HUGHES IN AT TAYLORMADE: Soon after taking over Maxfli late last year with a five-year deal to distribute the Maxfli and Slazenger golf brands, TaylorMade-adidas Golf has plucked some of Maxflis top marketing talent as well. Edward Hughes, who has steered Maxfli marketing since 1997, will now handle it as global general manager, effectively running all TaylorMade-related golf ball operations.
You wont see changes so much from a logo perspective, Hughes said, but weve changed the company structure. The changes are more related to the investment in the business and research and development. Now, of course, we have the R&D staff in Carlsbad [whereTaylorMade is headquartered] working on the business.
And well see a good bump in our tour presence; TaylorMades belief is that the tour is central to success.
Another advantage: TaylorMades ownership by adidas, the second largest sporting goods company in the world, with its expertise in athletic fabrics, could help Slazengers apparel line make a run at Nike.
Under the new setup Dunlop Slazenger Group will manufacture TaylorMade, Maxfli and Slazenger balls at Maxflis Westminster, S.C. plant, and TaylorMade will get them to market. Now Hughes will stop working for Dunlop Slazenger and report directly to Jim Stutts, TMaGs CEO. TaylorMade will also assemble Maxfli clubs.
WATCH THAT TOUR COUNT: As if TMaG didnt have enough to keep its people busy ' that tour presence Hughes mentioned will be a big priority this year. Expect to see some new endorsement signings for dollars in the 70 thousand to 250 thousand range, as well as pool payments to any player who tees up with TMaG woods, irons and even putters.
How much money is on the table? Last year, TMaG pumped up the PGA Tour count of its 300 Series drivers with weekly payments of $1,500, say industry sources. No word yet on the level of 2002 tee-up payments for other TMaG clubs.
Even though there will be a few big names on staff, the primary focus will be on high tour counts rather than icons, said a TMaG insider. That strategy, which requires losing some expensive endorsers to free up money for broader use, will lead to premium-segment dominance, TMaG believes.
In the endorser exit column: Lee Janzen, a six year TMaG veteran. Hes likely to sign a new deal with MacGregor Golf as early as the week of Jan. 14.
MACGREGOR TO UNVEIL NEW TECHNOLOGY: Not sure which model Janzen will be playing, but MacGregor will be pinning a lot of hopes on its new V-Technologies clubs at the PGA Merchandise Show, Jan. 24-27 in Orlando, Fla. The weight-moving design puts more mass behind the hitting area, MacGregor says. Its available in forged and cavity-back irons, as well as specially weighted woods. Staff player Jose Maria Olazabal has already won with prototypes, MacGregor says.
STRATEGY CHANGE AT MIZUNO?: Clubs from Japanese golf power Mizuno have been the most-used irons every year on the PGA Tour since 1994. But it never paid staff endorsers to use the clubs, so the company could take only limited advantage of its prominence.
That may change, though. A Mizuno executive in the United States who requested anonymity said the company may have to take on some name players to continue to compete. As with TaylorMade, Mizuno hopes to finalize some deals during the week of Jan. 14.
PRECEPT GETS OUT THE INK: In the midst of efforts to capitalize on the 2001 success of it soft-core MC Lady golf ball, Precept Golf has signed Justin Leonard to play its Tour Premium LS ball. Its the first ball change for Leonard since his career began; he was on Titleists staff. Matt Kuchar also signed up to use the ball, as well as Precepts Tour Premium driver and irons and a Precept glove.
Not that Precept is forgetting its soft mission: Golf writers have received sample packages of the new Laddie ball, which is presented in a yellow box with a cow on the front, and four quarter sleeves inside ' soft as butter. Get it?
GIVING NIKE THE SHAFT: Club genius Tom Stites, who cut his teeth working for Ben Hogan, designed Nikes new golf clubs. So you know hed be a stickler about whom he chose to make the shafts. Two of the winners are Fujikura, which claims the most popular shaft on the PGA Tour in 2001, and Graphite Design International, both of which are based in the San Diego area. Fujikura will supply graphite shafts and offer selected models for Nikes custom wood program. Graphite Design will make shafts for two models of forged titanium Nike drivers.
ROUNDS WAY UP IN NOVEMBER: Unseasonably warm weather was probably what helped rounds played numbers skyrocket in November versus November 2000. The monthly tally issued by industry metrics leader Golf Datatech and the National Golf Course Owners Association showed rounds up everywhere but California (where they were down 7.6 percent).
For instance: 106.4 percent in the East North Central region (Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio) and 241.7 percent in West North Central (the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri). That makes the respectable bump of 46.3 percent in the Middle Atlantic (Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey) seem modest.
Rounds in the United States overall were up 25.3 percent for the month, but still down 1.3 percent for the year through the end of November.
NEW CAMERON WEBSITE UP: Fans of Titleist putter guru Scotty Cameron can learn more about Acushnets milled metal master and what he does at a new website, www.scottycameron.com. Thats also linkable from the Titleist site, www.titleist.com.