Former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem guided the Tour through two serious situations, the aftermath of 9-11 and the 2008 recession.
He said neither situations approach what his successor, Jay Monahan, has to cope with in trying to bring the Tour and its constituents out of the suspension of play because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We get a lot of credit for what happened during that period with the downturn and after 9/11,” Finchem said earlier this week on a teleconference to announce his election to the World Golf Hall of Fame. “It wasn’t really all that difficult in the sense that we were successful in coming up with a strategy. The thrust we had was we want to come out of this better off than when we went into it — how do we get there?”
Finchem then mulled a frightening figure.
“Twenty-two million people are unemployed right now … new unemployed,” he said.
The unemployment rate during the 2008 Recession peaked at 10.2 percent. The current rate is approaching 18 percent. No one knows how many companies will be able to continue sponsorships and corporate hospitality deals with the Tour, or how many people will be able to afford tickets once fans are allowed into tournaments.
The good news is that the Tour emerged from the 2008 recession with few title sponsorship cancellations, and what few did cancel were quickly replaced. Some of the corporate team Finchem members had on board are with Monahan now.
“He’s got a great team … some of that team was inherited from the time I was doing the job, but it’s a terrific team which he has strengthened considerably even in these last three years,” Finchem said. “And that makes all the difference in the world. It doesn’t make his job — I wouldn’t suggest it makes his job any easier. It makes the ability to deal with issues more realistic, and certainly, that’s the course he’s followed.”
Finchem said he and Monahan have had “a couple conversations about what was happening.”
“He hasn’t leaned on me much at all,” Finchem said. “From time to time, he’ll share with me what direction he’s going. He lives about 100 yards from me, so if he wanted to talk to me about something, he knows I’m available. But he’s got to steer the ship. He’s got a million things going on, and I’m quite aware of that.”
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