His immediate future secure, Finchem looks ahead
HONOLULU - Tim Finchem believes potential candidates to succeed him as commissioner of the PGA Tour currently work in the organization.
"A number of them. No question," he said.
Just the same, there is no rush.
The PGA Tour Policy Board on Tuesday renewed Finchem's contract through June 2016. Finchem, 64, succeeded Deane Beman in June 1994.
"I love the job," said Finchem, who has steered the PGA Tour successfully through a sharp economic downturn the last four years. "The contract was coming up this year, and I decided I'd wait until after television to really think about it. My youngest daughter is going to college, so I figured I'd wait to talk to my wife about it, and the environment with kids gone, just talk about whether it made sense family-wise. But in terms of the job, it was kind of a no-brainer decision.
"Plus, when we got done with television, the more I thought about the runway for 10 years out I figured we could really do some good stuff long-term planning wise, and the more I thought about it, I feel like we have as much opportunity and I'm as optimistic as I've ever been; I'm really excited about the future." Finchem said staying on through the 2016 Olympics, golf's first appearance in the quadrennial Games since 1904, was not a factor in the length of his contract extension. He said he would "never rule out any possibilities" regarding another extension after this contract expires. "Ronald Reagan was elected president at 70 and served two terms. [But] the likelihood is this will probably be it for me."
Who will potentially succeed him? That remains to be seen, but the process won't be much different than the one the PGA Tour employed before finally selecting Finchem.
"It's the same scenario that any company has," he said. "You work with a board of directors for a transition plan, you bring people along who can assume leadership roles, and then when the time comes, the board either makes a selection internally or they open it up and compare internal candidates with external candidates. That's a decision they have to make in the context of where they are at the time. Our job is to bring people along who have good leadership skills, give them good broad experience in different aspects of their organization and also put them in a position where they can demonstrate to the board the caliber of management skills they have."
Finchem said the last few years -- and particularly last year when he completed negotiations on long-term television contracts with CBS and NBC -- were among the most challenging of his tenure.
"We didn't have just a little downturn; we had bankruptcies going on," he said. "And you know how all those things play into things like television. We had our number one player [Tiger Woods] out a lot, which plays into television. There was an extra level of concern, but I felt like we were strong enough to get through it. I was real optimistic. It's just that it was hard work."
-- *Dave Shedloski