By Barry Janoff
October 14, 2015: Tiger Woods may no longer be the force on the golf course and in golf marketing that he once was, but a new generation of pro golfers — led by the likes of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy — have helped to drive sponsorship spend in golf to a record $1.7 billion in 2015.
The figure is up 4.8% from $1.65 billion in 2014, $1.6 billion in 2013, $1.51 billion in 2012, $1.4 billion in 2011 and up from $1.36 billion in 2010, according to the IEG Sponsorship Report from sponsorship and consulting firm IEG, Chicago.
Spieth (22) was named the 2015 PGA Tour Player of the Year. He, Day (27) and McIlroy (26) are currently ranked 1-2-3 in the world, per PGA Tour.
Automakers are the most active category sponsoring golf, with 27% of of golf-related properties having a sponsor in the auto segment. Other top categories include banking, beverages-alcohol, insurance, hotel and resorts, media and publishing, telecom, beverages-non-alcohol and credit cards.
BMW is the most active sponsor, associated with 19% of golf-related properties.
The car maker was followed by Rolex (15%), Anheuser-Busch (14%), Emirates (14%), MasterCard (12%), Coca-Cola (11%), Daimler (10%), Fila (8%), AT&T (6%) and Bacardi (6%), according to IEG.
The top golfers also do pretty well in the endorsement field. Woods, despite missing a lot of the past season due to injuries and back surgery, earned close to $50 million from endorsements, Phil Mickelson close to $48 million, McIlroy about $32 million and Spieth $11 million, according to industry analysts.
Spieth's deals include Under Armour (pictured above), AT&T, Rolex, NetJets and Titleist.
McIlroy's deals include Nike, with whom he signed a $200 million deal in 2013, EA Sports, Bose and Omega.
On the women's side, the top-ranked LPGA golfers are Inbee Park (who has earned more than $2.34 million on the tour to date), Lydia Ko (who has earned more than $2.33 million) and Stacy Lewis ($1.67 million in earnings).
Golf's $1.7 billion sponsorship figures places it high among other sports.
By comparison, NFL sponsorship was $1.15 billion, MLB sponsorship revenue in 2014 was $695 million and the NHL reached $447 million, all according to IEG.
Worldwide sponsorship revenue on motorsports topped $5.3 billion and tennis was at $739 million, per IEG.
Golf participation has plateaued following some years of declining numbers.
According to the National Golf Foundation, 400,000 people left golf in 2013, dropping the total participants under 25 million. There were 25.3 million golfers in the U.S. in 2012, down from 25.7 million in 2011 and 26.1 million in 2010, according to NGF.
However, golf participation in 2014 remained equal to the previous 12 months, marking the third consecutive year that an estimated 25 million people played at least one round of golf, according to the NGF’s Golf Participation in the U.S. 2015 report.
Also according to NGF, and what it says is "contrary to popular opinion, golf enjoys a positive relationship with millennials." This group of 18-34-year-olds currently accounts for 25% of the golf population.
Looking forward, the spend in golf is anticipated to continue to rise. Among other deals, Dell beginning in March 2016 becomes the title sponsor of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play via an alliance that runs through 2019.
Tiger's Impact On Golf Marketing Has Pros, Cons
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