by Gary Van Sickle

I was surprised to bump into Tiger Woods at a local Golf Galaxy store here. 

It wasn’t Real Tiger Woods, of course. It was Cardboard Tiger Woods. His face was on a new display hawking Bridgestone golf balls. But yes, I really did bump into it. Was I not paying attention or did Cardboard Tiger jump in front of me? You make the call.

Anyway, it reminded me about how odd it is to think of Woods playing anything but a Nike ball. (OK, he originally was with Titleist, if you want to climb into the Way-Back Machine.) He wasn’t just closely identified with Nike’s brand; he was Nike’s brand. Nike got out of the golf equipment business in late 2016, though, so Woods got new gear: TaylorMade clubs and Bridgestone balls.


by Ron Kroichick

Maverick McNealy counts as the most fascinating rookie on the professional golf landscape this year – and not simply because he’s the son of Silicon Valley titan Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems.

McNealy favored hockey over golf as a kid, not exactly conventional sporting roots for a promising tour pro. He soared from unheralded college recruit to the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur. And not only did he stay all four years at Stanford, graduating last spring with a degree in management science and engineering, but he seriously contemplated pursuing a career in business rather than turning pro in golf. 


Focus on the existing customers

Thanks to Alex Miceli for highlighting a practical and simple solution to growing the golf game: namely, to value the customer so that his or her business is appreciated (“Golf’s growth key: Retention over outreach,” Jan. 22).

I have played many high-end courses, most that would be on everyone’s bucket list, and most have been money mills. From check-in to departure, the culture of these venues has been, We are special. And you, the paying customer, are made to feel like an annoyance. Examples abound: no notice of adverse course conditions, rude employees, overpriced merchandise with that “special logo” and expectation of tips for every service, to name but a few common practices.



Number of strokes by which Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico leads the Latin America Amateur Championship entering today’s final round. Ortiz shot 1-under 70 on Monday for a 4-under 209 total at Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile. Chilean Toto Gana (72), the 2017 LACC winner, and Santiago resident Joaquinn Niemann (72), who stands No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, are tied with 36-hole leader Jaime Lopez Rivarola (73) of Argentina and Daniel Gurtner of Guatemala at 3-under 210. Twelve players are within three strokes of the lead. The winner earns a spot in the Masters Tournament.



The Grill Room Golf Show powered by Vertical Groove Golf 

Kizzire on top 

Patton Kizzire's playoff victory in Hawaii, the ballistic-missile scare, a preview of the CareerBuilders Challenge and a quick look at Rory McIlroy's return to competition in Abu Dhabi. In Groove Up with Vertical Groove Golf, it's all about the new Vertical Groove 3-wood. In the Feature Interview with Morning Read's Alex Miceli, Bob Bubka and Alex discuss the new tax implications in 2018, with a little Tiger Woods talk for good measure.


Golf Channel will provide nearly 20 hours of coverage spanning four days of this week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., beginning with today’s Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Center in nearby Winter Garden. Coverage of the PGA Show, to be held Wednesday through Friday at the Orange County Convention Center, will begin daily on the show floor with the network’s “Morning Drive” show and conclude with the daily “Golf Central” show.


SiriusXM will bring its radio listeners inside the PGA Merchandise Show with more than 32 hours of coverage this week in Orlando, Fla. Coverage will begin at 8 a.m. on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio with today’s Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Center. On Wednesday through Friday, the coverage will come from the Orange County Convention Center.


Buffalo.Agency has opened its Buffalo.Bureau as a newsroom-style integration of public relations, branding and analytics as a hub for communicating with editorial media. Rich Katz, Buffalo’s founder and managing director, will oversee the operation as editor-in-chief. The agency specializes in golf, sport and lifestyle.


Cobra Golf introduced its King Black and King Black One wedges, the manufacturer announced. Both models retail for $149.


The Annika Foundation has added four golf industry leaders to its board of directors. Anne Broholm, chief executive officer of apparel maker Ahead, Barry Hyde, executive vice president of marketing firm Wasserman, Jim Nugent, publisher of Global Golf Post, and Suzy Whaley, the PGA of America’s vice president, were appointed to the charitable foundation’s board.


The Robert Trent Jones II-designed golf course at Reserva Conchal Beach Resort, Golf and Spa was named by Golfweek and Golf Digest magazines in their separate surveys as the top layout in Costa Rica. Reserva Conchal also is the site of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s Essential Costa Rica Classic.


Junior Players Golf Academy has announced its 2018 programming for the Hilton Head Island, S.C., facility. In addition to the full-time academy and post-graduate programs, JPGA will offer seasonal golf camps.


January 20-23
Men’s amateur: Latin America Amateur
Prince of Wales CC, Santiago, Chile
January 21-24
Web.com Tour: Bahamas Great Abaco Classic
Abaco Club, Great Abaco, Bahamas
January 23
Industry: PGA Show Demo Day
Orange County National Golf Center, Winter Garden, Fla.
January 24-26
Industry: PGA Merchandise Show
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.
January 25-28
PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance Open
Torrey Pines GC (South), La Jolla, Calif.
European Tour: Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Emirates GC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
LPGA: Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic
Paradise Island, Bahamas
January 26-28
Men’s amateur: Jones Cup
Ocean Forest GC, Sea Island, Ga.

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