Saturday, January 12, 2008

Favortism for Tilghman?

The Golf Channel suspended golf telecast anchor Kelly Tilghman for two weeks and it was for something she said during the telecast of the season opening Mercedes Benz Tournament of Champions.

Trying to be glib, Tilghman attempted to finish a comment made by analyst Nick Faldo who said referring to the younger players on the PGA Tour, “to take him on, maybe they should just gang up for a while.”

“Lynch him in a back alley,” chirped Tilghman.

Chances are Tilghman would like to have those words back although most people believe we have gotten past lynching black people in this country. At least I hope we have.

While electronic media types have been falling all over themselves to downplay the seriousness of these comments, the question comes to mind, where were these people when Ben Wright was canned—not suspended by CBS? AND it wasn’t for something he said on air.

Wright was talking with a freelance reporter prior to the LPGA McDonalds Championship. Thinking that he was giving background material instead of an interview, Wright explained the problems the LPGA was having attracting corporate sponsorship. He opined that there was a preconceived notion in corporate America that the predominant sexual ladies orientation on the ladies tour wasn’t hetero. He also retold an old story first told by Joanne Carner about the anatomic choice a female golfer has to make when addressing a golf ball. Perhaps, he should have clearly cited Carner.

The story first appeared in the Wilmington (DE) News-Journal and then exploded in a mushroom cloud that buried Wright’s career. None of the networks would even look at Wright, never mind hire him. A man of keen insight who would let the facts get in the way of a good story and move on to another was fired for telling the truth. At the time, that was the thought process of corporate America and if the writer didn’t understand the dry British humor, shame on her.

Wright never said anything off key on the air and told the truth off it. He was fired. Tilghman made an incredibly insensitive remark on air and everyone’s trying to laugh it off.
Do I think Tilghman should be fired? Probably not. Then again, I really don’t believe Wright should have been fired. However, it did set a precedent of sorts and in a more literal sense, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

If the automobile industry was run like the golf industry, a new car wouldn’t last a month.
Sonartec has been one of the rapidly rising stars in the business and one of the key reasons is Jim Uno. About five years ago, Uno, who was in charge of marketing and operations, reported that he foresaw hybrid sales growing by as much as 400 percent over the next few years.
Headquarters received a report from their new sales guru that hybrids were a passing fad and would be non-existent in two years and that the company should amp up in fairway woods. The powers that be went with the fairway woods.

In 2004, Todd Hamilton won the British Open at Royal Troon in playoff over Ernie Els by pulling off incredible short game miracles using the Sonartec hybrid in ways no one ever thought it could be used.

Short term this was great for Sonartec, but eventually it became their downfall. With so much tied up in fairway woods, it became extremely difficult to meet the hybrid demand, so an investor was sought. In walked a Canadian businessman named Peter Pocklington with a promise of guaranteed cash to help out Sonartec. Someone might have done due diligence before they signed on the dotted line.

Pocklington had bled the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL so dry, that they were forced to trade their biggest asset, Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings to bail them out. He had pulled a bait and switch on the people at another promising golf company, Golf Gear. They’re not promising anything anymore. Thus far, Sonartec claims that Pocklington hasn’t financially lived up to the contract. They shouldn’t worry though, he’s seized control and they’re powerless anyway.

While this was going on, they formed another company, Trion-Z, a combination of magnets and minerals that emit negative ions in a bracelet or a necklace. Last year, under the direction of Uno, Trion-Z did $4.4 million in sales and because the product is worn by so many top athletes in all sports, the growth is expected to continue—maybe.

The former brain trust at Sonartec seeing their business life pass before their eyes jumped over to Trion-Z and are trying to displace Uno as the CEO. Hopefully, someone at the mother ship in Japan will figure out the equation, Uno = success, other guys = oops.

The PGA Merchandise Show comes to Orlando, FL January 17-19. As usual success and failure will hang in the balance for some companies during those three days.

For a few years, there was a cause to question the relevance of the show as the larger companies backed out. Apparently, the show has weathered the storm because some of the better known companies have started to come back. It’s a win—win situation for everyone connected with the industry—even white-haired writers with curly mustaches.

It will be interesting to see what new gimmicks and technologies will be on the market to tempt the golfer. We’ll file a report following the show.

Bartender, please pour me a double Red Bull if you will. I’m trying to build a reserve of energy for three days walking the floor of the Orange County Convention Center.

See you on the first tee,


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