The LPGA may never be the flashiest, fastest growing or headline inducing sport that MAJOR sponsors seek out; but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a surplus of sponsorship opportunities for brands to target the passionate market the Ladies Professional Golf Association calls their own. The LPGA began to focus on the “global game” in 2010, as there was an insurgence of dominate players winning on tour from around the world. In 2014, seven of the top ten players in the world ranking are non-US born players, but there is a group of young US players making noise in the 2014 season. This successful global strategy combined with the recent US born player success, and the ratings challenged, Tiger Woods’-less PGA tour, there is no better time than now for the LPGA to gain new fans and partners.
Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, and Paula Cream – What do these ladies have in common you may ask… Well they are all winners on tour so far this year, are all home-grown American players, and they just so happen to be some of the youngest, most exciting, and well-followed players on tour. There is an estimated 29,000,000 golfers in the U.S. alone and this home-grown excitement could help the LPGA capture some of that huge market.
The three young Americans are not the only tour winners this year with a great following and a strong marketability. These ladies from the U.S. have also won this year:
Karrie Webb – In her 18th year on tour the Hall-of-Famer continues to win tournaments including last year’s ShopRite 1.5 Million Classic, and 2 tournaments this year pushing her total to 42 career victories
Lizette Salas – Credits her start in golf at the age of 7 when her immigrant father traded his handyman work for golf lessons for his daughter from the pro at the golf course he was working at. ON her time off she like to engage with fans through twitter chats and other social media outlets. (http://www.golfdigest.com/blogs/the-loop/2013/04/lizette-salas-improbable-journey.html)
There are few, if any sports leagues that can truly call themselves global. This is what sets the LPGA a part from other properties when luring potential sponsors. Companies such as P&G and Anheiser Busch are two of the key partners for the LPGA. They cite the player’s global backgrounds, and the opportunity to participate on a national level as an “umbrella company” league sponsor, as well as at a regional level with their subsidiary brands, as their major motivators for sponsoring the association.
The last Sponsor Sleeper Pick was the young and up and coming - Major League Soccer. With the slew of new partnerships and the exciting television rights deal they signed, it is safe to say they have arrived and are on the right path. On the other side of the fence is the LPGA – a league that has been around for 64 years and has faced its fair share of ups and downs. If the drama and excitement we have seen already this year continues, could we see a resurgence of the US fan base? With (according to Bleacher Report) the lowest ratings ever for a Men’s US Open in 2014 is the door opening for the LPGA to gain market share? http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2100278-2014-us-open-television-ratings-might-have-been-lowest-in-history
These are questions that will likely be answered by seasons end with the CME Group Tour Championship. Either way it should make for an interesting second half of the season for the LPGA.