Big Money: The Impact of Fans Back at Torrey Pines

How sponsors and golf companies cashing in with full galleries again

NBC Universal, Inc.

In 2010, Farmers Insurance jumped in to sponsor the PGA event at Torrey Pines just 10 days before the tournament teed off. They’ve liked the experience so much, Farmers is paying millions of dollars to extend the title sponsor agreement through 2026.

Companies typically put their names on golf tournaments because of the marketing opportunities. Not having fans at Torrey Pines the last couple of years put a major dent in that.

The galleries being back in full force in 2022 is certainly a welcome sight, but folks at Farmers Insurance say being able to contribute to 13 San Diego-based charities is every bit as much of a driving factor.

“It’ll sound cliché but it’s more than golf. It truly is. It gives us an opportunity to really make an impact in a community,” says Farmers Insurance C.E.O. Jeff Dailey. “There certainly is a return on the investment when you look at the amount of people who will look at the tournament and the branding implications. The Northeast and most of the central part of the U.S. is under a freeze watch. They’re gonna turn on the TV this weekend and see us basking in 70 degree weather here in San Diego. But, they’re going to see the brand and they’re going to get to hear our story and that’s really important for us to carry that message.

Golf manufacturers also missed fans at Torrey Pines. Many local companies utilize walk-up activations to show people what they’ve got cooking, which is usually a little wild.

“We’ve been working on this for, actually, 20 years,” says Ryan Lauder, Director of Consumer Engagement for TaylorMade Golf, which is based in Carlsbad.

“THIS” would be another innovation in the seemingly infinite world of golf technology.

“The Stealth Driver, which is actually a carbon-based driver, the only carbon-based driver out there,” says Lauder.

The Farmers Insurance Open is a date they’re happy to be able to circle on their calendar again because a tournament of this magnitude can seriously help drive sales.

“(The driver) came out in early January then we use the Farmers Insurance Open as a way to kick that off,” says . “People don’t get a chance to go on this every day during the PGA Tour schedule. So, just being able to show them this is what we do with Tour players, you can get an element of that experience.”

They don’t sell any products at the course, but they do use this as a way to see how many golfers follow through and go buy the latest gear.

“We’re actually tracking, collecting e-mail addresses and following up with people. People can scan bar codes for more information or download the app that we’ve got, the My TaylorMade Plus app, so we’ll track it and try to see what kind of lift we have locally.”

Those numbers are expected to be extremely solid. According to the National Golf Foundation, since the pandemic started golf has seen its largest increase in participation since 1997 … when a 21-year-old Tiger Woods won his first Masters. More people playing means more people buying clubs.

“We’ve had record years at TaylorMade over the last two, three years so keeping up with the demand has been one of the challenges.”

Now that people can see the clubs in-person, and watch someone like Dustin Johnson hit a bomb in person with that exact same club, this event should be mean big money.

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