Lots of Green for Golf Event Has Benefits

Irvine-based Toshiba America Information Systems paid $3.2 million last year to become the top corporate sponsor, through 1997, of Orange County's premier pro golf event.

Why put out that kind of cash for a week of golf?

Exposure.

The game is a big draw on TV and sports cable network ESPN is broadcasting the event, which is not just a golf tournament but the Toshiba Senior Classic, with a $1 million purse. Lots of people will watch some or all of the senior tourney and Toshiba, which makes business and consumer electronics, has its name plastered everywhere the cameras will be pointing.

Sponsoring the tourney, whose proceeds go to support several charities, also "gives us a chance to demonstrate to the community our corporate citizenship," says Tom Scott, vice president and general manager of the computer systems division.

Scott, incidentally, says the tourney has presented him the most frightening challenge of his life. Until four weeks ago, he says, he'd never held a golf club. But next week he'll be teeing off in front of a big audience and in the company of some of the world's top senior golfers during a preliminary pro-am rounds.

Toshiba won't be the only company hoping to profit from exposure during the tournament, which is expected to draw up to 50,000 spectators to its new home at the Newport Beach Country Club. Sports promoter Bob Neely has been selling local sponsorship slots to companies all across the county this year. So plan on seeing a lot of familiar corporate names and logos if you watch any of the event, live or on cable, during its March 11-17 run.

Neely, an Orange County resident, took over after last year's manager went bankrupt. He has opened a Newport Beach office of his Connecticut-based International Events & Sports Marketing Ltd. and says he plans to do a lot more business in the county.

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