Rolex and golf go together like clockwork
Turn back the clock, or maybe the watch, 50 years to 1967 and the world was a very different place. A pioneering prototype of the Concorde supersonic aircraft was unveiled inFrance and Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant in South Africa.
The year also marked the beginning of a significant new relationship between the Swiss watch brand Rolex, and the sport of golf.
Sports sponsorship is often a fickle relationship but in the case of Rolex and golf it has been a half-century ofsteadfast commitment and instrumental support.
In the 1960s, professional golf was experiencing a renaissance courtesy of an American whose domination of the sport, coupled with his disarming charisma and charm, would change the game for generations to come.
His name was Arnold Palmer who was to become one of the world’s greatest and best loved golfers, with a playing career that spanned 30 years at the very top of the game.
Palmer won seven of the sport’s major championships and more than 90 professional wins. He was a pioneer and a golfing futurist.
His talent for marketing helped strengthen and promote the game across the globe. He became the first golfing superstar of the television age and is considered to be largely responsible for the prosperity of the modern game.
At the same time that Palmer was at the pinnacle of his career, Rolex was keen to strengthen its association with the game.
Naturally, Palmer was the perfect fit to become the brand’s first “testimonee” in golf and so began an enduring partnership that has developed into one that spans the globe and extends to golfers of all ages and abilities.
“It’s been one of the best and most compatible relationships that I have had in my life,’' Palmer once said of his abiding partnership with Rolex.
“There’s far more to the relationship than I could ever tell you. Rolex has done so many great things over the years that have been of tangible benefit to golf as a sport.’'
The bond between Rolex and golf has evolved through pivotal parnerships that have cemented Rolex’s place at the heart of the game. In the 1970s and 1980s, Rolex added prestigious tournaments The Open and the US Open; guardians of the traditions and rules of the game The Royal and Ancient (R&A) and USGA; as well as the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), to its growing number of golf partners.
Rolex’s relationship with golf was described best by one of the most influential men in the sport, Peter Dawson.
Now president of the International Golf Federation, it was during his tenure as chief executive of The R&A when he said: “Through its historic and unwavering support, Rolex has become part of the fabric of golf, from supporting the amateur game to increasing awareness of the rules, through an association with golf’s original major to presenting the Senior Open.
“No other brand I can think of is more globally and passionately involved in our sport. The far-reaching commitment of Rolex is deeply rooted in promoting and developing the game world-wide, from grassroots programmes through to major championships and elite players.’’
Rolex is also deeply committed to amateur golf, and is a partner of important amateur tournaments across the globe, including the British Amateur Championship, US Amateur Championship, Latin America Amateur Championship, Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, as well as the leading amateur team formats, the Walker Cup and Curtis Cup.