On a sweltering summer day, most golfers wouldn’t choose to be out on the putting green during the midday hours, when temperatures can hit upwards of 100 degrees. But, with average summer temperatures climbing across the U.S., drinkware brand Yeti introduced a solution that the company hopes will help golf courses throughout the country secure more players during the hottest parts of the day.
On Sept. 20, Yeti hosted the Heat Strokes Open, a first-of-its-kind golf tournament that changed the 18-hole course par to match the high temperature of the day—103 degrees Fahrenheit—rather than the traditional par of 72. The tournament invited over 70 players to ShadowGlen Golf Club, located just outside of Austin, Texas, to complete the tournament during the hottest four hours of the day. To help the players stay cool in the scorching heat, Yeti provided players with its insulated water bottles and coolers.
The concept of changing par to reflect the high temperature arose after Yeti began hearing from some of the golf courses that partner with the brand that the courses were seeing very few players reserve tee times during the afternoon heat. Yeti, which partners with over 700 golf courses across the U.S., conceptualized the ruleset of the Heat Strokes Open as a way to help attract more golfers to play in these hotter times of the day, said Paulie Dery, Yeti's chief marketing officer.
Through the tournament, Yeti also aimed to reduce the amount of plastic waste used at the course by supplying players with the brand’s reusable water bottles, Dery said. Beyond encouraging more players to sign up to golf at times that most players avoid, Yeti also sought to make golf accessible to amateur players by introducing a ruleset that makes scoring at or below par easier to achieve, he said.
“There are many golfers, like me, that love golf but aren’t particularly great at it,” he said in an interview. “So, the dream of shooting par is impossible. With the par being reset to the heat, it’s a fun way not just to highlight how well [Yeti products] can handle the heat—it’s also a fun way for golfers to go out into these hot parts of the day and book a tee time. It has this beautiful double effect.”
Yeti documented its inaugural Heat Strokes Open tournament in several videos shared across the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram and YouTube. The company produced these videos fully in-house, as it has with all of its marketing content over the past three-and-a-half years, Dery said.
The videos feature an exuberant announcer commenting throughout the tournament, joking about some of the amateur players’ struggles on the course and complaining about the sweltering heat. Yeti's water bottles and coolers are also prominently displayed throughout.
To continue its efforts to increase player turnout at golf courses across the country, Yeti developed a toolkit to share with all of its partner courses, enabling them to introduce this new scoring system to their own courses. The company is also working to sponsor additional Heat Strokes Open tournaments at several partner courses—potentially including Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley, which Yeti calls “one of the hottest courses in the world.”
Kirk Lohmann, the general manager of ShadowGlen Golf Club, hopes his course once again makes it onto that list. “The hotter the tee time, the harder to fill,” he said in an email. “For Yeti to help us change that narrative with a new way to play golf was pretty awesome. I’ve never seen golfers more excited to tee off in 100-degree weather.”