Golf Street Journal // Week 21 - 2020

Reed Exhibitions has canceled the PGA Fashion & Demo Experience, originally scheduled for Aug. 18-19, 2020, at the Venetian Resort Las Vegas. The company says it will instead “facilitate business connections’’ through a series of digital programs starting in June with additional online offerings continuing throughout 2020.

Reed says the new platforms, “will aid the golf industry by helping to connect buyers and exhibitors,’’ whatever that means, leading up to the 2021 PGA Merchandise Show, Jan. 26-29, 2021, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. More likely, it’s Reed’s attempt to keep some kind of dialogue relevant before the annual big show in Orlando. Not having any kind of summer show – or interaction – could bring up unwanted questions about the future of the PGA Merchandise Show in a post-coronavirus world.

No doubt that Reed wants the golf industry to believe that it will be business as usual for the Orlando show, but that’s not going to be the case. How the show will be conducted – and how it might look – remains to be seen. In the end, it might not even be Reed’s call.  If there is – God forbid - a significant spike in Covid-19 cases, that call would come from the state of Florida and/or the city of Orlando.

Worst-case scenario for Reed would be no Orlando show at all January 2021 and then have the golf industry improve over the course of year. That might prove true what really has been fact for at least the past decade – the PGA Merchandise Show has run its course and is of little or no value to the success of the industry.

Golf came back in a contrived way yesterday at the legendary Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach Florida. Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff each hit some bombs and some duds during the TaylorMade Driving Relief match play event to benefit Covid-19 relief.

Despite the PGA Tour star power, Seminole was the major draw for many TV viewers. Built along two big sand ridges in northern Palm Beach County, Seminole is a Donald Ross classic, which many tout as equal to Ross’s masterpiece, Pinehurst No. 2.

I’ll go along with that, but Seminole is a much more subtle design than Pinehurst No. 2. You really need to play it (good luck) to appreciate all the Rossian subtleties, meaning TV didn’t do it justice.  
That said, it was still fun to watch PGA Tour stars play a classic course while carrying their own bags. If only lead announcers Mike Tirico and Rich Lerner would have remained silent. Seminole deserved a lot better than those two.

Bandon Dunes’ highly-anticipated Sheep Ranch course, a Coore & Crenshaw design, will open June 1. Located on Five Mile Point, the course was  originally designed by Tom Doak in 2001 while he worked on Pacific Dunes.
The 6,636-yard, par 72 layout features nine green sites right along the edge of the Pacific Ocean and ocean views on every hole.

National Golf Foundation CEO Joe Beditz is one of the industry’s true nice guys. But even nice guys can slip up. That’s what Beditz did with this statement in an NGF report that says 91 percent of golf courses across the country are now open, post-Covid-19.

"But make no mistake, what has been given can be taken away. It’s now up to both golf course operators and golfers to keep golf open. Bad behavior will get noticed, and possibly recorded on a smartphone.”
Apparently Beditz has designated the NGF as the hall monitor for golf course decorum post-coronavirus.

NBA legend Charles Barkley, owner of perhaps the most unorthodox swing in the history of golf, has been added as a TV analyst to the Tiger vs Phil II on May 24.

The match also will include NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and will be broadcast on TBS, TNT, TruTV and HLN. You kind of get the feeling that the Turner TV suits don’t trust good ratings with just a Woods/Mickelson match (the 2018 match was a flop) so it has to bring in extra star power to better the odds of success.

Callaway Golf CEO Chip Brewer is one of the golf industry's more astute executives, but he might want a mulligan on this. In a recent phone conference call with Wall Street analysts, Brewer was asked about inventory levels on the hard goods and soft goods sides given the temporary closings of golf shops and retail stores due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In the apparel space, we'll be able to repurpose some of the spring/summer lines until next year,’’ Brewer said. “In the golf equipment side… it doesn't really have a spring/summer application. So, the same Mavrik Driver is easily as salable later in the year as it is now.’’

Brewer did okay until that last line. I know what he meant, but how will that play when Callaway wants to launch its new driver?

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