SBJ/January 31 - February 6, 2005/SBJ In Depth

PGA Tour, NFL team for golf events

Golf will play an unprecedented role in this week’s Super Bowl-related festivities, thanks in part to significant collaboration between the NFL and PGA Tour.

Several official co-branded NFL-PGA Tour events will take place, the logical result of Jacksonville’s successful bid to host the Super Bowl. The availability of great golf courses — roughly 100 within easy driving distance of the game — was a key factor in the smaller-market city getting the big event.

The 17th at TPC Sawgrass will be a star.
The highlight will be the first NFL-PGA Tour Commissioners Cup golf outing, co-hosted by Paul Tagliabue and Tim Finchem and held the morning of Super Bowl Sunday at the TPC at Sawgrass Stadium Course, the tour’s “home” course and where The Players Championship is held every March.

The event will host about 80 CEOs, most invited by the NFL and roughly a dozen by the PGA Tour, and will have PGA Tour and Champions Tour golfers Fuzzy Zoeller, Bill Kratzert, Fred Funk and Jim Thorpe in attendance. The course will be in tournament shape and will feature live scoreboards and other “competition” enhancements.

“We have talked about more Commissioners Cups being a possibility as we look at other [game sites] and if it’s well received by the NFL,” said Charlie Zink, PGA Tour executive vice president and co-COO.

Although the two properties compete for sponsors in some categories, they see this event as mutually strengthening.

The NFL’s annual media party will be held at the same course — also where the PGA Tour is headquartered — on Tuesday. The nighttime event will host 3,000 people at the tents and on the hill overlooking the famous “island green” 17th hole, and will feature a closest-to-the-pin contest with Sunday pin placements.

Fox Sports also will use the 17th hole for a chunk of its pregame programming on Sunday, with a shoot-out event pitting NASCAR, MLB and NFL athletes on teams with a pro golfer as captain.

The NFL and PGA Tour have collaborated before, as in the Cadillac NFL Golf Classic event, held until 2002 on the then-Senior Tour. But this week’s events represent the highest-level collaborations to date, said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

“The PGA Tour’s role enhanced the attractiveness of Jacksonville’s bid” for the game, he said. “It helped sell it to the [owners] and to our network partners and fans.”

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