There’s a lot of money to be had in golf sponsorships, both from event sponsorship and of the players - and yet, all too often we see the same names repeating themselves.
While we’ve all heard of huge golf companies like TaylorMade, Callaway and Titleist, when it comes to prominent non-industry golf sponsorship deals, you'd be forgiven for drawing a blank.
Yes, the prizes at huge golf events could sustain a player, it's the off-course sponsorships where the players make most of their money.
And, with the PGA Tour’s recent landmark decision, finally allowing gambling companies to sponsor, this all seemed to be about to change for the better (and the more lucrative).
February 2019: PGA Opens Sponsorships to Gambling Companies
Back in February, the PGA Tour made the decision to allow gambling companies to sponsor golfers.
Having been enacted immediately, larger casino companies and golfers alike were thrilled by the news. After all, gambling company sponsorships are where the big bucks are to be had, not to mention the possibility for further sponsorships and revenue: advertising and merchandising tie-ins, and so on.
Golf sponsorships are an important part of the professional golf playing industry, though these pale in comparison to those found in other sports. For example, Betway’s sponsorship of West Ham FC brings the club to the tune of €11.5 million annually.
But you'd struggle to find even one gambling sponsorship of golfers or golfing events. While golfers themselves have some pretty lucrative sponsorship deals, it's nothing compared to what they could be receiving from gambling company sponsorship.
The Top Golf Sponsorships of 2019
Amazingly, there don't really seem to be any casino or gambling-related golf sponsorships among top pros in 2019, with the top 5 professional golfers worldwide instead being sponsored by golf companies, sports companies, fashion houses and energy drinks.
Estimated to have earned around $45.15 million in 2019 alone, Tiger Woods is both famous and infamous: the past decade has seen his name in the headlines for more off-course reasons than on-course, and as a result, he lost a lot of sponsorships.
But, he bounced back - he made $3.158 million in the 2018-2019 PGA Tour season alone, and grabbed a further $42 million in sponsorships from companies like Nike, Monster Energy Drinks, Centinel Spine, GolfTV, Kowa, TaylorMade and Bridgestone.
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson just loses out to Tiger Woods, yet again: He's estimated to have earned almost $39.4 million in 2019 - $2.4 million of these in tournament winnings, and $37 million in sponsorships, which look a little different to Tiger Woods’:
- Exxon Mobil
...and that’s on an “off” year! He's had a bit of a down season, after winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am back in February, but with this kind of “downtime," to the tune of $40 million, he's doing just fine!
Also the victim of an “off” year, Jordan Spieth has still earned a cool $31.7 million (or thereabouts) in 2019. Back in August, he he finished 58th in the PGA Tour's final standings, earning $1.78 million.
He's also earned around $30 million through sponsorships, from the likes of -
- Under Armour
- Perfect Sense
- Club Champion
Northern Ireland’s pride and joy had a great 2019, having earned around $37.7 million - $7.37 million of which was from winning The Players Championship, Canadian Open and other starts. He won the FedEx Cup for $15 million more.
The other millions come from sponsorships from the likes of:
One of the younger entrants on our list, at only 26, Justin Thomas earned around $26 million last year, $3.17 million of which came from the PGA Tour, and $23 million from some pretty big brands sponsorships:
- Polo Ralph Lauren
- Citi Bank
- Woodford Reserve
- Beats by Dr Dre
The Future of Gambling-Golf Sponsorships
While golf sponsorships seem to be both lucrative and plentiful, it seems strange that - despite the PGA Tour's February 2019 ruling - there is as yet to be any major casino-golf player or golf event sponsorships.
While some land-based casinos - such as Las Vegas’ MGM Resort - have had a long history of sponsoring golfers (especially PGA Tour regular, Ryan Moore), when it comes to online vendors sponsoring events, it seems there is a lot of opportunity with very little takeup.
Part of this could be due to the strict rules surrounding the gambling companies and the types of sponsorships - for example, players can be sponsored by an online casino outside of the US, but not one that is sponsoring them from within the US. International operators such as Bet365 therefore, has to sponsor players from their non-US arm.
Otherwise, operators whose primary dealings are with sportsbetting are ineligible to sponsor events or players - however, exceptions are made for online vendors operating ‘games of skill’ - such as FanDuel.