Sport can ride out financial storm, PGA says

Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:22pm EDT
 
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By Steve Keating

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) - Golf's special bond with the corporate world and wide fan base put it in a strong position to ride out the current financial crisis, say the sport's leaders in the United States.

"Long term, sports is going to be a leading area for companies to invest their sponsorship or advertising dollars because people want to experience a sports event as it happens," PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka told Reuters.

"You look at golf, not just because we have a great fan base plus a 28-million-person participation base, we also have people who have a stronger emotional connection.

"I think golf will be one of the best genres in entertainment, golf will do better also because of the aging of the boomers and the major championships are the best of the best of the best."

Golf's importance to sponsors and advertisers was well demonstrated at last weekend's Ryder Cup.

Vast swathes of the finely manicured grounds at Valhalla Golf Club, the battleground chosen for the 37th biennial skirmish for golf supremacy between the U.S. and Europe, disappeared under luxury tents pitched by some 250 companies.

JP Morgan Chase Bank, UBS Financial Services, Caterpillar, Toyota and troubled financial giant Merrill Lynch were among those who paid the PGA of America between $250,000 and $1 million for the privilege of being present.

A riveting three days of golf, capped by the rousing U.S. victory that ended a nine-year Ryder Cup drought, kept the mood upbeat and cash registers humming inside the merchandise tent.   Continued...

 
<p>Anthony Kim of the U.S. Ryder Cup team hits from the sand on the second hole as Spain's Sergio Garcia (R) of the European Ryder Cup team watches during singles play in the 37th Ryder Cup Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky September 21, 2008. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh</p>