Golf Sponsorship Advertising


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Introduction
As a new wave of advertising is breaking over the market, companies are forever searching for new ways to promote their brands and create awareness. One up-and-coming medium is golf tournament sponsorship, a form of event sponsorship. At its basic form, event sponsorship advertising is when a company pays a set amount of money to have their names, or brand names incorporated into an event title (AdAge). Golf tournament sponsorships are no different. A company will pay a set fee, depending on what level of sponsorship they want, to have their name, or brand name, associated with a golf tournament.

Sponsorship Prices and Levels
Sponsorship costs vary based on the amount of sponsorship a company would like to purchase. Title sponsorships, the highest level of recognition, which includes the tournament being named after said sponsor can cost between 6 and 8.5 million dollars per tournament on the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) Tour (BusinessWeek, Foust). Although the prices seem steep, there are about 50 professional events that take place each year and sponsors can purchase merchandising sponsorships, individual hole sponsorships, or sign bulk contracts to sponsor the same tournament for a set number of years. However, local tournaments are becoming widely popular and offer a much more structured and affordable sponsorship package. Local golf tournaments usually offer Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsorship levels(Volunteers of America Western New York). These price ranges can go anywhere from a $10,000 Platinum package to $500 Bronze package, depending on the tournament, according to golf tournament sponsor Mike Carl. Carl is a business owner in Wheeling, WV who has sponsored a local golf tournament, H.E. Nuemann Golf Tournament, at Wheeling Country Club for the past 3 years.
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Reach, Frequency, and Impact
Since golf is a widely popular sport, tournament sponsorships is a guaranteed way to reach a large population. Between the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and United States Golf Association (USGA) golf is roughly a $60 billion a year generator. Past major sponsors have included automobile companies, banks, and other financial institutions. The average age of a tournament attendee is somewhere between 40 and 65 and have above average incomes; the perfect market for classic golf sponsors (Plunkett Research). Although golf is still very popular, about 26 million players across the country with 3 million new learners every year, participation and tournament attendance are down some because of the stagnating economy. Although programs by the PGA and USDA have been launched to provide free lessons and to under privileged urban children and helpful links on their websites to struggling players, the decline in popularity means a smaller viewing audience (Plunkett Research). However, there is a little more hope for local golf tournaments. Small town golf sponsor Mike Carl says crowd turn out and player turn out have been outstanding the past three years at his tournament. “We brought in a few new sponsors to up the purse a little bit so we could expand our tourney winnings and give a ways. We opened up the final two rounds for the public to come watch so the community can get involved and golfers family’s can come watch, which also meant that we could open up beverage and food stands, and charge a small admittance fee”, says Carl. Community “kick-backs”, as he calls them, also helps stimulate interest and raise more money for the tournament. “All the money we make from admittance fees and food and drinks on the last two days goes to a different charity every year. Community building is always a great way to advertise, and its nice that we can all help out a little bit” he says.

Drawbacks and Risks
Like any form of event sponsorship, or classic form of advertising, there are risks and drawbacks associated with golf tournament sponsorships. Even though there are millions of new golfers every year, the fact is that PGA licensed golf courses are closing by the dozens and more golfers are quitting the game than joining; about 100 courses closed in 2008 and an estimated three to four million golfers quit every year (Plunkett Research). So, even though tournament sponsorships may be a great from of name recognition, it is only effective if there is a populous of golfers and fans to watch the tournament. Another associated risk is the high costs it takes to sponsor these events. Professional tournaments range in the single digit millions and local tournaments can costs several thousands of dollars. Combine that with the fact that golf is on a slight downturn and those two barriers to entry can seem quite uninviting.

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Benefits of Golf Sponsorships
Although at times it may be a bit pricey, golf sponsorships are still a promising form of emerging advertising. Some of the most successful companies in the country, including GM, Buick, Morgan Stanley, and U.S. Bank use the PGA tour as part of their national advertising campaigns (Plunkett Research). Golf is one of the oldest and proudest sports in this country and having a name synonymous with golf is a wonderful advertising tool. It is a game that is loved, played, and viewed the world over. So whether you’re sponsoring a local tournament, or a national championship, having your brand name as a sponsor is a sure way to gain recognition, marketing relationships, and brand awareness.

Scheduling
Seeing as how golf is a seasonal sport and a tournament takes only four days to play, there are just a couple scheduling details to look at. Most golf tournaments, depending on regional location and weather conditions, can be held anywhere from March to November. Country clubs won't allow players on the course if the temperature is below the frost line because it is hazardous to the course, otherwise courses are open for business. Also, since a tournament takes four days the normal scheduling days are Thursday through Sunday. The organization hosting the tournament would have to make sure their desired course is available for use during those days, but that rarely is a problem.


Example of sponsorship opportunities with the National Professional Golf Tour.

References
AdAge Encyclopedia. “Event Advertising.” Advertising Age Online. Sept. 15, 2003. http://adage.com/article?article_id=98463ndustry=30&index=9

Foust, Dean. “The PGA Tour: Where’s the Green?”. BusinessWeek Online. May 20, 2002. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_20/b3783108.htm

Volunteers of America Org. --- Description of Sponsorship Levels --- http://www.voawny.org/Default.aspx?tabid=167

Plunkett Research Online. Sports Industry Research Center. Market Research & Trends. http://www.plunkettresearchonline.com/ResearchCenter/Trends/display.aspx?Industry=30&index=9

Carl, Michael. H.E. Nuemann, Co. 304-232-3040. mcarl@heneumann.com. Interview March 19, 2010.