock golf course and to showcase the efforts of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer and Tom, and also the many craftsmen from the area that have been working to create this facility.
I'm just very proud of everybody's efforts and what they've done.Â In spite of Jack Nicklaus was talking about maybe being distracted from time to time trying to make sure we took advantage of every view and every part of nature.Â There is so much passion that's gone into this.Â I think Tom Watson, I know Tom, like how many trips he made to work on this putting complex the Commissioner was talking about.Â I think eight or nine times he flew down and came down and just walked all over the land.Â Walked in front of the bulldozer and said I want to move this and move that, and it's going to be something fun.Â He'll tell you more about it.Â But a lot of passion going into this.
The Commissioner mentioned the place Buffalo Ridge when he was talking, nobody seemed to relate to that because we're planning to change the name of Branson Creek Golf Course to Buffalo Ridge.Â And Tom Fazio, the original architect and his son, Logan, have been working over there to re‑spruce up the course and make some significant changes.
But one thing we're doing on the fields around the course is enhancing the native grasses, and we'll have over there herds of free‑ranging buffalos around the course, and we'll focus more than ever on the nature.Â So we'll rename the course Buffalo Ridge.
Last, I think one of the things that this event gives us the opportunity to do that we're most excited about is carrying on the PGA's amazing record of supporting and bringing focus and awareness to organizations, to charities to worthwhile causes.Â In this case, we're very proud this event can showcase this great institution in America that we have right here in our backyard, College of the Ozarks and Hard Work U.
Dr.Davis, we're very proud to be able to use this and to share the story of what you and everyone at Hard Work U does that is so important to the future of our country.Â We can't even begin to express to you our thanks and how proud we are to be aligning some of this awareness to support the work you do.
DR. JERRY DAVIS:Â Thank you very much.Â And also I'd like you to know some of the gifts we receive will be used to construct the Vietnam Memorial Park at the entrance of College of the Ozarks, and most of you are familiar with Veterans Grove there.Â We want to have a Memorial to over 1,000 men and women from the State of Missouri who gave their lives during the Vietnam War, and all of this is consistent with the patriotic goal of College of the Ozarks.Â And we appreciate very much your part in this and being included in this magnificent event.
JOHN MORRIS:Â Thank you, Dr.Davis.Â Now it's time for me to have the great privilege of introducing a great man that leads a great state, and he's passionate about our outdoors, our nature, conservation, without his help we wouldn't be here today for this event because he believes in investing in our future and the state.Â Please help me welcome our Governor, Jay Nixon.
GOVERNOR NIXON:Â Thank you, I once again want to thank everybody for being here.Â But especially, Commissioner, you talked about the par‑3 courses and the great way to get involved in golf and compete in golf.Â Leave it to Missourians and Johnny Morris to make it possible for you to play a round of golf, hit a ball into a buffalo herd and still manage to finish the hole.Â So for all types of golfers, we're going to allow a unique opportunity, shall we say, in the Show Me state.
I'm pleased to have with me a number of great Missourians here today, but specifically want to mention two really quickly.Â Representative Don Phillips who has been a leader on tourism for us, this is his district and his area.Â And also Scott Hovis, from the Missouri Tourism Commission, the executive director from the Missouri Golf Association, we appreciate their efforts and support.
Thank you, Johnny, it's a pleasure for me to be here this morning, both as the governor of this great state that will host this iconic event and one of the millions of Americans that enjoys not only playing golf, but also watches in amazement what professional players accomplish out on the course.
Now, this is a great day for Branson and for Missouri.Â I'm delighted that the Champions Tour chose the beautiful Big Cedar Lodge Resort for these honors.Â Congratulations, Johnny, and everyone here.Â I will make sure this trip to the Show Me state for all the pros that play, all the fans that come is, in fact, a great experience whether you're here at this iconic lodge or out on the courses or heading to the rivers to fish in this region, out on the lake to fish or go visit our new native elk that we're reintroducing back into the Show Me state.Â We're going to embrace this opportunity so that millions of people around the world will once again get another view of the Show Me state.
I'm very pleased at our sponsors, Big Cedar Lodge, Bass Pro Shops, and MasterCard who already have significant investments in the Show Me state who have once again stepped up to help me lead.
Now this is a natural fit for Missouri to host this special outdoor sporting event, not only because we have a terrific variety of outdoor activities families can choose from, but we're getting outside for a little friendly competition.Â And once again, while he's very friendly, Mr.Morris on each of the things he talked about there was a shooting competition, a fishing competition, a golfing competition.
I should also note in the competition of outdoors last year, Missouri was chosen as the outstanding trail state in America.Â Number one state for hiking, biking, and getting out.Â As part of that we had a competition in the state of Missouri last year where the first lady and I challenged all Missourians to hike a hundred miles on Missouri trails.Â We're very, very happy we did 1.2 million miles.Â Over 12,000 people completed it.Â We're going to restart that again this year.
I should also note to reference what Johnny said when we kept the competition at the end of the year, the first lady had 439 miles, was 51 miles ahead of me.Â I tell people I've been chasing this woman for 35 years, and now we have objective proof that I can't catch her.Â But we want to get folks outdoors to see these trails while they're here, to hike, and stay healthy.Â I think that is the last part of our message here.
Outdoors and physical exercise and the peace and quiet of the outdoors, all of those are ways to improve your health also.Â You'll see our Department of Health, our tourism commission, all sorts of activities and efforts by the State of Missouri to get folks of all ages healthier and more outdoors.
Now we have a long relationship with the PGA TOUR.Â We are pleased at the number of events they have here in Springfield, the iconic event, the PGA Championship, The Senior Championship was in St. Louis, the 100th PGA will be coming to St. Louis in just a few years, also a number of Missourians there.Â For those golf historians here, one should not forget the winner of the first Masters, Horton Smith from Joplin, Missouri.Â So we have a long history, Mr.Commissioner, of being outside and supporting.
Now last piece here, I want to thank Bass Pro Shops and Big Cedar specifically.Â Quality of outdoors is very important.Â We know as a state and being part of this event will dramatically help us not only for tourism in this window of this event but helps us as we move forward and continue to expand that essential part of Missouri's economy.Â It's also going to reinforce for those people watching on TV to see what a great destination this is for families and what family friendly entertainment we have here in the Show Me state.Â You'll find we reflect the values of this great state as we welcome people from around the world.
Now we are absolutely delighted that the Legends of Golf and Champions Tour are making Big Cedar Lodge home for this tournament, and excited about the impact it will have on our region and state.Â And we are really ready to showcase what this is going to be for our state.
Now it is now my distinct pleasure to introduce a native Missourian, who is a four‑time winner of the Missouri amateur tournament.Â He went on to do a few things after that.Â Should also note his eight majors, and the many wins he's had on the PGA TOUR and also the captain of this year's Ryder Cup team for the United States, which truly make him a legend among the Legends of Golf.
He's a gentleman who as well‑respected for his work with charities and fundraising as he is for his accomplishments on the golf course.Â The folks that know Tom Watson well know that he lives a life in which he is involved in a lot of ways to help a lot of people.
He's hosted the Children's Mercy Classic for a quarter century raising more than $12 million in our state, and he's also deeply dedicated to the Bruce Edwards Foundation for ALS.Â Ladies and gentlemen, a native Missourian, Tom Watson.
TOM WATSON:Â Thank you, Governor.Â First of all, are you going to play in the Pro‑Am this coming June in?
GOVERNOR NIXON:Â It's a team event, isn't it?
TOM WATSON:Â Yes, it is.
It's a great honor to be here for several reasons.Â First of all, being from the state of Missouri and born in St. Louis hospital in Kansas City back a long, long time ago, which makes me a Champions Tour senior golfer.Â I've spent a lot of time doing a lot of things in the state of Missouri, but one of the things that I think define me is my love for the outdoors.Â This is what Johnny Morris brings to so many millions of people, the love for the outdoors.Â He started a fishing lure sales business in the back of a store when he was a kid, and just kind of parlayed that into what it is today.Â But he has done so many wonderful things to make the outdoors so pleasurable for all of us.
Another thing you don't realize about Johnny, he's a very charitable man.Â He does a lot of things unbeknownst to people.Â I had the fortunate opportunity to go to Iraq on a Troops First trip.Â I mentioned to Johnny that I was going to Iraq, and he said, why don't we send over some gift cards, so he sent over a couple thousand $50 gift cards for me to give away to the troops over there.Â Johnny, we thank you for that.
As far as what's going to happen in June, we have a tournament here which is unique.Â It's unlike the regular stroke tournaments we play.Â We're going to be playing alternate shot or foursome or twosome play.Â We're going to be playing best ball, and we're going to play a scramble format.Â All three types of formats, golfers around this country and around the world understand what those are, and it's going to be unique to see the pros play some other type of format besides just individual stroke play.
I think that's really an important element to this tournament, and I can't wait for my partner, Andy North and I to take on Cookie and the rest of those crew.
I do have to‑‑ I think what I want to do though is talk a little bit about the putting green that I had the pleasure when I came down to talk to Johnny about this whole project, I said, Johnny, I have a vision.Â I said, I was over playing in a MasterCard event at St. Andrews a few years prior to that, and I had the opportunity to go out on what they call the Himalayas.Â Now, the Himalayas is a putting course, which is well over an acre in size.
There is a little sign up shack up there, and I was across at the Old Course Hotel looking at it, and I got my putter and a couple balls, and I went over there, and I went up there and said I'd like to play.Â The guy looked at me and said that will be two pounds.Â Then he looked at me like that, and I said okay, yeah, here's the two pounds.Â There was this first hole over there, and there is this lady who is sitting on this bench right there.Â I said, I don't want to play alone.Â Would you like to play with me?Â And she said, I'm just sitting here.Â My husband's out over here.Â I said get a putter and balls and let's go play.
So we got up on the first tee and started putting on the first hole.Â All of a sudden here comes the husband and said, can I play with you?Â So we went around the course and played it, and we had such a great time playing this course.
Now the Himalayas, by definition, you would think it's got lots of hills and things like that.Â Well, over there it does.Â The tallest hill in the Himalayas is 7 feet, 7 feet.Â You have seven‑foot hills to deal with.Â Well, the Himalayas that I built for Johnny, we've got an 18‑foot elevation drop from the top to the bottom, and we had some fun doing it to try to make it so it's playable.
The grass will be a little bit slower than normal because of all that elevation.Â I can't wait to get Cookie on there, and we'll have a little competition playing that course during the tournament this year.Â That's what Johnny and the TOUR have done as a consortium here.Â We're bringing not only a golf tournament here, but we're bringing an element of fun, the shooting aspects, the fishing aspects, the outdoor aspects which, in this world of today, I don't have my cell phone on me right here.Â But I bring it up, and many times I bring it up to the audience and I say this is what's calling our kids.Â Too much time spent there rather than the outdoors.Â I firmly believe that with events like this, we're going to make a difference.
So with that, I thank you very much.Â And I'd like to introduce Jim Whelan from MasterCard to speak on behalf of their relationship with Bass Pro.
JIM WHELAN:Â Morning, thanks, Tom.Â Great to be here today representing MasterCard.Â MasterCard has had a long affiliation with the PGA TOUR, and we just marvel at how the TOUR has created so much visibility and enjoyment for the game of golf.Â Through our partnership though we have a tag line at MasterCard, not just priceless, but MasterCard and the partnership with the PGA gets fans more inside the game of golf.Â Think about that.Â Gets fans more inside the game, because that is what this is about.
As an added bonus, we've been aligned with Tom Watson, one of golf's most impressive ambassadors and professionals since 1997; is that correct, Tom?Â That was your rookie year, is that what you told me?Â Actually, I think you said that was your second rookie, 1999.
TOM WATSON:Â My greatest mulligan.
JIM WHELAN:Â The Champions Tour is a significant event for Missouri.Â In addition to Bass Pro, we at MasterCard also have a significant presence in the state with our worldwide technology headquarters in O'Fallon.Â We are very pleased to lend our support to this signature event that promises to engage long‑time fans and attract new fans.Â Net and net, a win for all.
We're even more excited about our relationship with Bass Pro and the opportunity to show off Bass Pro properties.Â In 2013, Bass Pro, Bank of America and MasterCard, came together to offer consumers the Bass Pro Bank of America MasterCard.Â A card that offers cardholders the opportunity to shop at their favorite store, Bass Pro, earn rewards towards products and outdoor gear as well as support conservation efforts.Â This event is an awesome opportunity to allow more people to become aware of these great Bass Pro properties, great products, and create new fans for the event as well.
In addition, Bass Pro card members, and I encourage everybody to sign up today.Â You'll take some of those.Â Bass Pro cardholders have TPC membership for a day benefits, so they can experience not just the course, this course, but every TPC course across the country.
Again, MasterCard is very much looking forward to this signature event and trusts it's one of many to come.Â Thank you very much.Â Gary?
GARY WILLIAMS:Â Gentlemen, thank you all.Â I'm going to ask a question of John Cook.Â John, you had a great mentor, a Hall of Fame member in Ken Venturi, and I know how much you appreciate the forerunners, the forefathers of the game of golf.Â The importance of this event when it comes to professional golf and for younger players to be able to see the men who paved the way for the next generation and why this event means so much to you and the Champions Tour?
JOHN COOK:Â I can remember watching that playoff and where we were.Â We were at the Cris Schenkel Intercollegiate.Â We were supposed to be going to dinner, and the playoff kept going and going and going and going, and they're all making birdies.Â And we're going, look at these old guys.Â We were in college, but this was fascinating.Â That being the forerunner to The Senior Tour, Champions Tour, that I never thought I'd‑‑ that's 30 years down the road, and here I am playing it.
But quick little story.Â Last year we're playing the Legends event in Savannah, and there were rumblings that.
The players said we can't let that happen.Â We're going to do everything possible that we can do to keep this thing going.Â And we kept in touch with Mike, and Mike said there are things moving that we just can't let this go.Â This is the most important event that we have.Â This started and this is why we're playing because of these great Legends, and we couldn't let this thing go away.Â When Mike was talking about Johnny and Bass Pro Shops coming in, we said we have to make this happen.
So it's very significant for us, and we couldn't be more proud that the work that's gone into it.Â We get to mix with the Legends again.Â I get to go out and putt with Tom late in the day.
I can promise you one thing, the players are not going to be getting in their car and leaving.Â We're going to have some fun, fun games on that Himalayas course, I can promise you that.Â But on behalf of the players, I can't thank Johnny enough and Bass Pro Shops enough and the great State of Missouri to have this event.Â You come out and watch, these old guys can still really play.Â It's going to be a lot of fun.
(Left Live Audience)
GARY WILLIAMS:Â We have left the live audience.Â I'm going to ask Tom and John a few questions and then we'll open it up for you to certainly ask some questions.
Tom, everyone's mentioned and everybody knows your love for team golf, and not only as a Ryder Cup participant but now a two‑time captain, team golf seems to be very popular right now among not only participants but viewers of the game.Â When we watch it, we're engaged.Â What do you think it is about team golf that makes people watch with such interest?
TOM LEHMAN:Â It's very simple.Â Most people play team golf.Â When you go out to play in a foursome ball, what do you do?Â You pick a partner, you play another two guys or two gals whatever.Â That's the way we play the game.Â We don't go out and play stroke play to see who shoots the lowest score that day.Â We maze throw a Skins game in there or mingle mangle, something like that, but we play teams.Â We play against each other.
Team golf is a more prevalent way of playing the game.Â I love it.
GARY WILLIAMS:Â We were out looking at Top of the Rock and John and Tom walked on to the third tee and John already said I'll let Joey Sindelar play this hole.Â It's 237 yards, and Tom was trying to push his way into the Legends division.
TOM WATSON:Â I've got to get older, quicker.Â I'm 64, I need to get 65 real quick because I know those tees aren't going to be back there at 235.
GARY WILLIAMS:Â How about, John, the dynamic of playing a par‑3 golf course in a competition of this level?
JOHN COOK:Â It's going to be exciting.Â There is no doubt.Â I grew up on a par‑3 course, so I have a great affection for it.Â But when I saw this par‑3 course, I went, wow, this will be not only interesting, but it will be challenging.Â Not your average par‑3 course, I can promise you that.
Johnny has done a great job.Â It's going to be very challenging.Â Thankfully we're going to be playing a scramble and maybe an alternate shot around there, so I don't have to shoot the score.Â I'll get Joey to right foot a 4‑iron on that 237‑yarder like he's so good at doing.Â But it's going to be, like I said, it's going to be unique.Â It's going to be fun.Â And I think the television audience and anyone that's going to be there watching are going to see how much fun we're going to have.Â I look very much forward to being challenged by the Top of the Rock.
GARY WILLIAMS:Â Last thing before we open it up to the floor.Â I mentioned John's mentoring that he got from Ken Venturi.Â Most people probably know, and if you don't, Tom had a similar experience with Byron Nelson.Â When this event was created, it truly was the forerunner to this TOUR, Senior Golf now the Champions Tour.Â Do you remember as somebody who was the best player in the world in the early '80s, putting the TV on and saying oh, my God.Â There is Tommy Bolt, there is Don January, there is Gene Littler, do you remember watching this golf tournaments in the early '80s as it started to establish itself?
TOM WATSON:Â Just like John, I watched that playoff with the very first Legends event.Â It was mesmerizing.Â Just, man, five birdies.Â They all made birdies.Â Everybody made a birdie, and it kept on going and going and going.Â This last week, giving credit to the kids on the other TOUR, they had a pretty good playoff there in the last match with Dubuisson and Jason Day.Â But that's what makes golf compelling.
I'm going to reiterate what John said.Â The wonderful thing about this event, it's different.Â As you said, and you asked me the question about what about team play?Â Well, most people play team play.Â People are going to tune in here and say I want to see something different.Â They will.Â They'll tune into this and see us play different formats.
They're also going to see, as we took the cart path ride today from the main parking lot into the Top of the Rock.Â If you haven't taken that ride, you're going to see something very special.Â Johnny's vision there, as I said something about the cell phone stuff, you're going to take this ride, and you're going to say, you put that cell phone away forever just to take a deep breath and be in nature to see the beautiful woods.Â The crevices, and the waterfalls, an exquisite cave, the suspension bridges.Â Then you'll all of a sudden come to the view.Â You'll see Table Rock Lake, then another bridge and another waterfall.Â It's just spectacular.Â Where else in the world would you have something like this?
Well, the guy right over there sitting in the green shirt, that's where it came from.Â Yeah, it may have taken a little long to make it happen, but it's there, and it's going to be for those people who will experience it both physically but also on the television when they watch this event because I'm sure that the Golf Channel will specifically go and show these various amenities that are around here.Â They're wonderful things.
Plus I'm looking forward to the shooting competition.Â Got a little edge there.Â The fishing, I'm not very good.Â Jack has a distinct advantage in the fishing competition.Â But I'm looking forward to all the events of the week.Â It's just going to be a really comprehensive week with a lot of fun, and really to showcase this area, and I'm glad to be a part of it.
GARY WILLIAMS:Â If anybody has any questions.Â We have some mics set up in the right and left side of the room.
Q.Â If you could just, for those of us in the room, the dates of the actual competition.Â Where will it start, what days will be on the par‑3, what days will be on the 18‑hole, purse money, maybe first place check?
SPEAKER:Â Forgive me, but I think, Mike, you told me.Â Why don't you describe what the format will be, Mike?
MIKE STEVENS:Â The dates will be June 2 to 8 will be the tournament dates.Â Monday through Sunday.Â There will be a Pro‑Am on Wednesday and Thursday, which is typical for the Champions Tour.Â We do a two‑day Pro‑Am.Â What is unique about this Pro‑Am is that the groups will play on one day, the 18‑hole golf course, Buffalo Ridge, and enjoy themselves with the best ball competition with the players.Â But then on the second day when they're playing Top of the Rock, they're going to play nine holes with their professional golfer, and then we're going to allow them to pick the outdoor discipline that they would like to get involved in, be it hunting, fishing, archery, kayaking, possibly NASCAR if we have Tony Stewart here.Â Then they'll get to spend the afternoon with the legend from that particular discipline.Â That, in itself, is unique in Pro‑Ams and in golf.
The competition actually will be split amongst the two golf courses and the two groups.Â We'll have two divisions.Â The champions division, which will be the younger golfers, I guess we'll call them, and the Legends division, which will be the golfers that are 65 and older.
When they're playing the 18‑hole golf course, they'll play four ball or best ball, if will.Â But when they're on the par‑3, they're going to play a combination over the given days of foursomes, which is alternate shot for nine holes, four‑ball, which is best ball, and then on the last day we're going to incorporate a scramble format into the competition.Â So basically we're taking all the various formats in golf that you may have seen in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups and incorporating them all together to try to make this a fun event, a challenging event, and a very competitive event.
I think with everything that you see at Top of the Rock, it's amazing.Â It's an unbelievable par‑3.Â It's awe‑inspiring from the golfing perspective and the visual perspective that I think when the best in the world get here in June they're going to have a great time.Â Top of the Rock is going to have 80‑plus ambassadors for this facility going forward.
SPEAKER:Â I might add that one of the things that you will have never seen in televised golf is what is called a scramble format.Â Now the scramble format is both players hit and you take the best shot.Â Then you hit from there, and take the best shot from there.
That is typically played in a lot of charitable, one‑day events.Â People play it all the time.Â But you've never seen it on TV.
SPEAKER:Â I might add one more thing.Â The purse is 2.75 million for the event.
Say again?Â Wow.Â Thanks to the man in the green shirt.
Q.Â Do you know some of the names that we can expect to see?
SPEAKER:Â I'll be there.
SPEAKER:Â These two guys.
SPEAKER:Â We purposely have not announced all the players that have committed because we're going to tease them as we get closer to the event and instill some excitement in the community and spur on ticket sales and sponsorship and Pro‑Am sales.Â But I can tell you we've contacted the gentleman on the screen there a little bit earlier, and he's indicated he's going to play.Â The Commissioner spoke to Gary Player.Â He's indicated that he's going to play.Â The Commissioner also spoke to Lee Trevino and he's indicated he's going to play.
So this is the Legends of Golf.Â Each year we showcase the true Legends of the game, and you can expect to see that come here in June.
TIM FINCHEM:Â Those are good indicators, Mike.
GARY WILLIAMS:Â Another question?
Q.Â Tom, what advantage do you have in the shooting competition?Â You said Jack has it in fishing.
TOM WATSON:Â Well, when I was 7 years old I went out into a duck blind and froze my toes off with my dad, and that was the moment that you know whether your kid's going to love to shoot or not.Â I stayed out there with dad and I learned to love the hunting aspect of life.Â Over the years I've done a little bit of shooting.Â I haven't done as much shooting as practicing or hitting golf balls, but I've tried.
Q.Â What sort of economic impact might the Branson community expect to see from a tournament of this size?
GOVERNOR NIXON:Â I know we've looked at very carefully at this as we look at the tourism opportunities and we make investments in this.Â I think we'll see two significant.Â First of all, during that week you'll have a tremendous amount of attention.Â The people from 150 million countries will access this, folks from around the world watching this unique event with these iconic stars.
The second gives us that same platform to expand the brand of the outdoor economy here in Southwest Missouri.Â Not just the golf courses, but also the hunting and fishing.
I would say if you've got a bracket as far as the shooting, I would go with all Missourians leading in that bracket, regardless whether they're golfers or not, and the fishing where we're good.Â But I think Missourians are pretty famous for being prepared to pull the trigger and being well‑armed to do just that.Â We would expect that.
But we see a significant, long‑term opportunity here.Â I mean, as I was talking to folks, I think there are a lot of folks that don't really realize that in the middle of summer when you go to Table Rock Lake you can see down in crystal clear water for 25 feet. Â I think there are a lot of folks that don't realize we're reintroducing native elk in this area.Â There are folks that don't see all of the other things around the entire region.Â Whether it's the entire White River Basin that flows from here down into Arkansas or the other things in this region.
So we look at this as not only a one‑week impact which will be significant in the millions of dollars, but ultimately a long‑range view of this area so that folks and their families can come back when they don't have to compete with John Cook and Tom Watson at the Himalayas, and they can compete with their families and their kids to continue to expand this and to recognize what a tremendous opportunity we have here to continue to grow that economy.
TIM FINCHEM:Â Let me add to that, I think the Governor answered the question great.Â I think, though, I'll just amplify on that in the context that as John mentioned, we have tremendous reach in terms of the telecast.Â One of the challenges and opportunities is don't miss any of the golf, but at the same time use the telecast to bring home what the region is about and how unique this area is in a very direct way.Â If we do a good job with that, then the long‑term economic impact that the governors are referring to will happen.Â So we'll do that because if we don't, John's going to fire us.Â It's going to be fun today.Â We look forward to the opportunity.
Q.Â Since this tournament was held in Savannah for the last ten or 11 years, do you have a dollar figure on the financial impact to the local economy for each of those years?
TIM FINCHEM:Â You know, about 70% of our tournaments have a local college or state university actually do an economic impact statement.Â I'm not familiar with whether one was done in Savannah, candidly, but we'll check.Â If we do have an estimate that's done right, we'll get it to you.
But I would tell you that across the board, we look at it from two standpoints, economic impact and economic development.Â Economic impact, really, is what happens that week.Â What really happens in terms of expenditure, jobs, ripple‑effect.Â Economic development has to do with what the governor referred to in terms of telling the story of the community from a business opportunity, a destination resort opportunity, and that's a whole different thing to measure.Â But the extent to which we have data historically, we'll get it to you.
Q.Â Mr.Morris, for you, why did you want this tournament?Â And I take it this is a long‑term arrangement?
JOHN MORRIS:Â Yes, we entered into an arrangement for five years to host this tournament.Â We're excited about the opportunity to showcase, really, around the world, what we have in our resources here and the beauty of the Ozarks, Hard Work University and to tell that story.Â Also just the interests we feel to our customer base and ability to cross‑promote between a lot of fishermen and hunters who like to get out and play golf.
I think when it comes down to it, we felt really great about it and a powerful communication beaming out from here in the Ozarks around the world to share about all these things that have been talked about.
Q.Â I was going to ask you, the five‑year contract with this tournament is that on the Golf Channel?Â Is there an opportunity that maybe goes to ESPN or NBC like other Champions Tour events?Â Is it a June date that's going to be the date for the five years or is that going to move?
SPEAKER:Â A lot of questions there.Â Five‑year contract, exclusively on the Golf Channel for those five years.Â From a date perspective, we'll start in June this year, but we're looking to move it a few years in the coming years.
Q.Â (Indiscernible), is there a limitation to that as far as having people coming in?
SPEAKER:Â Currently the marketing packages are being put together by the organizers.Â They have introduced sponsorship packages with MasterCard's involvement, that's already out there.Â Some of the marketing packages are going to be put together.Â We're going to look at partnering with the Price Cutter Charity Championship up in Springfield, obviously 25 years of success with a great Web.com Tour event gives us some history on those pricing scenarios.Â But all of that will be released here in the next week to week and a half.
Q.Â If you'll indulge me one more time, how is this tournament going to change the retail inventory of Bass Pro Shops?
JOHN MORRIS:Â I know it's not going to hurt any to have Tom come in the shop.Â And hopefully a lot of these golfers and other people will make a trip by the Bass Pro Shops.Â Thank you for asking.
GARY WILLIAMS:Â That's a good way to end it.Â Thank you to all the gentlemen up here, including the Governor, and we look forward to seeing all of you the first week in June.Â Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports