Keith Pelley, the newly named CEO of Rogers Communications Inc., the Canadian telecommunications company, has some blunt words for golf’s governing bodies after the announcement of a massive, multi-year sponsorship deal.
The deal is believed to be worth close to $7 million a year – and by any measure, the largest ever for an athlete sportswear endorsement. Pelley, a standout golfer as a youth, doesn’t think that golf’s pro game pays enough.
“Does anybody seriously think (Golf Canada) and the PGA of America are going to be getting by on these kinds of sums of money? Absolutely not,” Pelley told the Montreal Gazette’s The Gazette before flying back to Canada on Sunday night. “What we want to do is turn this thing around and start promoting it for the younger generations.
“There are certainly a lot of kids out there. They are not consuming it or they have stopped. They are bored with golf. They might only watch it on TV, but they don’t know what it is all about.
“When you look at the university campuses, everyone’s become obsessed with rugby and soccer and rugby clubs. That’s what’s happening to us in America. As Canadians we shouldn’t stand still. We should be doing everything in our power to promote our game.”
On the basis of the contract recently signed with Nike, golf’s corporations have taken notice.
But the total package will begin as soon as new rules are finalized by golf’s governing bodies, according to Pelley.
“I’m not against golf,” he said. “It’s a great game, a fantastic game that produces incredible talent. And I can see the players starting to enjoy it because of the excitement. But again, I look at the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open and they’re all not paying the players any money at all. So unless we change that situation, there’s going to be a problem.”
A spokesman for Golf Canada, the national governing body for golf in Canada, would not comment. PGA of America spokesman Brett Fodness, also refused to talk.
However, Fodness did tell The Gazette on Monday, “For our business to remain sustainable it is vital that we develop a more robust golf development plan that attracts, develops and grows new players.”
The Corporate Partners program is one of the PGA’s ways of bringing in and keeping business.
In 2012, the sponsorships accounted for almost 15 per cent of the total revenue for the association. And they support courses, learn centers, fashion and other economic effects.
The deal with Nike will most likely be renewed next year and the new deal is tentatively for a 10-year period.
In August, Nike chief executive Mark Parker told The Post during an interview in New York that the company’s push into the golf equipment business had been aided by the Donald Trump name.
“It’s not an unfair thing,” Parker said. “There are plenty of places, some of which are states that Donald probably doesn’t like, that he picks up an endorsement from Trump and businesses like (the president’s) like Trump hotels. That’s just the way it is.”