Big sponsor issues serious concern over PGA Tour future

RBC's chief marketing officer is urging the PGA Tour to 'stablise professional men's golf'.

Scottie Scheffer
Scottie Scheffer

The chief marketing officer for RBC has urged the PGA Tour to very quickly 'stabilise professional men's golf' in order for them to continue their longstanding sponsorship on the circuit. 

As it stands, RBC is one of the PGA Tour's leading sponsors with two tournaments on the 2024 schedule.

The giant Canadian multinational financial services company currently spends tens of millions of dollars on the PGA Tour annually. 

RBC's first tournament on the schedule is the RBC Heritage, now a signature event on the PGA Tour with a giant $20m prize purse at famed Harbour Town Golf Links. 

That event took place a week after The Masters, where World No.1 Scottie Scheffler went back-to-back last month. 

RBC's second tournament on the roster is the RBC Canadian Open, which takes place in two weeks' time at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.

Nick Taylor memorably won in a playoff over Tommy Fleetwood 12 months ago, becoming the first Canadian-born player to win the tournament since 1954

RBC has been the lead sponsor of the Canadian Open since 2008 and The Heritage since 2012

But there does appear some concern over the company's future participation of support of the PGA Tour, particularly in light of dwindling TV figures largely as a direct result of the world's best golfers not all competing on the same circuit any more. 

At least in the eyes of RBC Chief Marketing Officer Mary DePaoli, who spoke to the press at the RBC Canadian Open media day press conference this week. 

DePaoli said: 

"It’s going to be really important for us to see the [PGA] Tour stabilise professional men’s golf. I’ve used the analogy — it’s like they’re flying the plane and building it at the same time. It’s probably not too far off, but I think if some of these outstanding questions can resolve themselves — in the short or the medium term — and we can start to put some of the static and — you know — kind of changes that a lot of people were not too pleased with behind us, hopefully they can get professional men’s golf back on track and growing in a very positive direction again."

While audience figures were up at The Masters last month, figures have been down at pretty much every single regular PGA Tour event so far in 2024. 

The PGA Tour has lost a number of its biggest starts to the Saudi-bankrolled LIV Golf League over the past two seasons, none bigger than Jon Rahm, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson. 

As it stands, the PGA Tour continues to deliberate with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) over its framework agreement deal. 

Although Rory McIlroy has been denied a chance to return to the PGA Tour policy board, he has been given a seat on the 'transaction subcommittee' alongside Tiger Woods and others in a bid to help get a deal with PIF over the line. 

Whether a merger really does anything to get all the world's best back together again and help get TV viewing figures moving in a positive direction again remains to be seen. 

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