That old Tight Lies Tour logo - from the days prior to the tour's purchase by Greens Worldwide, as part of that company's grand plans to turn the USPGT into a major force in golf - is kind of sad to see. For years, the Texas-based Tight Lies Tour, with sponsorship by Plano-based Adams Golf (the tour's name derives from the Adams Tight Lies brand of clubs), thrived with a schedule of 20 or so tournaments a year played mostly in Texas.
Event purses were in the neighborhood of $100,000 per tournament - pretty darn good by mini-tour and regional tour standards of the time. And many young golfers who later played their way onto the PGA Tour spent time honing their games on the Tight Lies Tour; players such as Tim Herron, Mark Hensby, Ryan Palmer, J.L Lewis , Wes Short , Harrison Frazar, Tag Ridings, Kris Cox, Eric Axley and Jimmy Walker.
The Tight Lies Tour was operated by a company called Texas Sports Group, whose president was Gary DeSerrano.
I believe it was in 2005 that Greens Worldwide purchased the U.S. Pro Golf Tour, which at that time was about on the same level as, say, the Gateway Tour. Not quite to the level of the Hooters Tour in terms of importance and recognition among golfers and fans. But Greens Worldwide set about to change that.
They started by purchasing the Tight Lies Tour and California Players Tour with the idea of setting them up as regional tours of the USPGT, tours that would feed into the higher-level USPGT. They forged an agreement with Donald Trump to sponsor a very lucrative quartet of USPGT tournaments called the "Trump Championships," all of which would have purses of more than $1 million and one of which would offer a $5 million purse. Figures that top Nationwide Tour purchases.
All of this happened very fast. Too fast. Trump - no fool - quickly sniffed out problems and severed ties with the USPGT. The Trump Championships concept was dead.
Things kept going downhill for Greens Worldwide and the USPGT, which had to announce scaled back plans for 2007. Various company officials resigned along the way.
And then, on April 10, Gary DeSerrano - the former Tight Lies president - resigned his position as president of the USPGT. And a few days later Greens Worldwide announced a suspension of play on the USPGT, Tight Lies and California Players tours.
Golfweek reported recently:
The U.S. Pro Golf Tour, Tight Lies Series and California Series "are insolvent" and will not resume play until financing is secured, according to Bill Conwell, CEO and president of Greens Worldwide Inc., the parent company that owns the three mini-tours.
"We do not have the necessary cash resources to operate tournaments, honor our player refund obligations, or pay our other outstanding payables," said Conwell, in an announcement released by the company April 13.
Conwell also said Greens Worldwide's proposed merger with Beat The Bogeyman LLC and HyPerformance, Inc., has been terminated. The completion of that deal was contingent on USPGT receiving additional funding.
In another setback for the unraveling tour, its president Gary DeSerrano resigned on April 10, according to Conwell. Two days later Conwell sent an e-mail to its 353 members updating them on the state of the tour.
"We are insolvent and have no cash," he wrote. "Please allow us to work on securing the funding and getting a schedule in place."
But there may be a silver lining in this news for Texas. DeSerrano told Golfweek that he plans to form a new tour - again with help from Adams Golf.
We can only hope that the new tour gets off the ground quickly, and that it follows in the tradition of the Tight Lies Tour, bringing quality mini-tour golf to cities across Texas.