SAMMAMISH, Wash. -- It’s not often a player announces they are turning pro and in the same breath says they’ve already banked a major endorsement deal, especially in women’s golf where the gravy train lugging lucrative logos doesn’t stop as often as it does for the men.   But that was the case Tuesday at Sahalee Country Club near Seattle when newly minted Stanford University grad Mariah Stackhouse sat next to KPMG LLP U.S. Chair and CEO Lynne Doughtie and, in a voice as soft as silk, said she’s signed a global sponsorship agreement with the professional-services firm.   You think that’s not a big deal? The only other golfers KPMG has in the fold are multiple-major-championship winners Phil Mickelson and Stacy Lewis.   That the announcement came at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship—an LPGA major that KPMG and the PGA of America have elevated greatly since partnering a year ago by increasing prize money, putting weekend rounds on NBC and adding an Inspire Greatness conference on empowering women in the business—was appropriate.   That the announcement came on the same day Hillary Clinton became the first woman to lock up the nomination for president by a major political party was coincidental but somehow appropriate, too.   “I’m so proud to join with KPMG as I begin my professional career because they are an organization that has invested in women’s golf and helped elevate the game through the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and all it represents,” said Stackhouse, 22, who led Stanford to the 2015 NCAA Women’s Championship and the 2016 NCAA finals in her final college tournament two weeks ago.   Stackhouse, who has also signed with Sterling Sports Management, which represents Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Lizette Salas, Brittany Lang among others, doesn’t know when and where she will make her debut as a pro. She says she’ll try to play as many Symetra Tour events as she can, explore Monday qualifiers for LPGA tournaments and keep an eye out for the six LPGA sponsor’s exemptions she is allowed—and which are sure to come.   “Seeing how she played in the NCAAs, we thought, ‘We want to get to know this woman,’ ” said Doughtie (pictured above with Stackhouse and Lewis). “Mariah will be working with the next generation of young women, teaching them that there is no limit to what they can achieve. Oh, and they will be learning some golf as well.”   KPMG is blazing a path other corporations would be wise to follow. There is no better investment in sports marketing that golfers—the lack of uniforms makes them walking billboards—and there is no better bargain in golf than female players, who are still making a fraction of what the men make.   “The game of golf is great for building relationship, it’s good for business,” says Doughtie, who notes all the creative ways golfers can be used in marketing and brand awareness. “To have Stacy and Mariah play golf with out clients is really good for our business. and I think other companies should do it.”   Unsaid was the fact that Mickelson, Lewis and Stackhouse have something in common besides golf: All three graduated from college. That was probably also a detail not lost on KPMG.   Now we will see if Stackhouse can follow the other two KPMG ambassadors into success in golf at the professional level.


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