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September 07, 2017
Five Questions with a PGA TOUR Executive
WE ARE GOLF recently asked Allison Keller - Executive Vice President, HR & Corporate Development at PGA TOUR - to provide some perspective on upcoming events, new marketing partnerships and the work to grow golf with all audiences.
In May, the PGA TOUR announced a 10-year extension of the agreement with FedEx. How important was this to the PGA TOUR?
As Commissioner Jay Monahan said during the announcement in May at THE PLAYERS Championship, FedEx is part of the foundation of the PGA TOUR and their support is integral to our success. The 10-year extension of our relationship ensures that we are well positioned to continue to grow the PGA TOUR – and the game of golf – globally.
The FedExCup has transformed the PGA TOUR, and what’s so fun to see now is that a whole generation of players have known nothing but the FedExCup; they’ve literally “grown up” with the format and the Playoffs during their careers, and they fully embrace it.
Don Colleran, EVP and Chief Sales Officer of FedEx, said during the announcement that FedEx is a performance driven, fact-based company and they felt that the first 10 years of the FedExCup illustrated the relationship is beneficial for their employees, for the volunteer platform it provides; for FedEx’s customers for the entertainment provided at tournaments, and for their shareholders for the business-to-business opportunities that the FedExCup provides each week.
We couldn’t be happier with the evolution of the FedExCup over the past decade-plus, and we’re thrilled that it will continue for many years to come.
The FedEx extension was not the only recent business success though?
The extension with FedEx was one of our many recent business successes. Additionally, the PGA TOUR has announced Official Marketing Partner relationships with Massage Envy and Arby’s, as well as renewals with Anheuser-Busch, MetLife and NetJets. MasterCard renewed as both presenting sponsor of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and as an Official Marketing Partner. We also announced an elevation of the Corrales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship from a Web.com Tour event to a PGA TOUR event, and the Presidents Cup welcomed Alfa Romeo as a new Global Partner.
It has been a busy, but very successful year so far, which is a testament to our players. Partners of the caliber listed above, to name a few, partnering with the PGA TOUR speaks to the quality of our sport and the impact our players have, both on the course and within their communities.
One of the missions of the PGA TOUR is to grow the game. How do you see this progressing?
The PGA TOUR is committed to bringing more fans – and more diverse fans, at that – to the game of golf. Whether that be through our support of The First Tee, the program developed by former PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem that introduces valuable life skills to youth through golf, or through the grow-the-game initiatives where we partner with fellow golf organizations in the United States, we are beginning the see the fruits of these actions.
The First Tee is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017 and is coming off a year where a record 5.3 million youth participated in the program. And since 2011, the number of youth golfers aged 6 to 17 has grown 20 percent to 2.9 million.
And Commissioner Monahan has impressed upon our entire organization to have a “Fans First” mindset – to constantly innovate in order to draw a younger, more diverse, global audience to the PGA TOUR and the game of golf as a whole. We’re all energized by the challenge and opportunity to do so.
Outside of growing the game, does the PGA TOUR do anything to make the game look more like society does?
Diversity and Inclusion is a primary focus of the PGA TOUR. As a global organization, we aspire to reflect the regions and communities where we play as we believe that diversity of thought and background is vital to our success and growth. The TOUR strives to create an inclusive and welcoming culture and be positive example for all of our constituents and partners.
We see our efforts being both inward- and outward-facing, focusing on creating an “energetic mix of voices,” as Commissioner Monahan would say, amongst our staff, PGA TOUR players, our partners and, most importantly, our fans. Recently, Commissioner Monahan joined the CEOs of more than 250 leading companies in signing the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, a commitment to work together on this important societal issue, across all industries.
Can you discuss the importance of New York City hosting the Presidents Cup, World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony and recognizing 20 years of The First Tee in one golf-themed week later this year?
At the end of September, the New York Metropolitan Area will play host to a week of golf unlike any we have ever seen. The centerpiece will be the 12th playing of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, right there in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. We are expecting this to be the biggest Presidents Cup yet, with both the United States and International teams boasting strong contingents this year under the leadership of U.S. Captain Steve Stricker and International Captain Nick Price. We’re expecting the “melting pot” that is New York/New Jersey to come out in record numbers to engage in the event.
We are also very excited about the first ever Junior Presidents Cup, which will be held at Plainfield Country Club a few days prior.
The excitement won’t be limited to the golf course, however. The World Golf Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony that week as Davis Love III – a six-time U.S. Presidents Cup Team member and one of Steve Stricker’s captain’s assistants – will join Ian Woosnam, Lorena Ochoa, Meg Mallon and legendary golf writer Henry Longhurst as 2017 inductees. Also, The First Tee will be celebrating 20 years of helping introduce the game and the life skills to millions of young people. The First Tee was announced in 1997 in a ceremony in Central Park.
It is going to be an exciting week to showcase our great sport.