I heard recently that The Sound of Music turned 50 years old this month.
“Von Trapp” time really flies.
Looking back in the time machine, I remember my grandmother and me getting on a city bus and heading to the Saenger Theater in downtown Mobile, Alabama to watch that movie when it came out.
I was 7 years old at the time, I’m 57 now. 57 minus 7 equals…
Tom Stine (left) and his father Charley, who founded Golfweek in 1975 (photo courtesy Golfweek)
Yea, I guess it has been 50 years.
But, the one that hit harder than the ice water in the ALS Bucket Challenge was learning that Golfweek turned 40 years old this month.
That can’t be right, can it? Has it been 40 years?
A tough pill for us to swallow here in the Redneck Riviera (Florida panhandle) was when we learned that our local Sports Editor, the late great Ron Balicki, was leaving us to go write for Charlie Stine’s “Florida Golfweek.”
“C’mon, Wrong Ron. Nobody leaves a sports editor’s job for a weekly golf start-up. I mean, even though we call it the ‘Mullet Wrapper’, you can’t be serious, can you?”
He was, as were other Florida sports writers who were initially paid a few bucks a week back then to write stories for Stine’s weekly magazine, focusing on state and regional tournaments.
Over time, his career with Golfweek took Balicki to many places. One unexpected stop was to the College Golf Coaches Hall of Fame where “Wrong Ron” was inducted as a college golf journalist.
After having 10 or so years under its belt, “Florida” was dropped from the title, the magazine expanded into Georgia and the Carolinas and it was off to the races. Golfweek became the cool publication, the one you’d always be looking out to find if you’d been written about in if you were a tournament golfer; professional, collegiate or junior.
Today, it’s the magazine serious golfers look forward to grabbing out of the mailbox each week or downloading as soon as the most recent digital issue is available.
But really, has it been 40 years?
I guess it has if it’s been 50 for Julie Andrews and the Von Trapps.
So next year you’ll probably be telling me it’s been 30 years since Nicklaus won the ’86 Masters.
Lee Trevino returns 40 years later for another cover shot on Golfweek
Growing up in as a teenager in the early 1970’s, it was easy for me to cheer for the golfers with the long hair (nobody who was cool wore caps then), those who had long swings and could talk it up with the media. Nicklaus, Miller, Crenshaw, those were the guys I was pulling for.
Billy Casper was none of that. I’m sure he got the “Men’s Regular Haircut” like my father made me get once a month (from a barber, not a stylist for a $1.00 a visit), and wasn’t overly adored by the fans and the media.
But, respected among his peers he was.
Because Casper just went out there and played boring, winning golf.
Billy Casper (photo PGATour.com)
He won three majors, the 1959 and 1966 U.S. Opens and the 1970 Masters. Eight Ryder Cup Teams with a 20-10-7 record. He’s 7th all time with 69 professional wins. Guy Yocum of Golf Digest defined his game as a “devastating whisper.”
Early on, he made a decision that would change his life, and at least 11 more lives down the road, for the better. Their better.
Casper passed on an offer from IMG to represent him, as they did with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and turn a winning golfer into a marketing machine.
A devout family man and grounded in his faith, instead he chose the route of helping others.
He and his wife Shirley, decided to do it the old fashioned way, some might call it a 1950’s “Father Knows Best” or “Leave it to Beaver” type of way.
They wanted to raise a family. And raise a family they did.
11 children total, six of which they adopted.
Billy passed on the flashy sides and went with meat and potatoes. And helped make the world a better place by serving others along the way.
Which why it was so fortunate for me the day our former ad agency called, asking if I’d like to interview him for our podcast back in 2012, while he was scheduled to visit one of our stores in Utah for a book signing.
That interview became one of the great highlights of my golfing life. You can listen to it on Soundcloud (below), on our website or on iTunes.
A wonderful gem of a gentleman being interviewed by kid from the 1970’s that misunderstood him.
How would you think a former World #1 men’s tennis player could get hooked on golf?
Or what his favorite courses are? Maybe his most memorable moments?
For answers to these questions and more, visit our GolfBetter Podcast Episode #181 to hear first hand from former World #1 Andy Roddick, courtesy of our friends at Travis Mathew, as we explore “Five Questions with Andy Roddick.”
TaylorMade’s new Face Slot Technology pays off in a big way.
TaylorMade Golf didn’t become one of the world’s top-selling golf equipment designers and manufacturers by resting on its laurels and living in the past. That’s why the Carlsbad-based company has released a new line of irons, the RSi, incorporating high-tech wizardry and top-notch playability. “The new RSi 1 and RSi 2 models, along with the RSi TP that will be available on Jan. 15th, take face technology to the next level”, according to TaylorMade sales representative Shawn McCaskey.
“The new Face Slot Technology allows golfers to hit it anywhere on the club face and they will get maximum ball speed, launch angles and forgiveness,” McCaskey said. Each model is designed for different players. The RSi 1 for mid-to-higher handicappers, the RSi 2 for mid-to low handicappers, and the TP line for the elite player. The Face Slot Technology found in the club’s heel and toe is indeed the most distinctive feature of all three clubs; it builds on the speed pocket, or slots, that were inserted onto the soles of TaylorMade’s irons two years ago. This improved the ball speed on shots struck low on the face. The face slot provides a similar benefit, increased ball speeds on heel and toe hits. Ball speed, of course, translates into more distance. “No matter what model you play, in my opinion these are the most forgiving, longest and straightest clubs on the market,” McCaskey said.
WATCH how TaylorMade’s new Face Slot Technology is changing the face of the game.
Worldwide Golf Enterprises started as a small San Diego golf store and quickly grew to one of the largest multichannel golf retailers in the country.
The old adage “from mighty oaks, acorns grow” is certainly true for Worldwide Golf Enterprises. What began as one small store in San Diego in 1984 with less than a dozen employees is now an 87 retail store chain stretching from Hawaii to Florida, with over 1,000 employees. “In the early days, we all sensed the growth potential and it was ownership’s vision that put us where we are today,” said Rick Levy, vice president of operations for Van’s Golf Shops, one of the six brands of the Worldwide Golf Enterprises portfolio. “From day one, world class customer service has been our main goal, and we’ve kept that focus through all the expansion.”Worldwide Golf Shops began as Golf Mart, a small golf store on Morena Boulevard in San Diego just below the University of San Diego. The company expanded to nine Golf Marts in San Diego and Northern California before making its first large acquisition. In 1993, Worldwide Golf Enterprises acquired 23 Orange County and Los Angeles area golf stores known as Roger Dunn Golf Shops.
Worldwide Golf Shops incorporated its novel 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee in its new stores, an innovation it began in 1984. “We felt you couldn’t service a customer better than giving them a 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee for anything they purchased,” said Levy, who has been with the company since 1984. “If someone returned with a golf shirt, golf club, bag or putter they didn’t like, there was no hesitation … the response was, ‘Let’s see what we can get you that you will like.’“
In 1997, Worldwide Golf purchased nine stores formerly owned by Arizona-based Van’s Golf. Like all its acquisitions, Worldwide Golf kept the original name and a big part of the team. “We look at the existing staff and management as tremendous assets,” Levy said. “They are people with a lot of experience and have immense customer loyalty, which has great value.” In 2009, Worldwide made its biggest geographical leap, acquiring New England-based Golfers’ Warehouse.
The final two acquisitions came in December 2013 with Uinta Golf, based in Utah, and Edwin Watts Golf, based in Florida, Worldwide Golf’s largest acquisition to date. “We were a family-run business with a lot of tenured employees and what is so smart about Worldwide Golf is that they kept as many of the managers and employees as they could,” said Kerry Kabase, who had worked for Edwin Watts Golf for 37 years and today is a consultant with Worldwide Golf. “They allowed us to keep our identity, which was great for our loyal customers. But now they could walk in and see a fully stocked golf shop with that 90-day guarantee. It was a smooth transition and we feel very lucky to be working under their umbrella. They were a lot like us, avid golfers who were all about customer service.”
Currently, Worldwide Golf Shops includes 48 Edwin Watts Golf stores in 12 states; 12 Roger Dunn Golf Shops in California and Hawaii; 10 Golf Marts in California; seven Van’s Golf Shops in Arizona; five Uinta Golf stores in Utah; and five Golfers’ Warehouses in the Northeast. As far as future expansion? “We want to keep every opportunity open, and if there’s a market and there’s a need we wouldn’t hold back” Levy said. “We feel very comfortable right now. We’re in several year-round markets and business is going well.” Even though Worldwide Golf Shops has several regional brands, it makes a concerted effort to make sure that all its customers feel at home at every one of its stores: its 90-day satisfaction guarantee extends to all its stores, as do all store policies. “That’s another smart thing,” Kabase said. “Each one of its brands has its own customer loyalty and now that loyalty extends to the umbrella operation. If you buy a new club in New England and then travel to Hawaii but don’t like it, you can walk into a store there and exchange it, or use a gift card you bought from a Florida store in Arizona. That really helps grow customer confidence.”
Worldwide Golf Shops, already a big player in the Western United States and the Northeast, is now one of the largest national golf retailers with its acquisition earlier this year of Florida-based Edwin Watts Golf, the largest golf retailer in the Southeast. As part of the purchase, Worldwide Golf will operate 48 Edwin Watts Golf stores in 12 states, each of which will keep the Edwin Watts name. “The acquisition of Edwin Watts Golf is a perfect ft into our portfolio of brands, for among many business attributes its main focus is the same as ours, which is outstanding customer service,” said Al Morris, Worldwide Golf Enterprises President.“Edwin Watts Golf rounds out our formidable stable of brands that now operate from coast to coast.”