Golfers who made the cross-country trip from the U.S. Open to Connecticut to play in this week’s Travelers Championship may have been enticed by the $6.4 million purse or the nice trophy. But what many really want is their face on a piece of candy.
The tournament, which begins Thursday, has become known on tour for the little perks it offers players, including providing the champion with a supply of M&M’s with his face printed onto the hard candy shell.
“The first time I saw my face on an M&M, it was a little strange, but it was very cool at the same time to give them to friends and family,” said defending champion Kevin Streelman, who earned his M&M’s along with $1.1 million last year by making birdies on seven straight holes to close out the tournament.
Mars Inc. makes personalized M&M’s for events such as weddings or corporate get-togethers, and Tournament Director Nathan Grube says the idea to make them part of the Traveler’s Championship prize package began at one such event that included candies with the Travelers logo.
“We thought, we’re not going to be able to do a Wheaties box, but we can do this,” said Grube. “So, now we hand them out at media day, we use them for our sponsor prizes. Any little thing that we can show our champion that his win is very personal for us.”
Ken Duke became the first golfer to adorn the Travelers M&M’s after winning the tournament in 2013. Grube said Duke called to ask for extra after running out of candy to give away at various charity events, hospital visits and meet-and-greets with fans and sponsors.
The tournament also offers some bigger perks to convince golfers not to take this week off, including a free charter flight from the U.S. Open for players and their families, spa days for wives and free dry cleaning for the caddies.
But Travelers Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Bessette said it’s the candy that players want to talk about when he goes out to promote the tournament.
“Guys love that and they say, ‘Hey you’re the tournament that puts the winner on the M&M,'” Bessette said.