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August 8, 2007

Joe Steranka

Brian Whitcomb


JULIUS MASON: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the PGA of America State of the Association News Conference.
Sharing some information with you today, President of the PGA of America from Lost Tracks Golf Club in Bend, Oregon, Brian Whitcomb. And from Palm Beach Gardens, the CEO of the PGA of America, Mr. Joe Steranka. Also joining us from Okemo Valley Golf Club, PGA of America President Jim Remy, and from Hillendale Country Club in Phoenix, Maryland, PGA of America Secretary, Allen, Wronowski. Our national officers are also joined by several members of the PGA of America's board of directors and past presidents among you.
I'd also like to recognize, in the front row, from our South Central PGA section president, Mike Hammond; and executive director, Barry Thompson. And also with us is the PGA Head Professional from Southern Hills Country Club, Dave Bryan, and General Chairman of the 89th PGA Championship, Al Bush.
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, the President of the PGA of America, Mr. Brian Whitcomb.
BRIAN WHITCOMB: Thank you, Julius. And thank you for all of your participation in the 89th PGA Championship. As you know, we're here for an historic fourth time. And the fact that there's half a billion households that are going to view this event and read about this event through your lenses and through your pens is very, very significant to us and for the growth and the perpetuating of this great game of golf. And to that, I extend my heartfelt thank you to all of you for that interest level.
I'd like to share a couple of our new public service announcements. They are designed to stimulate interest in the game for you to not only have interest in the game but to come out and participate in the game. If you'll roll those two PSAs, we'll show them.
(PSA played.)
As you can see, these PSAs can interject some fun into the game for the young, old, beginner or expert. That's what they are designed to do, to grow this game of golf. And we'll talk more about Play Golf America in just a few minutes, but I'd like to show you just a short segment that aired on NBC Nightly News in June which will be a good lead-in to our next set of PSAs that I would also like to show you.
(PSA played.)
Thank you. We are so proud of PGA Professional Jim Estes and what he did. And we have a couple Public Service Announcements we'd like to show you; and we show you these for a reason because we're going to go onto another topic in a moment and make this come full circle and show you what the energy and drive is behind the PGA of America, the game of golf and our PGA professionals with regards to helping our soldiers and our heroes in the conflicts today.
In the same spirit as Jim, here is the next PSA.
(PSA played.)
That's Jim in his efforts there, and I hope that brings a nice, warm spot with all of you.
But we go on to also our Junior Golf leader who was our National Junior Golf leader in 2003, and this is Steve Hogan, a wonderful gentleman in Omaha, Nebraska, who is making remarkable strides in making this world a little bit better.
(PSA played.)
Thank you very much.
Now we are going to go back to our military involvement through the game of golf, the PGA of America, and a very special person who I'm about to introduce right now. And his name is Dan Rooney, he's a PGA member, he's also active with the National Guard and he's a F-16 fighter pilot, served twice in Iraq. Sometimes even in the game of golf, we use that term "hero" very, very loosely. And sometimes you wonder about the validity of it. And sometimes we overuse it, but I can tell you in this case we have a true American hero with us today.
And Dan, if you'd like to stand up.
Dan's got this dream, and we're going to put it together. And I'd like to talk to you a little bit about that today, and that's this National Patriot Golf Day that we are going to do this year, September 1. And not dissimilar to our old National Golf Day Programs, we will ask every player on September 1 this year contribute an extra dollar of greens fees towards Dan's foundation, and also that golf clubs throughout the country might match those funds so that we can raise hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars for the families of our wounded or killed heroes and our fallen heroes.
And it's important to do that regardless of your political inclinations. It's just a wonderful opportunity to use golf, PGA professionals for the most worthiest of causes, and that's to support our American heroes. And Dan Rooney has been just so relentless in his efforts to get this going. And I can tell you that we're in good shape with people like Dan Rooney at the helm of F-16s. Thanks, Dan, for what you're doing very, very much.
We encourage all of who you have an interest in doing this to not only promote this, but if you need more information go onto PlayGolfAmerica.Com, and it will show you ways to get yourselves or your clubs involved in this most worthiest of efforts. And down the road what you may see in the future this may be a Memorial Weekend type of opportunity for this National Patriot's Day where it closely relates to Memorial Day Weekend. Our Senior PGA Championship falls along that time, and there are wonderful opportunities to promote this.
It's a great program, the most worthiest of causes. And so if you take all of these PSAs and you take this initiative that Dan Rooney brought forward that is a joint effort now, collaborative effort between the United States Golf Association, the PGA of America, the PGA professionals, Dan's foundation and the people that play the game to serve the most worthiest of causes.
So I am proud to be able to report that to you, and I hope you can see a common thread through this initiative and the involvement of PGA of America's involvement in the military efforts to date.
I told you earlier we would return to our Play Golf America efforts, and I want to report to you some facts and figures. We are in our fourth year and our six month total of anticipation through our Web site traffic in 2007 is greater than 2006. And we look at that as a good barometer of efforts and some progress with regards to participation in the game of golf. So I think we're good there.
This year, right here at our PGA Championship, for the first time we're offering our spectators on-site free lessons through a V-1 Swing Analysis and the learnings and teaching of the best teachers in the world and that's PGA professionals.
So we are looking at that as an added value for coming to the PGA Championship this year and it will do two things. Not only will it give a swing analysis opportunity, but it will make sometimes for some people their first interactions with PGA professionals who can teach you the game and get you to enjoy the game more and probably play more golf. So I think we are real good there, and we are excited about that.
We want to talk a little about our community outreach program that we enjoyed Monday at LaFortune Park Golf Course, just up the street here a mile or two, where we had over 500 local residents that took part in our free lessons and clinics through Play Golf America.
And we also had community outreach to where we had over 200 children come and enjoy not only our best teaching from our teachers here in the South Central Section of the PGA of America, but also Dennis Walters put on a trick show that was second to none with regards to enjoyment for these kids. So we are proud of those efforts.
We have also partnered with the U.S. Kids Golf to establish the PGA of America Family Golf Course Program. And what that amounts to is that the United States Kids Golf people will bring our family tee markers together and provide those to clubs so that we can have a family opportunity to involve the entire families into what we are doing.
I know there's some clubs that have done that on their own initiative, but this is a more collaborative effort to involve the families in their entirety in this great game of golf and with the hopes of a lot of things; of bringing people's lives closer together, families' lives closer together through this game of golf. And so it has a twofold opportunity there.
I want to talk a little bit about our charities and what we are doing with regards to some of the proceeds that come from the greatest players in the world coming together and playing in this PGA Championship.
Since the year 2000, we have had more than 715 charities that have benefitted to the total dollar amount of over $13.6 million that have been presented to at least 715 charities. This year we have 36 charities in the Greater Tulsa area which will combine to receive nearly $600,000 from this event. So we are very, very proud of that.
We are not only proud of the work that the PGA of America has done, but also the 3,000 volunteers. There will be over 3,000 volunteers this week to make sure that the greatest event of them all has shown the way it should be to the world. And it's led by our General Chair, Al Bush. I don't know if Al is here but Bush and the Southern Hills Country Club have done a fantastic and have been a fantastic partner in this effort. And the proceeds benefit not only the game of golf but charities and people in need in the State of Tulsa and the State of Oklahoma and we are very, very proud of that.
We are also announcing to you today that our 19th Professional Golf Management Program we are naming, and that's the University of Central Oklahoma. And it's a great opportunity, it's a four-and-a-half-year curriculum, college curriculum, that focuses on aspiring PGA professionals and what they do as club professional levels and other aspects in the game of golf. At the same time, those men and women are enjoying the college atmosphere and the learning from some of the core skills obviously that we all learned that went to college so they can graduate with business administration as well as hospitality administration or recreation and park management. We are very, very proud today that Bob Phelps, PGA member, who is spearheading that effort at the university is here with us today. And we wish you all the best, and we are so proud and thankful for what you are doing in regards to that.
Let's talk about Southern Hills for a moment before we go on to a couple of other things. This is the seventh major championship that's come to Southern Hills. And for the fourth time the PGA of America has come back here. It's a slightly different Southern Hills than you've seen in the past. There's been some modest changes to some tees on holes No. 2, No. 3, No. 8, the 9th and 18th green have been slightly modified. There's been a multi-million-dollar renovation effort with new grassing. And with the clubhouse that is adjacent to this building, a lot of changes there. So they stand ready to host this major championship.
Currently we have 98 of the world's Top-100 players and that includes 64 international players representing 22 countries. Those are all-time PGA records. And in the case of the 98 of the world's Top-100 players, that ties the participation of the world's Top-100 in any major championship. So we are proud of that.
We are also proud of the fact that we have 20 club professionals from the club professional side that have qualified to play in this event and they qualified last month -- actually in June, late June, in Sunriver, Oregon. And Chip Sullivan is our National Champion and certainly he'll be here and I hope you've all had a chance to talk to him.
But, you know, the fabric of the PGA Championship started with club professionals that also played tournament golf and maybe they were club-makers and the tournament has evolved and so has the industry and profession. So where there's separation between the Tour professional and the club professionals that watch over the game and provide enhanced enjoyment for the game and that's my job and a gentleman like me.
But those 20 players are going to take a week off of their jobs to play against the best players in the world, and I hope you'll find a story within all of those 20 players because it's a true story indeed.
In September, Chip Sullivan and nine others will lead our PGA Professional American Team against the Great Britain & Ireland Team in what we call our PGA Cup. And this will be the 23 edition, and it will be held in Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia. So we are excited about that.
This evening is a very, very special night that I hope you'll have an opportunity to watch and to take part in and to hopefully memorialize through your pens and your lenses and tonight our Distinguished Service Award is being presented to Jackie Burke, Jr., and I think we all know about Jackie Burke, Jr.
But if we get a chance to listen to him make some remarks tonight, we'll even know more about a gentleman that ties in the Sneads and Hogans and that era to today's professional and people that are interested in playing the game of golf.
So we're really excited about that. It will be at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center this evening. If you care to come and don't have a ticket we can sure get you one. And we hope that you'll enjoy the comments of one of the true leaders and the wonderful people within this game, Jackie Burke, Jr. So we hope you'll do that.
Julius, I think that's my remarks. I'll be welcome to take questions later on. But carry on.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
A couple of other hellos, ladies and gentlemen. From across the pond, I'd like to say hello to Richard Hills from the PGA European Tour, the Director of the Ryder Cup. Marino Parascenzo, who manages the PGA's Journalism Scholarship Program. And from Augusta National, Buzzy Johnson, always a pleasure seeing you.
And ladies and gentlemen, the CEO of the PGA of America, Mr. Joe Steranka.
JOE STERANKA: Thank you, Julius. And Brian covered a whole breadth and depth of programs that really fit the two missions of the PGA of America, which is elevating the standards of what it takes to be a PGA professional such as Brian.
So, you know, very happy to have our 19th PGA University. Part of our plan to recruit and train young men and women to manage a whole variety of businesses within golf.
It's a $62 billion a year industry, as you've heard me say, that employs 600,000 people. An interesting fact that is when we met with the Governor of Oklahoma yesterday at a breakfast, it just reinforced how little some very influential people know about the breadth and the depth and the scale of our industry. And we need to do a little bit better job. And that's certainly one of the roles that I'm playing as the CEO of the PGA.
But you also look at Patriot Day and the Public Service Announcements that we do, our work with Play Golf America, that also ties to the second part of the mission, which is growing interest and participation in the game.
The PGA Championship is the biggest PGA-named event each and every year, not just in this country but around the world. It's that one time when the whole world of golf stops and watches what's going on wherever, Dateline -- the pens and lenses, I like that, Brian -- that are covering the PGA Championship. It's our chance to promote interest and participation in the game.
When you look at anything you do to promote your product or your sport or the people that represent it, like our members, you do it through media partnerships and corporate partnerships. We are very blessed to have had CBS and TNT for 17 years covering the PGA Championship. That will be their 18th year of working together. 28 hours of live television coverage and another 11 hours of broadband coverage; we feel the PGA of America, through our alliance with Turner, has been the leader in the broadband era of making the game and our coverage of our championship events more accessible, especially to younger people who have got more mobile devices and trying to attract them through the PGA Championship.
I mentioned the corporate partners, and this has been a big week for us the last two weeks. We announced, along with Jack Nicklaus at our headquarters last Tuesday, our relationship with the Royal Bank of Scotland as our first Official Patron, last Friday. And again this week we are announcing the American Express Company as our second Official Patron. And it's a change in how we're embracing corporate America, and I should say, the global corporate market, because both of those companies do business around the world, just as the PGA Championship is broadcast around the world.
And these companies, whether it's RBS or AMEX, are making a commitment to both sides of our mission statement, the side that certainly promotes the game through the PGA Championship so you'll see a lot of American Express and RBS commercials and things on site this week at the PGA Championship. RBS is sponsoring the PGA Championship History Museum, for example, that tells the story not just of the PGA Champions, but the PGA professionals behind them.
And American Express has a number of spectator enhancements that they are offering to cardmembers or anybody who is on site by sponsoring the PGA Learning Center. So those of who you have been to our PGA Learning Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida and have met Rick Martino, and there will be 200,000 people out here who will be able to get free lessons from the South Central professionals. I think Brian (turning to Brian Whitcomb) is giving a lesson or two later on today; whether it's that, or the My Leaderboard or the American Express Pavilion on site that their cardmembers are going to be able to enjoy, it's another level of support that we are getting from the corporate side of the golf industry.
But their investment goes far beyond that. These are two companies and there are going to be many others that are going to join forces with us in retailing the game. There are many of you who cover the industry side and you know all know that our industry has been relatively flat over the last few years with not a lot of net new courses.
And we believe these types of partnerships are going to help track people who were former players or maybe are looking to start the game, and American Express is certainly one of the leading companies when it comes to database marketing.
I do want to thank Rich Lehrfield, who is with us today, (American Express vice president of global sponsorship and event marketing). Rich, thank you for your personal involvement. I know you enjoy the game yourself and you have a great team, a talented staff, and we're delighted to call you a patron of the PGA of America. So thank you very much.
Brian mentioned Southern Hills. Again, it's not a coincidence when you come to someplace for a record fourth time, this -- well, we'll see "warm" Oklahoma hospitality and a can-do attitude is something we really enjoy being around. It should be a very exciting week.
So, with that, I'll turn it back to Julius and open it up to any questions.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Joe. The floor is yours, ladies and gentlemen. If you have a question, please raise your hand high.

Q. Do you guys in any way enjoy setting up a golf course that had been a venue for a U.S. Open, and maybe thinking, you know, "We can take this and instead of going psycho with the layout, we can be firm but be fair at the same time"?
JOE STERANKA: You know, I think one of the great things about the game with the four majors; there are four different philosophies. You know, Augusta, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship run by the R&A and the PGA; we all have different conditions in terms of weather and the time of year we're playing. We have more -- usually more moisture in the greens because of the humidity and less moisture in the rough because of the time of year.
So we all get a chance to do it a little bit different. You know, the setup you're seeing here is consistent with how Kerry Haigh has set up the last several PGA Championships. Brian and the presidents before him have always said, "If we are going to err, we are going to err on the side of the player." A few birdies make it a little more exciting.

Q. Just following up on that, history shows that this championship has moved around a bit from month to month; has there been any thought at all about changing the date of this given the recent restructuring of the PGA TOUR?
JOE STERANKA: The only time that I can recall is when in -- I think it was 1972 when we played down at the original PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, which is designed by John D. MacArthur, played in February of that year. That was a different era in terms of the calendar of professional golf, not just in this country but around the world.
It's a tight calendar now. We are very happy with August. We are positioned as the fourth and final major of the year and that kind of puts a cap on the year. So, no, there are no plans to look at any other date.

Q. Can you just talk more about the Patriot Golf Day? Is this going to be an annual thing from now on? Obviously, with the war we are into, it's more of an issue and what's the name of the foundation where the money will go to?
BRIAN WHITCOMB: It's certainly our dream that the Patriots Day effort will live on. And it seems like there may be -- there's going to be a reason for it and a benefactor for the children and to some extent the spouses of our fallen heroes. It seems like that may go on for a while. It's our dream that that will happen in the future and it becomes an annual event that's recognized through the game of golf as providing opportunities, scholarships and other opportunities for these needy boys and girls, and in some cases men and women and others.
JOE STERANKA: The technical name of the foundation will be on the fact sheet that Jamie (Carbone) has for you.
This young man here, Dan Rooney, he's got some remarkable energy, so I've got a sense it will stay around for a while. (Smiling).

Q. You mentioned that the industry has been flat. Is there any tracking with Play Golf America to see if it's actually increasing now? And also what kind of stance does the PGA take now on new course development in a lot of these markets that are overdeveloped? I know it's more jobs for PGA members.
JOE STERANKA: Good questions. The focus on new golf course development has been driven for the last, I'd say five years by two things: Real estate and tourism.
With what's going on in the real estate market these days, we do see a slowdown of that, and when you're using golf to sell -- to lift the premiums of the value of real estate or to sell hotel rooms, it does put more stress on the surrounding golf courses. So we've seen a slight decline in the number of rounds played per 18-hole courses.
We've gone to the Urban Land Institute conferences the last few years just to speak to the major real estate developers and kind of explain how you program a golf course as a part of a community amenity so that whether the residents of those communities are avid golfers that want a premium golfer experience or occasional golfers that might be more interested in the family experience, this new Family Tee Program that we announced today is one of the ideas for that; or people that have never played.
It's important to have a full range of golf programming and PGA professionals are the best to provide that, providing we have some of the physical facilities in terms of practice areas to do exactly that. So it's a best-practice model that we think will help ensure that we're not just adding holes of golf without adding golfers.
The first part of your question on the return of the investment of time and money by our members, whether it's the Executive Women's Golf Association or our PGA Free Lesson Month; we did a free fit and trade promotion. We are tracking what percentage of those people are new golfers and what the incremental rounds and revenue they generate for a facility are.
So our PGA Free Lesson Month, I think we are in our 11th year, we had 7,000 professionals participate, and roughly a third of the people that went for the free lessons were new golfers. When you add in rounds, extra lessons and merchandise, and in some cases a couple of club memberships, it was an average of about $4,200 in incremental revenue for the facility.
So we think by making sure we're measuring it, we're providing the science to our members who are retailing the game, not just a sleeve of Pro V1s or a new -- one of the new square drivers, but the game. And it shows a real benefit to the people that employ our members as well.
BRIAN WHITCOMB: Maybe just a couple of comments to add to that question. We have a tool for monitoring and it's called Performance Trak, and it's a very valuable and useful tool. It's a reporting mechanism that allows facilities and PGA professionals to report rounds played to us, and it's a very great program that allows it to turn around and get specific with regard to your type of facilities and geographic locations, etc., to see what's going on in golf in your community. What that does is it gives one more tool for PGA professionals to determine their business strategy through the Performance Trak.
It's a program that's two or three years old within the PGA of America. We've got 1500 or more clubs that are reporting on a monthly basis, which gives us a very good opportunity to see the vitality of the business, not only a whole universe look, but in a micro look. It might be down to even so much as zip codes or certain cities and communities. So I think that's that.
Secondly, with regard to more courses being built, although I don't think that we have so much influence on whether courses will be built or not, but we do have a touch and an influence on training our PGA professionals to be better and better to provide more opportunities and enjoyment for the people that play the game, which should stimulate more activity in the future.
And we are doing that not only for our education program but we have a certification program that is very useful to our PGA professionals so that they can have on-line distance learning that allows them through a series of testing to develop their skills to the fact that it provides more enjoyment for the people to play the game, grow the game, do skills with teaching, play the game, promote the game.
Add all of that together and I think you'll see the game of golf and golf facilities continue for a time to come.
JULIUS MASON: A very good morning to Ed Several from Reed Expositions. Thanks for joining us this morning, Ed.

Q. You mentioned Jackie Burke and the award he will be receiving tonight. What has he meant to the PGA and why is he someone you want to honor in that way?
BRIAN WHITCOMB: The name of our award -- and I'm answering it in this form -- the name of our award is the Distinguished Service Award. It is the highest award that we as PGA professionals deliver to people generally outside of the PGA professional club, professional ranks.
Jackie Burke is the very fabric that ties in that Hogan, Snead, the formative years of the PGA of America, the formative years prior to television, prior to when television came in, that big kick, and Jackie Burke is that tie. He means more to us personally, certainly to me personally, and to PGA professionals, than I could ever be able to communicate with you.
He's that -- he's that common thread that just draws us all closer to the game. And when you listen to Jack Burke, who has an absolute passion for that game of golf, it transcends not only teaching the game.
Jack Burke was a tremendous player, won a couple of majors, four times I believe on the Ryder Cup; he's an unbelievable participant and player. But Jack Burke is more than just that. He teaches the game down at Champions Golf Club, but what he teaches even more than that is life. He teaches life and life skills through this game of golf, and that is the very essence of what PGA professionals and this game of golf is about.
So tonight is one of those nights that it's just a very, very important night. It will be important to Jackie Burke, Jr., but it's just as important or more important to the PGA of America that we get to shine the spotlight on one of the best and brightest people in the game, who will be remembered for a long, long time as being very, very influential in this game of golf and what he's done for people's lives across the world through this game of golf.

Q. There are some ventilation fans the size of jet engines on the 18th green. Wondering what the thought is on those and I guess they are going to be actually taking them down for play and putting them back at night. I guess it's bermuda, would bermuda wilt in 101-degree heat?
JOE STERANKA: Well, they have had this heat index for several days going into last week. They covered it in the rules meeting this morning that those fans are in sleeves, they are going to remove those and have some caps. The caps will be temporary removable obstructions.
I think the condition of the turf with the renovation that this club went through, how they have prepared for it; they are ready for it. Kerry Haigh is obviously keeping a close on it. There will be some syringing of greens that you're seeing during the practice rounds that we are planning to continue during the championship rounds, as well.

Q. It was hotter in Washington, D.C. and a lot of places yesterday, hotter than Tulsa; do you think too much is being made out of the fact -- it's hot everywhere right now, isn't it?
JOE STERANKA: You know, we have had -- Sahalee was a more temperate championship. Whistling Straits was a little bit more -- almost anywhere you're going to go in the month of August, you're right, outside of California and the Pacific Northwest would be about the only spot you could be this week.
That's part of what people know coming into the championship and the month of August for the final major. We take all of the precautions that you would expect when you're providing something for 40,000 people and 3,000 spectators and 156 players and their caddies to take precautions. The local media has been terrific about just educating people about hydration.
We allow people to bring water on to the course. There are some extra canopies on some of the grandstands. Fortunate that we have a lot of shade trees here.
So we are prepared for it. We'll let other people be the judge if that's too much attention on that.
BRIAN WHITCOMB: But I think, Joe, you're exactly right. From the PGA's perspective, the well-being of our patrons is very, very important to us.
So the heat issue, certainly I think the Tour players, by and large they have lived their life in the sun and, like you say, they play in the heat quite often. We need to make appropriate precautions for the players but at the same time we have got patrons to watch out for the well-being of. So the heat issue gives us a chance to illustrate that and to use that to the best interests of the people who come in and watch the greatest players in the world.

Q. As a follow-up to that, does the heat, the possibility of 100-degree heat down here threaten the possibility of it coming back here at all?
JOE STERANKA: As we said, it has been hot in a lot of venues for the PGA Championship, and you don't want to start trying to schedule or site your championships based on predicting weather.

Q. Joe, you touched on site selection. I'm wondering if you can review just a few of the criteria you use in this day and age for selecting sites for the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. I know you are locked in for the next several years, but do you have to balance business considerations more so in this day and age with golf course conditions and infrastructure or how does that work?
JOE STERANKA: You see that the world will come wherever you are going to host a major championship, whether it's one of the four annual majors or the Ryder Cup Matches every other year.
The criteria is still the same that we have been following. It's been a formula that has worked real well. You start with the quality of the golf course that presents a major championship, and we are happy with the sites in past and present and certainly in the future.
Then probably the thing that maybe is more challenging each and every year is just the infrastructure on the site itself; so how much space do you need for this complex, or the print media, what do you need for the broadcast media, for the companies that are going to sponsor and patronize not just this week but around the year for the game and the industry of golf.
So that maybe becomes a little bit more of a challenge. But it hasn't ruled out any facilities that we have been looking at.
The host community and Oklahoma, when you get the governor and the U.S. Congressmen and the mayor of Tulsa and everyone who attended our event yesterday and are going to be out here a lot this week; it shows the top-to-bottom support you have in a community. We get that everywhere we go for a championship and a Ryder Cup.
So those are probably the three criteria. But again, you start with the golf course, because it needs to be a great challenge for the best players in the world and something that we think is going to be an important and positive contribution to golf history.

Q. Change-up out of left field here. 50 years ago since the switch to stroke play, I guess. I think my math on that is right; has it ever been seriously considered going back to that format or not so seriously considered in the hallways or water cooler, anything to separate it or make it a little more distinct?
BRIAN WHITCOMB: I think I can answer by saying that we are proud of the current conditions in which we host and play our championship, and I don't see it change. We have had very little or zero talk about that that I know of.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions, twice?
Joe Steranka and Brian Whitcomb, ladies and gentlemen.

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