With the ever-rising popularity of the game of golf, mainstream television decided they needed to cash in on the golf craze and founded The Golf Channel. The history of this cable phenomenon is really a storied one.
In 1990, cable and cellular entrepreneur Joseph Gibbs of Birmingham, Alabama, offered to host a professional golfer for the 1990 PGA Championship. Mr. Gibbs was ecstatic to learn he would be hosting Arnold and Winnie Palmer during the week of the tournament. A friendship was instantly born and as the friendship blossomed so did the discussion of a 24-hour cable network devoted entirely to golf.
After conducting a Gallup survey to determine public interest, Joe Gibbs was pleased to realize that there was a strong interest for a golf channel among the general public. The successful entrepreneur and the golf legend were convince that The Golf Channel would flourish with offerings for the golf-loving viewer.
By 1995, the new corporation had raised over $80 million to finance and launch The Golf Channel. It debuted with less than 1,000 cable subscribers. The Golf Channel’s first live televised tournament was the Dubai Desert Classic which debuted on January 19, 1995.
Since then, The Golf Channel has grown by leaps and bounds in popularity. Many cable and satellite dish systems now carry The Golf Channel as part of their regular lineup of channels. It is now broadcast in Japan and Canada and in 1999, reached a “break even” status on their financial statements.
Today, The Golf Channel is considered the place to go for golf news and programming. They have a daily golf news show called “Golf Central” along with “College Central” which is dedicated to college golf. They air highlight shows of past tournaments and have many programs with professionals handing out golf tips to the eager viewer.
Not to be left behind with the reality TV phenomenon, The Golf Channel has joined in with their reality-based program called “The Big Break”. This program was designed to help aspiring professionals gain exemptions into PGA Tour and LPGA events. It has proven to be wildly successful.
In 2005, The Golf Channel helped set up a special match play event called Big Stakes Golf, in which teams of two paid a $100,000 entry fee to play in a special tournament where the winning team split a $3,000,000 first-place prize, the largest in golf history. In the end, mini-tour professionals Garth Mulroy and David Ping won the grand prize.
Two guys had a dream – one with business savvy, and one with golf savvy – and when The Golf Channel was born, that dream became a reality. Many households depend on The Golf Channel for their daily golf news – and this author’s household is no different. We love The Golf Channel – and you will too!