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February 14, 2005
Volume IV, Issue 2
Fringe Clippings
They go super low, but not often...
Despite advances in equipment, only three players in PGA Tour history have broken 60 — Al Geiberger, Chip Beck and David Duval, who was the last to do so in 1999. Phil Mickelson shot 60 at the FBR Open in Scottsdale on his way to his 24th career PGA Tour victory. But Mickelson's 60 was just the 16th in PGA Tour history, with nine coming since 1999. Although the game is seemingly easier, the 60 barrier remains elusive. Heck for most of us the 90 barrier is elusive!
Speaking of Duval...
My favorite golfer from the Clinton era, formerly number one player in the world, last PGA Tour player to break 60, has seemingly lost his game. At the Bob Hope classic he shot a disappointing 30 over after four rounds to miss the cut by 41. He shot a third round 85 that included three triple bogeys in a row! Ay, carumba! He's made only seven cuts in his last 31 events. His current ranking is 532nd. On the other hand, by all accounts he is happier than ever, enjoying marriage and parenting. He's happy, so why am I in pain? It just hurts me to see a gifted athlete struggling with what he once made look so effortless.
You have your money list, I have mine...
Tiger Woods is no longer number 1 in the world, but he's way at the top in terms of earnings. Golf Digest reported that Woods made $89.4 million last year, including $83 million in endorsements. That's $5.7 million more than in 2003. Kind of sounds like my percentage increase from Off the Fringe. Phil Mickelson was second on the list, some $63.5 million behind Woods. Perhaps most remarkable of all is Arnold Palmer, whose last PGA Tour victory came in 1973 and who turned 75 last fall. Palmer earned $23.7 million off the golf course last year. He made more than Ernie Els and Vijay Singh. And that doesn't even count all the pigeons he took for a ride in his daily games.
The older you are, the more fascination you find in inflation...
When Phil Mickelson won the FBR Open, he pocketed some $700,000 more than when he won the same tournament in 1996. Here's another example of golf's inflation. The $340,000 Jack Nicklaus won at the Champions Skins game was the most he ever won in a golf event. (The money was unofficial.) Nicklaus, 65, who won 18 majors and 73 PGA Tour events, is 104th on the career money list with $5,734,031. Adam Scott, 24, is less than $70,000 behind Nicklaus.
Black is beautiful...
Looks like Nike may have a winner in their new black golf ball with the gold swoosh on it. It's been making quite a splash (no, not in the water) at recent tournaments. It just stands out from the others, which is great marketing, particularly when marquee players hit it as well as the albino version. The same hit just appears to be better. Nobody ever said those marketers at Nike were dummies.
Paralysis by Analysis
PGA Merchandise Show
Congratulations to Reed Exhibitions and the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, on the 52nd anniversary of the PGA Merchandise Show. After a post-9/11 slowdown and 2002 decision by Acushnet (Titleist, Pinnacle, Footjoy, Cobra) and Ping to forego the annual show, there was a genuine shrinking of both exhibitors and buyers. It was apparent that trend has been reversed this year. The first indicator of an improved revenue stream was tastier food in the media spaces graciously provided by Reed Exhibitions. This is always a good indicator on the health of things. And sure enough, the crowd numbers and exhibitor numbers on the floor showed the proof of the food theory. Activity was definitely up. A random sampling of exhibitors confirmed that sales were up from last year.

The PGA Merchandise Show 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.

Rest assured the best of the best were being purchased to fill the inventory of a golf store near you.

One of the products that got a thumbs up from me was the putter from www.pukugolf.com. The club just looked and felt right. It was an adjustable length belly putter that was good looking, had great balance, and a really comfortable grip. I'll make sure they get a copy of this newsletter in hopes that they send us a dozen or so to give away in our drawings. (Hint, hint!) But really, it sure seemed like a sweet putter to me, and the adjustable length made sense.

Now for the thumbs down. The Ultimate Tee from the folks at www.ultimatetee.com. Actually, theirs might well be a good product, but I just didn't "get it". The tee is a plastic tee that has a hinge that bends the top of the tee when hit and can be snapped back in place and reused rather than become broken like a wooden tee. The advantages touted besides environmentally friendly included, "helps all golfers shoot with greater confidence", "promotes a correct swing and proper club head-to-ball contact" and other significant playing benefits. Who'd have thought it!
Reading the Line
Hey, it's not like he made you walk barefoot across broken glass...
Vijay Singh has not always been the most likable sort. The world's number 1 player gets hammered by the media because he can be difficult, he deserves it, it's so easy — pick any of the choices or add your own. He's got a checkered past, including an alleged cheating incident some 20 years ago, but for the most part he has been hailed as one of the game's all-time hard workers, who came from nothing to be the best. OK, so he's not the most charismatic guy in the world. His former caddie, Dave Renwick, confirmed it when he told the story of why he gave up such a lucrative bag. "I just wasn't happy with the way things were going or the way I was getting treated," said Renwick. "My heart just wasn't in it, even at the end of last year when we were winning nearly every week. I just wasn't getting the respect I deserve. I never got a 'good morning' from Vijay ... It was either nothing or a negative if he did speak to me. Being courteous isn't too much to ask." Wow. Not even a seven-figure income could keep Renwick happy. Obviously, money does not always buy happiness. Heck, maybe Renwick should have brought a puppy along with him on road trips. That unconditional puppy love on the way in and out of the hotel suite might have been just enough to brighten his days and keep him holding on to what seemed like a pretty good money gig.
Nip/Tuck may be coming to a golf course near you...
The times they are a-changing! Following last year's move by the Ladies European Tour, The Ladies Golf Union of Britain has stated that transsexual golfers will be allowed to play in this year's women's British Open. Late last year LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said the LPGA is considering a change to their rule that prohibits transsexuals. Now if you ask me, if they would keep that barbaric Nip/Tuck threshold stuff out of it and allow cross dressers, you would start to see some real interesting competition.
I must admit, that equipment is starting to look pretty darn good...
I still question the timing, but it is hard to argue now with the results. Phil Mickelson switched equipment on the eve of the Ryder Cup last September and got blasted for it. Now he's blasting his drives again, a big reason for his impressive victory at the FBR Open. Despite winning the Masters last year and contending in the other three major championships, Mickelson sensed a change was necessary. But the switch to Callaway equipment had immediate disastrous results, even if the equipment actually had nothing to do with Mickelson's poor play at the Ryder Cup, where he contributed just one point in the biggest American defeat ever. The switch sure had the appearance of greed. He was leaving Titleist for a multi-million-dollar contract with Callaway, which obviously wanted to maximize exposure at one of golf's biggest events. I still think Mickelson could have waited until the offseason to quietly work in the change, but that wouldn't have generated the headlines. Perhaps Mickelson would have played poorly anyway, but it sure made it easy to knock him with his new endorsement equipment. Hats of to Phil. He has shown plenty of recent results. He shot 59 at the unofficial Grand Slam of Golf in December. His 60 at the FBR was the lowest of his PGA Tour career, the five-shot win in his former hometown of Scottsdale his widest margin of victory ever on tour. He is now ranked number 4 in the world and of late, looks like he has designs on improving that ranking.

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