On Wednesday, Petr Dědek was officially able to “tick off” another name on his list of players who he would like to attract to the D+D REAL Czech Masters tournament. As the owner of the Relmost promotion company, he introduced Ernie Els as the star attraction for this year’s competition and then unveiled his further plans for golf during the press conference.
“As I promised in the past, we will be drawing in all of the former world number-ones in future,” said Dědek, repeating his promise at Hotel Vienna House Andel’s Prague, where the traditional spring meeting with journalists was held. Other than Els, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood also participated in the competition in the past and will also be turning up this year. Other confirmed names are Pádraig Harrington and Thomas Bjorn.
Although a lot of names are still missing, if we take into consideration the ones which are realistic at the moment, but Dědek speaks openly of that fact that he still has a lot of them in mind. For example, Vijay Singh, who he has had in his sights for several years now.
And the definitive “playlist” has not been finalised yet, even for this year’s sixth year of the European Tour tournament at Albatross: “We are about so sign an agreement with Eddie Pepperell, who would be the highest-ranking player in the global rankings of those we have named so far.”
“We are talking to Alex Čejka who would like to come to the Czech Republic. We will see how successful he is in America, but some colleagues who were at The Players talked to him and it is not completely out of the question. Another player could be Thorbjorn Olesen, but we are also following others who are about to stop playing in America. Other big names could decide to come at the last minute,” says Dědek.
He is happy that his company Relmost is becoming one of the key partners of the whole European Tour. It is after all Relmost which is organising three of the introductory events in the Challenge Tour season. And the Czech Masters tops this off.
“With these tournaments, we are confirming our size and strength in the world of European golf, because we are the only ones to act independently as promotor for four tournaments in the European Tour and the Challenge Tour. We are very strong in our partnership with the European Tour thanks to that,” recalls Dědek.
This is one of the reasons why he and his whole team can continue on the path they have set: “From the very beginning when we entered the world of golf, we have claimed that our aim is to support Czech golf. The aim is to help one of the players gain access to other events in the European Tour thanks to our tournaments and invitations, for him to act as a role model for younger players.”
“I myself expected that we would manage this sooner, but I am glad that we have two players in the Challenge Tour with a stable card. Filip Mrůzek got in thanks to the invitation and Standa Matuš defended the card he won last year at the lower-level Pro Golf Tour. And this was in part also thanks to our Prague Golf Challenge tournament in Zbraslav, where he finished joint tenth,” recalled Dědek.
His other company D+D REAL remains the titular partner of the Czech Masters for the sixth year, something which need not hold true in future. Everything depends on further negotiations and possibly also the success of this year.
“At lot of people thought at the start that we would not last, but five years have passed now and we have the sixth year ahead of us. We are carrying on and have signed one of the longest contracts ever in the European Tour. D+D REAL is continuing to count on partnership, but the Relmost promotion company is looking for a titular partner. The moment a partner comes along, a partner which would like to support the tournament over the long term, which has the right name and strength, because we do not want to be associated with just anyone, we are ready to discuss that,” says Dědek, making no secret of the fact that the most lucrative marketing place is available.
Negotiations already took place last year on possible transition of the general partner Raiffeisenbank to the position of titular partner, but in the end, nothing will change about their collaboration which will last for at least another five years.
And nothing will be changing in the level of the overall prize money either. This will stay at EUR 1 million. Although consideration was made of increasing this by one hundred thousand, this plan was abandoned in the end. The tournament budget thus remains somewhere between 80 and 100 million crowns.
“The difference between a tournament with prize money of a million euros or two and a half to three million euros is not great enough to ensure participation by the stars which the tournament needs. We did consider certain steps, but it has become clear that the priority must be to contractually ensure international players, our poster boys, and to build our marketing on them,” divulged Dědek and added: “For us, it would then only make sense for us to become a major partner and for example to be part of the Rolex Series. But not even that guarantees you participation by the major stars.”
It cannot thus be ruled out in future that certain changes in the Czech Masters await fans in the Czech Republic. By all accounts, there seem to be several alternatives.
“If we move the Czech Masters up a level anywhere in the future, then it will be directly into the Rolex Series, or maybe the Rolex Series won’t exist in three or four years’ time, but a different series. We can also see how the PGA Tour is expanding all over the world, so maybe Relmost will receive an offer from America. Due to us being a global company and one which holds a Golf Channel licence and broadcasting rights for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, we often find ourselves in America, where we are in close contact with important people. They are very interested in our activities, so we will see what happens,” says Dědek, not wishing to speak to soon.
But there is one dream that he has still not given up on: “You always need some dreams and goals or other. We have already proven ourselves. We have a lot under our belt and further challenges ahead of us. We already mentioned the Ryder Cup in the past and I would like to try for that, but it (its organisation) is dependent on the political situation not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Europe. We now find ourselves in very turbulent economic times, but yes, one of our long-term goals is to bring the Ryder Cup to the Czech Republic.”
During the questions from journalists, one also came from the editor of Golf Digest, Andrej Halada, who mentioned last year’s acquisition of Golf Channel and asked whether Petr Dědek plans any further domestic golf expansion, for example into any of the golf courses.
“Just now I thought you were asking whether I would be buying a magazine,” said Dědek, entertaining those present with his reaction, but then answered a little more seriously: “Never say never. We are certainly not counting on investment into a course. We have a long-term agreement with Mr Šimáně that the Czech Masters will be held at Albatross. Nothing will change about that. The resort investing in the course is a very accommodating move for us and we enjoy excellent collaboration. There are not many more opportunities to invest more into golf in this country.”
Everything has its price and that is doubly true for organisation of large-scale golfing events. So, has Petr Dědek become richer or poorer over the last eight years?
“I have certainly gained a wealth of experiences. Money can’t buy what golf gives you anyway. You have to experience it. Thanks to golf, I visited Augusta and various other major tournaments. I love golf and I love playing it,” said Petr Dědek, beginning his train of thought about his overall golf investment. And he continued.
“A lot of people have said that I am supporting my son. That once he stops, golf will be over for me. But that is not true. Golf is our long-term strategy. My son has become involved in management in Relmost and ATV and he will certainly be taking over from me in future and further develop things. I don’t make a living from golf and that is of fundamental importance. And if you practice a sport as a hobby, that is a great advantage. Those companies who did it (before us), playing with it for a year or two and coming to nothing… Our set-up is a bit different and I am certain that when we are sitting here in a year’s time or in five years’ time, my son will be sitting here instead of me and I will be sitting in the second row next to you laughing.”