Tournament of Champions getting a new sponsor for 2018 event
The year's opening tournament has a new Wisconsin-based backer
The Tournament of Champions has become the annual start to a new year in golf. Although it is sometimes 8th, 9th or 10th on the PGA Tour calendar in a given season, it is seen as a marker and the genesis for a new year in January. Because of this, it seems like it should be fairly easy to find a sponsor for a tournament that everyone is hungry for after a break from the sport.
But the event has gone through five sponsors since 1993 and received a 6th on Wednesday when Wisconsin-based Sentry Insurance signed up for a five-year deal to sponsor the event. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, this is the first pro sports sponsorship for Sentry.
It is the first major sports sponsorship for Sentry, one of the largest business-focused mutual insurance companies in the United States. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but title sponsorship of a PGA Tour event reportedly starts at $7 million annually.
"We are incredibly excited to be partnering with the PGA Tour and in particular to be the title sponsor of the Tournament of Champions," Sentry CEO Pete McPartland told the Journal-Sentinel. "We have seen how the game of golf aligns so perfectly with the majority of our business, which is the business insurance customer."
McPartland also mentioned the advantage of being able to take customers to Hawaii in January to play some golf, which does indeed sound like a great perk of sponsoring a professional golf event.
It's going to be fascinating to see how the PGA Tour's schedule is reshaped over the next few years with the move of the PGA Championship to May and the presumed reshuffling of the season. As long as tournaments retain solid sponsors, I'm dubious that any of these events will be fully removed from the slate.
There could be movement to various months, but because the Tournament of Champions is a collection of winners from the year prior and now has a five-year sponsorship, it looks like it's going to stay put at the beginning of the calendar year for a very long time.
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