The World Invitational, Q&A with David Radulovich

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SportingClaysUSA.com had the opportunity to speak with David Radulovich about his highly anticipated upcoming venture, The World Invitaitonal and got some details on what he has in store for the future of Sporting Clays.

SCUSA: I guess we’ll start with what is the World Invitational?

DR:  I can tell you that it is an invitational tournament that will be hosted, managed, and put together for the absolute elite competitors of our sport. It is going to be the most professional event we have ever had in the history of competitive shooting. That will be measured both on and off the course, from morning until night. It is going to be at one of the most beautiful and professional resorts in the country. It is going to be the most impressive test of skill that we have ever had in our game. Putting it plainly, for the competitors participating in The World Invitational, it is going to be the best experience that they have ever had playing their favorite game.

SCUSA: How did you come up with the idea for the World Invitational?

DR:  In all honesty, it was out of frustration and passion. I love our sport, it’s the greatest game ever invented if you ask me. It’s better than golf — and it’s more difficult too. It frustrates me that shooting is not looked at to be on the same level as golf. And I don’t mean on TV and all that stuff. I mean, if you think about a professional golfer, what image do you get? Now what image do you get when you think of a professional shooter? They probably aren’t the same. But why shouldn’t they be? We compete at the exact same level that they do, yet their image is held to be more valuable than ours. It shouldn’t be that way.

I love golf, and I’ve studied the history of it, including all the great players of the past. It’s interesting, when you look at what made golfing mainstream; really the only answer that you get is the players themselves. What they did for the game, how they acted and presented themselves when they were playing it — they were the driving force behind the popularity of the sport. Compare that to shooting, every attempt that we have had to make shooting “blow up” has been external. We have never, as players, come together to start a movement to get somewhere huge. Somebody always comes along, throws some money in a pot and has us all compete for it. But what does that do? A few years go by and that person doesn’t want to do it anymore and then we are back where we started.

I want to do something different. I want to put something on that is so good that it makes people realize what we are missing. Something truly professional, without any distractions that attempt to make it based on entertainment value, or anything else like that. I want to put on an event that people who truly have that competitive fire will love, something that only the most serious and confident people will want to do — because they believe they can win. I feel like, as a competitor, in our sport we are missing an event that is just truly awesome. I have a few friends that play in the PGA and I have been to some of their professional tournaments — the atmosphere at those events is unbelievable. It makes me want to pick up a set of clubs and give up shooting and try to earn a PGA Tour Card. We are missing that. It’s the most exciting and exhilarating feeling you can experience in professional sports. Sure, we have titles like the U.S. Open and the World Championship, but the atmosphere at those events isn’t the same as it is at, say, The Masters Tournament in the PGA.

I look back at Bobby Jones, and how he started The Masters Tournament at Augusta National — and how that simple idea turned into the most prestigious event in the PGA today. The creation of that event helped define the direction that professional golf went in, and that’s what I want to see done with my event. I want shooting to be like golf, plain and simple. And as much as I want that to happen, I realize there is only one way it can be done — with complete selflessness. If we truly want “professional shooting” to emerge, we can’t treat it like a business. We can’t try to sell it before we have anything to sell. We can’t be greedy. We can’t try to get rich. It has to be done right, and the only way it gets done right is if you don’t try to cheat the system.

Unfortunately, and I know I am going to hear from certain people for saying this, but nothing that we have right now in our game is being done selflessly — and it is choking the growth of our sport. This is the other factor of frustration that helped me come up with this idea. Everything that we have going right now is not going to work. It’s like having an entrepreneurial idea and trying to turn that idea into a successful business startup. If you immediately try to get rich, you don’t have enough capital to create something that’s different and better that what already exists. Some of the founders of the most successful businesses in the world lived in their cars and paid their employees before they even made a penny. The only way the sport evolves is with a long term mindset and with a vision and path of direction that allows those long term goals to come to fruition.

SCUSA: Do you have a short term goal for the event?

DR:  I have hundreds of short term goals for this event — especially in the planning and execution. There are so many things that I am in the process of accomplishing. But I am going to interpret that as you asking what would be the ultimate goal to accomplish at the end of the first event? My main goal for the first World Invitational would be to show the shooting community what all we are missing in terms of professionalism. I want this first event to be so good that it is all anybody that attends wants to shoot anymore. I want the people that are invited and attend to leave feeling that they were treated like the true professional athlete that they really are. I want their experience to be unlike anything they have ever witnessed at any other shooting event. I want them to feel just as famous as Jordan Spieth did the second he teed up his ball for the first shot of the Open Championship — potentially being first person to win the first three majors of the year since Ben Hogan did it in 1953. That’s what I want. In short, my short term goal for this event is to blow everybody away.

SCUSA: With that said do you have a long term goal for the event?

DR:  This one is a little shorter — I want this event to start a movement that bands all of the professional shooters together into a players association that ends up forming a true professional organization for clay shooting and takes the sport to a level that it never has been before. I want this event to create a product that is truly professional to the point where it becomes marketable and we can easily attract external corporate sponsors who value our players, not our show. A sport where each individual shooter is their own brand – not all professionals as one cumulative brand. That is the only way to create a true following for our sport and to allow an avenue for not only the sport to grow, but for all of our professional athletes to create their own brands. How cool would it be for some kid to grow up with a professional shooter that he has never met as a role model, just like I did with Tiger Woods? That’s the long term goal. But like I said, it can’t be accomplished if I try to do this to make money. That is not the goal at all. Everything that I make or have donated is going straight back into the event and the experience. It is the only way.

SCUSA: As a Professional event how will it differ from the current PSCA?

DR:  The current PSCA is set up to be an entertaining show intended to be sold for people to watch. That is not what my focus is going to be on. I do not care about creating a TV show right now. I do not care about making it something that people want to watch on TV right now. My full and undivided attention is on the experience that each competitor will have. When golf was in the beginning stages of its growth in popularity, did it form because somebody tried to make a TV show out of it? No. The sport grew to be something that people enjoyed and were passionate about following, and that alone demanded televised coverage of it. In all honesty, at this point, attempting to create a product for major network television is a distraction. If people want to watch something, there are so many more convenient ways for people to do so remotely with the technology that we have. Like I said, my focus is always going to be on the players. As a competitor myself, I know what I want — and I am going to make this event all of that and more.

SCUSA: Will you have major sponsors?

DR:  Yes, that is how this whole event is going to be put on. Fortunately, there are a lot of people that share my vision and want to get behind it at the beginning stages to support the movement. I have a few very generous entities behind me at the moment and would obviously take any others that are willing. It is very tough though to secure many business partners — once they hear me tell them I intend to put more into this than I can get out of it, you can start to see who the real players are that truly want to help the sport grow. But that’s the thing — if the sport grows, we all benefit. That is where my focus is. I know that it’s going to be hard work, and it’s going to be expensive now. But I am investing in our sport as a whole, and I know that if this is done right, everyone will be better off, everyone from the brand new beginner to the life-long professional.

SCUSA: Will you have a Television deal in place?

DR:  The way I am handling this is a little unique — I am essentially creating an open invitation for any original content creators to attend the event. Whether they be YouTube channel hosts, local TV stations, video bloggers, website managers, etc. — all are welcome to come and (upon following the restrictions for filming to prevent from interfering with competitors) can film and use any content that they want. If sometime down the line a TV network would decide to film this and air it, I would completely allow it but would have no hand in producing it. I want my focus to be on the players. The goal is to create something that holds enough value that it would attract a network to film it, that’s the plan. But until then, I plan to live-stream it on the internet for anybody and everybody to watch on their computer or mobile device — which I personally think is better.

SCUSA: This is the big question! Will the Prize Money rival that of Dubai or the PGA?

DR:  I’m glad you asked! There will definitely be a large purse involved with The World Invitational — that’s what makes it interesting and fun as a competitor! That will be the initial draw to the tournament. There will definitely be more money than the PSCA, but at this point I can’t tell you exactly what it is because it’s constantly growing. I can tell you that my goal is to beat the Dubai purse in terms of how much money can possibly be won at the event for participants, and I am fairly certain that it’ll happen.

SCUSA: Is this a true invitational? How does someone earn an invite?

DR:  Without a doubt. This will not be an NSCA, FITASC, PSCA, etc. event. Labeling it as an “invitational” allows us to essentially do whatever we want with it. This will be completely independent of any other organization. However, there will not be anybody left out throughout the world that deserves to compete at an event of this level. But my guess is that only the true competitors are going to accept the invitation — which will be interesting to see at the end of the day once all the invitations have been sent out.

The invitation to the event is going to be fairly unique, in terms of how they actually receive the invite (but I’m keeping that secret until the first person gets theirs) — but it’s going to be pretty awesome. I have gotten some criticism about this aspect of the event and how it should be open to the public to compete and how amateurs should be allowed to shoot it as well, but I am sticking to my guns and saying that this is strictly an invite only event. That is really the only way to create the type of atmosphere that I am looking to produce here. I can’t go register to play at The Masters, despite how badly I want to.

SCUSA: Is there anything you would like to add about the event?

DR:  What I am aiming for with The World Invitational is to not only have this be an awesome experience on the course, the whole time you are going to be at the event, you will be treated like a true professional. From the resort we will be at, to the food you eat, to the way you are checked into your hotel room, to what you have waiting for you when you get in your room, to the way you are addressed by the staff, to the dress code everybody will be required to follow. Everything about this event is going to be truly professional — and in addition to that, it is going to be a grueling competitive experience. I want it to test how good you actually are. And I don’t just mean the targets — I mean the format, the number of days, the layout, etc. Like I said, only the true competitors are going to want to come, but they are going to love every minute of it. It will be more than worth it.

We look forward to hearing more about the event and seeing what David and the organizers have in store for the new venture.

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