IT’S A NEW DAY at the PGA Merchandise Show. I conquered parking. I know my way around. And I have a plan. Here’s an outline of my activities:
9:00 a.m. – I arrive in the media room and set up on the back table. A few minutes later, AP golf writer Doug Ferguson plugs in beside me. Nearly every time you read an AP wire story about the PGA Tour on any Web site or in any newspaper, it came from Doug’s laptop. He’s the guy. We chitchatted about where we’re from, I-95 and the high price of wireless Internet in this media room ($24.95 a day!).
9:30 a.m. – I meet Tammy Boclair of Alday Communications, a Nashville-area PR and marketing firm that works with the PGA of America on golf initiatives such as Play Golf America and Get Golf Ready, a new program designed to introduce golf to new players.
10:30 a.m. – I stop by Booth #4994 to meet Casey Jones (Casey Jones Golf). Casey is a professional scoreboard artist who hand draws scores on scoreboards at PGA Tour events. Inside the ropes on a regular basis, Casey has unique access to Tour players and an up-close perspective on tournament golf. He has turned his artistic talent into a creative business venture, custom drawing oversized scorecards and other items to commemorate special events. One of his semi-regular playing companions in the Atlanta area is Stewart Cink, who fired a ho-hum 31 the last time the two played nine holes.
11:00 a.m. – Where’s Ian Poulter? I’m unable to locate the Fashion Gallery where Poulter is showcasing his new clothing line and holding a press conference. I turn back and begin the long walk to an event at the PGA Equipment Forum Stage.
11:15 a.m. – I walk by David Leadbetter, who is at the Golf Pride booth talking about grips. I overhear him say, “Putting is all about feel.” Indeed. I walk by Butch Harmon, who is doing a demo at the Momentus Golf booth. Butch is saying something about ball position in the stance. I walk by the Bridgestone booth where Paula Creamer is attracting a large crowd and a long line of autograph seekers. There’s no time for David, Butch, or Paula because I’m on my way to see my favorite golfer, Lorena Ochoa.
11:30 a.m. – PING presents the “other” No. 1 player in the world, Lorena Ochoa. But first a VP talks a lot about their nFlight clubfitting system. (Please stop. Please bring out Lorena.) Finally, out walks a smiling Lorena for a demonstration and Q&A. As you can imagine, it’s crowded, but I had slipped into one of the last remaining front-row seats, pen and pad at the ready. (Look for my separate story on Lorena.)
12:30 p.m. – Lunch in the media room. I meet and talk with Kevin Sniffen, VP of The Hamilton Group, a public relations and marketing communications agency that represents golf and travel industry clients, including the Turning Stone Resort, site of a PGA Tour Fall Series event. I also meet Vince Matracco, the host of Golf Talk, a weekly radio show based in the Sacramento area. We talk a bit about the California governor’s golf tax proposal. Vince says he thinks it’s a trial balloon that isn’t going anywhere.
3:30 p.m. – The difference between the men’s and women’s game is apparent. Women’s golf legend Nancy Lopez only draws about two-dozen people to the Fashion Gallery stage for an appearance, so she remains at the NancyLopezGolf booth. I wait in a short line, shake Nancy's hand, and thank her for her contributions to the game. I ask her for an interview at a later date. Sure, she says. I hope to bring that to you in the spring. (I also pick up autographs for my two daughters.)
4:00 p.m. – I attend a special preview of Uneven Fairways, the Golf Channel’s new documentary on the Negro leagues of pro golf. It will air in mid February. Watch it; it’s a history lesson on the African American golf pioneers who made Tiger Woods possible.
5:20 p.m. – While packing up, I meet Jeff Babineau, editor of Golfweek. I ask him how it’s going since he took over for Dave Seanor (fired over the “noose” cover controversy). Fine, he says. Jeff still enjoys reporting and writing, even though he also has editorial responsibilities.
More to come.
−The Armchair Golfer