Tees That Bind

Five years of the B.E./Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge has netted numerous business and personal relationships

to introduce themselves to each other, and “African American Art Corner,” where they learned the history of different crafts and made actual items.

For the adults, an array of activities were held throughout the five-day Golf & Tennis Challenge, all compliments of the sponsors. A poolside fashion show entitled “Absolut Summer” showcased hand-painted swimwear and selections from the Absolut Versace Collection (a series of swimwear designed for Absolut Vodka by the late designer).

On day two, Federal Express hosted the Comedy/Jazz Showcase. This year’s talent lineup featured comedian George Wallace, rhythm and blues sensation Angela Bofill, singer/actress Jennifer Holliday, musician/singer Will Downing and musician Gerald Albright.

On the following day, a festival-like atmosphere-steel drums and all-permeated the resort as American Airlines gave attendees a taste of the islands by hosting a “Caribbean Island Rhythms” theme event. The evening featured food and entertainment from the airline’s five island partners-Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Maarten and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

BellSouth closed out the evening’s activities by hosting the black-tie awards gala to honor the golf and tennis competition winners.

It’s clear what small business owners like Gregory and Cheryl Gray get out of partnering with multimillion-dollar corporations. Even families benefit from
attending the Golf & Tennis Challenge. But what’s the value to the sponsors? Cox believes the event has returned an “enormous amount of equity” among all participants.

For Pepsi, that equity materializes in the form of its ongoing relationship with the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, site host of the event. “There are probably about 700,000 people who come through the Doral in a given year,” says Cox, characterizing the potential of the alliance. “Before the Challenge, Doral was not a customer of ours , but now they are.”

Cox points out, however, that there have been other significant benefits to Pepsi resulting from its alliance with the Golf & Tennis Challenge. “This happens to be a particular group of individuals with whom we have always had a special relationship and one that we’re continuing to nurture and grow. And many of these are not just African American entrepreneurs, they’re also African American decision makers in other major organizations.”

Cox adds that many of the company’s existing customers have come to view the event as the Super bowl for networking. “We’re very conscious of our image, and we can say that we are closely associated with one of the premier signature events in the African American community. That means a great deal to us. We think that there is value to that kind of association,” says Cox.

Two couples, the Cheekses and the Richardsons, epitomize the kind of lasting relationships incubated at the event.

“My first impression of the event was one of a student returning to campus in the fall. While I hadn’t attended in the past, I had many friends who had, and I met many of them while checking into the hotel. I continued to run into acquaintances throughout the weekend, and have come to think of the event attendees as family,” says Charles W. Richardson

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