The PGA TOUR announced that Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) will become the presenting sponsor of the Bridgestone Collegiate Development Program, a part of the PGA TOUR’s Pathway to Progression.
The program is designed to achieve greater diversity in the sport through increased focus on developing talent from diverse and historically underrepresented groups.
“We are thrilled to welcome Bridgestone as the presenting sponsor of our efforts to provide more opportunities for collegiate golfers from communities underrepresented in our sport,” said Neera Shetty, PGA TOUR Executive Vice President, Social Responsibility and Inclusion. “Bridgestone is in lockstep with the PGA TOUR in our vision to motivate and inspire the next generation of golfers from diverse backgrounds, and we look forward to their partnership as we continue to make the game of golf more open and accessible to all.”
The Bridgestone Collegiate Development Program will have a dedicated focus on elevating the competitive and mentorship opportunities for Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) golfers, while also providing tangible career development opportunities for both players and coaches. Among its initiatives are the Bridgestone APGA Collegiate Ranking, the HBCU Coaches Summit presented by Bridgestone, the Bridgestone Player Development Camp and two new collegiate golf tournaments—the Bridgestone HBCU Invitational and the Bridgestone Collegiate Invitational. Players participating in these events will also receive custom ball fittings and other essential equipment for competition from Bridgestone Golf.
“At Bridgestone, we believe it is important that our partnerships reflect the rich diversity of our teammates, partners, customers and the communities we serve,” said Sara Correa, Chief Marketing Officer, Bridgestone Americas. “The Bridgestone Collegiate Development Program will accelerate our recent efforts with the PGA TOUR to create equitable access and unlock new opportunities for golfers of diverse backgrounds. What really matters is making sure that future generations of players and fans see themselves reflected in the sport, and we are committed to building exciting, new alliances within this program to do just that.”
Competitively focused opportunities
The Bridgestone APGA Collegiate Ranking, now in its third year, creates competitively focused opportunities to support and enhance the development of highly talented collegiate golfers from underrepresented communities. Each year, the top five Black collegiate players in the ranking earn opportunities through the program, including a full year of membership on the APGA Tour and automatic entry into PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry.
The Bridgestone HBCU Invitational will be contested on November 1 and 2 at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia. The 54-hole team and individual stroke play event will include 10 HBCU men’s golf teams and five HBCU women’s golf teams, with the winning teams earning a two-day development camp at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, home of THE PLAYERS Championship. Furthering its support of the collegiate space, Bridgestone will participate in the HBCU Coaches Summit presented by Bridgestone, helping to mentor and provide coaches with insights to better prepare their teams for future success. The summit is in collaboration with the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) and the Black College Golf Coaches Association
Rounding out the list of initiatives under the Bridgestone Collegiate Development Program is the Bridgestone Collegiate Invitational, a 54-hole tournament featuring top-level NCAA Division 1 men’s golf programs and HBCU schools along with high-ranking individual golfers from underrepresented communities in golf. Korn Ferry will award its winner with an exemption into a 2024 Korn Ferry Tour event to be announced at a later date.
First unveiled in March 2023, the PGA TOUR’s Pathway to Progression aims to support the identification and development of junior and collegiate golfers from historically underrepresented communities. Now in its third year, The Collegiate Ranking, in partnership with the APGA Tour, provides transitional support for the top five Black senior collegiate golfers as they begin their professional golf careers