During each round of golf, there is always that moment—sometimes several moments—when a player faces a shot that demands a choice.
Risk versus reward.
To take on the water or to lay up?
To challenge the corner of a dogleg or not?
To fire at a tucked flag or play to the middle of the green?
Those moments and those decisions are at the heart of the new Aon Risk Reward Challenge on both the PGA TOUR and the LPGA Tour, a year-long competition that will award a $1 million prize to the player on both tours who plays designated risk-reward holes the best over the course of the season.
“The Aon Risk Reward Challenge is one of the most exciting programs in golf,” said Xander Schauffele. “It puts the focus on the decisions we make and how they impact our scores and success. It also gives the fans and viewers greater insight into how to best play the designated hole each week.”
The multi-year program is built around Aon’s entry into professional golf because its corporate goals are similar to those of tournament golfers. Aon is a company that focuses on providing risk, retirement and health solutions for its customers around the world.
The company is new to golf but not professional sports, having been represented on Manchester United’s game shirt for several years. Aon looked at several other professional sports before choosing golf.
“The idea is to draw a parallel between the advice we give clients, how we help them manage volatility, how we help them create predictability, recognize patterns, basically take smart, calculated risks,” said Andy Weitz, chief marketing officer for Aon. “There are clear parallels with that and how a caddie works with a player, what a player does before they step up to the first tee, what they do off the course to be ready to perform at their tip top. We have the same approach with how we work with our clients.”
Here’s how the Aon Risk Reward Challenge is structured:
On both tours, players will be required to play a minimum of 40 rounds. Each event will feature a designated risk reward hole with the players’ scores there counting toward the year-long challenge.
If a player misses the cut, the two scores on that hole will count. If a player makes the cut, the two best scores from that week will count. The player with the lowest overall score at the end of the season will win $1 million.
On the PGA TOUR, some iconic holes are included in the challenge. Among them, the 18th hole at Torrey Pines South, the 18th at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the drivable par-4 10th at Riviera Country Club and the par-5 16th hole at TPC Sawgrass.
“The 2019 Aon Risk Reward Challenge brings a new dimension of competition to every round we play on the PGA TOUR,” Francesco Molinari said. “It is a very exciting addition to our sport and gives fans insight into the opportunities each hole presents and approach that we take to gain an advantage.”
AON used some of its data scientists to work with competition committees on both tours to determine the best scoring approach. A number of potential models were considered, Weitz said, before settling on the format.
“The idea of risk-reward is something players talk about, announcers are comfortable with. We brought the idea to the PGA TOUR and the LPGA and said we have this concept. They were creative and thoughtful about how to weave it into the season,” Weitz said.
Including the LPGA Tour was critical, Weitz said, because the audience that follows golf on both tours mirrors Aon’s client base.
“As athletes we’re always looking to challenge ourselves more and more, and Aon has brought a new aspect of competition that will not only challenge us as players but will also have fans of both Tours around the world more engaged than ever before,” LPGA star Georgia Hall said.
Who are Aon?
• Leading global professional services firm
• Trusted advisors in risk, retirement and health solutions
• They are experts in their field and act as ‘business caddies’ to their clients
What is the Aon Risk Reward Challenge?
• Season long challenge on PGA TOUR & LPGA
• Two best scores on the Aon Risk Reward hole each week count towards a season long leaderboard
• Best average score to par over the regular season wins equal prize money of $1m and Aon Trophy
This article first appeared in the PGA TOUR June-November 2019 issue, which can be read here.