Branson, Bass Pro Shops could land Legends of Golf
Friday, January 31, 2014
The Legends of Golf is close to landing a big fish as its new title sponsor.
Ric Clarson, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president of market development, confirmed that serious talks are ongoing with Bass Pro Shops to become the new title sponsor of the Champions Tour staple.
If a deal is reached, the 36th rendition of the popular two-man team event could be held in June at Branson Creek Golf Club in Branson, Mo.
Golfweek.com reported in April during The Legends of Golf that Liberty Mutual might not renew the longest-running title sponsorship in golf. In November, the Champions Tour announced that the tournament’s relationship with the Boston-based insurance company, which extended to 1978, pre-dating the creation of the Champions Tour, had come to an end and the tournament wouldn’t return to Savannah, Ga., its home for the past 11 years.
In the Jan. 24 edition of Golfweek, Clarson said, “We are hoping to have something to announce by the end of January and to play in 2014.”
Though failing to hit that deadline, the Tour has a proven record of finding sponsors to keep tournaments afloat, and in many cases, make them stronger despite unfavorable economic conditions. Multiple sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed that the two parties met on Friday, although an agreement wasn’t reached. Approval for the tournament to be added to the 2014 schedule could be sought as early as the Champions Tour's Player Advisory Council meeting next week during the Allianz Championship. If approved, the Legends of Golf likely would be held during the first week in June to allow tournament organizers sufficient time to launch in a new market before returning to its traditional late-April date in future years. Currently, the Champions Tour schedule has two off weeks between the Principal Charity Classic, which finishes June 1, and the Encompass Championship, which begins June 20. Sources say that a fishing tournament among the golf pros would be part of the Legends' unique atmosphere.
Bass Pro Shops is a Branson, Mo.-based retailer of outdoor goods. Last year, founder Johnny Morris purchased Branson Creek and Murder Rock golf courses in Branson, a growing entertainment destination in southwest Missouri. Branson Creek is No. 2 on the Golfweek's Best "Courses You Can Play" list, and Murder Rock is No. 4. Morris also owns a nine-hole course The Top of The Rock and Big Cedar Lodge.