Wyndham Worldwide CEO Steve Holmes talks golf tournament and more

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- This week marks the beginning of tournament play in the 78th edition of North Carolina’s oldest professional golf event, the Wyndham Championship at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro.

Steve Holmes is the chairman and chief executive officer of the tournament’s title sponsor, the Wyndham Worldwide Corporation. This will be the 11th year this tournament’s been called “The Wyndham” and the first year of a brand new 10-year contract it has signed to keep it that way.

“For those who don’t get out to the tournament and don’t get a chance to see what the tournament’s like, it’s ‘Wyndham-land’ out here,” Holmes told me three days before the start of tournament play.

Wyndham “brands” itself well. You see the Wyndham logo all over Sedgefield. And it should come as no surprise as branding is the company’s specialty. It’s the world’s number one seller of timeshares and vacation rentals. It’s also the world’s largest hotel company.

This part of the company is probably the most familiar to you. Wyndham is the franchisor of more than 7,400 hotels worldwide that fall under 20 brands including Wyndham, Days Inn, Ramada, Wingate by Wyndham, Travelodge and Howard Johnson.

“We are responsible for making sure those brands are well-marketed, that the quality of the brand is maintained by the franchisee and for those services, we’re paid a fee by the individual hotel owners,” Holmes said.

Those hotel owners along with timeshare company executives, vendors and others who are guests of Wyndham Worldwide at this tournament every year. Combine that with the TV exposure and the people who watch the professional golf in person.

“Coming here opens the world of Wyndham to our customers,” Holmes said.

Like the company that carries its name, this tournament will continue to focus on fun, hospitality and great golf. But there’s something even more important.

“I think giving back is a requirement,” Holmes said. “If you’re fortunate enough to have something to be able to share with others, you should share it.”

Over the years, Wyndham Worldwide has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to several different local charities. This year will be no exception.

The tournament’s “Birdies for Backpacks” fundraiser is a focus. Last year, Wyndham Worldwide gave $100,000 in seed money to support this project which helps children in free and reduced meal programs in area schools eat nutritiously on weekends.

The “Key to Wyn” house near Sedgefield’s Clubhouse is another example of giving back. Wyndham Worldwide will use it as a type of hospitality house for fans and customers during the tournament. After the tournament’s complete, this house will go to Habitat for Humanity which will turn it into an actual home for a local deserving family.

“And when you think of Wyndham, I hope people think about us as a caring company that represents everybody, that is a very diverse company that really wants to give back to the community, “ Holmes said.

For more information on Wyndham Worldwide, click here.

For more information on the tournament, click here.