CELEBRATION, Fla. — CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series angler Mike O'Shea recently signed a deal with a premier sponsor unlike any other on the BASS circuit. Golf Digest Schools, headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a definitive leader in golf services, joined forces with O'Shea and the pair are aiming for a hole in one on the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series and Bassmaster Majors in 2006.
Included in O'Shea's contract are a six-figure deal, boat wrap and appearances in Bass & Birdie events, which are two-day schools and tournaments held at world-famous courses including Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., and PGA National in Orlando, Fla.
"I'm very excited," said O'Shea, 44. "This year will be a lot of hard work, but a lot of enjoyment at the same time. I love teaching fishing and I love playing golf. It's going to be a great marriage."
When not competing for nearly $11 million in the Elite Series and Bassmaster Majors, O'Shea will attend Bass & Birdie events and be matched with a professional golfer. Both O'Shea and the pro golfer will offer their expertise, teaching the fundamentals of each sport and engaging its participants in an opportunity of a lifetime.
Gigi Rock, Golf Digest Schools director of corporate/group and celebrity events, said the connection between fishing and golf is undeniable. "After looking at the demographics of anglers and golfers, we found they are very parallel to each other," said Rock. "We've had great feedback so far in the information sent out. This is going to create a huge buzz and we're very excited about it."
O'Shea's boat wrap will include the Golf Digest School logo and Web site, www.golfdigestschool.com. Bass & Birdie events are open to the public and available on a first come, first serve basis.
An accomplished angler from Westlake Village, Calif., O'Shea has competed on the BASS tournament trail since 1997, earning 24 top 50 finishes and a trip to the sport's premier event, the CITGO Bassmaster Classic, in 2002 where he placed 38th.
"I'm excited about the payout and the opportunity for an angler to make some good money in the Elite Series," said O'Shea. "I'm going to seven new bodies of water that I've never been to before … but I'm doing a lot of research and I've already got my lake maps. I've also been watching the Internet on basic tournament weights and what it takes to win, so I feel good."
Peaking O'Shea's interest is the increased TV exposure and opportunity to fish from his own boat on nearly all competition days.
"The increased exposure absolutely makes a difference when approaching sponsors — that was the key thing," said O'Shea.
Rock agrees. "It's great that we are wrapping Mike's boat with the potential to be seen on ESPN. But what's really attractive is capturing the attention of the corporate folks and having the opportunity to bring together golf and fishing and show them what Golf Digest Schools are all about."
In addition to Golf Digest Schools, O'Shea's sponsors include Mercury Marine, Motorguide, Ranger Boats, Pinpoint Electronics, Maxima Line, Owner Hooks and Chuck Woolery's Motolure.