Turning Pro And Landing Endorsements - Which Road To Take? (Part 3)
Part 3 - With the influx of young, talented professional golfers making their way on to the LPGA Tour, it’s clear that many of them have opted to drop out of college and turn pro early. While they are following in the footsteps of numerous players who left school before graduating and went on to have lucrative careers as Touring Pros, there’s more than one road to success that sponsors (and LPGA sponsors looking to expand their presence with golf fans) may consider when recruiting players to represent their brands.
This is the third of four blog posts following four players who took different paths to the LPGA Tour.
Go directly to the Tour from high school
Look no further than Lexi Thompson for a player who turned pro before completing her high school studies. (Lexi is home-schooled and graduates this June.) She holds the distinction as “the youngest LPGA Champion ever” and has the potential to challenge Yani Tseng’s dominance as the #1 women’s player in the world.
According to Golf World’s Ron Sirak, Lexi is one of a handful of players (e.g. Brittany Lincicome, Vicky Hurst, Michelle Wie) who can hit the ball as far or farther than Yani and make par 5s play like par 4s. So if these players can hit their second shots on the green and putt well, they can collectively challenge Yani for the first place trophy and prize money each time they tee it up in an LPGA tournament. (Lexi has won two LPGA tournaments since turning pro and has made almost $600,000 in Tour money over the last two years.)
As for Lexi’s sponsors, here’s what she said in a recent interview with Rick Horrow of the NBR (Nightly Business Report): “ My sponsors are Cobra, Puma, Red Bull, and Rolex, and, you know, they’ve been with me since I’ve turned pro, and, you know, just always there for me supporting, even through my bad times.”
In that same interview with NBR, it was noted that Lexi has different kinds of sponsors which led to the following questions: What is the brand of Lexi Thompson? What does it really symbolize?
Lexi’s reply: “Well, they’re fun and young lifestyle brands. That’s what I wanted.”
How Lexi responded to more of the following questions NBR asked about globalization demonstrates her business savvy at a very young age: Is your brand global? And how do you make sure that you expand your appeal beyond North America?
Lexi’s reply: “ It’s important to be known worldwide, you can’t just be known in one spot. So, you know, I just came back from Australia and Thailand. So I’m all over, and I love traveling, just to see different cultures and different people. It’s a great thing, how this game of golf is worldwide now.”
As Lexi continues to make her mark on the LPGA Tour and garners more on- air time during televised events, her marketability as a potential brand ambassador will draw even more interest from a broader universe of potential sponsors. Stay tuned.
Judging from the latest developments, Lexi’s current sponsors are stepping up their efforts to fully leverage the golfing phenom’s on course success. By way of example, Lexi was recently featured (along with PGA Tour pro Rickie Fowler) in a Red Bull Off Course event in Augusta to kick off Masters week.
“Ground floor” sponsors that partner with a player who eventually makes it big on the Tour are in a good position to extend their relationships over the long-term if the player’s management team has any sense of loyalty and if the sponsor’s contract gives them the right to match offers from competitors.
New sponsors are likely to pay a premium to be associated with a player who has achieved “rising star” status on the Tour by way of his or her on-course performance and the potential impact the player will have on the game over the course of his or her career.
Our colleague, Bill Colvin, Colvin Sports Network, is constantly working with his corporate clients and their Golf Ambassadors to help them get the most from their golf sponsorships. You can reach Bill directly by phone: 216-272-7779, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also follow him on twitter: billcolvin.
To learn more about how our strategic partner, Colvin Sports Network, serves as an advocate for companies exploring marketing opportunities with professional golfers, click on the button below.
Photo Credit - LPGA Rising Star Lexi Thompson: LPGA.com