The Biz Blog


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Pinehurst adds ninth course to portfolio

Bradley S. Klein

The National Golf Club in Pinehurst, N.C., has been folded into Pinehurst Resort’s network of courses.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed course has been bought by Pinehurst Resort & Country Club and will be renamed Pinehurst No. 9. No purchase price was announced. The course opened in 1988 and occupies a parcel that straddles the border of Southern Pines and the Village of Pinehurst.

The deal includes the 18-hole course, practice grounds, clubhouse, pool, tennis and outdoor recreation. The club will be operated under the aegis of Pinehurst golf and maintenance. Members of the (former) National Golf Club will be folded into a new arrangement that will include access to Pinehurst No. 7 across the street. Pinehurst Country Club members also will be up able to upgrade their membership to include access to Nos. 7 and 9.

In addition, Pinehurst Resort is in the process of exploring the development of a 10th course, this one by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and incorporating ground of The Pit Golf Club in nearby Aberdeen, N.C.

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Work on Olympic golf course might stop

Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO – Like other delayed venues for the beleaguered Rio 2016 Olympics, work on the golf course has fallen behind schedule.

But grass has been going down for several weeks at the course, which has created an upbeat mood as golf prepares to return to the Olympics after a 112-year absence.

That changed Saturday when Rio organizers confirmed that a state prosecutor could halt work on the course unless the developer shows it is following environmental regulations and other requirements under Brazilian law.

Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada confirmed the inquiry on Saturday and said developers had been asked to provide documentation that would allow the work to continue.

"The state prosecutor is asking for the papers to show the work is proceeding according to the law," Andrada told The Associated Press. "We believe all the rules are being followed."

Any delay would be another blow to Rio's troubled Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has dispatched a special troubleshooter to accelerate Rio's work, and recently IOC vice president John Coates called Rio's preparations were the "worst" in memory.

Construction on the privately developed course, located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Rio's famous Ipanema ...

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LPGA to revive Portland Classic name

Bill Zimmerman

The LPGA's former Safeway Classic will return to the Portland Classic name with a new sponsor this year.

The tournament of 43 years will be sponsored by Cambia Health Solutions and remain at Columbia-Edgewater Country Club. Set for Aug. 28-31, the Portland Classic will benefit children's charities in its home state of Oregon.

Last year, Suzann Pettersen defeated Stacy Lewis by two shots in a matchup of two of the LPGA's top golfers. Several past champions are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame, including JoAnne Carner, Nancy Lopez, Juli Inkster and Annika Sorenstam.

“Hosting the world’s best women’s golfers in our backyard is tremendous exposure for the Pacific Northwest, and a fantastic way to showcase the power of health and wellness,” said Mark Ganz, president and CEO of Cambia Health Solutions.

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Calif. fires force golf companies to evacuate

Golfweek Staff

Wildfires in Carlsbad, Calif., and surrounding areas forced the evacuation of several major golf equipment companies Wednesday, including Cobra-Puma Golf, TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, Titleist and Callaway Golf.

There were no reports of damage to any golf manufacturing facility, but large clouds of smoke were visible at several locations near the companies' Southern California facilities. Employees at several of the companies used Twitter to send out photos and videos of large smoke clouds.

(Scroll down for more tweets.)

TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist and Cobra-Puma’s initial plans were to be open for business Thursday, but the fires could force the companies to remain closed.

The fires also threatened at least one golf course. LPGA player Ryann O’Toole used Twitter to send out a photo of a fire near Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, host of the LPGA’s Kia Classic in March, but there was no reported damage to the course. Calls to the course went directly to voicemail.

Thousands of residents were asked to evacuate their homes in Carlsbad after fire broke out Wednesday morning and quickly spread across northern San Diego County. The wind-driven wildfires shut down portions of Interstate 15 and closed the campus of Cal State-San Marcos, about ...

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ClubCorp acquires TPC courses in Michigan, N.C.

Ron Gaines

ClubCorp has announced the acquisition of two Tournament Players Club facilities: TPC Michigan in Dearborn, Mich., and TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte, N.C.

The purchases are the eighth and ninth additions to the expanding ClubCorp portfolio in the past year. ClubCorp also acquires its first TPC properties.

“We are thrilled with the acquisitions we have made during the first four months of this year,” said Eric Affeldt, president and chief executive officer of Dallas-based ClubCorp. “We’re very excited to add TPC Piper Glen and TPC Michigan and their members to our premier network of golf and country clubs.”

David Pillsbury, president of PGA Tour Golf Course Properties, added, “ClubCorp has represented the highest quality in the golf and club industry for 50 years, and we are delighted to work with them and add value to each of our club networks.”

TPC Piper Glen and TPC Michigan were developed as PGA Tour properties and sold in 2007 along with TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla., as part of a package to California-based Heritage Golf Group. Under the terms of the sales agreement, the three properties retained their TPC designations.

“The sale couldn’t have come at a worse ...

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Dawson leaves R&A poised for future

Alistair Tait

Who will succeed Peter Dawson as chief executive of the R&A and secretary of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews when he retires in September 2015?

I haven’t a clue. And I’m not alone.

Even Royal & Ancient Golf Club members don’t know who their next secretary will be. R&A staff won’t even hazard a guess as to their future boss.

“There are no whispers from members about who’s going to replace Peter,” said one R&A committee member who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The only thing everyone I’ve spoken to agrees is, it won’t be an internal appointment. The feeling from many members is, it will be someone with a business background and not a golf background, someone no one has really heard of.”

Few had heard of Peter Dawson in 1999 when he was named as successor to Michael Bonallack. Dawson came from an engineering background. He was a Royal & Ancient member since 1994 and served on the Rules of Golf committee. While the next man might not come from within the R&A, it’s a safe bet he’ll be a Royal & Ancient member ...

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Trump buys Turnberry, adds Open host to lineup

Martin Kaufmann

Turnberry’s appeal is undeniable.

“Turnberry is one of those iconic places,” said Gordon Dalgleish, co-founder of PerryGolf. “It falls in that same category as St. Andrews, Pebble Beach.”

Trump announced Tuesday that he has agreed to buy the picturesque links course and resort on the west coast of Scotland, which has hosted the British Open four times. The most recent was in 2009, when Stewart Cink won a playoff over 59-year-old Tom Watson. The most famous was in 1977, the "Duel in the Sun" that featured Watson defeating Jack Nicklaus.

"It is an honor and privilege to own one of golf's greatest and most exciting properties," Trump said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Independent in London reported that Trump paid Dubai-based Leisurecorp just over $63 million — 37.5 million pounds.

Turnberry is the 17th golf property owned by Trump, including 12 in the United States. That includes Trump National Doral, which was renovated for this year's WGC-Cadillac Championship in South Florida.

There appears to be no plans to touch Turnberry, used as an airfield during World War II, and now considered among the finest links in Scotland with magnificent views of the Irish Sea ...

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With McIlroy in tow, Nike introduces new line

James Achenbach

LAS VEGAS – Rory McIlroy, who broke his 2013 winless streak at the Australian Open, owes his success to me.

Well, me and 72 other journalists.

Immediately before flying to Melbourne for the Australian Open, McIlroy was here with me at a Nike function called Innovation Unleashed. Oh yes, there were six dozen additional writers, reporters, note-takers, bloggers, broadcasters, commentators and other newsmongers.

It was a cold, rainy day at TPC Summerlin, and the Las Vegas Visitors Bureau couldn’t have been happy. Nike Golf president Cindy Davis, however, was making the best of it.

After all, Davis had to entertain 73 journalists from around the world while talking about new Nike products and shining a spotlight on her Northern Irish racehorse, the streaky and sometimes perplexing McIlroy.

This was hardly a cameo appearance. McIlroy stuck around for six hours, and he didn’t make excuses for his play this year. “I haven’t been consistent enough,” he said. “I’ve had some great rounds, but I haven’t had four of them in a row.”

Aiming to change that, the 24-year-old McIlroy introduced his newest sidekicks: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver (8.5 degree) and Nike RZN Black ...

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Ping CEO joins parents in Ariz. golf hall

James Achenbach

John Solheim, Ping’s president and chief executive, was elected to the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame.

Solheim joins his parents, Karsten and Louise Solheim, as members of the hall. In 1961, Karsten and Louise Solheim moved their small club company to Phoenix from Redwood City, Calif.

Today, the company headquarters occupies an 80-acre campus in north Phoenix.

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Bridgestone to enter collegiate-licensing market

Little can match the fervor with which college sports fans cheer on their favorite teams. Now, supporters of select schools can display their school pride on Bridgestone golf balls.

The golf ball manufacturer, with operations in Covington, Ga., has entered into an agreement with 19 major colleges and universities to produce officially licensed team logo golf balls. School logos will be available on any model of Bridgestone golf balls through its custom logo department. The participating schools are: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Louisiana State, Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, West Virginia and Washington.

The move enables Bridgestone to tap a segment of the "more than 190 million college sports fans across the country," according to Corey Consuegra, the company's golf ball marketing manager.

Terms of the collegiate agreements were not disclosed.

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Nike's chief club designer retires; remains as consultant

James Achenbach

Tom Stites, Nike Golf's chief club designer, has retired but will remain with the company in a consultant's role, Golfweek has learned.

“Officially Tom has retired,” confirmed Rob Arluna, Nike Golf’s global golf club business director. “Realistically he has embraced a new challenge at Nike Golf. He is moving into a consultant’s role, and we call him the Chief Imagineer. He will be working on future projects. These are our biggest ideas. Personally I think Tom’s best work is in front of him. All of us are excited about Tom’s role.”

Stites, who officially served as director of product innovation, has been with Nike since 2001, when Nike purchased Impact Golf Technologies – owned by Stites and headquartered near Fort Worth, Texas. Before starting Impact Golf, Stites designed clubs for several golf manufacturers, including Ben Hogan Golf.

“All along Tom was very upfront about this change,” Arluna said. “We planned very carefully for it. He wants to spend more time with his family, and he wants to concentrate on all our important projects moving forward.”

Stites will maintain an office at Nike's research and development center in Forth Worth, nicknamed "The Oven," but will ...

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R&A turns back clock in defending male-only clubs

Alex Miceli

GULLANE, Scotland – Gender discrimination in golf was front and center at the Open Championship during the R&A's news conference Wednesday afternoon at Muirfield.

The R&A knew it was coming, and chief executive Peter Dawson was prepared, but the answers still did not ring true.

The premise that discrimination in any way, shape or form is permissible flies in the face of most people's belief of common decency and morals in a 21st-century world.

But that’s not the premise that the R&A or Dawson took, and you could understand why. Not only do Royal St. George’s, Royal Troon and Muirfield not allow women members, but the R&A itself also does not allow female members.

“We've got, as you mentioned, politicians posturing, we've got interest groups attacking the R&A, attacking the Open and attacking Muirfield,” Dawson said during his defense of the R&A’s policies. “To be honest, our natural reaction is to resist these pressures, because we actually don't think they have very much substance.”

After numerous struggles for equality worldwide, it's clear that in certain golf clubs in the U.K. that discrimination is not only ...

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Els says Muirfield's all-male policy is 'weird'

Alistair Tait

Defending Open Champion Ernie Els has called Muirfield “weird” for the its all-male policy ahead of next week’s Open Championship at the Scottish Club.

Muirfield, home to the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, is one of a few clubs in the United Kingdom that still refuses to admit women members. Other Open venues Royal Troon and Royal St. George’s also do not allow women to join. Neither does the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, the members’ club attached to the R&A.

“It’s going to be an issue,” Els said. “It is an issue. I’m not a member there. I’m a member at clubs around the world. I would like to believe that most of the clubs we belong to are open. It’s weird isn’t it?

“It’s not happening everywhere. We’ve got presidents, prime ministers, heads of companies who are women. It’s weird.”

The R&A has always maintained it takes its blue-ribbon event to the best courses, and Muirfield certainly fits that category. (It ranks fifth on Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list of Great Britain & Ireland.) However, the issue is sure to be debated next week ...

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Rude: PGA, Tour's proposal a sensible compromise

Jeff Rude

Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on on Wednesday.

The PGA Tour and PGA of America made a sensible compromise proposal, not to mention a savvy public relations move, on Monday when asking that the U.S. Golf Association delay the ban on anchored putting several years for recreational players.

The two organizations pointed out that there is precedent, that the USGA in 2008 followed a similar course regarding new groove configurations on golf clubs – 2010 for elite play but 2024 for recreational golfers.

The USGA has yet to comment but is expected to respond soon. Let’s hope that no news so far is good news, that America’s rules-making body will finally just say yes.

(Read full story on the proposal here)

As Joe Ogilvie, a member of the Tour’s Player Advisory Council, tweeted the other day, “For amateurs over 50 (the anchor-ban) rule should be 3024 not 2024. Zero downside to grandpa making a few 3-footers.”

Paul Goydos, a player director on the nine-man Tour policy board, said as much after the board, as well as PGA of America, voted to follow the USGA anchor ban, effective 2016.

“What’s the ...

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Scott says he won't fight anchoring ban

Alex Miceli

Golf’s “Gang of Nine” might not be so united against the recently approved ban on the anchoring stroke.

After the U.S. Golf Association and R&A endorsed Rule 14-1b last month, three prominent touring pros who use the anchoring stroke with long or belly putters – Tim Clark, Carl Pettersson and Adam Scott – were disclosed to have retained Boston’s Harry Manion as legal counsel.

During last week’s Memorial Tournament, Scott, the recent Masters champion, made it clear that he had sought legal advice merely to gather information and be sure that his views are expressed to the PGA Tour.

“There’s no intention of filing suit or making problems,” Scott said, “but this is a business, and I’m treating it professionally and I have professional counsel to do that.”

Keegan Bradley, who has not been publicly linked to the potential litigants, appears resigned to the ban.

“I’m so sick of this issue,” said Bradley, who won the 2011 PGA with a belly putter and continues to use the anchored stroke. “I’m ready to do whatever they tell me. I’m fine with the short putter.”

Tour commissioner Tim Finchem met with the Player Advisory ...

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