SBJ/20090202/SBJ In-Depth

Game changers

There is a famous quote by the late Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw that goes, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” The following are five executives working to push golf beyond its comfort zone.

Pete Bevacqua
Chief business officer
U.S. Golf Association

Since joining the USGA’s executive ranks in 2007, Bevacqua helped shape the framework of the USGA’s corporate partnerships, overhauled communications and new media, and pushed into new technologies to enhance the event experience. In 2008, he helped devise a consumer promotion that challenged an average golfer and three celebrities to break par on the course that hosted the U.S. Open.

Michèle Szynal
VP, corporate communications
Callaway Golf

The company’s multiyear association with Justin Timberlake is believed to be the first time an equipment maker has signed a celebrity to a full endorsement, a deal that would have died without Szynal’s insistence on courting the pop star and the backing of Callaway marketer Brian Groves. Golf needs cachet among Gen Y and associating with chart- toppers like Timberlake can only help.

Ed Kiernan
Chief marketing officer
Peter Jacobsen Sports

Backed by the name of one of the more bankable figures in golf, Kiernan and his staff, in concert with Miami Marketing Group, put on the most talked about party in professional golf this past year. The Lexus Style Villa Sports was to the U.S. Open in San Diego what the annual Maxim Party is to the Super Bowl, attended by everyone from Lexus and its guests to models, actors, sports executives and media members.

Suzanne Hamm
Chief marketing officer, North America
Stanford Financial Group

With the exception of the people at FedEx, there is no other individual that made a broader new investment in golf in the last two years, or one that speaks with more refreshing candor, than Hamm. She helped lead the resurgence of the PGA Tour event in Memphis, staged a successful first-year event on the LPGA, and sponsored the top two finishers in the FedEx Cup.

Jay Monahan
Executive director
The Players Championship

One of the marketing brains behind Fenway Sports Group moved to the PGA Tour in June to lead its flagship event in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Monahan is working to give the tournament more of a big event feel by creating fan and sponsor experiences and providing access to players. Such efforts will help the tournament further distance itself from the other nonmajors on the PGA Tour schedule.

— Compiled by Jon Show

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