I went to the final round of the Bank of America Championship on Sunday. This was part of the PGA senior champions tour. I am not a golfer myself and this was my first PGA event. I wanted to go because as a marketer I wanted to see how they ran the event. Also, my son and his friend are getting into the game and I thought this would be fun for them (which it was).
The PGA has done a good job of breaking the “snooty” mold that golf can have. This was not only a fan friendly event but a family friendly event. They even had a family fan area with things for the kids to do. I forgot to mention that kids 15 and under were free. When we went into the regular fan area the first thing I noticed was the two Segways driving around. I thought of my posting last week on Segway street marketing (see June 20th grass roots/alt marketing post). I understand why this form of advertising works. Those Segways really stick out in a crowd. The Segway people were letting fans try them out. Of course I had to try one. They take a little getting used to but they are cool. They had one with a golf bag attached. They are trying to get golfers to use a Segway instead of a cart.
Of course people come to these events to see the golfers, but these events are all about the sponsors. From the sponsor booths to the sponsor tents, to the sponsor hospitality areas, its all sponsors. I bet more fans were there on free sponsor tickets then people who actually paid (yours included). At the sponsor/vendor booths they were all trying to get fans to sign up to win something (a data miners dream). Golfers tend to have a higher income level and you could see it by the sponsors and the vendor booths.
What makes this sport fun for the fans is how close you can get to the players. As we walked the course, we were able to stand right next to the tee box, on top of the bunkers, and at the hole. The players are right there with you. Name many sports where you can be that up close to the players. As I always say, its all about the fan experience.
I left the event with a whole new appreciation for the sport and look forward to going to another golf event. I might even try playing it and watch a little on TV. Well maybe not watching it on TV, that’s still boring.