Name-Calling as a Money Sport

By Adam BarrMarch 2, 2001, 5:00 pm
Some people dread Armageddon. I dread naming rights for golf courses.
 
You know it's possible. And scary. Those of us who still call Pro Player Joe Robbie, we who never heard of Cinergy Field but know where Riverfront is, we Pittsburghers for whom the Union Trust Building was never Mellon Bank Two.we cringe at the idea of the Coca-Cola TPC at Sugarloaf or the Coors Castle Pines Golf Club.
 
To its credit, the PGA Tour hasn't succumbed to the pressure that seems to bear down on sports executives the world over. Company names assault us from everywhere, and naming rights go for many millions of dollars. Nothing like having every sportscaster and newspaper in the area hype your company simply by saying where the game is.
 
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with corporate promotion in general. If a company owns a course (Doral, for example), it has every right to shout it to the world.
 
But do I really need to be reminded who owns the Braves? Or which beer company owns the Colorado market? Will that make me more likely to buy cable? Or beer?
 
Of course not. If I were that easily swayed, every business report would be on the latest anti-slice gadget. It's just a matter of corporate America having long ago been dazzled by the idea of the brand.
 
A coworker of mine, lamenting the demise of a golf equipment company, once said, 'Like so many other companies, they mistook the brand for the product.' He couldn't have been more right. In and out of golf, companies often forget what they're selling. In golf, where bag appeal is often the primary incentive in the club-buying decision, confusing the brand and the product is an easy thing to do. Once you build up the enthusiasm you need to promote what you make or sell, the logo sometimes gets big enough to block out the product.
 
Let's hope, then, that we never see The Southern Company Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, or anything remotely like it. Not doing everything it has the power to do allows golf to claim some of the little higher ground left in sports.
 
* * *

Speaking of names, it still steams me that Nabisco didn't see fit to keep Dinah Shore's name on an LPGA event. Same for AT&T and Bing Crosby.
 
OK, so I'm living in the past. But things seemed right when celebrities had their names attached to golf tournaments. It sewed a thread of history and consistency through the game's generations.
 
Face it: Calling the Masters Tournament the same thing year after year has helped maintain its stature.
 
The same could be said for the old 'singers' and comedians' tournaments.' And modern sponsors could work some good combinations. Crosby's name could be happy alongside AT&T's, and a whole new generation could learn about Der Bingle's importance to the game. The Greater Hartford Open would be a nice way to remember Sammy Davis Jr. for a weekend. Would more people come to the Honda Classic if it had some of the panache of its Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic days?
 
I'm a big Moon River fan, so I vote for a return to the Andy Williams-San Diego Open at Torrey Pines. And who can forget the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, now the FedEx St. Jude?
 
Well.at least we still have Hope. Thanks, Bob. And thanks, Chrysler.
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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm