“A Rose By Any Other Name…

With apologies to the Bard…

PGA TOUR Champions?

Who’s bright idea was that rebranding?

More than 20 percent of the field at the newly named tour’s first event weren’t ever PGA TOUR champions and that percentage may even rise at a full field event. My question is what the heck was wrong with the Champions Tour? Heck what was wrong with the simpler and more appropriate Senior Tour?

The over fifty exhibition golf circuit came into existence in 1980 and was correctly called the Senior PGA TOUR for 22 years. Then in 2002 during an annual “state of the tours” address PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem announced, and I’m paraphrasing here, that “champions” was good and “seniors” was not. Here was the commish’s quote…

‘The bigger question here was in terms of extending the strength of the PGA Tour brand in a relevant way to reach the broader fan. We felt ‘champions’ resonated better than ‘seniors’.” He also said the change from Senior PGA Tour to Champions Tour was not solely because of negative connotations to the word ”senior.”

Not solely but mostly (my words, not his) and the “seniors” who played on the tour at the time agreed.

”I see myself as a champion, and I think this new tour name will broaden the definition of that word,” said Hale Irwin, who, while still playing on the tour at the age of almost 71, wasn’t asked to comment on the latest moniker makeover.

So some “branding expert” wandering the halls of PGA TOUR HQ decided that the word “senior” sounded bad or old or uncool. Even though it was A-OK with Palmer, Trevino, Floyd, Rodriguez, Nicklaus and others. I guess they guessed “Champions” was better, hipper, badassier. What they didn’t calculate was that nobody really cared, many still called it the Senior Tour, amazingly enough some still do

Now this, in the dark of night, in “Irsayian” fashion, under the cover of a new year’s hangover, and golf’s latest phenom destroying both the field and par at Kapalua, they’ve changed the name again this time to The PGA TOUR Champions. I’m sure those same folks in Ponte Vedra think this even further connects the older guys to their younger, longer hitting, counterparts but it really doesn’t. An article in a national newspaper about the first event of 2016 still referred to it as “the Senior Tour” almost two decades after they officially stopped calling it that. By the way did anybody ever think the Senior Tour was NOT affiliated with the PGA TOUR in the first place?

Not to mention “NBC on Golf Channel proudly presents the PGA TOUR Champions” is so much more laden and phlegmatic for Bob Papa, Whit Watson, David Marr or anybody else to say. As well as harder to comprehend and ill defined for those of us “seniors” in the audience. And finally, as stated above, they aren’t all “PGA TOUR Champions”.

What’s next, letting them wear shorts?

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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