The Impact of Ethnic Diversity on the Ladies Professional Golf Association: A Case Study of Anheuser-Busch Sponsorship Objectives and Strategies, pp. 51-57

J. Andrew Choi

Between January 2001 and November 2009, players of Asian descent won nearly 30% of the 287 LPGA-sanctioned tournaments held during the period. By contrast, only 15 years ago (in 1995), an Asian player won only one of the 37 LPGA tournaments held that year (Ladies Professional Golf Association [LPGA], 2009). Clearly, a new generation of golfers has significantly increased the ethnic diversity of the LPGA and its tournament winners. This study investigated whether and how ethnic diversity in the LPGA has influenced the objectives and strategies of LPGA sponsorship decisions for the Anheuser-Busch Company (A-B). This research included 11 semi-structured interviews and two observations at A-B events as a participant. Multiple sources of evidence were collected and analyzed through categorical or “thematic” analysis: interview transcripts, field notes, A-B business documents, and physical artifacts. “Selling more beer,” “opportunity,” and “the best competition available” emerged as key themes in my findings. The increasing ethnic diversity of the LPGA through the ascendance of Asian players clearly impacted A-B and its sponsorship objectives and strategies. Contrary to what some have feared about language or cultural barriers as detriments to LPGA sponsorship, A-B expertly utilized the LPGA’s growing diversity for its own competitive advantage through market-driven and awareness-driven goals in its sponsorship decisions.