RBC pressure PGA TOUR to sort out the Saudi deal

The Chief Marketing Officer of RBC has issued a pressing call to the PGA Tour to swiftly ‘stabilise professional men’s golf’ in order to maintain their enduring sponsorship of the circuit. RBC currently stands as one of the PGA Tour’s primary sponsors, backing two tournaments on the 2024 schedule.

The large Canadian multinational financial services firm allocates tens of millions of dollars annually to the PGA Tour. The RBC Heritage, situated at the renowned Harbour Town Golf Links with an impressive $20 million prize purse, is RBC’s inaugural event on the schedule, held the week following The Masters.

Their second event,The RBC Canadian Open, at the Hamilton Golf & Country Club takes place in a couple of weeks, where Nick Taylor won in a playoff against Tommy Fleetwood a year ago, marking the first Canadian-born player to win since 1954. RBC has spearheaded the Canadian Open since 2008 and The Heritage since 2012.

However, concerns are looming over RBC’s ongoing involvement and support for the PGA Tour, largely attributed to declining television viewership—a trend directly linked to the absence of all top golfers competing on a single circuit. This sentiment was echoed by RBC’s Chief Marketing Officer Mary DePaoli during the media day press conference for the RBC Canadian Open this week.

 

EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at RBC Mary DePaoli (L), golf icon Lee Trevino (C) and CEO of Golf Canada Laurence Applebaum (R) hold up an RBC hockey jersey at the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame ceremony during the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club.

DePaoli emphasized the urgency, stating, “It’s going to be really important for us to see the [PGA] Tour stabilise professional men’s golf.” She added, “I’ve used the analogy — it’s like they’re flying the plane and building it at the same time.” DePaoli expressed hope that outstanding uncertainties can be resolved swiftly, allowing men’s professional golf to regain positive momentum.

While viewing numbers increased during The Masters last month, most regular PGA Tour events in 2024 have seen declining figures. The PGA TOUR is actively pursuing a preliminary deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in a bid to reunite the world’s top golfers amidst growing concerns voiced by longstanding sponsors like RBC about the division in men’s professional golf.

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