Friday, August 31, 2007

"Texas Grand Slam" at Briggs Ranch

There were rumors a few months back that Briggs Ranch Golf Club, a golf-only country club in San Antonio designed by Tom Fazio, was working on bringing a high-profile event to the course. About 18 months earlier there had been much talk about Briggs Ranch and the LPGA Tour working to put an LPGA tournament in San Antonio. That never happened (Briggs Ranch wasn't able to drum up enough support from the San Antonio business community that already has PGA Tour and Champions Tour events to get involved in).

What would this "major announcement" turn out to be?

The answer: the Texas Grand Slam. Color me unimpressed.

You might not even know what the Texas Grand Slam is. It's a made-for-TV foursome of Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Mark Brooks and Justin Leonard - four Texas grand slam winners - playing 18 holes, with the telecast airing around Thanksgiving Day on Fox Southwest. This is the third year the event has been played.

Yawn.

Don't get me wrong - I completely understand why Briggs Ranch would want this at their course: It gets them on TV. That's very important to a course that is trying to sell lots and houses and memberships. And maybe it will serve as a showcase for officials with the pro tours.

Briggs Ranch has also put in a bid to steal the San Antonio Champions Tour tournament away from Oak Hills Country Club, but I doubt that will happen. The AT&T Championship always draws one of the strongest senior circuit fields of the year, in October, near the very end of the Champions Tour season, only because the golfers love Oak Hills so much.

If Briggs Ranch and other newer, top clubs in Texas want to get on the radar screens of the USGA, PGA of America, and the top professional tours, they need to do it the old-fashioned way: by recruiting USGA and PGA of America officials. By applying to host low-level USGA championships and regional PGA tournaments.

The Club at Carlton Woods, for example, is this year hosting what is probably the most obscure USGA championship, the State Team Championship. Assuming the club proves a good host, expect in a couple years to hear an announcement that Carlton Woods is getting a bigger and better USGA championship.

If Briggs Ranch wants a top-level tour event, it can also go after a three-year deal to host a Futures Tour tournament (especially if it is still interested in the LPGA, since the LPGA now owns the Futures Tour). That would give the club experience hosting a full-field tournament, a chance to prove it can run such a tournament successfully, without the pressure of having to immediately find oodles of sponsors in a tight sponsorship market.

The Texas Grand Slam gets the club on TV, and might lead to home, lot or membership sales. It might also simply be an example of "we'll take what we can get."

See the San Antonio Express-News article for more on the Texas Grand Slam.

1 comment:

  1. I was at this event when they held it at Shadow Hawk in Houston. I guess it was 2006, although it doesn't seem like it was that long ago. I wanted to go the next year, but the event was not publicized and I missed it. It may be private, as I got my tickets from a friend. I found the golfers very open and friendly. They talked a lot, and let the crowd ask questions all through the round. This is an event I really enjoyed, and would go to every year if I just knew how to get tickets.

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