The Local Knowlege

Golf & Business

Callaway Golf set to debut its own live weekly variety show

Perhaps it isn’t as anticipated as Sunday's series finale of Mad Men, but in its own way Monday night signals a watershed moment in, for lack of a better phrase, golf television.

At 9 p.m. (ET) on May 18, Callaway debuts a live variety show of sorts that Harry Arnett, the company’s marketing wiz, touts as “giving consumers access to something they didn’t have before.” Specifically, what Arnett says he’s talking about is “unscripted moments” with celebrities, athletes and tour players talking about golf, life and presumably everything in between in front of a studio audience. 

loop-harry-arnett-300.jpgThe 25-minute show, “Callaway Live,” will livestream every Monday from Callaway's Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters for the next 18 weeks (click here for link). It starts with Arnett (right) interviewing legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg, and future guests include Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Howard Stern reporter Jon Leiberman. It's golf equipment marketing turned inside out.

When I spoke with Arnett last fall about his motivations, he stressed that his main intent was to make sure his brand was part of the ongoing golf conversation. "We're definitely responding to the cultural zeitgeist that exists in the sport," he said then, "but I think we're doing it in a way that's light and fast and authentic to us."

At the time, the idea occurred to him that it might be more impactful if the company’s advertising was more current. For example, he wondered why it wouldn’t be better to run a new ad every week with a fresh comment from a player after he’d won the week before, rather than running the same kind of commercials week in and week out. Now it seems clear that what’s easier and more possible is to just create your own live show every week. 

Arnett talks about "making golfers feel like they're part of what we do" not so much by talking to them but talking with them. For him, it's not so much about changing the conversation, it's about being a part of it. Of course, in an interesting way, Arnett feels his modern method just might be decidedly old school. 

"We felt like if we could figure out a way to be unique in it, provide utility to it and be a contributing citizen in the community of golfers, we could become sort of the people's brand," he said. "Which was very closely connected to the DNA of the company when it got started 20 years ago."

In introducing the new show, Arnett says, “The best brands are the brands that act as connectors.” Certainly, other companies produce videos to take its customers inside. TaylorMade recently offered a video look at equipment tweaks for Justin Rose. Titleist has offered plenty of tour-player videos, and it routinely asks its “Team Titleist” community to weigh in on golf-ball prototypes well before the product comes to market. 

But those efforts, while interactive, are still largely product-driven. Callaway Live seems more of a brand statement. It's the kind of thing Golf Channel used to do, and in fact, former Golf Channel producer Jeff Neubarth is filling the same role for Callaway Live. Arnett clearly sees Callaway as a new kind of golf-media presence.

“The average consumer doesn’t get to be a part of those unscripted moments until now,” Arnett says. “We feel like Callaway Live is a great venue for that. Unscripted moments, with people who make this game the three-dimensional, cool game that it is.”

It’s an attempt to bring the fan closer to the product. His product, of course. But the more you are interested in the unique possibilities of Callaway Live, the more you realize you’ve forgotten that its sole intent is to get you thinking more about Callaway products. 

Somewhere, Don Draper is smiling. 

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Golf & Business

Starting a golf website? This guy has got the perfect name for you

We all have things in our lives we didn't realize we needed until we had them, and then once we had them we can't remember how we lived without them. At the risk of sounding overconfident about his product, Dan Schindler thinks he has one of those things, at least for anyone who cares about golf.

loop-dan-schindler-donuts-350.jpgSchindler is the co-founder and executive vice president for business development of a company call Donuts. His group has spent almost $60 million in application fees in the last few years for several hundred top level domain names, or TLDs. TLDs are needed in the creation of an individual or company website. The ones we're most familiar with are .COM, .ORG or .NET, but you can also use one of the names Donuts has registered, such as .GURU, .PHOTOGRAPHY and .EMAIL.

And now .GOLF.

Donuts officially acquired the rights to .GOLF earlier this year, winning the name at auction after three other companies also made bids. (That's more than bid on the rights to .FOOTBALL.) Schindler would not say specifically how much the company paid for the name, except that it was "a substantial seven figure" price.

Related: Golf Digest Stix Q&A With Dan Schindler

Schindler, an Englishman who is also a golfer, believes it was money well spent because of the potential for .GOLF to attract interest not just from businesses that have a stake in the game, but individual golfers.

"If you're going to get .ACCOUNTING or .LAW or .RESTAURANT, it's because you're in those businesses and it's for your business that you want that new domain name," Schindler said. "But for .GOLF it really is designed for the fan, somebody that has an affinity with that sport and wants to have a web address in .GOLF and have their email at a .GOLF domain name. We know there are over 60 million golfers in the world and there are countless millions more that played the game or are fans of the game. So the opportunity in this space we think is huge."

Donuts first started offering .GOLF earlier this month as part of a 60-day "sunrise" period where anybody who has trademark privileges can register their names (for instance, Callaway could snatch up Callaway.Golf during this time). Starting July 1, the restrictions for registration end and anyone can go to domain registrars such as GoDaddy and Domain.com and obtain a .GOLF name.

Donuts recoups its investment by getting a fee for every name that registrars sell ("We're the manufacturer, and GoDaddy is the retailer," Schindler says. "It's a subscription model reliant on volume.") Schindler wouldn't say the number of people his company is projecting will register a .GOLF name but feels confident in his investment and the idea that .GOLF can become accepted in the same way as .COM.

"There are people starting businesses every second all around the world," Schindler says. "And they need to buy domain names. And the fact of the matter is, you can't. There's oversaturation with .COM. So if you want to be online, you've got to find the name space. Why not find one that actually resonates with your audience?"

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Golf & Business

Artist sets the scene at Chambers Bay in new U.S. Open poster

Washington's Chambers Bay is a first-time major-championship venue and the first course in the Pacific Northwest to host the U.S. Open. The historic moment gave Lee Wybranski what he describes as a "clean canvas" while working on the official commemorative poster for the 2015 championship.

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The Flagstaff, Ariz.-based artist visited Chambers Bay last May and was taken by the sandy turf, water view and train tracks that run past the course. "I love diagonal compositions because they provide a great deal of depth and drama and really pull your eyes in," says Wybranski, who has painted the official Open poster since 2008.

Wybranski admits to taking some artistic license with his portrait of the 16th hole, bringing in the Olympic Mountains and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, while incorporating Chambers Bay's lone tree.

"My intention is always to find an original view of the course that hasn't been done before, but also is recognizable," he says.

The poster is $32 and is available online at usgashop.com

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Golf & Business

How more golf in D.C. can improve the relationship between Republicans and Democrats

Every time President Obama picks up a golf club, someone has a comment about how he's wasting time he should be spending focused on his day job. This obviously upsets all of us here at Golf Digest, because we think it's great our Commander-in-Chief hits the links. No one can work 24/7. A little time on the course is a smart way for President Obama to clear his head. 

Of course, the President isn't the only public official in Washington who plays golf ... or could benefit from playing the sport. According to a story from NPR, golf has historically been a good way for public officials of different parties to find a little common ground.   

NPR's story makes it clear the golf course isn't necessarily where members of Congress are brokering the final parts of any specific legislation. Where the value in regular golf outings in D.C. can be found in that they create a relaxed place for politicians to work on fostering relationships with rivals from across the aisle. 

"It's still one of the best ways to communicate with one another and solve a problem - on the golf course," Rep. Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, says in the story.

The current issue, however, is that the politicians are playing less golf together, creating a greater divide between the parties. It seems like one big step to a healthier capital is for everyone to follow the President's lead, and play a little more golf. 

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Golf & Business

Can "The Squeeze" buck the trend of bad golf movies?

Terry Jastrow is the writer and director of "The Squeeze," a new golf movie opening in theaters and video on demand Friday. Jastrow, 66, worked for more than 20 years as a producer and director at ABC Sports. We spoke to him recently for Golf Digest Stix about bringing his story to the big screen. You can see the trailer below, along with an extended version of our Q&A.


Why make a golf movie? Their track record isn't great.

Like all golfers, I love to see movies with golf in them. And I had what I think is a pretty entertaining story to tell. But, you go all the way through the list of golf movies, "Follow The Sun" to "Tin Cup," and with all due respect to the actors in them, you can tell pretty quickly you're watching an actor, not a real golfer. The narrative is constantly being ruptured. So I knew I couldn't make this movie until I found actors who could really play.

How did you do that?

There were more than 1,000 submissions for the lead role of Augie. We interviewed and auditioned, but the last three I took to Bel-Air Country Club, walked them to the first tee and said, "Play away please." And Jeremy Sumpter [who got the job] can really play. He has a really good swing. During the round I asked him if he could play a shot left-handed. He said, "I'm not too good at that," but then took his putter and with the back flange he flipped the ball in the air and whacked it on to the green from 120 yards. I said, "Damn, I'm putting that in the movie."

Why do you think golf movies have had such trouble connecting with audiences?

I think some of the golf movies have been too golf centric, too focused on the game. I think our movie has a broad appeal. It's more "The Sting" meets "Tin Cup." It's a heist. So you get lost in the story. For me it's a little like "The Color of Money." It's Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. You wouldn't say that's a pool movie. It's a really cool, gambler, heist, intrigue character piece.

In what ways did your experience directing tournament golf help you?

I think it boils down to the common denominator of storytelling. I grew up with the great boss and mentor and friend, Roone Arledge. And his mantra was the human drama of athletic competition. It never was only about the action. So I think my 22 years at ABC Sports while the genre was different, the fundamental lessons of it was story telling, in order to create an entertaining and compelling a program.

Related: Golf And The Movies

What was the biggest challenge in making the movie?

We shot 14 days in North Carolina and six days in Las Vegas. And every day you go on the set, regardless of how much preparation you've done, and there is just from sunup to sunset literally hundreds and probably thousands of decisions you have to make. And I tell you, I have been a producer or director to eight Olympic Games, one Super Bowl, and 62 major championships of golf, and it's the hardest thing I've ever done, but on the other hand it's so thrilling. You're say to yourself, "I'll get tired afterward."

Is the toughness because when you're directing a sporting event, you only have control over so much? Directing a movie, you have control over everything.

It does. And you know early on [with TV coverage] you do two hours of a golf tournament. The first 18 holes of live golf every covered was 1977 at the U.S. Open at Southern Hills. It was won by Hubie Green, which I directed, I'm proud to say. So now you're up to four hours, five hours. And four days of doing it. so it's not just the intensity and volume, but the length the movie takes in comparison to a sporting event. The Olympics are like 16 days. Well they don't even compare to how challenging a movie is.

What was the most enjoyable part of doing the whole thing?

Well there were a lot of things. I had a ball. I loved my cast. Jeremy Sumpter, Christopher McDonald, Michael Nouri, Jillian Murray, Katherine LaNasa. I wanted to cast people who were terrific actors and great people. I didn't want any assholes on the set. And the collaborative process was great. I had a view as a director that I want to try to create an environment for an actor to be as great as he can be. So I don't really mandate an actor does this or that. I collaborate with them. I find out their way of working and I sort of collaborate with them in their sweet spot. And we just had a ball doing it. so working with our cast will be a lifetime memory of joy. And my wife, Anne Archer, was a producer. It was so great to have her on the set. I knew she always had my back. If I was stubbing my toe, she doesn't have any problem telling me about it. so working with Anne as well.

There seems a simple answer to this, but how will you judge whether the movie has been a success?

Well I think the first criteria is your own personal sense of it. Is it a reflection of what you had hoped it would be? And honestly, the movie is better than I ever thought it would be. And then you want the public to enjoy it because that's who you do it for.. And then thirdly, it's just a fact, how does it do commercially. And we think we're going to do very well there. I've been so pleased by the early response and reviews. So I'm really excited about it.

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Terry Jastrow on the set of "The Squeeze."

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Balls

Former TaylorMade R&D leader going into ball business

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The golf ball market is starting to get a lot more interesting. 

While most golfers have been paying attention to the recent introductions of tour-level balls from major companies (Titleist's latest Pro V1/Pro V1x, Callaway's Chrome Soft and the Srixon Z-Star family), there’s been a recent influx of smaller manufacturers that have developed some success in marketing golf balls directly to consumers (3UP.com, INeedtheBall.com, Hopkins Golf and Vice Golf). In many cases, these are balls with not insignificant technologies at prices significantly below the national average. Now comes news that for the first time one of the more notable figures in golf ball technology over the last few decades is getting into the business on his own. 

Dean Snell, most recently the vice president of golf ball research and development at TaylorMade, is the force behind Snell Golf. The company announced two new products today, one of which includes a multilayer, urethane-covered construction the highest-priced technology currently on the market. Like these other companies, Snell Golf will market its golf balls exclusively online, direct to consumers.

Unlike these companies, however, there’s an individual with some serious golf ball technology cred on the payroll. Snell has been at the forefront of golf ball development with both Titleist and TaylorMade over the last 25 years. His name is on 38 golf ball patents, and he has worked on the groundbreaking technology behind the original Titleist Pro V1 and the five-layer TaylorMade Penta golf balls. 

Snell Golf’s My Tour Ball features a low-compression core and a multilayer construction with a cast urethane cover. The company also is offering a two-piece ball (Get Sum), also with low compression, aimed at improving distance, reducing spin on tee shots and providing softer feel. 

Beyond the technologies, what may be most appealing about these products are the prices. My Tour Ball will cost $31.99, similarly priced to one of Snell’s last projects before leaving TaylorMade, the Project (a) ball. That price is in line with some of the other direct-to-consumer offerings, but $10-15 less than some name brand multilayer urethane cover balls. Get Sum is $20.99. 

“I love this game and I hate seeing it decline,” Snell says on a video on his company’s website. “The motivation I have to start this company is to try to help grow the game. If I can help in any way, I can help with the cost of the golf ball. I can give you the performance and the technology that you’re looking for at an affordable price to help you go out and play more.”
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Equipment

Callaway Golf makes profit in 2014, best year since 2008

xr-driver-sole-b.jpgIn the nearly three years since Chip Brewer took over the reins as president and CEO of Callaway Golf, much has been made about the company’s comeback. Belts were tightened, product innovation grew and sales numbers were up. Indeed, general consumer perception was changing along with the company’s re-emerging presence in the professional ranks, too. Thursday, the company put those changes in the clearest perspective.

For the first full year since 2008, Callaway Golf made money. In a year that had been in many circles troubling for the golf industry, Callaway announced that full-year income for 2014 increased by five percent to $887 million, up from $843 million in 2013. Its gross profit of $358 million was the highest since 2010, and fully diluted earnings per share were $0.20 versus a $0.31 loss in 2013. 

“When looking just at the currency neutral basis you can see that we’ve made nice progress,” Brewer told investors on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday. “What we’ll continue to need to do is basically the things that we’ve been doing in operational improvements and revenue growth. On a currency-neutral basis I believe this was and is trending on a very positive basis.”

Among the highlights for 2014 were increased sales in woods (8 percent), irons (12 percent) and golf balls (4 percent). The company saw also sales increases in all regions of the world, including an 11 percent gain in Europe. 

Still, the company is cautious about its 2015 forecast, suggesting that operating costs will increase due to spending on tour support and marketing. But the big drag will be weakening foreign currency. Callaway is forecasting a decrease in net sales based solely on unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates. Still, on a constant currency basis, Callaway is forecasting an increase in net sales to a high end of $920 million, or as much as 5 percent, including an estimated growth of 5-6 percent in core channel business. 

Brewer also said Callaway increased its investment in the driving range/entertainment franchise TopGolf to $50.4 million. “We continue to be excited about the prospects of that business, and we think that’s going to be a positive for the shareholders of Callaway Golf,” he said. 

Brewer also touted the company’s newly launched XR line of clubs and Chrome Soft ball and noted golfers’ acceptance of higher-priced products.

“Given the strength of our product line for 2015, and anticipated additional improvements in our operations, we expect for 2015 on a constant currency basis not only sales growth and market share gains, but also further improvements in gross margins and profitability. Golf is a momentum business and fortunately momentum is now on our side." 

Callaway’s stock price was up 3 percent in trading this morning.
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Golf & Business

Sorry, you missed your opportunity to buy Dustin Johnson's waterfront mansion

On Monday, Tim Rosaforte reported Dustin Johnson is eyeing a February return from his "leave of absence" from the PGA Tour and that he's been busy working out and practicing. Apparently, he's also been wheelin' and dealin' real estate during his time away from competitive golf.

Related: The lack of golf amenities in this $195 million estate is alarming

The LA Times reported Johnson sold his Jupiter, Fla., mansion for $5.2 million in an off-market deal. The 7,860-square foot Mediterranean-styled home was built in 2007 and was bought by Johnson in 2011 for $3.7 million.

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The buyer, Alexandre Ismail, president and CEO of Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions, seems to be getting a deal on the house, which was listed for $6.5 million before being taken off the market in July. The waterfront property includes a putting green, private dock, pool, and an outdoor fireplace and dining area.

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Johnson and fiancee Paulina Gretzky are expecting their first child. Perhaps, the couple is looking for something with a bit more space.

(Photo: Redfin)

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Golf & Business

The real cause of slow play isn't what you think

You know that guy who takes three practice swings and reads putts from both sides of the hole? And that other guy who tells long jokes when it’s his honor on the tee box? Turns out neither are responsible for the preponderance of five-hour rounds in this country. 

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The second annual Pace of Play Symposium was held at the USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., last week. The purpose was “to exchange thoughts, ideas and solutions for improving the pace of play in golf.” While this sounds like a grandiose version of the same futile, finger-pointing conversation overheard at the low-handicapper’s table in the men’s grillroom, it wasn’t. Discarding assumptions and embracing the scientific method, the results of 17 research projects, conducted by people from all corners of the world, were presented over two days. The data was as robust as the coffee. And Golf Digest sat through it all so you didn’t have to.  

If there was one common finding among the independent projects, it’s that the overriding factor is course management. No, not the kind that comes from reading yardage books, but how golf courses are actually operated by those who own them. This is encouraging, as the solution entails changing the behavior of a few thousand motivated stakeholders versus millions of unwitting Kevin Na copycats.

Rather than get bogged in the weeds of how the data was gathered (in one project, USGA interns spent their summers handing out GPS tracking devices to recreational players on the first tee and then collecting them on the 18th), let’s simply highlight the key points. 

The average round of golf in America takes 4 hours, 17 minutes, according to Lucius Riccio, Ph.D., who analyzed 40,460 rounds. The average time of dewsweepers, or the first group out, is 3:46. The length and Slope Rating of a golf course has almost no correlation with pace. The only statistically significant variable is how busy a course is. Golfers move like cars on the interstate. Rush hour is bad. Make too many merges too quickly, and gridlock ensues. 

So the most effective change course owners can make is to increase tee-time intervals. In the 2014 LPGA Tour season, the average round time was reduced 14 minutes by switching from 10- to 11-minute intervals. “While competitive golf is a much easier nut to crack because we can enforce faster play with referees and penalties, the same principles apply to recreational golf,” said Kevin Barker, assistant director of rules for the R&A. Many public facilities operate at eight-minute intervals. On the surface, moving to 10-minute intervals costs a course roughly 15 percent in revenue because fewer golfers can be accommodated on the tee sheet. 

However, faster rounds means a course can go later into the day before charging twilight rates to players less likely to finish. It also means they can operate with fewer carts. Poppy Hills Golf Course sold 10 carts from its fleet after significantly improving its average pace of play. 

Course setup is the second most important factor. Pete Rouillard, senior VP of golf operations for SunBelt Golf Corporation, which manages the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, pays strict attention to tees. During busy weekends, he’s had success pushing the tees back on par 5s and reachable par 4s, to deter longer hitters from waiting to have a go at the green, and also moving the tees forward on par 3s to result in more greens in regulation for everybody. The idea is “to make every hole transition to a short par 3 at some point to improve the flow of a round.”

Andrew Tiger, Ph.D., is big on flow. “Disney World has it figured it out, they make you wait while you think you’re on the ride,” he says. “A round that takes 4:18 where you don’t wait feels infinitely better than a round that takes the same time where you wait for 18 minutes.” Tiger has built a sophisticated model to predict how long a round will take depending on the precise features of each hole, the ability of the golfers playing, the number of golfers in a group and so on for as many variables as can be inputted, like say, if a group is playing a Scramble or Stableford format. The model is still a work in progress, but the USGA plans to work with Tiger closely in 2015. The goal is to be able to predict pace so acutely that courses can make management decisions and redesign accordingly.

The early returns suggest redesigns are indeed where you can pick up the most pace. Independence Golf Club in Midlothian, Va., shaved 45 minutes off its usual five-hour round by removing bunkers, making others less severe and overall increasing the playability of the course by removing large swaths of rough, which were costly to maintain and easy to lose a golf ball in. “The best players at the club say they’ve never had more fun playing,” said Lester George, who oversaw the redesign. “You still keep the challenge, golfers like getting it thrown back at them once in a while, but you increase the shot options.” 
“Golf courses used to be run on emotion, but as we go forward we’re going to see them run more like businesses,” said Stephen Johnston, founding principal of Global Golf Advisors.
And if that means making them run faster, customers will be happy. It’s quite possible the most useful conversation ever on slow play took 16 hours last week in New Jersey.   


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Golf & Business

New TaylorMade CEO Ben Sharpe: 'People want us to be the renegade'

TaylorMade's Thursday night launch in New York City of its new R15 and AeroBurner lines of metalwoods also served as a coming-out party of sorts for CEO Ben Sharpe, who was available for interviews for the first time since moving into his new job in April.

loop-ben-sharpe-taylormade-325.jpgSharpe, 40, has been with the company since 2006, spending six years as TaylorMade-adidas Golf's managing director in Europe. During that time he helped double the TaylorMade business in Europe. A member of Great Britain's field hockey team that competed in the 2000 Olympics, Sharpe was born and raised in Birmingham, England and graduated from Sheffield University in 1996 with a degree in Business Studies and Financial Markets. A 7-handicap who began playing golf at age 12, he was named executive vice president of Adidas Golf and Ashworth in February 2013 before becoming CEO this year.

Golf Digest got the first interview with Sharpe, who laid out his plans for both TaylorMade and Adams Golf and how to expand golf's base without changing the fabric of the game.

Golf Digest: You spent 100 days speaking with a lot of people about TaylorMade and the brand. What did you learn?

Ben Sharpe: What surprised me is that things aren't quite as bad as everyone is making them out to be. I think there is a big difference between perception and reality, and things are never quite as bad as they seem. Or quite as good as they seem. The positive thing I heard was how excited people are about what we are going to do with TaylorMade going forward and how they are going to support us and how important we are to the industry. In short, they want us to succeed.

Some things came out consistently. One is whether it be retailers, tour players or media, people want us to be the renegade. People want us to be the innovator -- to come out with new and exciting ideas -- and when we come out with them, to speak about them in a big way and in a different way that engages consumers.

GD: Is part of that enthusiasm driven by your stated goals of managing inventories and less cascading down of prices?

Sharpe: They want us to lead that charge, but in a responsible way. Still, talk is cheap and you get judged by what you do, not by what you say. All I ask is that we get judged by what we do. We want to address the challenges, but also introduce product in a cool way. Something that hits a nerve with every golfer -- like what we did with the introduction of the RSi irons -- where the golfer says, "Yeah, that could be for me."

GD: What's the path to do that?

Sharpe: Getting back to who we are: cool, exciting and [with] technologies that are better than their predecessors. And the marketing campaigns that are around those really need to strike to the core of the golfer. That's what it is all about and maybe, over the last 18 months, we got a little bit away from who we are. Sometimes I think we got a little bit carried away with our messaging. But I think what you saw with RSi and what you'll see with R15 and AeroBurner is that we're right on point.

GD:Is the average consumer confused? Bored? Angry? Eager?

Sharpe: If you listen to the people on the blog sites I'd say they are angry. But if you listen to the golfers out there -- because a lot of people who are on the blog sites are our competitors -- I would say there is some confusion. What product is the best one for me? Why is this one better? And why does this one cost this much and why does the other one cost that much? That's not an angry emotion. They're just a little confused.

GD: What's the plan for Adams Golf?

Shapre: We had an employee question-and-answer session the other day, and one question was, "Why do you love golf?" Some people said they love to compete. Others said they searched for the perfect shot. Others said they wanted to have fun or play with their pals. So there are different reasons and there are different purchase decisions that go with that. So with TaylorMade and Adams, we can spread those brands out across all those constituencies to attract a larger portion of the golf market. I think there is an opportunity to move Adams into that fun, friendly environment, a social, easy-to-play and put-a-smile-on-your-face brand, and keep TaylorMade as the zero to 4-handicap, aspirational, tour-validated, great-technology brand. And that's the value of having both. That's the reason we brought Adams to Carlsbad. It allows us to have those conversations every day on positioning.

GD: So you know exactly what you want to do with Adams?

Sharpe: We do. It's going to be different, but will still be able to be played by the best players in the world. Their hybrid technology is fantastic, and we will continue to develop that. But Adams can stand for more than just golf products. It can stand for movement to introduce a new demographic of people who want to play rather than compete.

GD: Nonconforming equipment, perhaps?

Sharpe: We can explore that. I'm not ruling anything out. But when you look at Adams I think I just want people to smile. There are six opportunities to get in a players' bag: Driver, fairway wood, hybrid, irons, wedges and putter. If you ask people to choose five or six cars, they wouldn't just have Aston Martins. So there's some room for the Adams brand to live.

GD: Is that space beyond golf clubs?

Sharpe: Yeah, I think it can be. But we are a golf equipment company at the moment and that's what we know. So that will be the focus for now.

GD: What about Hack Golf? Where does that stand?

Sharpe: Hack Golf was an interesting exercise for us. Unfortunately it was perceived as a TaylorMade marketing initiative, and it didn't get buy in because no other company wanted to get involved. So we learned that we cannot lead that charge. But we would like to be involved in anything that will improve the health of golf and grow the sport. We're working with the PGA of America and supporting some initiatives and will continue to have the Hack Golf website and if there are any good ideas we will continue to help fund those. It's an honest attempt to address a problem.

Golf is an aspirational sport and always should be. And always will be. But if you get the net wider you can still have your country clubs and all that. People shouldn't fear growing the game. It doesn't mean that it has to change the fabric of it or the integrity of the sport. Two of my most enjoyable golf experiences are seeing my 7-year-old boy hit the ball 100 yards at a nine-hole municipal course. The other is playing a private, members-only golf club and seeing no one in front of me and no one behind me for 18 holes. And I love them equally. And you can still have both of those experiences. Just because you're trying to do something new doesn't mean you have to lose that. And I think that may be a fear and why some things aren't being embraced.

GD: What about the tour and its role for TaylorMade given the investment and the return on that investment?

Sharpe: It's a conversation we have every year and review it to make sure it is relevant. And I'm sure in 10 years our tour strategy will be different than it is today. But at the moment I think the stable of players we have and the position we have in count in metalwoods and irons is a strong message. We talked about how the facts can be exciting. And the fact is since 1979 when took something made out of wood and made it out metal, we've been the innovator in that space. And the fact is the best players in the world have embraced those innovations in a big way. No one comes close to us in that area. So in terms of why you should play this product, it's because if it's from this company it's the best innovation because we've proven that's what we do. And it's because the best players in the world rely on this equipment to put food on their table. That's two compelling reasons to buy a product.

GD: You've said you want all of TaylorMade's employees to have a voice. What is the benefit of widening that net?

Sharpe: The great thing about our industry is that it is in sport. And most people that play in sport are competitive and play to win. And we want to win together. I'm a team player and I've played team sports all my life. I kind of like winning, and I think we're going to give it a shot again.

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