Keith Pelley Breaks From Tradition To Shake Up European Tour
Since KEITH PELLEY took over as CEO of the European Tour in Aug. '15, he has "earned a reputation as an agent of change," according to Adam Schupak of the N.Y. TIMES. Pelley, 53, "never worked in the golf industry" before joining the tour. He has "brought a fresh perspective to the job and he is not afraid to step beyond perceived boundaries and break free of some of the sport's long-held traditions." Music and pyotechnics on the first tee? Done it. A 40-second shot clock to "improve the pace of play?" Get ready for the Shot Clock masters in Austria in '18. It is "difficult to change the culture of an entire organization," but Pelley said that "he believes he can do it." Excerpts of a Q&A with Pelley are below.
Q: How have you been able to change the mind-set of the European Tour and get the players to buy into such innovations as first tee music and a shot clock?
Pelley: When you look at golf, there are 150 72-hole golf tournaments around the world. In order to cut through that, you have to be willing to adapt and make some changes. We’re comfortable experimenting, and the players have embraced change really, really well. DAVID GARLAND, our director of operations, said it best. He said the Shot Clock Masters, which will be in Austria, two years ago you wouldn’t have brought it up to the team, never mind get it approved in five minutes.
Q: Has the Rolex Series been your answer to the purse disparity with the PGA Tour that has led to top European players flocking to America?
Pelley: It’s in the infancy stage so it will evolve, but yeah, I’m quite happy with the Rolex Series. One of the reasons that we created the series was to provide a viable alternative for the young players to aspire to play in and give that player an option that maybe you don’t have to go to the U.S. to make quote-unquote real money.
Q: How important is the Ryder Cup to the European Tour and when did you realize its significance to the sports fan?
Pelley: It means a lot financially, there’s no question. Every chance that I get, I’ll tell the players, thank all your Ryder Cuppers because they certainly help the European Tour. It’s critical for the success of the European Tour.
Q: How are you going to take the Ryder Cup to the next level in 2018?
Pelley: Our first tee experience at the Ryder Cup is going to be sensational. The opening ceremony, it should be a show, right? It’ll be much more of a show in France than it’s ever been before (N.Y. TIMES, 11/14).