The inaugural U.X. Open will be Aug. 21 at Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, N.J., where 72 amateur golfers will compete on a treacherous 10-hole course featuring steep lies and rocky hazards.
Open to anyone with an under-10 handicap, the competition is being promoted primarily to golfers under age 35 in the New York and New Jersey areas, and is the cornerstone of National Media Group's plans for a tour of 15 such events next year, televised on cable TV.
BUSHNELL, PEPSI ON BOARD
Several major sponsors intent on reaching the fast-growing audience of extreme sports enthusiasts have come aboard, including Bushnell Sports Optics, Golf Edge energy bars, Junior Golf Magazine, Microsoft Corp.'s Links Extreme computer game, Pepsi-Cola Co.'s Pepsi One, Titleist/Pinnacle and Warner-Lambert Co.'s Schick.
"If there is any barrier for younger people playing golf, it's the constraints of the traditional game, the costs and inconveniences of country clubs," said Rick Ryan, VP-marketing for New York-based National Media Group. "This form of golf is exciting and physically challenging because you have to hike around a bit."
Each participant pays $85 to compete, and receives product samples worth nearly $100.
"We back a lot of traditional sports including the NBA, but we're also interested in going to younger, alternative audiences, and extreme golf fits that profile," said Steve Lutz, Schick's VP-sales for U.S. and Canada.
Several ski resort operators are watching the event closely as another way to harness their facilities in the off-season. Currently, Mountain Creek draws more than 75,000 people per summer to a water park.
"We think extreme golf may become to traditional golf what snowboarding has become to skiing-the domain of younger, edgier participants who add a whole new dimension to the game," Mr. Ryan said.
The event, nearing its player limit, was promoted through targeted direct mail, posters and a Web site (www.uxopen.com), all handled in-house by National Media