Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where Eddie Vedder is a Twins fan…and rocked a Twins batting helmet when the Twins played in Seattle last weekend. This time, dear readers, I’m not kidding.
The big news in the golf world yesterday was not Sergio Garcia winning a golf tournament (unfortunately for him). It was Augusta National tossing aside its long-standing rule regarding female membership and inviting Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore to join the club. I think I join most red-blooded humans in celebrating this watershed moment, and saying…it’s about time.
Yet, while we smile and pat Hootie Johnson and crowd on the back, I think there might be more to this than meets the eye. You know I’m a cynic when it comes to PR and marketing…well, I read this situation as possibly being a play to make even more money from the Masters and other tournament and course-related assets.
Remember back to last April, when debate raged and a PR firestorm was created about whether or not IBM and its new-at-the-time female CEO would be welcome at The Masters? Or whether or not IBM should pull its sponsorship of the tournament (one of the biggest there is) over the membership rules? It didn’t really come to a head or affect the tournament at all, but the seeds were planted for similar debates to take place every year going forward.
Since then, more women have ascended to corporate executive and board roles. Take Yahoo and now Carlson, just for example. This was not an issue that was going to fade away…just the opposite, in fact, as more situations like IBM arose between other current/potential sponsors and advertisers. It’s logical, then, to assume that eventually the club’s stance could have caused one or more sponsors or advertisers to back out…or prospects to drop away. And that would have ripple effects…if demand is down, then each individual sponsorship/advertisement isn’t worth as much…and CBS also wouldn’t exactly be pleased as the tournament’s exclusive TV partner.
I’m not saying this was the primary reason for the decision…at least, I hope not. I just pose the thought – did Hootie and company finally recognize that the only check/hindrance on the revenue growth around the tournament (and possibly their own financial interests and/or societal status as club members) was their ancient membership policy, and change it accordingly so they could reap the benefits? It seems all too plausible to me that this was at least another motive for the move. The PR boost, in this case, is really just the icing on the cake.
That’s all for now. I’m out like Tsuyoshi Nishioka.