Truth and Rumors: Tournament of Champions Lacks Champions

Truth and Rumors: Tournament of Champions Lacks Champions

Hyundai Tournament of Chump-ions? It’s no secret that Tour pros (especially European Tour pros and guys named Tiger and Phil) are getting increasingly picky about what tournaments they’re willing to play these days. Still, you’d think that the prospect of a vastly limited field, a $5.6 million purse, and warm Hawaiian beaches would be more than enough to attract even the most elusive pro golfer. For the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, that just isn’t the case. From NBC’s Ryan Ballengee:

Unfortunately, they won’t really get their wish. Few of the big names who made 2010 unforgettable are remembering to play at Kapalua next week.
Phil Mickelson will send his regular regrets to not attend. PGA Champion (and birthday boy on Tuesday) Martin Kaymer has better things to do in Spain. Rory McIlroy isn’t taking the flight. Lee Westwood? No, thanks.
Even Open Champion – and new PGA Tour member – Louis Oosthuizen said no.
Among the Euros, many of whom were competing into December, want a longer rest than just a month. And that means the PGA Tour’s season start is hurt as much of the international elite now starts their year in the Arabian desert.

Even though it seems natural to start the year off with such an elite field, that only works when the elite field actually shows up. As much as golf writers love Geoff Ogilvy (and we do), there’s little evidence that fans are clamoring for him to three-peat at any tournament, especially one that supposedly only features the best of the best. The Euro Tour owns the winter months, and since the PGA Tour seems more than willing to cede them November and December, maybe it’s time to give up on January too. I hear Abu Dhabi is lovely this time of year. Trumped Golf Donald Trump has had his fingers in just about every honey jar imaginable over the past few decades, but recently golf courses have taken an increasingly important role in the Trumpster’s portfolio as he continues to build new tracks and buy distressed courses to add to his empire. Bloomberg’s John Gittelsohn and Nadja Brandt wonder whether or not the Trump brand provides the premium it once did for luxury developments.

Trump has acquired nine golf properties in the U.S., including four since 2008, after mostly steering clear of using his own money to buy real estate since 2005. In July, he started building a 750 million-pound ($1.15 billion) luxury golf course and resort in Scotland. Trump says that putting his name on the courses increases membership sales and the fees he can charge.
Trump is expanding his golf holdings as the number of private clubs in the U.S. fell to 4,256 this year, down 3.4 percent from 2008, according to the National Golf Foundation. In addition to owning courses, he also stars in “Donald J. Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf” on the Golf Channel, which starts its second season Jan 31.
The Trump name hasn’t prevented a decline in initiation fees at Trump clubs as the recession weighs on consumers’ discretionary spending. At the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey, for example, initiation fees have dropped as low as $150,000 today from as high as $300,000 before the recession, Donald Trump said.

Does making a golf course a Trump course really increase its value? I don’t know, and it sounds like the fine people at Bloomberg don’t really know either. The important takeaway here is that the market for golf courses is still in the tank (and will be for the foreseeable future), but that’s not stopping the Donald from trading in his condos for clubhouses. And it’s certainly not stopping him from infuriating entire counties. But I suppose in times like these we all need to do what we do best. Tweet of the Day Today’s winner is PGA Tour pro and fitness guru Kris Blanks:

@Kris BlanksKris_Blanks: I have a house full of junk food and liquor and I just ate a banana with an amino vital supplement drink. I had better play good next year!