Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jan. 2012- Orlando

I am writing this week from the PGA Annual Meeting and PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. This is a huge week for the golf industry and the PGA of America. Rarely, does our Association hold its Annual Meeting in conjunction with the PGA Show. As the leader in the golf industry, the PGA is embarking on a massive player development campaign geared towards introducing new players to our sport.
Thousands of golf professionals are in town for the official start of the 2012 golf season. I have spent the past couple of days in meetings and it has been an intense environment as we look for ways to grow rounds and drive revenues to our facilities. Golf courses have been hit by the economic downturn over the past several years. Consumers have had less discretionary income to spend on recreational activities such as golf.
The PGA is fortunate to have Jack Nicklaus as its spokesman this year to help launch many of our new programs. I have been lucky to get to know Jack over the past year as we have worked together on the renovation of Valhalla GC in Louisville, a PGA owned facility. This golf icon has a great perspective of the game and is really focused on doing some unconventioanl things to help make golf more consumer-friendly.
Last summer, Nicklaus launched a 12-hole concept at two of his facilities, Muirfield Village in Ohio and The Bear’s Club in Florida, The idea was to help shorten the amount of time it takes to play a round of golf by playing fewer holes. He even threw in a concept of cutting 8 inch cups in the greens, instead of the normal 4 ¼ inch holes making it easier to hole putts. It’s been great to see one of the all-time golf traditionalists embrace innovative concepts to make golf more fun.
Nicklaus has watched his own family migrate away from the game due to family obligations and other competing interests. He feels compelled to help the PGA try and change the way people view the sport. We can use his help and Jack will kick off our PGA Show on Thursday morning.
Jack will be joined in that role by Ken Griffey, Jr, the future baseball Hall of Famer. Griffey will be here as a representative of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which will partner with the PGA and the United States Golf Association. The purpose of this alliance is to bring the PGA Sports Academy, a program that combines fitness with golf skills, to Boys and Girls Clubs all over America.
The Golf Channel will be providing live coverage all week from the PGA Show. It will give you an up close view of what is happening here in Orlando.
I am looking forward to a meeting with the PGA Tour Wives Association this week. We will be planning the introduction of their book telling about life on the Tour as well as favorite recipes and some other cool things. The book will be introduced at the 2013 PGA Show while I am President of the PGA.
Many of you will remember the column I did on the PGA Tour Wives last month. One of my primary subjects was Amy Wilson. Her husband, Mark, won the Humana Challenge last weekend at PGA West in LaQuinta, CA. The event was hosted by former President Bill Clinton and it gets Mark and Amy off to a fast start in 2012. Wilson was 24-under par over four rounds as he recorded a 2 shot win and pocketed $1 million with the win.
Earlier in the month, Steve Stricker won the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Stricker was also a subject of a column I did after Thanksgiving. His win came as he continues to battle a cervical disc problem similar to Peyton Manning’s. Stricker’s victory was just another example of good things happening to good people.
The golf season is off to a great start and I look forward to sharing my journey with you.
There are a few odds and ends I would like to kick around. Joe Paterno sadly passed away last weekend. One of my first columns in this “One Shot at a Time” series called for the removal of Paterno from college football’s Hall of Fame.
Paterno’s fall from grace is the most tragic in the sporting world during my lifetime. His life and career ended so suddenly. This is shocking and distressing. The man will never have a chance to resurrect his legacy or his reputation. His death puts a bizzare closing to this sad tale.
Paterno paid the price for his decisions, which effected many innocent people. Give the guy his due. He was a helluva football coach did many philanthropic things during his coaching career. It is truly a time to let the man rest in peace.
Last week, I wrote about Myra Kraft and the destiny that seemed to be following the New England Patriots. Watching Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff hook the game tying field goal left of the uprights on Sunday leaves little doubt that the karma is with the Pats. The game seemed to be slipping away from New England when Lee Evans, Ravens wide receiver, had the winning TD stripped from his hands in the end zone. Seconds later, Cundiff’s kick failed.
To further spice up the scenario, New England comes to Indianapolis and still faces a Manning, even in a year when the Colts went 2-14. Eli has now won five straight road playoff games and he has a much better playoff record than Peyton. That being said, I still like the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. This is definitely Myra Kraft’s year.
Finally, who cannot have serious doubts about the future of the Colts. This is Jim Irsay’s team. I am beginning to wonder if that’s a good thing or not. Time will tell.                   

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