The U.S. Golf Association added to its roster of corporate sponsors for this week’s U.S. Open, reaching a three-year partnership with Chevron Corp. (CVX:US)
The second-largest U.S. energy company will pay $4 million annually to become an official USGA partner, according to two people familiar with the sponsorship, which includes print, broadcast and digital media purchases.
The agreement will use marquee events to promote education by showcasing the science and technology principles behind the game, Glenn Weckerlin, Chevron’s director of marketing, said. There will be learning stations to teach about the science of golf -- such as aerodynamics, velocity and lift of golf balls, and measuring the slope and acceleration of putting greens.
“When you see the kids interact with these things, it just really comes to life for them,” Sarah Hirshland, the USGA’s director of business affairs, said in a telephone interview. “Our goal is for that to be an incentive for them to care about and better understand the game.”
San Ramon, California-based Chevron and the USGA, which governs the game of golf along with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, will create content aimed at advancing childhood science, technology, education and math programs -- known as STEM.
“We employ a number of engineers and scientists,” Hirshland said. “This is an inherent part of what we need in the future. The monetary component is not the driving force behind this.”
The programs are designed to drive student interest in STEM education and introduce them to the game’s fundamental elements, Hirshland said.
In addition to having a hospitality presence and golf outings at the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open venues, Chevron will sponsor a STEM Zone area for students.
Before forming the partnership, Chevron had similar learning centers at U.S. PGA Tour events including the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the Northern Trust (NTRS:US) Open in Los Angeles and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
“It was a pretty fast discussion,” Weckerlin said in a telephone interview. “It’s a nice fit.”
Chevron joins American Express Co. (AXP:US), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM:US), Lexus International Ltd. and Rolex Watch Co. as official USGA sponsors. Hirshland said the ruling body isn’t actively seeking new partnerships.
“We’re very comfortable with five,” she said. “But to say never is a big word.”
In December, Chevron declined to renew its title sponsorship of Tiger Woods’s annual World Challenge event in Thousand Oaks, California. Chevron had sponsored the tournament and Woods’s charitable foundation since 2008.
“We rode out the issues that took place halfway through the deal,” Weckerlin said. “If we really had an issue with Tiger’s foundation, we would have gotten out two years earlier. It served a purpose at the time.”
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