October 30, 2002
BOB COMBS: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the beautiful East Lake Golf Club, site of this year's TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. We are back here at East Lake for the third time in the last five years at a venue that our fans players and sponsors like very much. It's a thrill for us to be here and we appreciate your attendance and your interest.
As you know, today we are going to have the Commissioner's typical end-of-the-year press conference where he reviews, shares the outlook about the year head and takes your questions. Here in the audience we have a large number of media here. We are also joined by a large number of media around the country on an AT&T call. We will hear this press conference live, and time permitting we will be able to address some of their questions to Commissioner Finchem.
So without further adieu, let me bring up the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr. Tim Finchem.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, Bob. Good afternoon, everyone.
Welcome, again to East Lake. We are delighted to be back at East Lake, and, of course with our new sponsorship with Coca-Cola. We are even more delighted.
I don't see Tom Cousins here. I saw him a little while ago, but let me thank Tom Cousins publically for his hospitality here this week and again to recognize what he and his family foundation have done to rebuild this wonderful golf course that Donald Ross designed, the home of Bobby Jones; and perhaps more importantly, what that has done in his efforts with the foundation to revitalize this part of Atlanta is absolutely astounding.
One of the reasons we made the determination to play here years ago is to tell this story to the rest of the country, and one of the primary reasons for Coca-Cola's sponsorship is to participate in the telling of that story. We are excited about the fact that this will now become the primary home of THE TOUR Championship. Next year we will be at Champions in Houston again, and then back here in 2004, 2005.
Let me share with you some thoughts about where we are in the PGA TOUR, what kind of year we've had on all of our tours in 2002, where we see our position generally in the marketplace, from the standpoint of our competition as we look to the future. And then primarily, I'd like to talk about some changes we are going to make in the branding of our tours to better integrate the relationship between all three of them, and I'll share some announcement news about how we are going to do that with you in a few minutes.
Starting with the PGA TOUR in 2002, we've had just another incredible year competitively, as you know. Tiger Woods won five times. He continues to astound in his competitive skills. He won the Arnold Palmer Award for the fourth straight time tying Tom Watson, who won it four times in a row in 1977 to 1980. Tiger's play in the Masters and the U.S. Open was riveting, and an incredible finish again at the American Express Championship to hang on and win thereafter tearing up the golf course the first three days.
Ernie Els won his third major championship at the British Open in exciting fashion.
Phil Mickelson posted his third consecutive season with multiple wins, his sixth in seventh years continuing to solidify himself was one of the great players of our era.
Rich Beem, a name that not many people were that familiar with, although he had won once before, came through to win twice in a row at The INTERNATIONAL, the PGA Championship; and his final round at the PGA Championship was memorable, indeed.
One of the great stories of the year was the fact that we had 17, an incredible number of first-time winners on the PGA TOUR. When you consider that Jerry Kelly, Len Mattiace and K.J. choi went on to win a second time, we had 20 tournaments this year won by players who had not won prior to this year. You throw in on top of that the fact that we now have 54 players from 19 countries participating as members on the PGA TOUR; and that 14 PGA TOUR events were won by international players; and the fact that we had five tournaments won by players in their 40s. You stand back and look at that from a competition standpoint, we have these great young players coming up, we have Tiger Woods in his brilliance; we have good, solid stars like Ernie or Sergio and Phil; we have the best players from all over the world; we have older players winning; and we have new players coming through to win in record fashion. All of that adds up to exciting competition week-to-week, and something that we can build on for the future. That certainly helps and has helped our marketing efforts this year in a difficult environment.
On the Senior Tour, this has been an extremely interesting, and we think successful year, on the Senior Tour. In 2003, we will have a full implementation of a lot of things we tried this year in testing in two general areas. One thing was to create an instructional platform on the Senior Tour, things that provide the fan, whether he visits that tour by coming online or on television or on-site, the opportunity to learn more about what can improve his or her game.
In addition to that, we had a variety of initiatives that related to getting the fans closer to the competitors. The players really stepped up this year to make those things work in their test phase to the point that we were really well received by the fans, by the media, by the communities where we played, and we are looking forward to rolling those out with some tweaks here and there and some additional things for 2003.
On the golf course, we had a number of records. An incredible year by 57-year-old Hale Irwin, which was the first time any player has won more than $3 million. In addition to that, he performed the best year-round to win the Charles Schwab Cup and its $1 million annuity.
It was a great season by Bob Gilder, who won four times in seven weeks, earned more than $2 million. Bruce Lietzke and Tom Kite each won more than three times.
Here again, interesting, that we had 23 different winners in 35 weeks of that tour, which is a testimony, again, to the incredible amount of talent on that tour and the balance of talent, not just in the first three or four players, but 23 different players winning.
Dana Quigley played in his 200th consecutive event that he was eligible for at the SBC Championship and did it in style by winning the event.
Next year, we look forward to Craig Stadler, Andy Bean, D.A. Weibring and Jerry Pate, coming on the heels of this year's rookies, Fuzzy Zoeller, Morris Hatalsky Wayne Levi and Tom Purtzer.
We now are seeing and we are getting into the first, I would say, third of what I've been talking about for a couple years, which is a major evolution of this tour between the year 2002 and 2007 when the leaderboard will finally transition out from the shadow of Arnold and Jack as the PGA TOUR did 20 years ago, and into a new era. When you look at the number of players coming off the PGA TOUR to this tour over the next -- during that seven-year period from the time Kite and Watson turned 50 in 2000, it's just a metamorphosis of that tour. That, combined with the changes, combined with the new television arrangement, combined with bringing in the Golf Channel as a partner next year, combined with the kind of tournament dollars being structured that we will talk about in a few minutes in terms of sponsorship, we are very, very positive, indeed, about the next five years on that tour.
Lastly, we are proud to welcome Nationwide as our partners in 2003 to take the place of BUY.COM in the sponsorship of what has become a very, very exciting tour. We want to commend all of the Nationwide people for their energy coming into this relationship, their CEO, Jerry Jergensen and his team have reason been great to work with.
I want to recognize a couple of people who are with us today. John Cook, who is the senior vice president and chief communication officer. John Millon, who is his vice president of communications was with us at THE TOUR Championship over in Alabama. This tour, with the new energy of this relationship, will continue to take off, and I'll be talking more about the branding of this tour in a few minutes.
This past year, we were pleased with the start in Australia and New Zealand, internationalizing this tour, and positioning it as an international tour. The growing influence of this tour is best reflected in terms of the incredible rate of success that has been enjoyed by graduates who are now on the PGA TOUR. We now have 123 victories on the PGA TOUR that have gone to players with experience on this tour. An incredible statistic when you consider it has only been around for 12 years.
Last week in Alabama, Pat Moore won The Tour Championship for his third win of the year, and led a group of 15 players to earn their cards. And I'll have more to say about that issue in a few minutes, as well.
This tour continues to establish itself. When you look closely at the statistics, at the caliber of play on this tour, it is virtually indistinguishable with the caliber of play on the PGA TOUR. And the futures is very bright, indeed.
Let me talk generally about sponsorship. On the business front, we are obviously in an extremely difficult environment. It is the most difficult environment we have been in since the 1990-1991 recession. But, tough times have a way of demonstrating real strength, and the TOUR's strength continues to be visible. One of the things that has come through to us in conversations with sponsors and potential sponsors in the last 18 months in this environment is increasingly, especially in the world we live in today, sponsors recognize the unique values of relationship with PGA TOUR golf, the image of our players, what our players represent, the give-back focus among the players in our tournaments, the relationship with our communities, the very devotion of core value views. These are things that resonate more and more in these times, and these are things that companies want to be associated with.
These strengths have provided great underpinning to us during the last 18 months, and I'm pleased to say that next year, we will be a fully-sponsored tour. I get a lot of questions: How many tournaments are you going to have on the PGA TOUR? Well, we had 49 official money events this year. We will probably only have 48 next year because we probably won't play an event opposite the American Express, because it's later in the calendar and the options available are not good weather options, although we still might. We will have a full schedule, fully-sponsored schedule throughout the year, and the details of which will be released after our board meeting in a couple of weeks.
Just as importantly, we are delighted to welcome to the PGA TOUR a great group of new sponsors and new companies, starting with, of course, I just mentioned Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, EDA, Bank of America, Wachovia, Kinko's, and, of course, we are delighted with the relationship with Nationwide, which is the kind of premiere brand we want to be associated with.
In regards to the Senior Tour sponsorship, we've had the same kind of transition on the Senior Tour from a sponsorship standpoint as we've had on the PGA TOUR. More turnover than at any time since the 1990-1991 recession. But the good news is, again, we have brought some new tournaments and good sponsors to the fold. And our goal, stated now over a year ago, is focusing on a tour of 20 to 32 events, slightly smaller than our current schedule of 35, because we don't want to play up against the major championships and the World Golf Championships if we can avoid it. There's just too much PGA TOUR television. We will meet that goal, and we will have a schedule of 30 to 32 events and the details of that will also be forthcoming in a few weeks.
I should note that on the Senior Tour, as we move forward, you will probably see more variety in the way we structure tournaments than we've had in the past, a few different formats and a few different approaches. But as we bring these new tournaments to the schedule, they are being much more carefully structured with the community in mind as we have done on the PGA TOUR over the years.
For example, recently when we announced a new Senior Tour event in Austin, Texas hosted by Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw, it is in co-sponsorship with the local First Tee Chapter of Austin, which is a great cross-section of the community and will raise significant sums to build First Tee facilities in the Austin area, and other tournaments like that will be forthcoming in the 2003 and 2004 schedule.
When we announce the schedule in 2003, we will already be well underway to make some additional changes to the schedule for 2004 because we have some exciting things for 2003. But we have an even greater number of things for the 2004 schedule in terms of some unique sponsorships, venues, golf courses and charity relationships.
Let me shift from the details of those tours for a minute and talk generally about fan base growth, which is along with the image of the Tour and the values of the Tour, the most important thing that underpins a sponsorship interest and is a great measure of the growth of our sport.
Interest in the PGA TOUR is at an all-time high across the board, especially among groups that at least historically have not been considered strong in the golf fan area. In a recent ESPN sports poll, the PGA TOUR showed a 25 percent increase over the last five years in our golf fan base, the biggest jump among all sports. More than 110 million Americans now over the age of 12 indicate some interest in following our sport at some level.
During the year, over 68 percent of households in this country tuned in at some point in time to a PGA TOUR event, and 40 percent of households tuned in to five or more PGA TOUR events. The overall viewership of our product is very, very strong.
We saw our fan base grow in a number of interesting areas. We saw significant growth among women. Women were up over 35 percent during that period of time. The emergence of Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and a host of other young stars in these areas has also driven new audiences. Our interest among African Americans is up more than 90 percent since 1995. Our interest among Hispanics is up almost 30 percent since 1995. And our interest among Asian Americans is up over 250 percent since 1995.
What we are seeing is a growth in the total number of fans in our fan base and a broadening of our demographic. We are also seeing our demographic in the fan base skew somewhat younger. So we are driving interest, because of Tiger and the other young stars, driving significant interest among younger people, which, of course, is of interest to advertisers and sponsors. Also, it says a lot in terms of the future of the sport, 10, 20, 30 years from now in terms of the future potential of our fan base.
As I said earlier, our commit the to charity we think resonates in this environment. This year, our three tours will generate between $65 and $70 million for charity, bringing to our total number since charitable contributions began on the PGA TOUR in 1938 to over $700 million.
Now, I'd like to shift from that now and talk about our branding and make a couple of announcements. For all of the reasons I've mentioned, the PGA TOUR brand has never been more highly regarded in all of the research we do and by our network partners. One of the premiere brands in sports, as I say, it provides a solid underpinning to get us through these economic cycles. As we look to the future, we want to make sure that we are well positioned to capitalize on the strength of this brand across our platforms.
So at the same time we are looking at the Senior Tour and at our new relationship with Nationwide. For that tour, we are looking for ways to create a branding of our tours that provides us the opportunity to share the strength of the PGA TOUR brand directly and effectively in marketing and reaching our fan base, our larger fan base, on all tours.
To do that, we are announcing today that the overall brand identity of these tours will be changed. The new approach has several important factors. I think it's important to understand them.
First of all, with regard the Senior Tour, when we look at the Senior Tour and we ask ourselves about how can we create a branding of this tour that is an extension of the PGA TOUR, and yet, effectively characterizes this tour for what it is. We looked at the people on this tour, the players who not only have won golf tournaments, but who commit themselves to charity and things outside of the golf tournament week after week, and we see those individuals as champions.
We look at the volunteers that come out to those tournaments and want to commit themselves to raising dollars for charity and volunteering their time to make this sport work, and we see them as charities, as champions. We look at the charitable organizations that commit their time and resources to making our sport work, and we see them as champions.
So, for these reasons, we thought an appropriate branding approach was to recognize that, and at the same time to create an extension of the PGA TOUR, and that's why we are changing the name of this tour to the CHAMPIONS TOUR, starting in January.
Secondly, we looked at our relationship with Nationwide and we considered a lot of branding opportunities, but we concluded that Nationwide says a lot of things to a lot of people. It is a popular brand. It is a well known brand. It is a brand that has integrity and continuity. It is also a brand that says something very clearly. And what this tour says to young golfers is: This is your opportunity. This is the way, your access point to professional golf at the PGA TOUR level.
So while we are trying to extend the brand of this tour to capture and resonate with the PGA TOUR fan base, we are also trying to communicate that to golfers and young golfers everywhere, that this is your opportunity; and Nationwide, the sponsorship of this opportunity, is on their side. To do that, we concluded that the only appropriate way to reflect that is through the Nationwide Tour.
But to pull all of this together, we also recognize that to really provide an extension, we needed to use our traditional swinging golfer in the logo of these tours, and in everything we do to promote it. I'll speak to that in a minute, but let me show you graphically what we are talking about. First of all, with respect to the CHAMPIONS TOUR. This is what you will see as the new branding for the CHAMPIONS TOUR. (Unveiling new logo.)
And the Nationwide Tour. (Unveiling Nationwide Tour logo.) This is what you will see going forward as the branding for the new Nationwide Tour.
But, this is just part of the equation, the graphics. We will be aggressively, and we hope effectively, marketing all three brands together. This is now a family of brands, sharing the same ideals, sharing the same core values, sharing the same focus on charitable giving, sharing the same belief and opportunity and entrepreneurialism, sharing the same commitment to the individual, the communities in three different tours, with somewhat different eligibilities, but with the same quality of presentation, we hope, across all three tours.
So consequently, you will see these two together with the traditional PGA TOUR logo, a lot more often, in what we are communicating at every level.
Beyond that, we also will be using all three to come together in a charity platform that we will be using more and more often, which focuses on the fact that giving back is the heart of the PGA TOUR. And by that, we mean the entire platform of tournaments and all of the brands involved.
Thank you very much. I hope that's a reasonable update, and I'd be happy to try to answer your questions.
Q. Commissioner, in regards to the Senior Tour, is there a negative connotation with the word "Senior"?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I don't know if it's negative. I think there is a realization by more and more companies, and I suppose by all of us, that unlike perhaps in the past, nobody considers themselves a senior anymore. When you turn 50, that's just the next step. So, that's a piece of it.
But the bigger question here was in terms of extending, again, the strength of the PGA TOUR brand in a relevant way to reach the broader fan, what was the best way to do that, and how do we want to characterize the broader scope of people on this tour, we felt "champions" resonated better than "seniors."
Q. Is there any further discussion about changing either the age requirement or any other eligibility situation for the CHAMPIONS TOUR? And can you also address what effect the Nationwide Tour is going to have on purses for that tour?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: First of all, on the CHAMPIONS TOUR, there is discussion on both point that is general eligibility. Obviously, there is going to be an eligibility change for 2003 with an increase in the access from former champions on the PGA TOUR having access who may be a little bit short in all-time money, which is the traditional way you step over. And then we are aggressively discussing now an additional change in 2004 is and beyond which would broaden that a little bit further.
On the age question, we have had discussions about age. We are looking at how an age change might work, but at this point in time, we are not advocating an age change. We are just evaluating if at some point in the future we were to make a name change, how would it work, how would it be done given current eligibility and the rest. As I've said before, I think it's something we need to keep our eye on, but at this point in time we are not asking for an age change.
With respect to the Nationwide Tour, prize money will be at an all-time high next year. Average minimum prize money will be just south of $500,000 per event. A number of tournaments will exceed that.
I think that there is a reasonably good chance that our board will pass -- we had a good meeting with our player advisory council last week at Callaway, and we are look recommending strong consideration to increasing the number of spots that this tour has access to. I'm not sure what the number will be yet, but I do anticipate some movement there.
I think everybody involved in our sport has come to believe that this tour has even more potential than it's demonstrated. It's gotten more and more stable and draws better and better crowds. It has higher and higher visibility. We have a really good Golf Channel package. The fact that a good number of these events will be moving to the Golf Channel means that the Golf Channel will have a higher viewership next year; so the promotional platform for this tour will be expanded.
The Golf Channel this year has gone to over 50 million homes and is moving along nicely in terms of increased distribution for the next two years.
So all of that speaks to how this tour can be better communicated and distributed. So we are very positive in terms of the direction it's going to go.
Q. What's your stance on the controversy surrounding Augusta in regards to female members?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, I spoke to that in a letter to Ms. Burk back in August, and I think we have effectively released a copy of that letter.
When you read that letter, it's very straightforward in answering the question that she posed with respect to whether or not we would consider withdrawing recognition of the Masters as a major championship on our tour. We said while we appreciated and respected her position, and we do, that that's just something for all factors considered that we were not prepared to do. So we have been very clear on that.
I think the statement speaks for itself and I cannot elaborate on. A copy of it is available for you today if you'd like to take a look at it.
Q. What do you think is going to happen next year in regards to the masters in lieu of what's happening with Martha Burk? Obviously, she is pressing and pressing and she's going to be right there on your tail. What do you think is going to happen and how are you going to deal with this?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: As far as I know, there's going to be a tournament at Augusta, the Masters, and it's going to be on CBS television, and our players are going to go play.
What else happens, I'm not going to speculate on that.
Q. Do you think given that you have a policy of going to clubs that do not have exclusionary policies that you could or should make a statement by withdrawing recognition of initially money or official wins?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think I answered that question in my letter to Ms. Burk, and I indicated that was a step we are not prepared to take. I think my statement is clear on that.
Q. When the Hogan Tour began, it was more or less a developmental-type tour, and the last couple of years it has been a haven for some older guys. Do you see any changes in eligibility on where you want to focus the eligibility for that tour?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Well, we kind of like the eligibility. There's three different characterizations of players on that tour. One are the young fellows who are just getting started, first two or three years. They fell just , some of them, just a little bit short in the qualifying school and are playing there. If you track their records, if they move on to the PGA TOUR, they very do very, very well because of the competitive experience on the Nationwide Tour is so very, very strong.
Then you have players, and as has been the case with lots of careers over the years, they lose their access on the PGA TOUR. They want to stay active and get back, and they go over there to play. Increasingly we are seeing that, because again, players know that the golf courses are set up as difficult as on this tour. The competition is as difficult, and if you're going to play PGA TOUR level golf and you just can't get in these tournaments, then that's the place to play because it is PGA TOUR level golf. So you see some of that.
Then you see a player occasionally who has been a little less active. He's into his mid to late 40s, he wants to go play the CHAMPIONS TOUR, and he uses whatever access he can get over there to hone his skills and get ready to play the CHAMPIONS TOUR.
It's a nice blend. It's not very different, really, than what we have on the PGA TOUR. It skews younger, but there's a good number of seasoned players over there. We think that's good for the fans, to see some people they recognize and for the balance in the competition. Just like I said earlier, having five players in their 40s win this year, and all of the good young players, it's a nice mix.
Actually, to come back to your question, when we started the Hogan Tour in 1989, which was my second year with the Tour, it was for those three purposes. It wasn't just for one. It was for all three. It was clearly a recognition of preparing for the Senior Tour and a place where a guy could go and come back.
Q. You talked about the fact that the Golf Channel is going to be broadcasting some Senior Tour events next year. The number we had heard was ten. Can you confirm that or has that changed?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I can confirm it will be at least ten. I don't know the number yet. We are working through the schedules with the Golf Channel and CNBC, and we don't have the number yet, but it won't be less than ten. It could be as many as 13 or 15. It's not inconceivable, but don't hold me to those numbers because I haven't been in the conversations the last few day, but it's in that range. But it won't be less than ten.
Q. As good as the purses have gotten on the Nationwide Tour, do you still want to have a little bit of a disparity between tour purses just to give these guys a carrot out there to play for? Is there such a thing as maybe getting the purses a little too good on the Nationwide Tour?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I've never been asked that question. We've made nice progress on that tour, but there is a significant jump, obviously, from an average of $500,000 to an average of $4 million.
I don't think there's a concern. I think the concern there is we are not really concerned about that. What we are concerned about is we have this terrific tour, and we want to present it the most effective way we can. Just like on the PGA TOUR, one of the things that we know is when you're playing for a little more money, it's more exciting to the fans. It's a bigger deal. You're standing over a putt that means so much. The fans react to that.
It's not just about getting dollars to players. That's an important part of our job but it's also about the presentation to sports.
What we are finding already, since the Nationwide announcement just a few weeks ago, is the reaction in the markets where we are playing to the suggestion of this kind of branding in partnership with a company like Nationwide is changing the attitude about the potential of this tour as we speak.
So I'm thinking that over the next two or three years, we can make some strides and I think we want to be a little higher, but I don't think we need to be too concerned about that issue right now.
Q. Martha Burk has said she would take this campaign eventually to the sponsors of the TOUR. Have you heard from any sponsors, and as sensitive as this issue is, does it concern you that it might head that direction?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm not going to discuss what other conversations I've with sponsors.
I know you're going to try to move me out of the confines of my statement; you're not going to be successful . (Laughter.) But you can continue to try. (Laughter.)
I will make this comment that the news coverage relating to a meeting I had with sponsors was not correct. But I'm not going to elaborate.
Conversations we have with sponsors we are not going to talk about at a press conference.
Q. Are you concerned that it could shift toward them; that they could become involved?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'm not going to talk about a hypothetical situation. I'm not going to react to hypothetical situations, and that's what you're suggesting, a hypothetical situation.
If situations arise, we'll deal with them as they arise, but that's a hypothetical situation.
Q. What about Labor Day?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: That's not hypothetical.
Q. PGA TOUR purses have had double-digit growth for pretty much the last decade. Do you see that happening in 2003? Also, the situation with the sponsors, it ends up looking a lot better than one might have expected it looking in July, and a lot of that is you went to blue-chip companies like Ford and Bank of America, rather than tech people. Was that a conscious decision, or is it just the fact that the other people are not there anymore?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Let me answer the first part of your question. We do see very positive, continuous growth the next four years, both with respect to benefits to players, and also with respect to growth of dollars for charity on both levels.
I'm not prepared at this moment to compare what I see the next four years to what's happened the last four years. I will say that I think our official money is 199 million this year, give or take a few dollars, and it will be about 225 next year, and it will grow on the following three years to about 360 to 380, in that range.
So we will see nice, positive growth. Obviously, it's tempered a little bit by the economy, but at the same time we anticipate positive growth in charitable contributions.
Yes, it has changed since July. Although I think I said a year ago that we were very confident that the strength of the product would carry us through over the very difficult environment. We don't like to see turnover because of continuity. On the other hand, the advantage, you always look for the silver lining, and this is a difficult lining, but the advantages we have are that companies today that are making these type of spending decisions, just like the one we've been talking about with Nationwide in this environment, comes after companies study the investment very, very carefully. Much more carefully than they do when their profit margins are up significantly. We really work hard as defining the plus and minuses, evaluating the potential and putting in place the sponsorship in a way that they can maximize value out of it.
So as we saw in 1991, we anticipate that this new batch of sponsorships that we are seeing will be sponsors that we are with for a good long, period of time just because of the process we've been through. So they are good, solid partners.
The second part of your question, the difference in the companies, I don't think we distinguish them too much. I think that obviously during what they call now, what do they call it, on the dot-com bubble, you had a number of companies who had a lot of dollars coming in the door when maybe made decisions on a sponsorship base that didn't really relate to their long-term capability to support that or their ability to take advantage of the value. Those type of commitments don't last.
Then when the rescission hit, they are the first kind of companies that they run into trouble.
So we are delighted that the strength and the quality of the sponsorship group that we now see is really improved, which will set us in good stead for the next five or ten years.
Q. You said that the PGA TOUR would be completely sponsored for next year, but my understanding is there are maybe six or eight tournaments that are still looking for sponsors. Is that right, and does that mean you will have quite a few announcements in the next couple of weeks?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: We will have some announcements. It's been referred to in the press that Disney has a new sponsor the next four years; that's correct. The details just have not been announced.
We are in some final conversations with two or three other places. We may yet wind up with a couple of situations where some different kind of sponsorship is coming forward from the community or the tournament where we play, but there will not be many of those. We look at that as being fully sponsored.
We may still have a couple of title positions remaining but a very manageable number. And once we have been successful in bringing the turnover inventory down to the point where we will, we don't anticipate any difficulty over the next four years. We will have a fully-sponsored tour, a fully-sponsored CHAMPIONS TOUR and a fully-sponsored Nationwide Tour next year.
Q. Commissioner, you talked about it's no longer the Senior Tour; it's the CHAMPIONS TOUR. Was there any consideration to doing away with carts?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Every three or four years, we have a good, spirited cart discussion. (Laughter.)
I think the difficulty with the cart issue, the major difficulty is regardless of what we would like to do, in terms of presentation, we also recognize that for whatever set of reasons, we play at a number of golf courses that are very difficult to walk. We're trying to move back, and one of our objectives is over the next two or three years, to move back to more traditional walking type golf courses; East Lake would be terrific. Oak Hills in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago was terrific.
We are maintaining some adjustments to our cart rules now. I would not want to speculate where that discussion comes out. It's not the most important thing on our agenda but those discussions are ongoing.
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