Professional Golf: Traditional and Emerging Sponsorship Opportunities

August 2020

Like all major professional sports properties, golf organisations and tours are facing unprecedented challenges brought about by the Coronavirus. Re-energising the sport and unlocking a younger fanbase will accelerate a return to commercial success amid the uncertainty.

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Key Findings

Coronavirus challenges

Across the landscape of professional sports, there is a focus on winning attention online. Global events have been postponed or cancelled, and sponsorships and activations have been interrupted, impacting key revenue streams for top competitions such as the PGA, LPGA, and the European, Asian and Japan tours.

Both golfers and fans are getting younger

The profile of golf is evolving. Over 2003-2020, the average age of a top 10 PGA Tour golfer dropped by almost eight years. The emergence of highly ranked professionals that are fluent with social media has created the opportunity to win new fans in new spaces, such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. Through the pandemic and beyond, maximising this attention will be key to sustainability and growth.

Sponsorship landscape is slow to evolve alongside fanbase

The sponsorship landscape reflects golf’s traditional roots, over-indexing in spaces like luxury timepieces and luxury cars. These categories contribute essential sponsorship revenue, but online engagement with young fans has opened doors to brands that would have previously overlooked golf. CBD products, energy drinks and consumer electronics brands now consider golfers a part of the sponsorship conversation.

Future of golf means navigating pandemic and capitalising on new opportunities

Golf is well positioned to adapt to changes induced by the pandemic. In the short to mid term, illustrating that social distancing is being adhered to will be key to bringing fans back and delivering maximum value for partners. Uncertainty will remain, but focusing on the appeal of golf’s top athletes on digital platforms will contribute heavily toward a sustainable future.

 

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Pandemic Impact and Commercial Performance

The commercial evolution of golf, in a nutshell
The future of fans at events remains uncertain
Without live attendances, golfers are key to engagement
Social media usage
Can professional golf keep pace with competitors on social media?
Player snapshot: Brooks Koepka
In the women’s game, the same challenges persist
Will podcasting play a role in increasing golf’s popularity?
Can golf benefit from live-streaming?
How is digital generating value for commercial partners?
Golf exposure outlook

Key and Emerging Sponsorship Areas

The evolving partnership profile of golf
Golf will continue to rely on luxury and premium partners
Golf over-indexes for private airlines partnerships
Luxury car deals common with golfers, tournaments and tours
Banking and finance partnerships play a crucial role
Hotel/resort partnerships see golfers as cultural ambassadors
Luxury timepieces and activity wearables
New category opportunity: CBD products for athletes
New category opportunity: Consumer electronics
New category opportunity: Energy drinks
Is it time to usher in the new era of golf?

Growth Outlook and Takeaways

Growing the game: Three key takeaways
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