PGA Tour muscles in on European Tour turf by opening London office
The PGA Tours central London office is open and courting media rights and sponsorship deals and could enable it to further enhance its financial clout compared to its European equivalent
The PGA Tour has flexed its muscles towards its equivalent in Europe by opening a base in England. Although an announcement is not expected until mid-summer, the PGAs London office is already operational with its prime focus on media rights and tournament sponsorship.
The implication is that the PGA Tour will seek to court sponsors who might otherwise be attracted to European Tour events. Given the fiscal power thePGA Tour has already displayed this months Players Championship had a purse of $10.5m (8.15m) as the 500,000 (428,839) Portugal Open was taking place this is an intriguing business move.
The sense golf is edging towards one global tour is impossible to ignore, as is the fact the PGA Tour clearly regards London as an important commercial hub. Fresh business partners for golf have been hard to come by in recent times.
The European Tour offered no comment on news that the PGA Tour, whose headquarters are in Florida but which has offices in Beijing and Tokyo, has taken on premises in their backyard and is believed to be relaxed about the situation. The European Tour has full-time staff in the United States, for whom permanent premises may be forthcoming.
Nonetheless the PGA Tours move is interesting after grand statements made by the European Tours chief executive, Keith Pelley. The Canadian has insisted Europe will provide a viable alternative to the PGA Tour.
Last week, the PGA Tour announced a 10-year extension to the FedEx Cup series, which is the most lucrative in golf, including a $10m bonus to the winner. Under Pelley, innovation and change has been the order of the day; quite possibly to the extent where the PGA Tour has felt a necessity to hammer home its commercial size. The European Tours Rolex Series, which will mean enhanced prize funds for certain tournaments, starts at next weeks BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
Sources within the PGA Tour insist a London office is sensible given the global sponsorship market and an existing relationship with Sky Sports to cover 31 events per year. The subscription channel is expected to rebrand one of its stations as Sky Sports Golf.
Jay Monahan, the recently appointed commissioner of the PGA Tour, presided over a FedEx extension which is thought to include curious restrictions on players sponsored by a rival distribution brand. The PGA Tour has also tightened its own criteria for membership, partly in a bid to retain European players who might otherwise be tempted by a return to their home circuit.
The PGA Tour declined the opportunity to comment on the London office. Coincidentally, one of Pelleys operational priorities for the European Tour has been finding an alternative home to Wentworth.