Tour growth depends on Dubai millions
As we know these are extremely difficult times in the financial markets but the economic woes of the world haven't prevented the European Tour from announcing what it terms the "most momentous season" in its history.
The reason, of course, is the backing of the Dubai-based Leisurecorp and the introduction of the $10m season-ending Dubai World Championship along with the $10m bonus pool for the "Race to Dubai" which will next year replace the Order of Merit.
But it would be wrong to assume that golf is impervious to the economic downturn. While no expense has been spared in the lavish announcement at Turnberry of the 2009 season, there are still plenty of I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed before the calendar is confirmed.
Indeed, the list is peppered with TBA's for the new campaign and there's an awful lot more hard bargaining to be done on sponsorship and venues for many European-based events.
Should TBA stand for To Be Announced? Or should it be To Be Alarmed?
Of the 10 events that have yet to announce where they will be played, nine are in Europe. For some of these it is nothing more than a timing issue, with the tournaments wanting to make their own splash when details are revealed.
"This is 98% rock solid," said Tour chief executive George O'Grady of a list that he describes as a "transitional season" as the Tour heads to a calendar-year race from 2010 onwards.
Even though it is scheduled for October, the Seve Trophy looks rocky. O'Grady didn't seem optimistic for the biennial clash between Great Britain and Ireland and continental Europe, speaking of "tough times".
The Tour has taken over the event and he said: "It's a work in progress and we're not at nine or 10 [out of 10]. It's not a done deal yet."
Five new tournaments have come into the 13-month calendar, but the BMW Asian Open has gone, prompting a late re-arrangement that sees the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea moving to an April date.
A new Spanish-based World Match Play replaces the Wentworth date lost this year. The Czech Open returns, the Canal+ Open is a new tournament for September and the English Open will be played at St Mellion in the same week as the US PGA.
At the Turnberry announcement (Leisurecorp now owns the resort and course and it is expected to stage the European Open from 2010) it was dropped in almost as an afterthought that the Dubai-based operation will be pumping in a further $40m over five years to prop up other Tour events.
Leisurecorp will be seeking to make most of their return on this massive investment through property development.
"Before you ask your next question, we know what's happening in the markets but we are taking a very long term view on this," said David Spencer, their chief executive of golf.
"There is unfortunate and bleak economic news but we had very much committed to this well before the world was in the grip of these times.
"We are very conservative, by the way, in our business planning. We have reserved the capital injections for this very purpose. In times like this we don't want to flaunt the success of a company like Leisurecorp, but we are people of our commitment.
"We are well prepared to honour our commitment to golf," Spencer added.
Few companies can afford to be so bullish at the moment, but as long as Spencer is true to his word the European Tour should remain in a healthy state.
"We're ready for the bumps," says O'Grady. At the moment he seems to have more to smile about than is American counterpart Tim Finchem at PGA Tour headquarters in Florida.
"We are looking at opportunities around the world to work with the PGA Tour," said O'Grady. Now may be the time for him to strike with the US Tour so heavily supported by the ailing banking sector.
Europe's boss couldn't resist observing: "We don't want to be involved with too many rocky banks, so we're not following that one."
Instead he is banking on the Dubai millions as the European Tour seeks to break new ground in the global golfing market in these uncertain economic times.