Thursday, May 3, 2007

USGA sells its wares

Alright, we all knew it would happen, but that doesn't mean we have to like it. The USGA has put its wares on sale and found a buyer. They've seduced and taken on an "automotive partner." In most states, the world's oldest profession is illegal. Now, it seems in the state of golf it's profitable.

The USGA announced during the PGA Merchandise Show that Lexus would be their first automotive partner in their 112-year history. This "partnership" is a multi-year relationship and will include the U.S. Open, the U.S. Woman's Open, the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Amateur Championship.

I find it hard to believe that this relationship was found necessary due to financial hardship when just a few years ago, the USGA was handing out big buck grants to just about anyone who promoted the game so they wouldn't lose their non-profit status. I also don't believe they just handed the "partnership" to the Japanese giant. So, why is there a need for this "partnership" now?

There are 10 other national championships that the USGA can sell. What are we looking forward to in the future---the Mary Kay Woman's Amateur? The Viagra Senior Amateur? The Botox Senior Woman's Amateur? How about the Toys R Us Junior Championship? Regrettably the possibilities are endless and now possibly a reality.

Some things in golf shouldn't be for sale and our national championships should be at the top of that list.

Ah yes, the PGA Merchandise Show...

This show used to be the ultimate golfer's candy store. Now, it's evolved into more of a snack shop. Gone are the days when the newest and brightest equipment was first shown to the world. Now, the big players are releasing their newest technology randomly, so any of the big guys who exhibit at the show are showing off stuff that's been out for a while.

This year was more of a golf lifestyle exhibition with gadgets and widgets that surround the game more than affect the playing of the game. If there's any one segment of the industry that benefits from the timing of the show, it's the apparel side. The end of January time slot works well for them.

The show is now a stage for the startup companies and the training aid industry---the latter being somewhat a freak show. They have golfers putting their bodies in positions the human body should never be, all in pursuit of be able to hit a little white ball, or qualify for traction.

One other factor that really stuck out at the show was the globalization of golf. Not only were there destinations on display, but there were a lot of companies participating that were headquartered in other countries. It shows what has long been surmised; that while the industry may be flat in this country, it's having a healthy growth spurt around the globe.

In honor of golf's globalization, it's time for maybe a pint of Guiness, or perhaps a Stoly on the rocks. Nah, make it an ice cold Crown lager from South Africa and after you pour me that one---pour me another one.


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