Published November 16, 2011
The developmental leg of the LPGA will be known as the Symetra Tour, Road to the LPGA, in a three-year deal that includes course signage, hospitality and integration into some LPGA TV programming. Symetra Financial, based in Bellevue, Wash., gets broad financial service category rights, exclusive of payment cards, and will use the Futures Tour to enhance its brand recognition. The LPGA sponsorship is part of an overall rebranding of the company that will include a new corporate logo, which is being released today as well. The LPGA plans to make an announcement of the Symetra partnership this afternoon in Orlando, where it is staging the year-end CME Group Titleholders. “We are a lot like the ladies on this tour,” Symetra President & CEO Tom Marra said. “They all were the best golfers in their hometown and now they are aiming higher. We’re a player and we want to be a top player. So it really matches up. It should be a great branding play for us and a terrific hospitality and customer entertainment vehicle." Symetra did a test run with the title sponsorship of the Futures Tour stop in San Antonio this past April, a season in which the Futures Tour went without a title sponsor. Prior to that, Rx marketer Duramed had a four-year sponsorship of the LPGA’s developmental tour. The LPGA’s Dave Lafrennie, hired as Dir of Corporate Partnerships for the Futures Tour in June '10, negotiated the deal with Symetra. The association between Marra and Lafrennie goes back to their days working together at The Hartford, where Marra was formerly President & CEO and Lafrennie once worked as Assistant VP/Sports Marketing. “This was a priority when I was hired, so that feels good," Lafrennie said, “and we got a sponsor who will grow as the tour does." Lafrennie said the developmental tour, which begins next March in Winter Haven, Fla., will consist of 16-18 events, including some at new locations.