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2005 U.S. Open

A 54 Case Study

Pinehurst’s record achievement creates high expectations for the return of golf’s grandest event.

There were doubters. Despite being the home of American golf and site of revered designer Donald Ross’s masterpiece, the famed #2, Pinehurst, some believed, was not a wise choice to host the 1999 U.S. Open. Too remote, they said. Not modern enough to handle the media and crowds, they said. And then Pinehurst went and set records for attendance and corporate sponsorship, topping it off with a thrilling victory by Payne Stewart. Pinehurst proved ideal as a host for golf’s grandest event.

In fact, the numbers were so good that the resort was offered the 2005 U.S. Open. It would be the swiftest return to a host site in the modern era. Clearly, the USGA had high expectations. And yet they were no higher than those Pinehurst placed on itself.

A regional strategy with the personal touch pays off big time.

If one drew a 300 mile circle around Pinehurst what that circle contained was eye-opening. More than the millions of people, there were dozens — hundreds — of formidable corporations. To attract record crowds and corporate support to the biggest golf tournament in the world, Pinehurst decided to focus on its own backyard.

Click the tee to begin.

54’s high-value, high-touch direct marketing program to the corporate list — a select group of companies in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia — captured the emotion and excitement of the ’99 U.S. Open. The memory of that exciting tournament was still fresh and amplified by the tragic death in a plane crash of that year’s champion, Payne Stewart, just months after hoisting the trophy.

To support the high-end brochure corporate leaders received in the mail, Pinehurst leadership and USGA president, Jim Hyler, made personal visits and scheduled phone meetings. Responses to our efforts were swift and remarkable as all corporate venues were sold out almost six months ahead of the event:

Corporate sponsorship leapt 35% over 1999’s record-breaking total 40% of corporate support came from nearby Raleigh Metro 25% of corporate support came from Charlotte 15% of corporate support came from Piedmont Triad More than 325,000 fans attended tournament week, a record for the U.S. Open*

In the final tally, some 80% of corporate support came from within 100 miles of Pinehurst, affirming the regional strategy and 54’s tactical support of it.

The U.S. Open’s next stop at Pinehurst is coming in 2024. 54 will be ready for the call. In the meantime, how can we help your company achieve and surpass your sky-high expectations?