Shell’s Swan Song with Golf
The end of an era for Shell and professional golf came during the first weekend of April when the final edition of the Shell Houston Open was played. After Russell Henley captured the championship with a 268 score, finishing 20 under par, the curtain rang down on 26 years of company sponsorship, a decision that was delivered last June.
Prior to that decision, Shell had held the third-longest title sponsorship within the Professional Golfers Association (PGA), trailing only Honda and AT&T in that category. The tournament itself has been in operation since 1946, with Shell taking over sponsorship in 1992. Each of the tournament since 2007 being played the week before the prestigious Masters Tournament, which had led to stronger fields because it allowed golfers the opportunity to fine-tune their game.
The reason given by Shell for dropping the sponsorship was in line with other expense reductions and the sale of previously-held petroleum projects. The company has also sustained lower revenues due to the stagnant price of a barrel of oil, which has resulted in job losses. In addition, Royal Dutch Shell is in the midst of readjusting its international branding approach.
Over the course of the past 70 years, more than one-third of that time under Shell sponsorship, a variety of charitable components have helped the tournament stand out. During this time, more than $60 million for charities in the Houston area has been raised. Also, the development of junior golf programs has been an important legacy.
During that final tournament, one of the health benefits in attending was the free cancer screening offered by the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In addition to the screenings, educational information was also offered. This was the first time that the tournament and M.D. Anderson had come together for this valuable project.