Golf Business Stories of the Year
The same principle applies to my informal selection for golf business stories of the year. Im most interested in what made news, without value judgments. So if I leave something off or dont rank it as you see fit, by all means tell me about your disagreement. But please, leave questions about my ancestry out of it.
That said, here we go:
Top Golf Business Story of 2001: Without question, the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball. Its not so much how the ball worked, although some credible people extolled that performance (jeez, did Phil Mickelson talk about anything else all spring?). The marketing blitz was phenomenal. Even Callaway doesnt get on the front page (not the front sports page, the front page of the whole paper), but Pro V1 had a weekday feature story of the kind usually reserved for something Oprah does.
Add to that the fact that Titleist couldnt make the ball fast enough ' leading to a supply problem that increased the mystique ' and you have a commercial juggernaut that made even aggressive competitor Nike take notice.
Most Surprising Story of the Year: The Precept MC Lady. In a sense, its a marketing embarrassment for the industry that its notion about which golfers want what is so out of whack with what they really want. More men played the ball than the gender it was intended for. But the upside is that Precept and its competitors learned what their customers would go ga-ga over ' and adapted immediately to fill the outsize demand. To most observers, it looked as if Precept hadnt missed a step. And if you dont think the MC Lady started a soft-ball movement that will take flight next year, you may be a little soft yourself.
Taking It On Tour Award: Drivers in the TaylorMade-adidas 300 Series were all over the PGA Tour this year, thanks to an aggressive campaign by the company. That attitude, straight from the playbook of company chief Mark King, has led to the 200 Series, which is steel instead of titanium and easier on sensitive wallets. Look for it to do well in 2002.
Best Company Under $100 Million in Annual Sales: Not just a wedge company any more, Cleveland Golf courageously broke out and capitalized on endorser Vijay Singhs 1999 PGA Championship and 2000 Masters wins and started selling more clubs with less loft. The wedge franchise is still big and always will be, but people are taking Clevelands irons and its Launcher driver more seriously now. The secret: The only people who didnt doubt Cleveland werethe folks at Cleveland.
Biggest Loss: It wasnt on the balance sheet. The death of Ely Callaway in July left a space in reporters notebooks and a hole in colleagues hearts. Callaway had a knack, not so much for golf as for business. His unrelenting application of tried and true, mainstream business tactics to golf may have made the industry less of the old boys network it used to be, but it also modernized the way business is done. That was especially important when titanium came on the scene and golf officially went big-ticket.
Ely would have been the first to admit that there was a lot he didnt know. But he knew how to find people who knew what he didnt, and he made a habit of hiring them.
The Real Story of the Year: Of course, it had nothing to do with golf. Best wishes and sympathies to the brave folks who will endure the ache of empty spaces at their holiday tables this year because of the selfishness of Times Man of the Year candidate. We who play the honorable game think of you always.
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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:
|T20||Charles Howell III||-14||$57,754|
|T36||Tyrone Van Aswegen||-12||$27,189|
|T69||Billy Hurley III||-6||$11,623|
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.
His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.
“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.
Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.