Commissioner Tim Finchem made the off-season status of the PGA Tour sound so perfect last week, saying on a conference call that essentially:
• We’re in good shape.
• We will miss Tiger, but we will get by.
• We have signed new and current sponsors and we’re in a much better place than we thought we would be at the beginning of 2009.
That’s one man’s opinion, but here are some facts:
Just as there were in 2009, next year there will be tournaments on the PGA Tour without title sponsors. This year Palm Springs, Torrey Pines and Memphis are scheduled to take place without a primary sponsor.
The Fall Series has retrenched from seven events in 2008 to four in 2010, including open dates and a TBA.
It’s only fair to give the commissioner his due. He cherry-picked the best events in the fall, Valero last year and now Turning Stone in 2010, for the FedEx Cup regular season. But how do you move an event into the big-time and then reduce its purse by $2 million, as was done with Turning Stone?
The commissioner also neglected to mention recent jobs losses at the Tour.
The changes included layoffs in multiple departments, notably Championship Management, Shotlink and Golf Course Development and Construction.
A tournament director was let go, and at least six Shotlink employees were eliminated.
The Shotlink crew got the news immediately after completing its last tournament of the year, a source told Golfweek.
According to a Tour official, three of the Shotlink crew were made redundant. The other three positions were being outsourced and may be hired by the contractor. The same official said these and the other personnel moves were not layoffs.
According to attorney John Morgan, whose Orlando-based firm Morgan and Morgan represents one of the former Shotlink employees, the Tour has not paid his client overtime. The Tour now faces another lawsuit in addition to Doug Barron’s complaint regarding his suspension for violating the Tour’s drug policy.
Below are excerpts from the commissioner’s address at an employee meeting, obtained by Golfweek. More steps are being taken to cut costs:
“Since 2008, we’ve taken several steps to address our financial challenges. These include decreasing operating costs in certain business divisions, reducing paid media and consulting costs, limiting capital expenditures and reducing discretionary travel expenses. We also froze management salaries and reduced merit increases for non-managers and eliminated positions where appropriate through attrition, consolidation, incentivized retirements and targeted layoffs.
Unfortunately, the economy has not improved significantly throughout 2009. In addition, several business partners filed for bankruptcy and were unable to meet their financial obligations to the Tour. As a result, we must continue our cost reduction practices for 2010, including looking for economies of scale and further staffing efficiencies in all areas of our business. Two additional steps which will impact all employees include:
• For 2010, there will be no annual salary increases. This will apply across the board for all employees.
• We will suspend the “Tour match” of contributions to the 401(k) plan for 2010. However, you can still continue to contribute into your 401(k) account and accrue the tax-savings benefits.
We understand that this is a difficult message, as these are difficult times. We are hopeful that once the economy improves, we can resume our regular performance increases and 401(k) match benefits.’’
One question that wasn’t addressed: Will Finchem, co-chief operating officers Charlie Zink and Ed Moorhouse and executive vice presidents David Pillsbury, Tom Wade and Ron Price take a cut in pay? Each made more than $1 million in compensation in 2008, according to Tour financial filings.