Inside Events: The City Tour
29 May, 2019By: Mary Helen Sprecher
An Interview with Matt Weinberger, Commissioner
The City Tour is a team-based golf tournament series for golfers ages 21 and up, held in major cities and culminates in a national championship in September. Throughout the year, the City Tour hosts 18-hole tournaments on Saturday or Sundays. Each tournament offers a best-ball and a scramble division (teams select which format they want to play during registration). Although it’s a tournament series, golfers do not need to play in every event and there are no membership fees. In fact, all swings are welcome on the City Tour and it gives golfers the opportunity to play great courses, compete and network in a low commitment and affordable tournament setting.
Sports Destination Management: This is our third interview with Nextgengolf; other events we have highlighted have included the National High School Golf Association and the National Collegiate Club Golf Association. And since our last conversation, Nextgengolf has been acquired by the PGA. Will you continue in the same direction?
Matt Weinberger: Yes, we have our same staff here in Boston running the NHSGA and NCCGA along with the City Tour, but we will have the support of the PGA of America. We couldn’t be more excited.
SDM: The City Tour is for players who have finished college, or who are out of high school and working. How does it work?
Weinberger: We hold tournaments in major cities from April through October. Where we are different is we run team-based events and have traditionally focused more on the golfer in their 20s and 30s, although we continue to expand and hit all types of golfers. Lately, we have been working with companies and their employees to help develop corporate teams; companies like Deloitte, Oracle, and KPMG have employees who play in our events in many cities. Corporate involvement is good not just because more employees are playing golf but because many times, companies offer employees a health and wellness subsidiary for exercise-related activity, and a lot of people like to use golf as an outlet for that.
SDM: It’s also a chance to socialize with your co-workers or with others in the same city.
Weinberger: Right – and if you’re an employee who has just moved into a city, you’ll really appreciate the whole social atmosphere of meeting other people who want to play.
SDM: How does it work?
Weinberger: It’s actually pretty easy. If someone from a company wants to form a team, all it usually takes is for them to send it out on their company e-mail or internal messaging system and they start getting responses. We are here to assist them and give them insights on what has worked in different sized companies.
SDM: What role does your organization play in getting teams set up?
Weinberger: It depends; we can help people fill in their teams of up to six players. If a company doesn’t have enough people or if someone is just interested in joining independently – as a free agent – we can match them up to a team and find people of a comparable skill level for them to play.
SDM: Even though you offer tournaments and championships, your focus isn’t on identifying elite golfers.
Weinberger: No, it’s not. When you look at the golf industry, what you see is that many people tend to pay attention to the best golfers – who they are and where they play. We like to say that we focus “on the rest, not just the best.” There are more people who are out there just enjoying the game than there are being really competitive at it. Our players are the ones buying equipment and apparel and paying for rounds and playing with their friends and enjoying the full experience. Those are the people who are critical for the industry to continue to grow and prosper.
SDM: It’s also likely that once people form a team and their friends hear about it, it attracts others who want to come and play as a group outside of the tournament.
Weinberger: Word of mouth is probably the biggest thing. There’s a lot of people on social media too, so the word also spreads that way.
SDM: What can people expect at the City Tour Championship this year?
Weinberger: We are hosting the championship at Pinehurst Resort on Labor Day Weekend. We are expecting to have our largest championship to date and the response and interest from the players competing in the local tournaments has been fantastic.
SDM: When you host your City Tour Championship, what are you looking for in a venue? Pinehurst has hosted events like the U.S. Open, The PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, Women’s U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.
Weinberger: We want our golfers to have a good experience so for us, having a host that is nationally renowned is huge. We’ve built this championship based on what the players are looking for and what they like in a course. It also really helps from the operations side that the PGA Professionals at a facility like Pinehurst simply know how to run a high-quality event. I’m personally excited about that.
SDM: How is the growth overall with the City Tour?
Weinberger: Every year we’re seeing more and more rounds played. We’re expanding into new markets and running more tournaments. In fact, what we often hear is people saying, “I wish I’d known about this earlier.” People love having the opportunity to play and when they’re first out of college, they rarely have memberships at private clubs; to be candid, most people don’t have that kind of money at that point of their lives.
We’re giving them an easy, fun, social, low-cost way to golf. For us, it’s all about keeping people in the sport. We don’t want them to drop golf after college because they just don’t have an opportunity to play or because they think it’s too expensive or because they don’t know anyone to play with. They can play in the City Tour and be as competitive as they want – or not – and they’re still going to have a good time.