Golf executives laud newly-announced contract with Disney

The Disney Landification of golf tournaments could be coming to an end.

Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Communications and the vice chairman of Golf Canada, says he’s currently “wrapping our heads around” a potentially “revolutionary” event that will see golfers earn enough to live off for full-time play.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Pelley said in an interview with Golf World at the World Series of Golf in Vancouver on Friday. “I think it gives everyone in the industry an opportunity to reconsider their business model. I see this as a clean break between the old days of golf and the new ones where everyone actually contributes.”

“Part of it’s becoming more and more interesting to play,” Pelley added. “Are you willing to stop dreaming of the next paycheck to play to actually join a club and actually play on the weekend and contribute? To me that’s a new point of view.”

Pelley is just one of the executives praising the announcement earlier this week of a sponsorship deal worth $4 million a year for the 19-event PGA Tour Canada program. The new deal kicks in for the 2022 season and gives Disney a chance to open more parks and attend tournaments.

Along with Rogers Communications and PGA Tour Canada, the other players, executives and golf organizations involved in the four-year agreement, including Canadian cable giant Bell Media, are USA Golf, Tennis Canada, Liberty Global, Play Corporation, the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Canada, the Canadian Summer Games and Sport Canada.

Golf Canada chief executive officer Kathy Nicklin said the “achievable target” of less than $500,000 per tournament over the next four years would help cultivate a “sustainable industry.”

“We’re confident that this truly landmark partnership will position our sport as the premier mainstream asset in Canadian life,” Nicklin said in a statement.

Nicklin stressed that the association with Disney is not a precursor to a greater commitment by the media company. Disney currently offers merchandise and access to information about nearly all of its parks to park-goers via the Disney Parks app.

“For us, this is not new,” Nicklin said. “What is exciting is the fact that we’re able to work with the largest media company in the world and they’re excited about it. That’s what’s really exciting. We’re getting to work with a partner that we believe is the best in the world.”

Nicklin declined to say how much the deal had improved in value since its predecessor, a deal that saw the PGA Tour pay $25 million to the men’s circuit each year in exchange for a promotional role on its website and social media channels.

The PGA Tour announced plans to enter a consulting arrangement with Rogers Communications, the parent company of PGA Tour Canada, about a year ago.

Shaun Driscoll, vice president of championships and tournaments for the PGA Tour, said Disney is “very excited” about the new tournament model.

“We believe that a much more comprehensive tournament payout structure will be the new standard for our tour and the industry as a whole and with this renewal we want to ensure we continue to reward the tremendous effort of the men and women competing on the course, as well as the tour officials that build and run our events,” Driscoll said in a statement.

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