These are good times for golf.

North American-based companies will spend an estimated $1.6 billion to sponsor professional and amateur golf tournaments, sanctioning bodies and related events in 2013, up 6.2 percent from the previous year.  

The increase exceeds IEG’s projected 6 percent increase in the overall sports category and 5.5 percent growth for the entire sponsorship industry.

The increase in spending is driven in large part by the growing use of golf as an international marketing platform. Case in point: MetLife, Inc.this year inked an official sponsorship of the PGA Tour to build its presence on the international stage. 

Demonstrating the importance of global platforms, the PGA Tour earlier this year moved longtime CMO Tom Wade into the new position of global commercial officer and hired Greg Gilligan as vice president, managing director of the PGA Tour’s affiliate in China, also a new position. 

Further reflecting the PGA Tour’s growing international presence, the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China will both serve as official PGA Tour tournaments beginning in the 2013-2014 season.

In addition to MetLife, other new PGA Tour partners in 2013 include Astellas, Visionworks, Bose Corp. (China) and NEC Corp. (Latin America).

On the tournament level, Valspar Corp. last week announced four-year title of the former Tampa Bay Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida. The deal makes PGA Tour tournaments fully sponsored for the 2013-2014 season.

Alcoholic beverage, bank and insurance companies are the three most active categories sponsoring golf, with MasterCard, Rolex and Charles Schwab the most active sponsors.  

Worldwide, the auto, alcoholic beverage and bank categories are the three most active segments with Rolex, BMW and The Coca-Cola Co. the most active sponsors.

Most Active Categories Sponsoring Golf (Worldwide)

Most Active Categories Sponsoring Golf (Worldwide)
Automobile companies are 5.5 times more likely to sponsor golf than the average of all sponsors.

Most Active Companies Sponsoring Golf (Worldwide)

Most Active Companies Sponsoring Golf (Worldwide)
Twenty-five percent of golf properties report having Rolex as a sponsor.

Most Active Categories Sponsoring Golf (North America)

Most Active Categories Sponsoring Golf (North America)
Alcoholic beverage companies are 5 times more likely to sponsor golf than the average of all sponsors.

Most Active Companies Sponsoring Golf (North America)

Most Active Companies Sponsoring Golf (North America)
Fifteen percent of golf properties report having MasterCard as a sponsor.