Posted on 25 Jan 12
Golf fans might notice an immediate but subtle change to the annual Champions Tour event in Savannah, and about 15 months from now they’ll see the bigger impact of Wednesday’s announcement.
The newly renamed Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf (the “Insurance” was added) has extended its contract by one year through 2013 at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa.
The contract was to expire after the April 16-22 event. Title sponsor Liberty Mutual Insurance has a contract with the PGA Tour, which owns the tournament for golfers 50 and older, through 2013, with an option for 2014.
“The fact we were able to secure 2013 puts us at ease because we know we have another year, with the desire of the tour hopefully to make a decision where they’re going to be for ’14 and beyond,” said Mark Spadoni, general manager of the Westin.
Spadoni said that since the Legends of Golf came to Savannah in 2003, the resort has been contracted for consecutive terms of four, four and two years — and now one. He said the “stated goal” is to have a commitment two years in advance so rooms can be blocked off and there is flexibility to make changes.
The hotel’s 400 rooms — occupied primarily by players and their families; and Liberty Mutual and tour officials and their guests — have been sold out each year, he said.
“With the tour, the window they’ve had in the past was an 18-month window for us,” Spadoni said. “They need to negotiate it and finalize it before Dec. 31 of this year, technically, for 2014 — if 2014 were to come to fruition.”
It’s now all about saving the dates, he said.
“The sense of urgency is there that we need to do it, but we recognize the tour has an additional five or six months to make a final decision,” Spadoni said. “Our desire would be, as soon as possible when the tournament is over this year, to at least get a verbal commitment for the event in 2014 and beyond, to allow us then to actually start the negotiations.
“The most important thing for us is not the negotiation points, it’s the date, if we can commit to the date they’re going to be here.”
Longevity is a characteristic of Liberty Mutual, which has been around since 1912 and title sponsor of the 35-year-old event for 33 years. Savannah will be celebrating its 10th year as host.
“I think that speaks volumes for how the community has embraced the tournament,” said Joe Rotellini, executive director of the tournament. “That’s important.
“It’s really a big deal to be in one place for 10 years, and I hope we’re here for another 10,” he said.