Marketing and Sponsorship

Bustling hospitality at Whistling Straits a welcome sight for Ryder Cup

By John Lombardo
PGA of America top tier worldwide partner Rolex will operate multiple hospitality venues at this weekend's Ryder Cupgetty images

The golf industry gathers at this weekend's Ryder Cup where on-site meetings and hospitality are a welcome opportunity after the event was postponed last year. The PGA of America is hosting execs at Whistling Straits from all five of its top tier worldwide partners -- BMW, Rolex, Aon, BP, and RBC. Constellation is an official Ryder Cup level sponsor. In addition, the PGA of America is hosting between 20-40 prospective clients. “We have prospective clients coming in from every major category from technology to certain financial services,” said PGA of America Senior Dir of Partnerships Luke Reissman. “It is all across the board. It is consistent to what we had pre-pandemic. There hasn’t been a tangible decrease.” Aon is hosting a business forum for C-suite execs while RBC and Rolex will operate multiple hospitality venues. “We are seeing partners with multiple places to hang out,” Reissman said. “They have two sizable locations on the course and additional first tee and inside-the-ropes access.” The PGA of America also is creating ancillary events for its clients and prospective partners, including an event at the opening ceremonies this afternoon, a celebrity golf outing, a Friday night partner dinner at the American Club in host town Kohler, Wisc., and an opening night party at the Bucks’ Deer District in Milwaukee.

MEET & GREET: Intersport is using the weekend to meet with prospective sponsors for the Chicago-based agency's new World Champions Cup, a Ryder Cup-style event for the Champions Tour that is slated to debut in November '22. “We’ve got a number of meetings that we have lined up that we wouldn’t have been able to do given everyone’s return-to-work policies,” said Intersport Exec VP Jason Langwell. “There are decision makers that may not be at their headquarters due to return-to-work policies, one may be in New York and one in California, but they will be at the Ryder Cup.”

SUPPORT TEAMS: Not every agency is hosting hospitality at Whistling Straits, but many will have staff on the grounds to make their presence known. Below is a brief rundown:

  • CAA is not hosting on-site hospitality but will have 15 execs from its golf division, including Billy McGriff, Ben Gannett, Megan Nicol, and Christy Marburger, on-site on behalf of six clients, including two Ryder Cup partners in Aon and Constellation.
  • Sportfive, which represents Europe's Jon Rahm and American Harris English, along with U.S. vice captains Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III, will have six representatives on the ground working with clients throughout the event, but will have no official hospitality.
  • Excel Sport Management will have 10 members from its golf, brand marketing and hospitality departments at Whistling Straits. Reps from the golf division will be there to support clients Collin Morikawa, Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas from the U.S. team and Matthew Fitzpatrick from Europe. Excel will be hosting private hospitality events for partners and clients.
  • Wasserman will have between 8-10 execs at the event supporting hospitality for client RBC. Wasserman also represents U.S. player Tony Finau and vice captain Zach Johnson, along with European players Bernd Wiesberger and Viktor Hovland.

  • WME Sports will be on the ground representing Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth on the U.S. team and European team captain Padraig Harrington. Other Ryder Cup activity across the Endeavor network includes IMG Arena, On Location and 160over90 that will manage client Michelob Ultra’s activations around then course.

  • Octagon will have over 25 people on site and is managing BMW’s activation at the Ryder Cup. Octagon represents U.S. Team member Xander Schauffele.

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