Stories for October 2001
Saturday, October 27
Here at the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship, I made a startling discovery: The longest hitters in golf – men or women – are 39 years old.
Score one for technology, even if it was a hollow victory. The Golf Channel heavily promoted it’s Oct. 17 segment of “Viewer’s Forum” as an examination of the alleged threat posed by the modern golf ball to the integrity of the game.
Callaway Golf will forge into 2002, its first full year without its founder and energetic leader Ely Callaway at the helm, by making the most extensive product launch in the company’s history, including a new composite graphite driver, a Steelhead III line of metalwoods and the retro-technology of next-generation Big Bertha irons.
Callaway Golf Co. Oct. 18 reported a 6 percent decline in sales and a 67 percent drop in net income for the third quarter, citing difficult market conditions and a noncash charge related to a long-term energy contract.
Acushnet Co., the golf division of Fortune Brands, posted solid third-quarter numbers for the period ending Sept. 30 despite continued softness in the golf market and a worsening economy.
It was nearly two years ago when Spalding began selling its top-of-the-line Strata golf balls to mass merchants such as Wal-Mart and Target. And for a good while after that, the Chicopee, Mass., equipment maker faced intense criticism about peddling its premium products through that distribution channel.
Luke Donald and Bryce Molder were among 117 players who advanced from Stage 1 of PGA Tour qualifying Oct. 16-19.
Pat Bates’ victory at the Buy.com Shreveport Open Oct. 21 was the payoff. The price? A couple of years of physical therapy and plenty of dedication.
Larry Nelson came into the SBC Championship Oct. 21 with his place in the season-ending Senior Tour Championship secure,with $1.7 million and four victories in the bank.
There were still 15 minutes left in a rain delay, yet here was José Coceres, stretching and pacing on a drizzly 18th fairway. Playing partners Davis Love III and Scott McCarron remained under shelter, waiting out the final drops of what had been an afternoon downpour.
The average amateur golfer can now play tournaments for cash, for something more than a $5 nassau or a certificate redeemable in the pro shop. Possible big bucks are available for John Q. Publinx, the guy with tubes and a ball retriever in his bag or a player of any skill level who doesn’t care about amateur status. And it doesn’t matter if you take a nonconforming, thin-faced driver to the first tee.
Early this summer, Tim Jackson felt a little out of sorts with his golf game. He wasn’t exactly sure what it was, just that something wasn’t right.
Saturday, October 20
It is our National Open, so naturally it’s an open target. Lanny Wadkins once mockingly referred to it as the “Hudson River Open.”
There are times when tradition is worth protecting. There are times when tradition must give way to change. And there are times when it seems difficult to draw the fine line between the two.
There’s a fine line between marketing brilliance and absurdity. And the folks at Maxfli may be walking it. Tired of what they call the alphabet soup approach of naming golf balls – for example, Titleist’s NXT, Nike’s Double C and Callaway’s CB1 – Maxfli’s marketing team sought a simple moniker for their new product.
The revamping of the Strata line is complete now that Spalding Sports Worldwide has announced the introduction of its newest golf balls. One ball is designed to be an improved version of the Strata Tour Professional, and the other is called Strata Professional Control.
A week after settling a ball patent infringement suit filed against it by Bridgestone, Callaway Golf Co. finds itself on the legal defensive again.
Virginia golfers will celebrate their independence next month. That is, Independence Golf Club – the new $20 million home for Virginia amateur golf.
Ben Crane said he focused on this secret theme: “Be a champion. Think like a champion. Eat like a champion. Work out like a champion. Practice like a champion.” Oh, and play like one, too.
Last October, Sammy Rachel had a significant victory. This October, Rachel added another. The Senior PGA Tour rookie made a 30-foot putt for eagle on the final hole for a one-shot victory at The Transamerica Oct. 14 over Ray Floyd and Doug Tewell.
For a tournament well past its salad days, the Cisco World Match Play Championship managed to look remarkably fresh in its 38th year.
Natalie Gulbis finished in a four-way tie for third place, but the 18-year-old from Sacramento, Calif., looked like a champion-in- waiting as she strode from the 18th green Oct. 13 at the LPGA International’s Legends Course.
New Hampshire resident Laura Shanahan cannot imagine a state worse than her own for someone who is trying to play competitive golf. If the weather and work dictate, the season can be as short as 41⁄2 months, barely enough time to shake off the dust before it’s time to put the sticks back in storage.