By John Strege
Golf is not a benevolent game, to which Paul Stankowski can attest, which explains why he is leaving the tournament golf for business, notwithstanding two PGA Tour victories and more than $7 million in earnings.
"As my career continued to wane and my game got worse and became shorter and crooked, it was time to move on," Stankowski said.
Stankowski, 44, who won the BellSouth Classic in 1996 and the United Airlines Hawaiian Open a year later, has started a business, Francis Edward, that produces exotic leather goods -- belts, accessories and soft-sided luggage -- "made from everything from Italian calf to alligator," he said. Initially it will be sold at high-end golf course pro shops.
He and his business partner, Mike Vicary, began building the company early in 2013. By July, Stankowski knew he had to make a decision.
"I realized I couldn't play and grow a business effectively, so I chose the one I figured would have more longevity," he said. "I'm not retired [from tournament golf], just on pause. At 44, my starts are limited on the big tour and I'm done chasing the web.com Tour around and trying to get my way back."
He said he will play when an opportunity presents itself, but otherwise is done with tournament golf until he reaches 50 and is eligible for the Champions Tour.
"I still love the game deep down inside, but I've got a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old and I would like to see them grow up," he said.
Stankowski's golf history and connections should help on the golf shop front. "That's our hope. That'll help with the introductions. But we still have to deliver quality products. I believe we'll do that. Right now we're small. Once we get a foot in the door, then it's service, service, service."
As for the company name, the story isn't as exotic as some of the leathers it is using. Stankowski's middle name is Francis. Vicary's middle name is Edward. Hence, Francis Edward.