PGA Tour Is Wei Off The Mark

Written by Nick Thiry | Content Creator, CLICKON Golf

 

Stephanie Wei at the Beach - www.weiunderpar.com

If you’re a a borderline twitter addict and a full blown golf addict like me, you’ve already heard about this Stephanie Wei debacle in San Francisco.  If you’ve missed it, allow me to get you up to speed with the main characters in this story.

Wei is a freelance golf journalist who created weiunderpar.com while also contributing to Sports Illustrated and sometimes working as a broadcaster/podcaster.  She also is one of the best golf follows on twitter, providing quality content around the clock from the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour.  She seems to enjoy new and different ways of providing consumers with content.

Periscope is a video streaming app.  You can record a video on your phone, stream it live over the app, and the video lives online for less than 24 hours before disappearing forever into the crowded wasteland of snapchats and deleted texts.  Users can also engage in conversations around the videos.  It may be a fad, but it’s hot right now in journalism and sports media.

The PGA Tour is a traveling circus of young, rich, white men who play golf for a living.  It is run by old, rich, white men who somehow have not embraced the 21st century and, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, refuse to evolve and grow their brand to keep up with current media trends.

Now, the story:

On Monday at TPC Harding Park, Wei decided to use Periscope to engage fans and give them a behind the scenes look at the Monday practice round.  She set up on the range and then took the show out on the course.  Her twitter followers engaged with the video, everyone seemed to enjoy it and it provided a look inside the ropes that otherwise would not have been provided.

Full disclosure, I didn’t see the video and now it has been deleted, so I probably never will see it.

So that was Monday.  Then, yesterday, Wei broke the news via twitter that the PGA Tour had revoked her press credentials for one year.  The Tour will claim that video streaming of an event is protected content and that Wei violated their video policy.  The Tour may also claim that Wei was there as a reporter and not a broadcaster, which have different press credentials.  Either way, a one year ban from inside the ropes reporting on Tour seems off the mark, to say the least.

As you can imagine, twitter is abuzz with conspiracy theories of sexism and censorship.  I won’t go that far.  I firmly believe that this is just another example of the Tour demonstrating their inability to embrace change and new media.  Over and over again the Tour has found ways to restrict the amount of content that gets to the fans.  Simply put, the Tour just doesn’t get it.  At The PLAYERS (why does this have to be done in Caps?  Has anyone ever figured this out?) fans will be encouraged to use snapchat during practice rounds, but the media will still be forbidden from pushing video content to their followers.

In the last 20 hours Wei has gone back and forth with a few twitter followers, thanking them for their support and joking about how much free time she has on her hands and how she can now play more golf.  It appears that she is also starting the media circuit as this story breaks, appearing on radio shows and weighing in on online columns.

The Tour has a big problem here.  Golf ratings are down, interest in the sport in general is down, and in the mean time the Tour is prohibiting reporters from trying to engage fans and, in turn, grow the game and grow their profits.  Protecting their broadcast rights is a shortsighted approach focusing on short term revenue protection.  In the long run, it alienates fans who want to view their tournaments when the tournament is actually happening!  A novel idea, I know.

The solutions are simple, and they’re staring us right in the face.  Be a leader in new media.  Engage fans in every way possible.  Take a leaf out of the LPGA’s book in engaging fans, or NASCAR’s, because they’re the best at it right now.  Encourage reporters to actually, I don’t know, report what is going on, instead of waiting for embargoes and worrying about copyrights.  Do something, PGA Tour.  But start with giving Stephanie Wei her credentials back, because if you keep this up, pretty soon there won’t be fans to watch those “illegally” streamed videos.  They’ll be watching something else.

Stephanie Wei Golf - www.weiunderpar.com