The 104th PGA Show is just over with the victory of Justin Thomas. Rolex re-established its partnership in 2021 when it regained the role of Official Timekeeper and Official Partner of the PGA of America and its PGA Championship.
It is an excellent moment to talk about the future of PGA Tour events, fan experience, how to expand of reach of TV coverage of the tournaments, and golf sponsorship trends, etc.
Hereby I would like to thank Jeff Price (COO, PGA of America) for this interview.
What are the latest fan experience innovations of The PGA of America?
The biggest one that you will see this week is we have created a program where everyone Thursday through Sunday, 95% of the ticket holders have inclusive food and beverage.
So, they are just walking up to the concession stands taking the two items that they want, and then just walking away.
If you are here, you want to watch the golf and you do not necessarily want to stand in a line waiting to try and get a sandwich or a bottle of water so that was a major shift that we made this year to improve the fan experience.
We have also created for our partners and suite holders and hospitality buyers specific viewing areas. So that if you look at hole 18 there is the traditional green but we also have for our corporate partners the ability on Sunday to be part of that on 18, where normally that wouldn’t have happened so for those partners that are here which is a significant part of the universe we are trying to give them access to the game and viewing in ways that we haven’t been able to do before.
Each step along the way is about how we let the fans who want to come here have the best experience possible.
How are golf fans changing golf tournaments?
I think their expectation on access and information is critical and if you were here in 2007 it would be fair to say there was not a digital scoreboard or videoboard on the 18th hole that allowed you to lean in and experience what’s happening.
Golf is an amazing sport to watch but you’re going to hear a roar, and you always know a Tiger roar, but you may hear another roar and you have no idea who that is.
Now the opportunity for the PGA of America to bring digital information, that great digital video scoreboard on the 18th hole and what 2007 looked like versus 2022, that’s because fans were doing surveys and understanding that they want more information, and they are used to having their phone in their hand.
That is the other biggest thing that has changed is that the fans want immediate information in the palm of their hands, so we have an entire team dedicated to providing you with the latest information.
If we look back at 2007, we had a team of five or six people working on the championship website whereas this year we have over 30 people here this week with additional people off-site producing our apps and mobile updates.
That is the biggest change that the fan has brought is how you engage information and technology to make that viewing experience better.
How do you utilize the OTT platform to reach even more fans?
When we did the ESPN+ deal in 2018, we took a gamble as ESPN+ was not what it is today and OTT Television was something that when we did the deal we knew that ESPN+ was going to be a big part of the coverage and the great part over the last two days is that no matter what feature group you wanted to watch you had access to the linear feeds, you had the MegaCast and you had featured groups that had some of the greatest golfers in the world that were all one click away.
So, in 2018 when we made that bet, we knew we were planning for the future and we were the first golf major to introduce the OTT platform into Major championship golf and it has been a huge success.