To say that women’s golf is having a moment may be the understatement of the decade.
The impact of the pandemic and shifting demographics are sending women to the golf course in unprecedented numbers – some 6.4 million worldwide this year, according to the National Golf Foundation, up from 5.6million in 2019. Girls now represent 38% of all golfers under age 18, versus 14% when the NGF began tracking golf participation in 1986.
The LPGA’s growth reflects this dynamic surge and future potential. In a seminal milestone in its 73-year history, the purses of this year’s 33 official events will surpass a record-breaking $101 million – an all-time, single-season high, and more than double the total prize pool just a decade ago.
Against this backdrop, women’s pro golf continues to diversify as barriers to entry fall away. Players like Yin Ruoning – who became the second Chinese golfer to win a major with her victory at the 2023 KPMGWomen's PGA Championship on June 25 – reflect the increasingly global face of the LPGA, whose members hail from more than 50 countries. And in May, the LPGA unveiled a new line of equipment at Walmart to increase access to the game for female beginners and young players.
Meanwhile, more and more brands are scrambling to gain a foothold in the sport as its momentum builds. The number of active brands in the LPGA has doubled since 2019 –totaling more than 1,000 for the first time, as certain sponsors reap up to a 400% return on their investment. And social causes are coming to the fore: a whopping 83% of LPGA sponsors are actively buying assets promoting diversity and inclusion.
As the popularity of women’s golf continues to soar, we’re excited to unveil the LPGA Marketing Partnerships Report 2022-2023. Authored jointly by SponsorUnited’s Marketing Research & Insights, Analytics andMarketing teams, it delivers an in-depth analysis of more than 1,200 brands, 75athletes, and nearly 780 social posts between June 9, 2022 and June 9th, 2023.
The 123rd US Open tees off today at the Los Angeles Country Club, where the world’s best golfers will hit the links in pursuit of the $17.5M purse–the largest of all four major championships. In honor of the storied annual tournament, let’s take a look at the dynamic sponsorship market in this glittering, high-octane West Coast city.
Pepsi and Toyota lead the list of brands with the most sponsorship deals in the City of Angels with over 25 each, followed by Michelob Ultra with more than 20 sponsorships. Adidas, Bud Light, Coca-Cola, Nike, UCLA Health, Verizon, and Yaamava Resort & Casino at San Manuel round out the top 10.
The USC Trojans take the top spot on the properties roster with more than 100 sponsorship deals, just ahead of the LA Angels and Natural Products Expo West, both with north of 90 sponsorships. Comprising the rest of the top 10 are the LA Chargers, Anaheim Ducks, LA Rams, LA Kings, LA FC, Cal State Fullerton Titans, and LA Dodgers, in that order.
With 56.9M total followers, the LA Lakers, arguably the city’s premier pro sports franchise, dominate social media among properties in the market, having generated 13.8M in branded engagement across all platforms this year. A co-branded Instagram post by Verizon and Coachella on April 15th scored the highest engagement on social media so far in 2023, at 1.3M.
Last weekend Matt Fitzpatrick took home his first major championship win. Fitzpatrick has deals with Castore, Protiviti, Skechers, Troon and Workday. All five brands can be seen on the course either on his hat, shirt or golf bag. Fitzpatrick promotes his social media where he is ranked #71 amongst golfers in terms of total followers (219K total following across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) with a 15% YOY growth in followers.
Take a closer look into which brands boasted a prominent presence during the coveted US Open:
Viewership for the final round on NBC was 5.41M and a key way brands activated during the event was through broadcast advertisements. 63 total brands had a placement during the final round of the event with 16 having more than one asset. Brands that had more than one asset include AT&T, Corona and Verizon.
Lexus, American Express and Rolex saw the greatest number of unique assets during the event with Sentry Insurance and Deloitte rounding out the top five. Here are just some of the ways these brands activated:
Lexus - Golf Simulator (Sponsored Attendee Activity), Trophy Experience, Split Screen Commercial, Ad / Logo Pop Up
American Express - American Express Cardmember Lounge, Member When Moments (Featured Segment), Split Screen Commercial
Rolex - Interior Signage, Upcoming USGA Championships and Scoreboard (Featured Segments), Ad / Logo Pop Up
Deloitte - Bunker Cam (Presenting Sponsor), Ad / Logo Pop Up, Live Read Commercial
* These five brands are all partners of the U.S. Golf Association (USGA)
Austin Leibach, who oversees golf operations at SponsorUnited, gives his thoughts on what the LIV Golf Tour could mean for the PGA TOUR, “All eyes are always on the golf majors, the four largest tournaments each year, but I expect to see even more focus on them in the coming year. The PGA TOUR is missing some major star power in the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Dechambeau, Koepka, and others, lured away by the extreme salaries of the LIV Golf Tour. Since these golfers are still allowed to compete in the majors, I anticipate a larger brand focus on these normally exclusive tournaments.”
The Masters is such an exclusive event when it comes to tournament sponsors, therefore it allows more room to highlight golfer’s individual partnerships. Scottie Scheffler took home the coveted green jacket Sunday, and it’s fair to assume his brand partners also felt like they won. Scheffler, the #1 ranked golfer in the world, works with six brands including Nike, Veritex Community Bank, TaylorMade, and Titleist. Congratulations to these brands on their maximum exposure during the Masters, and as Scheffler continues his hot streak on top.
While Scheffler’s brand partners are capitalizing on his green jacket win, let’s see how his sponsorship numbers par up to the top five finishers. And what about those other guys favored to win?
Top 5 Finishers
1st Scottie Scheffler | 6 Brands
2nd Rory McIlroy | 19 Brands
T3rd Shane Lowry | 7 Brands
T3rd Cameron Smith | 8 Brands
5th Collin Morikawa | 12 Brands
Top 5 Favorites to Win Masters
Justin Thomas | 10 Brands
Jon Rahm | 10 Brands
Brooks Koepka | 7 Brands
Collin Morikawa | 12 Brands
Cameron Smith | 8 Brands
Interestingly enough, Scheffler has the least amount of deals when compared to his competition, but that stat will likely not stick around for long. Take Collin Morikawa for example, after winning his first major back in 2020, his deals increased by +140%. This year he was a fan favorite to win along with his 12 brand partnerships. It will be interesting to see how Scheffler’s Masters win, and first PGA win, will affect his number of deals. Will his endorsements skyrocket like that of Morikawa? What brands will be next to leverage Scheffler’s game and highly engaged social media following?
The most anticipated golf tournament of the year is finally here as the Masters tees off in Augusta. Over 280 brands have an endorsement deal with golfers across the world, and these brands use the Masters as their runway to showcase their partnerships with the best of the best. On average, each professional golfer has 5 endorsements. Brands are eager to get premium placement on players hats, shirts, bags, and shoes. In regards to the most partnerships with golfers, ROLEX and NetJets lead the way for non-apparel brands while Titleist and TaylorMade are #1 and #2 respectively across all categories (no surprise there).
So who are the top betting favorites we’ll see on the course this weekend? And which lucky brands are capitalizing on these players' social following?
The top five betting favorites heading into the tournament are Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Dustin Johnson, & Cameron Smith. Johnson leads the group in terms of social media followers with over 2 million across IG / FB / channels. Having the least amount of followers is Scheffler. However, his followers are highly engaged making Scheffler’s average engagement rate over 65% on his branded posts. Four of these five golfers have deals with both NetJets and Titleist, brands that are sure to garner extra exposure throughout the weekend.
Aside from Apparel & Accessories, Watches & Jewelry, Banking, and Software companies are the most frequent categories signing golfers to endorsement deals with their brands. The top three brands within these categories are Rolex, Veritex Community Bank, & Slync.io respectively.
And this is why you have Waste Management as your presenting sponsor….
According to our SponsorUnited team (and yes, we had our stopwatches ready), it took 3 minutes to clear this “display of appreciation” from the fans after Sam Ryder’s hole-in-one on the iconic 16th hole today at TOC Scottsdale for the WM Phoenix Open. Impressive cleanup!
Waste Management began its sponsorship of the PGA event, Phoenix Open, back in 2010 and recently signed an extension through 2030. Moments like this as a presenting sponsor give you an extra boost nationally. The brand has 18 total sponsorship assets, 3X more than their second largest deal in terms of sponsorship assets with the Houston Texans having 6. Throughout the tournament, according to SponsorUnited data, there were 14 different locations where Waste Management signage was visible including tee-box signage.
Outside of being the presenting sponsor of the Phoenix Open, Waste Management has over 60 other sponsorship deals. Their most frequently bought assets with these other partnerships include Interior Signage, TV-Visible Signage as well as Event Content/Activation. Philadelphia is their top market where they have over 5 sponsorship or media deals.