ANOTHER TRY AT TAYLOR MADE-MAXFLI? As usual, no ones talking out loud, but theres plenty of golf industry whispering lately about another potential union between TaylorMade-adidas Golf and Maxfli. (Astute merger watchers will recall that the two companies talked before, but decided to step back from the altar.)
TaylorMade has allowed its three-year-old golf ball brand to languish recently. President Mark King said at the 2001 PGA Merchandise Show in February that the company would accomplish some key objectives in clubs first, then look to balls.
And accomplish it did. TaylorMades 300 Series woods have sold well in a down golf economy, and have made their mark on the PGA Tour. Question is, would acquiring Maxfli help TMaG get it done in golf balls?
Maxfli has made a recent splash with its new A10 golf ball, which has already been used by 13 winners on various pro tours, including Se Ri Pak and Robert Allenby. And many in the industry respect Maxflis technology and R&D, which produced the popular Revolution model.
But Maxflis overall market share has slumped to the six- to seven-percent range in recent years. Some see the brand as just keeping its head above water in the marketing storm whipped up by well-heeled competitors Nike, Callaway Golf and Titleist.
British capital group CinVen, which bought Maxflis parent, Dunlop Slazenger from BTR (now Invensys) in 1996 for 330 million, has long been rumored to be looking for ways to unload Maxfli. By one estimate, golf accounted for 60 percent of Dunlop Slazengers 200 million (about $300 million) in annual sales last year. Tennis and other sports made up the difference.
TRYON HITS (UP) TARGET: New young pro Ty Tryon of Orlando, Fla. has signed an endorsement deal with retail powerhouse Target Stores. Tryon, who made the cut as an amateur in two PGA Tour events this year (the Honda Classic and the B.C. Open), turned pro in August, even though he is still a junior at Orlandos Dr. Phillips High School.
Tryon will wear the Target bulls-eye logo. Hell also work with designer Mossimo Giani (whose first-name-only clothes used to adorn David Duval) to come up with a line of youthful golf and leisure wear.
SPALDING WARNING: A Tuesday message warned customers of Spalding Sports Worldwide not to get the wrong idea if they read reports that the company wont make the October interest payment to major bondholders. Spalding has decided to take the 30-day grace period allowed under the terms of the bond while it negotiates the possible recapitalization of the company with a group of bondholders. That would also involve major debt restructuring.
Spalding assured customers that the news has nothing to do with the liquidity of the company, and products and payments will flow in the normal course of business.
No word yet on whether the Spalding warning is code for an impending positive changes for Spalding ' but watch this space.