Quiet weekend for everyone

Top circuits idle

new approach for Nationwide

September 16, 2010

The PGA Tour has an open date this weekend — the only one between January's opening tee shot at Kapalua and the final putt at Disney a dozen days before Thanksgiving.

A prime opportunity for the LPGA and Champions tours to attract viewership, right?

Actually, no.

Both circuits also are taking the week off, leaving fans to choose between the Nationwide Tour's event in Boise, Idaho, or the European stop in Austria to get their golf fix.

Ouch.

In each of the last two years, both circuits did a pretty good job taking advantage of the PGA Tour's absence. The LPGA had tournaments in San Diego and Alabama; the Champions played the first half of a two-stop swing through North Carolina.

The LPGA's Samsung World Championship, though, folded after last year. The Champions Tour played in South Korea last week, pushing the North Carolina swing back a week to let its pros recover from jet lag.

At the Nationwide stop, Golf Channel will try a different approach with an "announcer-lite" Saturday. Though not completely silent like that famous NFL broadcast of 1980, network announcers will be used only for interviews at Nos. 13 and 15 and in the practice area.

Women's pitch: LPGA officials are using this week for a sponsor summit, inviting more than 100 executives to New York to mingle with such pros as Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis while hearing the organization's new pitch.

"We're rebuilding relationships that maybe were broken in the past," LPGA marketing chief Jon Podany told SportsBusiness Journal.

After seeing 25 U.S. events dwindle to 14 during Carolyn Bivens' term as commissioner, successor Michael Whan is pitching a more economical sponsorship model and the rise of standouts such as Kerr, Paula Creamer, Ai Miyazato and Yani Tseng.

Tap-ins: Golf Channel is moving forward with plans for a morning studio show, which would expand beyond golf talk to touch on other sports, topical news and pop culture. A nationwide search is on to cast two co-hosts for the program, tentatively titled "Dawn Patrol" and slated for a January rollout. … Craig Stadler will miss the rest of the Champions season to undergo hip replacement surgery. The former Masters champion tied for 14th last week in South Korea.

— Jeff Shain

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