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February 06, 2003
Volume II, Issue 3
Fringe Clippings
Pots and Pannika
Dateline Orlando — Annika Sorenstam has acquired an additional income stream: chef at her home course, Lake Nona Country Club in Orlando, Florida. A long-time fan of the culinary arts, Sorenstam sat in for one month behind the flames in the kitchen at the club and prepared as many as 400 crab cakes in one day. LPGA fans need not worry, however. The sweet swinging Swede and ruler of all small ball will be back on tour in "short order."
Phil Mickelson has joined the madness of golfers making a beeline from the donut tray to the kelp platter. Philly Mick is interested in really taking advantage of the new equipment available to tour players these days and feels that getting stronger will help him. He has hired a personal trainer and is practicing martial arts to improve strength, balance, and flexibility. He will not be competing in Olympia contests, as he claims that his "subcutaneous fat" will always be there.
To the finish
As previously reported in Off the Fringe, the Augusta-Richmond County sheriff has been trying desperately to have enacted a city ordinance which would give him sovereignty over the city's protesting laws. The reason, among others, is to prevent protesters at this year's Masters. The City's commissioners — which number ten — are split in a dead even draw at 5 to 5 over the proposal that the Sheriff submitted. Interestingly, those voting for the autocratic submission were Caucasian while the five dissenters were African-American.
Beem dimming
Rich Beem is continuing to struggle since winning the PGA Championship. So far, his 2003 finishes include last at the Mercedes and missed cuts at the Sony, the Phoenix Open and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
Paralysis by Analysis
Are you thrifty?

According to Mrs. Karnucky, my twelfth grade economics teacher, the game of economics is determined by spending. Of course, she married into the Bloomingdale family but that's beside the point. What I am getting at is that we want to keep spending money in order to stimulate our economy. With that said, it would be the ACME of foolishness to simply buy our favorite golf equipment at will — and more importantly at retail. Here are a few tips for saving some bones now that the holidays have passed and the interest has begun to accrue.
  1. Price items online — Almost every major retailer has the same products online that you can find in their store. After you have concluded who has the best price online of all the competitive establishments that carry your item, call the nearest brick-and-mortar to find out if they have any closeout items of the same brand. If not, tell them the online price, and see if they will match it.

  2. Buy last year's technology — Major name manufacturers would have me de-fingernailed for such a suggestion, but it makes good economic sense and also lets the major manufacturers know that you will not be force-fed new technology simply because it is new (read: more expensive).

  3. Do not sacrifice quality when buying golf equipment and accessories — If you buy a driver because it only costs you $69 there is a strong probability it's only worth about $10. Worse, you will be replacing it soon. Your shots will suffer. This may sound like a contradiction to tip number two, but it's really just about finding a quality product at an affordable price.

  4. Balance your frugality — Don't always play the nicest courses and spend nothing on your equipment; but on the other hand, don't buy outrageously priced equipment and then play fields better suited for grazing. Find a balance in your golf spending. This will this enhance your overall golf experience.

The economics of golf is a tiny microcosm of the national economy. Thrifty spending will lead to better products and services as the consumer becomes more demanding. Be sure to keep the key word in mind, however: thrifty. Not cheap. Thrifty!
Reading the Line
PGA Merchandise Show
Congratulations to Reed Exhibitions and the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, on the 50th anniversary of the PGA Merchandise Show. This year's show was a study in perseverance and a question begging for an answer. First, however, let's get you all caught up on the show.

The PGA Merchandise Tradeshow is miles of exhibit isles for golf industry types of every sort. Callaway, Nike, Taylor Made, Cutter & Buck, etc. were in attendance and displaying all their new wares. PGA buyers and media hound the show floor, perusing the new technologies and inventions that claim to be the most groundbreaking that golf has ever seen. There is always more than any one man could possibly review; and, in short, if the show were still going on, I would still be looking.

The biggest news came from the inside of the convention center where a very hollow echo rang loud and clear. Acushnet (Titleist, Pinnacle, Footjoy, Cobra) and Ping were not in attendance at this "Mecca" of golf trade shows. This particular issue may be smart economics, and the truth is that these two golf juggernauts did not attend the show because they no longer view show participation as cost effective.

Ping and Titleist, like other manufacturers, typically use(d) the show to write business with companies who buy golf equipment. Last year, Ping and Titleist decided their money would be better spent by not paying the costs involved with exhibiting at this year's show. Rather, they have decided to invest the money in more field sales reps to reach out with a more personal touch to those buyers who would ordinarily have ordered from them at the show. In an economy and industry that is slumping, is this a stroke of genius from two companies willing to challenge the status quo? Should there not be a bravo for both Ping and Titleist for their courage to see if their idea is a more effective business model?

Not so fast. Is it possible that these two giants have delivered a crippling blow to the PGA Merchandising Show? Others may follow their lead and eventually the show could lose its viability. Perhaps the question should be, is this good for golf? If the lack of a robust show is bad for the industry, Acushnet and Ping may have gambled on a new strategy to achieve short-term benefits only to find that they and the entire industry lose in the long run. Does their action weaken an already stagnant industry at a time when they should be playing a leadership role?

What are your thoughts on this topic?
Speaking of technology ...
At the Phoenix Open, the field — the field, mind you — averaged over 300 yards off the tee! I can't help myself. Holy Schnookzies!
Finally extinct
The Great White Shark is believed to be one of the few prehistoric animals to avoid extinction. This year we are losing one of our beloved sharks — or at least it seems so. Greg Norman received a letter from Hootie Johnson a couple of weeks ago informing him that he was invited to the tournament, but not as a player. I just don't have the heart to make light of this travesty. On the plus side, he can still qualify as a player, although it is quite unlikely.
Phil Micky no likey Nikey
Who knows what he intended? Maybe it was praise of a rival. But this is what Phil said in an interview with Golf Magazine regarding Tiger Woods: "He hates that I can fly it past him now. He has a faster swing speed than I do, but he has inferior equipment. Tiger is the only player who is good enough to overcome the equipment he's stuck with." Wow! My guess is Nike is not rushing an endorsement contract over to Phil. Hey, by the way, who really thinks that Tiger is stuck with anything that he doesn't want.
The monotony ...
Fringe brethren and insolent haters of Yours Truly: Golf is a game of vanilla with the occasional dash of sprinkles to bring life to the flavor locked within our sweet sport. It may appear to some readers, however, that it is my desire to fertilize the ice cream maker. All apologies for the previous analogy. But some of the email I have received lately has made it apparent that not everyone agrees with me, despite what I view as clear vision.

I now humbly request that those who wish to comment, whether positive or negative, bring their arguments to the Fringe Forum. I read all my emails and reply to most. I will not discontinue this practice. However, I have been so exceedingly impressed with the commentary I am reading that I believe you all deserve to be enlightened by the views of your fellow Fringe readers.

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