Major conflict

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:42 pm

 Changes to the PGA Tour this year are creating challenges, but also opportunities, for Milwaukee’s U.S. Bank Championship, which will be played for the 40th time this year. This year, the tournament, formerly known as the Greater Milwaukee Open, will be held July 19-22 at Brown Deer Park. That means it will be played on the same days that the golf world’s attention will be focused on the British Open, one of the four major tournaments of men’s professional golf.

Accepting that reality, the U. S. Bank Championship is adding three video boards throughout the grounds that will show live coverage of the British Open, which will end early in the afternoon CDT, and then will switch over to show coverage of its own event.

The televisions in the corporate tents, chalets and the party deck will also show the British Open.

“We are looking to do some things that will allow golf fans to keep track of the British Open,” said Dan Croak, tournament director of the U.S. Bank Championship. “We think we will be able to enhance the U.S. Bank Championship experience. We’ve talked to a number of companies, including U.S. Bank, about having breakfast at the U.S. Bank Championship (while watching the British Open). We think it will be an opportunity for everybody to get a two-for-one.”

The U.S Bank Championship will get a break in competing with the British Open for the attention of golf fans because British Open play will end each day before much of the U.S. Bank Championship play is complete. During the weekend, “our leaders won’t even tee off until the British Open is over,” Croak said.

The best golfers in the world will be playing in the British Open, which means they won’t be playing in Milwaukee. However, almost all of those players were already skipping Milwaukee in recent years.

“(The British Open) is not going to have a dramatic affect on who we have in the U.S. Bank Championship,” Croak said. “In the past, we’ve had about a dozen to 15 players who went to the British Open. Those are the players we will not get. We haven’t had (the elite players) in the past. They weren’t coming.”

Dozens of PGA Tour players who did not qualify for the British Open in recent years have also skipped the U.S. Bank Championship, opting instead to spend more time with their families during the summer, Croak said.

However, this year, the PGA Tour’s new FedEx Cup format could help the U.S. Bank Championship get almost all of the American players who are not playing in the British Open to come to Milwaukee, Croak said.

Under the FedEx Cup format, players accumulate points from their performances in golf tournaments, including the U.S. Bank Championship, from January through mid-August. Then they play in the PGA playoffs, which consist of four more tournaments to determine the winner of the FedEx Cup. Points accumulated by the golfers in the tournaments leading up the playoffs will determine their seeding in the playoffs.

The U.S. Bank Championship will be one of the last tournaments before the playoffs, and Croak says that could encourage many players who have bypassed the Milwaukee tournament in the past to come here so they can score more FedEx Cup points.

“The field as a whole should be as strong, if not a little bit stronger.” Croak said. “At this point, it looks like most of the people who have come in the past like Brown Deer (Park) and will be back. It’s really our goal to attract every single player on the PGA Tour not in the British Open. If we do that, we feel we will have a strong field. I think we are going to be very close, from a field standpoint, that we have had in the past. If we do, the fans will continue to support the tournament.”

The U.S. Bank Championship field will be dominated, as it has been for years, by up-and-coming young players and older players past their prime, Croak said. Over the years, Milwaukee golf fans have been able to see almost every top golfer at some point of their careers, he said.

“There are very few players of significance on the tour who have not been here some time through the years,” Croak said.

In addition to being overshadowed by the British Open, the U.S. Bank Championship could get less national attention this year because it is being televised entirely on the Golf Channel. During the previous three years, the tournament was covered by CBS during the weekend, and before that, ABC provided weekend coverage.

The TV coverage is handled by the PGA Tour and is out of the U.S. Bank Championship’s control, Croak said. The Golf Channel’s coverage of PGA Tour events has had similar ratings of coverage by other cable networks such as ESPN and USA, he said. One advantage of being on the Golf Channel is that it replays its daytime coverage at night, providing more air time for the U.S. Bank Championship.

Despite the challenges posed to the U.S. Bank Championship by the scheduling and television coverage, the organizers of the event remain committed to it. The tournament raises about $600,000 for area charities each year.

“As long as the PGA Tour wants to do business in this marketplace, our board, I think, is very much interested in doing business with them,” Croak said. “With our (major) sponsors, U.S. Bank and Aurora (HealthCare), we’re on very solid ground.”

U.S. Bank Championship

When: July 19-22
Where: Brown Deer Park
Average Attendance:
About 80,000 to 100,000
for the week.
Web page:

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