Steve Kalman feels as if he has a pretty strong offering for those for whom entertaining clients is a big part of their business model — the type of people who have had little chance to do such a thing for more than a year.
Kalman, the senior director of sales for the Northern Trust — the PGA playoff event that is coming to Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City in August — feels the event’s Liberty Club tickets check off all the proper boxes.
Great food, spectacular views, world-class competition — and, since the event plays out over four days and the tickets are transferable, there are opportunities for up to four people from one organization to bring four business clients.
You just need $15,000 to participate, as passes are $7,500 apiece.
Kalman obviously feels it’s a unique opportunity worthy of the investment.
“It’s like getting courtside seats to a basketball game at (Madison Square Garden),” he said. “And the level of hospitality is second to none. In the past, some said they came to see the golf and got a little hospitality while others said they came for the hospitality and got a little golf.”
This year, of course, will be different.
For starters, the event began its promotional push a little later than normal because of the pandemic.
“We usually start around the holidays, but it just didn’t feel right,” Kalman said. “So, we really didn’t get it going until the first week of April.”
Kalman said the late start didn’t hurt sales. He said they have been brisk, matching the pre-event sales from pre-pandemic events.
“We have really seen a great response with respect to people wanting to get out,” he said.
That being said, PGA Tour officials have not decided how many tickets will be sold just yet. The Northern Trust has the ability to return to full capacity, but Kalman said the PGA has not determined if it will do so.
“We’re putting health and safety first,” he said. “We have protocols. We’re following guidelines from the state, but we’re also following our guidelines, because we want to make sure fans are safe. We want to make sure our players are safe.”
And, while those who do attend likely will find fewer people in the elite hospitality areas, they will be able to enjoy the event at a greater level.
This year, the event is adding roped-off areas at every hole, so hardcore golf fans with Liberty Club access can walk the course and view tees and greens with unobstructed views. This is on top of the perks Liberty Club members will get near the clubhouse, where they will have perfect views of the 18th green and the first tee.
Not to mention simply having access to the clubhouse and its three restaurants.
“This is the only week of the year where members of the club don’t automatically have access to their own clubhouse,” Kalman said. “Only those with Liberty Club passes — and the players — will have access.”
Out on the course, there will be the Garden State Marketplace, featuring top foods from around the region, as well as a wine garden, a craft beer garden and a sports-betting area.
“It’s an adult playground,” Kalman said.
On top of that, Kalman said those with Liberty Club passes enjoy valet parking, too.
“Imagine being able to drive up to any sporting event and just drop off your car,” he said.
Kalman, however, said it is not an all-or-nothing proposition. He said there are a limited number of sponsorship suites still available, and certainly day passes, too.
One thing that is limited, Kalman said, is that this will be the only opportunity to see the PGA Tour in the region for the foreseeable future. The PGA will not make a stop in the metro area in 2022, as the Northern Trust event (which rotates venues) will be held in the Boston area. Schedules for 2023 have not been set.
“If you want to see the best players play, this is the only tournament,” he said.
The Northern Trust serves as the first round of the PGA Playoffs. The Top 125 players are invited — with the Top 70 advancing to the following week before the Top 30 advance to a final event.
“There’s a lot of money on the line,” Kalman said. “So, you’re going to see some really top-level competition.”