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Fore! It's an HSBC Golf Promo

New York Commuters Putt for Chance to Square Off With Eli Manning

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Event: Women's World Match Play by HSBC
Date: July 9-11
Marketer: HSBC
Venue: Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal

What better way to enjoy a lunch break than stroking a few putts on a green in Grand Central?
Commuters in Grand Central got to work on their golf swings last week in an HSBC-sponsored event for the Women's World Match Play Championship.
Commuters in Grand Central got to work on their golf swings last week in an HSBC-sponsored event for the Women's World Match Play Championship. Credit: Gregory Palmer

HSBC decided to promote this year's Women's World Match Play Championship, which begins July 19, by transforming Grand Central's Vanderbilt Hall into a place where golf enthusiasts and curious commuters could either work on their swing at one end of the hall or try their luck with a golf-swing simulator at the other. And those who wanted to practice their modeling skills more than their chip shots struck a pose and appeared on a souvenir mock cover of Golf Digest.

More about football than women's golf
Although the event promoted women's golf, a good majority of the crowd were businessmen who entered a putting competition that would give them a shot to play with New York Giants' quarterback Eli Manning and win a fat $25,000 check. Adults weren't the only ones who participated in the action; the Big Break for Kids gave children the opportunity to show their skills at the indoor driving range as well as get a few tips from HSBC Women's World Match Play defending champion Brittany Lincicome.

But no matter who decided to stop by HSBC's three-day event, no one could ignore the brand. Large banners depicting famous female golfers hung in the main terminal at Grand Central. Company reps donned HSBC's signature color, red, as did Mr. Manning, who sported a bright red polo when he visited the venue to face the winning putter.

"New York is important for us," said Kevin Martin, exec VP and head of marketing for HSBC. "We have the opportunity to tell the people of New York about this. They get a taste of [golf] here."

It wasn't until the last day of the event's run that the people flooded into Vanderbilt Hall and took notice.
Brian Kahn won a chance to win $25,000 in a putt-off with Giant's quarterback Eli Manning (center). Neither won the big prize, but Mr. Manning received a check for $5,000 from HSBC's Kevin Martin. The money went to charity.
Brian Kahn won a chance to win $25,000 in a putt-off with Giant's quarterback Eli Manning (center). Neither won the big prize, but Mr. Manning received a check for $5,000 from HSBC's Kevin Martin. The money went to charity. Credit: Gregory Palmer

One stroke for top prize
Mr. Manning's opponent in the putt-off was 24-year-old Brian Kahn. Mr. Kahn, from New Rochelle, N.Y. -- the location for the World Match Play Championship -- was one of the hundreds who entered the contest over to days for the chance to play opposite Mr. Manning and take home the prize money. Mr. Kahn and 39 others managed to get the ball in the hole in one putt; those contestants then went through another round of putting on July 11 at noon. Mr. Kahn was the only one who holed his putt in that round as well.

Surrounded by six bodyguards, Mr. Manning then made his way to the golf simulator to warm up. No matter how many digital cameras flickered, Mr. Manning -- used to playing before 80,000 fans on Sundays -- wasn't fazed.

Messrs. Kahn and Manning each received one stroke to get the ball into the cup.

Unfortunately, neither made it. But on the bright side, Mr. Kahn got his chance to play with a pro athlete and Mr. Manning received $5,000, which he donated to St. Vincent's Catholic Hospital in New York.

"I thought I'd come and check it out," Mr. Manning said. "They [HSBC] do a lot of great things with golf. Being an athlete I was glad to help out."

Tony Kahn, the opponent's father, enjoyed the event, despite his son not winning the prize. But he said he didn't think the event was a good way to promote a bank or get people to come out to the competition.

"It's a good way to promote golf, but I don't know about HSBC," Mr. Kahn said.