PGA officials estimate several thousand spectators could take in
today's start of practice rounds at Southern Hills.
Among them will be hundreds if not thousands of corporate guests.
The 2007 Professional Golfers' Association Championship presents
one of the state's biggest marketing events in years. A variety of
pricing packages will allow dozens of state and national companies,
from giants like BOK Financial and the Nordam Group to small mom and
pop operations, to use the seven-day tournament to woo and wow not
just prospective clients and good customers, but loyal employees and
"If they're golf enthusiasts, that makes it a pretty easy sell,"
said Doug Huber, vice president with the architectural and
engineering firm Crafton Tull Sparks. His firm bought four grounds
tickets to take prospective clients to the course each day.
Oneok Inc. expects to entertain several hundred guests at a
chalet it's sharing with another firm. GDH Consulting of Tulsa will
host 60 at a table it bought along Southern Hills' famous par-four
"I don't know if it's so much as measured by return but in
entertaining our clients," said JJ Hurley, who opened GDH in 2001.
"It's a really draw for our clients down in Texas, down in Arkansas,
to be able to come here and see this."
Williams Cos. will entertain more than 300 in the sponsor
hospitality tent, mixing with Flintco, Cherokee Nation Enterprises
"We see it as a way to build up relationships with our
customers," said Amanda Hollon, Williams community relations and
customer events partner. "Business is business, so we're hoping that
by building stronger relationships we'll continue to have good
business relations with these people."
That focuses on the key attraction most marketers see in the PGA.
"Our business is a relationship business," said Derek T.
Blackshare, chief executive and president of Blackshare
Environmental Solutions. "There are other people out there who do
what we do, but they use us because the know us, they like us, they
know our reputation."
Blackshare acquired six grounds-only tickets to share the day
with both potential and ongoing clients.
"The tickets are relatively cheap; I think they're about $300
bucks a week on the grounds-only," he said. "What's that? Two grand,
total. A couple of jobs from these people way more than pays for
these things. The return is much higher than the investment."
In a world where 90 percent of business comes down to personal
ties, Huber said sharing experiences at the tournament provides an
ideal foundation for cementing long-term relationships.
"It's like seeing Michael Jordan playing basketball or Babe Ruth
playing baseball," said Blackshare. "To some people it's a dream, a
one-time dream come true."
Since tee times begin before 8 a.m., even the grounds tickets
give executives a chance to walk the tree-lined fairways and follow
icons like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson pursue Sunday's title
presentation, all under the scenic splendor of one of the world's
most treasured courses.
"You spend four to five hours on a golf course, wandering around
and visiting," said Blackshare. "There's no pressure, no stress, but
you get to know them and they get to know you and there's a
If anyone gets tired during that, there's always the PGA Golf
Shop or several other tents available to provide a restful break.
All that helps the experience transcend the sports world.
"How many times do you have eight hours to spend with a client?"
said Huber. "Even if they may not be died-in-the-wool golf
enthusiasts, they would do anything to see Tiger."
And if they are into golf, it can be a learning experience as
well as a joy to watch.
"I'm anxious to see how the pros play," chipped in Hurley, a
Southern Hills member who will also serve as a volunteer at the