PGA of America executives want to “reset” the golf industry.
In other words, they’re launching an all-out effort to fix golf’s ills and intend to make the game more affordable, more inviting and less time consuming.
Considering the steady decline in participation and economic challenges that are causing consumers to re-prioritize how they spend their discretionary dollars, the PGA’s push is long overdue. Campaigns to grow the game are nothing new, but this initiative is accompanied, finally, with a sense of urgency that ultimately may differentiate it from previous efforts.
Says Allen Wronowski, PGA president: “Golf 2.0 is one of the most important initiatives that the PGA and the entire industry has undertaken.”
Golf 2.0, as the PGA calls its strategic plan, aims to strengthen “core golfers,” re-engage “lapsed” players and recruit new ones. With the help of the Boston Consulting Group, the PGA has identified nine consumer groups and plans to design tailored programs to attract each to the game. And when it comes to inviting women, the PGA has turned to a familiar ally: Donna Orender, a former PGA Tour executive and more recently, president of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
It’s sometimes difficult to appreciate long-term initiatives when your short-term outlook isn’t promising.
With golf participation declining and many courses starving for play, teaching the game to school children who may – or may not – grow up to become golf consumers hardly seems pressing.
But gaining students’ undivided attention while they’re in a safe, familiar learning environment is an opportunity that simply can’t be missed. The First Tee National School Program isn’t more important than short-term participation solutions, but it’s a vital element in fixing golf’s overall ills.
This academic year, NSP will introduce golf to elementary school students at more than 4,200 schools in nearly 600 schools districts across the U.S. The custom-designed golf curriculum will be offered as part of regular physical education classes (K-5). Not only does the program teach motor skills associated with the game, but it addresses personal and social values as well. And this year, with input from the Annika Foundation led by former world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam, NSP also will tackle health and wellness topics.
Educators, not just golf industry professionals, have acknowledged the effectiveness of the school program that was launched in 2004 ...
Back home in South Korea, Gene Yoon is widely regarded as a rainmaker.
After all, he engineered one of the most successful initial public offerings in the history of the Korean Stock Exchange when he took Fila Korea public in 2010.
Don’t be surprised if Yoon – who recently led a consortium of Korean investors to acquire Acushnet Co., which owns Titleist and FootJoy – orchestrates an encore in golf.
At a media event held Aug. 31 near Acushnet’s headquarters in Fairhaven, Mass., Yoon provided a glimpse of his ambitions: To take Acushnet public, perhaps as soon as four years.
“We’re going to try to create the kind of opportunity (in which) all the investors can make the big money they’ve never seen before,” said Yoon, Acushnet’s new chairman. Sensing that he might have said too much, Yoon added with a touch of humor: “By the law, I suppose I (should) not say that specifically.”
Though he can’t guarantee such riches, Yoon made clear the new ownership group’s plans to fulfill its bullish intentions. The investors, led by Fila Korea Ltd. and Mirae Asset Private Equity, acquired Acushnet for more than $1 billion from Fortune ...
JACKSON, Miss. — The director of Mississippi's PGA Tour tournament says Viking Range Corp. of Greenwood is pulling out as sponsor, and he needs to find a new sponsor or sponsors by the end of September.
Randy Watkins tells The Clarion-Ledger that if he cannot, the tournament could lose its spot on the 2012 PGA Tour calendar. He says just under $1 million a year is needed
Watkins says Viking decided last week to drop the sponsorship.
The company makes high-end kitchen appliances. It has been hit hard by the recession, laying off more than 300 workers since 2008.
Viking has been the title sponsor for the last five years and four tournaments. Rain canceled the 2009 event.
The future just keeps getting brighter for the European Tour. Add Oliver Fisher's name to a long list of good young players on the Euro circuit.
Fisher's victory at the Czech Open, his first Tour win, is long overdue, and hopefully heralds the first of a slew of victories from the talented Englishman.
Many pundits - me included - thought Fisher would push Rory McIlroy hard these last few seasons for the honor of best young European player. While Rory has gone from talented amateur to major winner in one seamless stream, Fisher found that the road to success doesn't always follow the "star is born" script.
These two young men were chosen for greatness years ago when they first met as members of Sir Nick Faldo's elite squad of youngsters. I first saw both as 14-year-olds and they stood out from their peers by miles. I watched Fisher play in the McEvoy Trophy, and he looked as good as boys four years older than him.
It came as no surprise when Fisher was selected to the 2005 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team - at 16 becoming the youngest Walker Cup player ever. Nor was it a surprise ...
In another sign of golf’s growth in China, the China LPGA Tour announced it has teamed with sports marketing agency Octagon to develop corporate partnerships.
The CLPGA Tour, in its third year of operation, is the country’s domestic professional tour and organizes tournaments nationwide, including the China Ladies Open.
“With golf set to be in the Olympics for the 2016 Games, the CLPGA Tour is an important component in ensuring China’s women professionals have a platform to prepare them for international competition,” said Chris Higgs, managing director for Octagon Global Events.
According to the multi-year deal, agency executives in the U.S. and in Asia have been charged not only with business development duties, but raising the level of competition on the tour and promoting women’s golf, in general, within China. Octagon’s Beijing office also will handle athlete representation efforts.
In a written statement, Jennifer Li, the tour’s CEO, said: “(Octagon’s) philosophy and approach is highly compatible with ours and we are excited to have this alliance, particularly at this important moment in our organization’s development.”
As prolific as he was in winning on the golf course, Arnold Palmer has enjoyed similar success in the business world. And in the latter, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
His latest venture? Consider it an amalgamation of a hotel, museum and economic catalyst for his beloved hometown of Latrobe, Pa.
Palmer has partnered with Concord Hospitality Enterprises to build a 109-suite SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel. What makes the project unique is that it’ll feature memorabilia and photos from some of Palmer’s most famous golf moments and his time with world leaders. In addition, hotel guests will have an exclusive opportunity to play Palmer’s home club, Latrobe Country Club.
The hotel’s board room, for example, is expected to showcase photos and letters from the eight U.S. presidents with whom Palmer has played golf during his career.
The hotel is expected to target visitors to Latrobe as well as serve as a venue for local residents to socialize and conduct business meetings. It also expands Palmer’s business and civic contributions to his community. Among other initiatives in Latrobe, Palmer has an automobile dealership, is involved with the local hospital and created ...
Omega, the Swiss luxury watchmaker, long has been a major sponsor of professional golf in Europe and Asia. Now, it’s raising its profile in the U.S. with a five-year marketing deal with the PGA of America.
The agreement, which extends through the PGA’s centennial in 2016, makes Omega the “official timekeeper” at several of the association’s marquee tournaments and venues such as the PGA Golf Club and Valhalla Golf Club. Omega also becomes an official licensee of the 2012 and 2014 Ryder Cup.
The partnership will be launched at the PGA Championship, scheduled for Aug. 8-14 at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.
“With our tournaments in Europe and Asia, Omega has long supported the growth of golf as a global game. . . “ said Stephen Urquhart, the company’s president. “This partnership also gives us a fantastic platform to develop the brand in the important American market.”
In addition to supporting the PGA’s tournaments, including the PGA Professional National Championship, Omega will commit to advertising on golf telecasts and lend marketing support for the PGA’s player-development efforts.
On an international front, the watchmaker serves as title sponsor of the Omega European Masters, the Omega ...
Golf shoe manufacturers often capitalize on the marketing opportunities major championships provide by customizing footwear for them.
Sometimes these shoes are worn by touring pros, sometimes not. Consumers, though, always are the primary beneficiaries of these special designs.
Nike and True, for example, are selling British Open-inspired shoes on their websites during the week of the championship. Meanwhile, Puma is continuing its routine of outfitting Rickie Fowler with eye-catching shoes and offering them through retailers in limited editions.
• “Inspired by traditional British tailoring,” the Nike shoe for the British Open (www.nikestore.com) is black and features Herringbone tweed and splashes of patent leather.
It is part of Nike’s Lunar Control shoe series, which has a signature waterproof leather upper that is reinforced by an additional waterproof surface treatment. It is built on a new generation of the Nike Power Platform outsole, and it includes a secondary Power Channel in the forefoot to allow more flexibility and greater natural motion.
The retail price is $189.99.
• The True shoe (www.truelinkswear.com) features the same design principle as other True shoes: an exceptionally thin sole and an emphasis on comfort without sacrificing stability.
The shoe is red and white ...
The LPGA has accepted Alexis Thompson’s petition for membership in 2012, an unprecedented decision that allows the 16-year-old to enter Q-School and, should she earn her card, become a tour member.
LPGA rules state that a player must be at least 18 years old to become a member. Players younger than 18 must get the tour’s approval for membership.
The LPGA has granted membership to 17-year-olds on a very limited basis. Jessica Korda, Morgan Pressel and Aree Song were granted membership at that age, but all turned 18 during their rookie seasons; petitions by eventual major winners Yani Tseng and Inbee Park were denied.
Thompson doesn’t turn 18 until 2013. She would be the first player to start her rookie year before age 17. Her 17th birthday is Feb. 10, 2012.
The LPGA's decision was first reported by Golfweek.
"I’m really happy about it," Thompson told Golfweek. "I'm just going to try to do my best and see where it goes."
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement to Golfweek: “The LPGA has previously granted players under the age of 18 the ability to compete in the LPGA Qualifying Tournament (Aree Song, Morgan ...
As if generating more revenue and eliminating losses aren’t challenging enough, Callaway Golf Co. has another pressing task: Re-energizing its brand.
The assessment came from none other than Anthony S. Thornley, the company’s newly appointed interim CEO, who took over the top post following last week’s resignation of George Fellows. Thornley is a former president of Qualcomm Inc., a wireless technology company.
Fellows, the former Revlon chief who had led the Carlsbad, Calif.-based equipment manufacturer since 2005, stepped down, citing personal reasons. But his tenure, especially of late, had been marked by lackluster financial results, and the company is concerned that harbingers of better performance aren’t surfacing. Callaway announced June 29 that it expects to post a net loss of $55 million on sales of $270 million for the second quarter. The company recorded net income of $11.5 million on $303.6 million in sales for the same period in 2010.
“The bottom line is that our results are not satisfactory, and the board believes now is the time to make changes to our organization,” Thornley, 65, who had been serving on Callaway’s board, said during ...
CARLSBAD, CALIF. - Callaway Golf appointed Anthony S. “Tony” Thornley as interim president and chief executive June 29 after George Fellows resigned for what the company called personal reasons.
The move is part of wider organizational changes in which the golf-equipment manufacturer “expects to reduce head count at all levels of the organization,” according to a company statement.
The company did not specify how many jobs would be lost. Cost savings are estimated at $50 million,
Callaway expects a second-quarter net loss of about $55 million on revenue of about $270 million.
Fellows, 68, had been Callaway’s president and CEO since August 2005.
“It’s been my privilege to serve Callaway these past six years, and I’m proud of much of what we’ve done,” Fellows said in a company statement. “However, the personal demands of cross-country commuting and other demands on my personal life and family have led me to conclude now is the right time for me to make this change.”
Thornley, 65, served on Callaway’s Board of Directors since 2004 and is regarded as a financial expert. He is a former head of the wireless-technology company Qualcomm.
“Tony Thornley has a deep knowledge ...
BETHESDA, Md. – These should be high times for the U.S. Golf Association.
The USGA has a new leader, executive director Mike Davis, who has invigorated the USGA staff with a renewed enthusiasm.
The USGA has more than $200 million in the bank.
The USGA is more effectively linked to its European counterpart, the R&A, than ever before. The two ruling bodies are unified against any conflict similar to the 1998 donnybrook that divided them over springlike effect in drivers.
The USGA has a popular young U.S. Open winner in Rory McIlroy, and interest in the national championship among fans and sponsors remains strong.
On the surface, everything looks good.
However, thunder clouds may be gathering over the USGA. Repercussions of the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club could be substantial.
There is the matter of low scores in the U.S. Open. Nobody should wholeheartedly believe the public explanations blaming rain and soft greens for the assault on par.
Behind the scenes, some key USGA figures are questioning whether Congressional is a suitable U.S. Open site in the modern age.
Congressional has been branded as a point-to-point golf course that fails to present the best ...
After his victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Harrison Frazar received a hefty check for more than $1 million before thousands in an admiring gallery.
But in 30 to 60 days, long after the tournament excitement has subsided, another check will be cashed with hardly a soul taking note. The lack of fanfare, however, won’t diminish its significance.
Because what this check pays for is profound: Bone-marrow transplants. Radiation treatment. Even three-year chemotherapy protocols that cost more than $500,000 each.
Like most PGA Tour events, the St. Jude Classic operates as a nonprofit entity with proceeds funneled toward charities. But unlike many that donate their funds to a variety of worthy organizations, the Memphis, Tenn., stop gives all of its money to one local beneficiary: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which treats patients with catastrophic illnesses regardless of their families’ financial means.
It’s an act of generosity that has stretched 41 years, yielding contributions that stand in excess of $24 million.
But neither touting the sizable sum nor hearing the Tour promote its philanthropy – with slogans such as “Together, Anything’s Possible” – even begins to define the pairing of tournament and hospital.
They represent far ...
BETHESDA, Md. - In an attempt to take putter fitting to the next level, Ping has introduced a new iPhone putter app that will analyze putting strokes and match those strokes to specific putters.
The first Ping putters to fall into three fitting categories -- straight, slight arc, strong arc -- will be a new line of seven Anser putters that will be available at retail in August. The categories reflect the amount of putter head rotation during the stroke.
The app became available June 20 through the Apple Store for Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPod touch models. Ping chose the iPhone 4 and iTouch devices because they have both accelerometers and gyroscopes needed to record key data. The app itself is free, although an accompanying cradle that attaches the device to the putter shaft below the grip is expected to sell for about $30.
Here’s how the new app works: After a golfer hits five putts, the app will help decide which which of the three putter categories defines that person’s stroke.
The app not only will identify the type of putting stroke, but it also will measure face angle at address and impact. Furthermore, it will provide a ...