Even After Apology, Haney Suspended From SiriusXM Show, Status Under Review

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Hank Haney’s insensitive and dreadfully short-sighted comments regarding the current state of women’s golf have gotten him suspended by SiriusXM and its partner.

The offending conversation with Steve Johnson when discussing this week’s U.S. Women’s Open:

Haney: “Oh it is? I’m gonna predict a Korean.”

Johnson, laughing: “OK, that’s a pretty safe bet.”

Haney: “I couldn’t name you six players on the LPGA Tour. Maybe I could. Well … I’d go with Lee. If I didn’t have to name a first name, I’d get a bunch of them right.”

Johnson: “We’ve got six Lees.”

The PGA Tour, which has its name on the channel, was part of the decision to suspend Haney, reports USA Today’s Christine Brennan:

“Mr. Haney’s comments on women’s professional golf were insensitive and do not represent the views of the PGA TOUR or SiriusXM,” the statement read. “The PGA TOUR is committed to and proud of the increasingly diverse makeup of our fan base, not to mention the power and accomplishments of the game’s world-class, global players – both on the PGA TOUR and LPGA, whom we are working with more closely than ever before.

“SiriusXM proudly covers and supports both women’s and men’s golf and the athletes that make them great. At the PGA TOUR’s instruction Mr. Haney has been suspended from the SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio channel.  SiriusXM is reviewing his status on SiriusXM going forward.”

While I agree with and understand the outrage over Haney’s remarks, particularly from players in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at a terrific venue with strong fan support, I’m conflicted about the characterization and direction of the outrage that quickly turned to some very strong words.

One: in my dealings with Haney, few are more passionate about the game and seeing people of all ages, races and sex succeed. He wouldn’t have become a golf instructor otherwise. Hank Haney is not a racist or a sexist. Is he on too many hours talking about a sport where there is only so much one can discuss? Maybe.

Two: the flippant comment he made on his satellite radio show, which was in response by a remark from his co-host apparently referring to the number of women named Jeongeun Lee (there are six), is, one that I’ve heard mentioned hundreds of times over the years—including jokingly from Koreans or Korean-Americans—about the number of women with similar sounding names from Asian countries dominating the game. Sometimes it’s a compliment to the incredible depth and the devotion to craft by these women. Sometimes it’s not. This does not make Haney’s comment acceptable when expressed in condescending fashion and his disdain for the state of women’s golf may be tinged with some sexism, but the leap to racism seems like just that: a leap. I’d lean more toward ignorance of the LPGA Tour or international cultures than anything else.

Three: the LPGA currently lacks a dominating-star the same way the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions and European Tour have also dealt with at times (and maybe even in the present). We happen to be in the midst of a parity era in women’s golf not long after eras dominated by epic star power from legends Se Ri Pak, Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. Fields are deep, maybe deeper than at any time in the modern era. And we have injuries to some star players too.

Of course, Haney didn’t mention all of this and that’s on him. But his problem is not one of race, sex or bigotry. We live a celebrity-obsessed, marketing-focused world demanding stars who play well all the time or else. Anything less breeds apathy. That’s a shame and ignorant of how cruel golf can be at times. But taking such a stance is also not racist or sexist.

Discovery Buys Golf Digest And PGA Tour To Sell The Ads: A New House Organ Is Born?

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It’s certainly pleasing that Golf Digest has been saved from extinction by Discovery and that many golf writers will remain employed, but it’s hard to see how the PGA Tour taking over sales for the magazine and website is a positive.

Keith Kelley reported on Page Six (link not live) that Discovery paid $30 million for Golf Digest, Golf World and assorted elements after a “bidding war” with NBC/Comcast. Multiple sources tell me, however, that no bid was even made by Comcast.

The $30 million figure noted by Kelley, if his reporting is accurate, marks a steep plunge from the $430 million Conde Nast paid for Golf Digest in 2001. But they were also buying a robust monthly then with millions in lucrative monthly ad sales and a staff full of must-read writers.

The purchase price also looks particularly paltry given Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s pay the last two years: $42.2 million and $129.5 million in 2019.

Most surprising, however, was this line late in Sam Weinman’s GolfDigest.com story announcing the new “global editorial powerhouse”:

The Discovery acquisition will also feature the introduction of a new sales structure in which Golf Digest and the PGA Tour will combine to create a one-stop digital network in which advertisers can engage with fans across Golf Digest, PGA Tour, and GOLFTV platforms.

It seems hard to imagine any other scenario where the PGA Tour driving and selling the content by Golf Digest is a plus. Some fans may like that this keeps the operation viable, but I’m guessing most golfers wanting coverage of the game will be disappointed in where this leads.

Needless to say, this will also radically re-shape Golf Digest’s coverage of the PGA Tour and the business of golf.

For Immediate Release (Warning, b-speak is flowing!):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Discovery, Inc. Acquires Golf Digest From Condé Nast

Creating the largest digital golf media business in the U.S. in partnership with the PGA TOUR

Golf Digest’s multi-platform content to be distributed globally on GOLFTV streaming service

Golf Digest Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde to Join Discovery Golf

NEW YORK, May 13, 2019 – Discovery, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) announced today it has acquired Golf Digest from Condé Nast. Golf Digest is the world’s No. 1 golf media brand and will extend Discovery’s global golf media business to the U.S. market through Golf Digest’s multiplatform distribution and reach.

The acquisition creates a powerful programming engine for GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR, adding world-renowned Golf Digest content to a platform that is built on competition coverage from the PGA TOUR, European Tour, and the Ladies European Tour, as well as the Masters Tournament in select territories outside the U.S. and Discovery’s exclusive global content partnerships with Tiger Woods, winner of 81 PGA TOUR events and 15 major championships, and Francesco Molinari, winner of 10 pro events worldwide and the reigning Open champion.

The addition of Golf Digest boosts Discovery’s global golf ecosystem with a leading platform in the U.S., and will now reach golf fans with everything associated with the game, including instructional videos, equipment advice, course rankings, travel destinations, online bookings and more.

Additionally, Discovery and the PGA TOUR are expanding their groundbreaking 12-year strategic partnership with a new content and sales relationship in the U.S., among other initiatives. The organizations will join forces to create the largest digital network in golf with a one-stop activation platform now including Golf Digest, for advertisers to engage with fans and players, across a full suite of editorial coverage, live and on-demand video streaming, digital, social, print and branded content opportunities. The current Golf Digest sales teams will continue to be responsible for ad sales during a transition period until the Discovery / PGA TOUR sales integration is complete.

David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery, Inc. said: “Golf Digest is a world-class brand that has become the ‘go-to’ authority for millions of golf enthusiasts, professional players and global advertisers. It’s a natural strategic fit with Discovery’s goal to be the leading golf media platform in the world through our investments with the PGA TOUR, the European Tour and our partnership with Tiger Woods. We wanted to bolster GOLFTV’s international offerings with Golf Digest’s award-winning journalism, broad consumer reach and deep content library while also creating the largest U.S. digital golf business with Jay Monahan and the PGA TOUR. They have been great partners, and we are excited to deepen the opportunity to bring these amazing players and all of their terrific play to more people on more devices in every market in the world.”

Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer, PGA TOUR, said: “We’re thrilled to deepen our partnership with Discovery, as well as Golf Digest, which has been an official marketing partner of the PGA TOUR since 2006. By combining our assets in the U.S., we’re now able to offer the most robust digital content and product offering for fans, golfers and TOUR partners. The new PGA TOUR / Golf Digest digital network will be the single largest golf network offering unrivaled breadth and depth of content across platforms.”

Discovery will seek to optimize its exclusive global partnership with Tiger Woods across both Golf Digest and PGA TOUR platforms. GOLFTV is collaborating with Woods on a range of content, such as deep-dive instruction to help players improve their game, which began filming last month, and exclusive access to his tournament preparation. The unique collaboration offers an authentic look into the life, mind and performance of the game’s ultimate icon.

Tiger Woods said: “This is an important step in enhancing and expanding the U.S. and global reach of Discovery and GOLFTV. It gives me another platform to tell my story directly to fans and makes my partnership with Discovery even stronger. This acquisition, along with what Discovery and GOLFTV have already done with the PGA TOUR, is great for the game of golf.”

Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf, said: “This is a big deal for Discovery to add Golf Digest to our golf portfolio. Adding Golf Digest to GOLFTV and our existing PGA TOUR, European Tour, Tiger and Francesco content will be a big win for the sport. We are offering something unique, whether you’re a fan, player, viewer, brand or advertiser. We can utilize the strengths of both Golf Digest and our burgeoning GOLFTV platform, establishing a global editorial powerhouse delivering content across all platforms to engage and inspire millions of passionate golf fans around the world.”

Golf Digest’s award-winning editorial content, including news, instructional videos, and rankings, as well as tentpoles such as ‘100 Greatest Course Rankings’ and its annual ‘Hot List,’ will drive engagement for GOLFTV around the world, provide opportunities for Discovery to leverage its golf content in the U.S. and bring more exciting opportunities to partner the PGA TOUR and all the world-class players.

Discovery will seek to leverage its global scale, with reach into 220 markets and territories, to further grow the Golf Digest brand around the world. Golf Digest, which earns nearly half of its revenues from digital advertising, will continue to publish a U.S. monthly print magazine and Discovery will assume the global licenses for editions serving nearly 70 countries.

Golf Digest’s editorial team will join Discovery Golf under the continued leadership of Jerry Tarde, as Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest, and Global Head of Strategy and Content, Discovery Golf. In addition to overseeing the world-class editorial content of Golf Digest, Tarde will expand his purview to include GOLFTV and report to Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf.

Jerry Tarde, Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest, and Global Head of Strategy and Content, Discovery Golf, said: “Golf Digest has this amazing team of editors, reporters, producers, photographers and contributors – all dedicated to helping golfers improve and be smarter consumers of the game we love. Discovery’s vision to create one global destination for everything a golf fan could want is perfectly aligned with what Golf Digest does every day. As we look to the future, Discovery’s global scale and ability to light up content on all platforms and in every language, combined with the PGA TOUR’s brand, will benefit golf and golfers worldwide.”

Kaplan added, “A critical piece is Golf Digest’s people. We’re thrilled to welcome aboard Golf Digest’s world-class team and its Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Jerry Tarde, who is widely considered the dean of golf journalism.”

Golf Digest reaches millions every month across all platforms:

60 million video views
4.8 million readers
4.8 million digital uniques
2.2 million social followers

Golf.com Retracts Reference Suggesting Billy Walters Was Phil Mickelson's Bookie

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An online retraction has been posted and a Golf.com column by Michael Bamberger removed that suggested jailed gambler Billy Walters “was, court documents make clear,” Phil Mickelson’s “bookie.”

On June 17, 2018, GOLF.com published an article with the headline “It’s complicated: To understand Mickelson’s controversial actions, you must first understand Phil.” The article refers to Billy Walters as Phil Mickelson’s “bookie,” the accuracy of which Walters disputes.  The court records referenced in the article do not specifically refer to Walters as Mickelson’s “bookie” and GOLF.com has not been able to substantiate the claim. GOLF.com has removed the article and retracts the reference to Walters.

Of course, Walters merely offered stock advice that turned out to get him in big trouble for insider trading. The former AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner is currently serving time and believes his “ex-friend” Mickelson could have exonerated him had he testified in the trial that ultimately sent Walters to jail.

The original Bamberger story can still be read via Google’s cache search option.

It’s been a tough start for the new owner of Golf Magazine and Golf.com, Howard Millstein, who also owns Nicklaus Design and quickly gave one of his companies a “Best U.S. Renovation” award, with a special story highlighting the accomplishment (a note explaining the relationship was later added to this online entry.)

A similar “holding company” tagline was also eventually added to this story on Miura irons posted at Golf.com, but well after eyebrows were raised at the lack of basic transparency.

Sports Illustrated May Become A Licensing Play For Greg Norman To Give Golf Tips, Among Other Awful Ideas

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That is a bleak assessment of Jean Palmieri’s WWD report on Authentic Brands Group’s pursuit of Sports Illustrated, which will likely die as a print publication and become “primarily a licensing and digital play.”

Even if they tried to resuscitate the brand, this should kill it:

According to sources, the print magazine would continue to be published for at least the next two years as ABG works to capitalize on its content to extend the brand’s reach into a number of sports-related businesses. That could include everything from camps for kids to sports rehabilitation clinics, sources said.

AGB owns 50 brands, 45 percent of which are in the fashion space, and is the world’s fourth-largest licensing company. It has $9.3 billion in annual retail sales. Among its sports-affiliated brands are Greg Norman, Shaquille O’Neal, Muhammad Ali, Prince, Spyder, Volcom, Hind, Above the Rim and Julius Erving.

One source close to the company said a Sports Illustrated site could potentially include golf tips from Norman or basketball strategy ideas from O’Neal. “This would be very different from just making Sports Illustrated jackets,” the source said. “That’s not the business they’re going into.”

While it’s a sad state of affairs, at least think of the comedy in imagining someone on the business side thinking this is a good idea.

Roundup: Remembering His Ownself

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Doug Ferguson’s AP obituary of Dan Jenkins opens this way:

Dan Jenkins, the sports writing great and best-selling author whose career covered Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods, began with Western Union and ended with Twitter, has died.

Bruce Weber packs a lot into the lede of the New York Times obit:

Dan Jenkins, a sportswriter whose rollicking irreverence enlivened Sports Illustrated’s pages for nearly 25 years and animated several novels, including “Semi-Tough,” a sendup of the steroidal appetites, attitudes and hype in pro football that became a classic of sports lit, died on Thursday in Fort Worth.

Sally Jenkins remembered her dad for the Washington Post, where Matt Shudel wrote the paper’s obituary of Dan.

Funny as in the way my dad could turn even a reading of the morning paper into a comedy. Like the time he shook out the New York Times and said of Margaret Thatcher, “The only time she cries is when she tries to pull a comb through her hair.”

Tom Callahan of Golf Digest leads with Dan’s early inspirations in the lede department.

An aunt named Inez owned a drugstore, a repository of dreams. Luxuriating in the store’s delicious aromas, Dan set up camp at the out-of-town newspapers stack. For a while, his favorite lead was by Damon Runyon from an account of Chicago mobster Al Capone’s tax-evasion trial: “Al Capone was quietly dressed when he arrived at the courthouse this morning except for a hat of pearly white, emblematic, no doubt, of purity.”

Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger shares his memories of Jenkins.

He took newspaper austerity and went to town with it. If he read Hemingway, I don’t know, but there’s some kind of link there, except that Jenkins was funny.

I sent him a manuscript and followed with a call in 1986, looking for a blurb for a book I had written, about a brief stint caddying on Tour. It’s impossible that he read it — why would he? I described it to him. With barely a pause he said, “Here, for a change, is an Ivy Leaguer carrying the bags of other people.”

Bryan Curtis filed the definitive Jenkins profile several years ago for Grantland and it holds up well.

He also filed this new tribute for TheRinger.com.

Dan was like a sportswriter who walks out of a movie from the 1940s, slaps a couple of big bills on the bar, and tells the bartender, “Don’t neglect me.” I’m not vamping here. That was his actual line.

Even by the standards of ’60s Sports Illustrated writers, Dan was a big drinker. But he worked when he drank. When one of his pals impressed him with a good line, Dan would sneak to the bathroom and write it down. Those lines wound up in his copy. He called them “overheards.” It was the original quote-tweeting, minus the quote.

Esquire’s Charles Pierce offered this salute, including this closing line:

The lights are dim at Goat Hills this weekend. Thanks for everything, hoss. As someone once mused, nobody ever said it wasn't going to be semi-tough.

G.C. Digital rounds up the social media tributes to Jenkins.

Golf Channel’s Morning Drive coverage, including a video obituary:

Jack Nicklaus’ tribute:

View this post on Instagram

So sorry to hear the news that golf lost a great friend in Dan Jenkins. Like most great friends—those who know just how to make you smile, laugh and entertain you—Dan was able to do that through his writing. Dan was one of the all-time great writers—not only golf and sports, but as a novelist. Dan did some wonderful books and several became unforgettable movies. Dan’s terrific humor was his trademark. Most often, he made you laugh, even when he wasn’t trying. As Barbara said today, Dan always asked questions with a glint in his eye. You knew he was asking you something, but you were not quite sure exactly what or why he was asking. One thing you always knew is that Dan could be trusted. He never sacrificed accuracy for a good laugh. They say comedy is all about timing. Well, Dan Jenkins’ humor was timeless. On a day when Barbara and I are deeply saddened by the news of his passing, we were reminded of a Dan quote: "The message on my tombstone will be, ‘I knew this would happen.’ ” Nope, Dan could not leave a room without leaving you with a smile—even when he wasn’t trying. Barbara and I send our love, prayers and heartfelt thoughts to Dan’s wife June, daughter Sally, and sons Danny and Marty. 🙏😢 (Photos are from the 2016 Distinguished Sportsman Award, which took place at Colonial Country Club’s Legends Dinner three years ago this week. Photos courtesy of Colonial CC & Geno Loro Jr. @geno_photo)

A post shared by Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) on



R.I.P. Dan Jenkins

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His Ownself has packed up his typewriter, closed out the Ancient Twitterer’s account and moved his brilliance to the Big 18 In The Sky.

The sports world will never be the same without the incomparable Dan Jenkins. His alma mater TCU confirmed the news to the Star-Telegram, just as Jim Tom Pinch of the Fort Worth Light And Shopper would have demanded. He turned 89 last December and last Tweeted February 4th about—who else?—his beloved foil Sergio Garcia.

In the coming weeks I’ll compile the tributes and highlights from Dan’s incredible career that began with typewriters banging out game stories and books, then finished his illustrious life with Tweets and yet more books. As most sportswriters will concur—and Dan would hate the cliche—but he was the gold standard who inspired so many to cover these silly games and sillier athletes. Jenkins artfully combined storytelling, a sense of history and his wicked wit.

Dan was magnificently succinct and seemingly ornery from afar. But it was mostly to keep “lacerating bores” from interrupting his newspaper reading or his country ham on the veranda or, in later years, because it was just too damn loud to hear in the bar. Sure, he played favorites and didn’t apologize for loving stars who’d dine now and then, and he definitely never rooted against a cinematic victory. That’s why we loved him and while I’ll miss walking over and asking him to tell me who “low nightmare” was on the current leaderboard.

When he turned up at the 1995 PGA at Riviera, I stalked him in media dining with a stack of his books to sign. He was having lunch with Dave Marr and Jerry Tarde and a couple of others. They were intrigued to hear I’d written a book on Riviera and told me to sit down, as they had a question they wanted me to settle for them.

“Have the earthquakes over the years changed the greens here?” Marr asked. I looked at Jenkins and got an inquisitive stare back. They were serious. I mumbled something about not being sure, got my books signed and still argued with Dan up to last year over why “Riviera before the flood” was in Hogan’s top 5. Dan just didn’t buy that Hogan had played it before 1938 and he was undoubtedly right, but Hogan knew how certain holes had once been designed. I couldn’t win that match. Dan knew his Hogan.

I have the first letter Dan ever sent me on display in my office and still remember the email from “Term Themes” that almost went to the delete bin. Somehow, Dan corresponded with me even after I asked what a term theme was. He probably tolerated me because I’d written an LA Times piece comparing old golf and new golf that included his name with Wind, Darwin, etc as part of the old great guard.

I mailed the piece—no Times hyperlinks to email 2000—because an editor had inserted someone named Billy Sixty amidst those great golf writers simply because it was an old friend. I almost cried when I saw it in print, as I’d worked so hard to decide who was on the Mount Rushmore of golf writers.

As much as Dan loathed bad editors and celebrated their mediocrity in the masterful You Gotta Play Hurt, he reveled in studying copy butchering by some drone. He genuinely enjoyed reminding me as late as last year that Billy Sixty, while indeed a real human-American, was primarily a bowling writer in his day.

As Dan said in his World Golf Hall of Fame address, “I knew this would happen”. Still, his passing royally sucks. Press rooms and media hotel bars will never be the same without the greatest ink-stained scribbler who ever wanted to be a sportswriter, and then went out and did it better than anyone before or since.

It Was A Good Day For Netflix...For Golf: Tiger Grants GolfTV Exclusive After WGC Mexico Final Round

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Sure, the real Netflix didn’t pick up the Best Picture win it so coveted—but plenty of other trophies—the service billed as the Netflix for golf by all finally scored an exclusive with partner Tiger Woods after his WGC Mexico City closing 69 and 10th place finish.

While not the winning way he is accustomed to, Woods showed more signs of positioning himself well for the Masters with a miraculous recovery shot and enough birdies to suggest he’s in solid form.

Yet as Bob Harig notes for ESPN, Woods wasn’t chatty after his final two rounds in Mexico City.

And for the second day in a row Sunday, Woods declined to talk about it.

Golfers across all professional tours decline media requests after poor rounds, but Woods has been the rare type to be accountable for good and bad -- and he's also the only one requested every time.

Woods skipped just one post-round media session last year but now has two in a row at the WGC-Mexico Championship, the post-tournament recap refusal something that hasn't occurred in years.

While Woods is certainly entitled at this point to take a pass given how consistently he’s stopped for post round coverage when he undoubtedly was ashamed of his play, it’s hard not to wonder if the Netflix-for-golf pressure to deliver something…anything, prompted a call to throw a reminder out there that the fledging streaming service exists.

The exclusive from Woods is viewable in the only place American and most international viewers can see the coverage: Twitter.

New Pod To Check Out: 1Up With Gary Williams And First Guest Jack Nicklaus

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Nice get and outstanding first effort from Gary Williams, hosting the “1 Up” podcast with Jack Nicklaus as his first guest.

Warning, golf ball talk early and oh how I love concern for the millennials entering the discussion. The Golden Bear knows how to pull at the golf executive heartstrings!

There is much more, of course, so subscribe away!


NY Post: Discovery "Among Several Suiters" For Golf Digest

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In an item unusually light on details by Keith Kelly standards and feeling more like a reminder to interested suitors that Golf Digest is still for sale, the New York Post media writer says new PGA Tour International TV distributor Discovery is interested.

The billionaire Newhouse family has a minority stake in publicly traded Discovery, but the family connection is not necessarily giving the programmer any advantage. It will come down to price and Discovery’s long-term strategy on golf.

Discovery actually has some live-streaming golf in Europe connected to the PGA tour but does not have any golfing channels in the US and currently has no print within its empire.

Someone get Kelley the memo that Discovery’s GOLFTV is the Netflix of golf!

Conde Nast had set a year-end 2018 deadline to sell Golf Digest and two other publications.

"Deadline Looms" On Golf Digest Sale

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Keith Kelly files a New York Post update (of sorts) on the attempt by Conde Nast to sell three magazines, including Golf Digest. Though as he notes, the Newhouse family having sold its cable operations to Charter Communications for $10.5 billion a while back should buy more time if needed.

That deal is one reason that the Newhouse family, which controls Advance, is not under the same pressure as the profitable but eroding Time Inc. was in recent years before ultimately selling to Meredith.

But the family is clearly getting impatient with losses after domestic Condé Nast lost $120 million last year and is still bleeding red ink this year.

The Forth Worth Light And Shopper Is Alive And Well, Files

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Fans of Dan Jenkins beloved Fort Worth Light And Shopper days will love this one right out of Jim Tom Pinch’s most forgettable copy desk horror stories.

From Michael Bamberger’s enjoyable weekly roundup of seven things in golf this week, go to #4.

The photo below, taken in connection to George Bush’s funeral last week, appeared in the Fort Stockton (Texas) Pioneer with this caption: “Left to right: Paul Marschand, Ben Crenshaw, Tim Finchem, Freddie Couples, Blaine McCallister, Brad Faxon, Jim Nantz, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Albert Pujols, Chris Everett, Mike Kryzyzewski, Hale Irwin, Peyton Manning, Tony Larussa, Next guy is PGA Pro from Mass. Where the President was a member and Pam Shriver.”

As they say in tennis when the ball goes rolling one court over, “Little help, please.”

Thankfully, Bamberger does the copy desk work for them.

Peter Kessler Unplugged...

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Much has been made of Peter Kessler’s Twitter feuds with Brandel Chamblee and No Laying Up. So Derek Duncan had him on the Feed The Ball podcast to discuss what’s driving his disdain for several personalities, noted writers, golf producers and broadcasters in the game. While only Amanda Balionis and other rollback-istas gets a pass, agents for Gary Koch and Peter Kostis should not go listening to this pod for blurbs. Even Kostis’ hair takes a beating.

Conde Nast Puts Golf Digest Up For Sale

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The New York Times' Edmund Lee and Sapna Maheshwari report on $120 million in losses for Conde Nast in 2017 and say in an effort to bring in more revenue, the company will be trying to sell three magazines, including Golf Digest

The $120 million loss in 2017 was the result of a sharp decline in the ad revenue generated by the print magazines. Gains in the digital arena have offset the loss, but not enough to make the company profitable.

Based in part on the recommendation of Boston Consulting Group, the three magazines that the company will try to sell are Brides, Golf Digest and W, the three executives said.

John Wagner, who oversees ad spending at the media agency PHD, questioned the company’s strategy, saying that Condé Nast can be “quick to close things, versus trying to find a solution.” He added, “I’d like to see them continue to invest — keep the brands alive, even if you have to change their rate base or publishing frequency.”

Conde Nast purchased Golf Digest in 2001 for an undisclosed price, though the number is believed to have been several hundred million dollars. 

A&Q: Read An Unusually Terrible Global Golf Post Interview On The USGA Distance Project

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With news of the USGA and R&A allowing everyone to submit views on distance, this is obviously cause to rage against the machine threatening to take five yards away from angry golf scribes.

It's never a good sign when a writer's rhetorical questions battle the answers for word count supremacy. Nor is normal for a journalist to flood the conversation with so much rage, particularly since the issue involves how far a little white ball flies.

But this unique blend of hostility overtakes Steve Eubanks interview of the USGA's Rand Jerris about the "Distance Insights Project."

The Post: Everyone’s perspective is based on their own life experiences. For example, there’s nobody left who can tell us what the distance impact was like when the game transitioned from hickory to steel shafts. And there was very little data accumulated at that time. So, how do we have this overarching discussion about distance without a legitimate, verifiable and texted data set?

Pausing here to let you ponder the joys of reading the words "texted data set." 

Jerris: There are various sources of information at which we can look. One is aerial photography thanks to the United States government. We can look at the evolution of the footprints of golf courses around the country over long periods of time, not just in terms of length but in terms of breadth and how much space they’re taking up. Because we can look at the times of those changes, hopefully we can determine what elements of those changes are directly attributable to distance. 

The Post: That last point requires a logic leap. Yes, you can see where the footprints of courses have changed over time. But how do you make the leap, based on that evidence, that those changes were attributable to distance? 

Maybe because no one has ever said, the game goes by too fast and we need to drag this out longer.

We must--MUST--spend more time walking back to tees and taking up more space so we can spend more money on maintenance. Now!

Jerris: That’s a fair point.

You are too kind, Rand. Too kind.

The photography will be just one component of the comprehensive data. We will couple that with input from as many external, legitimate sources as we can find. Teachers have been collecting data from their students. Avid golfers have been collecting data about their distance. Then it’s a matter of analysis. That’s where we get all interested parties together and say, “Here’s what we’re seeing in the data. Now, let’s talk about what it means.”

The Post: Going back to the report that we receive in February, the changes in distance have been remarkably small. The incremental increases, and in some cases decreases, surprised a lot of people. A lot of that was confirmation bias. Everyone you see seems to be hitting if farther, so we believe that there must be these huge jumps in distance. But when you look at the data we’ve seen so far, that doesn’t appear to be the case. To launch this program under the aegis that ‘We know distance is an issue,’ doesn’t that fly in the face of the data you’ve already collected and analyzed?

Now that's some confirmation bias!

2021! PGA Tour, SiriusXM Sign Four-Year Extension

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While we're in media announcements mode, SiriusXM and the PGA Tour have agreed on an extension until 2021 when current television contracts expire.

Not that long ago, the SiriusXM/PGA Tour relationship was very much up in the air until the last moment, so this is a welcome extension for those who appreciate the live tournament coverage--extra-handy of late--or those who enjoy the various talk shows.

For Immediate Release:

PGA TOUR, SiriusXM sign four-year extension

SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio channel will continue to deliver extensive live tournament coverage and daily golf talk to fans nationwide through 2021

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida and NEW YORK, New York – The PGA TOUR and SiriusXM announced today that they have reached a four-year extension to their broadcasting agreement, which will continue extensive tournament coverage on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio for subscribers nationwide through 2021.

SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio listeners enjoy live coverage of every round of most PGA TOUR events throughout the season – including THE PLAYERS Championship, the four events of the FedExCup Playoffs and the biennial Presidents Cup – with hole-by-hole commentary and expert analysis, on the only audio channel dedicated to professional golf.  

Subscribers can listen to the SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio channel on SiriusXM radios (Sirius channel 208, XM channel 92), and those with streaming access can listen online, on-the-go with the SiriusXM mobile app and at home on a wide variety of connected devices, including smart TVs, Amazon Alexa devices, Apple TV, PlayStation, Roku, Sonos speakers and more. For more information, visit www.SiriusXM.com/SiriusXMPGATOURRadio.

“We are very pleased to continue our relationship with SiriusXM, whose growing subscriber base is an important and effective way for the TOUR to reach fans across the country,” said Rick Anderson, the PGA TOUR’s Chief Media Officer.  “The PGA TOUR represents the pinnacle of competitive golf and we are thrilled to work with SiriusXM to continue delivering the best golf in the world to fans everywhere, whether they are in their cars, at home or on the go.”

“PGA TOUR coverage is a very important part of our sports programming lineup, and we are very pleased to extend our long-term relationship with the TOUR to continue to give our listeners an extensive schedule of in-depth tournament broadcasts,” said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s President and Chief Content Officer.  “No other audio or streaming broadcaster can match SiriusXM’s level of golf programming, and whether it is via our radios or our app, we continue to deliver it to fans anywhere across the country.”

Since 2005, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio has featured a variety of broadcasters working on comprehensive play-by-play coverage, including former TOUR winners Mark Carnevale, Mark McCumber, Dennis Paulson, John Rollins, Paul Stankowski and Phil Tataurangi.  Earl Forcey anchors the coverage most weeks, with Fred Albers, Doug Bell, Jane Crafter, Will Haskett, Mark Immelman, Kevin Sylvester, Bill Rosinski, Tom Werme and Mark Zecchino among those returning to provide exclusive play-by-play coverage and player interviews from inside the ropes.

Roundup: 2017 GWAA Writing Contest Results

There were 423 entries in the 2018 Golf Writers Association of America contest.  I've done my best to include links where I could find them. Jaime Diaz tied Dan Jenkins atop the all-time win list with his 10th winner.

Happy reading!

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2018 GWAA WRITING CONTEST RESULTS
The following is a full list of the winners, including honorable mentions.

DAILY COLUMNS – 1, Max Adler, ‘The best part of Masters week could be the one thing that’s missing’golfdigest.com 2,  Michael Bamberger, Rules changes disappoint, golf.com; 3, Jason Sobel, I want the U.S. Open back, ESPN.com.

Honorable mention - Ron Borges, Life handcuffs Woods, Boston Herald; Bob Oliver, Stop the insanity of rules call-ins, The Golf Insiders; Geoff Shackelford, Inside story of Spieth's bogey, golfweek.com 

DAILY FEATURES – 1, Michael Bamberger, ‘The Other Arnold: Palmer's daughter reflects on the chasm between the brand and the man’, si.com; 2, Randall Mell, Secret war, forbidden love, golfchannel.com; 3, Helen Ross, How Michael Jordan became a golferPGATour.com.

Honorable mention -- Rex Hoggard, Woodland's toughest year, golfchannel.com; Ian O'Connor, The improbable rise of DJ, ESPN.com; Garry Smits, Day rises to No. 1, Florida Times-Union; Jason Sobel, Tiger and his famous ScottyESPN.com

DAILY NEWS – 1, Beth Ann Nichols, ‘Stacy Lewis Earns Emotional Win for Houston’’golfweek.comhttps://tinyurl.com/dailynews182, Jaime Diaz, Payne, a man with a plan, golfdigest.com; 3, Dave Kindred, Sergio had to do it the hard waygolfdigest.com.

Honorable mention -- Alan Bastable, US on cusp of President's Cup winGolf.com; Rex Hoggard, Spieth silences doubtersgolfchannel.com; Alan Shipnuck, They look like America, Golf.com; Jason Sobel, Leishman's harrowing journey, ESPN.com.

NON-DAILY COLUMNS – 1,Jerry Tarde, “Sandy Tatum: He never surrendered”, Golf Digest; 2, Michael Bamberger, Ernie and Sam, Golf Magazine; 3, Ken Van Vechten, So, are we better golfers?, FORE Magazine.

Honorable mention – 1, Tom Callahan, Confessions of an enabler, Golf Digest; Tom Coyne, The push and the pull, The Golfer's Journal; Jerry Tarde, Forgive us our press passes, Golf Digest.

NON-DAILY FEATURES – 1, Sean Zak, “We were watching greatness: An oral history of the 1997 Masters”, Sports Illustrated;  2, Gary Van Sickle, William McGirt isn't supposed to be here, Memorial Tournament Magazine; 3, Josh Sens, Collision course, Sports Illustrated.

Honorable mention -- Michael Bamberger, The last man who grew up at The National, Sports Illustrated; Jaime Diaz, The new Sergio, Golf Digest; Alan Shipnuck, Donald Trump, Golfer-in-Chief, Sports Illustrated; Guy Yocom, Hello Mickey Wright, Golf Digest.

NON-DAILY NEWS – 1, Jaime Diaz, “Fred Ridley takes the lead at Augusta” 2, Alan Shipnuck, Viva Sergio!, Sports Illustrated; 3. Alan Shipnuck, Koepka outmuscles Erin Hills, Sports Illustrated.

Honorable mention -- Michael Bamberger, Trump, the new First Golfer, Sports Illustrated,;  Jaime Diaz, Players date may change, Golf Digest; Beth Ann Nichols, Lewis win, donation highlight 2017, Golfweek.

SPECIAL PROJECTS – 1, Gary D'Amato, “The Making of Erin Hills”, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel2, Guy Cipriano, When the creek rises, Golf Course Industry; 3, Al Tays and Matt Adams, Best equipment innovationsgolfchannel.com

Honorable mention -- Jaime Diaz, Ron Whitten, Guy Yocom, Ron Sirak, Jerry Tarde, Donald Trump, Golfer-in-Chief, Golf Digest; Mike McAllister, The man who inspired an armyPGATour.com;  Ryan Lavner, Rex Hoggard, Mercer Baggs, Will Gray, The class of 2011, golfchannel.com

Milstein's $15 Million Purchase Of Golf Magazine Becomes Official, Also Accelerating Nicklaus Companies Role

The New York Posts Keith Kelley reports on the sale of Golf Magazine to New York Private Bank and Trust, headed by Howard Milstein. The original sale decision was reported on this site December 11th, 2017, with a closing date of January 19th that sources say was extended after negotiations hit snags over a variety of issues.

Kelley puts the price at "around $15 million" and features this statement from Milstein:

“We look foward to continuing Golf Magazine’s long history of editorial excellence, both in its print edition and through its Web site and other offerings,” said Milstein, who is the chairman and chief executive of New York Private Bank and Trust, which operates Emigrant Bank and its private equity arm, Emigrant Capital.

There is also this good news for some of my golf writing colleagues:

Editor-in-Chief David DeNunzio and the entire staff are expected to be retained by the new owners

The deal ends rumors of a collapse in negotiations and any immediate hopes of Milstein purchasing another golf publication. Milstein owns several golf companies and while his plans are unclear, the Golf.com URL and opportunity to cross-promote his various brands appears to be the primary reason for purchasing Golf Magazine.

In other Milstein news, his investment in Jack Nicklaus will continue and change with the Golden Bear stepping away from day-to-day Nicklaus Companies commitments.

For Immediate Release:

A strategy that was born a little more than 10 years ago when Jack Nicklaus brought on Howard Milstein as a partner to grow the business, institutionalize the Nicklaus and Golden Bear brands, and create a transition to the future of one of the golf industry’s most enduring and recognizable companies has reached a juncture where Jack Nicklaus has decided to step away from the day-to-day commitments of the Nicklaus Companies and re-prioritize his time and focus.

The foundations of the Nicklaus Companies were created almost 50 years ago, with the mission to promote the game of golf, preserve its great traditions and grow the game. Over those decades, Nicklaus Companies and its predecessors have been committed to efforts to enhance the golf experience, and to bring to the national and international consumer, golf-related businesses and services that mirror the high standards established in the career and life of Jack Nicklaus. Products and services include golf-course design, development of golf and real estate communities, and the marketing and licensing of golf products and services. Earlier this year, the National Golf Foundation recognized the Nicklaus Companies as one of the Top-100 Businesses in Golf.

Jack Nicklaus is committed to ensuring that the company remains among the industry’s most respected and successful.

“I have spent my life building the Nicklaus Companies, and there has come a time in my life when I need to reduce my level of involvement and pursue many other things I am very interested in, such as charity work—specifically efforts focused on children’s healthcare—supporting the industry’s initiatives to grow this great game, and being involved in many other things outside of my involvement in the Nicklaus Companies,” Jack Nicklaus said.

“I am 78 years old, and while my health is excellent, and I have a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, it became apparent by last fall that it was time for me to spend more time on these other activities. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and there is no reason for me to do so, because I will continue to support the Nicklaus Companies and I want the company to be successful. However, my life has changed and I wish to support my wife, as well as other family members, in any endeavor they are involved. I have said many times that Barbara spent much of her life supporting me and my career, and for the last few years, I have tried to dedicate my time and energies to supporting her and what she is involved in. I am enjoying that aspect and want to continue to devote my time to her and these other life-changing efforts, and to enjoy our lives together. I would like to thank Howard. He has enabled me to monetize what I have built in this company, take care of my family, and allowed me the time to focus on these other priorities in my life.”

In 2004, a year before Jack played his final competitive round in a major championship, the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation (nchcf.org) was founded. Since then, the Foundation has raised more than $83 million for pediatric care programs in South Florida and beyond. In 2015, world-renowned Miami Children’s Hospital was renamed Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. In November 2017, the entire Miami Children’s Health System was rebranded to Nicklaus Children’s, including 14 outpatient facilities up the Southeast Florida coast and west to Naples.

In 2007, Jack Nicklaus partnered with Howard Milstein to help further the growth of the company and to realize the full potential of the brands and branded businesses. Howard Milstein is Chairman of New York Private Bank & Trust, the country’s largest family owned and operated bank.

Nicklaus-branded products have been marketed worldwide since 1962. The Jack Nicklaus and Golden Bear-branded lifestyle collection of products includes: golf academies; ice cream; restaurants; beverages; beverageware; wine; home appliances; apparel; footwear; and golf equipment. Many of these have been introduced in the last decade, as the focus was placed on building the brand.

Meanwhile, Nicklaus Design continues to be recognized as the world leader in golf course design, with 415 courses open for play in 45 countries and 39 U.S states. Jack Nicklaus has designed, co-designed or re-designed over 300 courses around the globe, more than 100 of which have been ranked in various national or international Top-100 lists. He will continue to support the golf course design projects currently under development.

Jack Nicklaus will remain as Co-Chairman of the Nicklaus Companies, while Milstein will assume the role of Executive Chairman. The Nicklaus Family will continue to be the majority owner of the Company, with Emigrant/Milstein being a significant investor, and Jack Nicklaus II and Gary Nicklaus continue to serve as members of the Board. In addition, Jack Nicklaus II, who has active golf course design projects all over the world, including Malaysia and Vietnam, remains President of Nicklaus Design.

“Jack Nicklaus has basically spent a lifetime building a successful company and brand that is viewed as the strongest in golf, and we embrace the opportunity and responsibility to make certain this great brand—one that represents excellence—continues to grow in global prominence,” Milstein said. “Jack has also built a company with experienced, talented, innovative and hard-working people, and those colleagues are as much a part of his legacy as the company itself. From CEO John Reese to the management team and the entire staff at the Nicklaus Companies, we have enormous confidence in their ability and are positioned so that the next generation of the Nicklaus Companies will build on the strength Jack and his family created, and that Jack will remain very proud of the legacy he has established. Jack will ensure that the company and the people behind it continue the success enjoyed to date, and he will be a part of it for many years to come.”

Milstein, whose passion for the game of golf has led him to acquire in recent years a number of golf-related businesses—such as True Spec, GolfLogix, Miura, and, just this week, GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com—applauded Jack Nicklaus’ commitment to the game and to his many efforts aimed at giving back to the game.

“Everywhere you turn, Jack Nicklaus has left his imprint on the game of golf,” Milstein added. “About 50 years ago, he was instrumental in creating the enormously successful PGA TOUR we know and enjoy today. In 1976, he created the Memorial Tournament—his gift to Central Ohio that has become one of golf’s most prestigious events. He has been a national co-chair and Trustee of The First Tee, and he and the company have become a Trustee of the PGA of America’s charitable arm, PGA REACH. Jack has certainly given far more back to the game than it has given him, and I know he will continue to impact the game and charity on a daily basis. I am proud to call him a partner.