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Volume 20 No. 46
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Ultimate delivery: McIlroy stuns BMW buyer

From The BMW Championship, Conway Farms Golf Club, Lake Forest, Ill.

BMW has never been shy about activating around the FedEx Cup playoff tournament it title sponsors, and this year was no different.

Last year, when the BMW Championship was played at Crooked Stick near Indianapolis, BMW had PGA Tour pro Matt Kuchar attempt a 100-yard chip for charity at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This year, BMW created a new activation effort by having Rory McIlroy surprise a buyer of a new BMW M760i2 by personally delivering the car on the tee at Conway Farms Golf Club on Wednesday during the tournament’s pro-am event.

In addition to presenting the new BMW, Rory McIlroy autographed the car’s armrest.
The high-profile delivery was the latest example of heavy activation at the tournament, which this year also featured Topgolf’s Crush pop-up venue as part of the BMW Experience, held near the driving range of Conway Farms. Octagon is BMW’s agency of record.

The PGA Tour’s newest partner, Massage Envy, has wasted little time activating around its four-year deal with the tour. The deal is a first for the tour in the massage and skin care category and is the first sports sponsorship for Massage Envy.

The company held a media event on Tuesday before the tournament in nearby Chicago with PGA Tour company endorser Jamie Lovemark and had its mobile training and wellness trailer on site at Conway Farms.

LEAVING LAKE FOREST: The BMW Championship, the penultimate event of the four-event FedEx Cup playoff, departs Conway Farms after three years there. Conway Farms was the site of the tournament in 2013, 2015 and this year, but the event next year moves to Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia and then moves to Medinah Country Club near Chicago in 2019. The tournament’s site after Medinah in 2019 has not been determined.

Will the FedEx Cup playoff ever return to Conway, located on Chicago’s North Shore? Vince Pellegrino, senior vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association, which operates the event, said he will look to bring the tournament back.

“Conway Farms Golf Club has provided a world-class venue for the BMW Championship the three years we’ve been here,” he said. “The players love the course, and we’ve enjoyed large and enthusiastic crowds. Chicago is always going to be a home base for us, and with the success we’ve had at Conway Farms, we’re optimistic about the possibility of bringing the event back.”

SHOTLINK TESTING: The evolution of the PGA Tour’s ShotLink technology was in high gear at the BMW Championship as the tour continues to test technology that replaces a single greenside laser with three cameras to offer more detailed and customized shot-tracking data on telecasts.

Don Wallace, senior director of ShotLink for the tour, directed the new camera system from a high-tech trailer at Conway Farms. Wallace said that by the start of the PGA Tour’s fall wraparound season, the ShotLink system should be expanded to cover additional holes as the tour moves toward full implementation. Chicago-based CDW is the tour’s technology partner.

IRMA ISSUES: The tournament was played just after Hurricane Irma passed over the tour’s Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters, and caused travel disruptions. The tour sent some tournament operations people up to Conway Farms in advance of the tournament to avoid possible hurricane-related delays. The tour headquarters, which was closed Monday and Tuesday of last week after the hurricane, did not suffer any major damage. The TPC Sawgrass course, located adjacent to the tour’s offices, saw tree damage on the property.