LPGA players like Pettersen, Creamer are right to question the Groupon-like Founders Cup deal
The big news out of Orlando yesterday was that Suzann Pettersen is the first big name to outwardly announce she’s not playing in the inaugural R.R. Donnelley Founders Cup, as announced at Demo Day yesterday at the PGA Merchandise Show.
I’ve given commissioner Michael Whan the benefit of the doubt after replacing everyone’s favorite punching bag, Carolyn Bivens. But this appears to be his first shank on the job. Click here for Randall Mell’s thorough synopsis of the situation on GolfChannel.com.
When news first came out on LPGA’s new Founders Cup, it seemed like a good idea to help market the LPGA players as a group of selfless gals, far more personal and charitable than some of the PGA Tour robots who show up, finish 83rd and collect a check larger than our annual salaries.
But I also assumed the Founder’s Cup sponsor R.R. Donnelley was chipping in full boat. Turns out, according to Mell’s piece, the figure donated to the LPGA Foundation will be closer to $500,000 - not the $1.3 million purse, plus operational costs of the event. So essentially you have a sponsor that is trying to get all the feel good publicity of supporting a cause, while appearing to completely undercut the rest of the tour’s sponsors.
I didn’t go to no fancy biz-ness school or nuthin’, but it sounds to me like Whan lost the negotiation battle big and a bad precedent has been set. If R.R. Donnelley isn’t contributing the full purse, then it shouldn’t be called the “R.R. Donnelley Founders Cup.” It should simply be called the “Founders Cup” with some added publicity time for R.R. Donnelley as a main supporter. That seems to be the fairest solution to the tour’s loyal sponsors.
The ladies have to make a stand that their events can’t be sold like Groupon ($500,000 for $1.3 million worth of exposure!), and you can’t try and steer players into a pro bono event without convincing them this makes sense in the long run. Said Paula Creamer:
“To have the purse be $1.3 million and the charity not get $1.3 million because it’s imaginary money, I’m having a difficult time with that,” Creamer said. “I don’t understand how a sponsor or company like RR Donnelley, a $10 billion company, can’t be on board to put up prize money equal to what’s given to the charity. I don’t understand how that can happen.
“If we were able to have $1.3 million in real money sitting there, and donate it back, I would be the first one to sign up for this event.”
Creamer is right: R.R. Donnelley could probably look under a few cushions and come up with the difference. There seems to be a troubling trend in pro sports regarding commissioners making major changes to the sport without their players’ consent, whether it’s the NFL adding two games or the PGA Tour adding the FedEx Cup to an already jammed schedule.
As it stands now, Pettersen won’t play in the Founders Cup, and I would back Creamer, Kerr, Wie and others if they take the week off. They should even have their own charity skins game that same week if they can finagle it. A sponsor that doesn’t pay full boat shouldn’t get a full field.
|« The Prince Course at Princeville Resort on Kauai closes for five-month renovation project||Travel Video: The new White Clouds golf course and more at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho »|