It had been a good day on the golf course prior to the 2009 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando and I guess I was feeling kind of giddy as Cindy Davis, the new president of Nike Golf, spoke and then took questions afterwards.
I’ve known Davis since her days at the LPGA and I knew she had a sense of humour, so I couldn’t resist taking a shot at one of her Canadian colleagues.
“Cindy, why a reprobate like Mike Francis?” I asked of her new U.S. general manager for Nike Golf, the role she had held before becoming president a few months earlier.
I wasn’t sure if she took me seriously, but for a brief second, she looked like a deer in the headlights before responding in a professional manner that shielded the fact that I know her to be able to take, and even give, a good-natured zinger.
“You knew I was kidding, right?” I said to her afterwards when a smile crossed her face almost as if to say she couldn’t trash Francis publicly and had to behave.
The trash talk was all in fun about Francis, who wasn’t even present to defend himself that day. He’d just served three years as GM for Nike Golf in Europe, the Middle East and Africa after serving as Nike’s Canadian GM.
Before joining Nike in 2003, he’d worked for Wilson and Ram and one wonders if the reprobate is once again about to replace Davis, who is retiring from Nike. With no inside information to go on, it does seem to be a natural progression for Francis, based on what’s happened in the past.
The Recession Never Ended
The recession of 2008-2009 never ended in the golf industry and for many, it’s even worse than it was back then, according to this week’s GNN Poll.
How would you describe the improvement in business at the golf operation where you work since the recession of 2008-2009 was the exact question.
At the time of this writing, the majority of respondents, or 40 per cent, say their business has been worse than back then, while 37 per cent added there had been no improvement.
Another 17 per cent said business was marginally better, with only six per cent saying it was significantly better.
The overall Canadian economy hasn’t been firing on all cylinders since then, so while it may be overly optimistic to expect full steam ahead the past few years, it does seem as if golf can’t hoist its anchor out of the water.
Maybe that gloomy picture will brighten up a bit over the next couple of days as there is still time in which to cast your vote on the home page.
New Junior Initiative Arrives In Ontario
The Golf Association of Ontario (GAO), Golf Canada and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport have announced the implementation of the NXTee youth (U13) golf x-perience junior golf initiative.
The NXTee pilot program has been created to increase the development and engagement of junior golfers aged 8-13 in York Region, north of Toronto.
The program is designed to offer juniors an opportunity to continue to practice and increase their skills throughout the winter to prepare participants for the golf season in a fun and friendly environment.
“We want to be able to look at the NXTee x-perience as being able to inspire and enhance the development of kids at the club level,” said Doug Lawrie, NXTee Lead Coach.
“We need to have that junior coach and leader at the club to inspire kids to learn and show them how simple it is to learn the game of golf. I think this program will help create structure to get everyone on the same page,” he added.
A key strategy for the program aims to educate parents and increase awareness about junior golf pathways and next steps for their junior golfer.
“The GAO is truly excited to launch this important project as we work to strengthen our support for communities, families and clubs across Ontario,” added Mike Kelly, the GAO’s managing director of sport.
The program includes two outdoor skills challenges, one in the fall followed by another in the spring, two indoor training sessions during the winter, two parent education seminars and proper rules and etiquette training.
Locations for the skills challenges will be at Cardinal Golf Club (King), Copper Creek Golf Club (Kleinburg), Bushwood Golf Club (Markham), Lakeridge Links Golf Club (Whitby) and St. Andrews Valley Golf Club (Aurora) and will take place October 18-19.
Each club will host a three-hour skills challenge on both days. The second skills challenge will take place next April.
After the skills challenges, participants will sign up for winter training sessions to be held at The Golf Lab in Vaughan.