ORLANDO – I walked the
floor of PGA
Merchandise Show for hours this morning and never found a thing that is turning
heads this year.
Yes, there are new offerings
by club manufacturers, as there are every year, but nothing is taking the 2010
show by storm.Most years, there
is a buzz about something; not this year.No giant technological leaps forward this year, no new breakthrough products.
This is my first time at the
show in four years.I came for
five or six straight years, until several of the top manufacturers began to
pull out one by one, costing the show a lot of its luster and appeal.But after hitting bottom a couple
of years ago, when attendance was way down and new product buzz was zilch, the
annual confab seems to be on a slightly upward trajectory again.It’s still not what it once was, and
probably won’t be again anytime soon, maybe ever, but the buzzards are no longer
During the boom years, the
anchors of the show were mammoth million-dollar "booths" erected by Titleist, Nike,
Callaway, TaylorMade, Ping and several others. TaylorMade and Nike aren’t
even here this year – at least not their club divisions.
If you’re in the golf
business, however, the PGA Show is still a place to see and be seen, to catch up with
friends and colleagues from around the industry.
Reading Alan Shipnuck’s
weekly Mailbag column for Golf.com, l couldn’t help but chuckle when I read the following letter/response.He pretty much summarizes everything you
need to know about the relationship, or lack thereof, Tiger
has had with me and everybody I know in the media:
the like never cared about whether Tiger put them on the DNR (do not
resuscitate) list so they went after him. Now it seems that golf writers are
emboldened to take shots too. How long will you guys stay so bold when the
Mighty One returns? Won't you all fear being put on his naughty list? TMZ
doesn't need Tiger. They move on. You live and die by the guy. Also, do you
fear him remembering how bold you were during his absence and that you might be
black listed? —Lenny Johnson
Even before Tiger's crackup, I would get variations of this question all
the time. There seems to be a widespread belief that reporters live in mortal
fear of somehow being blacklisted by Woods. The truth is that no one was
getting much access before and he's going to be even more locked-down in the
future, so who cares if doesn't like what we're writing? A couple of years ago John Garrity
wrote a long, engaging cover story about Tiger. He was
granted an audience with Woods that lasted exactly ten minutes. Those were the
good old days? I think Tiger's dealings with the media will be downright Nixonian upon his return.
Never mind what kind of
discount rate The Farmers Exchange
likely got; you can almost hear the Tour
breathing a big sigh of relief for the tournament formerly known as the Buick Invitational.Even with the economy as lousy as it
is, for a proud and well-established tournament played on an ocean-side
paradise, it looked extremely bad to go sponsor-less, even for a year.As late as last week, the San Diego
Union was reporting that it was "all but certain"that for this year anyway, the
tournament would simply be called the "San
As welcome has the
last-minute news is for the Tour and
the tournament, let’s face it: what we have here is the equivalent of 2 a.m.
closing time at the singles bar.Everyone suddenly starts to look better, even as the lights go up.
"We couldn’t be more pleased
that Farmers Insurance has stepped
forward..." began a statement from Commissioner
Tim Finchem.No word on whether he had his face buried in his hands when
he said that.
Tom Worsnam, general chairman of the tournament, called Farmers "truly a knight in shining
For now, the tournament will
be called The Farmers Insurance Open
and – hot diggity dog --there’s an option to
extend the sponsorship.
Of course, after next week,
in the morning light, let’s see if the Tour
and the Farmers Exchange ask for
each other’s phone numbers.
Wednesday night, A&E Biography
rebroadcast it’s profile of Tiger Woods,
which, given recent developments, is difficult to watch without laughing.
It spent 58 minutes recalling
and marveling at the Tiger of Old
– the super-human golfer (14 majors,
71 PGA Tour victories), and humanitarian(Tiger Woods
Foundation) and loving son, husband and father.Oh, the days not so long ago, when all was still perfect in Tiger World.
In the Biography profile, Tiger smiles his Chicklet-toothed
smile, and we are treated to a career highlight reel of his 350-yard drives, his
putts that can’t possibly go in the hole until they do, and the reaction of the
awestruck sports fans.Now that
everyone is so disappointed and disgusted with Tiger, it’s enough to make you remember what the fuss is all about.
In the many interview clips
of Tiger, he comes off as likeable,
clean-cut, earnest, determined to become the greatest player in the history of
In interview after
interview, TV commentators (David
Feherty, Lanny Wadkins, Mike Tirico), golf writers (Jaime Diaz, Tim Rosaforte), legends of the game (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus), other
incomparable athletes (Michael Jordan,
Lance Armstrong, Wayne Gretzky), pals (Mark
O’Meara, John Cook) and his agent (Mark
Steinberg) kneel at the Alter of
Tiger, as we all did.They go
on endlessly and profusely about Tiger’s
incredible ability, his unmatched work ethic, his concentration, his dedication
– all the things that made Tiger
almost too perfect to be true.
Of course, we now know that the
Tiger we thought we knew didn’t
really exist – the image he created was
too perfect to be true. Even he couldn’t live up it.His perfect world was not what it seemed.
It isn’t until the final
couple of minutes of hour-long the Biography profile that they’ve
inserted an updated account of his collapsing world.They show the seamy tabloid covers, the now-familiar aerial
shots of Tiger crash scene outside
his house and a partial parade of his alleged mistresses.
When it was over, all I
could do was sigh and shake my head.What a shame.What a
Even with Tiger Woods’ severely stained image, the
announcement that he will play in the AT&T National over
the July 4th weekend is great news for the tournament, Aronimink GC and sports fans in the area.
Say what you will about him
as a husband, father and man, but Tiger
is still the best golfer in the world and the biggest attraction in the
game.Without him, the AT&T would have been like throwing
a party and having the guest of honor be a no-show.
With Tiger in, the buzz around the tournament will increase, ticket
sales will get a good bump and whatever hospitality packages remain unsold will
become a lot easier to sell.Best
of all, for the first time in his storied 14-year career. Philadelphia sports
fans will finally be able to see him do what he does up close and personal.
If you’re wondering where Tiger will stay during the tournament, don’t
expect him to occupy the Presidential Suite of a luxury hotel.The talk is that he has already rented
the home of an Aronimink member in
the vicinity of the course.That’s fairly common for Camp
An unannounced visit to Aronimink by Tiger in the coming weeks is not out of the question.So far as I can tell, he has never
played the course, and he might like to sneak in a preview round or two.
Staff and members at Aronimink talk of only one previous
visit by Tiger.That was more than a year ago, shortly
before the announcement that the AT&T
was temporarily relocating to Aronimink
for 2010 and 2011.
That, too, was unannounced,
catching even Aronimink staff off
guard.Tiger and a staffer from the Tiger Woods Foundation,
which runs the tournament, showed up at the Newtown Square club, took a tour of
the course in a golf cart, then left as quietly as they arrived.