Five Europeans you meet at the PGA Show


The extravaganza which is the PGA Merchandise Show is over for another year. I’m not much for gizmos and gadgets and new technology doesn’t turn me on as much as it does others. For me, the show is more about the people, than what is on display, so in this column I thought I would focus on some of the folks I caught up with last week, whilst keeping the European theme.

Anthony Netto

Netto is a British national who grew up in South Africa and now lives in Germany. A qualified PGA pro, Netto’s life was turned upside down by a terrible car accident in his early 20s. Confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Netto has made it his mission to help others in a similar position. He has developed a wheelchair which allows the user to get into a standing position, thus making a proper golf swing possible.

Netto was at the show working with an organization called Vets Help. He has made several trips to VA Hospitals throughout the U.S. and has been brought to tears with what he has seen. Through Vets Help, he hopes to give wounded veterans a chance to play golf. He’s an inspirational man and if you are wondering what restrictions the chair has, he did manage to drive a ball 345 yards at a clinic during the Deutsche Bank Championship last year.

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Nick Bradley

Bradley is the British golf coach who aided Justin Rose to the No. 1 spot in Europe in 2008. He’s also the author of the best selling book, “The 7 Laws of the Golf Swing.”

Nick is working on a new instructional book, which will follow the cutting edge theme of his first, and the new one is due out later this year.

He also tells me he’s working with a new shaft puring technology which will be able to add roughly 10 percent to your distance just by treating the shafts.

Sounds good to me.

Nigel Mangan

Mangan from Ennis County, Ireland set a new world record at the Demo Day last week by striking 7,721 balls during a 12-hour period.

I stopped by the record attempt midway through the day and Mangan looked like a machine striking golf balls in a monotonous rhythm, which obviously did the trick.

His hands looked very sore at the halfway point so no doubt he’ll be suffering for a while. Mangan was raising funds for wounded soldiers and hopes to break the 24-hour record in the not too distant future.

Sandy Jones

Jones is CEO of the British PGA and this week he celebrates his 30th year with the organization. Over dinner, he recounted memories of when the show was held in a hotel with each room being a company’s individual booth, how times have changed.

Jones’ legacy for the PGA in the UK seems to be his commitment to teaching and nurturing talent into the game. Some of the fruits of his labor can be seen with the influx of young British players on the European Tour. Jones has also been instrumental in the development of the modern day Ryder Cup.

Anna Nordqvist

The forgotten hero of 2009, the Swede won a major and the Tour Championship on the LPGA despite starting the season with limited status. Yet, she still didn’t win rookie of the year.

Nordqvist has recently made the move to the Orlando area from her Scottsdale base having attended ASU. She is now closer to coach Henri Reis, longtime swing guru of former world number one Annika Sorenstam.