Golf Canada’s ‘sleeping giant’ gets business boom from RBC deal

The leader of the world’s largest global sports group declared Canadian golf a “sleeping giant” in an address at the RBC Centre in downtown Toronto on Wednesday, unveiling a long-term sponsorship deal for one…

Golf Canada's 'sleeping giant' gets business boom from RBC deal

The leader of the world’s largest global sports group declared Canadian golf a “sleeping giant” in an address at the RBC Centre in downtown Toronto on Wednesday, unveiling a long-term sponsorship deal for one of its golf properties, Golf Canada, worth up to $550 million over 25 years.

Keith Pelley said the deal is a breakthrough for his organization in what he called a nascent golf market in Canada.

However, in a CNBC interview on the day of the announcement he couched it in terms of available TV ad revenues, which would not include the annual fee to players to endorse it.

“I don’t think you should pay every Canadian golfer what some of our major global partners pay them,” Pelley said on CNBC. “It’s not fair to our golfers.

“We want to help Canadian golf become the next golfing superpower. We’ve already got world-class golf courses. We want to take these tremendous golf courses all over the world and get them as many people as possible to come on tour.”

The deal is one of the richest of its kind in the game, something Golf Canada agrees with in a statement:

“We are extremely proud and excited to announce this significant long-term, global sponsorship agreement with Golf Canada, the number one golfing destination in Canada,” said Bill Bernbach, the Golf Canada president and CEO. “The value and opportunity is unprecedented, as it will help to provide even more opportunities for Canadians to realize their golfing potential.”

Currently, Golf Canada contracts with 11 international or domestic sponsors. Pelley said the new deal “essentially doubles” its sponsorship reach in the U.S. market.

Pelley emphasized, however, the importance of a growing industry at the heart of the new deal: Canadian golfers.

“I think our biggest investment is in the sport of golf in Canada and our biggest investment in Canada is the golfers,” Pelley said. “I believe the media has that sleeping giant awaking here in Canada and we want to invest in that massive opportunity.”

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