Where Does the Presidents Cup Go from Here?

By Davis, Barker | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 11, 1996 | Go to article overview

Where Does the Presidents Cup Go from Here?


Davis, Barker, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


LAKE MANASSAS, Va. - Though the Presidents Cup is still short on tradition and long on aspirations, there seems to be little doubt that the event has a storied and lucrative future ahead. With a full complement of marquee names on the billet this week and the same match play format that has produced Ryder Cup drama for years, the event is almost sure to reach near-major status, given time. With that status will come huge financial rewards for the principals involved. For the first two editions of the Presidents Cup, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club has been both gracious enough and lucky enough to serve as host. But with players on both sides of the issue clamoring for a change of venue, the Lake Manassas course may be hosting its last Presidents Cup for quite some time. And how long will the event be able to secure the services of 24 of the world's top players, when it dangles little more than the patriotic carrot in front of their high-profile faces? With those issues facing the Presidents Cup in the coming months, the competition could have a far

different look in 1998.

"We'll sit down after this event, we'll get some input from the players and we'll talk through our options for 1998 and 2000," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said yesterday. "The Trent Jones facility here has been a wonderful venue. I think we could play the event here forever, and it would do very nicely, but I do think that the International players want a home game sometimes, and we have to recognize that.

"Once we do that, then the question becomes should we also rotate it within the United States a little bit and let some other parts of the country see this kind of competition. So those are the types of issues at which we'll be looking."

The fact that the event will be played on foreign soil in 1998 seems almost like a foregone conclusion. International stalwart Greg Norman has encouraged a foreign-soil Presidents Cup for some time, and yesterday his captain echoed those sentiments.

"It will be very nice if it can travel around the world," said International captain Peter Thomson yesterday. "Since this is sort of a worldwide team, it should get a chance to be played on non-U.S. territory - that's only fair and proper. And I have no doubt that it will travel."

According to Finchem, at least half a dozen quality venues exist in the prospective locales of Australia, South Africa and Japan, with the only questions being which of the three will land the event first and when.

But a shift in hemispheres almost certainly would mean problems with television coverage, as CBS, or another major network, would be forced to pay exorbitant fees to broadcast matches a day late to the golf-crazed American viewing market. According to one CBS official who preferred to remain anonymous, that prospect might not be too enticing to a major network like CBS. We have "Breakfast at Wimbledon." How about a midnight snack at the Presidents Cup?

"The Ryder Cup is one thing because when the matches are in Europe we can still bring same-day coverage to the U.S. viewers," said the CBS representative. "But I'm not sure how well live golf, from say Australia, would go over at 11 p.m. - I'm really not sure if we would do an event like that."

Other than the change of venue, the other major question facing the Presidents Cup will be the dispersement of funds. As for now, the net profits from the competition are given to player-designated charities. …

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