Turning Pro And Landing Endorsements - Which Road To Take? (Part 4)
Part 4 - 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 last of four blog posts following four players who took different paths to the LPGA Tour.
Go on the Tour before finishing college
With 72 LPGA victories, 89 victories worldwide, 10 Major Championships , and 8 LPGA Player of the Year Awards, Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam is the most accomplished player in women’s golf. So, in hindsight, Annika has no regrets that she left the University of Arizona ( where she was a two-time NCAA Champion ) before graduating to turn pro and go on to become the greatest player in LPGA history.
As the late Ely Callaway once said, "In my life in golf, Annika hits it dead solid more consistently than any golfer I've ever seen."
Since Annika left the Tour about three years ago, she has been balancing her time raising her family and building a business that Sports Business Journal says “could rival the empires created by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman.” The variety of ventures that make up her business are all branded with Annika’s name. They include wines, perfume, clothing , financial services, golf academy, and course design.
Annika also has a regular gig on the Golf Channel where she is a guest host on Morning Drive and is part of the Golf Channel Academy which airs on Tuesday evenings. With Annika’s regular TV appearances, some of her sponsors (e.g. Callaway, Lexus) are benefiting from the brand exposure their logos receive on her clothing by Cutter & Buck. (Annika’s other sponsors are Rolex, Oakley and Lipton.)
Annika has certainly made an effective transition from retired golfer to successful entrepreneur. To best illustrate the point, here’s how Annika replied to the following question from Sports Business Journal's Michael Smith: Is there a golfer who’s been an especially good role model for you in business life after golf?
Annika’s reply: “Oh, sure. If you look at Palmer, Nicklaus, Norman, they’ve all been very successful. When you look at them and what they are doing, that kind of thing – being competitive from a business standpoint – is what excites me now.”
Annika continues: “The competitive part of you doesn’t ever go away. When you put your name on something, you’re building a brand. You want everything you touch to be first-class because it represents me and I want to make sure we’re delivering something very promising and very inspirational.”
Annika sums up: “I’m competitive, I want to succeed, and that comes from being the best in something at one time, working hard and setting goals. That’s how I get my competitive fix , and it’s one reason I don’t miss being out there competing anymore.”
A player’s career is defined by the number of major championships he or she wins. And being a winner of multiple majors can continue to pay dividends long after the player’s glory days on the Tour are over.
A player with a champion’s mindset can effectively apply the principles of winning in sports to winning in business and thereby extend the shelf-life of the player's brand and marketability.
Our colleague, Bill Colvin, Colvin Sports Network, is constantly working with his corporate clients and their Brand Ambassadors to help them get the most from their professional golfer 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.