The Other Side of the Show

By Brian HewittJanuary 29, 2009, 5:00 pm
2009 PGA Merchandise ShowORLANDO, Fla. ' The line for Dr. Gary Wirens seminar in meeting room 102A of the Orange County Convention Center on the first morning of the PGA Merchandise Show Thursday was out the door. All seats were taken. And veteran teaching pros filled unoccupied space by sitting on the floor in the aisles.
 
The subject was The Ten Most Important Lessons Learned in 54 Years of Teaching. And No. 1 on the list was, We need to Market as Well as Teach.
 
We need to sell people on how they can enjoy golf, Wiren said. And, he emphasized, this message was more important than ever in these difficult economic times.
 
The PGA of America had rolled out a blueprint on how to deal with the harsh financial downturn last November. And Wiren, among others, was all over it right out of the box Thursday as necks craned and pros hung on his every word.
 
Wiren is a PGA of America Master professional and a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame. While most of the sizzle at the Shows first day was out on the merchandise floor, seminars for teaching pros took place most of the day.
 
Wirens message was echoed later Thursday morning in another conference room where the PGA of Americas CEO, Joe Steranka, and the organizations president, Jim Remy, conducted an invitation-only round table discussion.
 
Whats important now, Remy said, is to go back and re-visit our occasional customers.
 
Yes, Steranka said, many of the topics for the close to 70 seminars offered to club pros and scheduled over the three days of the Show, were tailored to help deal with the stresses of a damaged economy.
 
This is a critical time for the golf industry, Steranka added. In relative terms, I think golf is going to do better than many industries.
 
Better, Remy said, if golfs teachers meet the challenge of getting players outside and into the game. Its a wonderful sport, Remy said. Its about a ball and a stick. And you cant play it on a computer.
 
Every year at the Show club pros attend seminars to earn Member Service Requirements (MSR) to maintain their active status in the PGA of America. Every three-year cycle members must earn a minimum of 54 MSR credits and 12 of them must be about continuing education.
 
The seminar subjects vary widely and some even sounded intriguingly amusing. A few examples:
 
Rules ' You are the Expert, The Power of Special Orders, Natural Disasters ' Be Prepared, and the ever popular, Shrinkage ' Oh Those Missing Demo Clubs!!
 
Wiren has been filling seminar meeting rooms for years at the Show. And, in case you were dying to know, the topics of his other nine most important lessons were, in order:
 
Have flexibility in your teaching approach; Keep it simple; Strive for mutual commitment; Make it fun; A holistic approach of mind and body; Learning tools and drills make the difference; More time on short game; Golf is most certainly not a game of perfect; and finally: Teach more than golf, leave a legacy.
 
Remember, these are tips for teachers not, necessarily, for players. Members arent tested at the end of the seminars. But attendance is verified.
 
One of the great misconceptions about the PGA Merchandise Show is that it is open to the public. It is not.
 
Another misconception is that club pros are there mainly to place orders for their inventory later in the season. They are also there for the seminars.
 
Theres also a perception among a few that the Show is an excuse for old friends to plan dinners and swap stories over drinks into the wee hours. As one wise man once said, Its hard to negotiate with a hangover.
 
And, who knows, there might have been a few people nursing their wounds at Wirens seminar Thursday.
 
But all of them were paying attention.
 
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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.