Golf Editorial

20190131 Aussie Golf Confusion

Introduction

Cleaning company Oates has ceased its sponsorships of both the male & female Australasian golf tours for 2019. Fortunately, Japanese charity ISPS Handa has stepped-in and plugged the sponsorship gap. Again.

In fact, Handa largely has been the saviour of a number of tournaments, both in Australasia and elsewhere, during recent years and it is the naming rights sponsor of both versions of next week’s Victorian Open (more on this later) as well as the the two upcoming flagship events: the Australian Womens’ Open and the Perth Super6.

vicopen_2019logo_298x168

ISPS Handa as a welcome saviour needs to be viewed in the context of the sponsors lost to Australasian pro golf during the past five years: Lexus of Blackburn, BMW, Oates, WA Goldfields, Mazda, Nanshan, Gold Key Financial, Rebel Sport, Inghams, McKayson, BWAC Regional Employment Services, Renault, RACV, Mulpha, Seasons Aged Care, Bing Lee, Fujitsu, Mercedes Benz Truck and Bus, Volvik, Horizon Golf, Holden, Qantas & UNIQLO.

That’s a very long list of former sponsors for two small tours to accumulate in five short years! In fact it’s atrocious, a golfing world’s worst and an indictment of the leadership of both tours!

Sponsorship aside, to me Australasian (or Australian?) golf presents online in many ways as a tangled web of confusion. Below are some of the reasons why.

An Unresponsive Social Media Presence – specifically twitter

Neither Australian pro tour responds to legitimate twitter questions from followers; I know, I’ve tried; over many years. Such arrogance, or stupidity, is unnecessary, irritating and it alienates people.

I would probably never have written this somewhat critical blog if either Tour had ever shown me the courtesy of a reply to any legitimate question.

If you want to follow the Mens’ Tour on twitter and you type ‘pga tour of australasia’ into the search box it does not return the Tour’s twitter account as a result. If you try ‘pgat australasia’ it returns no results! Good luck even finding its twitter account.

Australia or Australasia?

The Ladies Tour is named “Australian Ladies Professional Golf”.

alpg logo

Firstly, it’s a stupid name because it doesn’t include the word ‘Tour’.

Secondly, this title does not embrace New Zealand, despite ALPG being the sanctioning body for pro golf in Australia and New Zealand.

The Male tour is named “ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia”. I applaud that, unlike its female counterpart, it embraces New Zealand via use of the word ‘Australasia’ but the name still fails on two counts:

  • The use of a sponsor name in its organisation’s title is cheap, tacky and temporary as well as being almost unheard of in the world of professional golf and;
  • The use of the phrase ‘PGA Tour’ in its organisational title is simply naivety in extremis; why promote the name of a competitor? The primary mens’ tours of: Europe, South Africa, Japan & Asia did not deem it advisable to include ‘PGA Tour’ in their tour titles.

Gender Equality

The Victorian Open was one of the trailblazers in hosting male and female golfers together, and now with the added marketing-point of equal prize money.

I’m sure that’s a nice warm fuzzy feeling for the organisers and sponsors, especially in light of the recent rise to prominence of the #MeToo movement. However, it does fly in the face of commercial reality and is thus more of a headline than a meaningful new direction.

While equal prize money for female golfers is a noble goal to pursue, it will not be achieved until:

  • The female physique has evolved to the point where it’s equal in strength to its male counterpart and;
  • Females are equally represented on the boards and executive of sponsoring organisations.

Tournament Names

The PGA Tour of Australasia has named its Victorian event next week “ISPS Handa Vic Open” though up to this week it was entitled “ISPS Handa Victoria Open”. This vacillation between ‘Vic’ & ‘Victoria” was unnecessary and unprofessional but at least it included the sponsor’s name.

Not so the case in respect of the ALPG Tour, whose schedule contains an event next week named ‘Vic Open’: See excerpt from the ALPG site (31Jan2018) below:

alpg screenshot

The sheer incompetence, and unawareness of commercial reality, inherent in listing an upcoming tournament without mention of its naming rights sponsor beggars belief.

This type of amateurish oversight is one of many reasons why Tours such as LET & ALPG struggle to recruit and retain sponsors.

Websites

The ALPG site looks as though a group of retired graphic designers from a past decade were thrown in a room given a free hand and one hour to create it.

It’s not even ‘https’ (encrypted).

It’s very much 1990’s in look and feel, presents as a conflicting rainbow jumble of colours and uses fonts and layout for which I’d fire any designer on my staff!

Its layout ethos can only be summarised as: “Let’s get it right at the very top of the page and for everything else let’s take some drugs and party!”

The Mens’ Tour site is actually not its site; it’s an area within the PGA of Australia site!

Yes, a professional golf tour in 2019 is piggy-backing its critical web presence on an amateur body’s (awful) site that primarily exists to serve all areas of the game of golf except professionals.

Have you ever wondered why the PGA Tour has its own site instead of being a sub-set of the PGA of America’s? Do even the lowly EuroPro or Alps golf tours have their own sites?

Further, the Aussie PGA site has the most confusing navigation of any Tour site on earth. It’s simply too easy to become lost (eg clicking on ‘Tournaments’ and arriving at a page that doesn’t list tournaments, etc). I could write a thesis on the fundamental deficiencies of this site but that’s a topic, or a nice consultancy earn, for another day.

This stupidity surely only exists because the Tour doesn’t have its own site. I hope so. Whatever the reason, and this is the crux of the issue, PGATA itself doesn’t care.

Ladies or Women?

LPGA Tour (L = Ladies) and ALPG (L = Ladies) are co-sanctioning an upcoming event; the biggest female golf event of any year in Australia, its Open.

What is the tournament’s name? It’s the Womens’ Australian Open. My question, ladies, is why isn’t it named the Ladies Australian Open?

Further, if the current name is deemed the correct one, then why aren’t the two organisations named WPGA & WLPG?

In my opinion, either the word ’Women’ or ‘Ladies’ needs to be deleted from the lexicon of female golf forever; the sooner the better.

In conclusion

Australian golf has a lot to offer the world and the country possesses more than 60 quality courses that have hosted professional tournaments in recent years.

Australia also produces more than its fair share of world class amateurs and professionals; both male and female.

But its tour sites are letting its entire golf community down and showcasing Australian and New Zealand pro golf in an amateurish manner to a global audience.

It’s therefore time for a shake-up, to introduce some online professionalism and help lay the groundwork for the recruitment of future sponsors and, critically, to retain those few that remain on board today.

 

Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 31 January 2019