Tour Adopting Fresh Approach to Engaging Sponsors

Fewer marquees and diminished hospitality will be a fact of life at professional golf events in the immediate future. Picture by Ian Walton/Getty Images.

Singapore: Engaging sponsors with the possibility of three-day tournaments, new formats and mixed events with women are among the new opportunities under consideration by the Asian Tour as it seeks to build a brave and robust future.

Cho Min Thant, Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner of the Asian Tour, acknowledged that a fresh approach to selling and staging tournaments will be essential in the post Covid-19 era.

“I think we’re going to experience a lot of changes,” predicted Cho, who is hopeful that the Asian Tour will resume in September, on the assumption that travel restrictions will by then have been lifted, or sufficiently eased.

“Now that we’re in a three, four, five-month lay-off, we’ve been able to look at the practices that we use in the industry at tournaments and see where we can reduce costs, make things more efficient. Perhaps we’ve been doing things the way it’s always been because we haven’t had time to look into how we actually do them,” said Cho, during a Webinar hosted by LinksAsia.

Creative thinking and the ability to adapt to new requirements from sponsors will be crucial, especially while social distancing measures remain in place. Cho said this will inevitably affect hospitality operations at tournaments, traditionally a key element for sponsors in entertaining clients and driving new business.

“Hospitality is one of the most important aspects when sponsoring a golf tournament. But we’re going to have to limit the amount of marquees and hospitality structures (at tournaments) and the wining and dining. That could mean we introduce a Pro-Am over the first three days – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – to try and incorporate that hospitality into a tournament where we can’t entertain them on the weekends in the marquee.

“If we’re not going to have those hospitality structures to get to their customers, there’s no reason why they can’t participate in a Pro-Am, and there’s no reason why they can’t come to the golf tournament, although they won’t be in a confined space like a marquee,” said Cho, who has been exploring potential opportunities with his management team at the Asian Tour, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

“Doing a tournament back-to-back with the ladies, or the same week as the ladies, or with a local domestic Tour event is very cost effective and economical. We’re looking into all of that and now that the season’s being constricted into a short period of time, we’ll definitely have weeks where we’re in the same country and the same area. So, there’s no reason why we can’t work together.

Cho Min Thant.

“I’ve also often thought and talked about three-round tournaments, especially on the Asian Development Tour, our feeder Tour. The Japanese feeder Tour runs three rounds as well. I think it’s very viable,” said Cho, who does not discount a hybrid stroke play/match play event, such as the World Super 6 in Perth, Australia.

He said: “The Perth Super 6 is very valid. There’s a challenge every single day with a play-off at the end of the Saturday play to get into the match play. There was excitement built every single day.

“We’re lucky with our sponsors. A lot of them, such as Hero Motor Corp in India, have put their hand up and said: ‘We’ve gone through a tough period but we really want to sponsor the tournament when we can travel again. We want to support the Tour and we want to support the economy because we understand that golf travellers and golfers spend a lot more than your average backpacker’. So, they really want to help stimulate the economy by emphasising golf.”

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