05/20/2016

The PGA tournament in Fort Worth next week has a new sponsor.

No, it’s not a car company, an insurance company, a credit card company, or a hotel chain. The tournament will be sponsored by an international food company that, quite frankly, many of those attending the tournament may not have heard of all that much.

For 2016 and the next five years, the Colonial tournament will be title sponsored by Dean & DeLuca. Why Dean & DeLuca? From the Wichita, Kansas-based company’s point of view, the sponsorship was an excellent way to expand beyond its SoHo, New York City vibe and introduce itself more completely as a truly global food brand. And, oh yes, the specialty food retailer plans to move heavily into the increasingly food conscious Texas market in the next few months.

From the PGA’s perspective, why rebrand Colonial?

Since its inception seven decades ago, the Fort Worth stop has been named, in one way or the other, for the site on which it has been held, the Colonial Country Club. The event in Fort Worth, which began in 1946, the year after World War II ended and when the city was the epitome of a Texas town, is the Tour’s longest-tenured tournament held at a single venue.

PGA officials realized that they did not want the Colonial to be, as they say in Texas, the “maverick” in its tournament stable, without a continuing named sponsor.  The agreement provides Colonial with its fifth different title sponsor since 1989. But most importantly, it alleviates concerns that this year’s tournament might be played without title sponsorship. Why is that so important? Did you know that once a tournament is slotted on the PGA Tour calendar, the host organization is responsible for ponying up the prize money for the event?

The tournament was marketed last year (and the previous eight) as the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, generating more than $9 million for local charities. The deal with Dean & DeLuca flag is viewed by PGA officials as a way to help Forth Worth and Texas-based philanthropic organizations.

The PGA also saw an excellent opportunity to expand its brand further with foodies with discretionary income and entered into year-long negotiations with Dean & DeLuca. While financial details of the transaction haven’t been fully divulged, it’s important to note that the purse for the tournament has been increased to $6.7 million.

The tournament is also extremely significant to the PGA because it will forever be associated with five-time winner and Fort Worth legend Ben Hogan, one of the most iconic golfers in history.

“The partnership with Dean & DeLuca is very exciting given their expansion plans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and key PGA Tour locations across the country,” tournament chairman Bobby Patton said in a statement. “For us to celebrate our 70th and, looking ahead, 75th anniversary with Dean & DeLuca means a lot to Colonial Country Club and the Fort Worth community.”