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Golf & Business

GolfBeer Brewing Co.: Want a G-Mac ale to go with that G-Mac and Cheese?

Coming soon to a 19th hole near you: Freddie’s Scandinavian Style Blonde Ale, G-Mac’s Celtic Style Pale Ale, and Keegan’s New England Style Lager.

That would be PGA Tour players Freddie Jacobson, Graeme McDowell and Keegan Bradley, who have entered the beer business, partners in the new GolfBeer Brewing Co.


“We wanted to create craft beers for the 19th hole, approachable craft beers, something the golfer can enjoy and maybe associate those with a golfer like Freddie Jacobson, like Keegan Bradley and myself,” McDowell said.

The idea was Jacobson’s and came from a conversation he had with a friend and business associate, Patrik Waxin. After completing his due diligence, Jacobson went to McDowell and Bradley to ask them to join him in the venture.

The beer is brewed at the Brew Hub in Lakeland, Fla., a company founded by craft beer experts and beer industry veterans. Initially it will be available on draft and in 12-ounce cans at select golf courses and restaurants in Florida. It has plans to offer it in glass bottles and to market it in grocery stores, bars and restaurants in 2015.

Related: Golf Digest’s best 19th holes

McDowell’s Nona Blue tavern in Lake Nona, Fla., which features G-Mac and Cheese on its menu, will be among those carrying GolfBeer’s offerings.

Each was developed according to the players’ own palates. “To have a master brewer develop a beer based on my taste preference has been an incredible experience,” Keegan Bradley said in a news release. “The beers are delicious, the concept is unique and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

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Golf & Business

Apple stores provide boost to small tech startup Arccos Golf

Many consider it a seal of approval when Apple agrees to commit shelf space in its stores to a product. For Sal Syed, the CEO and co-founder of a small startup, Arccos Golf, it is more than that. It is a dream.

Apple Store.jpg
(Getty Images photo)

“For us, really, Apple sets the benchmark in terms of quality and workmanship of a product,” Syed said. “I don’t think there’s a more polished, better-looking product than the iPhone. It’s a huge boost for us to have our product available at the same stores. For a small startup, it’s a dream.”

Arccos has developed sensors that attach to the butt end of golf clubs and automatically deliver real-time statistical data to an iPhone app. Apple stores began carrying Arccos sensors on Wednesday.

“It has to make sense for Apple to have your products,” Syed said. “Our product is directly integrated to the iPhone and basically brings the iPhone to life on the golf course. That is something that hasn’t been achieved before. For golfers, it gives them a compelling reason to take their iPhone on the golf course and derive value for it.

“A huge reason is the product itself. This is the first time in golf that there are going to be automatic sensors that detect shots and transmit data information without having to do anything. The immediacy of the information via the iPhone platform is a game changer.”

Related: An app that can track your stats like you're on the PGA Tour

The instant credibility that space in Apple stores provides could help offset whatever aversion potential consumers might have to its $399 price. At that, Syed sees a broad demographic spectrum that will find value in the Arccos.

“It’s really interesting,” he said. “It will have a demographic across the board, but generally golf tech skews older. So we’ll have a fair share of tech savvy adults. But look at kids. Cell phones are an extension of their life and it’s been missing on the golf courses. Biking and running are already connected. On the golf course none of that extension existed before.

“These are very, very exciting times for us.”

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Golf & Business

You probably don't know who the most powerful person in golf is (sorry Donald, it's not you)

Golf Inc. magazine has come out with its annual ranking of "The Most Powerful People In Golf", which, it should be noted, will not be confused with a ranking of the most famous people in golf.  

For instance, you probably know Donald Trump, No. 2 on the list, but you might not know the name Eric Affeldt. He's the CEO of ClubCorp, which went public a year ago and acquired 54 courses through its $265 million purchase of Sequoia Golf. According to Golf Inc., he's the only person in golf more powerful than The Donald.

The list goes on fluctuating between unquestioned A-listers (No. 4 Jack Nicklaus; No. 5.Tim Finchem) and names that might only be recognizable to golf industry insiders (No. 3 Dana Garmany, CEO of Troon Golf; No. 6 Peter Hill, CEO and Chairman of Billy Casper Golf). Which makes sense: Golf Inc. is a quarterly publication that covers "the latest trends in the development, sales and management of golf courses." So these are men -- and all 30 spots on the list are men, for what that's worth -- who are shaping the game in both obvious and subtle ways. 

In addition to Finchem, other key figures in golf's governing bodies are also represented on the list: the USGA's Mike Davis (seventh), the R&A's Peter Dawson (13th), outgoing PGA of America president Ted Bishop (22nd) and European Tour CEO George O'Grady (23rd).

There's only one person representing the golf media on the list (Golf Channel president Mike McCarley is 16th), one architect (Olympic course designer Gil Hanse, 20th), and just two active players: Rory McIlroy is 19th and Tiger Woods, who was 17th a year ago, has dropped to 29th. 

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Golf & Business

Tiger Woods making progress on course designs, signs off on front nine at Bluejack National

Tiger Woods’ golf course design business finally is making progress, despite news that last month’s Hurricane Odile has jeopardized the December opening of the Diamante El Cardonal course he designed in Cabo San Lucas.

Last week, Woods made a site visit to Bluejack National, a private course he has designed northwest of Houston, and he signed off on the front nine there. The course is expected to open in early October, 2015, and would be his first design to open in the U.S.

Tiger at Bluejack.jpg

“Our opportunity to work with Tiger has put us really close to Tiger Woods’ imagination in what he sees when he’s looking at golf holes,” Michael Abbott, a partner of Beacon Land Development, said. “He’s combined great elevation changes with his great imagination. From that, he’s creating this look and corridors that can really strike some emotion. People maybe don’t see Tiger Woods as an emotional golfer, but he’s definitely an imaginative golfer.

“It is refreshing for us to be with Tiger Woods as he explores all the different options around the green to tap into all levels of players. How he’s making sure holes have movement left to right and right to left. One of the characteristics of a Tiger Woods golf course is that you should be able to play in front of the green. There are no forced carries in front of the green.”

Bluejack National.jpg

Abbott said Woods has taken a page from the Augusta National playbook, with only one cut of turf. When you miss the fairway your ball will settle on pine straw. “You can still find it,” Abbott said.

“He’s really opened up the corridors, beautiful alleys,” Abbott said. “He’s done a fabulous job. We didn’t know Tiger could draw, but he can draw. To see him with paper and pen in hand is special. It’s a pretty hands-on project for him. This is more than just Tiger Woods coming in for a drive by.”

Photos of Woods’ site visit, including the two here, have been posted at his Facebook page.

As for El Cardonal, “Diamante said it is still trying to determine if it will be able to maintain the scheduled December opening, and expects to make a decision early this month.” Travel Pulse reported.

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Golf & Business

Topgolf is offering people really cheap lessons

If you haven't been to Topgolf yet, it's best described as part driving range, part video game, part raging house party. I went to one on assignment for Golf Digest earlier in the year, and the difference between it and the image of the game golf's naysayers try to paint was at times startling. 

People flock to Topgolf -- mostly millennials who haven't played golf before -- and do to such an extent that the company has plans for 49 more locations nationwide in the next three years. And as part of that ongoing expansion, Topgolf has announced a new initiative: Topgolf U.

Topgolf U is essentially an instruction program that Topgolf says will help "grow the game." Lesson prices range by site, but start at $20 for adults and $15 for kids. PGA-certified instructors roam around the hitting bays and offer advice that'll help users play the game better. Lessons last about 20 minutes and instructors will video the player's swing, which they can then share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

"Topgolf is unlike anything else in the golf world, and we wanted to make the lesson experience just as remarkable," Topgolf Director of Strategic Partnerships Rodney Ferrell said in a release. “By combining the buzzing atmosphere of Topgolf with some of the finest teaching pros in the world using the latest technology, we’ve truly redefined the golf lesson. Put simply, Topgolf is making golf affordable, easy to learn and -- most important -- fun.”

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Golf & Business

Billy Walters sells home with 'best short-game area I've ever seen' at bargain price of $14.3 million

What is the value of a house that comes with a short-game practice area designed by short-game guru Dave Pelz?

It’s $14.3 million when attached to a 21,000 square-foot house on nine acres in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

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This was the price for which it was sold recently in a no-reserve auction by renowned professional gambler and avid golfer Billy Walters, who teamed with Fredrik Jacobson to win the pro-am competition in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2008.

Walters, who earlier this year was linked to Phil Mickelson in an insider-trading probe (both deny any wrongdoing), owns several golf courses and is a member of Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, Del Mar Country Club, Bighorn Golf Club and the Madison Club in California, and Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., among others. His USGA handicap index is 9.5.

Walters touted the Pelz short-game area in a video made to promote the sale through Concierge Auctions. “It’s is the best short-game area I’ve ever seen,” he said. “This a Dave Pelz design, the best short-game teacher in the world. He came out and personally designed it as a favor to me.”

The price at which the home was sold confirms what he already knows, that he’s better at wagering on sporting events than real estate. “We've lost money on every home we've bought and sold here," he told the Wall Street Journal two years ago. "It's not what I do for a living. If it was, I'd be in trouble.”

This time, he sold the house via a no-reserve auction, which meant no minimum price guarantee, and it proved a losing proposition. Walters purchased the house for $8.5 million and made in excess of $7 million in renovations, he said. He previously had listed the home for $20 million.

Meanwhile, he and his wife have decided to live in their ocean-front home that once was on the market for $29 million in Carlsbad, Calif, a few miles up the San Diego County coastline.

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Golf & Business

Rounds played numbers show gains in July

It has been too easy for mainstream media to kill the golf industry, and rounds played has been an especially easy target.

This year, the numbers seem to have been distressing. PGA PerformanceTrak, which analyzes monthly rounds played data in the U.S., released its figures for July, and they continue to show that overall this year rounds played are down. A closer look at the figures, however, paints a different picture.

For July, rounds played actually were up year over year by 1.5 percent. As well, the average rounds played per day open through July was up 2.4 percent compared to the same period last year. A total of 27 states in the report showed an increase in rounds played this July vs. last July. In the graphic below, there are 18 states with an increase in rounds played for the first seven months of 2014 vs. the first seven months of 2013 (positive gains are shown in blue, light blue and brown). 

Remember that the number of playable days in 2014 is the lowest since PerformanceTrak began its research in 2005, and weather data shows that the first seven months overall were the coldest start in 20 years. July’s rounds played figures helped shift the total rounds played number up. The overall number was off 1.7 percent through June, but is now only down 1 percent counting July’s numbers. 

In addition, revenue at golf courses was up in July. Food and beverage sales were higher by 8.1 percent vs. last July, and merchandise sales were up 1.5 percent.

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Golf & Business

Upper Deck's new golf trading cards come with something more valuable than bubble gum

For golf-memorabilia buffs, there's plenty packed into Upper Deck's new trading-card set. The 2014 Exquisite Golf Collection comes in packs of six cards, five of which are autographed by a tour pro.

loop-UpperDeck-Michelle-Wie518.jpgEach card is numbered to prove its authenticity. Current PGA Tour pros, legends such as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, and LPGA players are all included. Among the highlights of the set are rookie cards from Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie, Graeme McDowell and Cheyenne Woods.

loop-UpperDeck-Rory-McIlroy-518.jpgThe cards also incorporate swatches of game-worn golf shirts, which have been sent directly from tour pros to Upper Deck, says sports marketing manager Chris Carlin. Additionally, the collection includes the largest offering of autographed Tiger Woods cards that Upper Deck has ever offered.

Packs are selling for $650.

For more, click here.

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Golf & Business

TaylorMade to consolidate, relocate Adams to Carlsbad

When Adidas, the parent company of the TaylorMade, Adidas Golf, Ashworth and Adams brands, announced its depressing second-quarter earnings last week, CEO Herbert Hainer made it clear that changes would be coming in the golf division.

Yesterday, the first indications of those changes were made real when TaylorMade-adidas Golf announced that it would be closing the long-time headquarters of Adams Golf in Plano, Texas. 

The company released a statement this morning:

“We recently announced that a reorganization of our company was being planned. This restructuring includes the consolidation of our Adams Golf business currently located in Plano to our global headquarters in Carlsbad. We are also realigning our workforce at TaylorMade to better meet the needs of our business and ultimately, our consumers. This includes investing in new areas to strengthen our brands and strategically approach our future to reinforce our leadership in the industry.”

New TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Ben Sharpe, who was named to the position in May when former CEO Mark King was moved to head Adidas North America, indicated the company will make fundamental changes.

“The golf industry has been challenged and so has our business,” Sharpe told Golf Digest. “To grow our business for the long-term and to maintain our position as the industry leader, we need to reinvent ourselves. We will continue to obsess about making the golfer better through performance leading products, validated by the best players in the world and to bring this experience to life in new and exciting ways."  

According to several sources, the Plano headquarters will be closed before the end of the year. Although no further details of the restructuring were provided, it is likely that the consolidation could include combining and reducing the two companies outside sales forces. As of 2012, Adams had 180 employees at its Plano headquarters, but it is not clear how many of those employees will be brought on board in Carlsbad. 

While no date for the transition was announced, Adams already has privately debuted several new products set to be released this fall, including the XTD Tour iron, as well as new fairway woods and hybrids. No announcement was made regarding specific cuts in the research and development departments at either Adams or TaylorMade, or any changes with regard to player endorsement contracts for either brand. Adams has an especially strong presence on the Champions Tour, including three of the top 10 players on the Schwab Cup points list (Bernhard Langer, Kenny Perry and Tom Watson) 

TaylorMade purchased the publicly held Adams Golf in 2012 for an estimated $70 million. Adams has long held a dominant position on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour in the weekly hybrid count (it has been the No. 1 hybrid in play on the European Tour this year, as well as the PGA Tour). This year Adams announced its most high-profile signing when it brought on four-time major winner Ernie Els in a multi-year endorsement contract. In May, it opened the first “second shot” fitting center in the world at Wentworth Club in England, devoted to helping golfers find the right clubs for longer approach shots hit with hybrids and fairway woods.  

According to the Adidas second-quarter report, net sales at TaylorMade-adidas Golf were down 30.6 percent for the first half of this year, including double-digit declines in the sales of metalwoods and irons. Still, Adidas’s Hainer indicated he believed the golf business will rebound.

“We will prepare ourselves for a lower revenue line in the future in golf,” Hainer said during last week’s earnings call. “But we definitely want to be as profitable as we have been in the past.”

How that might be done seems to be a matter of changing both TaylorMade and Adams product introduction cycles, among the most rapid in the industry, both in the short term and the long term. There is a clear sense that the overall retail environment is already extremely oversupplied. According to the latest Golf Datatech numbers, the inventory index for metalwoods alone is 25 percent higher than it was a year ago. 

Hainer also said that the company plans to help retailers “clean up the market and specifically our inventory” through the rest of this year. In addition, Hainer said, “We are being very careful about what products and how much we introduce in 2014. I can promise you that our pipeline of new innovative products is full and we will launch them as soon as we see that the market is ready and the inventories are back to normalized or healthy levels.”

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Golf & Business

With its satellite TV debut less than two months away, Back9Network founder Jamie Bosworth is out of the picture

By Peter Finch

Back9Network founder and CEO Jamie Bosworth, who landed $5 million in state loans and grants to build a studio and hire workers in Connecticut, won’t be among those employees any longer.

loop bosworth.jpgThe upstart network announced Friday that Bosworth had “resigned to pursue other career opportunities.” It declined to say why. A message to Bosworth’s Back9Network email address seeking comment got forwarded automatically to the network’s PR firm, which responded that he was no longer with the company.

He’s being replaced as CEO by Charles Cox, the company’s chief financial officer and head of business development. President Carlos Silva will become chief operating officer as well.

“We appreciate all that Jamie did to get Back9Network off the ground in the early years,” says Cox. “It was not an easy task. We wish him the very best in the new and interesting directions his career takes him.”

It’s been a newsy summer for the “lifestyle”-oriented golf network. Only a few weeks ago, Back9Network announced it will be carried on DirecTV starting in late September. That marks the first time the network, now exclusively online, will be available on TV.

A countdown clock in the company’s Hartford headquarters shows 57 days till it starts appearing on DirecTV.

Bosworth’s departure will not affect the DirecTV relationship, Silva assures. “We’re all set for late September. All the components of our programming and all our operational pieces here in Connecticut are coming together really well.”

Bosworth is a former sales executive with Odyssey Golf and Callaway Golf. He also worked briefly as an assistant pro at Pebble Beach in the 1990s. He and former TV news reporter Jennifer Lahmers were married in Carmel three years ago, and together the Bosworths were often seen as the public face of Back9Network. The CEO’s wife got some negative publicity last fall when a sex-oriented “advice video” appeared on the network’s web site, with her as host. It was quickly removed from the site. Jennifer Bosworth filed for divorce from Jamie this summer.

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