Sources General Motors to end sponsorship of Buick Open

By Associated PressJuly 28, 2009, 4:00 pm
2006 Buick OpenDETROIT ' General Motors Co. will end its half-century run as sponsor of the Buick Open golf tournament as it tries to focus scarce marketing dollars on its cars and trucks, a person briefed on the decision said Tuesday.
 
GM and tour officials will make the announcement after this years open, which begins Thursday and ends Sunday, said the person, who did not want to be identified because the announcement will not be made until the tournament ends.
 
The decision calls into question the fate of the other PGA Tour stop sponsored by GM, the Buick Invitational held in February in San Diego.
 
GM spokesman Pete Ternes said the company is discussing its future role with PGA Tour officials. The companys contract for the Open and the Invitational ends in 2010, he said.
 
Both are under discussion and we havent signed or agreed to any changes at this point, he said Tuesday.
 
The troubled automaker, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 10, has been cutting back on professional sports sponsorships for the past year to conserve marketing dollars. Earlier this month the company placed longtime product development chief Bob Lutz in charge of marketing, and he has said the company will focus its advertising more on products.
 
GM, which has racked up more than $80 billion in losses in the past four years, is trying to spend more promoting its new vehicles, especially its cars, which it says are competitive or better than those made by its Japanese rivals.
 
The company is selling or phasing out its Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer brands and will concentrate on selling Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.
 
The century-old automaker has been cutting back on everything from professional baseball to NASCAR in the past year. In 2008 GM ended a nine-year endorsement deal with golf superstar Tiger Woods, who will play in this weeks Buick Open in Grand Blanc Township, about 50 miles north of Detroit.
 
Yet Ternes said GM will continue to sponsor professional sports.
 
We will continue to be involved in the future, because they offer great platforms to get the word out about our new products, he said. However, as we reduce from eight brands to four, we will be looking closely at all our marketing relationships.
 
PGA Tour Executive Vice President Ty Votaw would not comment on GMs decision.
 
The automaker used to sponsor five stops on the PGA Tour, but pulled out of the Buick Challenge at Callaway Gardens, Ga., in 2002; the Buick Championship at Cromwell, Conn., near Hartford in 2006; and the Buick Classic in Harrison, N.Y. in 2004.
 
GM is watching every dollar it spends, and sponsoring PGA Tour events is not cheap. Golfers will compete for $5.1 million in prize money at the Buick Open, starting with Thursdays first round.
 
The automaker already has cut costs at the Open, ending a tradition of paying for dealers to travel to Michigan for the tournament and wining and dining select guests in lavish hospitality tents.
 
The end of GMs sponsorship is another ripple effect from the crisis hitting Detroits three automakers. Michigan had the nations highest unemployment rate last month at 15.2 percent, and the Flint area, where the tournament is held, reported 17.4 percent.
 
Loss of the Buick Open would be a big blow to the Flint area, which has seen wealth and people drained away by the decline of GM, once its largest employer.
 
The Buick Open is the most prestigious thing we do in this community, said Jerry Preston, president of the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. He estimated it has a $10 million to $12 million economic impact in the area.
 
Preston said tournament organizers havent heard from GM on its plans and said they would work to persuade the PGA to keep the event at Warwick Hills should GM bow out.
 
If we lose the sponsor there are several Michigan companies that are ready to step forward, he said. Were extremely grateful to Buick for being the sponsor all these years.
 
Both GM and Chrysler Group LLC had brief stays under bankruptcy court supervision and emerged this year free of staggering debt and burdensome contracts. The companies have received a total of $65 billion in federal aid.
 
Ford Motor Co. has avoided taking government aid by borrowing $23.5 billion before worldwide auto sales went into the worst slump in more than 25 years.
 
GolfWeek Magazine reported on its Web site last week that GM would end the PGA Tours longest partnership and a new sponsor and venue would replace Warwick Hills.
 
Kenny Perry, who will not play this week, won the tournament last year as it celebrated its 50th anniversary.
 
Vijay Singh has won a record three Buick Open titles. Woods, Perry, Julius Boros and Tony Lema have two Buick Open titles.
 
Woods provided the tournament with a boost last week when he committed to playing in Grand Blanc Township even though it will likely lead to him playing in three straight tournaments. He and rock legend Bob Seger highlight Wednesdays pro-am and will be followed by a throng of fans, starting with their 7 a.m. tee time.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 2009 Buick Open
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 6, 2017, 12:30 pm

    GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:

    No. 10: Jon Rahm

    No. 9: Rules of Golf

    No. 8: Dec. 7

    No. 7: Dec. 8

    No. 6: Dec. 11

    No. 5: Dec. 12

    No. 4: Dec. 13

    No. 3: Dec. 14

    No. 2: Dec. 15

    No. 1: Dec. 18

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 9, Rules of Golf

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 6, 2017, 12:30 pm

    It wouldn’t be a full list of Newsmakers without including the Rules of Golf, which once again became the focal point of several key tournaments and now, it seems, may be simplified in the near future.

    The rule book took center stage at the ANA Inspiration, where a ball-marking gaffe of inches led to a critical four-shot penalty for Lexi Thompson. It became a hotly-debated topic, as a viewer call-in essentially determined the outcome of a major championship, and weeks later the USGA and R&A implemented a “reasonable judgment” standard to limit the power of video replay reviews.

    That action came months after the governing bodies announced a plan to simplify the rule book beginning in 2019. The proposed changes would eliminate penalties for tapping down spike marks, removing loose impediments in a hazard or hitting the flagstick while on the green. The dozens of new changes also included limiting the time for a lost ball search and allowing players to crouch near ground level when dropping out of a hazard.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    While the new changes received ample discussion, the rules in their current form still grabbed plenty of headlines over the summer. Jon Rahm was embroiled in not one but two rules controversies, first during his win at the Irish Open and again over moving a loose impediment at The Open. The PGA Tour curiously picked the Zurich Classic team event to hand out its first slow-play penalty in more than 20 years, while Bryson DeChambeau’s attempt to bring side-saddled putting back into style was hampered by the USGA.

    But perhaps the biggest rules storyline gained traction near the end of the year, as a chorus of voices continued to call for the ever-advancing golf ball to be rolled back. Players from Tiger Woods to Dustin Johnson threw their support behind the notion of using a reduced-distance tournament ball for professionals, while USGA chief executive Mike Davis seemed open to just such a possibility when citing the increased costs associated with maintaining bigger and longer courses.

    Whether 400-yard drives soon become a thing of the past or a shorter list of decisions leads to more enjoyable rounds, one thing remains clear: the impact of the Rules of Golf won’t be rolled back anytime soon.

    USGA and R&A propose significant changes to simplify Rules of Golf

    Article: USGA, R&A reveal proposed changes to Rules of Golf

    Article: Full list of proposed changes to the Rules of Golf

    Article: Reactions from Tiger, others on proposed rules changes

    USGA: New rules easier to read and apply

    Player reaction to new rules 'largely positive'


    Lexi Thompson loses in ANA Inspiration playoff after controversial four-stroke penalty

    Article: Replay rules under fire after controversial Lexi ruling

    Article: Weeks later, Lexi ruling still a heated topic

    Article: Lexi breaks down discussing ANA penalty

    Thompson assessed four-stroke penalty a day later Lexi breaks down in tears discussing ANA penalty

    Jon Rahm embroiled in two rules controversies

    Article: Rahm stands by ball mark mechanics after Irish Open controversy

    Article: Rahm skirts another rules infraction at Open

    Watch the Jon Rahm ball-placement controversy at Irish Open Rules official McFee: Rahm was off by 'millimeters'

    Debate rages over distance of golf ball, courses

    Article: Tiger throws support behind rolling back the golf ball

    Article: USGA's Davis calls impact of course expansion 'horrible'

    Article: USGA's Davis considers 'variable distance golf ball'

    Tiger, DJ in favor of limiting golf ball distance Titleist CEO fires back at Davis over golf ball distance

    Bryson DeChambeau spars with USGA over non-conforming putter

    Article: One of DeChambeau's side-saddle putters deemed non-conforming

    Article: DeChambeau blames USGA amid putting style switch

    Article: DeChambeau tweets apology for USGA remarks


    PGA Tour hands out first slow-play penalty in 22 years

    Article: Zurich Classic team gets first slow-play penalty on Tour since 1995

     

    Getty Images

    New version of Tiger-mania hits the PGA Tour

    By Doug FergusonDecember 6, 2017, 12:51 am

    NASSAU, Bahamas - The latest comeback by Tiger Woods, this one following a 10-month absence from a fourth back surgery in three years, was sure to cause some disruption in the workforce with the weekday television coverage.

    That included the commissioner's office at the PGA Tour.

    ''I would consider myself to be among the highly distracted as Tiger played his first round,'' Jay Monahan said Tuesday.

    Monahan was at the Hero World Challenge the day before it began and stayed for the pro-am dinner, where he said Woods spoke from the heart about his foundation, thanked the other 17 players for coming and reminded them they had a chance to compete against a player at No. 1,199 in the world ranking.

    ''That broke up the room,'' Monahan said with a laugh.

    Indeed, it's rare for a player to tie for ninth and move up 531 spots in the world ranking - Woods now is all the way up to No. 668 - but such were the circumstances. The field featured eight of the top 10 in the world, and it included one guy who had earned ranking points at only two tournaments over the last two years.

    There's no way to go but up.

    That's what Monahan took away from the holiday exhibition, only he wasn't talking about the world ranking.

    ''We had such a strong year with great, young players stepping forward,'' he said. ''You add Tiger back in the mix, and we all go away from it with a lot of excitement.''

    How much Woods is in the mix remains to be seen, although this was as strong as he has looked in four years. Next up is figuring out a schedule that Woods said would be geared around the four majors. He hasn't played all four since 2015, and he hasn't made the cut in all of them since 2013.

    Most of the young players at Albany Golf Club - Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger - know more about the legend of Woods than what it's like to have him at tournaments.

    Thomas got a taste of it.

    He is the FedEx Cup champion and PGA Tour player of the year after winning five times, including his first major at the PGA Championship. He started the new season by winning the CJ Cup in South Korea.

    And when he sat down for a news conference, his first six questions were about Woods.

    Thomas was paired with Woods for the first and final rounds, and while Woods had the largest gallery, there was rarely more than about 250 fans. It's the Bahamas. So when Thomas was asked if felt the effect of Woods on the golf course or in his news conference, he smiled.

    ''I would say more of the fact that I just won the FedEx Cup, player of the year, and all I get asked about is Tiger Woods,'' he said. Thomas was not the least bit irritated, even though this was the 10th out 12 consecutive questions he fielded about Woods on that day.

    ''I thought it was bad the questions I got asked about Jordan,'' Thomas said.

    Golf wasn't suffering without Woods, not inside the ropes.

    Dating to when Woods had his first back surgery, Rory McIlroy won two majors in 2014; Spieth got halfway to the calendar Grand Slam in 2015; Dustin Johnson fulfilled his potential with his first major in 2016 and was voted Player of the Year. And this year brought the emergence of the 24-year-old Thomas.

    No one can draw attention to golf like Woods - not individually, maybe not collectively. That's no surprise.

    ''The keen golf fans will know Tiger moved the needle and brought people in that might be sports fans, but not golf fans,'' Henrik Stenson said. ''But everyone who follows golf closely, I don't think they've been home thinking, 'Oh, this is not exciting anymore,' when all the guys at the top have been winning. It's been a healthy couple of years, even though he's not been on the scene.

    ''I don't think he can make it less good, having the old Tiger back and trying to charge through the field,'' Stenson said. ''It would make it even more exciting.''

    There's also the danger, especially in today's social media climate, to gush so much over Woods that it seems no one else is playing and tournaments that Woods doesn't play are not worth watching.

    This is nothing new. The PGA Tour has been facing questions like this for 20 years.

    Monahan sees only an upside now.

    ''We have such a deep bench of young, international players, combined with a great group of veterans. All have accomplished a lot in their own right, week in and week out. The story lines will be strong,'' Monahan said. ''You take a strong PGA Tour and just make it stronger. And it doesn't just apply when Tiger is playing. The fact he's back is bringing more attention, more eyeballs, and that's going to benefit everyone.

    ''It's great to be back in that situation.''

    Getty Images

    Chambers out, Bandon in as 2019 Four-Ball venue

    By Will GrayDecember 5, 2017, 9:09 pm

    The USGA announced a venue shift for the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, with Bandon Dunes replacing Chambers Bay.

    The change comes in order to accommodate a "turfgrass transition project" at Chambers Bay, which previously hosted the 2015 U.S. Open. The University Place, Wash., layout is still in the midst of switching from fescue to poa annua greens and will now instead host the team event in 2021.

    In steps Bandon Dunes as a replacement, as the Oregon resort will now add Four-Ball hosting duties to its previously announced role as venue for the 2020 U.S. Amateur.

    "The USGA is extremely grateful to owner Mike Keiser and Bandon Dunes, a trusted supporter of amateur golf, for agreeing to host the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball while this work occurs at Chambers Bay," USGA senior managing director John Bodenhamer said in a release.

    The tournament will be held May 25-29, 2019, and will include 128 two-player teams. The stroke-play qualifying portion will be played across two courses, though the specific courses to be used at Bandon Dunes will be announced at a later date.

    When the inaugural U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball was held at Bandon Dunes in 2015, it was played entirely on the Pacific Dunes course albeit with a 64-team field.