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December 18, 2003
Volume II, Issue 20
Fringe Clippings
Real friends are forever
Bruce Edwards and Tom Watson have certainly brought attention to one of the world's most devastating illnesses, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). After recently being named the Champions Tour Player of the Year, Tom Watson donated the entirety of his annuity to charity with the majority of it going to Driving 4 Life, an ALS research and therapy center. Since Edwards' diagnosis, Watson has donated over $3 million for ALS research.

*If you would like to make a donation to the Drive 4 Life Foundation please follow this link: http://www.als.net/default.asp
Fixin' Faxon
Brad Faxon and his medicine ball just did not seem to jive the other day. After landing awkwardly on the medicine ball during a workout in his home, his 2004 PGA Tour Season is in jeopardy. Faxon plans to begin rehabilitation via physical therapy, but doctors have warned that surgery may be required.
Choo, choo! Its an Edwin Watts update!
The Watts family may not be selling out, but they certainly were willing to sell a majority of their stake in the company. Wellspring Capital Management, LLC, has acquired a majority stake in the Edwin Watts Golf Shops. Wellspring, an investment firm, also has major stakes in Lionel LLC (Lionel Model Trains) and the CCM brand of hockey equipment. Details of the arrangement were not disclosed.
Torching the Callaway
Callaway Golf was recently honored by the San Diego Better Business Bureau with their 2003 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. "Everyone at Callaway Golf is proud to receive this award," said Ron Drapeau, Chairman and CEO of Callaway Golf. "It is a validation of the philosophy on which Ely Callaway founded this company — on honesty and integrity in every area, from customer service and advertising to workplace safety and behavior.
Paralysis by Analysis
Strangers in the 'bays', exchanging glances
Measuring your innate inability is perhaps one of the most difficult assessments that an individual can possibly perform. That is why I suggest you do not even attempt to do it on your own. In our own minds we are all either our own worst critics or possess an inflated view of our own athletic/golfing prowess.

Ask a stranger!

Seriously, go down to the range and casually observe people while they are furiously striping floaters into the aqua-range pond. Focus in on one or two individuals who are genuinely practicing and not just turning their nine iron into a green trimmed cheerleader-baton.

Impose politely while the person seems to be taking a break, and when you feel comfortable, simply ask them if they will watch you hit five balls. Re-assure them that you are not looking for free tips or a date! Tell them you are on a quest to find out if you have a modicum of natural ability for the game. By this point your new friend will either think you a virtuous, introspective type willing to try anything to improve your game, or they will think you have gone loco in la cabeza! Either way, you should get an honest opinion from this person.

Five balls is the most and least amount you want to hit for this person for two reasons.

First, you do not want to show off how great a golfer you are by being able to hit all manner of different types of shots or how well you adjust to a mis-hit. You want them to be simply looking at how comfortable you are in your swing and how natural you appear with a golf club in your hands. (Yes, even a fifty-something Naval retiree knows a manufactured swing when he/she sees one.)

Second, this person's time is valuable; don't overstay your welcome by hitting a whole bucket for them.

After you have completed hitting the balls, ask them to grade you on a scale of one to five, with one being the lowest and five being really good. (Be sure this person has not been doing keg stands while watching you hit balls). If your evaluator should give you a 3 or higher, then you know your innate ability is speaking for itself. You seem to possess a natural feel for the golf swing.

If your grade comes in at 2 or less, well don't pack it in and quit just yet. With out naming any names, there are quite a few manufactured swings out there on tour making big cash right now that even Steve Elkington would be lucky to have. Know this, however, about yourself. Though you may never look like Ernie Els or Fred Couples as you finish your swing, it's where the ball lands that is important. Work hard, and take no criticism about your style. Style is for the vain! Winning is for the determined!

I hope that this has proved helpful in someway. If you get shunned for insanity for your request simply feel overwhelmed with warmth. For as we all know quite well by this point in time, the Fringe Faithful are a breed apart, and normalcy is unacceptable! Maybe in the final analysis, an innate feel is like a gift, but even a highly practiced unorthodox movement can serve you quite well.
Reading the Line
Tradition. Value. History. Integrity.
These are all descriptive golf words we feel compelled to wax philosophical about while stirring our double Grey Goose with a twist of lime and insisting to our 12-year-old nephew that the tree is still leaning a little to the right!

While these pontifications certainly speak highly of the regard we have for golf, perhaps it is time to add a fifth and perhaps more important label to a game that eventually consumes its populace.


What we have learned about this past year is that truth far outweighs Tradition, Value, History or Integrity.

Before I begin listing some frequently overlooked truths, let me state that some things were so good that their truth was self-evident. The camaraderie of Tom Watson and Bruce Edwards, the gutsy play of Annika at the Colonial, the classy move by Kenny Perry donating ten percent of all his winnings to charity (nice year for 501C's, eh?), and oh yeah, some Canadian dude got a Jacket that is so not his color!

Truth is:
  1. Tiger is the best player in the world. Vijay played outside of himself and accomplished things no one would have thought imaginable if not for the path shown us by Mr. Woods. Tiger haters, just deal, OK?
  2. Annika is not the best player in the world. She is the best female player and perhaps best female athlete in the world. There are separate tours for a reason, and it has nothing to do with chauvinism.
  3. Golf is a sport. Check out those waistlines and calf muscles. If you think Lumpy can compete with Charles Howell III and win, you better be betting on the Nathan's hot dog eating contest.
  4. Money rules golf, just as it does with all else. Never forget when you are watching these tournaments that just for playing with a particular brand of club these guys make more money in endorsements than weekend golfers make in five years!
  5. Marketing works! Sales of woods, irons, wedges and putters are up! Amazingly enough, total rounds of golf played for the year are down. That does help explain one anomaly in this equation: sales of golf balls are down. Either you are all getting a lot better (and getting complimentary green fees) or you just replaced that phony fichus tree in your office with a pretty set of forged blades and some company branded head-covers.
  6. If you want real perspective on the game of golf and the industry within which it operates, Off the Fringe will never disappoint. Pass it along; you can't get this kind of truth anywhere else.
A hearty congratulations to all those whose year exceeded their wildest expectations, and best wishes for everyone who lost as many Pro V1's as I did this year!

Happy holidays, and may the shanks never surface off your eight iron!

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