The Biz Blog


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Report: Woods no longer No. 1 in athletes' value

Bill Zimmerman

There's a new king of the sports world when it comes to their financial value, according to Forbes – and he's no longer a golfer.

LeBron James has taken the top spot from Tiger Woods in the magazine's 2014 rankings. As James' brand value rose to $37 million this year, Woods' dropped to $36 million and he slipped to the No. 2 spot.

Woods had spent seven years as the individual athlete with the highest financial value. Forbes said it calculated values for the individual athletes based on "their endorsement income, less the average endorsement income of top 10 athletes in same the sport."

In explaining Woods' value, Forbes cited the end of his video-game deal with EA Sports as one factor; that was announced nearly a year ago. Woods went on to sign with Zynga in a deal announced in August.

Phil Mickelson also checks in among the top 10. The lefty is fourth at $29 million in value, just behind tennis player Roger Federer's $32 million. Mickelson's calculated value is up from $25 million a year earlier as Forbes cited sponsor bonuses in the wake of his 2013 Open Championship victory as well as ...

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Back9Network launches satellite TV presence

Bradley S. Klein

HARTFORD, Conn. – Get ready for a new cable network devoted entirely to golf. Back9Network launches today on DirectTV, with programming devoted not to tournament coverage but to what its CEO calls “lifestyle.” The network occupies a prominent downtown studio with 4,000 square feet of working space, featuring a set that can be digitally reconfigured to create a virtual on-site presence anywhere in the world of golf.

It’s been a long time coming. Also, a newsworthy one, thanks to questions about financial backing from the network’s home state of Connecticut; the recent departure of network founder Jamie Bosworth; a lawsuit from a former employee claiming failure of payment; and concerns about the network’s racy approach toward golf.

Back9Network, founded in 2012, offers a programming grid that includes a heavy emphasis upon travel and off-course consumer goods and fashion. Financial backing includes $5 million in grants and loans from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and over $25 million of private equity investment. Back9 made an early name for itself through extensive fund raising efforts and lavish blowout parties, including two open-bar events at the last two PGA Merchandise Shows in Orlando, Fla.

Scheduled programming includes ...

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Report: Judge tells McIlroy, Horizon to mediate

Alex Miceli

As the golf season winds down for World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, his legal troubles remain front and center.

In a Dublin court Tuesday, Justice Brian McGovern ordered McIlroy and his former management company, Horizon Sports Management, to discuss mediation rather than a trial, according to reports.

The court suggested that the issues have become so sensitive that each side should consider the less-public route to save both sides from embarrassment.

“Is this not a case that is made for mediation?” McGovern asked Rossa Fanning, who represents McIlroy and Ciaran Lewis for Horizon and the other related defendants, according to The Irish Independent and Press Association. “The case has all sorts of sensitivities involving two players on tour, a manager of one of them and a former manager or agent of the other. It has all sorts of complex issues involving relationship matters.”

Former clients McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will play for the European team next week in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland. It's likely they also will discuss with attorneys the recommendation made by the court.

Attempts to reach Horizon Sports were not successful.

According to the Independent, McGovern said he could stay the proceedings only ...

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IAGA's Fox: Tenure includes 'giving back'

Ron Gaines

Jay N. Fox was elected president of the International Association of Golf Administrators (IAGA) during its 47th annual Meeting held in Destin, Fla., in November. The IAGA represents about 4 million golfers through 150 state, regional and national golf associations across North America and Canada.

As the only professional network for golf administrators, the IAGA works at the grass-roots level to promote, serve, and ultimately grow the game of golf.

Fox, who is also the Executive Director of the Arkansas State Golf Association, has brought to the IAGA his broad range of knowledge formed from his 28 years of experience as a golf administrator.

During a recent interview, Fox discussed the current health of the game, along with some future challenges and opportunities.

• • •

Tell me about the IAGA and its purpose.

Fox: It was formed in 1967 to share ideas and best practices among the dozen or so executive directors in attendance. That basic principle still exists. However, our membership has grown to more than 150 state and regional golf associations (SRGAs) and now includes provincial golf associations in Canada as well as a few international associations.

• • •

How many golfers are represented by the IAGA?

Fox: Our members represent between ...

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McDowell to leave Horizon Sports Management

Andy Zunz

Graeme McDowell will leave Horizon Sports Management to start his own management company at the end of the year, departing from the Dublin agency after a seven-year relationship.

“When I joined Horizon in November 2007, I was ranked outside the top 100 players in the world, and was seeking a new and energetic management team to help me achieve my career ambitions — both on and off the golf course," McDowell, a Northern Irishman who is No. 16 in the Official World Golf Ranking, said in a statement sent via his Twitter account. “I am at a stage in my life where it feels right to move on to the next phase of my career – both in golf and business."

McDowell is the second world-class player whom the agency has lost in the past year. Rory McIlroy left the management company in 2013, and on much worse terms, as a legal battle unfolded shortly after the split.

McDowell, who will take some time off as he and his wife, Kristin, expect their first child, won 11 events and played in three Ryder Cups during his time with Horizon Sports Management. He previously had announced that he will miss this week's ...

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Doak to build reversible course in Michigan

Ron Gaines

Golf course architect Tom Doak, recognized as one of the top architects in the world, is set to begin work on a new course at Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon, Mich.

Doak’s newest project will bring to life a concept that most legendary golf course architects can only dream of.

Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team will build a reversible course – two distinct layouts using the same greens but playing clockwise one way and counter clockwise the other way.

“This is a concept I have thought about for 30 years,” Doak said. “You need the right site and the right client to understand the appeal of it. At Forest Dunes we have both.”

Lew Thompson, an Arkansas-based trucking magnate who is managing member of the partnership that owns and operates Forest Dunes Golf Club, said he wanted a second course that would keep golfers staying on the property an extra night or two after playing the club’s highly acclaimed Tom Weiskopf design, which is ranked No. 97 on the Golfweek's Best Modern Courses list.

“I told Tom when I first met him that if it’s just another golf course, it’s not going to ...

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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.