Closing Shot: Taking Aim At Tulsa

The PGA Championship rolls into Southern Hills Country Club this week with strong ticket sales and sponsor activation and a buzzworthy player lineup.

By Thomas Leary
Golf’s second major of the year expects to see a field that includes Tiger Woods..PGA of America

It’s been 15 years since Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club last played host to the PGA Championship, and back then it was none other than Tiger Woods who scored a two-stroke win. It was Woods’ fourth PGA Championship victory and the 13th time he won a major.


As the event returns to Southern Hills this week, tickets are sold out for Friday-Sunday, with Thursday’s first round pacing right behind. Multiple sponsors aim to garner attention with their activation plans at golf’s second major on the calendar.

Every top PGA of America partner has either some form of on-site activation and/or on-site hospitality planned for the week, according to Luke
Reissman, head of partnerships at the PGA of America. He said the organization is “riding this really nice wave in the golf industry where participation obviously is in a really good place,” in part due to golf’s pandemic-friendly style of play.

“For us, the biggest momentum is that, while COVID is certainly not over yet, we’ve been able to ride out the eye of the storm with our existing partner base, to the point where we actually haven’t lost a single partner during COVID,” said Reissman.

Cadillac, a PGA of America partner since 2019, will have four offerings at this year’s PGA Championship, including its latest V-Series displays outside the PGA Shop and the practice range, as well as its Electriq Theater experience adjacent to the 13th hole that tells the brand’s history while showcasing its new all-electric 2023 Lyriq vehicle.

Other partners getting in on the action include Charles Schwab title sponsoring a swing analysis opportunity near the PGA Shop for fans to receive a customized lesson from a PGA professional. Chase Sapphire card members will have access to free shipping of their purchased merchandise from the PGA Shop to their home address, and Michelob Ultra will promote a sweepstakes on PGA Championship digital and social channels offering one winner and guest a chance to play Southern Hills the Monday after the major.

John Handley, PGA of America director of championship sales and marketing, said the organization has “reached our mark and sold through pretty much all of our products” in customary hospitality inventory.

New this year to the championship is Legends, which will handle the organization’s merchandising efforts, replacing Fanatics. “It’s a city being put together over there right now,” Mike Quirk, Legends senior vice president of golf and strategic growth, said last week. While Legends’ tent build-out — around 50,000 square feet — has been 2 1/2 months in the making, Quirk said the biggest challenge his team has faced is supply chain issues due to the pandemic.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson originally was expected to play this year, but last week pulled out of the event. He stepped away from pro golf in February following controversial statements about his involvement with LIV Golf. Mickelson became the oldest major champion in history by winning last year’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

As for Woods, barring any unforeseen circumstance, he’s scheduled to play in this year's tournament.

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