Golf

The story behind how Charles Schwab saved the Colonial

Charles Schwab saved the Colonial.

There’s no way around the fact that a PGA Tour event can only survive with a title sponsor, and Colonial found itself in a precarious situation when Dean & DeLuca prematurely ended its sponsorship in October 2017.

As tournament director Michael Tothe said, “If you don’t have a title sponsor, there’s a chance you hit the editing room floor. We can not do what we do without a title sponsor.”

The tournament bridged the gap in 2018 with several local companies keeping it alive (AT&T, American Airlines, XTO, BNSF Railways), and then landed Charles Schwab with a four-year partnership starting this year.

So far, it’s been a perfect marriage.

From Charles Schwab’s perspective, the company is building a new campus in Westlake that will house 6,000 employees and golf is something that most of its clients enjoy.

From Colonial’s perspective, it’s a stable and established company that it doesn’t have to “educate” fans like it did with Dean & DeLuca.

“We are now -- I guess you would call -- full members of the community,” said Chuck Schwab, the founder of Charles Schwab, who spoke at a news conference on Wednesday.

“We are thinking this Texas and Fort Worth area is really home for us.”

Schwab spoke of his love for the game, too, as he announced he would make a $5 million donation to the nine First Tee chapters across Texas, including the First Tee of Fort Worth.

The First Tee programs support 500,000 children in the state, and Schwab said: “Maybe in the next few years get that up to a million kids.”

For Colonial, it has to be music to the ears to hear a title sponsor that is so committed to the game and the sport. This is a company that is simply not interested in writing a check.

Instead, title sponsorships work the best when both sides “activate” different initiatives and plans that benefit each.

Charles Schwab is doing that such as renovating a 1973 Dodge Challenger to present to this year’s champion, creating short videos with PGA Tour caddies on the intricacies of the course and promoting a “Throwback Thursday” for the first round encouraging players and fans to wear wardrobes from the 1970s.

“We want to be engaged in everything we do,” said Andy Gill, Charles Schwab’s chief marketing officer. “We want our clients to be engaged in investing. We want to be engaged in the community.

“And, when we choose to engage, we want to be engaged deeply. We don’t want to just write a check. The folks at the tournament want the same thing. They want a local tournament. They want sponsors that are going to engage with them and improve the overall experience.”

Tothe said Colonial “couldn’t be happier” with the new partnership, and the early signs indicate this should be a memorable debut for Colonial.

It’s a stacked field with five of the Top 10 players in the world, including reigning champion Justin Rose. North Texas star Jordan Spieth is playing well and there are plenty of other notable names.

“It’s one of those weeks I’ll never change in my calendar,” said Jon Rahm, a two-time Ben Hogan Award recipient who is ranked No. 11 in the world.

It’s crazy to think that Rahm and other top players could’ve been left without a choice had Charles Schwab not stepped to the plate.

As PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said, “It’s been a priority for our organization to put the tournament in a good, stable foundational position in order to allow the club to properly plan and to know that we’re going to be in a venue where we’ve had so much success through the years.

“It was an important moment [landing Schwab], not just for the tournament, but for the PGA Tour.”

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