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PGA of America to support Sticks for Kids

Continuing its full-court press to grow the game, the PGA of America is partnering with the Golf Course Builders Association of America Foundation to expand the Sticks for Kids program.

The GCBAA's youth initiative provides golf courses with 10 sets of junior clubs for use at no charge. The program currently has 450 participating sites, with a presence in all 50 states and 17 international military bases. More than 63,000 children are playing the game as Sticks for Kids beneficiaries.

The PGA plans to pair its junior development program – the PGA Sports Academy powered by United Healthcare – with Sticks for Kids, providing youth with quality instruction with minimal or no cost.

"It’s important that the PGA of America support any program that makes clubs more accessible, and this program does exactly that,” said Allen Wronowksi, the association's president.

Since its founding in 1997, the Sticks for Kids program not only has promoted the game of golf to youth, but has served as an advocate for environmental stewardship and physical activity. The GCBAA is a nonprofit trade association for course builders and suppliers to the course construction industry. The foundation is its charitable arm.


PGA of America's team golf targets youth, parents

If there's a common complaint about the game of golf, it's this: It lacks the shared thrill and camaraderie of team sports.

Of course, there are exceptions such as the Ryder Cup, but, typically, team golf has been reserved for elite pros and amateurs. Until now.

A newly created team version of golf – endorsed by the PGA of America – not only may raise the sport's profile, but could be the long-awaited catalyst the golf industry has been seeking to spark interest among youth and their parents.

What's being called PGA Junior League Golf, industry leaders hope, will be golf's answer to Little League Baseball.

PGA Junior League Golf already is underway, albeit still in a developmental phase. But with more than 120 teams in 22 markets participating, the PGA of America just announced that the program is ready for a national rollout in 2013.

Much like other youth sports leagues, PGA Junior League Golf features teams with as many as 14 players on a roster – all adorned in team jerseys (with uniform numbers on their backs). Head-to-head matches against other teams are conducted as two-person scrambles – underscoring teamwork and reducing pressure on any one player ...

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R&A: Success will not hasten "anchoring" decision

Jeff Rude

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England -– The fact that, for the first time, the winner and runner-up of a major championship used long or belly putters “does not have a direct bearing on the discussions” to change the rules regarding those clubs, Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, said the morning after the Open Championship.

“They were going on well before what has happened yesterday,” said Dawson, mindful three of the last four major winners have used a long or belly putter. “The situation is that the R&A and the USGA do have this subject firmly back on the radar. We appreciate that there is much speculation about this and that we need to clarify the position as soon as possible. And I think you're going to see us saying something about it one way or the other in a few months rather than years.”

In the field of 156 players, 27 used long putters and 16 went with the belly version, said Jim McArthur, chairman of the championship committee. Dawson said that represents a dramatic increase over the last five years.

Dawson said the governing bodies are examining the situation “from the a method of stroke standpoint ...

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TGA franchise expands into Pacific Northwest

Golfweek Staff

TGA Premier Junior Golf, a franchise business that runs school- and community-based golf programs, has established a post in North Seattle.

Franchise rights were acquired by local businessman Brad Kirkpatrick. TGA has been welcomed by industry leaders who have made it a priority to halt slumping participation and grow the game. Though promoting golf among youngsters long has been a growth strategy, its success often has depended on volunteerism. TGA adds an economic incentive and makes junior golf a viable business venture, according to its founder Joshua Jacobs.

“Brad’s business background along with his passion for youth and sports is a perfect recipe for TGA success and growing the game of golf and impacting youth in the Seattle area,” said Jacobs, TGA’s chief executive officer. “TGA now covers every region of the country and we are very excited about the opportunity to bring our first TGA golf franchise to the Seattle area and enriching the lives of youth through our unique five level golf enrichment program.”

The TGA franchise in North Seattle is expected introduce golf programs at elementary and middle schools, child-care centers and community based organizations. Its aim is to transition students to local partner golf ...

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Royal Portrush deserves the Open Championship

Alistair Tait

PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland -- The next available date for the Open Championship is 2017. The R&A should pencil Royal Portrush into that slot. This links course deserves the game’s greatest championship.

The recent Irish Open proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

If the R&A wondered about the demand for big-time golf in this part of the world, all it had to do was read the numbers and weep with joy. This event sold out weeks early, and fans flooded through the gates. With the emphasis on “flooded.”

Even incessant rains couldn’t dampen the spirits of Northern Irish golf fans. It rained almost the entire third round, yet more than 30,700 poured through the gates that day alone, and attendance was 130,785 for the week. That tops the 123,000 who turned up to watch the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry, Scotland.

“You can’t do anything about the weather, but the fans have been fantastic,” Graeme McDowell said. “They have come out in their thousands this week, umbrellas in hand. They couldn’t be stopped.”

If they couldn’t be stopped for a European Tour event, imagine their enthusiasm at seeing the world ...

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Web.com's deal comes with potential Tour business

Change often is embraced reluctantly. Just ask sports fans who have witnessed their favorite stadiums or events adopt the name of the latest sponsor du jour.

Such hesitancy, if not disdain, might follow in the wake of the PGA Tour’s recent announcement that its developmental circuit now will be dubbed the Web.com Tour. The little-known Internet services and online marketing company based in Jacksonville, Fla., replaced Nationwide Insurance as the umbrella sponsor June 27. The 10-year agreement took effect immediately.

But adding Web.com to the marquee is a “win-win” for the PGA Tour and the company, according to sponsorship experts. And as far as the fans are concerned, marketers say, they’ll get over it. Indeed, fans begrudgingly have accepted sponsorship as an integral part of modern sports business. Case in point: Since its founding in 1990, the Tour’s developmental circuit has featured five umbrella sponsors – Ben Hogan, Nike, Buy.com, Nationwide and Web.com – without suffering permanent backlash.

“Fans know that sponsorship is important to keeping any sporting event vibrant and healthy,” said Richard Burton, the David B. Falk Professor of Sport Management at Syracuse University. “Give the PGA Tour credit that they’ve been ...

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Martin: PGA Tour correct on FedEx points decision

The PGA Tour’s decision to award full FedEx Cup points to Fall Series events was the correct choice. It was the only choice. Sponsors weren’t going to spend millions of dollars for second-class status.

And that’s who this decision was meant to please: sponsors. For players, this decision makes things a little more complicated. The FedEx Cup is now almost a year-round race. Players’ buffet of tournaments just got a bit bigger. But while their options increased, the size of their stomachs did not. Star players, those with the liberty to pick where they appear, will only play so many weeks each year.

The fields of fall events will look similar when this change takes place in 2013. As announced in March, the PGA Tour season will begin in October 2013 with the current Fall Series and conclude in late September 2014 with the Tour Championship. This change is in concurrence with wholesale changes to the PGA Tour’s qualifying structure.

Players who live year-to-year on the PGA Tour are accustomed to a busy fall schedule as they try to keep their card. Now they’ll be playing these events to get an early start on their ...

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Title IX's impact on society remains large

For Suzy Whaley, the weeks preceding the 2003 Greater Hartford Open weren’t as blissful as they might have been for any male New England PGA pro who qualified for the PGA Tour stop.

The ultimate prize for the men was an honor for Whaley, too, but one fraught with stress.

Stepping up to the first tee meant entering a man’s world, making Whaley just the third woman in history to compete in a Tour event.

How well she fared would reflect upon not only her, but the PGA of America and elite female golfers. Whaley agonized about participating until she had a chat one night with her daughter Jennifer, then 9. Whaley always had preached “seize opportunities and not be afraid,” a principle she learned through Title IX – the legislation that paved Whaley’s road with a golf scholarship to the University of North Carolina.

But that evening, Jennifer turned the tables. “So, why wouldn’t you play?” Right then, Whaley went all in. “I realized the impact I could have,” she says. “I wanted to show people that I’m going to prepare the best that I can, and no matter the result, be proud that I ...

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TV: Berman Open to criticism; North goes South

Martin Kaufmann

Some thoughts on the first three days of U.S. Open television coverage on ESPN and NBC:

• Golf fans had their annual tizzy on social media when ESPN bullhorn Chris Berman worked the first two rounds. Berman hosted the noon-3 p.m. ET show both days, then anchored the 5-10 p.m. coverage.

I could critique his work, but I suspect that anything I might write would sound like what I wrote in 2011, which probably sounded like what I wrote in 2010, which probably sounded like . . . – well, you get the picture. In fairness, Berman seems to have heard some of the criticism. On the 10-point Nails-on-a-Chalkboard Meter, he now registers an 8.5, down from about an 11 in past years. He has, for instance, lightened up on the tedious nicknames and pop-culture references. He also seems to have lightened up on the cough syrup; his voice has more gravel in it than a quarry.

I’ll simply reiterate my core criticism of Berman: When I watch him, I always sense that he thinks viewers turn on their TVs to watch him, when in fact they tune in to watch golf. (As an aside, I’ll share this anecdote ...

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King: Adams could play key role in evolving marketplace

Cranking up sales of Adams Golf products through TaylorMade's global distribution network is job No. 1 for John Ward, the newly appointed president of Adams.

That's the mission that was assigned to Ward by TaylorMade CEO Mark King. But in a recent interview, King also provided a glimpse of how the Adams brand might be positioned in the future and the role it could play in TaylorMade-Adidas' overall growth.

"When you get to where are with metalwood (market share) at 50 percent, more growth on top of that is going to be challenging," King said. "That's one reason why we bought Adams. We think we can grow metalwood share through Adams in a very fast way. Positioning Adams as a friendly brand for more golfers gives us a big, broad base to sell a lot more metalwoods."

King, however, envisions the investment made in Adams really will produce dividends as the industry's push to grow the game influences the evolution of the equipment marketplace.

"I really believe somewhere in the next 3 to 10 years, I think you're going to see a big opportunity for all golf equipment companies to make products for non-traditional golfers ...

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Ferrari metalwoods: For those who can't buy the car

James Achenbach

Stuck without a spare $250,000 for a Ferrari Spider automobile? One alternative: a Ferrari golf metalwood, the product of a new collaboration between Ferrari and Cobra Puma Golf.

New Ferrari cars can be found in the $250,000 to $350,000 price range, and the alliance between Ferrari and Cobra Puma has produced some high-priced items of its own.

A redheaded Ferrari golf driver (Ferrari is famous for its red cars) will carry a suggested retail price of $2,000. The price tag for a Ferrari Luxury Bag will be $2,400. The leather used for the bag is the same kind used for the seats in Ferrari GT cars.

All the Ferrari-Cobra Puma products will be available in July, including apparel such as $120 polo shirts and $250 jackets patterned after the interior of a Ferrari car.

Shoes, which are the nucleus of the Puma empire, will sell for $600 and are handcrafted in Italy with full-grain leather upper and sole. The stitching is designed after a Ferrari interior.

This isn’t the first collaboration between car companies and golf. Carmakers have prominently associated themselves with professional golf tournaments for more than 50 years.

Buick first stepped into ...

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First Links: A new starting point

Placing the uninitiated golfer on the first tee of a course stretching 7,000 yards or more makes as much sense as letting a newly licensed driver on a German autobahn.

But that’s exactly how our sport welcomes beginners who still are trying to get their swings in gear.

As if it weren’t difficult enough to sort countless swing thoughts or avoid ball-sucking hazards, new golfers often clog open fairways, unleashing the wrath of frustrated players waiting behind them.

It’s little wonder the game isn’t growing.

But the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the PGA of America have proposed a fix for the problem, a plan to create what is obviously missing: Bunny slopes – or golf’s version of them.

Raising awareness in the golf industry of the need for beginner facilities – staples at virtually every ski resort – is the mission of First Links, a new grant program designed to help existing course owners add such amenities to their properties.

“What we really need is something in between going to a driving range and stepping up to a championship golf course,” said John LaFay, president of the ASGCA Foundation.

Hoping to join an industry-wide ...

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Klein: Sharp Park puts focus on muni courses

Bradley S. Klein

David Holland, like many Bay Area golfers, loves Sharp Park Golf Course. On May 19, he plans to be at the legendary course to celebrate the 80th anniversary of this Alister MacKenzie design. However, when most golfers return to work the next day, they’ll leave the course behind them.

For Holland, 63, Sharp Park has become his work – maybe even his calling. He tried retiring after working for the U.S. Forest Service for 34 years – the last four as national recreation, heritage and wilderness director. Then he went to work for San Mateo County, spending six years as parks director before becoming assistant county manager last year. Now much of his time is spent studying Sharp Park’s finances and operations to determine whether San Mateo should consider taking over the course on a day-to-day basis. The beleaguered course, owned and managed by San Francisco even though it sits outside of city limits, is at the center of a legal and political fight for its life.

Many of those who know Sharp Park consider it a national treasure. Holland counts himself among those who would welcome the chance to place it on firm footing – but only if it ...

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Title IX: An empowering transformation

For Suzy Whaley, the weeks preceding the 2003 Greater Hartford Open weren’t as blissful as they might have been for any male New England PGA pro who qualified for the PGA Tour stop.

The ultimate prize for the men was an honor for Whaley, too, but one fraught with stress.

Stepping up to the first tee meant entering a man’s world, making Whaley just the third woman in history to compete in a Tour event.

How well she fared would reflect upon not only her, but the PGA of America and elite female golfers. Whaley agonized about participating until she had a chat one night with her daughter Jennifer, then 9. Whaley always had preached “seize opportunities and not be afraid,” a principle she learned through Title IX – the legislation that paved Whaley’s road with a golf scholarship to the University of North Carolina.

But that evening, Jennifer turned the tables.

“So, why wouldn’t you play?”

Right then, Whaley went all in.

“I realized the impact I could have,” she says. “I wanted to show people that I’m going to prepare the best that I can,and no matter the result, be proud that I ...

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Klein: Trump humbled by Women's Open choice

Bradley S. Klein

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – There’s nothing more fascinating in journalism than seeing public people up close. Who knows what’s real and what’s for show these days, especially with someone as media savvy as Donald Trump, who seems to have made a second career out of being a spectacle – this after having established himself as a real estate tycoon. Somewhere along the line he also managed to make himself into a golf entrepreneur. And that’s what brought him (and me) to his Trump National Golf Club here.

The ostensible purpose was a news conference with the U.S. Golf Association to announce that his course has been awarded the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open. Trump, attired in his trademark charcoal suit, white shirt and red tie and with his wedge of sandy red hair perfectly coiffed, clearly was humbled and honored to have made it officially to the national stage.

For anyone who has watched him in one of his feuds with Rosie O’Donnell, demanding to see President Barack Obama’s birth certificate or as mogul in his “Celebrity Apprentice” TV gig, it was almost as if he had been transformed into staid, respectful form. Maybe ...

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