LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup
Interview with Matt Ward
Scott Wood is a graduate of the University of Georgia with over 20 years’ experience in experiential and sponsorship marketing. His time with the LPGA has been dedicated to the growth of the Founders Cup and the legacy of the thirteen original founders. In 2019, Scott was the recipient of the Act Like a Founder Award, which is the mantra that reminds all employees to leave the game better than we found it.
THE WOOD STORY:
Over the past 20 years I have had the pleasure to work with some of the best and brightest in sports. When the opportunity arose six years ago to join the LPGA it was a no brainer. I respect all the values this tour embodies and truly feel it’s made me a better dad.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
To introduce the LPGA/Founders Cup/Girls Golf story to a new audience and be a good example to my two young daughters.
The Founders event has been an event in the greater Phoenix area — why the move to New Jersey?
A couple different factors, including scheduling and TV availability played a big role, but also the fact Cognizant’s global headquarter is in Teaneck, NJ, New Jersey, so historic Mountain Ridge CC just made sense.
How did the relationship with Cognizant commence?
It started with an inquiry phone call last June and progressed very quickly. Their objectives and our values aligned so well it made for a quick courtship that led to a long-term agreement.
How long is the contract with Cognizant for and is the venue / time frame for the event going to remain with Mountain Ridge and the early part in October?
Currently, we have a four-year agreement in place for both.
What kind of ticket sales are you expecting and general admission prices will be what?
We are expecting a strong first year response. Hospitality is currently 90% sold out while general admission tickets continue to sell well. Individual tickets start at $35 with a weekly general admission ticket costing $125 and remaining hospitality starting at $75.
What impact has the pandemic played in your overall planning?
We were the first domestic event to cancel in 2020 so we’ve been looking forward to our opportunity to host this prestigious event again. We are constantly monitoring the latest updates regarding Covid-19 with the CDC and Essex Co. health officials and are thankful for the support of the West Caldwell, NJ community for welcoming us.
The golf event will not have a conflict with both NFL teams as they will be away from the Northern NJ that week. How important was it to avoid a conflict with the NFL?
The northern NJ/metropolitan area is a sports town, and golf is very prominent. It just happened to work out in our favor that we’re not sharing the local spotlight with the home teams. We feel confident this community will find a way to support all of us during the first weekend in October.
What’s the most element an LPGA event brings to the forefront as opposed to a PGA Tour event?
We have some of the most approachable athletes in sport. LPGA players understand sponsors and fans make our tour what it is today and they love to give back as much as they can. We like to think of
ourselves as the Ultimate Family Golf Experience, where multi-generational families can enjoy the game in a safe, welcoming environment.
Golf has seen gains in women playing at all levels — what’s the most important thing the major golf organizations can do to keep this momentum going?
It’s important to keep the women’s game in the spotlight and media. The more it’s talked about and covered by national media the more public perception will embrace and help push us for equality. We are a niche within a niche, and our fight, along with other women’s sports leagues, is an uphill battle that with the right support can be elevated on so many levels.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. – African Proverb” Former LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan once told us this at a year-end meeting and it really resonated with me. We have one of the best teams in sport and can-do great things together.
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Photos: Courtesy Evan Schiller Photography