World Corporate Golf Challenge: a road to success
The World Corporate Golf Challenge is a story of golf, competition, networking and media
Golf has always been a great leveller, not only in terms of its handicapping system but also in how it enables people from different cultures and social classes worldwide to communicate through their passion for the game and compete in an open and fair environment. The WCGC, launched in 1997, is an event that exemplifies this universal language of golf.
The World Corporate Golf Challenge (WCGC) was spawned from the UK’s’ The Times Corporate Golf Challenge. This was a simple yet highly successful concept established four years earlier when the founder, the football legend Sir Bobby Moore, recognised that golf and business combined exceptionally well and that corporations held golf days at every level to entertain their top clients.
Mitchell tapped into this market when launching The Times event. He quickly expanded the concept overseas (on a license basis), forming WCGC and holding an annual world final involving the national winners of each licensed country. By linking the event with quality media, both print and broadcast, the profile of the national events (and WCGC) grew and, in doing so, generated commercial and sponsorship value in those territories. In the early days, the UK event was based on teams of four male or female players qualifying for regional finals to win an all-expenses-paid overseas trip to contest their national final.
WCGC begins to expand globally
In 2007, José Guerra bought the event and moved the company to Spain, developing it significantly, particularly with solid media, marketing support from TIME and Fortune magazines, and television partner Golfing World TV.
Each licensee’s method to secure their yearly national winners to compete against other nations in the annual WCGC final is primarily left to them. What has not been compromised is the high standards initially set, and the determination remains that each country team has to qualify for the WCGC Final on merit.
In 1997, just a dozen countries attended the first World Corporate Golf Challenge final held at La Manga Club in Spain. Two decades later, this unique tournament has grown considerably and is now licensed in 30+ countries across five continents around the globe. The World Final has since occurred in Jamaica, Mauritius, South Africa, Scotland, Spain, and Portugal, among many others.
The most influential of these changes was the reduction of the number of players in a team from four to two, as this has enabled the event to expand its boundaries into more countries. This revised format still protects the camaraderie of team play, which was a key value in its conception. Still, from a commercial perspective, the event can accommodate more teams and allow global growth.
John Brough, a former World finalist, encapsulates the true spirit of the event and how it adds value and prestige to a journey that begins with a company golf day and leads to representing your country in a World Final:
“When we heard that we would be going on to represent England in the world event, it quite naturally gave us an even bigger boost than winning our national final. The biggest thrill to come out of it is that we are going to be representing our country. As club golfers, we would never have the chance to do that.”
Global Ambassadors and Sports Legends
WCGC understand that there is nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth marketing. For that reason, it has appointed a handful of global ambassadors, including professional golfers Tony Jacklin and Manuel Pinero, golf instructor and Sky Sports pundit Simon Holmes, and trick shot king Jeremy Dale or Ronan Rafferty, among others. Throughout this event, the world has witnessed several changes, particularly on the global financial front. Yet, all in all, corporate golf has survived such downturns and continues to thrive and grow. Personalities like the football player Luis Figo have attended the World Finals.
Tony Jacklin CBE, the WCGC global ambassador from 2011- 2015, said: “I was delighted to be involved with the World Corporate Golf Challenge as the global ambassador. It’s’ a great event for businesses to entertain customers and network with decision-makers across various industry sectors, domestically and globally. The event has a great heritage, and I was excited about my role in helping to raise the event’s profile and expand the tournament into new territories worldwide.”
Looking ahead to the future
Whilst the effect was felt in boardrooms and golf courses around the globe, perhaps the most encouraging sign is that WCGC is now engaging with a whole new audience in countries where the sport had previously been treated with suspicion or indifference. Many emerging countries greatly enhance the tournament nowadays, which can only be a good thing for the game of golf when all is said and done. This is a testimony to WCGC and the remodelled format, as the event has not only survived during tough times but has expanded.
Another critical area in which WCGC excels is its understanding and use of new media, which has undoubtedly helped to grow the event and enhance its reputation. The value of having the ability to film and broadcast the World Final to an audience in over 60 countries and using the latest platforms and applications does justify the meaning of a ‘World’ Final’
The original concept of combining golf and media in a competitive international environment is a winning formula. It appeals to sponsors that view the business executive profile and associated press globally as a highly cost-effective, attractive and excellent value involvement.
In a troubled world, one thing always shines through: the value of bringing everyone together. WCGC can be very proud of its achievements, as there is more to play for than just trophies pushing back the boundaries of international understanding at the top of the list. Here’s the next 30 years!