Tiger Sets Model for Recovering Golf’s Image

Everything in golf comes easier when Tiger Woods is involved – sponsorships, TV ratings, attendance, media coverage, energy, excitement, everything. So it’s no surprise that the tournament Tiger hosts, last week’s AT&T National, and Tiger eventually won on the final few holes, scored tremendous ratings and record attendance. But how they drew the attendance opens the door to how golf should think.

Tiger let kids under 12 and military officers in FREE. It may not directly effect TV ratings, but it certainly helps draw attendance. The overall effect may return positive net revenue. Families on the fence about attending because its an expensive proposition for a family of four, suddenly looks at it as a value entertainment option. Instead of not attending the family comes, the adults pay, and the tournament yields concessions and merchandise revenue from the children. Though tough to quantify, golf as a sport, and the local tournament specifically, penetrates the younger generation, earning new fans, and a lifetime of revenue potential.

In the bigger picture, golf and golfers rely on sponsorships more than other major sports, since it makes the tournaments possible and subsidizes many players. The recession has exasperated sports sponsorships. Commissioner Finchem argued that golf’s charity work is not highlighted, and too much focus placed on sponsorships and spending. Well, I say do something about it instead of complaining and pointing at the media. The sport controls perception to an extent. If they feel community work deserves more attention, emphasize it, talk about it, make sure it’s done publicly. While not exactly charity work, allowing youths and military free entrance qualifies as goodwill.

Indirectly, as positive public perception grows, fans are drawn to the sport. Plus, welcoming the youth demo and executing on the entertainment portion, creates a new segment of interest. The result – better, and somewhat Tiger-proof, TV ratings.

Golf is the rare sport where seating capacity does not limit attendance, so outside of the major tournaments courses should be able to support a few extra people. It’s an easy way to leverage unused capacity to generate additional revenue for the tournament, create positive PR and a fan friendly brand image for the sport, and yield long-term benefits for the sport. Contrary to Jim Brown’s comments, Tiger does take public stands. Not everything needs to be political or racial to have an impact.

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