TIGER IRON WATCH: Its no surprise that the press turned up the fire under the constantly simmering rumor that Tiger Woods is about to switch to Nike irons. Woods was in Dallas last week for the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic, just down I-20 from Nike club designer Tom Stites, whose office is in Fort Worth.
So of course, Woods got together with Stites during tournament week in the relatively quiet Fort Worth setting of Shady Oaks Country Club, the old stomping grounds of Stites former boss, Ben Hogan. Woods tested some different Nike drivers (he has had a Nike driver in the bag for some time), and hit some irons as well. But Nike execs have kept mum about when the big switch might come.
Tiger switched to a Nike golf ball on one 2000 trip to the Deustche Bank event on the European PGA Tour, so its a fair bet many eyes will be on his bag this week in Heidelberg.
Although Woods is still playing the Titleist prototype irons he has been using since 1998, he has no endorsement deal with Titleist. Nikes endorsement contract with Woods is said to be worth as much as $100 million over five years; he signed that latest deal with Nike in 2000.
PING BAGS PATRIOTS: Not the Super Bowl champs, although that might be a good idea. Ping, which in addition to its reputation as a club company maintains a good name in bags, offers its Hoofer2 carry bag in a patriotic style that has been popular lately. The bag has four-way full-length dividers, seven pockets, and padded shoulder straps. It weighs less than five and a half pounds. Due in golf shops next month, it will retail for around $180.
GRASS ROOTS CAREER-BUILDING: CourseCo Inc., a Petaluma, Calif.-based management company that operates daily-fee courses in Northern California, is teaming up with Castlemont High School in Oakland, Calif., to give disadvantaged inner city kids a look at possible careers in golf course and turfgrass management. The Oakland Turfgrass Education Initiative will give the students a chance to study with experts at the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
Were trying to plant the idea in the minds of inner-city kids that they can have jobs in places they never considered possible before, said Raymond Davies, CourseCos director of golf course maintenance and construction. Davies is spearheading the program for CourseCo.
So far, 80 kids have signed up.
LATE SPRING RAINS? BAH! Avid golfers tend to play in anything less than a hurricane. Knowing this, FootJoy has added a new DryJoys Tournament Pullover to its outerwear line. This garment features the same lightweight, quiet waterproofing system used in the DryJoys rain jacket, FootJoy says. It also has snap-off sleeves and FootJoys trademarked cinching system for adjusting the waistband. And the whole thing folds into itself to become a belt bag when the rain stops.
The pullover will hit shops in June; suggested retail will be $170.