About the author:

Jonathan Albrecht is an eight year credentialed agent / player manager on the PGA Tour. He currently represents professionals like Marco Dawson, Chris Couch, and is trying to pull Ed “The Grip” Fiori out of retirement.

What's The Future For Player Sponsorships?

A few months back I received a call from Adam Barr of The Golf Channel. Adam is a talented reporter and a popular “on air” personality. He was doing a piece on the current state of the "PGA Tour Player Marketing Sponsorships" as it relates to the economy.

Yes, I know that the major automobile companies are having very tough times right now. They have been staples as title sponsorships of many tournaments for many years. These companies such as Buick, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Chrysler should be commended for their past support of professional golf and the charities involved. PGA Tour marketing or any sports marketing for that matter may take a back seat to companies staying afloat and people keeping their jobs.

I called on a few buddies who work on tour, I wanted to get their current take on the economy and current player sponsorship business. I actually ended up with a list of success stories while also getting an update on top trends for the golf fan.

Sterling Sports Management (How They See It)

I spoke with Jeff Chilcoat who is President of Sterling Sports Management. Jeff is always positive and ever so much the professional. He was at the recent LPGA event in Phoenix with some of his clients. He represents players like Brittany Lincicome, Carin Koch, Jill McGill and Jeong Jang from the LPGA. He also represents Eric Axley, Neal Lancaster, and Vance Veasey from the PGA Tour.

Jeff’s take on the current economy was that “The deals are still out there. You might have to look a little harder, and maybe even give more time (in terms of sponsor days) than in the past, but companies still see a big benefit to advertising on the golf tours.” Jeff has had great recent success with sponsorships for Stacy with Mizuno, FILA, PNC Bank, Vedalo HD (Sunglasses), Proctor & Gamble, and Titleist/Footjoy. It is always a pleasure talking with Jeff.

Hambric Sports Management (How They See It)

I also contacted Hambric Sports Management. Rocky Hambric and David Winkle have been very well respected agents on the PGA Tour for years with clients such as Justin Leonard, Steve Flesh, Bob Estes, and Colt Knost. David Winkle told me that he feels “the corporate world has slowed down on spending in sports. People are cautious and there seems to be some concern on spending (on sports marketing) from an image standpoint. I have to say from the golf side of things that we have been fortunate.” David was getting ready to travel to a college event which shows that Hambric Sports Management also has an eye on the future.

Manufacturers Representative (How They See It)

I spoke with Mike Neal who is a PGA Tour Manufacturers Representative for Club Glove and STX Putters. Mike has been on tour for over 10 years. He is well known and well liked by the players. The Club Glove travel bag is considered the standard on tour. Mike feels that it is and advantage when a company can produce a super high quality product. This will help considerably in an economy that isn’t going so well. Quality will always be in demand.

The NEW PGA Deal (Blanket Sponsorships!)

Personally I think this is a great time for the blanketed or team approach to PGA Tour sponsorships.
I am currently working on a “staff deal” or a team approach for a high end home audio company called Aperion Audio. Aperion Audio will choose about 5 pro’s to wear their logo on tour and give testimonials to the quality of their products.

A great example of this, in the distant past, was the Amana Hat deal. Many tour pro’s would wear the Amana hat back in the day and it was great branding at the time for the appliance company. A more recent example of a blanketed deal approach has been the Nature Valley Granola deal for the PGA Tour caddy’s. This is where the tour caddies would be awarded a point system for wearing the logo’d hat during the whole year. A nice paycheck came their way right around the holidays.

The "Belt Buckle" Sponsors

One trend that is most likely on tour to stay is the “notice me” belt buckle. Anthony Kim’s initials ‘AK’ belt buckle is almost always in play. Adidas has their 3-stripe buckle that is seen on their staff players. J. Lindeberg has had their JL buckle on tour for a few years now. The great putter designer, Bob Bettinardi, has a few cool buckles displaying a sophisticated style. (see www.bettinardi.com) I may start to ask some manufacturers if there is a “tee it up bonus” for having a belt buckle in play. In a tough economy, golfers are still dropping some nice coin on the belt buckle.

Shaft Company Sponsors On The Rise

I am also starting to notice shaft companies having staff players. This is pretty smart to keep some of the top players “locked in” in a way to playing a certain brand and gaining a nice sense of loyalty. There are many great choices in terms of shafts for the guys on tour.

One Final Thought-

The PGA Tour has given over one billion dollars to charity. The PGA Tour continues to show that golfers everywhere have big hearts. It should also be noted that we, as golfers, play the countless “barbeque circuit” tournaments to help out many worthy charities. I would not be out of bounds to say that we all should be super proud of a sport that represents friendship, honesty, good will, and humility all at the same time.
So go play some more golf and be proud of it during these trying times.
Here’s to you making more putts!

About the author:

Jonathan Albrecht is an eight year credentialed agent / player manager on the PGA Tour. He currently represents professionals like Marco Dawson, Chris Couch, and is trying to pull Ed “The Grip” Fiori out of retirement.

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