For over 50 years, luxury watch brands like Rolex and Omega have been key partners and sponsors of professional golf organisations and events.
Their involvement in golf might be bigger than you think.
The enduring relationship between Rolex and golf began in 1967 when ‘The Big Three’, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player became official partners. Today, Rolex is partnered with golf’s governing bodies, the R&A and USGA, as well as its leading organisations, the PGA, European, Asian and LPGA Tours. The Swiss watch brand is also affiliated with Major championships for men and women, and the world’s leading individual and team tournaments.
Rolex’s presence in golf became more visible across the globe in 1980 when a new relationship was formed with the USGA – organizers of the US Open. A year later, Rolex clocks appeared at a tournament golf course for the first time, at Royal St George’s during The Open. Rolex is the Official Timekeeper of both championships. In 1999, Rolex became an international partner of the Masters, staged annually at Augusta National.
Rolex is also Official Timekeeper of the five Majors in women’s professional golf: The ANA Inspiration, KPMG PGA Championship, US Open, British Open and The Evian Championship.
Rolex partnered with the LPGA in 1980 and has been the Official Timekeeper of The European Tour since 1997. In 2007, Rolex became an official sponsor of the PGA Tour, the Florida-based organizer of over 130 tournaments in North America and around the world. Rolex then increased its international reach by joining forces with the Asian Tour in 2011.
Marking the 20th anniversary of Rolex’s partnership with the European Tour, the inaugural Rolex Series took place in 2017. The series, which is the premium tournament category on the European Tour, comprises eight tournaments staged around the world. They are the HSBC Championship, the Irish, Scottish, Italian and Turkish Opens, the BMW PGA Championship, the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and the DP World Tour Championship (the European Tour’s Race to Dubai finale).
Since 1997 Rolex has been partners with The Ryder Cup, and from 2014 onwards – whenever The Ryder Cup is played on European soil – Rolex stands as the event’s sponsor. In 1994 Rolex partnered with the Solheim Cup and in 2005 became the Official Timekeeper of The Presidents Cup. Rolex then added the World Cup of Golf to its golf roster in 2013.
Rolex has been the sponsor and Official Timekeeper of the four annual World Golf Championships since 2007. They are the Mexico Championship, Dell Technologies Match Play, FedEx St. Jude Invitational and the HSBC Championship. As part of its relationship with the PGA Tour, Rolex is also associated with The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup play-offs.
Fellow Swiss brand Omega also has a proud golfing roster. The company has shown that it is committed to helping golf organisations push the game forwards, and has associated its name with some of the most important competitions, organisations and players.
The watchmaker has been the Official Timekeeper of the PGA of America since 2011, which organises the PGA Championship, the second Major of the season. As the Official Timekeeper of the PGA of America, Omega has recorded every second of the PGA Championship since 2011. There is also the Omega European Masters, formally known as the Swiss Open, on the European Tour. The tournament is contested in Crans-Montana in Switzerland each year. It is Europe’s oldest golf competition and a place where many rising stars are born.
Those tournaments join the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic on the Ladies European Tour and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic – dubbed the ‘Major of the Middle East’ – on the men’s tour. They are two of the most prestigious events in a region where the game of golf is developing at a breakneck speed. Omega was also the Official Timekeeper at the Rio Olympics golf tournament in 2016 and will be again in Tokyo in 2020.
The Swiss luxury brand is passionate about golf, so a few years ago they decided to create one of the best professional golf teams in the world to act as brand ambassadors. They call it their ‘Dream Team’. 21-year-old talented Norwegian Viktor Hovland is the latest player to join the Audemars Piguet team. The team includes: Patrick Cantlay, Darren Clarke, Tyrrell Hatton, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Andrew Johnston, Ian Poulter, Xander Schauffele, Henrik Stenson, Matt Wallace, Lee Westwood and Danny Willett.
The brand organises its own series of private invitational tournaments at prestigious golf courses around the world each year, which they call the Audemars Piguet Golf Trophies. Special guests of the brand get to enjoy the thrill of playing alongside one or more of the brand’s ambassadors.
The watchmaker also puts on an end-of-year event which took place last year at the Els Club in Dubai. Nine of the ambassadors played at the tournament alongside various invited guests. The ambassadors led their respective teams of guests around the challenging golf course, sharing valuable tips with them. The brand has also teamed up with ‘Me and My Golf’, the world number one golf YouTubers, who hosted an exciting challenge on the driving range.