The scenes on Sunday evening in Portrush, Clara and pretty much everywhere across the country following his emphatic Open Championship victory confirmed Shane Lowry’s status as one of Ireland’s most popular sports stars.
But how does this remarkable achievement transcend popularity and of course golfing excellence and benefit the Offaly man commercially?
Sunday’s Open victory netted Lowry €1.7m bringing his total career earnings to over €20m. Interestingly, his total career amount would be almost €500,000 higher if he had won the 2009 Irish Open as a professional but being an amateur at the time, he wasn’t able to claim the full prize purse.
While Sunday’s victory places him amongst the top golfers in the world, it also transforms him from lovable Irish golfer to international sports star. This takes him to a whole other level from a commercial perspective and with a long career still ahead, the Offaly man can expect to make anywhere between €15m and €20m in the coming years outside of his tour earnings.
The initial basis for this increased commercial potential comes from his now elevated status amongst the elite players in golf. Sunday’s win has earned Lowry exemptions at the Open until he is 60 as well as exemptions at the Masters, the US Open and US PGA for the next five years which immediately makes him a more attractive prospect to commercial suitors.
In addition to these guaranteed future major appearances, he is also likely to have bonus agreements based on winning a Major built into contracts with Srixon and Cleveland Golf and others while the win puts him on a stronger footing for future negotiations.
Currently Lowry’s commercial and sponsorship portfolio has a distinctly Irish feel to it. Bank of Ireland, Kingspan and global payroll company Immedis have all been tremendous supporters of Lowry in recent years as have the likes of Keary’s BMW and Paddy Power. One would think all these organisations will be keen to strengthen their ties with Lowry.
The example of Lowry and Immedis in particular is a classic case of a partnership based on belief in Lowry’s potential. Immedis, a fast growing but relatively new Irish company trying to access big markets especially in the US, are said to have placed significant faith in Lowry’s potential to garner exposure for their brand and stimulate business development and growth in the US.
No doubt, some of the celebratory images of Lowry in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and EPSN amongst other US media outlets will have brought a smile to their face.
His elevation to international sports star should now grab the attention of global brands and organisations while it will also likely pave the way for Lowry to access the money-spinning corporate worlds of London and the US in addition to a growing demand from corporate Ireland.
Guest appearances, corporate golf days, business and sports conferences, after dinner speaking and so on all command significant fees with Lowry now primed to capitalise on this and take full advantage. And deservedly so too with anecdotal evidence from brands and organisations who work with Lowry consistently remarking on what a superb ambassador he is, conducting himself impeccably in his humble, unassuming manner.
Dan O’Neill is a director with Teneo