SBJ/20080804/This Week's News

PGA extends cross-sport promos into NASCAR

The PGA of America is branching into NASCAR as it continues to use other professional sports leagues to help raise the profile of golf and appeal to a new set of fans.

With the aid of Trackside Links, a fledgling promotions company based in Fort Myers, Fla., the organization will tap some of its 28,000 licensed teaching professionals to attend races and give golf clinics in hitting bays.

Lowe’s Motor Speedway will host the first such promotion this October during the Bank of America 500. If successful, PGA officials said, it could expand to other races in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. One future site could be Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which has four of Brickyard Crossing Golf Course’s 18 holes in the infield.

An earlier effort put a caddie bib on
Maddie, mascot for the WNBA’s
New York Liberty.

The motorsports effort comes on the heels of a monthlong promotion to run halftime promotions, scoreboard PSAs and free golf lessons at eight WNBA games. The first 200 fans that took golf lessons at a Shock game in Detroit won practice-round tickets to this week’s PGA Championship at nearby Oakland Hills Country Club.

The PGA of America hopes to expand the WNBA effort to all 14 teams in 2009.

There were smaller promotions at NFL, NBA and MLB games in the last year, all part of the goal to get more people interested in playing golf. The PGA of America represents the business interests of the golf industry, including courses, equipment and clothing manufacturers, and teaching pros.

Golf participation trends vary depending on the source, but it’s generally accepted that the number of people playing the sport has stagnated or declined since the late 1990s. The number of rounds played declined incrementally over the last five years, according to data on the National Golf Foundation’s Web site.

“We’re trying to get the PGA professional out front and into places where you traditionally wouldn’t see golf,” said Kevin Carter, senior director of business development for the PGA of America. “We’re trying to drive people to the golf course and PGA professionals, but you can also take the course and professional to the people.”

The PGA of America would not reveal how much it is spending annually on the various activities.

The tie-ins shouldn’t come as a surprise given the backgrounds of some of the principals behind them. Carter is a former NFL executive, and WNBA President Donna Orender is married to a former PGA of America president.

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