Rolex is familiar as a major supporter of professional golf, along with other elite sports, but what is not so well known is the extensive backing the prestige watchmaker pours into golf at the amateur level.
The iconic company is one of the most important sponsors of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederarion – a vast organisation administered jointly by The R&A and The Masters – and one which has an envious record of producing champions through its network of amateur and junior men’s and women’s tournaments.
It is this organisation which proved a serious boost into the professional ranks of Japan’s current world No.4 Hideki Matsuyama, who won back-to-back Asia-Pacific Amateur titles.
His wins gave him a spot in The Masters – the winner of the AAC championship in Wellington this year will in addition gain a place in The Open Championship – providing the Japanese star with the impetus to begin a rapid rise up the rankings to the point where he is now viewed as a serious contender in each major he tees up in.
Had it not been for the support of Rolex and other APGC Proud Partners major tournaments for amateurs and juniors throughout the Asia-Pacific region would not be possible.
Rolex may be well known for its generous backing of events such as The Open, The Masters and The Presidents Cup but it is the company’s vital help at golf’s grassroots level which helps produce future champions on the world tour.
And this support is set to help generate even greater growth in the APGC’s schedule in the future as it works on expanding even more opportunities for amateur players.
Rolex has supported individual excellence and the quest for perfection since its foundation early in the 20th century.
Sponsoring is not only a distinctive part of the brand’s tradition, in keeping with the ethos of its visionary founder, Hans Wilsdorf, the relationship with explorers and sporting men and women has also helped mould the timepieces that have made Rolex a world leader.
The roots of Rolex’s affinity for sports and human achievement can be traced back to the pioneering origins of the company. In 1905, when Hans Wilsdorf set up his watchmaking firm in London, he was influenced by the swift changes sweeping through society at the beginning of the 20th century.
In an era when wristwatches were still regarded as fragile items of apparel, he was determined to create a wristwatch that would be robust, precise and reliable, adapted to ever more active lifestyles. Wilsdorf was “convinced of its enormous potential in a sports-minded country like Great Britain”.
Rolex is golf’s leading supporter worldwide. This unique partnership began in 1967 when Arnold Palmer became a Rolex Testimonee. He and fellow Testimonees Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player became known as the “The Big Three”. They modernised golf, making it a universal sport, transcending borders and age groups.
In nearly 50 years, Rolex has built unparallelled relationships not only with the leading players, but also with golf’s principal institutions and many tournaments.
Rolex has a strong alliance with the R&A, the sport’s revered governing body, which is based at St Andrews (UK), and is the partner and Official Timekeeper of the sport’s oldest tournament, The Open Championship. Rolex is also a major sponsor of the USGA, the US governing body for the sport and organiser of the US Open Championship.
The Masters, played at the Augusta National Golf Club in the US state of Georgia and one of golf’s most renowned tournaments, is sponsored by Rolex. The brand is a key supporter of women’s golf and has been Official Timekeeper to the LPGA for more than 30 years.
Among today’s top players are numerous Rolex Testimonees, including Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, as well as Annika Sorenstam, Yani Tseng, Alexis Thompson and Lydia Ko in women’s golf.