Is Wall Street the Next Natural Step for Natural Golf
THE STOCK MARKET, NATURALLY: This doesnt seem like the time to launch a new golf stock, but instruction/equipment company Natural Golf is seriously considering an initial public offering this spring.
For five years, weve been concentrating on customer acquisition programs, said Andrew Wyant, Naturals president and CEO. It costs us anywhere from $20 to $50 to get a customer who will fall in love with our program, and then turn around and attend our schools and buy our clubs and other products.
For Natural, which teaches a simpler swing based on a wider stance and fewer moving parts, a particularly successful new program involves seeding the market with free demo videotapes. Radio, print, and television advertising support the initiative. Any money raised in an IPO would be used to finance the media buys necessary for a widespread message, Wyant said.
The only problem: Finding an underwriter for an IPO of this size, which Wyant admits is chump change in the big-dollar world of stock launches. But hes not giving up: Natural has a survey that shows interest among its own customers would generate enough subscribers to raise $100 million ' and even if half of those responded overenthusiastically, it would be enough for Natural to meet its needs, Wyant said.
CLEVELAND ROCKS: Relying on numbers from industry metrics leader Golf Datatech LLC, the folks at Cleveland Golf claim product growth in three categories in on-course and off-course golf shops for the November-December measurement period.
In woods, Cleveland went from 2 percent market share in dollar sales to 6.8 percent, which put it in fourth place. In irons, dollar share went from 4.5 to 6.7 percent, making Cleveland the No. 5 maker. And in wedges, Cleveland extended its domination from 31.5 percent of dollar sales to 38.5 percent.
Cleveland execs say the TA5 model irons led the iron growth; they expect the momentum to continue with the new TA7 irons, which the industry saw at the PGA Merchandise Show last month.
2001 ROUNDS DOWN SLIGHTLY: The rounds played report from Golf Datatech and the National Golf Course Owners Association showed a 1 percent drop for U.S. rounds last year, even after a relatively warm December that had some regions up as much 561 percent compared to the previous December.
Winning regions for the year: South Atlantic (West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida), up 1.6 percent, and East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama), up 1.5 percent. Losers: West North Central (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas), down 5.1 percent, and New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island), down 3.1 percent.
JUST A THOUGHT: The driving distance wars between golf equipment manufacturers and the U.S. Golf Association will seem like a schoolyard brawl if someone invents something that makes the ball go not longer but straighter.
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.
Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.
The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:
The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.
For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.
But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.
Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":
Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.
Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.
The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.
“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.
In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.
“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”
Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.
“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.