TV viewership, where’s Dexter and the worst deal Warren Buffet ever made

Is anybody watching?

I was glued to the final round of the Players Championship last week. It was one of the most exciting tournaments I’ve watched in a long time and featured the #1 player in the world, being chased by two reigning major champions and the Olympic Gold Medal winner in an epic battle right to the last putt. Does it get any better than that?

According to reports from NBC though, viewership for the final round was down 17% from last year, when the tournament was also won by Scottie Scheffler.

I don’t get it.

Jeff Smith has a pretty good analysis HERE in Pro Golf Weekly that suggests Scottie Scheffler is boring to watch, golf is fractured with too many big names gone to LIV and the guys that are winning aren’t very compelling – too may rookies, unknowns and dull players.

I can agree with the LIV part. Tournaments would be much more fun to watch if the likes of Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Cam Smith were still around. But it’s not like the current top PGA Tour players are chopped liver. Scheffler, McIlroy, Hovland, Schauffele, Spieth, Thomas – this list is pretty deep. Lots of exciting up-and-comers too.

I also thought for the first time in a long time, NBC did a terrific job of adding some new wrinkles to the broadcast to make it more fun to watch. Bringing back Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch for the 50th Anniversary showed us how good it can be when you have the right mix of talking heads. And the Happy Hour segment featuring Smylie Kaufman and Kevin Kisner on the 17th tee is a keeper. Neither is a broadcast pro but that’s half or what makes them entertaining.

I wish I had an answer why viewership is declining, and by the way, it’s not isolated to last week’s Players Championship. Numbers are down all season long. Maybe we’ll get an indication of what’s to come when most of the best players in the world tee it up next month at Augusta.

I know I’ll be watching.

Gordon Gecko was wrong. Greed isn’t good

When the PGA Tour agreed to a $3 billion deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), half of that money was allocated to player retention, with at least $750 million to be divvied up by the top 36 players in the form of equity in the new PGA Tour Enterprises. Some articles suggest that Tiger and Rory could be looking at 9 figure deals, while a few other top players will be getting tens of millions. My question is why? Currently the top players have new Signature events with huge purses, they have PIP and other incentives, and all of them earn huge endorsement bonuses from playing on the PGA Tour – endorsements they likely wouldn’t keep if they jumped to LIV. These guys aren’t going anywhere. I think someone could find better ways to spend that money shoring up some of the lesser events, improving the developmental tours and delivering a much better fan experience. None of those top guys need another Ferrari.

Meet and greet with Yasir

As most of you know by now, on the Monday after the Players Championship, six of the PGA Tour player directors plus player liaison Joe Ogilvie and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of LIV Golf and the Saudi Public Investment Fund, in the Bahamas to feel each other out about the proposed Framework Agreement. According to most reports, it was all peaches and cream, with players getting to know Yasir and finding out what he wants. Then Yasir and Tiger went out to play golf. Interestingly, one report indicated that very little had changed from the meeting last June when the Framework Agreement was first announced. Two weeks ago at the Players Championship, Monahan suggested that things were “accelerating”. So, which is it, Jay?

Where’s Dexter?

I’ve spent a fair bit of time researching golf shoes the past few weeks for our 2024 Shoe Guide HERE. As noted, we uncovered at least 26 distinct brands but that got me thinking about a brand I didn’t see. Dexter Golf Shoes were very popular many years ago and, in many areas, golfers often only had two common brands to choose from – Dexter and FootJoy.  But what happened to Dexter? Well, according to a four-year-old article in Business Insider, Warren Buffett really liked the Maine based shoe company and purchased it in 1993. Instead of paying cash for it, he swapped 1.6% of Berkshire Hathaway stock. Over the next two decades, Dexter hemorrhaged money as it couldn’t compete with the low cost competition from Asia, and Buffett finally shut the doors in 2014. When the dust had cleared, Dexter was worth nothing while the stock he used to pay for it was worth almost $9 billion. “It was the worst investment I ever made,” said Buffett. You can read the article HERE.

Golf Town in lockdown

More of my shoe research involved visits to several Golf Town stores in the GTA to see what they had on their shelves. Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t walk past all the new drivers without picking up a few just to have a closer look, feel the weight, get up close and personal with them. But that, apparently, is a thing of the past. All the drivers have a locking mechanism on them, and you have to ask an associate to liberate the one you want to see. I prefer to shop anonymously and usually respond to any offer to help with a quick, “Just looking thanks.” Our man Quinn in Vancouver first alerted me to this anti-theft practice a few months back. He puts in some shifts at one of his local Golf Towns and says their store was the target of thieves that would arrive with appropriate tools to remove driver heads and tuck them into their coats. I suppose it’s inevitable when a new driver costs upwards of $600.

Masters Notes

Augusta National has released the details of the Champion’s Dinner menu that will be served to past champions on Tuesday of Masters Week. Hosted by current champion Jon Rahm, the menu draws heavily on his favourite dishes from the Basque region of Spain including Mama Rahm’s Lentil Soup. The main course offers a choice of Basque ribeye steak with Tudela lettuce and piquillo peppers or Turbot and white asparagus. Dessert is a puff pastry cake with custard and Chantilly cream.

The field for the 2024 Masters is close to being finalized. In addition to top ranked players, tournament winners and special invitees from the past year, the list also includes past champions. Tiger Woods is on the list, although lately he has more WDs than scores, so it’s anybody’s guess if he will actually tee it up. Bernhard Langer was looking to play his final Masters but now, recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, he’ll have to put off his farewell for another year. Angel Cabrera was also on the list. After being released from jail in Argentina, Cabrera was cleared by the PGA Tour to rejoin the Senior circuit, but he has visa issues that will preclude him from entering the U.S.

Have a great week!

Peter Mumford
Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. He's played over 500 different courses in 21 countries and met some fascinating people along the way. He's also a long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

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