Archive for August, 2011

What next?

The Walker Cup is soon here and with that possibly the biggest moment of the amateur career of the players’ taking part. This means now is the time for speculation about what will happen next. As I scan through some of the written stuff on the web this morning I come across two rather interesting articles. One is about Peter Uihlein going to qualifying school this autumn. Bearing in mind that he up until last week was the reigning US Amateur Champion with an amateur record that most could only dream about this would not be strange at all. If it wasn’t for the last bit of the article that says that even if he makes it (gets his card), he will not turn professional until after the NCAA Championships in 2012 (which he will play with his school, Oklahoma University). The only reason he is going to Q-school is that he hopes to strengthen his brand with a view to better his chances for sponsor’s invitations post June 2012. By then he will (probably) have his degree and be ready to focus entirely on his golf.

The second interesting article was about Michelle Wie taking half term a little bit early to go and play the Solheim Cup. Miss Wie is a student at Stanford, something she combines with playing the LPGA Tour. I guess just instead of playing the normal college programme that regular student-athletes would do. Quite amazing if you ask me.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Will Peter Uihlein and Michelle Wie go on to rule the World of Golf? Quite possibly. Will they be rounded, competent people with a solid ground to stand on, both feet, no matter what they end up doing in the future? Most definitely!

What I call a deal!

The other day it was revealed that Manchester United has just struck a deal with logistics company DHL. The value of the deal varied in the media, somewhere between £4M per year and £10M per year. As it is over four years (some articles claimed three) that makes the total somewhere in the range of £16M to £40M! No matter if it is the higher or the lower figure that is correct, that is no short of A LOT of money. And if you take into account what the deal is for, it is simply mind blowing. They have sold their training shirts! TRAINING SHIRTS! Alright, there is a lot more in there obviously such as business to business opportunities, marketing using all sorts of platforms and access to Old Trafford for certain events.

No doubt DHL will have checked twice if this agreement is worth the money. A little bit further down in the news bulletin that I got my hands on it talks about another part of the agreement. This is where DHL will work with the Manchester United Foundation in the development of a series of programmes to improve the lives of vulnerable young people in local communities. I think this in business language would spell CSR. Corporate Social Responsibility. Something that is getting more and more popular among major corporations, thank God. At the same time, there is no substitute for the kind of exposure that top end sport give. The beauty of Manchester United therefore is that they in this agreement offer both.

This is also where it becomes difficult for golf with the fragmented structure that we have got. One organisation offers top end golf. Well, numerous if you look across men and women and in various parts of the World. Another organisation, or other organisations, offer the grass roots perspective and the social aspects. And then the middle is full of organisations dealing with the so called amateur game. For a DHL that wants to tick all boxes there is simply nowhere to go. I think that is unfortunate!

Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts?

The Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup Team has just been announced. Ten players ready to go to Aberdeen in early September and play for pride and glory against the Americans. Five of the players are English, one has played before, at Merion in 2009. In our little internal challenge I got 8 players right. My two competitors both got 9. Maybe I should look for another job?

Picking a team is never an exact science. On paper any team from the GB&I should get completely squashed by the American side. Maybe they will be, but yet again, maybe not. Two things could work in favour of GB&I side. One definite and one possible:

The venue is Royal Aberdeen in September. I think most know what that means in terms of weather. The kind of shot making that is required is usually better practised on British links than on American target courses.

The other thing is about whether this team can become a real team or not. That possibility is obviously there for the Americans as well but to level the playing field the GB&I management has just got to the get this right. There are some examples from history where this has happened. Last week in Ireland at the Home Internationals I would argue the English did just this. The TEAM way outperformed the capabilities of the individual players. Together Everyone Achieves More.

My all time favourite of this is the 1980 Olympic ice-hockey final. This made the movies but the reality is much better. The US beat the Soviet Union under the guidance of legendary coach Herb Brooks. I was 10 and remember it as if it had been yesterday. Perhaps there are a few Youtube clips there for Captain Nigel Edwards to tap into?

Major overload

Last time when I wrote about it being a Major week my good friend whose name happens to be Major commented that every week is. As I look to this week and the PGA Championship I almost feel like he is right. Another Major is on the door step!

Last week the WGC at Akron, Ohio, was played and even I feel like I can’t keep up with all the golf that is being played. And I have to say that it feels like all events end up in a bit of a mud where yes, the keen golfers follow and are interested in who is winning but few will remember Adam Scott’s great win last week for that long. I wonder if even the Majors nowadays have the same historic strength where the Champions will live forever? Four of them in a year is quite many, no matter how special they are. And in the women’s game they felt the best way forward was to add one more!

Perhaps five Majors in a year proves to be successful and maybe I don’t know what I am talking about. I just feel that we could help ourselves a bit more by getting more focused. In the amateur game this is more than true. When the calendar was re-arranged a couple of years ago I am afraid things went from bad to worse. Many top amateurs in Europe choose to go to the US to study at college. Because of this most tournament organisers wish to have their event in the window when players come back for the summer. And boy have they succeeded! From May until now there is not a gap to be found. Players are wasted by early July if not before and when they come into the Home Internationals this week one can only hope that there can be some ignition from the team and excitement of the format that will get them to rise to the occasion.

And in fact, quite a few of our players chose not to play last week to be fresh for this week. It was just unfortunate that week had to be the one of the European Championships! Another Major week that is…

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