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Web Street Golf Report


Monday, December 28, 2009

OUT WITH OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW: It may be an understatement to suggest everyone is eager to close the books on 2009. It has been the most difficult year in recent memory for a wide variety of reasons. The most obvious one was the economy. Hopes are that 2010 has a friendlier one waiting in the wings for all.

To say it was an unusual year is equally an understatement. No one could have predicted how the final weeks of 2009 would be dominated by news coming from tabloid sources. Not that anything was actually reported with respect to the game just the private life of its most distinguished member. Nevertheless, this chapter can’t come to a close soon enough.

Looking back, golf in general fared better than a lot of other industries. It didn’t get a bail out package from Washington. Yet, odds are it likely would have accepted one had it been offered. The auto industry or banking business was presented with far greater challenges than golf had to contend with. Tournaments were staged and yet there were no bounced checks. Tiger came back better than ever after his knee surgery. Let’s hope the same can be said when he is able to repair his personal life. For the time being, the PGA Tour and golf itself has its greatest marketing asset on an indefinite hiatus.


Avid to passionate golfers continued to play, more or less depending on a case-by-case basis. It is generally accepted that the cumulative number of rounds played on a national basis was equal to 2008. But we have no idea what relationship price played in this equation. The early catch phrase making the rounds about 2009 implied that flat was the new version of up. The rounds played report fit the bill for the sake of this line of thinking despite anecdotal reports of members walking away from their private clubs. The latter point is certainly something no one would have seriously entertained before. Its unclear at this point how many courses closed up shop, a trend that also was experienced in the retail side of the industry? Will consolidation at either of these levels indicate a less is more application for those left standing. There will be those who float this idea as a means to suggest an area of growth exists, despite less than ideal playing conditions.

And consumers continued to buy new products during the year even when conventional wisdom suggested a tight fist should be applied to discretionary spending. The equipment companies, by in large, held their own in 2009. To date, two companies entered the year but essentially exited before the calendar was turned to 2010. Nickent went into receivership and Golfsmith acquired MacGregor. It is being converted to a house brand for it and the retailer is preparing to reintroduce the brand to consumers in 2010. But it will be confined to the retail space provided by its new owner. Equipment sales in 2009 came in lower as evidence by retail and equipment company sales reports released through Wall Street. However, the industry didn’t completely fall off a cliff as some may have privately worried. Price was employed as an equalizer. It bridged the gap between fear (towards the economy) and greed as it helped to stimulate sales to varying degrees. Consumers in turn were somewhat accommodating. Looming for 2010 is whether the past will influence the future. Will golf consumers be on the look out for a deal before opening up their wallets or simply spend on impulse? Value, which is open to interpretation, is most likely the new battleground.

The industry, now more than ever, could use the influence of a hot product. It would invigorate the retail landscape and perhaps even motivate consumers to play more frequently. However, equipment designers have been confined with the space available to them under the existing rules. While they have demonstrated a significant amount of creativity in their collective work, the challenge is the simple fact they have to find a way to create more from less. Golf’s ruling bodies have been active in recent years towards equipment regulations and equipment companies have demonstrated a propensity to live within these confines. How long can they continue to deliver incremental performance improvements before they run completely out of space?

Some businesses are talking up their prospects in such far away places as China, India or South America. Golf has often been considered by those who haven’t been bitten by its bug, as a game for the affluent. It remains to be seen whether new geographies will embrace golf or those with the time and money to populate it. Can it overcome cultural differences in places where it hasn’t been accepted before? The game gained inclusion into the 2016 Olympic Games so the possibility of government intervention towards sponsoring a nation to play is possible. But its a safe bet to say the jury is going to be out for a long deliberation before any clues can be uncovered to suggest or imply it has found a new hot spot of growth.

In hindsight, 2009 was ushered in with many challenges for the golf industry. Some were more apparent than others, but the industry that supports the game has survived. The economy is expected to pick up next year but no one is calling for a marked improvement even if there are soft numbers to be compared to. Unemployment levels are expected to start 2010 hovering around 10%. It remains to be seen whether this will improve by a significant amount thus allowing more Americans to fuel an economic recovery. As it was in 2009, the economy will still present a head wind for the golf industry in 2010. Perhaps it will change direction but no one knows its timing. It is shaping up early on to be another difficult year. But all businesses will be wiser from the lessons learned and skills acquired in 2009 to tackle 2010.

STOCK WATCH: It was an abbreviated trading week on Wall Street due to the Christmas holiday. But stocks enjoyed plenty of holiday cheer as the Dow Jones Industrial Average improved by 1.85% for the week. The S&P 500 advanced by 2.18% and the Nasdaq was higher by 3.25%.


TREATMENTS GET PINCHED: Luxury spa participants in the Spa STAR performance report continued to show declining performance metrics through the third quarter of 2009, according to data released by Smith Travel Research (STR). Spa STAR is a monthly report for hotel spas and day spas showing major performance metrics in the area of treatments, salon and retail and it is produced by STR.

Through September year-to-date, the Average Treatment Rate for the participating spas was US$146, a decline of 10 percent from the first nine months of 2008. For the same time frame the Average Daily Rate for luxury hotels tracked by STR decreased 17 percent to US$240.

Through September, treatment room utilization fell 3.7 percent to 29.8 percent. STR reported that luxury hotel occupancies for the first three quarters were 61.9 percent—12 percent below last year’s figure. Data from the Salon portion of the luxury spa report matches the declining trend in Treatment room performance. Through September, the Average Salon Rate declined 3.1 percent to about US$62.  For the same period, the average salon station utilization declined 12.5 percent to 20 percent.

PLAY YOUR BEST: The Grand Cypress Academy of Golf in Orlando, FL., has introduced the new Tee & Tutor Package. Each teaching professional will be assigned to just two students, who each receive a round of golf for every night’s stay in The Villas of Grand Cypress as part of the Package.

Available through March 31, 2010, the Tee & Tutor Package, begins at $490 (per golfer, based on double occupancy; two-night minimum stay required) and includes:

• Two nights in spacious Club Suite accommodations

• Two rounds of golf

• One-hour lesson at the Academy of Golf

• Reduced greens fee for additional, same-day play also is provided, with the cart fee waived for guests of the Tee & Tutor Package (based on availability).

Extended stays begin at $245 per night, per guest (double occupancy). Single rate of $335/guest/night is also available. An upgrade to larger accommodations may be available for an additional fee plus tax, per night, based on availability. For additional information access the web site at or call (877) 330-7376.



Last Updated (Thursday, 28 January 2010 11:56)


Web Street Golf Report


Monday, December 21, 2009

BUCKING THE TREND: There are preliminary indications the U.S. economy is headed towards higher ground. There are others, perhaps labeled skeptics that are taking a wait and see attitude. But its generally believed that 2010 will be better than 2009. The looming question on everyone’s mind is by how much?

The PGA Tour has fared better than most businesses in 2009 and is clearly the shining light in what was an otherwise dismal golf industry. It was insulated by previous deals it had in place that extended into the current year and in some cases beyond. “On the business side of the equation, our biggest concern, of course, for now over two years has been the economy, not just generally the economy, but in our case the impact of bankruptcies and things of that nature that have created challenges,” PGA Tour Commission, Tim Finchem said. “But as we're now coming to the end of the year, I can report that we've had actually not just a good year in terms of the sponsorship area, I think an incredibly positive year,” he added. How many can raise their hand and echo his comments? That said, the work in its past has protected it in a difficult climate. It remains to be seen whether it can continue on its current pace or whether the past will catch up to its business model as well. It would appear to be the exception by dodging the issue of the global economy. However, it doesn’t necessarily insure it won’t have future challenges with pricing in its future discussion with networks and sponsors in trying to drive purses higher...

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? Young children each and every day learn or play the game, I Spy. It teaches us to look for even the smallest of details to try and deceive our opponents. Its been said many times the devil is in the details and that can be the case when it comes to golf. Perception is often considered reality and many times it comes down to sight that initiates this process. That said not everyone necessarily sees the same things. That can be good or bad, depending on your perspective.

Dr. Ryan Caserta knows a thing or two when it comes to the eyes. He believes the brain interprets what its fed, which is initiated by unfiltered eyesight. Despite the many positive thoughts sports psychologists attempt to impart on athletes, the dye is cast in most if not all instances based on what the eye picks up and sends to the brain.

An athlete himself with tennis as his sport of choice, Caserta played in college and went on to be an all American. However, his mental side, he said, let him down when he tried to make a living playing the game. “I could hit ball for ball with Pete Samprass,” he said. “But I couldn’t do what I did in practice at Wimbledon.” He went back to grad school and began researching sports performance as he worked towards a PhD. “My research kept coming back to the eyes,” he said. “Functions are tied to the eyes and then to the body the more and more I studied.”

Today most of his professional time is spent working with golfers; professionals to avid players who simply want to improve and win. “We live in a visual world,” he explained. “Sight is the only sense that touches every portion of the brain and many of us don’t think about our sight,” he added. In fact, when you stop to think about it, no one is taught how to see. Infants to toddlers may be pointed in the direction of something and parents often articulate what they think the child is seeing. But as the game I Spy illustrates, we don’t always see the same things, at least not immediately.

Caserta is passionate that by training eye movement it can make an impact on athletes and their performances. “Based on medical science, the eyes are wired the same way for everyone,” he shared. “In other words, signals are transmitted the same way back to the brain.”

Not that long ago golfers flocked towards the Odyssey 2-ball putter. The design spawned many variations from other manufacturers as consumers were drawn to the unique shapes. The 2-ball putter was commercially successful for several reasons, but it essentially was tied to its alignment feature. In other words, it was and remains a visual aid that promotes proper alignment, which can lead towards confidence in making more putts. Caserta’s principles are related and those who have entrusted his help have seen results.

Several PGA Tour players have worked with Caserta, some he said, preferred not to be identified. Aaron Baddeley won the 2007 MasterCard Australian Masters the week after receiving Full Swing IMPACT Program. Cameron Beckman won the 2008 Open approximately two months after receiving Caserta’s Putting IMPACT Program. He was out close to two months with a back injury and then worked with Caserta, won, and avoided Q-School.

However, this year’s USGA Amateur Champ may have experienced the biggest impact.

Ben An, a junior golf All-American who has committed to play college golf at the University of California, became the youngest champion in the 109 year-history with a 7-and-5 victory over Ben Martin, 22, of Greenwood, S.C.

An entered Dr. Caserta’s Putting IMPACT Program and the subsequent results speak for themselves. An forced a playoff at the Rolex Tournament of Champions and ultimately finished second. He finished sixth at the Western Amateur stroke play event, making it to the quarterfinals of the Match Play. He earned medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur Qualifier therefore gaining his entry into the event, which he went on to win. With the prestigious victory, An will play in 2010 Master’s, U.S. Open, & British Open!

Results are difficult to achieve in anything in life and golf is certainly not an exception. The road less traveled can sometimes provide the path other methods haven’t been able to. Caserta’s services offer three different areas that players can work on. Putting, short game (50 yards and in) and the full swing are the areas he focuses on. With the help of a proprietary piece of equipment, Caserta is able to follow the pupil and cornea to record movement and what the eye itself sees. Through this experiment he is able to analyze what a player is influenced by prior to striking a putt or hitting a ball.

For those who may exhibit a healthy level of skepticism towards the principles, Caserta offers a two-hour assessment where individuals can sign up without making a further commitment to any of the other services he offers. His eye tracker equipment will either fuel the skepticism or convert someone to see something they hadn’t before. For anyone who falls into the latter category and decides to pursue the service further the assessment fee is credited towards a future purchase. “Everyone wants quick hits,” he acknowledged. “I’ve researched how many specific hours it could take to learn something and retain it for a long time. You can’t cheat the eye tracker and you won’t find it anywhere else,” he said.

Caserta mentioned a related topic, which has an application to golf. “I read some recent research at UC Davis on eye movement tied to traumatic experiences. It had to do with people who had been to Iraq and it was tied to their conscious past as well as their subconscious past. There are many things we are not aware of that our eyes pick up. If it’s a traumatic experience there are many examples where we wipe it out of our memory,” he explained. The tie in to golf, he said, is the infamous errant shot that suddenly appears in a given round when a player has been sailing along and playing well. “Eye pattern movement can recall a past that our subconscious mind has hidden or buried,” he said. “If we learn to control our eyes in the right way through training we can prevent these occurrences from happening.”

Its been said many times, seeing is believing. Anyone up for the challenge? For more information visit Dr. C’s Sports Expertise Consulting web site.

A NEW LOOK: It appears there will some on the European Tour sporting a new look starting soon. Several Callaway Golf staff players are expected to switch their driver models to the FT-iZ. The yet to be introduced or announced model is the latest to build off of the company’s Fusion platform. No word when its to become available or its expected retail price point, all though its likely to reside in the higher end of the retail spectrum as its forefathers have in the past. Have a look for yourself to see what others are saying about it as they give it a test drive.

IS NIKE’S BUSINESS TIGER-PROOF? NIKE, Inc. (NYSE: NKE) reported its financial results for its fiscal 2010 second quarter that ended November 30, 2009. Among its Other Businesses unit, which includes Cole Haan, Converse Inc., Hurley International LLC, NIKE Golf, and Umbro Ltd. revenues increased 1 percent to $556 million. Earnings before interest and taxes were up 65 percent at $35 million. Company policy doesn’t provide for a break down of revenues for each specific business. According to Nike, sales at NIKE Golf were below the prior year, but it didn’t say specifically by what amount.

On the company conference call to Wall Street analysts, the subject of Tiger Woods was the first question asked with regard to whether it would impact the golf division’s business.

Mark Parker, NIKE, Inc.’s President and CEO, fielded the question but as perhaps expected didn’t provide much clarity on the topic. “ Nike has about a $650 million golf business, which, as you know, like the rest of the broader golf market, has really been among the most impacted or probably hardest-hit segments of our business, particularly in this economic environment, over the past year,” Parker said. “That said, I want to quickly add that we feel very good about how we are managing our golf business through this period and our position in the broader golf market and then, certainly, with our confidence in our growth potential going forward there. The only thing I'll say right now about Tiger is that we all know that he's chosen to step away from the game, and out of respect for his time and space he needs, that he's asked for, we'll respect that and we'll continue to support Tiger and his family as we, of course, look forward to his return.”

The rogue media reports swirling around Woods has turned towards his corporate relationships. Nike has been steadfast in their support towards him and Parker offered some further insight into the company’s belief structure in its wide ranging business arrangements.

“Relationships we have with athletes, with teams, are really critical in developing the insights that we need to fuel the product innovation that really distinguishes us in the marketplace, and ultimately the overall business performance of the Company. That has hopefully been loud and clear in terms of our messages through many, many years. So this is a strategy that works. It's helping Nike win and continue to win in the marketplace, not just over this last year, but also over these last 37, 38 years. And I think it's one that will continue to help us extend our leadership as a company,” Parker stated. “I will say that we continue to also look at, or consider the economics of these decisions that we make with regards to sports marketing, as we do, frankly, all of our investments. And the reality is that we participate in an open market and -- along with all the dynamics that go with that process. Ultimately, we make those decisions based on the opportunity we believe we have to drive the brand, the strength of the brand, the business and ultimately shareholder value. And I can tell you that that will certainly not change.”

NEW SPONSORS: Long Drivers of America (LDA) announced that Dick’s Sporting Goods would be its presenting sponsor. The new name of its power golf’s premier event is “The RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship powered by Dick’s Sporting Goods.” Also Slazenger Raw Distance, the brand is owned by retailer, has become the official golf ball brand for LDA-sanctioned competitions, including the RE/MAX world finals, beginning in 2010. Financial terms of the deal were not revealed.

Additionally, in a major restructuring, LDA announced that the 2010 RE/MAX world finals would feature competition in the following five divisions:

Super Seniors (50+)

Grand Champions (55+)

Legends (60+)

Masters (65+)

Ladies (All ages)

Competitors in those five divisions will forgo local and regional qualifying rounds. They will pay an entry fee of $800 (payable at the time of registration) to compete in the 2010 finals at Mesquite Sports and Event Complex.

“We’ve tightened age groups, expanded divisions and brought back the ladies,” noted Art Sellinger, LDA’s chief executive officer. “We think these changes will appeal to some of our most dedicated and competitive long drivers. It’s going to be exciting to see them in action again.” A breakdown of the 2010 championship purse will be announced in the spring.

COMPLETE MAKE OVER: Tom Hoch Design has more than 250 projects to its credit in the golf industry and hundreds of others in recreation and hospitality has been selected by Tulsa Country Club to create a masterplan for the renovation of its 65,000-square foot clubhouse. Located just west of downtown, it opened in 1908, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, and has hosted more USGA-sanctioned events than any other course in the state of Oklahoma. Rees Jones, who has a long history of working with U.S. Open venues, is remodeling the original, A.W. Tillinghast-designed golf course.

The Tom Hoch Design masterplan for Tulsa Country Club encompasses the clubhouse interior, exterior and site immediately surrounding the building footprint. The components will be tied together via a timeless Frank Lloyd Wright “Prairie School” architectural motif characterized by low, horizontal lines and hipped roofs that blend with the landscape.

YOU’RE NOT GETTING OLDER, YOU’RE GETTING BETTER: Greg Norman at the age of 54 has agreed to endorse Cybex International, Inc. (NASDAQ: CYBI), a manufacturer of exercise equipment for the commercial and consumer markets. The Great White Shark, as he has been referred to over the years, will also be the official ambassador for the CYBEX Golf Fitness platform.

As part of this multi-year agreement, 54-year-old Norman will serve as a CYBEX spokesperson, participate in strategic marketing initiatives. He will also appear on behalf of CYBEX at the Golf Industry Show, February 10-11, 2010 in San Diego, California.

The company is hopeful that Norman’s association will help to move the needle for its business, according to Larry Gulko, CYBEX Chief Marketing Officer. “Given Greg’s longstanding devotion to CYBEX, it’s tremendous to have him endorse our brand. The relationship will help fuel our growth globally, within and beyond the golf, country club and resort markets, while also enhancing brand equity for both enterprises.”

STOCK WATCH: For the week, the Dow fell 1.4 percent; the S&P 500 index fell 0.4 percent, while the Nasdaq bucked the trend as it rose 1 percent.


ON THE RISE: AAA is projecting 87.7 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more away from home during the year-end holidays. This is a 3.8 percent increase from the 84.5 million Americans who traveled during the same Christmas / New Year period one year ago, and is the largest projected increase for any major holiday this year.

The number of travelers by automobile is expected to be 77.7 million in 2009 compared to 74.4 million last year; an increase of 4.4 percent. The number of travelers by air is expected be 4.2 million compared to 4.1 million in 2008; an increase of 2.9 percent. The number of those traveling by “other” means, including, trains, watercraft, buses and multiple-modes of transportation, is expected to be 5.8 million compared to 6.0 million last year, AAA said. Last year, the total number of travelers during the year-end holidays was 84.5 million; a decline of 4.7 percent from 2007.

“More Americans traveling during the winter holidays is another sign consumers’ are continuing to grow more confident in their personal financial situations,” said AAA’s director of Travel Services, Glen MacDonell. “The moderate projected rise in the number of air travelers this holiday period is especially welcome since the airline industry was hit especially hard by the recession.”

AAA’s projections are based on research conducted by IHS Global Insight. The Lexington, Mass.-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA earlier this year as part of an agreement to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. For purposes of this forecast the year-end holidays travel period is defined as trips that include travel of 50 miles or more away from home during the period from Wednesday, Dec. 23 to Sunday, Jan. 3.

PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES: Eighty-eight percent of year-end vacationers are expected to travel by automobile, while five percent are projected to go by air. In November, the time when most people make decisions in regards to year-end travel, average gasoline prices were over $.50 more expensive per gallon than they were in November 2008. Despite these higher prices, AAA believes the impact of higher fuel costs on year-end travel will be minimal. This is because the average cost of self-serve regular gasoline remains well-below $3 per gallon, and because prices have been fairly stable since mid-October; staying between $2.60 and $2.70 per gallon on a nationwide average basis.

WHAT’S IT GOING TO COST? Americans are expected to spend approximately $1,009 per household on travel during the Christmas / New Year period. The largest average share of all spending will be on transportation and transportation-related charges. Approximately 11.6 percent of spending will go toward lodging. Dining will account for 17.6 percent of total holiday spend, while shopping will account for 17.6 percent. Entertainment and recreation expenses will account for 13.1 percent of the average travel budget.

Christmas / New Year travelers will average of 791 miles roundtrip this upcoming holiday weekend. An estimated forty percent of travelers will journey more than 700 miles round trip. One-quarter (25 percent) of travelers will log between 251 and 700 miles. More than one-third (35 percent) of travelers will travel 250 miles.



Last Updated (Thursday, 28 January 2010 11:54)



Web Street Golf Report


Monday, December 14, 2009

ONE COMPANY CUTS ITS TIES WITH TIGER: Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, announced that it will not continue its sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods. With ending its six year relationship, the company issued the following statement, “However, given the circumstances of the last two weeks, after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising.  Accenture said that it wishes only the best for Tiger Woods and his family.

Accenture said it would continue to leverage its “High Performance Business” strategy and “High Performance Delivered” positioning in the marketplace.  The company will immediately transition to a new advertising campaign, with a major effort scheduled to launch later in 2010.

MOVING FORWARD: True Temper Sports, Inc., has completed its financial restructuring plan, originally announced on September 30th. The plan, which was approved by the Company’s lenders in September, was formally confirmed by the U.S. Court in Delaware, and completes the Company’s debt restructuring under the court’s oversight. True Temper said over 80% of its indebtedness was eliminated. It also obtained a new revolving credit facility led by GE Capital.

“This is an extremely positive outcome for our Company, and the completion of our financial restructuring certainly marks the beginning of a new day for True Temper Sports,” said Scott Hennessy, President and CEO. “We are very well positioned for the future and a capital structure that will now enable us to accelerate our global growth initiatives. We are also pleased that our plan was fully implemented with no impact to our employees, customers, or suppliers; and that our underlying operations remained unaffected by this balance sheet restructuring.”

Hennessy also said his business appears to be improving. “It has certainly been a challenging year for the entire industry, but we are now seeing clear signs of recovery in our business,” he said. “The current level of demand is requiring us to increase our production output and recall a number of our furloughed manufacturing employees, as we expect this trend to continue. We are budgeting for a double digit rebound in sales revenue over the next few months, and substantial improvement throughout 2010,” Hennessy continued.

“The overall growth for next year should be driven by favorable economic and industry factors, in addition to our own new product line-up, which is arguably the most robust in our Company’s history. We believe True Temper is more than ready to not only maintain but to grow our leadership position for years to come.”

SHORT STROKES: Months after returning as a independent “boutique golf company” Bettinardi Golf has unveiled its 2010 new putter lineup, which includes the introduction of a new Country Club (CC) Series putter line. "We are eager to re-establish our brand presence and provide an authentic golf experience with unmatched products fully made in the U.S.A. and we’re equally committed to catering to the golfer and customer who wants the best of the best,” stated Bob Bettinardi.

The first-ever CC series model is a heel-toe designed putter finished in Satin Nickel that offers a customization component, an emblazoned logo on the sole of the putter to showcase a club, association or school. In addition, any CC putter created for a Club recognized as a “Top 100” will receive special engraving and a “Top 100” headcover. The suggested retail for the CC putter is 325.00

The 2010 BB Series includes five putter models, all plated with a black nickel finish. Each model in the series is milled with a single sightline to aid with alignment and has a three-degree loft. Every BB putter has a pistol style grip and a patented Black Bettinardi Head cover. The BB putter series (suggested retail 275.00) includes:

BB1: A traditional heel-toe weighted design has a rounded shape with soft edges throughout.

BB8: A sharper more sleek appearance with a neck that is milled in a heel basis position to promote additional toe hang.

BB25: A modern blade style, the BB25 is a fresh take on a traditional design with a slightly tapered body and a single flange further enhancing the 100% CNC milled flow neck.

BB26: This center shafted heel-toe weighted design incorporates elements from the BB1 but with a center shafted zero offset. The BB26 design is slightly thicker in appearance at address.

BB32: A face balanced mallet, this design has a classic pear shaped profile at address. The unique flange achieves maximum perimeter weighting, according to the company, for optimum performance. Its spud neck has a double bend shaft. Available in left and right hand.

ITS NEVER EASY: While the Obama administration is talking up the employment opportunities, despite an ongoing murky economy, one golf company was left with the difficult decision to reduce its head count. Callaway Golf (ELY: NYSE) confirmed it has made some changes to its internal staffing but would not reveal the actual number of employees that were affected.

“As part of an ongoing mission to optimize our structure and support Callaway Golf's long term business objectives, we recently instituted several changes that included reassigning a number of employees within the organization, as well as a reduction in workforce,” company spokesman Tim Buckman shared with Web Street. The contributing factors to the decision are believed to be the current economic conditions and consolidation in retail doors within the golf industry in 2009.

Meanwhile, one person has agreed to extend his stay with the company for an additional year. According to a recent filing with the SEC, George Fellows, Callaway’s CEO’s employment contract was extended to December 15, 2012.

BE SMART, WORK SMART: As the year winds down, 2009 has proven to be a challenging year for nearly all businesses and industries. With it soon to be viewed through the rear view mirror, many lessons for future years may be an indirect result and perhaps benefit for those living through it. The game has been changing in front of our very eyes. Costs and efficiencies are two staples for any successful business, but given the unforeseen market conditions over this year and potentially lingering into 2010, the two points can never be understated. Finding a way to create greater results with less to work with has become the new business strategy many are faced with.

Never-Search, Inc., a software publisher, believes it can help generate greater productivity for sales reps. “While we already know we have the most accurate golf course locations of any map, we continue to make it better,’ said Keith Kreft, President, Never-Search, Inc. “Golf sales personnel will enjoy the benefits of this invaluable sales lead tool immediately. With the Business Edition software, every piece of information about retail shops, driving ranges and golf courses are at their fingertips, allowing them to efficiently locate, qualify and contact golf facilities in new or unfamiliar areas, or run effective telemarketing or email campaigns.”

The company has recently updated its Business Edition version and a number of enhancements have been included. The nearly 30,000 business golf course email addresses, which appear on the map, are now categorized and prioritized. Categories include; CEO’s, GM’s and assistant GM’s, Directors of Golf, Pro’s and assistant Pro’s, Buyers, general information, administration and business contacts, Instructors, Superintendents and assistant Superintendents, Tournament directors, Event coordinators, FB managers, Membership directors, and tee times.

“In addition, we have also added subfolders for all of the off-course Retail Store chains having more than 10 stores,” Kreft pointed out. “This allows any combination of the 23 chains along with the independent retail stores to be individually selected for display on the map. The operation is identical to the golf course sub-categorization which allows the Private, Military, Resort, Municipal, Semi-Private, and general Public courses to be independently selected for display on the map.”

The newest course additions appear in a folder titled “Latest 250” to allow existing business customers who have already spent time qualifying courses in areas or territories, to easily identify and review the newer additions separately from courses they may have already spent time investigating.

“This has been a huge undertaking, especially with the number of course closures and course ownership and name changes, but I believe our customers will appreciate the new enhancements,” said Kreft. “It’s all about saving time, and improving efficiencies. Golf sales reps using our software are getting in at least one more call a day, so they are knocking on 20 to 30 percent more doors. Our proximity-based viewing cuts down on travel and planning time. In this economy, who can afford not to explore every niche and cranny… and do this effectively.”

Never-Search has also enhanced its Personal Edition, which includes a new folder that allows golfers to quickly find and identify courses with Golf Digest ratings between 5 and 3 stars, along with links to the Golf Digest write-ups on these courses. The golf course information boxes now display categorized email addresses for general information, Tournament directors, Event coordinators, Membership directors, tee times, and lodging. Guest policies for private clubs and resorts have also been added.

The Never-Search for Golf Personal Edition is available for $39.95, while the Business Editions range from $99.00 to $495.00 depending upon coverage. Both the Personal and Business editions are available from and existing subscribers only need to click on the maps Update button to refresh all of the golf information and receive the enhancements. Readers of Web Street can receive a 10% discount through the end of December on any new orders by using the promo word GOLFBIZ.

Customers can also download a free trial version of the product (credit card not required) or order a trial DVD if they prefer that installation method. Once someone has registered and downloaded the latest travel data, the software works with or without an Internet connection. The purchase price includes free updates of all the data for one year.

THINK GREEN: The Phoenix Open has gone from banking to waste management (some might argue they are in the same industry given the ways of the world in the past 12 to 24 months) with its latest title sponsor. The Thunderbirds and PGA Tour jointly announced that Waste Management, Inc. (WM: NYSE), the largest environmental services provider in North America, would be the sole title sponsor of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the new name for the FBR Open, beginning with the 2010 tournament.

“We are thrilled to have Waste Management on board as our new title sponsor,” said Thunderbirds Big Chief John Felix. “Our new relationship with Waste Management will allow the Thunderbirds to continue our philanthropic efforts in the Phoenix community for years to come.”

The Waste Management Phoenix Open will be a major platform for showcasing Waste Management’s Think Green solutions. "It is our plan to implement our service at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in partnership with the PGA Tour and the Thunderbirds and eventually turn this major sports event into the greenest tournament on the PGA Tour.  It is our plan to showcase practical reduction and recycling solutions and raise awareness about solutions that fans and communities can incorporate into their businesses and lives,” said David Aardsma, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Waste Management.  “We hope the fans will not only come to watch great golf but also get some tips on being green.” The agreement is said to be a six-year deal with Waste Management, Inc. Financial terms of the agreement will not be released. Waste Management, Inc., based in Houston, Texas provides collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services.

ME COSTA, SU COSTA: The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) has added a stop in the San Diego area to its schedule next year. The LPGA Classic Presented by J Golf will be held March 22-28 at La Costa Resort and Spa. “We are thrilled to once again showcase the best golfers in the world in the San Diego area,” incoming commissioner Michael Whan said. “The support of J Golf and a respected venue like La Costa Resort and Spa will go a long way toward making this a first-class event.”

The $1.7 million LPGA Classic Presented by J Golf is a 144-player event will be the third tournament overall, in 2010 for the LPGA season.

FOR THE KIDS: Cleveland Golf/Srixon has introduced a new Junior Series set of golf clubs for children, which will be available in three different sizes. It has been designed specifically for boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 14 years old. Each club features similar technology found in Cleveland Golf’s standard equipment and each set configuration has been modified to help fit the junior golfer into the most suitable head weights and lengths for his or her age and height. The driver, hybrid and irons have lightweight composite shafts to help reduce the overall weight to help generate club head speed. Each set also includes a lightweight, durable stand bag, which features a 5-pocket layout, integrated hip pad and dual carry strap.

The Junior Series sets carry a minimum advertised price of $119 for the SMALL set (3-6 yr olds), $149 for the MEDIUM (7-10 yr olds) and $179 for the LARGE (11-14 yr olds).

GET IN THE GROOVE: It hasn’t been the type of year many were expecting and 2010 looks like it might be a continuation of more of the same. One thing for certain is changing when the calendar turns the page to January. PGA Tour players are being told to change their equipment, specifically the grooves in irons that have 25 degrees or more of loft. This condition of competition passed down by the ruling bodies in the game ensures two different sets of rules will be in effect since the majority of players who maintain a handicap won’t have to abide by these same decisions. Confusion is a distinct possibility as Tour players adjust to their new tools and recreational players wonder how it might affect their game.

EIDOLON Golf Founder/President Terry Koehler has published, “The Spin Zone - The Real Truth About Grooves'' a 24-page ebook devoted to the subject. "Over the past year or more, there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation about the new grooves rule,'' said Koehler, a 30-year golf industry veteran. “ "While I have addressed this topic in my blog ( and speaking engagements, it was a pleasure to present a no-holds-barred book that strips away all of the misinformation and misconceptions surrounding the new rule and provides readers with the cold, hard facts. There is no other place where a golfer can get this kind of detailed information and background on one of the more important rule changes in the history of golf.''

The free ebook is available at, and golfers can participate in “The Great Groove Survey.” Koehler promises to share the results of the survey with golf’s ruling bodies and the media when enough results are tabulated to ensure statistical relevance. It represents the only opportunity the vast worldwide golf population will have to be heard on this issue.

DOWNSIZING: Standard & Poor's has announced some changes to its various indices. Three S&P 500 constituents will switch places with three S&P MidCap 400 constituents, and three S&P MidCap 400 constituents will switch places with three S&P SmallCap 600 constituents. Callaway Golf (ELY: NYSE) is moving to the S&P SmallCap 600 index. It was a part of the S&P MidCap 400 index. The transfer is necessitated due to a change in market capitalization. The S&P SmallCap 600 is represented by companies that have market caps below $500 million, while the S&P MidCap 400 are for companies between $1 billion and $3 billion.

STOCK WATCH: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10,471.50 on Friday picking up a 0.8% gain for the week. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index added less than 0.1%, while the Nasdaq fell 0.2% for the week.


FORGET WINTER, HEAD TO THE BEACH! On a budget? Looking for an escape? One location offers both for those who might be inclined to side step Old Man Winter, at least for a little while. The popular “Best Ever Golf School Package” offered by Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, S.C., has added a nine-hole playing lesson for free.

The package, which has been offered without a playing lesson since the summer of 2009, combines deluxe accommodations, golf on Pawleys Plantation’s award-winning Jack Nicklaus-designed course, daily breakfast, and three days of golf school at the on-site Phil Ritson-Mel Sole Golf School, which is currently ranked one of the top five golf schools in America. From now through February 24th only, the package will also include a 9-hole playing lesson, which is a $200 value.

The price of the “Best Ever Golf School Package” will remain steady at $799 per person for December, January and February. Based on double occupancy (taxes inclusive), it includes three nights accommodations in a luxurious one-bedroom suite, two rounds of golf with carts on Pawleys Plantation’s signature Jack Nicklaus course, three breakfasts, and three-days of golf instruction at the highly acclaimed, on-site Ritson-Sole Golf School. The free 9-hole playing lesson by a Ritson-Sole instructor will be conducted on the Nicklaus course.

“This package is an extraordinary value,” said Jann Walker, director of marketing at Pawleys Plantation. “ A playing lesson gives a golfer the opportunity to put what he's learned in the golf school to work on the course under the watchful eye of his instructor. That time on the course can be invaluable in terms of increased understanding of course strategy and management.”

Pawleys Plantation’s on-site golf school has several instructors including owner and Golf Magazine Top Teacher, Mel Sole. Class size is limited to four students to ensure plenty of individual attention. Unlike most golf schools, students are not moved to different instructors for chipping, putting, iron play, etc. Each class stays with its own instructor throughout all parts of the full swing and short game, and the resulting rapport and continuity means maximum improvement.

“A package like this would cost three or four times as much at any other Top 25 golf school,” said Walker. “Mel's commitment to making top instruction affordable is one of the reasons that Golf Magazine says the Ritson-Sole Golf School is one of the best values among America’s top schools.”

Additional information is available at or by calling Pawleys Plantation at (800) 367-9959. More information on the Phil Ritson–Mel Sole Golf School is available by calling (800) 624-4653 or online at



Last Updated (Wednesday, 03 February 2010 09:08)



Web Street Golf Report


Monday, December 7, 2009

NIKE IS SEEING RED: Nike Golf formally announced the introduction of its Victory Red drivers. Paul Casey was the first person to let the cat out of the bag about the new products through his Twitter account, which Web Street reported back in the September 21st issue. While news was leaked in September, the company formally announced it in December, but the VR drivers won’t be at retail until February 1, 2010.

Two versions will be waiting for golf consumers. One continues on the path of adjustability with a STR8-FIT Tour version, which collected its first win recently at the Omega Million Hills World Cup. Francesco Molinari used a 10.5 loft model at the event. The VR STR8-FIT Tour driver, according to the company, expands upon Nike’s STR8-FIT Face Angle Technology, offering 32 face angle positions to satisfy those who demand workability. For players who prefer a more traditional look, Nike has the VR Tour driver that features a smaller “pear-shaped” head size, 400 cc, and it is absent of the adjustability trait. The VR Tour also has a longer hosel than that of the VR STR8-FIT Tour, which some players may prefer.

The clubhead of both versions features a distinctive red Compression Channel that is located on the sole and is lined from the toe to the heel paralleling the face. The Nike Compression Channel increases the overall compression of the body, which produces increased, uniform ball speeds across the entire face, according to the company

“The Compression Channel technology takes the rigidity out of the sole and provides more flex in the heel,” said Tom Stites, Director of Club Creation for Nike Golf.  “By adding this technology, we have made the VR drivers more forgiving for the better players when they miss it in the lower zone of the heel.”

The VR STR8-FIT Tour Driver will be available in 8.5 (RH) and 9.5 (RH/LH), which are 440 ccs in size, while the 10.5 (RH/LH) and 11.5 (RH/LH) degrees of loft are 460 ccs. The VR Tour Driver will be made for right-handed players only in lofts of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees. Both models, according to the company, were designed for lower launch and spin rates.

The VR STR8-FIT and VR Tour will carry a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $479.99. Nike said Stewart Cink and Paul Casey put the new Nike VR Driver into play at Chevron, while Anthony Kim used the VR Tour model.

SOME THINGS CHANGE WHILE OTHERS STAY THE SAME: Lee Westwood has been on both ends of the spectrum in 2009. “I don't think I've ever been as disappointed having played well walking off a golf course as I was in Scotland in July,” he said. That powerful feeling left a lasting impression, which Westwood said he used for his future. “But rather than sort of take it as a negative, the fact that I didn't win the Open Championship, I tried to roll it into a positive,” he explained. Its doubtful when he left the grounds of Turnberry back in July that he could have been convinced of what was still to come as he ended the playing season as Europe's No. 1 player and the 4th ranked golfer in the world.

While Westwood used his past to shape his future, he won’t be tinkering with his tools of the trade as a new multi-year contract with his equipment company of choice, PING, was announced. "I've been with PING since my junior golf days," Westwood, a six-time Ryder Cup participant, said. "They've been a leader in innovation for more than 50 years. The confidence I have in their technology makes my job a lot easier. I can focus on winning tournaments knowing my product will perform at the highest level. Whether I'm in Europe, America or another part of the world, they look after my equipment needs on a daily basis. Their service is unmatched."

Westwood won the Dubai World Championship, a six-shot victory, using 14 PING clubs, including a G10 driver, i15 3-wood, Rapture V2 5-wood, i10 irons, two Tour-W wedges and a Redwood Anser putter.

"It's been an amazing year all the way around," said Westwood, who also clinched the year-long Race to Dubai title which crowned the European Tour's leading money winner. "My two wins and the consistency I showed to become Europe's No. 1 player again clearly make this my best year to date. To extend my agreement with PING at the same time brings me great comfort going forward as I look to continue my momentum into 2010."

As part of the new agreement beginning January 1, 2010, Westwood's headwear will prominently display the PING brand on the front and back and he'll continue to carry a PING bag. "We've been fortunate to be a part of every one of Lee's wins as a professional," said PING Chairman & CEO John Solheim. "His loyalty to PING has helped elevate our brand worldwide as he's won in every corner of the world. His performance this year has been exciting to watch, and to see it culminate with his win in Dubai brings everyone at PING great joy knowing he'll continue to represent us in the years ahead." Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

EXPECT MORE OF THE SAME: Westwood reported he has been working with the new grooves that he and others on the professional worldwide tours will be required to play starting next month. According to the Englishman, the change won’t make a difference to the end result. “I have experimented with the new grooves, and to be perfectly honest, I saw a little bit of difference but not a significant difference,” he said. “I think Ping golf clubs are very, very close to the edge of being legal for next year anyway. I went and tested, and I've used my wedges for three or four months now, and I actually imparted more spin with the new wedges, with the new grooves, than I did with the grooves from this year that I've used for three or four months.”

The change in groove configuration is expected to have the greatest impact when playing out of the rough, but Westwood doesn’t believes the ultimate results are going to differ much. “Obviously I think they're going to make a little bit more difference out of the rough, and that's what they're (ruling bodies) trying to get at. That's the angle that they're coming from. I think the best players in the world will still be the best players in the world. The guys with the best short game will still be the guys with the best short game.”

The video below by Cleveland Golf helps to explain the upcoming rule change that takes effect next year on the worldwide Tours and the time horizons when it affects the rest of the golf population.

DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS: As the US economy has struggled; there are some circles within golf talking up its global opportunities. Its natural to draw attention to a different area if one is underperforming, even if the US market will weigh down the expected accomplishments elsewhere. With the IOC voting in the game for the 2016 Olympics, it has helped to fuel speculation that the rest of the world may in fact go crazy over golf. Part of the reason for leading some credence to this line of thinking comes from the power brokers in the industry speaking up about its global potential. Meanwhile, the World Cup of Golf was played in China recently, but it was easily overlooked due to the never-ending headlines surrounding Tiger Woods.

Italy won, thanks to the Molinari brothers, Francesco and Edoardo. It was the first time for the country to emerge victorious, even if it will never be confused for a hot bed for golfers. The brothers were realistic about their accomplishments with respect to how it would be received back in the homeland. When asked if their exploits would make the headline of the sports pages back in Italy over AC Milan, Francesco replied, “ Depending on the result of the football.” Not to downplay their accomplishment, the brothers were optimistic that they may help spur some further interest in the game back in Italy. “It's not going to be easy to overtake the football games, but I think it's going to be big obviously because any World Cup in any sport is really big. Hopefully the game is growing a bit more now with Matteo Manassero coming out this year, and I think it will definitely help to grow the number of golfers. And maybe even some of the people who don't play golf will be interested in this week,” said Francesco. “I think it will help get a lot of people closer to golf and maybe try and have a go at it and try and become golfers.”

Dubai has dominated the financial headlines; recently, perhaps not to the extent Tiger has with the gossip columns. However, despite several financial investments by Dubai and its affiliation with professional golf on the European Tour, it, like Italy, isn’t considered a growth spot for the industry other than from course design work. That may be curtailed in the months ahead as the area has some financial matters to resolve and its uncertain whether it has the funds to continue to spend on golf.

Meanwhile, the one country that has many buzzing is China, which was the host venue for the World Cup. Liang Wen-Chong and Zhang Lian-Wei, the team members of the Chinese team, were asked about their thoughts on the direction the game needs to go in their country in order to be successful.

“Since the game of golf has been announced as the official sport of the Olympic Games of 2016, we would like to see more and more junior golf development and training program supported in China,” said Chong. “Hopefully more and more junior programs will be supported by more sponsors that will also have the opportunity to develop more junior golfers, and maybe in the future, those golfers will be able to represent Team China to play in the future Olympics and the World Cup.” Wei added, “It's going to take a lot of support from everybody and a lot of sponsors and a lot of support from the government and the golf association, and hopefully everything has to be done to produce more junior golfers to be representing China.”

As far as what is needed aside from funding, Chong stated, “Both myself and Zhang have played a lot of tournaments overseas the last several years, and we believe that the standard of coaching in China is to be improved. Hopefully in the future the Golf Association or the other clubs will be able to bring in more and more high-profile and better standard coaching, international coaching, into China to improve the game of golf.”

While China may one day become a force in the golf industry either through player development or its commercial opportunities, it’s still very much in its infancy. It has the potential to one day rival the US, but for now there are many hurtles to overcome before the two can be linked in any way. In the meantime, those companies who compete on a global basis will have to make due without the potential any of these international countries may or may not one day produce. For those who track these companies that believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence another phrase might be more appropriate. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bushes...

KEEPING IT LIGHT: The name may be a bit misleading but it really shouldn’t be. Ping’s latest and lightest stand bag weighs in at 3.64 lbs., so the 4 Under name may be confused by some as the score it carries. But for those players who enjoy walking, the 4 Under carry bag will meet their needs thanks to a sleek design, made of a lightweight nylon material. Its internal bag frame provides tight leg retraction and the patented retractable strap system features dual sliding straps for easy adjustment and comfort. While the 4 Under goes skimpy on weight it doesn’t take any short cuts with its many features. Available in six colors to choose from it has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $135.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS NORMAL: Once upon a time, conventional wisdom suggested dress for success was an appropriate method to aspire for a higher standard of life. The 21st century resembles many aspects of yesteryear, yet it is indeed a different world than before. While John Daly touts Loudmouth clothing, perhaps he has another partnership in the making with Ogio bags. For those who are looking to make a statement (about themselves) or simply capture some attention, then the Utah based business has come up with something that could be referred to as visual schizophrenia.

According to the company, the impetus for the new look its offering comes from the modern golfer demographic representing a wider range of ages, incomes, and lifestyles that includes tattoos and tans, baggy surfer shorts and pin-thin slacks, crew cuts and mop tops. In a marketplace where it can be challenging with respect to standing out versus the crowd, Ogio isn’t afraid to make some bold statements.

"It's no longer the country-club-Polo-wearing crowd that's dominating the field," explains Tom Gocke, the company's global VP of golf. "Today, it wouldn't be shocking to find a foursome comprised of a C.F.O., a work-at-home Mom, a grad student and a tattoo artist.  They may have diverse styles, but they all share a passion for the game.   Our new line is designed to cater to their unique personalities while still delivering consistently solid performance on the course." Among some of OGIO's ground-breaking 2010 styles include: Apple: This bright natural green pops against gray and black backgrounds. Blackwatch Plaid: The game's most iconic pattern takes on a contemporary flair with a blue-on-green plaid interrupted with solid color blocking.

Cord: Wide whale stripes in cappuccino corduroy evoke the retro-chic style of the 70's. Hoth: Various shades of steely gray are teamed with a dusky blue in creating an urban camouflage look. Koi: Tonal black-on-black with a fluid and feminine pattern that blends subtle florals with soft perforated patterns. Ladapus: A modern spin on argyle teams gray and royal blue in a bold geometric. This one might be the crown jewel or else a favorite for anyone with ADD. Onslaught: Channel surf at high speeds, and grab random images from each station. Then stick these screen shots together in a semi-cohesive pattern.  The result, according to OGIO, is a visual onslaught for the modern golfer. Pladapus: A combination of turquoise, mossy green and black in a geometric design. Perhaps in an attempt to cash in on the box office, the company also has a couple of movie themes in its arsenal. Prizmata: If Transformers took time off to golf, this would be their on-course weapon of choice, OGIO said, an angular gray pattern shocked with red color blocking that looks like it could transform itself at any moment. Then there is Sherlock Plaid: It doesn't come with a pipe or fog machine, but this mossy green and orange combination looks every bit the part of its namesake nonetheless. You can’t make this stuff up, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities that there is a market for these products. There was a time when if you had to ask the price it implied in some minds that you might not be able to afford it. In short it was an arrogant statement intended to say if you really wanted something then you simply bought it. Well we know where that kind of thinking has lead us to in today’s economy. Nevertheless, my guess is that if anyone is truly interested in the price of these bags, they already know since the visuals haven’t offended them...

FUNNY BUSINESS ISN’T SO FUNNY: The long arm of the law has caught up with two men who are believed to have run a scam to profit from the popular Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. Lloyd Morris, of Deerfield, Illinois, and Marco Maggiore, of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, were arrested on November 23, 2009 and charged with money laundering, computer fraud, mail fraud and theft.

The Lincolnshire Police Department has confirmed these two individuals allegedly ran an operation that resulted in at least 88 victims and over $400,000 in damages. Its believed additional charges may be forthcoming.

Under the business names Iconic Concepts and Bellamax, Morris and Maggiore allegedly sent numerous email blasts to businesses and consumers offering logoed Pro V1 golf balls at extremely low prices. They then allegedly accepted numerous orders, including payment in advance, but did not deliver on the goods.  In addition to accepting payment for orders that they never filled, they also allegedly placed several orders with golf shops, took possession of the golf balls, and then never paid for the product.

“This is an unfortunate situation in which innocent people, including charities, corporations, promotional product distributors and golf professionals, fell victim to the deceit,” stated Joe Nauman, Executive Vice President, Corporate and Legal. “Unfortunately, in this case, the offers were too good to be true. We are an industry leader in protecting our brands, partners and consumers, and we will continue to be diligent in seeking the arrest and prosecution of those who attempt to damage them.”

The Lincolnshire Police Department has indicated that there may be other victims. Anyone who believes that they may be a victim in this case is requested to contact them directly at 847-883-9900.

ON THE PROWL: Puma is looking to grow its golf business. The company, which sponsors Geoff Ogilvy and rising star Rickie Fowler, announced the formation of Puma Golf North America, as the official distributor and licensee of Puma Golf in the United States and Canada. "Puma is committed to the golf business," said Bob Philion, Global Head of Puma Golf for Puma AG. "This move will take our business to new heights, strengthen our reach and focus our efforts with a core, dedicated team. North America is a critical market, and the formation of Puma Golf North America will bring us accelerated growth."

The new entity is the official licensee, responsible for the North American distribution of the brand's footwear, apparel and accessories to on & off course golf specialty, sporting goods and online accounts. "Golf is an important category for Puma and we are excited with the opportunity to build and develop the business, ultimately making Puma the most desirable golf brand in the industry," said Ted Fletcher, President of Puma Golf North America. "We will build upon Puma's existing success and momentum, maximizing the brand's marketing and sports assets and truly drive the golf category to a healthier and more robust business for the company."

SLOTLINE THINKS IT HAS WHAT IT TAKES: Slotline Golf announced the debut of the SSi-600 Series putters, featuring three models: SSi-691, SSi-692 and SSi-693. The 600 Series models incorporate the company’s “heel-toe” weighting system that uses multi-metals, including heavy Tungsten to produce high Moment of Inertia or resistance to twisting. The body of the SSi-600 models are cast and milled from Stainless Steel and possess two 15-gram Tungsten weights in the heel and toe, with a total head weight of 360 grams.

“The introduction of the 600 Series reinforces our commitment to establish Slotline as one of the premier putter brands in golf.  Based on independent testing, it appears the 600 Series is already being well received by the consumer,” said Chad Lehr, Product Manager, Slotline.

The SSi-600 Series putters, which are available in blade and mid-mallet, are offered in right-handed models only, 33”, 34” and 35” lengths, with proprietary mid-size Winn Grips and a premium head cover.  With an MSRP of $199, all three models will be available at green grass and golf specialty locations nationwide in December 2009.

GOTCHA COVERED: Sun Mountain is offering a 2010 Monsoon Jacket for only $85. Matching pants are priced at $65. The jacket is constructed with a windproof and waterproof microfiber shell that includes a Teflon coating, which Sun Mountain guarantees provides waterproof protection. Additional features include shoulder gussets for ease of movement, adjustable cuffs, zippered side pockets, an external chest pocket, shock-cord waist, and locking zipper pulls that stay securely out of the way

Sun Mountain President, Ed Kowachek said, “With Sun Mountain’s top-of-the-line stretchable, breathable, waterproof RainFlex at one end, and our emergency packable Provisional rainsuit at the other – the Monsoon fills a nice spot right in the middle.”

PLAY GOLF AMERICA: Looks like Tiger Woods isn’t the only one not playing golf these days. The national rounds played report for the month of October indicates golf was placed on the back burner in most regions throughout the country. Whether it was due to the economy or the weather, its unknown but the industry suffered a double digit drop off compared to a year ago, according to Golf Datatech. In its research finding, only the Pacific and South Atlantic regions were able to evade the double digit declines, yet on a national basis rounds played for the month fell by 15.9%. The upside to that news, it would appear is that the month had only a minor effect on the year-to-date results as Golf Datatech, with cooperation from the PGA of America, National Golf Course Owners Association and the National Golf Foundation, reported a 1% fall off from 2008’s levels. On the private facility level, rounds played in October were down 15.4% nationally for October, but only 2.1% for the year. To access the complete details or see how your area fared, click here.

A NEW CHAPTER: Herb Kohler, Chairman and CEO of Kohler Co., and proud owner of the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews has acquired Hamilton Hall, perhaps one of the most photographed buildings in the world of golf. Hamilton Hall, which opened, as a hotel in its own right in 1895 is a stately 4-story building of 45,000 square feet that overlooks the 18th green and fairway of the Old Course. It originally opened as the Grand Hotel to capitalize on the rapid expansion of St Andrews as a popular tourist destination for golf and sea bathing.

Thomas Hamilton is said to have commissioned the construction immediately after the Royal and Ancient Golf Club had rejected his application for membership. In an attempt to draw attention away from the Royal & Ancient, Hamilton constructed the much larger and more extravagant building adjacent to it.

During World War II, the hotel was requisitioned by the armed forces and never reopened as a hotel. Shortly after the end of the War, the hotel was acquired by the University of St Andrews and was opened as a hall of residence in 1949 under the name Hamilton Hall. In 2005, the University announced that it had sold the Hall as the result of an unsolicited bid and consequently the university session 2005-06 would be the last year Hamilton Hall would be open as a hall of residence. The building is one of the most famous in St Andrews as it was featured in the film Chariots of Fire and in global television coverage of the many golf tournaments played on the Old Course.

“We are excited about the development opportunities for Hamilton Hall, and appreciate both the support and enthusiasm the local community has for the property,” Kohler said. “We look forward to gathering input from the townspeople and the Fife Council as to what the name of the building should be along with its future use.”

Kohler Co. intends to conduct a “public consultation process” over the next few months toward creating a unique and economically viable product that will enhance St Andrews offering as the world’s premier golf destination. “Our priority is to complete the preservation of Hamilton Hall and return it to a viable and prominent position in St Andrews for generations to come,” Kohler said. “Our company has long demonstrated the passion and ability it takes to restore historic buildings back to great distinction.”

STOCK WATCH: For the week, the Dow rose 0.8 percent; the S&P 500 index added 1.3 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 2.6 percent.


LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?? Signs of a recovery for the U.S. hotel industry might be few and far between as 2009 creeps to a close. However, executives at Smith Travel Research (STR) think there are reasons for optimism in the future. An uptick for the hotel industry isn’t expected in the next six or eight months. But 2011 is another story, according to STR’s latest U.S. industry forecast.

“I wouldn’t call it optimistic for 2010, but it’s definitely optimistic for 2011,” said Mark Lomanno, STR’s president. “Overall conditions in the economy will begin showing significant improvement as 2010 unfolds, and that will help fuel a recover for the hotel industry,” he added.

“2009 has been an extremely difficult year, but in spite of that difficulty, the hotel industry has remained profitable overall,” said Randy Smith, STR’s co-founder and chairman. “There are a lot of individual properties in trouble, and we haven’t seen the end of properties in serious trouble, but overall the industry has continued to make money. This industry still makes money, and that’s more than a lot of industries can say.”

STR’s revised forecast includes some tweaking of its 2009 and 2010 outlooks, as well as its first look at 2011 for the hotel industry. Among its findings are:

Occupancy: 2009 will end at -8.8 percent (revised from -8.4 percent); 2010 figures will be down 0.2 percent (revised from -0.6 percent); and 2011 will be up 2.4 percent.

Average daily rate: 2009 will close down 8.9 percent (revised from -9.7 percent); 2010 will be down 3.4 percent (unchanged from previous forecast); and 2011 will be up 5.5 percent.

“In the current cycle, it’s increasingly easy to predict supply and a little easier to predict demand,” Lomanno said. “What is difficult is predicting rate growth … how aggressive the industry will be in raising rates is virtually impossible to predict.” Smith added, “As this thing hopefully starts to wind down, the industry will be well positioned for a recovery as the supply growth rate will drop. The question really gets back to room rates and how aggressively the industry can raise them. We’ve seen the worst of the rate declines,” he continued. “We’ll see some improvement on that front, but it will be difficult.”

Revenue per available room: 2009’s RevPAR will decline 17.0 percent (revised from 17.1 percent; it will drop 3.6 percent in 2010 (revised from -4.0 percent) before jumping 5.5 percent in 2011.

Supply: The number of guest rooms will end 2009 up 3.2 percent (revised from +3.0 percent); up 1.8 percent in 2010; and up 0.8 percent in 2011.

“The construction pipeline will mostly be built between now and early 2011,” Lomanno predicted. “There is a potential for that (2011) number to be a little lower. However, for that to happen, the number of removals from the supply will have to dramatically increase.”

Smith added, “There’s a constant drain on the industry to continue to support marginal properties. Properties that go bankrupt yet stay open and obsolete properties that should be demolished yet stay open are all drains on good operators of properties. Some way to close those properties would be a reward to all of the operators who perform well year after year.”

Room demand in 2009 will be down 6.0 percent (revised from -5.5 percent) before turning positive in 2010 at +1.6 percent (revised from +1.3 percent). Demand will grow 3.2 percent in 2011, according to the STR forecast. Demand recovery will start in the second half of 2010, Lomanno said. When demand growth reaches 2 percent, the industry will begin to regain pricing power, he added.

“Going into 2011 there certainly will not be much in terms of supply growth, and that will be a huge advantage for the industry,” Smith said. “Any demand growth will be exacerbated by the lack of supply growth. Plus, pent-up demand will prove to be a big stimulant for a recovery.”

While the executives have their eyes on some good news in 2011, they said the industry, as well as the overall U.S. economy, is by no means out of the woods.

“Clearly commercial real estate will be a second shoe dropping in 2010,” Smith said. “That’s going to be a process that will hurt demand for the hotel industry. A huge chunk of demand for our industry will continue to be wiped out as long as the construction industry is on its back.”

Smith said demand actually hasn’t changed much during the last couple of years, but because of the huge additions to the supply, the industry’s performance metrics have suffered.

“The demand is actually there,” he said. “What we have screwed up is the supply side and the pricing side.”

Uncertainty among small business owners over increased taxes and health-care costs will continue to hinder any recovery in the short term, according to Smith. “Those small business owners have to have a comfort level to be able to plan ahead for fixed costs, and when that happens they can then spend money on putting more people to work,” he said.

IT STILL COMES DOWN TO PRICE: The results of the October 2009 travelhorizons survey, a quarterly consumer survey of 2,200 U.S. adults co-authored by Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association, suggest that "value" will continue to be in vogue in 2010.  According to the survey, 53 percent of all U.S. households are planning at least one leisure trip between now and April 2010, down slightly from the 56 percent who stated the same intention in October 2008.

Concerns about "the household budget" remain the primary deterrent to future leisure travel, cited by 39 percent of those not planning a trip.  However, the incidence of this concern is now at the lowest level since the question was first included in the survey.  Among those planning to travel, the expected average number of leisure trips that will be taken during the next six months is up to 3.0 from 2.8 in October 2008.

The outlook for business travel remains mixed, with only 18 percent of adults planning at least one business trip, including business trips to attend business meetings and conventions, between now and April of 2010, essentially unchanged from the 17 percent recorded last July.  Expectations with respect to the average number of business trips may provide some encouragement, however, as this number has increased steadily throughout the year, rising from an average of 3.3 in April to 4.8 in October.  This average is being driven up by a relatively small percentage of the overall population of business travelers though:  only 6 percent intend to take "more business trips" during the next six months, and 24 percent expect to take "fewer trips."

The overall Traveler Sentiment Index, a derivative of six different variables measured in the survey, suggests that demand for travel services is likely to be flat during the next six months.

Among the six variables from which the index is derived, only one is currently moving in a positive direction:  "personal finances available for travel."  The other five variables have declined from the levels recorded in July 2009, with the expected "quality of travel services," "affordability of travel" and "time available for travel" declining the most.



Last Updated (Wednesday, 03 February 2010 09:11)



Web Street Golf Report


Monday, November 30, 2009

IT’S A SMALL WORLD: It’s been more than a year since the financial crisis first emerged. While most of the world was caught off guard by the impending financial disaster, the hope has been that the worst is now out of the way and better days are indeed ahead.

While the US enjoyed its annual Thanksgiving holiday, news surfaced in another powerful region of the world on the credit front that is disturbing. While some within the golf industry have been touting certain geographies, notably China, India and Latin America, as growth initiatives due to pending inclusion in the Olympics, Dubai, which has already invested significantly in golf, we now find out, is in financial trouble.

Dubai World and its many tentacles have announced a six-month standstill on the company's debt. The Dubai Department of Finance said in a statement, “As a first step, Dubai World intends to ask all providers of financing to Dubai World and Nakheel to ‘standstill’ and extend maturities until at least May 30.” In the near term the decision is believed to affect a $3.5-billion bond that Dubai World real estate subsidiary Nakheel (the world’s largest privately held real estate company,) was scheduled to repay next month. Dubai World may seem like a world away, especially for golf, but it is closer to the industry than what may appear on the naked eye.

Established by Dubai World in July 2006, Leisurecorp specializes in the development of premium golf and lifestyle destinations. In addition to Jumeirah Golf Estates, considered to be the world’s largest golf community, Leisurecorp’s portfolio includes Turnberry, one of Scotland’s premier golf resort and host of The Open Championship 2009. It is also involved with Pearl Valley Golf Estates, a South African residential golf community and home of the South African Open Championship. Jumeirah Golf Estates is considered Dubai’s premier residential golf community and home to Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and Pete Dye golf developments. Norman’s Earth course was the venue for the recent Dubai World Championship and the season-long Race to Dubai on the European Tour. Leisurecorp is also a minority owner of Troon Golf, a global luxury golf management, development and marketing company, and investor in GPS Industries, which provides GPS-enabled technologies for the golf industry.

Dubai World, a state-controlled company, is believed to have $59 billion in liabilities. It is also a major sponsor to the European Tour.

Earlier this year Nakheel took over Leisurecorp, the development company which signed the original five-year contract to sponsor the European Tour, which has been reportedly valued at approximately $50 million a year. The figure is believed to include the $20 million prize for the Dubai World Championship/Race to Dubai, as well as marketing costs and other related expenses involved in the agreement. Lawrence Donegan explores in the Guardian the potential future of the financial relationship and what it may mean to the European Tour. As recently as November 18th, George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, expressed his confidence that the prize fund for the Race to Dubai wouldn’t dip in a year’s time. The odds of that now happening would appear to have grown.

Since the news first broke, actions are said to already be underway to attempt to explore the sale of some of Dubai World’s assets. The Daily Telegraph in the UK has reported bankers have been appointed to work on the restructuring. Among the assets expected to be on the chopping block, according to the Telegraph, is the Turnberry hotel and golf courses.

CLUB CHECK: The R&A has developed an online club database with respect to the impending changes in the Rules of Golf relating to Grooves. Produced in conjunction with the USGA, the Informational Club Database is a searchable database of all irons and wedges, as well as hybrids and fairway woods with lofts of 25° or higher, which were in production prior to January 1, 2010 and have been submitted to, and evaluated by, either The R&A or the USGA.

“The purpose of the database is to assist golfers and Rules Officials in determining the status of their existing clubs, when evaluated against the current Rules of Golf and the new groove and punch mark specifications,” said David Rickman, The R&A’s Director of Rules and Equipment Standards. “It is important to remember that the new specifications do not apply to any clubs manufactured prior to 1 January 2010 and those clubs will continue to conform to the Rules of Golf for the vast majority of golfers until at least 2024. However, the new specifications will be applied at the highest level of professional golf next year, via a Condition of Competition, and it is important that we provide as much information as we can to players competing at that level and to those who administer these professional events.”

The database and full details of the new groove specifications and their phased introduction can be accessed in the Rules section on

IS THE GLASS HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL? Given the ways of the world, there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t like to know what the future has in store. That vein of thinking never goes out of style, but now more than ever it would be helpful to know what lies around the corner. Clearly, the golf industry is coming off of its most challenging year with the exception of the PGA Tour. A year ago it would have been scoffed at, if someone had suggested that some private clubs members would simply walk away from their clubs or that play in this segment decline. Even the powerful equipment makers are facing double digit revenue declines from a year ago and even worse many are reporting losses to shareholders. Perhaps the good news is that is in the past and with an economy attempting to bounce back, it just might be the tonic to get the golf business back on its feet again. While the US was the first region to catch the equivalent of the financial H1N1 flu, it quickly spread to other pockets around the world. As the old saying goes, it’s a small world. That can be a good thing or a bad one too depending on the application.

Some golf companies that compete on a global basis are hopeful that other geographies outside of Uncle Sam’s domain will help lead to a recovery. Time will tell, but Bruce Charlton, the man behind the curtain at Robert Trent Jones II, a premier golf course design firm throughout the world, offered some thoughts on new course developments.

“There’s a difference between the U.S. and rest of the world. In the U.S. there are projects to be had out there with people who have the wherewithal and the cash. There’s a movement within the industry for people to say, ‘Hey, this is a great time to build because you’ll never get a project done more inexpensively.’ And these people will have product ready to go when the economy changes. Enthusiastic people are getting projects ready and even under construction during these down times because they recognize the advantages of building now and getting ahead of the rest of the market,” he said adding that he has several Native American projects going — Sequoyah National just opened in North Carolina and another near Niagara Falls. Also on the docket are

The Patriot Course in Tulsa with renovation work just completed at Makena and Princeville in Hawaii, and at Mission Viejo, known as “Mission Impossible,” in California.

Charlton, President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and a supporter of environmentally responsible golf course design said the international markets are currently influenced by liquidity. “Internationally, I think there is more reliance upon typical financing models and going to a bank for a construction loan,” he explained. “But international banks aren’t releasing money very easily. We have seen a lot of projects fold their hands and say, ‘We’re going to wait,’ on even those projects already approved. Some international courses with financing components are having big problems because people will put an initial deposit down on a lot, but the banks won’t give them the money to finance the rest of the deal. International banking markets are in disarray and causing projects to be delayed. But we’ll see how things go in a few months,” he continued. “ Still, there’s action in India and South America, and I think Central and South America are currently untapped markets. There was a lot of action in the Middle East, but that goes up and down with oil prices.” Some existing markets, however, continue to pay dividends for Charlton and company. “ Our firm continues to be very active in Scandinavia, with a second course at Bro Hoff, in Sweden, GB4 near Copenhagen, and we recently announced another project with Poul Anker Lubker in Denmark. We’re also under construction in Portugal, Italy, Greece, Poland, South Korea and Vanuatu,” he said. “Money and projects are out there — you just have to be courageous, utilize your networks, and be more creative to find them.”

Next year, Charlton and the other members of the RTJ II design team will see one of their projects gain national attention as Chambers Bay Golf Course, outside of Seattle hosts the U.S. Amateur, which will be a preamble to hosting the 2015 U.S. Open. In recent years golf course design has been somewhat focused one dimensionally. The perception that the game has grown easier for the best players due to advancements in technology has seen many new courses attempt to overcome it with distance. Will this trend see the day where 9,000-yard courses come on line?

“I hope not! That would eliminate the skills not only of architects, but of players,” he replied. “Sure, we’re starting to see some 8,000-yard courses that border on the ridiculous. We were asked by an owner recently to create the longest par-72 course in Europe. He wanted flexibility in the way every hole could play in a major tournament, so we developed huge length differentials on every hole. But, in general, I don’t think that’s the way golf should go,” he continued.

“We should continue to put a premium on accuracy, not just strength. We should create situations that force players to make decisions and give them options. I think one of the lost arts in tournament golf is rewarding players who manage their games well, who can read what shots are required in a given situation and execute them. I believe courses will become more minimalistic in the future and use the landscape less aggressively. I’d hate to lose 103-yard par 3s that help give a course rhythm and feel, where you play a few holes and feel like you just faced Mike Tyson and then step up to a 300-yard par 4 and think, ‘Hey, I can drive this one!’ Or, you finish a grueling long par 5 and then come up to the 103-yarder.

The global economy has provided an adequate imitation of Mike Tyson in the last year. The golf industry could certainly use short par-4 or a manageable par-3 heading into 2010. The question remains; is there more of the same yet to come, or a break in the action that will allow businesses a chance to rebuild from the fall out that has been experienced to-date???

STOCK WATCH: American financial markets enjoyed a shortened week as trading was halted on Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Markets reopened on Friday but only for an abbreviated session. For the week, the Dow slipped 0.1 percent, breaking a three-week winning streak. The S&P 500 index rose less than 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq fell 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the American banking business is still a mess and yet not under control. The number of distressed banks in the U.S. rose to the highest level in sixteen years, according to a report released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) last Tuesday. The FDIC said that the number of troubled banks rose to 552 at the end of September from 416 at the end of June and 305 at the end of March. This is the largest number of banks on its "problem list" since the end of 1993.

Perhaps in yet another instance of the rich getting richer, banks insured by the FDIC swung to a total quarterly profit of $2.8 billion, more than three times the $879 million they earned during the same period last year and significantly better than their combined $4.3 billion net loss in the second quarter of 2009. The FDIC reported that its Deposit Insurance Fund swung to an $8.2 billion loss, which the agency hopes will be made up by advance payments of $45 billion in fees.


NOTHING TO FEAR, BUT FEAR ITSELF: The Brunswick Isles Golf Trail, which stretches out along the coast of southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina, now offers 450 holes of championship golf to choose from with the addition of Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest, which is located just outside of Wilmington, N.C., north of Myrtle Beach, S.C.

This 18- hole championship course by architect Tim Cate, stretches out to 7,217 yards. In addition to three giant waste bunkers that run tee to green, the course has more than 50 sculpted bunker complexes, which are filled with the same premium brilliant white SP 55 sand used by Augusta National.

“We're excited to have Cape Fear National join The Brunswick Isles Golf Trail,” said Jack Himmelsbach of The Glens Golf Group, which manages Trail courses Heather Glen and Glen Dornoch, as well as accommodations partner Village at the Glens. “With the addition of Cape Fear National, we continue to lead golfers along a Trail that offers the best of the coastal courses. We offer the best in the coastal Carolinas and golfers appreciate both our quality and affordability.”

For more information about the Trail and each of its courses visit



Last Updated (Thursday, 28 January 2010 11:43)

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