I’ve gone through the comments on my previous stories, looking for topics that my readers seem to want covered. So far, I’ve focused on the nuts and bolts of the industry and stayed away from what might be considered more personal. But one comment kind of stuck with me.
What did we talk about while having a beer? This person wanted to know more about the day-to-day discussions of people in the industry.
Obviously, I can only respond from the Adams Golf viewpoint. The industry is very competitive and as such, we didn’t have industry functions where we got together and socialized. Many years ago, Golf Magazine would have an outing after the PGA Merchandise Show and invite its customers, which included equipment industry folks. I played in a couple, but we didn’t get together to discuss the industry.
At Adams, any conversation during a get-together had the same theme — how do we increase our sales so we can effectively compete with the big guys?
Let me put this in perspective. It’s post 2000, post IPO, we are the No. 1 hybrid on tour and competing daily against companies 5-to-15 times our annual volume At our peak, we did a bit more than $100 million in annual sales and, while that may sound like a lot, it’s well short of the roughly $140 million you need to do all the necessary marketing stuff and turn a profit. You are managing cash flow.
What were we doing with the money? Huge salaries, big benefits, expensive marketing? I know it doesn’t mesh with what many outsiders believe about the golf equipment industry, but we were very conservative. Since it’s public record, you can confirm that my yearly salary never exceeded $200K. Some of our key people actually did better in areas where we had to pay to get the best folks, but we were very professional with our salary structure.
There’s a saying about marketing that goes like this:
“I know 50 cents of every dollar is a waste. I just don’t know which 50 cents.”
We probably spent as much time in random discussions on this subject as anything. We would get a call saying Player X is available and we can get him for… well, more than any of us were making. Once the euphoria of being associated with a known name wears off, it’s the old question: Will the association pay off in sales?
There is no formula that applies to a company that has a tour staff of one or two players. The only thing that moves the needle is to have a large tour staff, and financially it wasn’t in the cards for Adams. It isn’t just the player; it’s how much of your advertising budget gets dedicated to promoting the relationship. Where else could the money go?
That conversation brings us around to “who are we” and “how do we capitalize on our image?” At Adams, we knew we wanted to appeal to the average golfer. Our designs were focused on making the game more enjoyable for what demographically is the largest constituency.
Now remember, in the example I’m giving, this is a bunch of us sitting around having a beer and giving opinions. There’s no formality, just ideas. When it came to the issue of helping the average player, there was one unavoidable step. You had to make excellent product that good players would use and do so knowing it would be a small percentage of total sales. Golf has a pyramid of influence, and if the better players aren’t complimentary of your products the selling effort increases significantly.
There’s an important thing to remember here. The golf equipment industry is a lot more like the fashion industry than many people are willing to admit. The actual differences between products are minor and often subjective. We don’t want to copy, but we are remiss if we don’t look at what seems to be popular and decide how to position ourselves.
Doing all of this — tour, marketing, product design — and you missed break even at $100 million in sales?
Well, cut back!
Drop the Tour staff to one or two minor (read: cheaper) players, cut back on advertising, don’t spend money designing a driver that competes favorably with the best in the market, etc. This movie has been seen, and the company slides into oblivion during the denouement.
There are other “opportunities.” A golf ball manufacturer will make a top-quality ball under our name, a shirt company will do the same. This can be done with golf shoes and virtually anything that’s sold at golf retail. Look to history. Has any smaller company ever been successful adding non-equipment products? The answer is no. So we collectively decide that our focus is on-course and we will try and do the best we can knowing we don’t have the luxury of funding.
Then the sales guy says,”I was in one of the ____ stores the other day and our [very costly] displays were in the back and some had product from other companies.” (I’m assuming everything was done to correct this!)
This is a killer. You spend the advertising dollars, the tour dollars and the R&D money just to have your product displayed where it’s hard to find. There’s a simple reason why; the big guys pay for premium space and make sure it’s properly managed. We completed our budget just getting to the store — renting premium space doesn’t fit. We have to come up with an in-store sales strategy that allows us to compete.
Get the picture? We’re still drinking beer, having a good time and we’re all passionate. And it’s good that we are; we want to put the best product in consumer hands and do so in a way that allows us to compete going forward.
That’s what we talked about.
A trip down Magnolia Memory Lane: Patron fashion at the 1991 Masters
Like a lot of golfers out there, I’ve been getting my fix thanks to the final round Masters broadcasts on YouTube via the Masters channel. Considering these broadcasts go back as far as 1968, there is a lot we could discuss—we could break down shots, equipment, how the course has changed, but instead I thought we could have a little fun taking a different direction—fashion.
However, I’m not talking players fashion, that’s fairly straight forward. Instead, I wanted to follow the action behind the action and see what we could find along the way – here are the 1991 Highlights.
I love the “Die Hard” series as much as anyone else but one fan took it to a new level of fandom by wearing a Die Hard 2 – Die Harder T-shirt to Sunday at the Masters. This patron was spotted during Ian Woosnam fourth shot into 13. Honorable mention goes to Woosie’s gold chain.
There is a lot going on here as Ben Crenshaw lines up his put on 17. First, we have the yellow-shirted man just left of center with perfectly paired Masters green pants to go along with his hat (he also bears a striking resemblance to Ping founder Karsten Solheim). Secondly, we have what I would imagine is his friend in the solid red pants—both these outfits are 10 out of 10. Last but not least, we have the man seen just to the right of Ben with sunglasses so big and tinted, I would expect to be receiving a ticket from him on the I20 on my way out of town.
If you don’t know the name Jack Hamm, consider yourself lucky you missed a lot of early 2000s late-night golf infomercials. OK so maybe it’s not the guy known for selling “The Hammer” driver but if you look under the peak of the cabin behind Woosie as he tees off on ten you can be forgiven for taking a double-take… This guy might show up later too. Honorable mention to the pastel-pink-shorted man with the binoculars and Hogan cap in the right of the frame.
Big proportions were still very much in style as the 80s transitioned into the early 90s. We get a peek into some serious style aficionados wardrobes behind the 15th green with a wide striped, stiff collared lilac polo, along with a full-length bright blue sweater and a head of hair that has no intention of being covered by a Masters hat.
Considering the modern tales of patrons (and Rickie Folwer) being requested to turn backward hats forward while on the grounds of Augusta National, it was a pretty big shock to see Gerry Pate’s caddy with his hat being worn in such an ungentlemanly manner during the final round.
Before going any further, I would like us all to take a moment to reflect on how far graphics during the Masters coverage has come in the last 30 years. In 2019 we had the ability to see every shot from every player on every hole…in 1991 we had this!
At first glance, early in the broadcast, these yellow hardhats threw me for a loop. I honestly thought that a spectator had chosen to wear one to take in the action. When Ian Woosnam smashed his driver left on 18 over the bunkers it became very apparent that anyone wearing a hard hat was not there for fun, they were part of the staff. If you look closely you can see hole numbers on the side of the helmets to easily identify what holes they were assigned to. Although they have less to do with fashion, I must admit I’m curious where these helmets are now, and what one might be worth as a piece of memorabilia.
Speaking of the 18th hole, full credit to the man in the yellow hat (golf clap to anyone that got the Curious George reference) who perfectly matched the Pantone of his hat to his shirt and also looked directly into the TV camera.
It could be said the following photo exemplifies early ’90s fashion. We have pleated Bermuda shorts, horizontal stripes all over the place and some pretty amazing hairstyles. Honorable mention to the young guys in the right of the frame that look like every ’80s movie antagonist “rich preppy boy.”
What else can I say except, khaki and oversized long sleeve polos certainly had their day in 1991? We have a bit of everything here as Tom Watson lines up his persimmon 3-wood on the 18th. The guy next to Ian Woosnam’s sleeves hit his mid-forearm, there are too many pleats to count, and somehow our Jack Hamm look-alike managed to find another tee box front row seat.
You can check out the full final-round broadcast of the 1991 Masters below.
GolfWRXers Vote: Best U.S. Open venue showdown
Following on from our Golf Movie Madness contest which saw GolfWRXers vote “Caddyshack” the best golf film ever, we thought it was time to up the ante and find out the GolfWRX consensus on one of the more debated subjects in golf—U.S. Open host venues.
We’re matching off the last 16 U.S. Open venues to find out what GolfWRXers think is the ultimate U.S. Open course.
As with our Golf Movie Madness contest, we’ll leave voting open for 48 hours for the first eight head-to-heads. At that time, we’ll determine the winners and matchups for the next four games.
So get voting below and let’s find out who GolfWRXers crown as the ultimate U.S. Open course!
*Years hosted, winners and avg. winning score from 1950 onwards*
- Years Hosted: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
- Winners: Nicklaus (+2), Watson (-6), Kite (-3), Woods (-12), McDowell (E), Woodland (-13)
- Avg. winning score: -5.33
Torrey Pines SC
- Years Hosted: 2008
- Winners: Woods (-1)
- Avg. winning score: -1
Oakland Hills SC
- Years Hosted: 1951, 1961, 1985,1996
- Winners: Hogan (+7), Littler (+1), North (-1), Jones (-2)
- Avg. winning score: +1.25
Winged Foot GC
- Years Hosted: 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006
- Winners: Casper (+2), Irwin (+7), Zoeller (-7), Ogilvy (+5)
- Avg. winning score: +1.75
- Years Hosted: 2015
- Winners: Spieth (-5)
- Avg. winning score: -5
- Years Hosted: 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
- Winners: Furgol (+4), Nicklaus (-5), Nicklaus (-8), Janzen (-8)
- Avg. winning score: -4.25
Pinehurst Resort (No 2.)
- Years Hosted: 1995, 2005, 2014
- Winners: Stewart (-1), Campbell (E), Kaymer (-9)
- Avg. winning score: -3.33
- Years Hosted: 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012
- Winners: Fleck (+7), Casper (-2), Simpson (-3), Janzen (E), W. Simpson (+1)
- Avg. winning score: +0.75
- Years Hosted: 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
- Winners: Hogan (-5), Nicklaus (-1), Miller (-5), Nelson (-4), Els (-5), Cabrera (+5), Johnson (-4)
- Avg. winning score: -2.71
- Years Hosted: 2002, 2009
- Winners: Woods (-3), Glover (-4)
- Avg. winning score: -3.5
Southern Hils CC
- Years Hosted: 1958, 1977, 2001
- Winners: Bolt (+3), Green (-2), Goosen (-4)
- Avg. winning score: -1
Olympia Fields CC
- Years Hosted: 2003
- Winners: Furyk (-8)
- Avg. winning score: -8
- Years Hosted: 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013
- Winners: Hogan (+7), Trevino (E), Graham (-7), Rose (+1)
- Avg. winning score: (+0.25)
- Years Hosted: 2017
- Winners: Koepka (-16)
- Avg. winning score: -16
- Years Hosted: 1964, 1997, 2011
- Winners: Venturi (-2), Els (-4), McIlroy (-16)
- Avg. winning score: -7.33
Shinnecock Hills GC
- Years Hosted: 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
- Winners: Floyd (-1), Pavin (E), Goosen (-4), Koepka (+1)
- Avg. winning score: -1
Retro golf video game review: CyberTiger for N64
Being stuck at home indoors as spring officially arrives stinks—period. Now with that in mind, we also hope that everyone out there, along with your family and friends, are healthy, happy, and safe.
Like others around the world, we at GolfWRX are doing our part to stay home and catch up on both television and video games while also supplying you with the most interesting ways to keep engaged in the game we love. Speaking of video games, one of my all-time favorite systems is the Nintendo 64 and to me, it is still home to one of the most fun (albeit not highly ranked) golf games of all time: CyberTiger.
Cyber Tiger for Nintedo 64 was released in 1999 and fits securely in the category of arcadey and fun golf. Compared to other N64 games released around the same time period, the graphics leave something to be desired, but considering the style and forgiveness of the gameplay nearly 30 years later, we can let it slide.
The gameplay is simple and overall very forgiving for any level of gamer. The only difficult thing for some to get a handle on right off the bat is shots around the greens. You are only given the option to either chip, pitch, or attempt a very limited full shot—it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it but starting out its easy to see how this part of the gameplay can be frustrating.
Game modes are as straightforward as you can imagine: stroke play, match play, tournament mode, practice range, and Tiger Challenge. The latter being one of the most fun in multiplayer since you get to remove a club from your opponent’s bag if you win the hole.
Options here are extremely limited and include—Tiger Woods, Mark O’Meara—no seriously that’s it for actual tour golfers. Beyond those two, you are given the option of Lil’ Tiger (Teenage Tiger), Lil’ Mark (Teenage Mark), and then a handful of no-name brandless figures, including Chip and Mia. One thing to note is there are a number of ridiculous characters easily unlockable using cheat codes, but for what it’s worth, playing as a teenage Tiger is still a lot of fun. (Hint: UFO)
Since this is a cartridge Nintendo 64 game, memory is at a premium and courses are limited. There was licensing in place from the PGA Tour which allows for a “Best of TPC” composite course as one of the initial options and features a selection of holes at TPC Sawgrass. Beyond that many are hard to recognize in the hole-by-hole setting of the game.
Not to fret though, there is a total of five courses in the game, which can also be unlocked using cheat codes easily found online. I realize five courses seem beyond limited in today’s world, but they offer enough variety and fun that whether playing alone or against a friend it never feels overly repetitive.
If you happen to find yourself with a few hours to kill and have a Nintendo 64 (or an emulator), I highly recommend finding a copy of Cyber Tiger and taking your best shot at a few tournaments or playing against a friend. If nothing else, it might take you back to when you were 14 and had nothing else to do on a rainy day when you couldn’t make it to the course.
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