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.
Each 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.
The 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.
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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.
With its satellite TV debut less than two months away, Back9Network founder Jamie Bosworth is out of the picture
By Peter FinchBack9Network 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.
The 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.
Contrary to popular belief, there are positive stories in equipment sales, rounds played, and even employment opportunities. The professional game might be on better financial footing than any other individual sport, and maybe most important, the game’s leaders have embraced the idea of growing the game in its most important way: young people. The story of golf in July 2014 certainly is not candy canes and rainbows, but those clouds might not be as dark as others have been so quick to point out.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews issued a statement late Friday afternoon, in tribute to its infamous, late Friday acknowledgement of making design changes to the Old Course in 2012. This time, the issue was the vote on admitting members to the club, which is legally separated from the R&A, governors of golf's rules outside of North America.
Here was the statement:
"A postal ballot among members of the Club on a motion to admit women as members will be conducted prior to the announcement of the result on 18 September 2014. This replaces the vote that was previously scheduled to take place at the Club's Business Meeting on that day. By taking this decision all members can take part in this historic vote."
Our finely tuned What They Said What They Meant algorithm can handle anything, including the most tightly worded statements:
"A ballot is to be sent by mail because many of members of the Club still do not use email. The motion to admit women as members, a portion of the population we still rather unbelievably do not allow in our club. The vote will be announced on Sept. 18, 2014. Not coincidentally, that is the day Scotland votes on its independence, ensuring this embarrassing situation is tucked deep into the Empire's newspapers the next day. This postal ballot replaces the potentially disastrous vote that was previously scheduled to take place at the Club's Business Meeting on Sept. 18 and which might have only been attended by those still hoping for a big, all-things 19th century comeback. By taking this decision to all members, including those preferring the 20th century and even the handful who have faith in this new 21st century, all members can take part in this embarrassingly historic vote."
By Peter Finch
What does a golfer get for winning a major championship, beyond the prize money?
Even more money.
Rory McIlroy’s win at Hoylake earned him nearly £1 million, or $1.7 million. But paydays like those pale next to what he makes off the course. His contract with Nike is worth an estimated $10 million to $12 million a year. And that’s just one in a package of endorsements that placed him at No. 5 on Golf Digest’s most recent ranking of the game’s 50 biggest earners.
You can safely assume McIlroy will be even higher on our list next time. While Nike declines to comment on specifics of its endorsement deals, it’s common for golfers to have incentive clauses that reward them with bonuses for wins and major championships.
"Almost all contracts have bonuses tied to winning, and to winning majors," agent Mac Barnhardt of Crown Sports LLC told Golf Digest’s Ron Sirak earlier this year. "And the bonus for winning a major is two to four times higher than for a regular win. So we're talking bonuses from $100,000 to $500,000 per contract."
Sirak continued: “According to one agent who spoke on the condition of anonymity, [Justin] Rose's $1.2 million TaylorMade deal doubled in value after his Open victory. The same agent says [Phil] Mickelson got a $1 million bonus from Callaway for winning the British Open. A second agent says Rose and Masters winner Adam Scott will earn an extra $3 million to $5 million annually for winning a major."
McIlroy’s other sponsors include Bose speakers, the Spanish bank Santander and Omega watches.
On top of all that, McIlroy’s appearance fees are likely to climb too. At the moment, he collects $1 million per appearance in South Korea and China, according to the Irish Times. He is said to have asked for $2 million to appear in the Australian Open two years ago -- an amount equal to Tiger Woods’ fee -- but was turned down, Australian Golf Digest reported. Next time he asks for $2 million, he might well get it.
Photo: Getty Images
HOYLAKE, England -- The transcript did not tell the full story from the annual R&A pre-tournament press conference Wednesday at Royal Liverpool. Particularly when the topic pivoted to the R&A's pending television renewal with the BBC, a story downplayed by most of the local media except for the Daily Mail.
This is what R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson said when asked about a possible change from 59-year-partner BBC, whose contract runs out in 2016, to Rupert Murdoch's Sky Sports.
"Well, we have had an extremely long relationship with the BBC and a very happy one. I think it's now 59 years since the Open Championship was first televised in 1955 on the BBC. Our current contract runs through the 2016 Open. And what will happen thereafter remains to be seen. Being a rights holder we obviously have to balance that long-term relationship and the high viewership of the BBC against commercial considerations. The value of golf rights has accelerated dramatically, particularly in the United States just in the last 12 months. And that's perhaps a bigger item in the equation than it might otherwise have been, that's for sure. But it's massively premature to speculate on what might occur."
Here's where you picture our exclusive algorithm translating that statement and the result:
"Well, we have had an extremely long relationship with the BBC and a very happy one, except on occasion when Peter Alliss has taken a jab at us. I'm going to say I think it's now 59 years since the Open Championship was first televised in 1955 on the BBC even though I know full well how bloody long it's been. Our current contract runs through the 2016 Open. And what will happen thereafter remains to be seen, though I have a pretty good idea we're going to cash in, baby! Being a rights holder we obviously have to balance that long-term relationship and the high viewership of the BBC against commercial considerations. For at least a good hour or two. The value of golf rights has accelerated dramatically, particularly in the United States just in the last 12 months where our friends at the USGA have ensured we can suitably cash in, too! And that's perhaps a bigger item in the equation than it might otherwise have been, that's for sure, I mean, who'd a thunk Rupert Murdoch would pay that much cash for golf! Still it's massively premature to speculate on what might occur, at least publicly, but you can bet we're already counting the massive infusion of money that'll start coming in around 2017 when Sky takes over!"
Billy Walters, course owner and professional gambler, rolls the dice with an auction on his sprawling SoCal home
Spanish Mediterranean Estate — from Concierge Auctions
By Peter FinchAre public-course golfers about to get hit with higher green fees? That’s one conclusion you could reach from Marcus & Millichap’s Golf Investor Sentiment Survey 2014.
The real estate firm’s National Golf & Resort Property Group recently queried “owners, managers, prospective buyers, appraisers, lenders and other consultants” to create a Golf Investment Index. (Use this link to see a report summarizing its findings.)
The Golf Investment Index is a scale that aims to track industry members’ confidence. A score of 0.0 would be “a dead economy” while 100.0 would represent “a perfect golf investment economy,” explains Raymond Demby, head of research and analysis at the firm. A score of 50.0 would mean the industry is evenly divided between optimists and pessimists.
The index now stands at 63.2. “People are as positive today as they were negative a few years ago,” says Demby. Though the firm wasn’t producing its index back then, “I would guess it was more like 35 or 40 in 2011.”
Demby shared with me the detailed survey responses, and that’s where you can see the public-course pricing movement. Nearly half of all owners and managers told Marcus & Millichap they’re either “extremely likely” or “somewhat likely” to increase fees over the next 12 months.Owners have had to hold their green fees and cart fees, or even cut them, for the last few years. Now that they’re feeling more confident, rising prices probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
“Golfers shouldn't panic,” Demby says. “Most increases will likely be small and gradual. An increase in the effective rate charged may come from clubs offering fewer discounted rates, smaller differences between peak and off-peak tee times, etc.”