The already outstanding partnership between the PGA of America and Whirlpool's KitchenAid brand took a quantum leap today in an historic announcement made on the first tee at Harbor Shores. Effective with the 2017 Championship, the event will become the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and it will return to Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor not only in 2018 as had already been planned, but every other year through 2024.
The newly minted eight-year title sponsorship not only elevates the KitchenAid role in the Championship, it keeps the "home" course advantage for Benton Harbor in 2020, 2022 and 2024. Whirlpool Chairman & CEO Jeff Fettig announced the deepened ties, placing the Championship on par with the Ryder Cup, and other premiere golf events around the world.
Fettig told an overflowing bleacher crowd of volunteers and spectators, "We're proving that businesses and golf can be a part of helping to create great communities, and our KitchenAid partnership with the PGA of America, along with more than 1,700 community volunteers, have been doing just that in Benton Harbor."
Fettig told the crowd, "We received feedback from the local community and volunteers about the PGA partnership, and the response was overwhelmingly positive that the community wanted the Championship to return. The continuation and evolution of this relationship will ensure that the Benton Harbor community receives the positive national attention it deserves, while driving tourism and spurring investment in the region." He adds, "Benton Harbor is a great place to live, work and play, and this Championship helps us to deliver this important message to a national and international audience."
KitchenAid's new role as title sponsor is an elevation of historic proportions and will bring the relationship with the PGA of America — which started as a presenting sponsorship in 2011 — to 14 years running. The change provides the resources to launch this Championship into the future, keeping it at the forefront of senior golf and pushing the envelope for innovative player, fan, volunteer and community experiences.
KitchenAid reports realizing great results in terms of exposure and brand engagement since 2011. Beginning in May of next year with the KitchenAid title sponsorship, the Championship becomes more simply stated: The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, and KitchenAid remains the Official Home Appliance brand of the PGA of America.
This week's event already marks the third Championship played at Harbor Shores, and adds four more to the line up through 2024.
Pete Bevacqua is CEO of the PGA of America. He told the crowd this afternoon, "We are delighted with the evolution of our relationship with KitchenAid." He added, "Since 2011, KitchenAid has had an integral role in elevating this Championship to unprecedented heights, and the brand's commitment to major championship golf enables us to collectively explore new frontiers in all areas of player, fan and sponsorship engagement."
The new agreement will yield an enhanced purse in years to come that reflects the proud tradition of the Championship and the outstanding field it attracts. Defending Champion Colin Montgomerie addressed the crowd this afternoon on behalf of the players and voiced gratitude for the new title role and the elevated winnings going forward while also profusely thanking the 1,700 volunteers for their role in making the Championship a truly quality event for him and his colleagues on the Champions Tour.
NBC Sports and Golf Channel will also continue as the broadcast partners of the Championship, and provide expanded platforms for broader reach. NBC coverage currently reaches 123 countries and territories, and more than 262 million households.
Benton Harbor is a reflection of the commitment that Whirlpool Corporation and the KitchenAid brand have to its local community. Fueled by public-private partnerships, Whirlpool and community leaders are creating hundreds of new jobs, building homes and bringing money and attention to the Benton Harbor area with the development of Harbor Shores.
Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said, "We welcome the many benefits the Senior PGA Championship brings to our community, especially with the tremendous amount of media and live television coverage the tournament generates. The more people who learn of the opportunities that exist in our city, such as the quality of our people and the strength of our local businesses, the more likely they will be to visit time and again, move to the area or invest in a new company, as all of these create economic development and with it jobs for the region."
Meanwhile, St. Joseph Mayor Mike Garey says, "There are too many benefits to remember or truly appreciate. The benefits to our area, both direct and indirect, have increased with each Senior PGA Championship. Here's to 2018 and beyond!"
Rob Cleveland is President of Cornerstone Alliance. He says, "Cornerstone has always leveraged the Senior PGA Championship to bring real estate brokers and site location consultants to Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. The site location consultants receive offers from places like New Orleans, Phoenix and Dallas with invitations to attend the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Fours and NBA Finals events. The Senior PGA Championship event and brand gives our region the drawing power to compete to bring high-level site location consultants into the area."