Tim Finchem, John Foster, Matt Ferguson
Press Conference - Sunday, January 24, 2016
BILL TAIT: Good morning, everybody. We have got a great week of golf so far and I think we're going to have a fantastic finish. Before I introduce our panel, I want to thank you guys. We've gotten some fantastic coverage this year and we got some wonderful media ratings and very much appreciate it and really thank you guys for everything you do.
We would like to welcome Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, and John Foster, President of Desert Classic Charities to the interview room here at the CareerBuilder Challenge. So thank you guys for being here and thank you and I'll turn it over to you all.
JOHN FOSTER: I guess we would like to start by welcoming CareerBuilder. We got a late start this year and they're learning a lot about the golf business and we're learning about a really young vibrant company that really is pretty exciting. Their folks have been excited, they worked great with our team, and I tell you, we're happy with six years, we're hoping we're going to get a few more, maybe a decade or two more with this company. They're a coming company that is very exciting to work with and we're really proud to be part of them.
TIM FINCHEM: Good morning, everyone, and I'm also delighted to be here. We think this week is going very well. I spent, we spent a fair amount of time last night with a lot of the players, obviously they have always liked the quality of the golf courses and the conditioning of the golf courses, and they have reacted positively to the changes we made on the golf courses for this year. As have a lot of the amateurs, which I spoke to as well.
It looks like we're had headed for a great finish and I asked two of the top three players last night to make sure we have a playoff this afternoon and they said they would oblige. Just to give you some more to write about.
So, I want to introduce Matt and I think that, as you know, our livelihood is based on the ability to have a quality title sponsor, company that obviously funds a lot of the tournament, but also hopefully in most cases, companies that believe in giving back, believe in the culture of the TOUR in that regard, and commit themselves to help us grow what that's all about.
In this case we have a very special situation, because CareerBuilder, as John says, is a company that is focused on job growth in this country and increasing the value of a job and that's one of the things that's holding us back as a country. So, it's also accompany that has a history with the Clinton Foundation, so that marriage is going to work out very, very nicely as well. I think it's going to pay great dividends for the company, for the Clinton Foundation, and certainly for the PGA TOUR as we go forward.
I asked Matt, as we come to the end of this week, to take a few minutes and share with you a little bit of what his company is all about, so you really can get a sense of why the Foundation is excited about this, as we are. I think this is something that we're really, it's a little different for us, because generally we're focused on generating charitable commitment and it goes to a lot of different places, but to be able to partner with a growing company that is really doing something about one of the core challenges in this country, is unique and exciting for our people. So, with that I'll turn it over to Matt Ferguson and he can take it away.
MATT FERGUSON: All right, thanks, Tim. Good morning, everybody. It's great to be here in beautiful sunny California. To be involved with this great tournament, which has such a rich history and we have been appreciating the history and Mr. Hope and what he did for this tournament, his sense of charity and giving back to the community. So we want to make sure everything we do is consistent with that strategy and what he built here.
For us as a company, we have had an exciting 20 year history. We started as an advertising company, today we're building the world's first and only pre-hire platform. It starts with the advertising and we also do what's called software as a service, so Internet delivered software.
A couple years ago when we got into this we bought a company of data scientists and economists who had built 10-year models on the labor market. And what that allows us to do is understand the jobs that are being created today, what the pay is for those jobs, and what the 10-year growth patterns are for that.
And so it allows us to do interesting things like we have a software called Find Your Calling that we're rolling out to high school students in the United States.
And what that does is it allows them to take an assessment, find out the things they like, the things they don't like. From that it shows them majors and schools and then it shows them the jobs that are related to those, the growth of those jobs and what they will pay over the next 10 years, so that high school students, before they go to college, can make smart decisions about majors and schools. Because, as we know, people graduate from college with an average about $30,000 in debt and so you have to make sure that they have the outcomes.
We will be taking that data to understand help people that are in the labor market today, 150 million people in the United States are in the labor market, how do you help them understand the skills they have today, the skills they could acquire in a short period of time, and the jobs that would be relevant for them.
So we'll be helping consumers understand that data, this year, throughout our entire site. And we'll be working with leading educational institutions to figure out, how do we, once someone knows the skills they have, the skills that they could acquire, how do you help them acquire that in less than a year for a little bit of money, less than a thousand dollars, so that they're ready to take on that next job, get an increase in pay, be able to provide back more to their family, be able to provide back more to their community.
So we'll be doing what we do today, which is helping find them a job today. We'll be showing them the skills they have, the skills they don't have, and we'll be helping them prepare for those jobs in the future.
As Tim mentioned, I think one of the biggest problems we have is, even though the unemployment rate's come down, we still have people who don't, can't find jobs and jobs that can't find people in the United States. And that is a mismatch of skills.
So we have to do a better job understanding what the employers need and the skills that are critical for them in this 21st century global economy. And then how do you translate that back to the consumer and help them get those skills in a shorter amount of time for less dollars.
So CareerBuilder is, because we're at the central point of all that, because we have both the advertising and the software that run it, we think we have an interesting position to play in helping people find the jobs in this century.
And being involved with the PGA and the Clinton Foundation and this tournament we think are an exciting place for us to talk about a lot what we're doing there and every year gather and figure out how we can get better at solving these big problems.
So, that's a little bit about the company and I'll turn it over to you and answer any questions you have.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about how what you're doing kind of dovetails with what the Clinton Foundation is doing. What the relationship between you and the Clinton Foundation is at this tournament and other areas.
MATT FERGUSON: Yeah, in our history with the Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, goes back several years. Obviously, in the major recession, people were trying to figure out how to get people employed when unemployment rates spiked. And one of the things that we did, when I talked about that team of data scientists and economists, we took that data and provided it into work force investment boards, which are places, one stops, that are in communities around the United States, helping people find work when they're out of jobs.
So we had been working with the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, to provide our data, so that people could figure out, what are the jobs around me that are available. I know the Clinton Foundation has always been big on humans reaching their potential, the importance of hope, and we know economic progress is central to that.
So we think that early initiative that we have done, rolling that out and having further discussions around how are the things that we're doing, how can that help further employment and helping people find, not only a job, but improving that job, so they can make more money, provide more for their family, and provide back to the community. We think that's a natural marriage and it's something that's been going on for a period of time.
Q. This is for Tim and John, you can probably weigh in on this, too. Obviously, President Clinton's role here has changed because of the campaign and everything. What are your comments on that and how do you see that going forward if Hillary is elected president?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, we like to think that presidential politics doesn't affect the situation here. He's, his situation with the tournament hasn't changed too much. His schedule is different. He's here. He spent some time with players last night. He spoke at John's dinner. He's pressed a little bit because Chelsea, who was to sort of handle the conference tomorrow, is not going to be here. So he has had to step in and pick that up. So he's got to spend some extra time today doing that. But he'll be out here today seeing the players off at the end of the, before the last groups go out. He'll be here during the afternoon, watching some golf. And he'll be here for the finish and the trophy. And then he'll, obviously, be part of the conference tomorrow. So I don't think it's changed.
I think folks, you know, as the campaign intensifies, there will be a natural inclination maybe to link something with the campaign, but honestly, the PGA TOUR, our tournaments are apolitical. We're going to stay that way, the President understands that. So you won't hear any campaigning during this weekend.
JOHN FOSTER: From our point of view, one of the things when the president got involved was to the Health Matters Conference. I think that messaging is what we try to embrace with the tournament. And so the political part really is something that obviously occurs, but we focus on the messaging and the tie-in that we have with that conference.
Q. John, what are the pros and cons of how much this tournament has changed and just what it looks like now compared to 10, 15 years ago? What are the biggest gains you have seen and what do you hear from fans about their missing the celebrities?
JOHN FOSTER: Well, there are obviously opinions, especially from the folks who are here when we did have a lot of celebrities. I think as we look at it now, what we're trying to do and build on are the players and our PGA TOUR players are our celebrities and our focus at this point. We changed the format to an area where I think the TOUR pro appreciates it and has embraced it. I think before, and I obviously was involved with both, one pro, three amateurs, of varying degrees and quality of play, it was almost, as I look back on it, a most of them felt it was a baby sitting job. They were doing their job and they did it very well, but some of these, you know, it wasn't that fun. At this point, you now have one, two pros in the foursome and two amateurs. And we're paired up with one. It's a much more relaxed -- you know, they don't feel like they have to entertain a bunch of folks. So, my partner, I may talk to my partner, I had Luke Donald yesterday, fabulous guy. So, you talk on certain holes before and after and it's a wonderful experience. Much different experience, I think, than in the old days, if you're an amateur player. It's quite unique. You get to be more of a relationship with them, rather than figuring, he's the school teacher and we're just walking down the road. So that part of it I think has improved the experience. Obviously, we had to cut down from a 384 people amateurs to 156 of the so, there were certain financial implications with that. So, when you get into the celebrity world, celebrities don't pay for much and so they cost much.
So, to be giving away valuable playing spots for nothing, it doesn't make any sense to the charities. And that's my job is for the charities of this community. I think the PGA TOUR has been very straight with that, as all tournaments. You know, we're expected to do it, but they also expect us to do a good job, because we're riding on the PGA TOUR name.
So, we're all focused on the charities and so I'm very happy with where it's gone. When people do come up and talk about it, the fact of life is, celebrities aren't like the celebrities were in those days. You haven't reincarnated Bob Hope.
So, with that thought, I think that we know our focus and our gain and I think that we have got messaging and we have got a great pro-am, but I think the pros are really going to embrace it and I think if we were to try to strengthen anything, it would be that pro field and the star power. As that grows, and I think it will, the better tournament we're going to be.
Q. A follow-up, do you think that it's a word of mouth issue in some sense among the players that the guys who come out here have a really good experience and it's going to pick up in the locker room talk and hey, man, you should probably not miss this now, it's a lot better.
JOHN FOSTER: Yes, and I think we have a certain niche here. We're the first event. We have got great location. Somebody can home base his family here and go to L.A., can go to San Diego, can fly up to San Francisco, go to Phoenix. And so, you have players now finding this area and kind of using it as a home base in some areas, which is a very positive future for our tournament.
Q. We talked a lot about the amateur portion of it, but how about the golf course? We moved across the street, have you got really a feed back from the players? I know that the Stadium Course is always interesting and I got to say, take my hat off to the rules officials and the setup crew, the golf course was set up really fair for everybody. It could have been six hours on the Stadium and it wasn't. They did a great job.
JOHN FOSTER: No, I think the timing was very good. I think we're, we were playing yesterday, which was had the amateurs, had a lot of action, we played in a little over five hours. That's moving along pretty well, on a course that got some movement. But I think most of the players -- our average handicap is nine. You know, so you got half the field that are quite good golfers. The other half, the maximum is somewhere around 18, and it varies a bit. They're 18 or 19 handicap would play. So, that higher group is going to struggle a little.
I think we were concerned with the Stadium Course, can the amateurs play it. The pros, will have no problem with it. But you try to do your best in setting it up. I think we did a good job setting up the course. I think there's a few tweaks we probably still need to make because it is a hard course to maneuver, if you're an amateur. So, I think when you look at the three courses we played and you look at the condition that they are in, you're very impressed. I think all the players that I talked to were very satisfied. And we were concerned with that move, can we keep the quality up, because those were the private side, this was the public side. They did a wonderful job. Those fairways were fabulous. The greens were very good. So, I think all in all the move worked out fine.
Q. Are we planning on staying on these two for awhile? Is there a decision moving forward that we're going to be on this side of the street?
JOHN FOSTER: We'll be here next year for sure.
Q. Matt, this is your first time as a title sponsor of a PGA TOUR event. I think we have seen your commercials on the Super Bowl, if I remember. What was it about the TOUR or maybe this particular tournament or being associated with the Clinton Foundation that made you put your signature on the bottom of the contract?
MATT FERGUSON: I think it was all three of those. Obviously we had been talking to the TOUR about having some affiliation with the tournament. This one became available and we were excited. The PGA and what it means to sports and athletics and it's just been terrific. Just to give you a couple examples of things that have happened this week, for this kind of event, when one of our guys said, there's no other -- you never get a sit in the race car with the race car driver when he's in the race. You don't get to be in the huddle during the football game. You're not shooting the free throw.
Here, you're with the elite athlete. And you get to see the elite athlete play. And that's really unique for our customers. One of the guys, Chris Stroud, took him, watched him play for four hours and said, hey, I think I could help you. He and his caddie took him down to the range and worked with our customer for an hour afterwards.
Yesterday, Charles Howell was playing with one of our customers, they realized they were both from Georgia and had the same teacher. They snapped a photo and sent it to the teacher.
And I don't know another format that you could have elite athletes and a customer relationship that that, that is that tight. Clearly, the Super Bowl doesn't provide, as great as it is, doesn't provide anything like that.
So that kind of environment was very appealing. This tournament, I grew up in the Midwest and cold winters, used to watch this tournament, Mr. Hope and President Ford and all that history. So we knew that this had a rich history. So that was exciting for us, too.
Then, obviously, the Clinton Foundation, we worked with them. Our mission is to empower employment, we're doing a lot of creative things, and we think this is a natural fit. So this was just one of those opportunities that came up that just met everything that we were looking for.
Q. Tim, I wanted to ask you, obviously big announcements this week with Northern Trust and Hyundai. What do you see going forward in the tournament of champions, what are you looking at possible change of dates at all, new sponsorship, what is the Tournament of Champions looking like going forward?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, our assumption is we're going to stay where we are. We're going to be in Hawaii. I'm assuming right now in Maui. And it's just a question of marrying up with a sponsor. And that tournament has shown very well the last couple of years, so I don't think we're going to have many issues in that regard.
The movement of Hyundai to Los Angeles is exciting because Hyundai learned the tournament business with us in Hawaii with a smaller event and they're headquartered in Los Angeles, so they're going to bring a lot to what it takes to really take that up to another level. Northern Trust has been a great partner and they will fit in great in New York. So, it's a good win/win/win kind of situation.
But we like those two weeks in Hawaii. We have a great relationship with Hawaii, with the governor, with the Hawaii tourism association, so we want to continue that. At this point in time I don't foresee a major problem in doing that.
Q. Will L.A. be the Hyundai Open? Have you guys decided on title?
TIM FINCHEM: We're not sure. Hyundai, Hyundai has a number of brands and we haven't quite determined with them yet the entitlement, how the entitlement will be structured yet, but it will be resolved pretty soon.
Q. For Tim and for John, all three of you have mentioned Bob Hope's name today. It's been 12 years almost since Mr. Hope died. Now it's five years since his name was taken off the actual title. How important is it to keep that Hope legacy here and does it become a little more challenging as the years go by?
JOHN FOSTER: Let me say that, when we did change format, Humana came in, one of the commitments from the TOUR, from Humana, was that we need to embrace and keep that legacy of Bob Hope. The name is not in there, and if I get questions through the year, why isn't it the Hope? And there's some obviously marketing reasons why that doesn't happen, but it's a, you know, in this community he was huge, he lived here, and those folks, and to this day, their kids, kids, still know who he was and so we're excited that everybody has embraced it and I'll let Matt talk to this, but I know they have been very positive.
We did a little memorabilia sale and it was sold out before they opened the gates. So, I think that spirit, and it's not a competitive spirit, it's an all of our spirit of Hope can always be used by any of the marketers. So far the last, Humana and CareerBuilder are excited to be involved with it and we encourage -- you know, having Hope's spirit throughout this world would certainly help us any day we walk around. He was a great American and I think everybody appreciates him. He crossed lines when he was here, he had all, any politician, politics was gone, he was just so neutral and so positive with all of them that he was really a someone who joined the country together. So I think that spirit is great to keep alive and from the tournament's perspective, we will continue to do it.
MATT FERGUSON: Obviously, I never got to meet him, but I know -- the PGA TOUR's history with giving back, what Mr. Hope did for charity, what he did for our troops are well known and we want to make sure that spirit continues to live in whatever ways that the community feels is appropriate to do that he, we want to be behind it.
TIM FINCHEM: I think everybody's on the same page. It's just a question of how. When we get into this, we recognize that Mr. Hope represented a lot more than just his affection for golf with his involvement with the military, which we talked about yesterday at the military appreciation event here. He was an avid walker, so it kind of fit with the whole theme of fitness and health. And a golfer. So we want to maintain that. It's just a question of making sure we weave it into what we do going forward.
BILL TAIT: If there are no other questions, thank you guys for coming again. We enjoyed it and enjoy the tournament and again, thanks for your support. I know Matt and Commissioner Finchem and John will be here all day, so if you guys need anything we are here for you. Thanks, everybody.