Interest in the Ryder Cup, which begins in earnest today, extends beyond golf fans, while a restructuring of commercial activity means more brands than ever are becoming involved.

“It’s become a powerhouse of an event,” said Carsten Thode, chief strategy officer at sports marketing firm Synergy. “From an audience appeal perspective, it is a unique event that transcends golf.

“Brands know this is an absolutely first-class sporting event that has enormous commercial potential – it’s one-off, incomparable, and I would anticipate they would have a significant opportunity to raise commercial revenues,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

The commercial activity around the biennial tournament between teams from Europe and the US has been transformed in recent years since it adopted the sponsorship structure pioneered by the Olympics Games, with a ‘family’ of official sponsors across several levels.

Rolex, Aberdeen Standard Investments, Emirates and BMW lead the way as official partners, while a second tier of 13 official suppliers includes Nestlé, Eurostar, UPS, Accor Hotels and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

In total, there are 34 partners, suppliers and licensees, with the average price per sponsor for the European event coming in at around £2m, according to the Telegraph (in the US, it’s nearer £4m).

The burgeoning commercial side of the tournament has been complicated, however, by the presence of two different rights holders – Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA of America – depending on which side of the Atlantic the event is taking place.

But both are working together to maximise the global commercial opportunities of The Ryder Cup by harmonising the commercial programmes on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The Ryder Cup poses one of the greatest rights opportunities in sports today,” according to Mark Thompson, managing director of global sponsorship management company, SponServe.

“It has the potential to become the biggest one-off weekend in the sporting calendar.”

On the ground, meanwhile, technology has become a crucial part of what the competition can deliver for its sponsors beyond the simple branding and hospitality programs of yesteryear.

Michael Cole, CTO of the European Tour and Ryder Cup, told a Hewlett Packard podcast how 250,000 people (and even more devices) will attend over the period of the tournament and expect a frictionless mobile experience.

“It’s critical for us to maximize the number of spectators using the wifi infrastructure,” he explained. Not only is this essential for operational purposes and understanding crowd movements on the course, it is also is useful for marketing purposes.

“The more people that we can get onto the wifi, convert them into registering, and then receiving promotional activity – for both us and our partners – that’s a key measure of success.

“Moving from a spectator to a lead, to a lead to a customer, from customer to an advocate is critical for them,” said Cole.

Sourced from Daily Telegraph, Hewlett Packard, Ryder Cup; additional content by WARC staff