This April Only: Save 30% on PRO with code ROCKETSCIENCE »

Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 624,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!
Text:  A A

Does the PGA Brand Need a New Rivalry?

by   |    |  5 views

The inevitable comparisons between golfers have begun: Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger Woods. The style of play. The statistics. The fact both won major tournaments in their salad days: McIlroy’s recent U.S. Open win at the ripe old age of 22 and Tiger Woods’s first Masters Tournament at age 21.

Both golfers have the ability to play nearly flawless rounds. Both have swings that are strong and go long, with incredible accuracy hitting the fairways. Both putt well. And both attract plenty of enthusiastic fans. Though Woods’s fall from grace in 2009 put a significant hole in his Golden Boy image that he has yet to overcome, the former wunderkind still has plenty of fans. And how about boy-next-door McIlroy? He’s a star; no doubt about it. And now it looks like he’s an emerging superstar.

Many argue that golf, like most sports, has increasingly become a game of up-and-comers. The last four major tournaments have been won by twenty-somethings. That raises the question: With Tiger’s spate of recent injuries and his age (he’s all of 35 years old,) can he come back?

Better yet: Will a new rivalry be born between Woods and McIlroy? If so, and we hear that McIlroy plans on playing more in the United States, we could enjoy years of memorable golf moments if a rivalry does develop.

Like any other sport, golf thrives on great personal brands, compelling storylines and legends (people and exploits.)
• What’s more compelling than a strong rivalry?
• What’s better than head-to-head match-ups to generate the kind of fan excitement we see in team sports?
• Doesn’t golf need a new compelling story right now? What do you think of the possibility of a Woods-McIlroy rivalry? Good for the sport or distracting?

Please feel free to weigh in. I’d love to hear from you.

Join over 624,000 marketing professionals, and gain access to thousands of marketing resources! Don't worry ... it's FREE!


We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy. (We hate spam as much as you do.) See our privacy policy.

Sign in with one of your preferred accounts below:

Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (, a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.

Rate this  

Overall rating

  • Not rated yet.

Add a Comment


  • by Jim Hartley Thu Jun 23, 2011 via blog

    Sports is about three things: dynasties, underdog stories, and rivalries. When Tiger Woods was a dynasty, golf was on the radar of most sports fans. That dynasty is gone. Despite his recent exploits, Rory McIlroy is not likely to become a dynasty any time soon. Golf does need a strong rivalry, even if the eras of the two golfers don't overlap perfectly. It worked with Palmer and Nicklaus, until Palmer faded, but by then, Nicklaus was a dynasty. And through his years, Nicklaus also had rivalries with Trevino, Miller, and Watson. (Weiskopf never quite made it to the level of rival; more a bridesmaid.)

    With Mickelson more inconsistent than ever, Els past his prime, and Sergio still trying to figure out life, McIlroy is the best hope for a Tiger replacement. The question is, can Tiger mount enough of a comeback to be a true rival to McIlroy? Or will it be a case of out with the old and in with the new?

  • by Elaine Fogel Thu Jun 23, 2011 via blog

    Golf fans are die hard, Ted, and even when Tiger was outed as a bad boy, they wanted to see more of him when he returned to play. He has an aura about him that people adore, even as they berated him and his brand suffered.

    McIlroy's the new kid on the block and who knows how consistent he'll be in his early career. That's what differentiates one golfer over another - consistent brilliance. It's a real pressure cooker, but the stars seem to rise to the occasion.

    As for a rivalry? I would suspect that any match where Woods AND McIlroy are playing would get a lot of attention. And big crowds, coupled with high TV ratings, are always good for the sport.

  • by Ryan Smith Thu Jun 23, 2011 via blog

    The problem with golf is that it does not do enough to promote its players like football or baseball does. Tiger was (is) a phenom, but was promoted through channels outside of the sport. Nike, Gatorade, Buick, etc, took him to superstardom in the mainstream. More eyes noticed Tiger and began to follow golf as a whole, but mostly only on the tourneys that Tiger played. Golf, like all sports, needs a superstar. Golf was hoping for the Tiger/Phil Mickelson rivalry, but that never came to fruition like most had hoped. Rory has all the potential in the world to contend as the best ever and to be a global superstar. He really could be the next big thing. Heck, if he played a little bit better, this could have been his 3rd major win since 2010. Unfortunately, you never know when a career ending injury or public relations catastrophe will occur (don't tell me someone ever predicted this with Tiger). Golf has to keep filling the funnel, which it does quite well. It just must do a better job of getting them to mainstream superstardom.

  • by Ted Mininni Thu Jun 23, 2011 via blog

    Hi Jim,

    As a rabid sports fan myself, couldn't agree more with your opening line. Well said. I'd add: superstars. Think how many people turned on to basketball around the world, for example, when Michael Jordan arrived on the scene dazzling everybody with his unbelievable skills. So a single superstar can make a sport sizzle. Remember when Tiger won his first major tournaments? Remember how young people took up golf all over the country?

    You're right: McIlroy has yet to prove himself as far as consistency goes. Simply put, he has to win or consistently show up in the top three in major tournaments on the tour. Even Tiger has been called out of late for his inconsistent putting, so will he be back with a vengeance after he's 100% mended? Time will tell. Again: I like your summary on this in your last two sentences. Golf needs something right now: new stars, rivalries, great underdog stories, the start of a new dynasty? One or all of them? Thanks for posting some great insights, Jim. I appreciate it.

  • by Ted Mininni Thu Jun 23, 2011 via blog

    Hi Elaine,

    Thanks for weighing in with your insights. I always appreciate them. Tiger Woods seems to still have great draw: is it due to notoriety or love for his brand though? Probably some of both. As I mentioned to Jim, consistently great play and a few major tournment wins are the difference between good solid players and superstars. Woods himself has been less than consistent of late. We agree on this point: any head to head matches where Woods and McIlroy are dueling for a major win will garner huge media and fan attention. . .that would be good for golf. No doubt about it.

  • by Ted Mininni Thu Jun 23, 2011 via blog

    Hi Ryan,

    You raised some interesting points here. Thank you. I do think golf promotes the game and its leading players without trying to appear as though it's all about the top player in the world alone. Yet, in his heydey, all of the ads focused an awful lot of attention on Tiger Woods, didn't they? Good point about McIlroy, too. He did very well in some tournaments, and then faded. True superstars know what it takes to win and they close strongly. Maybe now that McIlroy's notched his first big win, he will be able to do that in future. Won't it be great to watch to see if is ready to be the next superstar? It is a lot of pressure on anybody, especially such a young man. Let's remember that all sports see aging stars give way to young up-and-comers and the next generation of great players. That's what keeps the fans buzzing--and happy.

  • by Steve Byrne Mon Jul 4, 2011 via blog

    news excerpt from 2011 Masters final:
    "It’s been an incredible five minutes at Augusta National Golf Club as Rory McIlroy completely melted-down on hole No. 10 while Tiger Woods got it together all of a sudden on No. 15. The results was a wild swing, and turn of events, as McIlroy fell down the leaderboard and Woods assumed a share of the lead on Sunday at The Masters."

    Tiger tied for lead on the final day of Masters 2011. He is hardly out of it. I'm looking to see Tiger and Rory paired as co-leaders in a major final sometime in 2012.

    Great for golf!!

  • by Ted Mininni Tue Jul 5, 2011 via blog


    Love it! Couldn't agree more. It's great "theater" and good for the sport. I wonder how many young people in the U.K. will take up golf as a result of Rory's success? Remember how many kids started to play golf here when Tiger Woods became such a young champion? That's what keeps a sport strong: the next generation gets excited when a young person becomes a star. They begin to dream: "Why can't that be me", right?

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!