The Masters is the biggest golf tournament of the year, and yet it is also the most traditional tournament and course of any other PGA competition. For example, the prices of food there haven’t changed in 50 years so you can still enjoy a hot dog and beer for less than $5, and for brands, opportunities to sponsor the tournament are few and far between. So what if you aren’t one of the 3 global sponsors (IBM, Mercedes-Benz or AT&T) or 2 international partners (UPS and Rolex) that are acknowledged as official sponsors of the event? According to Social Listening, if you’re a brand and want to get noticed at the Masters, the real solution is to be a player sponsor.

I used Social Listening to look at how the sponsors of the tournament compared to the sponsors of key golfers to see which sponsors were driving the most buzz online, or in other words, which provided the best ROI to brands looking to get involved in the conversations about the Masters. In order to do this, I looked at the sponsors of the top-rated golfers heading into The Masters tournament and the results proved that the best way to get your brand noticed was not to be one of the few sponsors of the actual tournament but rather an individual sponsor of a golfer. Through visible equipment, clothing or accessories, the individual sponsors ruled The Masters tournament. In fact, the individual players’ sponsors owned 82.3% of all tracked online conversations around the Masters, leaving the global sponsors and international partners of the actual tournament only garnering a combined 17.7% of the conversations.

While it’s important to look at the overall share of voice of each of the types of sponsors, it’s equally crucial for a complete Social Listening analysis to know what the sentiment around those numbers was. Here is where it gets interesting: individual golfer’s sponsors had the lowest negative sentiment with only 1.75%, but it also had the lowest overall positive sentiment as well with 15.72%. Global sponsors, on the other hand, had the highest negative sentiment with 8.89%, but also the highest positive sentiment with 27.65%.

While the sponsors may have done well in sentiment, when combining the numbers, it is clear that the most influential sponsors were those who chose to work exclusively with the individual golfers.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to touch on which individual golfer’s sponsorships did the best. The clear answer is that if you are a golf hardware brand, you want to be sponsoring a golfer in the Masters because they dominated the conversations around the Masters.

According to Social Listening, Callaway, Nike and TaylorMade, all manufacturers of equipment for some of the biggest stars in golf, ran away with the online conversations at the Masters. Proving that the most beneficial sponsorship of the Masters tournament is to be a visible sponsor of the golf equipment that golfers use during the sport’s most visible international stage.

There are a lot of ways to use Social Listening to find out the value of sponsorships at major sporting events, if you want to learn more you should check out our webinar about measuring the value of sponsoring the Euros or ask for a demo to see for yourself first-hand.