PGA event needs change of direction

Filed under: by: golf clubs showcase

If the tournament formerly known as the U.S. Bank Championship can be saved, and that's a big if, the reincarnation can't just be the same product with a new name slapped on it.

The good ol' GMO has a worn, tired feel to it. It's a '75 Chrysler Cordoba in a world of Prius hybrids, vinyl records in the era of iPod, Sansabelt slacks and persimmon woods at Old Folks Country Club.

To say the event is poorly marketed would be a compliment. A swarm of bumblebees makes more noise than the barely audible buzz emanating from the Brown Deer Park Golf Course last week.

The galleries on Thursday and Friday were embarrassingly small. The corporate hospitality village looked more like "Little House on the Prairie." Certainly, the state of the economy had a huge impact, but much of Milwaukee didn't seem to notice or care (again) that a major-league sports event was taking place in our fair city.

When U.S. Bank announced earlier this year that it would not pick up its three-year option as the title sponsor, Bill Bertha, the president of the bank's Wisconsin market, asked me a pertinent question:

"Is this tournament still relevant in Milwaukee?"

Perhaps the answer is the one I don't want to hear. I've been a staunch supporter of the tournament over the years, but maybe it has outlived its life in this market, at least in its current form.

One thing is certain: If the 42-year-old PGA Tour event does make it to Year 43 with a new title sponsor, there has to be an entirely new approach. It has to be big and bold, loud and hip.