Just as the events of Sept. 11 have affected life in the U.S. in innumerable ways, their impact on golf goes beyond the cancellation of four pro events in the U.S. Here are five examples of how golf has been or will be affected by the terrorist attacks.
PGA FALL EXPO
The world's second-largest golf trade show, scheduled for Sept. 24-26 in Las Vegas, was canceled last week because of concerns over air travel and federal embargoes on the hauling of freight by air. About 600 exhibitors were to peddle their wares to buyers from more than 50 countries.
Air Canada announced last Friday that it won't renew sponsorship of its eponymous PGA Tour event beyond 2002, becoming the first domino to fall in what could be a tumbling sports-sponsorship economy. "The effects of September II were a significant factor in this," says Brian Butters, media chairman of the Air Canada (n� Greater Vancouver) Championship. With insurance companies and the financial-services industry also suffering, as many as seven events on the three major U.S. tours could lose title sponsors by 2003.
The title of the LPGA's Oct. 19-21 event in South Korea may turn out to be longer than its list of entrants. As of Monday six Americans had pulled out of the Sports Today C.J. Nine Bridges Classic, even though its $1.5 million purse is one of the tour's largest. "What price do you put on safety?" asks Wendy Ward, who has withdrawn from the South Korea tournament as well as from the next week's World Ladies Match Play Championship in Japan. With military action on the horizon, the far-flung working vacations of the Silly Season no longer seem like such fun.
According to Eric Hilcoff, the PGA Tour's travel coordinator, about 20% of the Tour's players fly exclusively on private aircraft. Expect that number to increase dramatically next year as airport security tightens and the major carriers lay off thousands of employees. Says Stewart Cink, who flew in a rented jet to last week's Marconi Pennsylvania Classic, "It was a piece of cake. You show I.D. and go—no bag searches, no crowds, no hassle."
"Every time I call a club to reschedule, the head pro is at a funeral," says Francis Trotta, owner of North Shore Golf Car Service, a company that supplies carts for club tournaments in and around New York City. Trotta has seen his business virtually grind to a halt, but golf-related enterprises outside the New York City area will also be affected. Expect pricey golf trips and play at high-end daily-fee courses to fall off, the sale of expensive clubs to shrink, and the resulting trickle-down to affect everyone from caddies to salespeople at golf superstores. "Golf is a luxury that a lot of people can't afford right now," says Trotta.