Will the Golf Industry Abandon the PGA Show
That was the pronouncement of a 30-year industry veteran over dinner Saturday. His experience drapes him in rich, solid credentials, the kind you get and maintain by not making such statements lightly.
And as he said it, his voice blended sadness and realism. He echoed the suspicion of many who believe that the golf industry has evolved past trade shows, or soon will.
Nothing about the outward appearance of this years show, the 49th of its kind, betrayed a hint of obsolescence. There were aisles and aisles of shiny clubs, spanking new balls, desirable bags, handsome clothing, and more. Smiles and handshakes passed freely between old friends and new. There was energy in the air and a spring in many steps, even those who said attendance felt off compared to other years.
Full Coverage of the 2002 PGA Merchandise Show
Nike introduced new clubs that quickened the pulse of anyone who loves the classic look of forged irons. Titleist showed us Son of Pro V1, along with some forgings of its own. Golf writers spent the early part of the week clobbering drives with Pings TiSi Tec, Clevelands Launcher, TaylorMade-adidas 200 Series, and a number of other drivers. True Temper showed off a new BiMatrx and a very light steel shaft, the TX90.
But before the show even began, the industry knew that Ping had decided to be absent starting next year. Ping executives explained privately that they had no quarrel with Reed Exposition, the company that bought the show from the PGA of America in 1998. They simply did a cost-benefit analysis and decided that their marketing dollars could be better used (deployed is the fashionable marketing-speak word for it) on other programs.
Its a hard decision to argue with. Ping has for years brought retail accounts and clubfitters to its facilities in Phoenix to show them the operation from top to bottom. They share the stage with no one, and everyone leaves with a clear and comprehensive understanding of how Ping approaches the golf business.
They also leave with new or solidified relationships with the Solheims and other Ping staffers. Thats what Ping execs are referring to when they say their show decision involved more cost effectiveness than can be measured in dollars. Callaway executives, who in 2000 started inviting press and retailers to a major company event in October, agreed.
The difficulty of finding quality time at the PGA Show for relationship building has been a topic of evening conversation at the last four or five shows, and it all stems from a kind of embarrassment of riches. There are so many good people in this little industry, and so many interesting products to see, that it seems as if there is an average of 38 seconds per person an attendee wants to see. That sentiment is nearly universal now, from sales force to manufacturers to golf pros to press.
Pings determination earned the praise of top competitors such as Titleist and Callaway, each of whom turned up the volume on perennial cries for examination of show strategy. Wally Uihlein, president of The Acushnet Co. (which owns the Titleist, Pinnacle, FootJoy and Cobra brands), promised an evaluation of his empires plans within three to six months.
Smaller exhibitors, some of whom nonetheless cover 10,000 square feet of booth space, renewed the annual complaints about being nickel-and-dimed to death by elevated fees for space rental, drayage, and even vacuuming of the carpets. They also reported ' although none wanted to be quoted ' that Reed executives are already talking about rebates as a tactic to try to avoid a rapid exodus from the show.
That threat is real. When manufacturers began to abandon the Las Vegas PGA Show after 1999, those who still attended compared the atmosphere to a flea market, or at least a setting not worthy of the premium golf equipment industry.
In a world banded by bundles of communications cables, books full of scheduled flights, and wireless backtalk, perhaps trade shows dont work well for small industries. Golf equipment will certainly be popular, subject to economic cycles. By this time next year, well see if Orlando is still the industrys Broadway.
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.
Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:
Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)
What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.
Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.
Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.
Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.
Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.
Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:
Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry