|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
May 5, 2009
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us. Welcome to THE PLAYERS Championship for those of you who haven't seen this week. I'll have more to say about THE PLAYERS when these three players depart and we'll answer your questions about anything related to THE PLAYERS.
For the next few minutes we'd like to talk about our charity platform on the PGA TOUR, and I'm delighted to have three of our four Player Directors up here with me. None of them needs an introduction, but I'll introduce them individually as we go through some comments.
The basic reason we're here is today we're announcing a redirection, if you will, of some of our efforts as it relates to charitable activity on the PGA TOUR. We do that with a focus on trying to elevate the impact of what's happening through our tournament structure and also to some extent what's happening with respect to what the players do themselves.
We are bringing forward this initiative under the headline or banner, if you will, of "Together anything's possible" barring some of the language we used to use years ago to talk about our charitable involvement. This program has six pieces, and I'll go through each one, but quickly, they're first of all, communication; secondly, focus on players' activities; thirdly, tournaments and sponsors; fourthly, all of our charities around the country; volunteers and fans.
The effort here is to build upon the tradition of the PGA TOUR and charity, the ability to raise over $1.4 billion to date in our tournament structure, and to redirect, if you will, to give us a bigger opportunity.
Let me go through each one of these six and ask these three guys to comment on a couple of them. The first one is messaging and communications, and this really goes to the question of reaching out and educating people about what does happen with PGA TOUR golf as it relates to charity.
Over the years, countless times I've had people come up to me and say, Tim, you really need to tell the story better about what happens with charity. It's too good a message. A lot of people don't know about it. And we know from experience that when people learn about what's happening and the lives that are impacted, they become involved. They help us more. We're able to grow the impact of what we're doing. So we will be reaching out aggressively to people to educate them and for a call to action to join us at the tournament level or in other ways to assist in what's happening with PGA TOUR charity.
Secondly is the players. Obviously players week in and week out support the charitable involvement of our tournaments, but a lot of players, many players, have charitable activities that they support on their own. Some of them have foundations. Some of them have fundraisers for various causes that they run themselves. Some of them serve on charity boards. Some of them serve on the boards of various tournaments that are dedicated to charity. And by partnering with the players, we think we're better able to interact with the activity of what's happening with the players individually, what's happening, first of all, with our tournaments and also with our communication platform as it relates to those activities.
So we see a partnership that will provide television and advertising support, a repositioned pgatour.com that will catalog the activity of players and their charities, players that are seeking to broaden the breadth and impact of their charities and communities that they serve.
With that let me start with David Toms. David started a foundation in Shreveport in 2003 that helps underprivileged, abandoned and abused children. After Katrina his foundation raised and gave away about a million and a half dollars, and interestingly, David's foundation was recognized by the Wall Street Journal two or three years ago as the leading charity from a cost of operation standpoint of any sports-related charity that gave away in excess of $600,000 a year. So he's raised a lot of money. He's given away a lot of money and done it in a very frugal and effective way, and with that I'll ask David to comment on this development from the aspect of players and what players do.
DAVID TOMS: First of all, with my foundation, I just felt like I was following the lead of the PGA TOUR. My rookie year was 1992, and for years and years I just played in our tournaments just like one of the regular guys and knew a little bit about what went on with the volunteers and the charity component of each event.
But as I started to serve on the Player Advisory Council and on the board of the PGA TOUR, I got more involved in actually what goes on and how much it means to the communities that we play in and how big of a deal it is for players' involvement on all levels in each individual tournament. And for me it was about six years ago, I guess, that I was in a situation, I made the Ryder Cup team, and I knew I was getting some money for that. I wanted to form a foundation and have a board on that foundation that helped me pick and choose the charities that we would give the monies out to, because number one, I didn't want it always just coming back on me. When you said no to a worthy cause, had some people to back me up. We have a process which we evaluate all the different charities that we're involved in.
It's been very rewarding from a personal standpoint of people we've been able to help, especially with the Katrina effort. It was really amazing. That week I didn't play in the tournament in Boston when it all went down, and they actually had me on television. I was actually out in a dove field shooting doves when they had me on TV for the Deutsche Bank tournament and just kind of made a plea to everyone out there that we needed help, Louisiana needed help, and I told them that 100 percent of the dollars that were raised would go to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Like Tim said, we didn't have much overhead cost or anything like that. We really had a small office and a bank that's basically run by one of my best friends, so I didn't have much rent.
It was an interesting time. I was sitting there on Labor Day in my office taking down credit card numbers on a piece of paper, and after a few hours of doing it I was like, this is not very efficient. So we had to figure out a way to get a company involved that would help us with our computer programs and everything so we could start doing stuff through the computer and taking money that way. We raised a little over $1.5 million. All of it went back to victims.
I think one of the best stories of that week that it was all going on, I went down to LSU Shreveport, which is a branch of the University there in town and walked into the gymnasium, and every inch of the floor was people. You've seen the pictures of people laying out on cots and everything else, and you walk around and start talking to them, and they're like, what do you need, and every single one of them needed something different.
I talked to this gentleman that applied for six different jobs that day, and he goes, I could get one of them but I have no way for them to contact me to let me know. He's like, if I had some kind of a prepaid cell phone.
Then I went down the hall and there was a lady there, her daughter was kind of a weird size, and there were literally clothes piled up in the stairway 12 feet high but there was nothing we could find to fit her. She said if we had a new pair of jeans or something. So we went down to Wal-Mart and I bought $5,000 worth of gift cards and walked in the gym and just started passing them out. It was a huge impact on these people that had nothing except for what was on their back. So that was just one of the little things that we did.
Other things that we do with my foundation, we run a golf tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, of all places, because I'm not a big Alabama fan (laughter), but it was a tournament that I played in for years, and it benefits the Big Oak Ranch. Just a great charity. It's a ranch for abused and battered boys and girls, and they asked me to be involved about four or five years ago. So we've helped them run that tournament, and through the years we've raised about $600,000 or $700,000 for the Big Oak Ranch since we took over that event. In fact, thanks to Zach and Stewart, a couple of the guys that support the event every year, it's quite a big hit, and it's say it's one of the better pro-ams that you would play in all year just because of the quality of the field that we get, the benefactor of the event and the people that turn out. It just works really well.
I'm also involved with -- Hal Sutton has a charity event in Shreveport and he raised money to build a children's hospital, so we're involved in that, as well.
As far as what we do day-to-day, I guess we donated a little over $3 million the last six years with my foundation, and it's all children's-based charities work that we do. I serve on the board of Community Renewal, which I think people will learn more about. The model is that you go in and you try to change neighborhoods, and the way you do that is you build a house, first of all, on an abandoned piece of property. You go into that street, a lot like Habitat For Humanity but it's different because you move in a family that goes into the community there, which is usually a rough, rough part of town, and they go in and they run after-school programs for the kids and try to change these neighborhoods street by street. It really is amazing.
When you start hearing the stories of what they do, these kids literally, a lot of times they'll get off their school bus and they'll walk right through the middle of a drug deal into this safe house. You know, that's the reality of the world out there, obviously not the world that PGA TOUR players live in, but a lot of people do. To me it's something I think is going to spread. I think it's kind of funny that Shreveport, Louisiana, may end up being the model for the nation, but I think you'll hear more about it, and it's a great charity, as well.
Other things we do, we work with Volunteers of America for after-school programs that they run, we've given them between 200,000 and $300,000 over the years. Another charity called the Providence House, which basically takes families off the streets, not just adult individuals, it's all families that would be homeless people, and they bring them in and they provide jobs for the adults and through those jobs they help them save money to get back on their feet once they get out of the program.
The testament to how it works, I would say 80 to 90 percent of the time when the people go through the graduation, they have this big savings account for them. It might only be a few thousand dollars, but to them it's more than they've ever had, and most of the time they donate it back to the program before they go out and get back on the street. So it really says a lot about how it changes their lives.
As far as the players becoming more involved with the charity side of the PGA TOUR, I think it's a great idea. You know, I think that you'll hear more and more stories about what guys are doing on their own. You know, like Tim said, we're on the way to our second billion dollars for the PGA TOUR. But if you combine everything that the players do on their own, there's no telling what that number is. And I think this is just another way to get that message out there.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, David. Obviously a couple things that David touched on are things that we would focus on in this initiative, the ability to help David's foundation earlier on from a communications standpoint, working with younger players to help them form foundations when they've found an interest in charity and things of that nature.
I'd also like to recognize Amy Wilson, who is the president of the PGA TOUR Wives' Association, and of course the Wives' Association has helped needy children and families through a variety of fundraisers over the years, and thank you for being here, as well.
The third area is that of tournaments, and let me start by recognizing Steve Tims, who is here on behalf of the President of the PGA TOUR Tournaments Association. Tournaments obviously are the bedrock of what's happened from a charity standpoint over the decades going back to the '30s and '40s. 12 years ago we made the decision as an organization from a policy standpoint that we wouldn't accept any new tournaments on the PGA TOUR or the Champions Tour or the Nationwide Tour unless they were organized for a charitable purpose. That started a redirection at that time where we added to our mission statement, the charitable efforts.
Today our focus is to put more energy and resources behind raising the bar for tournaments and giving around the country. We have a lot of tournaments that do a great job, arguably maximize their potential in the markets where we play, and we have a lot of tournaments organized for charity that we don't think are maximizing their potential. So we want to work with them to do so.
We're talking about activities that in addition to the communications and raising the awareness of what these tournaments do, working on programs like Birdies for Charity, Tickets For Charity, affiliating with outside events and bringing them under the PGA TOUR tournament umbrella, sharing best practices and a better use of TOUR assets that we have available, communication-wise, Tournament Players Clubs and other things that we can bring to the table.
As a member of the board of directors of the John Deere Classic, Zach Johnson has been up close and personal with the activities of the Deere Classic as well as their charitable initiatives. Last June when we had the terrible floods in the Midwest, Zach stepped up and took a leadership role in doing some special fundraising to help those people that were impacted by the floods. He did a PSA, and he became really the face of the PGA TOUR efforts in this area, and I'd like to ask Zach to comment on his perspective from the focus of the John Deere Classic and some of the things that you've done.
ZACH JOHNSON: Thanks, Tim. Flash back, I remember I was at the U.S. Open last year at Torrey Pines and had my family out there. They had just flown in mid-week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday of that week, and prior to that they were sandbagging, expecting some sort of high water just based on what had happened, a culmination of a lot of snow and certainly rain in the spring.
We were out there in San Diego, and I played Thursday's round and started -- water started to rise, started to rise, started to rise. We're seeing it on CNN, we're seeing it on the internet, videos and that sort of thing. Get out there Friday, play my round, and I think I played late that day if I'm not mistaken. And I got done with my round, and I didn't play very well. I don't know what I shot, but quite a bit over. One of our media relations guys pulled me aside and said, there's quite a few people that want to hear from you. I'm like, did I do something wrong, rules infraction? What happened? Then I pulled up there and I saw all their faces, and I thought, oh, I know exactly what this is about. Basically Friday my hometown alone, the river crested about 22 feet above flood level in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which you can't prepare yourself for emotionally. It was just an instant shock to the system. So at that point for me golf, work, everything just kind of seemed peripheral. My focus and my prayers and my heart was certainly back home.
I remember we flew from San Diego, I think us three here if I'm not mistaken, to Hartford, to a board meeting there, and I remember after the board meeting pulling Tim aside, and he was well aware of the situation and so was everybody else on the staff of the TOUR. He said, anything we can do. In a matter of five minutes the TOUR already put together an initiative just for about a two or three-month period, especially when the TOUR was kind of coming back to that area, to the Midwest, where players and whoever, if they cared to donate a part of their check, a percentage, a flat donation during the week of a tournament, these tournaments, this program was already put together. I mean, it was on pgatour.com in a matter of days.
You know, right there it just gave me instant gratification as to I'm honored and privileged to be on the PGA TOUR, knowing what they did that quickly, where their heart was, where their mindset was certainly just helped me emotionally, making sure that -- I just felt that being associated with this organization, I'm very lucky.
So as we go further, my wife and I sat down and said we want to do something. Speaking to my agent, speaking to some sponsors of mine, we want to do something back home that can at least uplift the spirits, at least throw a smile on some faces. My hometown had 25,000 to 30,000 people displaced, which was about a fourth of the city. I think their total now is about $4 to $5 billion in damage. Obviously not a good situation, a situation that you can't plan for nor combat in an immediate fashion.
You know, the one thing that my wife and I, we always -- not always, but consistently draw back on is we feel very blessed to be out here. We're obviously chasing a white golf ball, hitting it and chasing it again, so we feel like I'm able to play golf for a living, and I've been given a lot. So with that, much is expected. That's our responsibility.
We put together a nice thing back home, that was probably in August. In a matter of three or four weeks, five weeks, it was about a month, myself, my wife, a couple of sponsors of ours and some local companies and the University of Iowa -- it was four weeks, we put together a nice golf outing in Iowa City and were able to raise some good money. We raised almost $500,000. Conveniently it rained the entire day (laughter).
I asked two guys to come up and play, and we did a nine-hole exhibition, and the first two guys on my list -- well, these guys were on there, but I think one of them was battling for the Ryder Cup and that sort of thing, so I asked Chris DiMarco who lived right next to me at the time, and then a good buddy of mine Todd Hamilton who had Midwest ties, and I didn't have to ask twice. Those two guys jumped on a plane, came up, we had a great day, coordinated it around an Iowa State football game, raised some funds, but more than that raised and maintained awareness in that area, because when that hit in June it seemed like our country was getting compounded with a lot of issues. Certainly the economy was going in the direction it has gone, then you had some hurricanes in the south, you had the elections, and the awareness just kind of quit. No one's fault, that's just where it went. So that was the main point of that.
The beauty of that awareness was I remember getting the phone call -- actually, I was sitting at home watching a basketball game -- excuse me, a football game, and someone from PGA TOUR Productions contacted my agent and said, we'd like to do a piece on this flood benefit thing you're doing. I'm like, okay. You guys would like to show up for the event, that would be great. They're like, we want to do more than that. In a matter of three hours they put together I'd say probably about a 10 to 12-minute documentary on Cedar Rapids alone and the floods, kind of had me back there. It was the first time I had been back, so emotions were certainly like a roller coaster. And this DVD that Tour Productions put together, strictly their expense, they came up and did the whole thing, two or three hours of my time, we have this now certainly on DVD and we're able to use it for the future. We're able to use it for maintaining awareness, use it for companies or even individuals that really want to be a part of helping families out and kids out.
So I applaud the TOUR for taking a stance on that. That was totally unexpected and something that I get comments on all the time when I go back to Iowa. That was big.
On the flipside, I've been with the John Deere Classic on their board for a number of years, and that's been a learning experience, a great experience. It's one of those things where I've got some ties back there. They've been great to me. The people on that board, the people that run that tournament make it worth my time. They're fantastic individuals. They get it. I know it's not a highlight on most of the guys' schedules (laughter), but it is on mine. It's one of those tournaments where it's very family oriented, they do some things, extracurricular away from the golf course, that really lend itself to being just fun. They do this Big Dig thing with John Deere equipment, and it makes the families and the kids just have a good evening.
Pertaining to what we're talking about today, the charitable efforts that this tournament goes through and the emphasis they put on it, quite honestly it's the reason why they do it. Last year in 2008 alone, I want to say they raised $41/2 to $5 million in charitable efforts, and those monies were spread out through nearly 100 charities, most of which the TOUR joins hands with anyway. It's really the driving force behind that tournament and certainly that community for charitable efforts.
I don't know specifics on other tournaments, but I know the John Deere is the number one charitable organization we have from a per capita standpoint. I think it's No. 6-overall on the PGA TOUR. Clair Peterson and everybody that works on that board back in the Quad Cities, their outlook is exactly what we're talking about today. It's charity-driven. Sure, we've got a great golf tournament on a great golf course, but when it comes down to it, we're trying to help people. I applaud the TOUR. I applaud the tournament. And I certainly applaud all the players for making this an important part of how we go about our business, because as I said before, we're very blessed, and to be able to give back is a privilege.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thanks, Zach. The next area is the area of our charities. We have over 2,000 charities that receive benefits one way or the other on the PGA TOUR, and we are going to work to bring these charities together as a network for communication purposes so we can share best practices and information so we can promote better what they do directly, and so most importantly we can bring our assets together to impact the relationship and what the relationship is generating.
It takes on a wide range of activities that includes information, communication and best practices. To give you one example in the communication area, we've been -- by the way, this entire rollout is scheduled to be on-line by the end of this year, but some of these areas we've started on. In the last few weeks we've picked out a charity from each of the tournaments. We've focused and spotlighted that charity, the Hilton Head Heroes at Verizon Heritage Classic, the Bayou District Foundation Initiative in New Orleans at the Zurich Classic, First Tee of Charlotte, last week at the Quail Hollow Championship, and this week we're recognizing several charities here at THE PLAYERS, one of which is the Boselli Foundation Youth Life Learning Center, Tony Boselli is here. Tony is a former Jaguar who created this foundation. The foundation is a grant recipient from THE PLAYERS, and with that grant Tony's foundation is having a positive impact on the lives of youth in Jacksonville. Tony's available when we get done here to answer any of your questions about their activity.
As a member of the East Lake Club in Atlanta, Stewart Cink has had the opportunity to see the impact of that foundation over the last 15 years and what it's done for that part of Atlanta. Stewart does his own fundraiser out at Sugarloaf during the course of the year, but he also has -- because the TOUR Championship's leading focus is the East Lake Foundation and Stewart has played in the TOUR Championship a lot in addition to his relationship with East Lake, I think he's in a unique position to talk about East Lake as an example of one of those entities we want to partner more closely with.
STEWART CINK: I can give you a true before and after picture of what the charitable giving on the PGA TOUR is all about. When I was a college student I played at Georgia Tech in the early the '90s we used to use East Lake as one of our home courses. It was close to campus, an old club in town as a lot of them are in the big cities these days. No one ever played there. It was cheap. It was in bad condition. It was dangerous. Just getting to the golf course was a challenge, literally. You had to defend yourself at times, and there were players on numerous occasions that were held up through the fence and robbed at gunpoint, but we still played there because we could.
Then around 1995 or 1996 Tom Cousins, who is a big Atlanta property developer, took over East Lake, bought it, bought all the surrounding property, redid it with the goal of a community revitalization. And he formed the East Lake Community Foundation. About that time the golf staff there, the operations staff, really wanted to attach themselves to a young, professional golfer to sort of help them get the word out and communicate about the what the East Lake Foundation was doing with the East Lake Golf Club being the hub of the activity. Luckily at the point in my career that I was, I was a young golf professional that lived in Atlanta so they contacted me and we began a relationship and they gave me a free membership at this brand new wonderful East Lake Golf Club that we see today and the only thing I had to give them in return was to spend a little bit of time with the kids.
The kids were young, inner city, anywhere from kindergarten on up to maybe the oldest were early teens, who would after school have nowhere to go because most of them didn't have parents. They didn't have homes, they just would wander, and East Lake Community Foundation took them under their wing, and in a First Tee style effort that began a little bit before the First Tee, they used the values of the game of golf to help them develop character traits, learn respect, all the great things that this wonderful game has given all of us.
I've seen these kids go from little kindergarteners who didn't know the first thing about a golf club, a golf course or anything, now I've seen kids get golf scholarships to college, the same kids. I've seen kids become competitive and compete all the kids around Atlanta which is as you can imagine a pretty strong depth of talent. It's been great for me to be able to see the progression from kindergarteners -- you never know, these kids, they can get lost in the kind of world they're living in. To see them go from where they were to where they are now, one of the guys that used to run the program and was part of the program early on is now the golf coach at Michigan State. It's just a wonderful direct impact that East Lake Community Foundation has had on the lives of these young kids. A lot of them aren't young anymore, these are young adults now. Obviously the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola has been a huge part of funneling charities money into these programs. It's always growing. They built a charter school there. It's just wonderful. They have a nine-hole golf course that's in as good a condition as the golf course across the street that's a little more famous that we all know of. It's warmed my heart to see these young kids develop and they learn to respect their elders and they learn to respect the game of golf.
I think it all goes back a step even before that to what the game of golf itself taught us as kids, and I'm talking about Zach and David, even Tim as a youngster playing golf. The game of golf just teaches you values and it teaches you character that other sports just seem to not quite communicate that. I think we're all the beneficiaries of the great gift that golf has given us. And as a member of the PGA TOUR I agree with Zach, it is an honor and a privilege to be associated with -- not only be able to play a great game for a living but also to do what the game does in the communities out there. And this initiative that the TOUR is starting I think is dead on. It's wonderful that we're going to start communicating, not only that we have a drive to a billion dollars and we're going to reach another billion pretty soon, but all the players individually that have their own events that work with the kids at East Lake, that help with the floods that help with the David Toms Foundation and play in his event, these guys all play at my charitable event, too. We wouldn't be able to give the kind of money that we do to kids that need grief counseling and can't afford it without Zach Johnson and David Toms playing. We can't afford to pay them the kind of money that a company can pay them on a Monday. I can give them two jars of pickles and they'd go away happy. That's the kind of guys that these are. It's not just the ones up here at the table, it's everybody out there hitting balls at the range, too. I'm happy to be part of it and proud, and thanks for the time.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Two more areas and then we'll take a couple questions, fans and volunteers. Fans, we have over 100 million fans a year that watch some sort of PGA TOUR golf. Our effort is under the "Together, anything's possible" banner to reach out to those fans, educate them on what's happening, how lives are being changed, how they can help and get involved. The website that we'll be positioning will allow them to come on the site, interact with players and tournaments and make a donation through tournaments or volunteer their time. We want to reach out to the fans and engage them.
And lastly, volunteers. Obviously we exist on volunteers. We have over 100,000 volunteers all over the country. We can't run our tournaments without volunteers, but we want to expand that. And we've reached an understanding and agreement with the Hands On Network, which is the largest generator of volunteer activity in America with 231 affiliates and 70,000 nonprofit organizations affiliated with those entities, and their job is to organize people who increasingly in today's society are raising their hands saying, I want to help out, I want to do something. I've got time, I want to contribute. And that's what Hands On does.
We've reached a strategic partnership with them to perhaps help some of the tournaments, but mainly this is a focus on activating things around the tournaments and in other times of the year in communities that can generate the impact of charitable impact on tournaments. We've started this relationship. I think it's officially being announced today. And our first test case is in Atlanta. We're going to have some activation of charity-focused sponsorships in Atlanta that will be fully ran and managed by Hands On volunteers, and then we'll just go from there. So we're anxious to reach out to volunteerism and increase those relationships.
Let me summarize this and take a couple questions. There are really three pieces to this platform. One is tell the story, engage people in terms of what's happening, how they can become involved; strengthen our partnerships, our partnerships with players, tournaments, charities, fans and volunteers, and as a consequence of those two things, grow the impact of what we're doing in golf and on the PGA TOUR for charity.
I would like to cut these guys loose in a few minutes but if you'd like to ask a couple questions and then I'll come back and take your questions on THE PLAYERS.
I'll make comments in two other areas and then throw it open for questions. One is on THE PLAYERS, I'd say generally we are ecstatic about just about everything. The golf course is in, according to these guys, the best condition it's ever been in; we've got a good weather forecast. We like the changes we've made in staging and fan enhancements for this year. We like some of the things we're doing for the fans on-site. We continue to benefit from the strong partnership of our proud partners, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, JELD-WEN and UBS, in allowing us to continue to improve staging as we go forward.
We're excited about having President Bush 41 here tomorrow evening to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and to help us recognize the military in the community who are so supportive. So we think it's shaping up to be a great week. Henry Hughes and Jay Monahan I think have done a fantastic job this past year preparing us, and we're delighted about that.
And then secondly, since we're at sort of the halfway point in the FedExCup season, I'll just say that we are very pleased with the way that competition is moving forward. We have I think increasingly now the second half of the season we'll be seeing more focus on who's in the Top 5, who's in the Top 15. With the changes that we've made at the end of the season if you're in the Top 5 and you win, you control your own destiny I think will become more and more of a focus by the players and the fans.
With that said, I'll be happy to answer any follow-up questions you may have on these or other generally related subjects.
Q. Just curious, with the tradition like no other, what's the purse this week?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: The purse this year will be flat to last year. No change.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: $9 something. $9.5.
Q. I was listening to you talking about the new initiative. One of the things that I've seen is that I've seen players do some very kind and gentle things for the handicapped kids on-site. Would kind of highlighting some of that, like there was an issue with Tiger with a little boy named John Paul George which never reached the press but it was something that happened at Arnold Palmer's tournament a couple weeks ago. I've seen a lot of that but I've never seen that softness that the players have actually exposed to the general public.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: That's a good comment. I think the criticism that we've had over the years, if it is criticism, or at least advice, is that we need to humanize the charitable impact because it has more of an attraction for people to get involved. Listening to these kind of stories and understanding where these guys really are and the impact that they had on what they do and how committed they are is I think a big part of it. But also if there's a way we can kind of capture what you're talking about, that would help us a lot, too. We just have to get better at our overall effort to convey what this is all about. You're exactly right.
Q. What they do for charity and what you will do for charity in the future is fantastic, but one of the things the players could help is simply to show up more, play more tournaments. And according to a couple surveys I've seen, and one of them I've done myself, they're not doing it. They're not kind of heeding your call that you made in the off-season. Is there anything more you can do about that, and is there any possibility of getting close to that LPGA rule?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think you sort of have to separate these two things. Honestly I don't think field quality has a lot to do with charitable impact. It might have some. But if you look at the biggest focus in today's world is, is Tiger playing or not. That's always the question I get. If you go down the list of which tournament's raised the most to charity, you have to go down the list a bit before you get to the tournaments in which Tiger is playing.
On the subject of what we're talking about today, it's a question of not who's playing the tournament but who's involving the tournament in the community, because when the right people are involved in the community and they're organized right and they're executing best practices, this platform, this brand and this enterprise can do marvelous things for charity. Just look at John Deere. I mean, the week before the British Open, arguably a very weak field, and yet a huge success story in that part of the country for charity, and right on down the list. A tournament that's going to be played next week, coming on the heels of Charlotte and THE PLAYERS, but if you were to estimate the quality of field there, you'd say over the last five, six years they've had reasonably poor quality of field, but to the community it's a huge event and it's the No. 1 generator of charity dollars.
Q. As it relates to the TOUR's health --
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, to the TOUR's health, we're talking about sponsors. Now, to the other part of your question, actually the players have stepped up. What I expect a player to do is help us in one of a number of ways. I don't expect all players to do the same thing. I don't know of a player that hasn't done more this year than last year in a range of things. But when it comes to scheduling, I'm almost more interested in moving schedules around than I am in adding events. We've had a number of players that have done that, and it's had a desired effect. It doesn't solve the issues with field quality; I didn't expect it to. But the players you may be thinking about on the other hand are doing some other things for us that are sometimes even more valuable. I'm very comfortable with what's happened.
Q. Do you know roughly what percentage of your members have some type of a dedicated charity?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, we look at it from the standpoint of either a dedicated event, some of them have foundations, some of serve on the boards of charitable entities, so it takes on different forms. If you add all those together, we feel like it's a fairly high percentage. But we've never really catalogued effectively the information that would allow us to correctly answer your question, and that's one of the things we're doing now. We're in the process of doing that as we speak.
Q. Just curious, and bear with me in case I muddle through another question, but a couple players I spoke to yesterday don't really have a dedicated charity. They do things either that moves them or comes across their desk that they just want to get involved in. How do you balance the need of storytelling and letting people know how much good these players do with those who prefer to not -- for the right hand not to know what the left hand is doing sort of thing.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Yeah, it's kind of up to the player. If a player is more comfortable -- some players who have foundations, they've got development going on, starting with Tiger Woods Foundation right on down the list if you went through the list of players and are interested in being able to broaden whatever their enterprise is. Some others may take a different view. Some players one year might not do anything and then the next year a cause pops up in their community and they get engaged and go do a fundraiser so it takes on different forms.
To the extent they want to take advantage of the platform interfaces probably will vary and we'll deal with the players individually. It's not intended to be sort of a cookie cutter approach. Although the ones I've talked to are very interested in being able to have an entity adjunct to our website that catalogs activity, shares a lot of information, perhaps provides video support, and we like that because if we get to the point if we're doing a telecast in that part of the country sometimes we can pull out footage and something to promote what the player is doing. Players may very well have different attitudes about how much of that they want to do.
Q. Lastly, how much of this is a response to the publicity, I guess, around Northern Trust and everything that came out around that time of the year?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: None.
Q. None at all?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: No. I mean, the general question of conveying to people that might be misinformed about the economic impact or charitable impact is something we need to address, but that's -- if we're talking about the public sector, we're talking about a couple hundred people. So this is a broad-based outreach program nationally.
In the case you're talking about, there were two -- at least best I'm able to decipher, two members of Congress that got all the headlines, and all the other members of Congress, a lot of who not only know about what we do but are involved in some of the things we do or are supportive, in today's environment those voices don't always get heard. We may have a little bit of work to do there.
This comes on the heels of several years of thinking through how we can elevate what we're doing.
Q. Specifically what are some of the things and some of the resources that the TOUR might bring to bear to a player who comes to you and wants to have TOUR involvement in his charity or his foundation in a community?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, the first thing, and I mentioned this to the rookies -- we meet with the rookies every year when they finish qualifying school. This year we had dinner with the rookies at Sony in Hawai'i, and I mentioned to the rookies because I wanted to gauge, even then, and these aren't guys coming back to the TOUR, these are rookies, if the PGA TOUR had a capability to assist you in developing a fundraising capability, even perhaps a foundation development, is that something that interests you guys. And they're already interested because they know so much about what the charitable impact is.
So providing a player that capability, nurturing it, providing some consulting support, how you go about -- there are different ways to do fundraisers in golf. Some of them are done really well, some of them are done poorly, some of them are priced well, some of them are priced poorly, some of them create a great experience, some of them it's a lousy experience and tough to resell, whatever you're trying to do. We can certainly provide support in that area. And then once it's up and running, we think we can provide a lot of support through this website we're talking about.
Q. So some of the other assistance might include using the resources of the -- your broadcast arm to provide footage and so forth that they would get --
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We like the idea that, for example, last week we did a piece on the new First Tee opening in Charlotte. But if there's a particular player activity going on in that part of the country or playing in Hartford or Boston, we might want to showcase what Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade do with CVS and interweave it in addition to what the tournament is doing. And Tournament Players Club, the assets in certain areas can be brought to bear in some of these cases, as well. We already do a lot of them, but engaging in a more regular way and really making it a partnership, so working with the players, I think would be a healthy thing, helping them do a better job of what they're trying to accomplish.
Q. The one-in-four proposal has been floating around for a long time --
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: 20 years.
Q. Arnold earlier this year said he's in favor of something like that. He kind of lived his TOUR career that way. Run us through where you fall on that. Has it ever gotten traction at board meetings? Do you think it's necessary? If not, is there a plan B? What are your thoughts on that?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, it's been discussed a lot. Every two or three years it gets discussed. We've never gotten excited enough about it to bring it forward. I don't think a lot has changed on that, but I think we'll talk about it some more in the next year.
I think that equally -- and it has real issues with it, not the least of which is it's a change in our culture. I mean, our culture is players play where they want to play. Our job is to create a mix of tournaments and schedule them in a way that makes the most sense so we can capture as much of that play as we can.
My own view is a more effective way to deal with the pockets of field quality issues that we have might be a more flexible schedule, because if you start in Hawai'i and go through the year, just about every one of our tournaments has a good golf course, great agronomic conditions, good operations, good player support. There aren't any weak tournaments anymore. I don't know of one. But there are pockets given the flow of the schedule where it's very difficult to attract a field.
Even in weeks where we may have a historically weak field and we go to players to help us, it's very difficult. It's not a question of the caliber of the tournament in some cases, it's not a question of the golf course. It's just a question of juxtaposition in tournaments. We're looking for ways to flex up the schedule, maybe move tournaments around a little bit more in the out years. But it's just the beginning of a work in progress and it'll be three or four years until we get there.
Q. I'll ask a crystal ball question about the kind of adaptations that the TOUR will make with the economic climate changing, what kinds of things will you have to change on the TOUR, not only for this tournament but also the TOUR at large.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, the change we're talking about today isn't because of the economic climate. We think it's timely because of the economic climate, because our charitable dollars are going to go down this year, and we've gone up every year the last 20, and we're going to down now. At least at the halfway point now, or almost the halfway point, it would appear that we're not going to go down comparatively like charitable giving generally is off or other certain charitable activities, so that's good. That means we can perform in a bad time reasonably well, but we're still going to be down. So it's timely, but it's not the reason we came to this point. We've been talking about a number of these issues for two or three years.
But we do need to address it because we want to be in a growth mode, so we think this will help if we execute properly, there's no question about it.
Q. Down by how much roughly?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: It's a little early to say, but we were $124 million last year. I've got to believe we'll be off as much as 16, 18 percent. I think if we're north of $100 million in this environment, it's pretty good. But obviously we're doing everything we can to come out as well as we can, and I think this week we're going to have a good week. I don't know where we're going to come out, but the tournament has performed well in this environment and hopefully we'll meet our number to avoid contributing to any falloff this week. We've had some tournaments that are flat. We've had some tournaments that have lost a lot of revenue and they've resold a lot of stuff effectively. That's a good sign. That means we can still generate new sales out there and are generating new sales.
There's a lot of positives in this. And the other thing about it is there's always a silver lining in every bad situation, and one of the silver linings is you work harder, you think about it more creatively, and when you come out the other end, assuming this is a reasonable cycle, you're stronger because of it. We certainly hope that that's the case here.
Q. I'll ask you to put your International Federation of PGA TOURs hat on. Last week the HSBC Champions became kind of a quasi-WGC event --
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: There's no quasi. It's a full-bore WGC event.
Q. Can you walk through that process a little bit in terms of did tournament organizers lobby you for that status? Was that subject to a vote by the members of the Federation?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: The creation of the WGC?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I mean, we haven't made any bones about the fact for the last three years that we'd like to have a WGC played outside the United States, and our focus was Asia. I mean, we've been talking about that for a couple of years. The real question was the schedule -- and everybody agrees with that. I don't know of anybody that doesn't agree with that. So from a Federation standpoint, this wasn't something where we had to argue about it. The question is how to get it done, really.
Our schedule changed, and then the European Tour schedule that includes, as you know, co-sanctioned events in Asia, changing, as well, and then after it changed they added Dubai and they changed it around again. So there were a lot of moving parts to it in juxtaposition with our fall schedule. So it just got to the point, what's the right vehicle and how do we do this. We wanted to couple it, not just with being in Asia, but preferably a vehicle that would help drive growth in China. We're really pleased -- this adds a little bit different eligibility format to the retinue of WGCs, which we think is healthy, tournament winners primarily, and it's going to be in China and it's got a good sponsor. So we think it's the right thing, and it'll balance things a little bit here for the next few years until we figure out what we're going to do long-term.
Q. I called it quasi because the money is not official.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Yeah, and I get that question. Inside baseball, U.S. golf, it seems to be an issue. Globally we felt it was premature to ask for it to be official money. We recognized that it was going to be a significant purse, it was going to have a good format, and if it achieved, attracted the players that are eligible, it achieves significant World Ranking points, so we were very comfortable with that.
I think it's an open question, though, on official money. We could convert it to official money at the right time if it makes sense. I think sometimes we all forget that the British Open didn't become official money until ten years ago, so it isn't like it's the end of the world. I think the main thing is the quality of the competition, a globally sanctioned event in China is an exciting thing for them.
Q. Any discussions on changing the date of it or venue down the road, which would make it more appealing to American players?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Yeah, I mean, we're set here for a couple of years and then we're going to get into that 2013 environment, which is after this television cycle. We're a ways away from deciding our fundamental schedule in those years, and then we'll see what emanates from that.
Thank you very much.
End of FastScripts