In this episode of the SLN Podcast, Mike Gugat catches up with his old friend Andy Levinson.  As an executive at the PGA Tour, Andy wears several different hats.  His day-to-day role is Senior Vice President of Tournament Administration, while he also serves as Executive Director of USA Golf. With a Communications, Business Development, and Marketing background, Andy is the PGA Tour’s go-to guy for Anti-Doping Policy and the Tour’s response to Covid.  They touched on shared experiences at Mizuno while also delving into Team USA and the forthcoming Tokyo Olympic games.

Podcast Highlights

8:00 – Let the product speak for itself: “At the time there wasn’t a lot invested into advertising. You really had to let the product speak for itself. So PR and free media was really a heavy focus of what we did because we didn’t throw a lot of money at big product launches and tons of television advertising.”

13:07 – Mizuno being a pioneer in club fitting: “That was something that Mizuno was on the forefront of customizing clubs to the individual player. Now you go into any golf store around the country and they’ve got a club fitting system to fit you into any product that they have on the rack. And all the manufacturers are doing it. But Mizuno is really one of the first to be out there doing custom clubs.”

21:20 – Wearing different hats for the PGA tour: “The first job I got back in 2004 at the PGA tour that was intended to be brand marketing, which was in my wheelhouse. But about a month after I started at the PGA tour, the man that hired me called me into his office and said, I’m being moved over to business to head up our business development team, which was sponsorship sales and I’m bringing you with me.”

“So a month into my career, I became a sponsorship sales guy and I worked in our sponsorship and sort of corporate marketing areas for about five years. And that was great. Loved it. Um, and then one day our legal counsel came into my office and said, we have to start an anti-doping program and we’d like you to, to run that. And I thought, well, that’s crazy. Why would you ask me to do that? I don’t know anything about that at all.”

25:34 – Official partnership with Whoop: “Well, you know, as we looked at the health and safety program and what were all of the different steps we were going to be taking  to monitor each individual and make sure that we didn’t have any cases arising, or if we did, we were going to be able to isolate them. We did start looking at wearable technology.”

28:45 – Reintroducing fans in the PGA Tour: “ [Players] missed having the fans out there. So, you know, we had to slowly reintroduce fans in a way that not only we, but our medical advisors and local health officials all felt comfortable with. Now, as we’ve learned more about the virus and transmission, we know that outdoor transmission is much less likely than indoor transmission.” 

31:00 – USA Golf is focused on Olympic competition: “We didn’t really feel like we needed to reinvent the wheel, but there is a law that governs exactly how an Olympic national governing body needs to be structured. And so we all got together back in 2011 and decided we would create a separate entity that would really just be focused on Olympic and Olympic related competition. So we created USA golf.”