Putting Out from the Show

By Casey BiererJanuary 28, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 PGA Merchandise ShowORLANDO, Fla. -- Another PGA Merchandise Show is behind us and by all accounts it was a good one.
Traffic was reported to be very high on the first day continuing in to day two with traffic lightening as expected on day three. There was no day four this year. The Show was intentionally shortened to three days in an effort to compress traffic and in so doing, increase the intensity.
According to Ed Several, VP and General Manager of PGA Worldwide Golf Exhibitions, the plan worked. The Show has been fantastic this year. When you looked down the isles you saw nothing but huge crowds. The most important thing from our standpoint is that the exhibitors are very happy because the customers came this year and there was a buzz. And I think the excitement felt at the PGA Merchandise Show this year is an excellent indication to everyone that 2007 is going to be wonderful for the golf industry.
My impressions are one thing. Ill give those to you at the end. Just as important are the impressions of people attending, exhibiting and working the show. Lets start with a few of the exhibitors.
We had two booths this year at the show, says John Steinbach, Director of Corporate Communications for TaylorMade-adidas Golf. On the TaylorMade side it was all about introducing new products like the Burner driver and the R7 SuperQuad. This part of the show for us was about demonstrating, educating and listening to customers. We werent concerned with writing TaylorMade orders. On the adidas apparel side it was about order writing. We introduced a new line which was extremely well received and we wrote a ton of business. And asked of his overall opinion of the show this year John responded, Excellent. The traffic was high and thats what we really look at. I would say the show had a buzz and people looked to be genuinely engaged.
Jay Russo is the Managing Director of P3 ProSwing, a company that specializes in making an affordable, full service swing analysis and simulator system. He was all smiles. The PGA Learning Centers took a look at all the swing simulators available in the marketplace today and chose ours to become the latest edition to their Technology Partner Program so we couldnt be more pleased with that.
Absolutely incredible, says Dena Cuppett, Marketing Manager for Trion:Z. A year ago we were giving away the bracelets and we were mobbed. This year we charged wholesale and we still had people waiting in line to get a hold of the product. Trion:Z says their minus-ion properties counteract the Positive Ions created by modern technology, daily stress, and physical activity. They use Gauss therapeutic medical grade magnets to get the job done. About the show being one day shorter than last year, Dena says, I wondered how shortening the show by one day would affect things. I actually think it was a good thing. People seemed to be more focused to get done what they had to get done because there wasnt that fourth day.
Connie Little, Director of Marketing and Product Development for Nancy Lopez Golf couldnt have been more pleased. This is our first time here since re-launching the brand under our new Canadian ownership. We had Nancy here doing autograph signings and the response to her being here and to the new product just couldnt have been better. Overall it was a very successful experience for us.
You know, this show was off the charts for us, says Jon Claffey, Director of Marketing for Nickent Golf. The show came at a great timejust after Jeff Quinneys great performance at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic where Jeff made that amazing hole-in-one on the 17th hole on Sunday. A lot of people saw that. We launched our new 4DX driver here along with continuing to showcase our popular hybrids. And the traffic was incredible. Like several other companies this year, Nickent chose to participate in the Demo Day on Wednesday and take out space at the Equipment Testing Center in the Convention Center rather than take booth space on the floor. Jon Claffeys report card on that decision; We came in a little bit of a smaller role this year. Our main interest was for people to hit our products. The Demo Day certainly allowed that to happen and the excitement has carried over here to the Equipment Testing Center. So, we couldnt be happier.
Moving on from exhibitors I talked to Sally Sportsman, a veteran public relations director in the business of representing clients who exhibit at the show. This show was one of the best Ive seen. There was a lot of serious business being done here this year. The exhibitors, I think, were noticeably pleased with the amount of traffic and the quality of traffic. And really, thats the litmus test that is used to determine the success of a show. So from that standpoint I think it was a homerun.
And of course there are personalities galore that come out for any number of reasons. I caught up with tennis great Ivan Lendl who is now a self-proclaimed golf addict. He was at the adidas apparel booth and told me, It is amazing what has happened with technology not only on the golf club side but on the apparel and footwear side as well. When I played competitive tennis I was wearing cotton everything and sweating like a pig and my shirt weighed five pounds when I took it off. Now with materials like adidas ClimaCool I can play golf in the hottest weather and my body feels still very comfortable. Where was this stuff when I really needed it?
Show girls are one of the real bright spots of any industry trade show. The PGA Merchandise show is no exception. These very beautiful women are hired to stand in exhibitors booths and attract the attention of passersby so that they, well, dont pass by. This has been really awesome this year,' says Ashley Smith, one of the Bullet Golf girls. The show is enormous. I dont know how people get to see everything. I was working at my booth so I didnt really get a chance to see that much stuff. But people looked pretty busy and happy. I wanted to know what Ashley thought about being stared at so much by people walking by; because trust me, people must have been staring. You know, it goes with the territory. Thats kind of my job. I try to attract as much attention as I can so that people stop at the booth and check out what we have. I think I earned my money this week.
Next up on the docket, Joseph and Ruth Balulis, owners of Marquette Trails Country Club in Baldwin, Michigan. Theyve been coming to the PGA Merchandise Show for 42 years. I started attending these shows back when they were in West Palm Beach, says Joseph, and it was just a tent in a parking lot with people showing stuff out of the back of their cars. To see what it has turned in to is just amazing. The number of vendors is really something. I mean, look at all the companies here showing their products. Ruth told me, I kind of miss the fourth day. The fourth day allowed us to come in the afternoons for two of the days and we liked that. But you know, times change so we just kind of go with the flow.
Now heres the flow of my opinion. This 2007 PGA Merchandise Show rocked. The energy was high, the exhibitors were fired up, and the attendees were there, I felt, not because they had to be but because they wanted to be. In years past that has not always been the case.
There were certainly some hot stories like shape geometry in drivers. To square or not to square; that was a big question. And whatever side of shape you come down on no one was arguing that increasing MOI (moment of inertia) is an element of club design that will increase in intensity as the limits of size and COR continue to be addressed by the major golf manufacturers.
It was a show of unabashed enthusiasm for new golf fashion. Personally, I cant remember seeing more people crowded in to the apparel company booths. And interesting to me was the attention paid to even smaller companies where in the past, perhaps, the giants of the business got the lions share of traffic. Dont get me wrong. You needed elbow pads to get through Nike, Greg Norman, adidas, Cutter & Buck, and Izod; just to name several. But there was high interest paid to companies youve never heard of as well. Thats a sign, in my opinion, that entrepreneurs are seeing an opportunity for growth in golf and that cant be anything other than a good sign.
And finally, how can I resistthe Show girls. Very well done this year to all of you exhibitors who hired the attention getters; those wonderfully beautiful girls with fantastic smiles who welcome people in to the booths and get the conversation rolling. A special shout out to Aspen wherever you are.
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    Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

    South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

    Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

    Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

    Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

    Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.

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    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.