Off The Fringe for April 7, 2024

EdTravis2024-696x464Run Up to the Masters–PGA Tour Ratings Down
Everyone knows TV ratings for the PGA Tour are down but fan engagement on other ways such as streaming services may be not, though it’s hard to tell. The issue is 21 of the world’s top 50 ranked players in the spring of 2023 are playing on the LIV circuit.

Fans are unhappy to not be able to watch the top stars tee it up against each other on a regular basis. The hope for the PGA Tour viewership is the Masters, which is always the most watched tournament, will revive fan interest.

Will that solve the long-term problem? No since corporate sponsorship dollars reflect fan interest and even an optimistic view of the future doesn’t include LIV going away and the proposed merger with the PGA Tour is apparently not close to being resolved.

Five Iron Golf
Five Iron Golf, the indoor urban golf simulator entertainment company, has attracted lots of attention from industry insiders. Only six years old Five Iron has grown quickly with locations in downtown Seattle, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago (5), Detroit (2), Washington DC, New York (6), Philadelphia (2) and other cities for a total of 26. Many see it as a logical alternative to the usual outdoor golf entertainment venues such as Topgolf.

The combination of food, alcohol and golf has is a proven winner. The biggest golf-specific retailer PGA Tour Superstore has invested in Five Iron and in 13 of their locations have installed one of their STUDIO fitting centers.

Five Iron’s round of financing in 2021 raised $30 million with Topgolf Callaway Brands (NYSE: MODG) supplying part of the money. Now Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack, has stepped up with $20 million for a minority position.

Something is clearly shaking at Five Iron Golf.

Short Putts
Jim Mckay. a.k.a. Bones, and Justin Thomas have split. Mckay, Phil Mickelson’s bag-toter until 2017, had been working with Thomas for over two years and in-between caddying jobs had been a well thought of member of the NBC golf coverage. Thomas with Mckay won the 2022 PGA Championship but has not been in good form since which includes missing the 2023 FedEx Cup Playoffs. No word if Mckay has another caddy job lined up or if he will head back to behind the microphone though perspective viewers noted he worked at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur coverage this week.

Rory McIlroy is trying to up his game for the coming Masters by booking time with famed instructor Butch Harmon. McIlroy is looking to win his first Masters to go with his 24 PGA Tour wins including four majors—PGA Championship 2014 and 2012, U.S. Open 2011, British Open 2014. After his third-place finish, nine shots behind winner Akshay Bhatia in the Valero Texas Open, he may be on the verge of a win at Augusta but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

It must be official. We must be getting to a resolution of the PGA Tour/LIV differences. Not because PGAT commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV- PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan have concluded an agreement but because in an interview before the LIV Golf Doral event Bryson DeChambeau said the present situation was not sustainable and should be fixed. He went on to add he didn’t know how to do it, but it still had to be done. Now, doesn’t that make you feel better?

In case you were wondering Augusta National played to 6,365 yards for the final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in contrast to next week’s 7,555 yards for the Masters.

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