Good PGA Show during tough times

By Casey BiererFebruary 1, 2009, 5:00 pm
2009 PGA Merchandise ShowORLANDO, Fla. ' By George, theyve done it again. Another successful PGA Merchandise Show has been staged at the Orange County Convention Center. But, not without its share of apprehension on Thursday morning as the doors opened to credentialed industry professionals. Given the state of the economy domestically and indeed around the world, would people come? And, if they came, how many would come?
We expected attendance to be down a little bit, said Ed Several, VP and General Manager of PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions. The economy, of course, isnt the best right now. But, people in the golf industry have a reputation of rallying to a cause and supporting the game and the business. I believed all along the show would be a grand success.
Thursday was a little quieter than in years past; however, on Friday the elbow bashing barometer ' the universally accepted trade-show indicator that measures how many people smash in to you as you make your way through the miles and miles of exhibition space ' was on full bash.
Overall, we enjoyed a very productive PGA Show, said Jeff Fiorini, General Manager of grip manufacturer Golf Pride. There is no question that the industry is filled with a great deal of apprehension about the future. However, we are fortunate to be able to carry a great deal of brand momentum from 2008 into this year. Our product line has never been stronger. Our exposure on Tour has never been better. Again, we are bullish on our ability to come out the other end of this downturn with an even stronger position of leadership in the golf grip category.
Titleist was back at the show this year after an absence from the party, and by all accounts, quite pleased by the experience. 'As a stakeholder in the industry, we attended the PGA Merchandise Show to showcase and launch our new products, especially the New 2009 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls, and to better connect with our partners,' said Peter Broome, VP of Business Partnerships, Acushnet Company. 'We were able to take advantage of the multi-dimensional opportunities such as the Titleist Experience presentations, product expert workshops, and Demo Day, in addition to exhibiting on the Show floor.'
According to Michele Szynal, VP of Public Relations for Callaway, the company is pleased. 'For Callaway, the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show was a great opportunity for us to showcase our innovation ' not just our equipment. And, for us, Demo Day is the best part of the Show ' it's where you separate true innovation from marketing hype,' Michele told me.
Speaking of Demo Day, the hands-on outdoor golf gear head extravaganza ' of which I am a proud participating gear head ' was in full-swing on Wednesday. HeyI couldnt resist. Orange County National was once again the venue. The huge 360-degree driving range (look up huge in the dictionary and there is a picture of Orange County Nationals driving range) was active with vendors and attendees alike.
We love participating at the demo day, Cindy Herington of Adams Golf told me. We think it's a great addition to the show and a fantastic way to experience and test out new product. It's also great to meet and talk to all of the different people involved with the product ' R&D, marketing, custom fitting, salesthe team of people that make Adams Golf such a special company.
As an aside to Adams Golf, they sponsor 2008 Remax Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski. He was at Demo Day making a special appearance in the Adams Golf hitting area. Remember I told you that the Orange County National driving range is circular in design? Well, normally this isnt an issue. It measures well over 400-yards across so whos going to hit you from the opposing side, right? Apparently they didnt count on Jamie showing up to hit balls. Using his baby driver, and on more than one occasion, people on the other end of the range had to scatter to avoid Jamies incoming. He seemed quite pleased with himself as well. Now granted, it was a little down wind, but, come on. Thats HUGE! Art Sellenger, Jamies Pinnacle Distance Team teammate told me that Jamie wasnt going to be able to use his competition driver that day because hed hit it too far. Baby driver, 400-yards, and a nice kid besides. Geez, Louise.
I digress. Nike Golf pulled out all the stops at Wednesdays Demo Day with the appearance of two major champions, Suzanne Pettersen and Trevor Immelman. Both Nike athletes used their valuable time in a very up-close and personal way sharing their thoughts on equipment, demonstrating swing technique, and openly and honestly answering a wide range of questions thrown their way. It was a really refreshing forum, and, Trevor was particularly impressive in his forthrightness; certainly a highlight of Demo Day and the whole show week.
Wrapping things up on Saturday, I had the chance to speak with PING veteran Pete Samuels. PING is celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year and Pete reminded me that PING has been at virtually every PGA Merchandise Show since the event had its humble beginnings in 1954 in Dunedin, Florida. Its kind of neat, Pete tells me, John Solheim, Karstens son, can remember helping his dad put together a little tent in the parking lot in the early days of the show. And, a tent was the equivalent of a big booth today, because, most people showed their wares out of the trunks of their cars. To think that PING has come all this way and that we have done so hand-in-hand with the PGA of America and the PGA Merchandise Show is a very rewarding thing.
Some final thoughts of mineits tough out there, make no mistake about it. The back-bone of the economy is busted big time and its going to take a long time to fix. There will be consolidation in the golf industry this year and in to next. Major leading golf companies and smaller ones alike have had and will most likely continue to have lay-offs. Its painful, we all feel it, and it isnt going away any time soon. But, I agree with Ed Several: people in the golf industry rally. The golf industry and the business of golf are resilient by nature. Tigers absence certainly hasnt helped the cause and his return will be welcomed by all. It should give the entire world of golf a much needed boost.
In the meantime, I felt a positive atmosphere at the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show. The people who did come meant business, they were there to do business, and they did. I spoke to many vendors who told me they wrote much more business at the show than they were expecting. This is in line with the adage that 20% of the buyers do 80% of buying. This seems to ring truer than ever this year in these tough economic times.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''