ORLANDO, Fla. – Sponsor defection from the world of golf has made headlines of late, but declaring it a trend is premature.
Such casualties often are inevitable during a recession, but their occurrence shouldn’t be interpreted as golf’s loss of value or appeal. The fact remains the sport delivers a desired demographic and can provide sponsors tremendous broadcast exposure and access to grass-roots initiatives.
That point was underscored when the PGA of America announced Jan. 28 at the PGA Merchandise Show the signing of the Royal Bank of Canada as its third “official patron” – the association’s highest level of partnership. (Mercedes Benz and American Express also are PGA official patrons.)
In addition to gaining status as the official bank of the PGA of America, RBC will be associated with properties ranging from the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup to Play Golf America Days, a popular grow-the-game initiative held at golf facilities nationwide. RBC officials found the branding opportunities compelling, and they seized on the chance to partner with the PGA’s 28,000 members to grow its business neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
“In short, we view the recession as a leadership moment to step up,” said Jim Little of RBC.
The sixth-largest bank in North America aggressively has used golf as its primary marketing platform. It already serves as the title sponsor of the RBC Canadian Open, and its tour staff had included Anthony Kim, Mike Weir and Stephen Ames. RBC also announced it’s expanding Team RBC by adding Fred Couples, Luke Donald and Morgan Pressel.
“It’s a positive statement about sports marketing, and it’s a positive statement about golf,” Steranka said. “Sports marketing still works.”