Everything needs a re-work. From the teams, to the format, to the venues, the President’s Cup consistently comes up short of expectations.
As a prelude to the rest of the piece, this will not be something that attempts to trot out solutions to these problems. Instead, the goal is to show that these issues are more structural than most would have you believe.
The PGA TOUR vs Another Tour
While a fun idea in theory, and certainly a common idea used to “fix” the President’s Cup, this is a non-starter. After all, the PGA TOUR owns the President’s Cup… the entire premise of the event is to promote their product. Until the PGA TOUR owns a similar level opposite tour, this likely will not happen.
With that being said, the DP World Tour’s new Strategic Aliance with the PGA TOUR does pose an interesting question: could it be with the European Tour? Would that be competitive? In theory, this is already how the Ryder Cup operates, although the President’s Cup brings in many other nations than just the Ryder Cup’s demographic.
The LPGA Tour Argument
For reasons similar to the above passage, the LPGA collaboration seems slightly far-fetched. After all, the LPGA Tour is an independent entity from the PGA Tour. After the success of the Premiere Hockey Federation stars in the NHL All Star Skills Challenge, the idea of cross-gender competition is one that certainly would seem appealing, given it worked with another sport. For the President’s Cup and their format, it certainly could work. However, taking a lesson out of the NHL’s book, the crossover only happened following the various NHL owners & teams stepping in to acquire PHF teams (Boston and Buffalo in particular).
The Harlem Globetrotters Model
The Washington Generals vs Harlem Globetrotters is one of the most successful basketball rivalries ever, yet it is not really a rivalry. The Washington Generals never really stand a chance, and as a result, it becomes a fun event to watch the Globetrotters beat up the Generals. Likewise, the PGA TOUR is almost exclusively an American product for an American audience. In some respect, this year’s result is the ideal situation for the TOUR: the Internationals are heavy underdogs fighting for life. They catch a second wind, only to be bullied by the big, bad Americans. Like the Globetrotters, Team USA is the team that people tune in for, and as a result, root for.
Royal Melbourne aside (and thank goodness for that site), the PGA TOUR’s golf course selection is extremely generic. Firstly, the course must have a large footprint to allow maximum sponsor seating and infrastructure. Makes sense: the event is there to make money. Secondly, a venue must have a strong sponsorship connection, or the course itself is able to pay to host the event. If a course is able to do this, why not? Usually, the PGA TOUR pays a golf course to host. In theory, the TOUR rents a golf course for two weeks, but if they can get a course to pay them to host, it is a win-win. Finally, for whatever reason, the golf courses must have very generic architectural traits better suited for charity scrambles.
Schedule of Events
The dragged out nature of a four-day schedule is the foundation of corporate greed. At four days, this makes it the longest international exhibition in golf. The extra day not only adds an extra day of highly-priced entry fees to get inside the gates, but also an extra day of TV coverage. A good thing for both the PGA TOUR and the potential sponsors. Not-so-surprising, the President’s Cup is one of the key money-makers in a twenty-four-month period.
What does this mean? Essentially, the President’s Cup is irrelevant to most golf fans. Generally speaking, it is a masterclass in sports marketing, whereas it falls flat on being a masterclass golf event. With 2024’s edition being played at Royal Montreal, it seems obvious many Canadians will be visiting Ile Bizard. Be forewarned: expect the same insipid competition on a middling venue with a format that looks to extract maximum value, prioritizing profits over excitement.
Is change afoot? Unlikely. The PGA TOUR will not change until the event starts to falter, and even so, their track record with fixing events is not as strong as it is starting events. Ask the World Golf Championships or the FedEx Cup/Tour Championship, both of which feature wonderful concepts spoiled by corporate groupthink.
Regardless, the President’s Cup returning to Canada will be an event, even if its a mild one. Now, perhaps some change could be exciting. Could you imagine a Mike Weir or Stephen Ames captaincy? Maybe the tour allows the internationals to draft 1 non-tour player from the host nation. Imagine the resulting Brooke Henderson/Corey Conners foursomes pairing or Nick Taylor/Alena Sharpe? One can hope for a shakeup before we get there in two years. But, all signs point to business as usual.