Cameron Smith sexy Saves Rory McIlroy to win the 2022 British Open In July after Winning the Players Championship in March. The Australian had had a busy year, then jumped up to LIV Golf after the Tour Championships in August.
Smith plays Titleist Clubs, uses a Telist ball and bag, and even has the company logo on the front of this hat, the most visible and most valuable piece of real estate in the golf endorsement world.
He’s the highest ranked golfer in the world (#3 as of September 25), but if you click “tour” on the Titleist website and view “Premium Titleist Players”, you won’t see his picture. Jordan Spieth, Nelly Korda, Will Zalatores, Patrick Cantlay, Garrick Hugo, Daniel Kang, Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson are there, but the “Golfer Champion of the Year,” who played in 18 PGA Tour events last season and won three, isn’t. It’s just below that main area, with a small square image that fits in with seven others.
Under normal circumstances, a professional who wins marquee events such as the Players Championship and the British Open will splash their image on marketing materials and advertisements for a year. However, at this point, Titleist doesn’t seem to be planning to tout Smith’s victories with the company’s equipment.
Therefore, it can be argued that Cameron Smith’s choice to play in the LIV series underestimated his wins at TPC Sawgrass and St. As the champion of those events and a high-ranking player, Smith could have been in marquee groups at the PGA Tour events throughout 2023, meaning plenty of Titleist exposure, but it’s now likely that he won’t be allowed to defend his title at Sawgrass (one of the most important events in golf). He has a five-year exemption in the majors and can play the British Open until he’s 60, but other than that, you can only watch Smith play live on YouTube and LIV’s website.
Likewise, it would be difficult to say that Adidas and TaylorMade are getting the full value of their deals with Dustin Johnson. He played a full schedule through the PGA Championship in May, but after joining LIV Golf, the main winner appeared only twice in two televised events, the US Open (T-24) and the British Open (T-6). Johnson won the LIV event in BostonTaylorMade decided not to celebrate that victory on social media like when Rory McIlroy won the Tour Championship. The next time a DJ plays on network TV and flashes Adidas and TaylorMade logos, you’ll likely be next April at the 2023 Masters Tournament.
“A couple of years ago, there was stability and we knew where the guys would be and roughly what their schedules would be,” said the marketing expert for one of the brands. Now, ‘Are they going to be on TV on Sunday,’ but there are sub-levels to that, like ‘Which network are they on?’ “Even if LIV appears on TV, who is watching it?”
In other words, how does a golfer’s value and exposure to a company compare when he’s on CBS or NBC on a Sunday afternoon in February or March to the same player at a LIV Series event that might be broadcast simultaneously on Fox Sports 1 or another network that’s less well known in coverage golf?
Some, if not all, golf enthusiasts see many of the lesser-known LIV players at the moment, and all those who have made the jump are watching their positions in the golf world rankings drop every week.
It is almost impossible to measure the actual player value of a brand in a market with so many unknown variables.