PGA Sponsorships Investments in Business Relationships

While the 89th PGA Championship will give Tulsa unprecedented television exposure in August, for many Tulsa corporations it represents an opportunity to invest in client relationships and appreciation.
More than 150 companies, most of them Tulsa- and Oklahoma-based, have spent from $29,500 for 10 seats up to $575,000 for daily hospitality for 300 patrons during the Aug. 6-12 event, said Ryan Jordan, tournament director.
With less than two months left before the city’s hotels will be filled with golf spectators, media and PGA staff and pros, there are only a few sponsorship options left for firms wishing to take advantage of the major event hosted by Southern Hills Country Club.
“Most of our chalets are sold,” Jordan said. “We do have some available that we can build if someone is interested, but for the most part the best option right now for a company is to look at our 10-person Champions Club Table.”
The $29,500 charge for the week covers food and beverages, parking and transportation to the event, he said.
“Really, anything that you need is encompassed in that.”
While Merrill Lynch in Oklahoma will be able to invite up to 300 people to its $85,000 chalet during the four main days of the event, the opportunity still remains a “tough ticket,” said Gregory Achten, director for the state of Oklahoma.
Merrill Lynch, which has more than $11 billion in assets under management through its Oklahoma offices with 129 financial advisers and a total of 188 employees, will use its passes primarily as a “thank you to our clients,” Achten said.
“It’s a first-class event,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase the city and what we have to offer.”
In addition to clients, Achten said, “we will have some senior officials from New York who will probably come in and see the city and enjoy the tournament.”
The tough thing will be “deciding who gets the tickets,” he said.
Merrill Lynch in Oklahoma has offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Gaillardia Golf and Country Club and Lawton. It will spread the PGA ticket wealth to some less-fortunate, up-and-coming golfers by opening its chalet to First Tee of Tulsa participants during practice rounds on Tuesday.
“We are going to bring in 75 kids that really would not have an opportunity to go to the tournament otherwise,” Achten said.
Even though the PGA championship is projected to be seen in 520 million households when it is broadcast by CBS and TNT, United States Beef Corp., 4923 E. 49th St., the largest Arby’s franchisee with 247 of the 3,200 Arby’s stores and three Taco Bueno’s, is not buying its sponsorship for the massive limelight.
U.S. Beef’s purpose “is not so much to be in the public eye as to build relationships,” said Jeff Davis, CEO.
With more than 6,000 employees in five states (Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois), space at the 10-seat Champion’s Club Table is likely to be tight.
“We have people from all over the company who want to come in,” Davis said. “We also have friends that we do business with that we have come in.”
“There is not really any big deal hanging on it,” he said, ”but in the long run, those relationships are good to have and it is an investment for the future.”
“There aren’t many opportunities in Tulsa for an event of this magnitude that you can bring some people in and there is some real excitement for it,” Davis said.
J.J. Hurley, president of Tulsa-based GDH Consulting, 4200 E. Skelly, Ste. 650, agrees.
“In my six years in business, other than the U.S. Open in 2001, there hasn’t been any other opportunity like this,” Hurley said.
His fledgling firm was not large enough to participate in a sponsorship with the U.S. Open, “but we definitely want to capitalize on this now,” he said.
With eight offices Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee and Florida, Hurley said the firm would use its Champions Club Table sponsorship for client appreciation.
“We have clients, large oil and gas companies in Texas and Oklahoma and other clients that we have a relationship with, that we will bring in, and many of them are bringing their spouses,” he said. “Not often do we have a golf major in the Tulsa area. We have clients coming from as far away as North Dakota for the event. It should be great.”
He has not seen a shortage of takers for passes to the event.
“When we offer them the ticket, we have very few ‘No’s,’” he said.
Event officials cite corporate and city pride in hosting the championship, which is projected to have a $69.5 million economic impact on Tulsa, to the turnout for sponsorships.
“They (sponsors) have really stepped up and shown that they really want to keep having these major championships,” Jordan said. “Just as the club wants to have them, the corporate community here wants to as well.”
“Tulsa loves this tournament,” said Al Bush, general chairman for the event. ?

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