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Anyone remember Golf 20/20? It was an initiative back in 2000 that was endorsed and blessed by then PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. It was intended to grow the game and drive golf’s popularity into the same stratosphere as the NFL and Nascar by 2020. Like it or not but 2020 isn’t that far away anymore! So for those of us that still have a memory, consider these facts. NBC Sports Group reported the final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:15 p.m. ET) earned a 5.21 overnight rating. The telecast was up 206% vs. 2017 (1.70). It also represents the highest-rated telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-’18) and the highest-rated PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excluding majors). Now consider this, in the same broadcast window, the Seahawks versus Cowboys game drew a 15.3 overnight rating. Later that evening, the Lions versus Patriots game drew a 13.6.

Back in 2000, Finchem reported the following: “The fan base continued to grow. Our television ratings are up. We did do some very exciting research at Golf 20/20 this year and are learning more about our fan base. Just to give you one example, we've seen an increase in 400 percent in the size of the Hispanic interest in our fan base over the last three years and the Latino press and media has created a fairly significant boost in Hispanic interest, to go along with the very strong increase in interest of African Americans. All of our key indicators were up in 2000. Our ratings, our on-site attendance, our charity donations, all of these indicators were up, whether Tiger was playing or not, interestingly enough.”

In last Thursday’s issue, Martin Ayers of Northbound Golf stated, “They talk about growing the game, what they mean is growing the business. The game is devouring itself.” His words take on greater meaning in the context of the networks/Tour touting the ratings bonanza Tiger Woods represents. History has proven that professional golf has struggled to generated consistent rating improvements that suggest it has delivered on its promise to grow the game’s popularity with non-golfers. Meanwhile, it’s been incredible at driving its sponsorship rates sky high! Isn’t it ironic that Nike Golf decided two years ago to abandon the equipment business purely for financial reasons?