Goodbye Mister Callaway

By Adam BarrJuly 6, 2001, 4:00 pm
Yes, I have memories aplenty. You dont run up against a personality like Ely Callaways and come away with a blank book.
Ely Callaway at the podiumLets start with the fact that not everyone liked this man. In my travels around the golf industry, I heard a lot of confidential grousing about Ely, mostly from people who had been burned by his competitive fire.
Make no mistake, someone once told me over the rim of a rocks glass, that old man knows exactly how much toilet paper gets used in his building every day. And every other damn penny thats spent.
No compliment was implied. But Ely, a businessman of the old school and therefore a fan of cost control, would probably have found a back pat in the comment.
Word was a famous golf retailer tried to get Elys goat once by paying his Callaway merchandise bill, some $785,000, with an American Express card, just to get the frequent flier miles. Of course, Callaway would have had to pay Amex the transaction fee. Five percent of 785 large iswell, large. Probably did piss Ely off. But Ill bet he chuckled inside.
He admired industriousness. He admired protocol. Although his personal manner was relatively casual, even in pinstripes, he insisted that his executives come to work in suits and ties, even as all of Carlsbad was changing the entire week to casual Friday. Old school again.
A lot of golf journalists, this one included, owe Ely a large helping of thanks just for being good copy. He had a public relations staff, but he almost always met the press himself. He did that for me even when I was a freelancer trying to win my way onto the masthead at Golfweek. It definitely made a story sing when you could get a CEO to talk. And right up to the end, he was accessible.
Ely Callaway debates with David FayAnd he was usually forthright. His first duty was to his shareholders, and the reporter who forgot that did so at his peril. When I did get to Golfweek, I was warned: Be careful, or this guy will play you like a fiddle.
I suppose he tried, if you can call being an advocate for your company an attempt to play a reporter. There was one memorable moment when he got pretty vehement about it.
In 1996, Dave Seanor, my editor at Golfweek, and I devised a pre-PGA Merchandise Show feature in which we looked at the golf equipment industry as if it were a horse race. We handicapped all the major companies in each category. It turned out to be a snappy feature, aided by Daves editorial imagination and the excellent cartoons of Roger Schillerstrom.
Based on what we saw as the law of averages, we picked Callaway to falter a bit in the late going of the last century. They would show, not win or place, we predicted. (And in the 1998 golf industry slump, Callaway, like many companies, indeed had a rough year.)
Ely saw this and, Im told, began to steam at the ears. During the show, he found me and the poor Golfweek sales rep who handled the Callaway account and took us up to a private room at the Orange County Convention Center with a couple of his executives.
He then proceeded to lay into me for 30 full minutes with a campaign of invective and accusation that fell like a rain of bricks. I was incompetent. I was reckless. Who did I think I was? Did I have any idea how powerful his company was? Did I have a single notion how my prediction (my byline was on the story) contradicted what he saw as the clearest of evidence?
In deference to the sales rep, who had her own problems to repair, I sat and took it. I defended the story quietly when appropriate. He made his points. We parted.
And after that, all was well. I had passed some test. He seemed to respect my conviction (I simply did what any reporter worth his salt would do), even as he disagreed with me.
And in the years that followed, we disagreed often. But always with respect. I held my ground; he held his. We did the eternal dance of source and reporter.
Ely Callaway stepped it better than most. I will miss him.
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Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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Spieth vs. Reed random? Hmm, wonders Spieth

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Monday’s blind draw to determine the 16 pods for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play didn’t exactly feel “blind” for Jordan Spieth, whose group includes Patrick Reed.

Spieth and Reed have become a staple of U.S. teams in recent years, with a 7-2-2 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup combined. So when the ping-pong ball revealed Reed’s number on Monday night Spieth wasn’t surprised.

“It seems to me there's a bit more to this drawing than randomness,” laughed Spieth, whose pod also includes Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel. “It's not just me and him. It's actually a lot of groups, to have Luke List and Justin [Thomas] in the same group seems too good to be true. It might be some sort of rigging that's going on, I'm not sure.”

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Spieth will play Reed on Friday in the round-robin format and knows exactly what to expect from the fiery American.

“I've seen it firsthand when he's been at his best. And we have history together in a couple of different playoffs, which is a match-play scenario,” Spieth said. “I've got to take care of work tomorrow and the next day for that day to even matter. But even if it doesn't matter, trust me, it will matter to both of us.”

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U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to miss Masters

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:12 pm

Reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will miss the Masters, according to a USA Today report.

Koepka has been battling a left wrist injury since late last year, and he hasn't played since finishing last at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January. Weeks later he revealed that he had a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon but hoped to return in time for the season's first major.

According to the report, Koepka only started putting this week and plans to begin hitting chips next week.

"They said I would be about 80 percent, but I can't play 80 percent," Koepka said. "I either have to go full bore or not at all. I don't want to risk getting it re-injured and then be out a long time."

Koepka has finished T-33 or better in each of his three prior Masters appearances, culminating in a T-11 result last year.

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Spieth's agent leaving firm, but keeping Spieth as client

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Jay Danzi has stepped down as COO of Lagardère Sports U.S., and will take one of the game’s most marketable players, Jordan Spieth, with him.

In a press release, Danzi said, “after careful consideration I feel that it’s time for a new adventure.” Danzi will represent Spieth independently.

“It’s been a privilege having Jordan be part of the Lagardère Sports’ family for the last five years and watching him grow from a promising young player to someone who transcends the game,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports president of golf. “We are also grateful for Jay’s contributions over the years, in golf and other areas of our business.”

Lagardère Sports underwent an aggressive expansion in recent years, acquiring numerous boutique firms including Danzi’s business and Crown Sports Management.

Although losing Spieth, the world’s fourth-ranked player, and Danzi, who took over as Lagardère COO in February 2017, is a setback, the firm still has a number of high-profile clients including Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.