FRIDAY, FEB. 3: The PGA Grand Slam looks set to leave Bermuda, it was revealed today (Friday).
Business Development and Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert told the House of Assembly that the PGA was this month going to market the event and “sell the title sponsor.”
Mr Furbert added: “If successful, it would be unlikely the sponsor would like to stay in Bermuda. In that case Bermuda would lose the event.
Mr Furbert said he had spoken to PGA officals while on a trip to Orlando, Florida, to drum up business at a major golf trade show.
He added: “They agreed that if by the 2012 event they did not find such a sponsor, they would like to continue in Bermuda in 2013. This commitment would stand even if they did find a sponsor after October.”
Mr Furbert said Bermuda netted an estimated $2 million in goods and services as a result of the October event, more than the current sponsorship fee of $1.5 million.
But he added that did not include the massive publicity for the island generated by TV coverage of the Port Royal golf course tournament on TNT, which reached more than four million homes.
Mr Furbert told MPs: “It is noted that the PGA Grand Slam has afforded Bermuda significantly increased visibility over the past five years.
“Our current objective and plan is to seek out other alternatives to this event that would, in all likelihood, bring increased benefits to the island.”
Mr Furbert said that a women’s Grand Slam or a world championship for females were possible alternatives to plug the gap left by the loss of the men’s event.
He added: “I also entered into discussions to bring a possible Champion’s Tour event to Bermuda. The event brings 85 pros who would play a two-day pro-am prior to a 54 hole, three day event for a prize purse of $1.8 million.
“This event has the potential to bring 600 to 1,000 visitors for the week.”
Mr Furbert said that he had also spoken to leaders in the golf world about making it easier to book tee times on the island’s golf courses.
He said he had met executives of GolfNow.com and their group NBC and the Golf Channel in Florida who were keen to link the island’s golf courses their Internet platforms.
Mr Furbert said: “There would be no cash outlay as clubs would simply commit on a barter basis. I have agreed to work with the courses to get to sign up and get the programme operational in a very short period of time.”
He added that the Department of Tourism “Tee for Free” package, which offers visitors two free rounds of golf plus a $100 spa credit if they book a minimum of four nights at a participating hotel.
The scheme has 15 hotels, eight spas and five golf courses signed up.
Another promotion targeting golf professionals offers pros who bring seven players to Bermuda between now and May 6 will free air travel and accommodation.