Blog

Things I’m Looking Forward To In The 2019 PGA TOUR Season
Things I'm Looking Forward to in the 2019 PGA TOUR Season
Things I’m Looking Forward To In The 2019 PGA TOUR Season 
A perspective from Nick RivelliniAccount Executive at Advantage – a sponsorship and brand experience agency. 
The 2019 PGA TOUR season is upon us and it’s going to be a great one. With so many exciting things happening in the sport of golf, here are the four things that I am looking forward to the most in 2019:  
 
Young Guns 
There are some great young golfers already making a name for themselves that I am excited to watch…and recommend golf fans keep an eye on in 2019. Let’s take PGA TOUR rookie Cameron Champ, for example. In just his ninth career PGA TOUR start, the 23-year-old dominated the field on his way to win the Sanderson Farms Championship, finishing at 21-under-par. Oh, and he averages 328.2 yards per drive. Not bad. 
Another Young Gun I have my eye on in 2019 is Joaquin Niemann. This 19-year-old Chilean golfer turned professional in 2018 and made a quick splash. Joining the likes of Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm as golfers who were able to completely bypass the Web.com Tour Finals and earn their PGA TOUR cards, Niemann started out his professional career earning top 10 finishes in three of his first five starts.  
With many Young Guns poised to rise, golf player endorsements provide opportunities for brands to attach themselves to their growing fan bases skewed towards younger audiences. 

 

New Rules 
Now that we have hit 2019, the new Official Rules of Golf have gone into effect. To go over the full list of the new rules would take up a bit more of your time, but let me just tell you they are great. These new rules will simplify and speed up the game of golf for amateurs and professionals, which is exactly what needed to happen. 
These new rules, which were put into place to help modernize the game of golf, are something you do not see happen very often; a sport sees and understands there are issues with guidelines that were written 100+ years ago, and made changes to attract more players. I’m particularly interested to see how these new rules play out in the 2019 PGA TOUR year and if it truly does attract a wider, more modern group of fans. At the end of the day, more golf fans and amateur players equals more potential for brands to align with the sport. With a lens toward growing fan interest and participation, I believe we will see more innovation and adaptation of rules in other sports in the upcoming years. 

 

Gambling on Golf 
The PGA TOUR has been vocal on their support of legalized sports betting and hence, is ahead of the curb when it comes to other major sports leagues on gambling. Last year the PGA TOUR launched mandatory gambling integrity programs for players and caddies, stating all the players are “on board” when it comes to this topic. Nevertheless, what will we see in 2019? I believe if we look at “The Match” between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, we can forecast the future of live golf programming. TV telecasts were talking about live odds during the match…live odds! In the past, live TV wanted to stay as far away from gambling as possible. So with the 2019 PGA TOUR season starting up, I’m very interested to see how the PGA TOUR embraces legalized sports gambling, which in turn would open up new sponsorship opportunities for the Tour and its players. 

 

Tiger Effect…Again 
He’s back. And when he’s back, there is just something special about golf. Love him or not, the Tiger Effect is very real. In 2018, the PGA TOUR’s TV ratings skyrocketed, and you can thank the Big Cat. For example, when Tiger was in the hunt during the 2018 PGA Championship, TV ratings jumped 69% year over year. When he won the 2018 TOUR Championship, TV ratings jumped a casual 206%.  
Now with Tiger expecting to play a full schedule this year in 2019, you can expect ratings to continue to rise, and with that, more sponsorship investment coming into the world of golf. This rise is not just going to affect Tiger and the PGA TOUR; it is also going to help other players and golf properties too. Tiger increases awareness and interest for the game of golf, not just the PGA TOUR. With viewership and interest spiking in golf, the value for sponsors of tournaments, players and the Tour has the chance to drastically increase.  
So to put it in simpler words: When Tiger is back, golf is back.  

 

With these four key things to look forward to in 2019, I believe there has never been a better time for the game of golf. With rising Young Guns, fun new rules and Tiger officially back, there should be lots of interest from brands on investigating opportunities in golf. Brands should consider investigating the various golf sponsorship opportunities, whether they be golf tournament sponsorships, individual golfer endorsements, or even aligning with golf influencers. Overall, I believe 2019 will be a great year for the PGA TOUR and many of the brands that invest in the sport. Now, Golf Channel here I come! 
 

 

### 
Nick Rivellini is an Account Executive at Advantage who has supported client initiatives for brand clients including Frontier Communications and LG Electronics. Nick is an avid golfer (with a 3 handicap) who shares his passion for golf with hockey, baseball, and really any sport. His passion for sports and business is what has led him to the perfect melding of the two, a career within the sports business industry.