Of Sponsorships Affordability and Mango-Scented Towels

By Adam BarrJuly 26, 2002, 4:00 pm
Thoughts for a summer afternoon:
The Sponsor Dance: Its true that sponsorship churn on the PGA Tour seems more volatile than in a typical year. But this isnt a typical year.
Even before September 11, years before as a matter of fact, companies of all sizes were beginning to scrutinize their promotional spending. As business has become more competitive, corporations have tried to learn to live with the fact that corporate entertainment is necessary but not very measurable. You can never say with certainty how many sales are pushed along by glad-handing and booze-pouring ' but you can certainly write them off if you dont do it.
So its no wonder that some sponsors are becoming more circumspect with the dollars (anywhere from $3 million to $6 million) it takes to put ones name on a golf tournament. Add September 11 concerns and the Dow free-fall to the mix, and it makes sense that a lot of sponsorships would be in flux.
The PGA Tour is run by experienced executives, so it's persona is that of a large corporation ' in other words, the kind of entity people love to hate these days. But dont blame the Tour for shifting sponsorships. Under the model the Tour has been using for years, sponsorships are sold at the local level by tournament organizers. The Tour uses its Rolodex and business savvy to help organizers get matched up with sponsors, if the locals need the help.
Its regrettable when an event such as Reno-Tahoe goes on life support, and everybody hopes it and other troubled tournaments will recover. But just like baseball and other major sports, golf is a business. And the economic cream rises to the top, as it should.
By the bye, the biggest loss in terms of tournaments with a rich history would be the Hilton Head event, now in peril because of the recent bankruptcy filing of former sponsor Worldcom, which had been under contract through 2006. But that event should be an easy sell. Lets just hope its to someone with a good auditor.
What the Market Wont Bear: Whens the last time you played an upscale daily fee? Greens fees above $100 may provide the country-club-for-a-day experience for those who are entertaining clients, or who have forgotten how many Porsches they have. But such courses dont get a lot of repeat play, and they dont offer a sustainable strategy for growth of themselves or the game.
Case in point: An industry friend told me he recently played at Meadows Del Mar near San Diego at the resident rate of $100. (He was the host for the other three. Do the math, and you get a pretty big pre-lunch nut right away.) He ran into a ranger who told him their foursome was the only one on the course at the moment, but that three or four others would be along later.
On the other hand, go 90 miles north and get in line at the always-jammed 36-hole facility at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, where players happily wait hours to play for a reasonable price. The two-level range is constantly full too.
What more evidence do you need as to what kind of courses need to be built?
I wont be happy until affordable course openings outnumber upscale daily fee openings four to one.
The Dimpled World: Speaking of affordability, the golf ball industry has been good at it for years. Were so spoiled by the breadth of choices that we take it for granted. Whether you go for Pro V1, HX Blues, Tour Accuracy and their competitors or multi-packs of balls aimed at the low-price-loving market, theres something out there for you.
Thats called responding to consumer demand. Course builders, are you listening?
Butbutbut: Its true, golf courses cost a lot to maintain. And owners constantly raise the excuse that they have to provide a lush carpet of green wall-to-wall, or they cant compete. While theres some truth to this, I doubt its a real problem for folks who want to play affordable golf. As long as it was mowed and I good condition, I never met a weed or a brown spot in the fairway that interfered with the fun of a well-struck ball.
Can I Have Mint?: The Ranger came around to our group yesterday about six holes in and offered us cold, wet, mango-scented towels. It was easily 97 degrees with about 98 percent humidity, so we eagerly accepted and put them around our necks.
Not to be ungrateful ' but who chose mango?
Oh, and if this is one of those things that jacks up the greens fee, keep your towel. Ill bring my own. Minus the mango.
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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.