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May 6, 2015

Pete Bevacqua

Mike Davis

Tim Finchem

Steve Mona

Mike Whan


LAURA NEAL: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us this morning here at THE PLAYERS Championship 2015. We're pleased to welcome some very distinguished guests for a golf industry press conference update. These gentlemen need no introduction, but having them all together in the same room to address the media is a special occasion, so I would like to welcome PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem; PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua; USGA Executive Director Mike Davis; Commissioner of the LPGA Mike Whan; and CEO of the World Golf Foundation Steve Mona. I would also like to recognize two gentlemen who are joining us today not on the dais but are available for questioning afterwards is Greg Nathan from the NGF, our Senior Vice President, and Richard Hills, Ryder Cup Director, European Tour. At this time I would like to turn over the program to PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.

TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Laura, and welcome, everyone. This is, I think, an interesting day for golf and for all of us involved in the management of various aspects of the game. This is a recognition, really, today, of the work that's been done over the last year and a half by the golf organizations coming together to collaborate on analyzing, first, where we are with the game, working with the National Golf Foundation in that regard, and steps that we can take to continue to grow the game. During that year and a half, the golf organizations have identified five key projects or initiatives that have begun that we believe can be scaled and then with our joint resources can really have an impact on reaching the game, which you're going to hear about in just a few minutes. From our perspective, and we have talked a lot about this, I think the three things that are key to today's discussion is, first and foremost, we see the game as stable and healthy in the United States. There's been some negative commentary about the game over the last couple of years, but we see that as largely a result of the headwinds that developed in the economic downturn in 2009, the resultant impact on the housing industry, and not headwinds that are having a significant effect on the overall health of the game in many respects, although in some respects it has had an impact. Secondly, we see enormous potential with a great deal of interest among individuals around the country and importantly young people to pick the game up and get involved. And third, we have confidence that the programs that will be referenced today are programs that can really help us do that, although there will be additional programs going forward. Now, with that as just a bit of a preamble, I would say that after Steve Mona, who is the CEO of the World Golf Foundation, reviews what I just referenced, all of us are available to take questions, as you might like to ask a little bit later. So I'll turn it over to Steve Mona.

STEVE MONA: Thank you, Tim, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. First of all, I want to state that we view the overall state of the golf industry as stable, and we view its future as encouraging. And we base that conclusion on data that was recently released by the National Golf Foundation last week. I wanted to highlight several areas that cause us to make this conclusion. The first is participation. For the fourth consecutive year, participation held steady at approximately 25 million, 24.7 to be exact. So we have clearly seen stability from that standpoint, and what was very encouraging from that number is that two million people took up the game of golf in 2014 for the first time, and that's the highest level since 2002. Secondly, from the standpoint of rounds played, rounds played actually increased by one percent in 2014 based on days open. Now, when you consider that in 2014 we had unusually harsh weather and that there were fewer days open than in 2013, the overall number was actually down 1.7 percent, but if you just equate it to days open we actually had a one percent increase in play per day open. We view that as a positive sign. Number three, course supply. Last year was the ninth consecutive year of more closures than openings, and we view that as a natural market correction that frankly needs to take place in the golf industry. So to be specific, in 2014 there were 175 closures, there were 11 openings, and that leaves us as of the end of 2014 with a total of 15,372 courses, and importantly, 75 percent of those courses are open to the public, and we think that's a fact that's often overlooked. And just to give you some context, because these are broad numbers, obviously, if you look at the period of time between 1986 and 2005, i.e., a 20-year period of time, golf supply in the United States increased by 40 percent, a substantial number. Differently, between 2006 and 2014, so a nine-year period, we have seen a four percent reduction. But I just wanted to make sure everyone had the context of the difference in those periods of time. Furthermore, our view is that this is a positive move toward equilibrium between supply and demand in the marketplace. It needs to happen. We don't view it negatively. Secondly, we are here to say this trend's going to continue for several more years, and no one should be alarmed. We further believe that coming on the other end, the facilities that still exist when this is complete, if you will, will be very strong and able to compete in the marketplace. Number four is latent demand, often referenced. Very good news here. 32.3 million non-golfers, and that's 7.6 million more than currently play the game today, so we have got a group of people larger than who play the game today, currently are either very interested or somewhat interested in playing golf now. Not in the future, but now. And of that total, 12 million of those individuals are millenials, and that's oftentimes been discussed, and we're very encouraged by that number. Finally, nontraditional participation. There are 25 million non-golfers, so the same size as our current golf franchise, if you will, who are interested or who participate, pardon me, in the game exclusively through either driving ranges, Top Golf, screen golf, otherwise known as simulators, or miniature golf. And we believe that this is a fertile ground for us in terms of a procession from the nontraditional game into the traditional game of golf as we all know it. So let me just conclude by making five quick summary comments: No. 1, and I said this, Tim said this as well, we believe that golf is quite stable and we further believe that certain aspects of the industry are doing very well. I think that's irrefutable. Second, we recognize our challenges. As Tim referenced, we have them, but we are addressing those and particularly those that we have some degree of influence over. Number three, we're very encouraged by the latent demand that I referenced and also the participation in the nontraditional game as I also referenced. Number four, as Tim had referenced, all of golf's major stakeholders are combining forces, if you will, to put a significant focus in this area. And I also should mention, this is not only about growth, this is also about ensuring the future long-term health and vitality of the game. And you'll hear Mike Davis speak to sustainability in a bit. But this is also a very important part of this equation, and I want to make that point. Finally, I also want it state that we are going to measure results against all of these initiatives that you're going to hear about in a minute. We're going to report the results, we will be very transparent about that process, and then finally, we will also pay attention to other programs that emerge. We'll keep our eye on those, and those could possibly become part of this mix in the future. So the final comment is, we view this as a long-term process, a collaborative process and a focused effort on behalf of the golf industry. So with that, Tim, I'll turn it back to you.

TIM FINCHEM: Well, so the five programs that have been identified that we agreed upon and we started off with the list of like 16 initiatives that have been ongoing for how many was it?

PETE BEVACQUA: More than 16. Multiple pages.

TIM FINCHEM: Right. Some of them are programs that were in and of themselves of interest, but they just didn't seem to be programs that could scale to have a significant impact. All these organizations, we all have different levels of resources, we have different ways we can support initiatives, and we want to get to a point where we had five that would -- or an agreed-upon number that could really work, so that had demonstrated either already scaling or the ability to grow. And that includes certainly the USGA/PGA initiative or USGA/LPGA initiative on bringing girls into the game, which has shown enormous progress; the PGA of America's PGA Junior League program. Which is catching on. There's a lot of enthusiasm for it. It's showing real signs of growth. The recent, in the last couple of years, Drive, Chip & Putt competition at the Masters, which has given the strength of the Masters brand, has really reached out into communities all over the country, thousands of kids signing up for the ability to compete, and clearly everybody involved in that program believes it can really scale going forward; Get Golf Ready, primarily a PGA of America program to increase the player development at clubs around the country. And a lot of work is going on under that umbrella by the PGA in concert with some of our other organizations to roll out a new test program in that regard. Then lastly, the First Tee program, which is probably the oldest of these five, but it's still a teenager, it's still growing, and I'll talk about that in detail a little bit more later. With that, I'll turn it over for comments to Pete Bevacqua. Pete?

PETE BEVACQUA: Well, thank you, Tim, and Steve, as well. It's great to be here and thank you for having us at THE PLAYERS Championship. You know, I've been in golf one way or another since I was 10 years old but as a golf executive since 2000. It's been amazing to see how these organizations have gotten together and have collaborated. It's really, in my time in golf, it's been the best example of working together. I think back to about 18 months ago when we started having these meetings and the progress we have met, and for the ability of some of our golf organization, we have checked our egos at the door and said, okay, let's narrow it down to some grow-the-game initiatives that we know will work and that we can rally around. From our perspective, our two-part mission is to grow the game and serve our members. We're all about that, and we're all about joining forces with the people up here and the entities, and Get Golf Ready is a program we truly believe in. As Tim mentioned briefly, it's geared toward adults. In its essence it's five lessons for $99. We had roughly 100,000 people go through it in 2014, 62 percent of which were women. It's a great non-intimidating way for people to get involved in the game. We know that 86 percent of the people who go through Get Golf Ready stay in the game, which is a great statistic, and it's something that the PGA of America with the help of the USGA, the help of the TOUR, the help of Augusta National and the LPGA and our friends in the golf industry, that's something we're going to put our efforts and our resources behind for a very long time. PGA Junior League golf, a youth-based initiative. Boys and girls, coed, 7 to 13 years old, a team-based approach to the game, golf shirts with your numbers on the back of them, a scramble format. This is relatively new. Its growth has been dynamic. It's truly been explosive from year to year. We had roughly 1,400 teams last year and just shy of 20,000 kids. We think it will hit the hundred thousand mark in short order. Very excited about it. We named Rory McIlroy as our global ambassador at last year's PGA Championship. And again, this team-based approach to the game, the kids love it. PGA professionals coach these teams, their families in the communities rally around it, and as someone who has coached little league baseball and has played a lot of different sports growing up, its great to see how kids rally around this team-based approach to the game. We think it's really going to drive the needle here in terms of getting more boys and girls in this game. To be able to watch PGA Junior League golf information and ads during the PGA TOUR telecasts and the USGA and the LPGA, that's really how you start communicating to the greater golf world. I know Mike is going to talk a little bit about Drive, Chip & Putt, but that initiative where we joined hands with the Augusta National and the USGA, now entering into its third year, has just been tremendous. And from our perspective, we're going to do everything we can as an organization that represents 28,000 PGA members to grow this game, and as importantly to grow it together, really as a team effort with the TOUR, with the USGA, with the LPGA, with Augusta National, and of course with the rest of the industry. That's important. And what's been so really invigorating from my perspective and from the PGA of America's perspective is what we have already done. I don't think this is just talk. I look back to over the course of the last year, and I've seen -- I think the proof is in the pudding, when you talk about what we have done with the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, a joint venture between the PGA of America and the LPGA for the women's game, I'm not sure that would have happened 10, 15, 20 years ago. Referenced it before, but with the USGA, Augusta National, the PGA of America joining forces around Drive, Chip & Putt, that's a great movement in golf. And then the conversations we have had at the leadership level with Tim and Jay and the rest of the PGA TOUR team about how we can use that calendar year coverage that only the PGA TOUR offers, to talk to people out there who want to play the game, to talk about Get Golf Ready, to talk about PGA Junior League golf, to talk about Drive, Chip & Putt; we can't do it on our own. We can't do it just during the window of the PGA Championship or the Ryder Cup. We need the help of the rest of the industry to truly move this along. So we're looking forward to doing our part. We feel that the PGA professional truly is that tangible connection between the game and just about everybody that plays it in this country, whether you're here at an unbelievable course like the TPC Sawgrass or if you're at a nine-hole public facility in Wichita, Kansas, we look for the PGA of America and the professionals to play its role in helping this collaborative initiative. So again, Tim, thank you.

MIKE WHAN: Pete, first, let me say in a microphone what I've said to you in a few phone calls, but thanks for the partnership, not only programs you enlisted, but what we're doing together with KPMG. I have a unique perspective in the fact that I stepped away from the industry for about 15 years, left in the late '90s and came back in 2010. A lot of you in the room asked me back then what was different about golf when I came back, and I'll say now what I said then, which is three things: Collaboration at the top; I was floored by how much collaboration there is at this level and how much better it's really gotten in the last five or six years that I've been around, and television telecasts that now go to 150 to 200 countries that didn't seem to exist when I left, and what's happened between purses, charity checks and the commitment to grow the game is exciting. From our perspective, I want to take a couple minutes and tell you about the LPGA USGA Girls Golf. As the name implies, it's a program administered by the LPGA and the USGA. It's actually 25 years old. I was thinking when Tim said that the First Tee is a teenager, I think First Tee is the Lydia Ko of teenagers, so it's off and flying. But really, girls' golf hit hyperspeed in the last five years. We started in 1989, but really in the last five years is really when it took off. Back in 2009 and 2010 we put about 4,500 to 5,000 girls a year through our program, and this year we'll put over 50,000 girls a year. So we're in a 900 percent increase in terms of what we're doing. The exciting, really exciting -- you can spend a lot of money, time and effort on these things, but every once in awhile you need a dose of this feels right. Recently, as recent as last year when the NGF came out and said 300,000 more women had joined the game, and of that 300,000, 190,000 of them were under the age of 16, now, I'm saying that like we're taking credit for that, and of course we will in the right forum, but we know there's a lot of things happening there, but we're excited about the fact that we feel like we can really move the needle. When you start talking about 50,000 young women a year being added to the game, what's really unique about girls golf is it's a girls'-only environment, and I've heard it from a lot of people, why girls'-only environment. The reality of it is numerous studies have proven that girls do better not only learning in a girls'-only environment, but the retention rate is significant. We have seen together with the First Tee where we run girls' golf programs at First Tee sites a 50 percent increase in retention when girls are in an all-girls environment when they start learning the game. So we're excited not only about what we have built, we're excited about the path in which we're increasing that program. We're really excited about what it's meaning in terms of bringing young women to the game, and I think from our perspective, there's still significant upside, and we're really excited about being tied in to five initiatives that we're all going to lean in together on, and I think that as Tim said, we know it's scaleable because we just scaled it through the roof over the last six months, and we believe it's got significant upside beyond that. Each year we identify ambassadors from the LPGA Tour. It might surprise many of you in the room that 40 players on Tour today got their start in a girls' golf program. I'll tell you they had their first experience at a girls' golf program: Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel, Cheyenne Woods, to name a few. We have ambassadors every year. We want to give these young girls mentors that they can also hear the stories of young girls who had big dreams when they got onto the tee for the first time. We're not trying to build Tour players, we're just trying to build acceptance and comfort, to make sure that a clubhouse, a first tee and the parking lot is as much their place as their father's. And so this year, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Lexi Thompson, Lizette Salas and Tiffany Jo are all adding their stories to these young players, and as I said, we change that each year. So I think that when we think about initiatives that we're all going to wrap arms and build, we're excited about what the future of the game can mean, not only because what we have been building at girls' golf but what we see it meaning in terms of the numbers through the NGF. So in the state of partnership, I'll introduce my partner, Mike Davis from USGA.

MIKE DAVIS: Thank you, Mike. And Tim, thanks for having us here this week. First of all, let me start out, Tim mentioned the purpose of this meeting. I'll just add to that a little bit, because this really is about collaboration. But in addition to that, I do think it's trying to put where the industry is, where it's been, and also where it's going into perspective. If you just read some things that have been written or you listen to maybe a few industry leaders here and there, you would really think the game is just dying; it's going in a direction that is just going down, down the tube, so to speak. We as a group absolutely do not subscribe to that. We think golf certainly has its challenges, we are acknowledging those, but I do think or we think that the future of the game is very rosy. So, with that, what I would say is that what we found really since 2008 when you started to see participation rates go down, net golf openings actually go the wrong direction, we're closing more golf courses than we're opening, this is really -- this challenge has provided all of us an opportunity to be more collaborative. It's just not the five organizations or six organizations represented here, it's the whole industry, and it's allowed us to take a look at participation rates and really try to analyze, what is happening, well, why is it going that way, why are we seeing in the last eight years more golf courses close than open. And when you understand history and when you put things in context, you quickly realize that golf is not dying, that it's gone through these types of things many times in the past, and guess what; it's going to do it in the future, too. But I think with that, we really do have some opportunities, and as Tim alluded to, industry collaboration is really something that needs to happen, and we have been working hard on it for the last year and a half. It's not as if we haven't collaborated in the past, but this is a chance to really say, what programs are really working and how can we all give to those programs, how can we all support those programs because what we have seen in golf is that virtually every organization, and not, again, not just the ones represented here, has their own programs, some of which have been very good. But this is a chance to look at the actual results of what these different initiatives have done for the game and say, okay, the First Tee has been successful. LPGA USGA Girls' Golf has been successful. And what it's also done is allow us to say, you know, there's quite a few initiatives we just don't need to do anymore. If we as an industry can come together, we're going to be better. So, I mean I look at the USGA and say, you know, three of the initiatives that have been mentioned already, The First Tee, LPGA USGA Girls Golf, Drive, Chip & Putt, we have been founding members of those, but it doesn't mean that we haven't had initiatives or haven't supported initiatives that we look back and say, you know what, it just doesn't make sense anymore, and we go back over the last two decades, I will tell you, it's literally hundreds, hundreds of initiatives that we have given monies to that we're going to say, you know what, we need to concentrate on big picture to get the industry working together. So in that example, where now we're going to look at it and say, we have looked at the proven results, for example, of Get Golf Ready, of PGA Junior League golf and said, these things are working, and we're going to support those. And everybody up here is going to support it. And I think that it will certainly go beyond the people that are up here. So, when we look at it, I guess that as I said, it's not just these five organizations, you've got state and regional golf associations of which there's well over 100 in the United States. You got the golf course superintendents, the club managers, owner-operators, the architects, the equipment manufacturers, all those play into this. So I guess with that said, I think that collaboration on grow-the-game things is very, very important, and that's the direction that the industry is headed in this country. But let me take a few minutes to talk about another side of the equation, which is what Tim mentioned, sustainability or what we would really say is health of the game. I think it's important because for the last eight, ten years what we have really heard the industry talk about is grow, grow, grow. Grow, grow, grow. And that's very important. If we don't bring new golfers into the game, or don't make it more accessible or with the adult program and Get Golf Ready, we're only hurting ourselves. But there's the other part of it, and if you think of that as the supply part, so we're bringing new golfers into the game. But there has to be the demand part. Golf has got to make sense. People need to want to play golf. So, when we look at it, we really say, we need to focus on both sides of that equation and everybody up here would agree with that. So, in that regard, when you hear the word sustainability, if I were to start asking people, you out there, what does that mean to you? We would get a lot of different answers. But for us sustainability really is the long-term health of the game, the game itself, why golfers would want to play. That is partial, environmental, sustainability, which I'll talk about a little bit; it's economic sustainability; and it's just making the game of golf enjoyable to play. You want to -- for golfers, you want to come out and enjoy yourself. It's certainly a challenge, but the enjoyment of the game is important. So ultimately if we confine ourselves to just trying to grow the game, and we grow it into something that at least parts of it aren't healthy, it's never going to work. So I think that, that's really the focus of what I wanted to talk about. And there really, when you talk about health of the game, there's four major areas of focus: First one is resource management. And we know all the resources that go into maintaining a golf course. Because that's ultimately, if you think about golf, it's very unique from other sports in that its arena, so to speak, is far bigger than other arenas in sports, and it needs to be maintained on a daily basis. There's a lot of inputs that go into it. So the whole idea with this, when we look at helping the game from a resource management standpoint is reducing the footprint of golf courses. And if you can take a golf course, for example, and go from 130 acres down to 90 acres, the amount of money and resources you will spend is substantial. It's not only saving water, which we would contend long-term is the biggest threat to the game, it's not participation, it's water. That's going to be doing a lot of good things. But it also saves mowing grass, it saves on fuel, it saves on labor, fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides, when you think about it right now, if you take all the 18-hole golf courses in the United States, of the grass that's there, 80 percent of it, or actually over 80 percent of it, is irrigated. That's something that when I was young starting, that number wasn't even close to that. We have now maintained much bigger footprints because that's what golfers want. But we need to, we really need to go back, back in time and take golf back where it was before. So, how do we do that? Well, part of it really is education to the superintendents, to the decision makers, owner-operators, but part of it is golfers themselves. They can't -- they no longer can look out and say, we want 150 acres of perfectly maintained turf. That's just not sustainable for the future, and it's really not good for the game. If you learn to play the game where you get it off the fairways, there's really a charm to it, where you get different types of lies and for some esthetically even it is pleasing. So that resource management is the first one. Cost would be the second one. That's the focus. If we look here, an average 18-hole golf course costs about $550,000 on an annual basis to maintain. That's the average across the United States, and some far more than that, obviously some less than that. But if you look in the last decade, that number's gone up rather substantially, and part of it is because player expectations have gone up. But in addition to that, if you look at it, and you say, revenues have not gone with that. So we have got a trend that's just not sustainable, where you've got expenses going this way and revenues going this way, because ultimately these expenses do get passed back to the golfer. So I think it's something where to try to reduce that, so it's something I know from our standpoint we are very focused on trying to scale our educational best practices program solutions to really not only touch the higher-end clubs, but all 15,000-plus golf facilities in the United States. And it's something all of us in the industry and certainly all of us up at this table would agree with. Another area of focus that you've heard is the time it takes to take to play the game. That is a barrier to the game just like cost. And it's not just trying to get golfers to play faster, and all the data and the research we've done, we actually find that it's the facilities that can do the most to really help the pace of play in the game. So it's not just reducing from four hours to three and a half hours or from four and a half hours to four hours, it's looking at it and saying, listen, we know time is a barrier for some golfers. So, how can we have a two-hour experience or a one-hour experience, and it's things we need to focus on, and I do think it's certainly -- we had a nine-hole campaign last summer. We are now seeing through handicap purposes just last year the number of nine-hole rounds jumped 13 percent. And it's great. I know Pete's been, you've been passionate in the past talking about other forms of golf, whether it's going out to the practice range to hit or playing three holes, or these are all the kinds of things we need to do. But some of it is through awareness, but a lot of it is with solutions and best practices with facilities. And then the last thing before I close here, really the fourth area of focus, is ultimately on the player experience. Because folks, at the end of the day, you can bring all the people you want in for golf, but they have got to enjoy it. They have got to have the time for it, they need to be able to have the wherewithal to pay for it. By the way, on the cost thing, one thing I didn't mention is that it's not as bad as people would think. The average 18-hole round, I believe, Steve, I'm right on this, is $28 per round?

STEVE MONA: 26 actually now.

MIKE DAVIS: 26 dollars a round, even better. So I suppose if you're an owner-operator maybe that's not the best thing, but as golfer it certainly is. But back to experience, I think one of the things we need to start getting across and certainly you could help, is the notion that hard golf is good golf. That's just not right. It's not right. Good golf is fun golf. And I think that we ought to think to ourselves, how can you make the game more enjoyable. And really of all these four areas of focus I talked about, this is the easiest one. It's things of setting up golf courses properly, so golfers are playing from the right teeing ground, which is why the PGA of America and the USGA did the Tee It Forward initiative, which had great results, and we're still doing the initiative. It's grass heights. We're fixated with getting greens too fast in this country, which is costly to do, which hurts pace of play, which in some cases compromises the architectural integrity of the golf course. Looking for golf balls and having high rough, and I know you probably smirk about this, hard is not good coming from the guy who sets up the U.S. Open (laughter), but I do mean it. So, anyway, and in closing here, I guess the thing I really or we want to get across is that the game is not fundamentally broken. Yes, it has its challenges, but we're excited about this collaboration, and it's collaboration on both growing the game as well as making sure we grow it into a very healthy game, and it indeed is a game for the lifetime, and awareness really is one of the first steps. So thanks to all of you for your help in that regard, and I'll turn it over to Tim.

TIM FINCHEM: Thanks, Mike. So, I guess you're getting the sense of the level of collaboration that's going on here. I would like to make a few comments about the First Tee. Mike pointed out that I misspoke that the First Tee was the oldest of these five programs, and it wasn't that I misspoke, I just got confused. What I meant to say was I'm the oldest of the five guys up here. (Laughter.) Just a couple things about the First Tee. The First Tee started in '97. It was a function of all the golf organizations saying why don't we reach out with golf to people who historically haven't had access. Four quick points: One, it clearly is scaleable because over 10 million kids either in the school program or in the facility program have been involved since its inception. It does promote diversity. 34 percent of the kids who have gone through First Tee are girls, higher -- I think 22 percent of the golfing population is female. 51 percent of First Tee kids are from diverse backgrounds. So it's clearly, it's clearly diverse. In addition to that, it's demonstrated that it can have an impact on golfers. Now, we have just in the last couple of years, Joe Barrow and the people at First Tee have hired people, outside people, to monitor and track young people that go through the program. But just a couple of statistics which I think are telling. We already have a player, Scott Langley, who came from a First Tee program, who is playing on the PGA TOUR. Last year in 2014, 3,800 former participants of First Tee programs played on high school golf teams. In 2014, 600 former participants played on college golf teams. So clearly golfers are being generated. Now the purpose of First Tee is to expose golf to kids and to use core values to change their lives. And that clearly is working. So it kind of fits with these other programs. The last point I would just make is it's clearly here for the long-term. In the last four years, the amount of dollars raised by chapters locally has gone from $50 million a year to $70 million a year, so the popularity of the program in communities is growing. It's in 8,500 schools today with school districts lined up to get it in, on the school side. So that's a program that I think the sky's the limit in terms of its overall impact. The long-term impact on the game is something that we have to measure like all these other programs and will do. So, just to conclude this, I would like to, we would like to show you a spot, now, I think it goes without saying for these programs to be, to reach their potential, they need to be communicated effectively. We are committed to, with our programming, since our programming is on every week, that we can support all of these initiatives through our telecasts. And our folks have worked with and collaborated again to come up with the start of that effort, and we would like to share with you the first effort here and then we'll be happy to take questions. (Video played.) Before we start the questions, I would point out that we just distributed a statement from Chairman Payne, and the Masters is not here today, given their year-end party, but they did want to be recognized as part of this collaborative effort. We want to thank him for that. In addition to the comments he made in the statement, I would also point out that Augusta's been very supportive to all of these programs and has conducted every year an event to help with the First Tee, as well. With that, we're happy to try to answer your questions.

Q. For Pete, the underpinnings of the foundation of many if not all of these programs is the PGA professional, and I know in this area from having been around here for 20 years, a lot of jobs got lost when the economy went bad. Now that things are improving, those jobs haven't necessarily come back. Head pros are being asked to be general managers and they are just given the food and beverage job, and that takes them away from being on the range teaching, things like that. What can be done from your standpoint to improve the number of club or increase the number of club pros, qualified guys, who can then assist in the rest of this?
PETE BEVACQUA: Well, I would tell you, from our perspective, it's really dependent upon the PGA of America's role, to make sure that PGA of America professionals come on to the job market fully trained and really ready to face the challenges that will confront the PGA of America professional, whether it's tomorrow, the next 10, 15, 20 years. And we're taking a long, hard look at our education program that we think is quite good and trying to see what we need to do to prepare them and prepare ourselves for the future. It gets back, though, to our two-part fundamental strategic plan, which is to serve those 28,000 members and to grow the game. So the best thing we can do as an organization, the best thing we can do in terms of linking arms with the entities that are represented up here, are to join forces to grow the game. The more people playing this game, quite frankly, the better it will be for the PGA of America professional. So part of our goal is to do our part in growing the game. Now to your point, the professional tends to be the bedrock of many of these programs because he or she, again, is that tangible connection. But we're getting great ideas, great feedback and really great assistance from the TOUR, the USGA and the LPGA, Augusta National, Golf Course Superintendents, club managers. I think one of the positives that comes out of the fact that it's been a tough ride for a few years in terms of the industry and we are turning that corner, is that it allowed for this collaboration. We all sensed the fact that, as the spot says, it is a team approach, it is a team game, and we're going to be a lot more effective and a lot more efficient if we're working together to grow the game and to grow the game in a responsible way, to Mike Davis's point. It's not just about adding players, but it's adding players at a responsible rate, hopefully a very electric rate, an increased rate, but also making sure that every other element of the game is protected and ready to face the challenges that lie ahead as well, whether it's facilities, whether it's water, whether it's time. Time is an issue, and Mike referenced it and we are certainly passionate about it. There's no compromise, there's no real exception for a great golf experience going out with three people whose company you enjoy and playing on a great golf course. That's the be-all-end-all. But that's also not realistic for everybody. When we have to, we have to realize that. We have to realize that people are doing things in 30-, 60-, 90-minute segments, whether it's going to the gym, watching a movie, reading a book on your device. And golf needs an answer for that. That could be taking a lesson. It could be playing three holes after work with your spouse or kids. It could be going to a Top Golf, it could be working on your short game. We have to be creative. We have to really be entrepreneurial in terms of growing the game, and I think a great first step certainly from our perspective is the discipline that has been shown across the organizations to say, okay, we can't do all things at once. What's working, what has worked, what do we believe will work into the future, let's trim that list, let's not just keep adding layer upon layer to the roof. Let's take a disciplined approach. Let's agree on these initiatives and then attack them from all angles. So we think that's a hopeful step in the right direction to secure the future of the PGA of America professional.

LAURA NEAL: Speaking of getting young people into the game, we actually have Jordan's Spieth's press conference just next, so I didn't want to rush through this too much. Maybe take one more question and if I could ask the five gentlemen maybe to step outside and answer any additional one-on-one's quickly, so we can make sure we don't take up additional time of Jordan's before he goes out for his practice round.

TIM FINCHEM: Have Jordan come in first and he can answer the questions.

Q. Steve, you indicated the numbers of 25 million golfers now roughly and 15,000 plus facilities, and suggested that the reduction of facilities was a good idea in regards to the amount of golfers. I'm just wondering in your surveys you've done, have you determined what the best ratio is, supply and demand, to determine exactly what would make the most sense with regards to numbers?
STEVE MONA: There's not an exact formula, but what I can tell you is that the supply and demand is a function of a local market, number one, in terms of facility supply, and it's also a function of the level of facility offering, i.e., is it value, is it standard, is it premium. So what we do know, just to try to respond to your point, is that in markets that were overserved in terms of supply, that's where we have seen the greatest departure, if you will, or highest number of close since, if you will, of facilities. And ones that have survived, if you want to use that term, have been the ones that have been most competitive from a value standpoint. What we have seen, disproportionately over time in the closings, is that they have tended to be the lower-end facilities and in rural areas at a less than $40 green fee. And that leads to another point. The overall product -- this is why a lot of us say this is probably the best time to be a golfer for a lot of reasons. The overall quality of the product of golf facilities has actually improved over time. If you consider that 40 percent growth rate, those are all new facilities, renovations have gone up dramatically over the last several years after the economy got better so what you're left with is a higher quality product. So the answer in a word is it's really all local, but the market's generally taking care of it.

LAURA NEAL: Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time and sharing your insights. We look for additional comments out on the patio if you do have the time.
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