2005: Business - Pinnacle

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pinnacle has long been regarded as a distance ball, and the brand’s involvement in the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship and the Pinnacle Distance Challenge helped reinforce this image.

Now, with a new promotion called the Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship, Pinnacle will use its Exception golf ball to focus on accuracy and consistency as well as distance.

The Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship is a season-long event that is owned and conducted by two-time world long drive champion Art Sellinger and his Long Drivers of America organization. Pinnacle is the title sponsor.

The event will include competition among amateur golfers at 128 different sites in the United States and Canada. The 128 local champions, determined by distance and accuracy, will gather in November in Laughlin, Nev., for the finals.

First prize is $50,000 and a new Honda convertible, although the winning amateur must renounce his or her amateur status in order to accept the cash and car.

The Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship, which replaces the discontinued Pinnacle Distance Challenge, is a points competition in which golfers hit five balls. Any ball finishing within a 40-yard-wide grid will earn points. The exact number of points will vary, depending on distance and accuracy.

Additional points will be awarded for balls that end up in the 20-yard-wide Exceptional Zone in the middle of the grid. And any contestant hitting all five drives inside the 40-yard grid will earn the right to hit a sixth drive.

“No 3-woods will be allowed,” Sellinger said. “This is a driving competition. No driver can have more than 121⁄2 degrees of loft. USGA rules for driver length (48 inches) and tee length (4 inches) will be in effect.”

The Pinnacle Exception is a soft-feeling ball with a compression rating in the low 70s. By contrast, the Pinnacle Gold Max Velocity used in the Re/Max World Championship has a compression rating of 105 and is designed for golfers with fast swing speeds.

Sellinger said he “loved the idea of amateur golfers trying to find out who the best driver is.” The grid will start at 200 yards, and Sellinger calls it “a strategy contest that is not totally distance driven.”

George Sine, vice president of golf ball marketing and strategic planning for the Acushnet Co., which encompasses Titleist, Pinnacle, Cobra and FootJoy, said the Exception ball exemplifies Acushnet’s “class vs. mass” strategy.

“We elected to elevate the Pinnacle brand,” Sine said, “to utilize performance (class) as our reason for being, as opposed to just selling the most golf balls for the lowest price. We think that (mass) approach is detrimental to the business.”

Entry fee for the Pinnacle Exceptional Driver Championship will be $20. Every competitor will receive six Exception balls to take home, plus a Pinnacle cap.

“This is a grass-roots initiative, which we like very much,” Sine said. “The 128 local events will touch every one of our sales rep territories, which means a steady stream of exposure.”

Golfweek.com readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.