Long time
Australian golf promoter Tony Roosenburg in his desperation to find a radical
way forward to promote a major golf tournament on the shrinking local PGA tour,
seems to have sizably overshot his target in a wildly ambitious effort to try
and arrest golf’s fading popularity as a major summer TV sport.

Roosenburg, who
has previously had Jeff Kennett on board in a golfing business partnership,
might be a realist when he recognizes that Australian golf is in serious danger
of becoming irrelevant to a mass TV audience unless it reinvents itself to offer
a more exciting product with international appeal. But in wanting to create a major tournament
that’s “sexy” for sponsors, media and the public – he appears to be advocating a
gimmicky, sideshow entertainment grab bag of whatever might work, in his
feverish attempt to get this new tournament into play.

“There’s one
certainty about golf in this country, if we don’t change it, we will drown it,”
Roosenburg reasoned as he embarks on trying to hustle up corporate backing for
his broad concept.

With November
2007 and Royal Melbourne as his starting point, Roosenburg would ideally seek to
attract 18 of the world’s best male and female golfers to appear in round-robin
tournament or exhibition format, with a possible budget in the vicinity of
A12-$A15 million. However, he figures if
Tiger Woods could be persuaded to turn up, you could probably add another $3-$4
million on top of that.

But in
Roosenburg’s mind, the really “sexy” aspect to make it an event that will
capture the public’s imagination, is to immerse the event in an associated
Melbourne Cup week type entertainment cavalcade of activities to include among
other things, music concerts, fashion shows – and wait for it – have “a lot of
beautiful women walking around.” That
has to be good for an “Ernie” nomination.

Aside from the budget being totally unrealistic in the
current climate for Australian golf sponsorship; the idea that you are going to
appear in the Melbourne marketplace in the same month as the cup carnival that
soaks up so much discretionary leisure spending power, makes no sense.
Additionally with Christmas also just around the corner; how far can you expect
the public’s purse to stretch when you’re essentially trying to pitch to that
same younger party-time market?

Australasian PGA Tour has given its backing to the basic idea, but when doesn’t
a drowning man clutch at the nearest straw?
As ideas go, this one sounds hopelessly ambitious at the wrong time of
the year; when in international golf now with regard to any local promoter;
there’s really no such thing as the right time any more, with elite golfers
increasingly picky about playing outside the US and the majors.

And as
Roosenburg already knows, the unpalatable truth for golf world-wide is that it’s
increasingly being marginalized as a mainstream major TV sport, where even the
majors are now feeling the pinch with ratings.
And no amount of reinventing golf’s wheel of fortune by Roosenburg will
fundamentally change that.