PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL — Nine PGA Tour tournaments were honored with “Best Of” Awards at the Tour’s year-end Tournament Meetings in La Quinta, Ca., on Dec. 6, with the BMW Championship earning “Tournament of the Year” for its overall presentation at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind.
The Travelers Championship won three awards while the new-look Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation took home two awards.
“On behalf of the PGA Tour, I am pleased to acknowledge and congratulate the outstanding job and special recognition these nine tournaments have received for their efforts,” said Andy Pazder, Tour executive vice-president and chief of operations. “The tournament committees should be extremely proud for being recognized as the best among their peers on the Tour.”
BMW Championship (Carmel, Ind.) — Tournament of the Year
The penultimate event in the FedExCup Playoffs, the BMW Championship was one of the top-attended PGA Tour events in 2012 attracting more than 143,000 spectators to Crooked Stick Golf Club outside Indianapolis.
Successful tournament activation, ticket and corporate sales, attention to detail and player amenities all played a significant role in the BMW Championship being named “Tournament of the Year.”
BMW leveraged their sponsorship in numerous ways including providing BMW owners many benefits such as complimentary tickets, exclusive parking and shuttle transportation on-site, concierge service, as well as, private hospitality areas. In addition, tournament patrons were treated to a 10,000 square foot BMW Experience interactive area, dynamic BMW vehicle displays, and premium concession and merchandise areas.
The Western Golf Association succeeded in its multi-tiered integration of the tournament’s charitable mission. For example, Evans Scholar alumni served as caddies in the Monday and Wednesday Pro-Am events. Additionally, BMW awarded a four-year scholarship to the Evans Scholars Foundation when Steve Stricker recorded a hole-in-one on the sixth hole during the second round. Current and past Evans Scholars also greeted fans at the tournament entry gates.
Corporate hospitality sales were highly successful thanks in part to Corporate Supporter Workshops leading up to the tournament. Prior to the event, tournament sales and support teams scheduled a private venue walk-through with individual corporate hospitality customer representatives.
Players had the opportunity to test drive some of BMW’s newest vehicles throughout the week along with a unique “BMW Driving Experience.” BMW also staged a table tennis exhibition for Tour players to challenge Timothy Wang, member of the U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Team who competed in London.
Travelers Championship (Cromwell, Conn.) — Best Title Sponsor Integration
For the “Best Title Sponsor Integration” award, there were a number of activities throughout the year.
With Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa competing at the Travelers Championship, the title sponsor provided cultural training for employee volunteers and tournament staff, offered Asian-inspired cuisine for the media in attendance and printed tournament staff business cards in English and Japanese. The title sponsor and tournament worked on an integrated marketing plan with Travelers tagging national ads with broadcast tune-in information and supplementing tournament buys with additional media spends in outlying markets. Travelers also held a Travelers Championship Employee Day prior to the tournament in dozens of field offices across the U.S. and internationally, which included a number of golf-related activities. Travelers Championship Employee Day generated 90,000 views on the company’s internal website, raised $34,000 for Birdies for Charity, generated $17,000 in ticket sales and recruited a company-record 1,252 employee volunteers.
Travelers Championship (Cromwell, Conn.) — Best Use of Players
For “Best Use of Players,” the Travelers Championship created eight events with 14 players that involved charity, fans, sponsors and volunteers. The tournament hosted defending champion Fredrik Jacobson for a media day where he participated in a networking breakfast with 150 area business leaders and a Q&A with ESPN’s Chris Berman. On Monday during tournament week, the Travelers Championship brought Masters Champion Bubba Watson to Citi Field in New York City to throw the first pitch and help promote tournament week to fans in the New York market. To build relationships with the future stars of the PGA TOUR, the tournament also gave sponsor’s exemptions to young, up-and-coming players like Ryo Ishikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Kelly Kraft, Bryden Macpherson and Patrick Rodgers. The previous week’s U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson kept his commitment to the Travelers Championship, due in part to the fact that he received a sponsor exemption in 2008.
Travelers Championship (Cromwell, Conn.) – Most Fan-Friendly Event
In the area of “Most Fan Friendly Event,” the Travelers Championship has continually improved its Fan Zone for fans of all ages, which includes a kid’s area, concert stage, Travelers Chipping Challenge and a host of other activities. The tournament builds fan awareness through the BlumShapiro 5K race two weeks prior to the tournament. During tournament week, fan enhancements include Military Appreciation presented by Saint Francis Care, Farmington Bank Fan and Family Day, Golf Digest Junior Pro-Am, Women’s Day presented by Travelers, Powerstation Events Concert Series, Travelers Championship Challenge online game, the Travelers “Call the Shots” Twitter contest, as well as daily giveaways to fans through the tournament’s social media channels. The Travelers Championship offers a number of affordable ticket packages and promotions in conjunction with area charities, on-site parking for the majority of fans, an ambassador program, free water and sunscreen, lockers for fans, Travelers-branded tote bags, welcome station and a prize patrol.
Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (La Quinta, Ca.) — Best Promotional Idea
Under the category of “Best Promotional Idea,” the Humana Challenge brought the title sponsor’s health-related initiatives to light at the tournament with the Humana Walkit Challenge. The initiative was supported by local and national advertising and an extensive social media campaign. The promotion for the Walkit Challenge was also integrated into several events leading up to the tournament including media day and at a local fair. The Walkit Challenge resulted in a $500,000 charitable donation as a result of the 12,000 people that participated.
Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation (La Quinta, Ca.) — Best On-Site Staging
For “Best On-Site Staging,” the Humana Challenge re-branded the entire event site in 2012 with a clean and consistent look that highlighted their partners’ initiatives. The event created custom colored venues to support the title sponsor’s color scheme beyond signage including carpet, lines, furniture, landscape, florals and volunteer uniforms. A branding plan and guidelines were developed and incorporated key partners, including PGA TOUR and FedExCup logos. The rebranding included an overhaul of the entire structural build-out inclusive of bleachers, hospitality venues, video walls and trailers.
John Deere Classic (Silvis, Ill.) — Most Engaged Community (shared)
Among its many initiatives to engage the community, the John Deere Classic ran monthly, “Community Heroes” ads highlighting the event’s volunteers who went above and beyond. As a result, the tournament welcomed 260 new volunteers in 2012.
Additionally, John Deere Classic ticket sales increased by 12 percent, which in turn helped create a 27 percent increase in Birdies for Charity donations. In total, the John Deere Classic raised a tournament-record $6.79 million in 2012, with those charitable dollars coming from more than 20,000 individual donors throughout the community.
Waste Management Phoenix Open (Scottsdale, Az.) — Most Engaged Community (shared)
In addition to the tournament’s astounding number of spectators, the Waste Management Phoenix Open boasts other, equally impressive numbers. The TPC Scottsdale event utilizes more than 4,000 volunteers, maintains 20 social media outlets and claims nearly 13,000 “likes” on Facebook.
More than 1,000 community leaders attend an annual luncheon hosted by the tournament, while dozens of area restaurants and local vendors played an integral role during tournament week this year.
More than 100 of local charities benefit each year from the Waste Management Phoenix Open, with more than $5 million in 2012 alone being provided to area charities. As an interesting side note, the tournament’s entire staff has, at one point, served on the board of directors for these area charities.
Finally, Governor Jan Brewer proclaimed Saturday of tournament week “Green-Out Day,” when nearly one-third of their record-setting crowd of more than 172,000 fans wore green in celebration of the event’s commitment to the environment.
FedEx St. Jude Classic (Memphis, Tn.) — Best Charity Integration
One of a small number of events on the PGA TOUR that incorporates the charitable beneficiary in its title (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital), the FedEx St. Jude Classic’s charitable nature was prevalent throughout tournament week. Innovative artwork was featured on caddie bibs, while key charity representatives served as honorary caddies during the Championship Pro-Am. These representatives also served as honorary flag bearers on the 18th hole during the final round and took part in the trophy presentation.
In addition, the tournament’s title sponsor FedEx supported St. Jude by donating commercial inventory, and a FedEx aircraft was named for a patient from its charity in a dedication ceremony open to the public and media.
An executive from FedEx also opened his home during the week for a fundraising event, which generated $32,000 for charity.
Wyndham Championship (Greensboro, N.C.) — Best Advertising Campaign Aligning title sponsor Wyndham Worldwide’s marketing initiatives with the tournament’s mid-August date, a popular vacation time for families, the campaign positioned a trip to the tournament as an escape from everyday life or a mini-vacation for patrons. “Escape to the Wyndham” became the central message for all tournament promotions, appealing to fans and featuring the tournament’s defending champion, Webb Simpson, in creative images that combined a tropical getaway and a PGA TOUR venue. This theme was presented through the tournament’s overall look and feel to create a fun, fan and family-friendly environment. The advertising campaign was a collaboration between the Wyndham Worldwide marketing team and WilsonMcGuire Creative in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance (Dublin, Ohio) — Best Special Event
The Memorial Tournament successfully created the Legends Luncheon in 2011 to benefit the Memorial Tournament NICU at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Jack and Barbara Nicklaus along with the CEO and spouses of Nationwide Insurance and Nationwide Children’s Hospital are the Executive Chairs leading a group of approximately 40 additional Columbus figureheads that drive participation in the luncheon.
In the first two years, $550,000 has been donated to Nationwide Children’s, including $285,000 in 2012 with more than 500 guests in attendance. In 2012, speakers at the luncheon included tournament host Jack Nicklaus and defending champion Steve Stricker, while two-time U.S. Open champion and ESPN commentator Andy North served as the moderator.
Also important was event exposure through not only Tournament website imagery and active social media amplification but also through local media coverage.
Deutsche Bank Championship (Norton, Ma.) — Best Social Media Activation
The Deutsche Bank Championship utilized a wide variety of social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and a tournament blog. Included in the Deutsche Bank Championship’s well-organized schedule was a 30-day countdown to tournament week, a “Tweet the Championship Director” campaign and an on-site “Swing with the Pros Facebook” contest. The Deutsche Bank Championship then heavily promoted its social media outlets during tournament week via on-course signage and electronic leaderboards, as well as through advertisements in the tournament guide and daily pairings sheet.