Here’s what happened in the Dell Match Play Texas standoff: ‘Every party has been at fault. Egos on both sides’
AUSTIN, Texas — As the news surfaced that the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play was heading into its final chapter, many in the golf world were asking who was to blame for allowing a successful tournament to leave one of the nation’s most up-and-coming metropolitan areas.
According to a column penned by renowned writer Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, both sides are to blame for the split.
Due to changes to the PGA Tour schedule, the late March date (on the back end of the Florida Swing) is expected to be filled by the Cadence Bank Houston Open.
Austin Country Club has hosted the Match Play since 2016 when Dell became the title sponsor. At the time, the World Golf Championships were considered the highest-ranking tournaments in golf behind the four majors and the Players Championship, the Tour’s flagship event.
But according to reporting by Bohls – who has six times been named the Texas sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association – a cluster of members from the pristine Austin Country Club had turned away from supporting the tournament.
From Bohls’ column:
The Tour paid the ACC almost $2 million for last year’s event, which former Texas Longhorn Scottie Scheffler won, and had offered the club an annual paycheck of $3 million in addition to two free tickets for the 650 full members. But that was rejected by the club before it was ever put to a vote …
Unfortunately, the two parties were close in August, but LIV Golf rocked the golf world and forced the Tour into changes like a shortened calendar and elevated events offering purses of $20 million. The club membership had passed the extension by 57 percent with (after initially approving the event by more than 90 percent) with only 46 negative votes from those who have come to be called the 46ers.
While golf fans in Austin are surely saddened by the news, so are many of the charity groups that have benefited from the event. According to Bohls, the tournament donated more than $6 million to local charities, including the Dell Children’s Medical Center.
Quoting from a well-connected source, Bohls said club members were hoping for an abnormally large payday from the PGA Tour. This led to a breakdown in negotiations and when the club’s members were interested in coming back to the table, circumstances changed.
It appears the club overplayed its hand and got greedy because ACC has grand plans like a brand new clubhouse, which won’t be cheap, and some in the PGA Tour hierarchy got ticked off with neither side willing to compromise and ACC unwilling to accept the PGA’s generous offer.
“They got a little greedy,” the source said of the club. “They thought the Tour was a never-ending checkbook. We offered a huge sum of money. Every party has been at fault. Egos on both sides.” … There is no alternative site in Austin because the PGA Tour considers both Barton Creek and The Hills as “operational nightmares.”
The PGA Tour has not released next season’s schedule, but this move could mean at least one less designated event in 2024 — or a replacement could be elevated.
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