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The LPGA and officials from the McDonald's LPGA Championship have announced the renewal of the tournament's contract with the LPGA. The new contract is a three-year rolling agreement, whereby each year the McDonald's LPGA Championship is staged, another year is automatically added to the term of the contract. LPGA Commissioner Charles Meachem said both parties were "extremely happy" to make the announcement and pointed out that the '95 McDonald's LPGA Championship contributed $2.1M to charity. The event is one of four LPGA's Major Championships and is played annually at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, DE (LPGA).
The latest National Golf Foundation figures show continued strength in the construction of golf courses in the U.S. In '94, golf course development projects showed 381 new courses open -- 283 daily fee courses -- with another 769 under construction and 541 in planning stages. MI led the country in new courses opened during '94 with 27, followed by FL with 21. MI also leads with 66 courses under construction, followed by CA with 44 and IL with 42. FL still has the most courses in the country with 1,098 (George Sweda, Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/23). More and more women are playing golf, according to the National Golf Foundation. Women account for "just 21% of golfers, but they make up 37% of newcomers to the game." The Executive Women's Golf League in West Palm Beach, FL was started in '91 and has nearly 10,000 members in 81 chapters, including "one of its fastest growing in Atlanta." The Atlanta chapter has gained "a big boost from AT&T, where VP Larry Bell has encouraged saleswomen and other employees to learn golf as a way to enhance business." Bell is so impressed with the league, he is going to write AT&T's 10 largest customers in Atlanta -- including Delta Air, Coca-Cola and Home Depot and "urge them to join" (Chris Burkitt, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/24) BRING IN THE SKY CAM: MA-based Player Systems Corp. has developed SkyCaddie, a golf cart program that provides small electronic screens. The screens "provide players with detailed information, such as yards to the front of the green, yards to the pin, yards to certain hazards and obstacles, and suggestions for playing the hole." The system can also track play, and messages can be sent to ask slow players to speed up. Players Systems Dir of Marketing Richard Beckmann has installation of the system pending at courses in Cape Cod, Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas, while it has already been installed at Sailfish Point Golf Club in Stuart, FL. The "optimum market is probably resort courses, where management considers tee times to be like inventory. Any method of better flow and speedier play is a profit maker for the course" (Joe Gordon, BOSTON HERALD, 5/24).
Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. stock fell to a record low after the company announced its revenue and profit would be lower this year because of the baseball strike. Shares fell $1.50 to $10.12, a drop of 12.9%. Rawlings blamed weak baseball-equipment sales at retail outlets. That "revised forecast surprised analysts, who thought the company might avoid a ripple effect" from the strike. Jack Russo, who follows Rawlings for A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis: "I don't know if it's because of the strike or just kids playing other sports. ... I think all of us were crossing our fingers." A.G. Edwards, which had earlier considered Rawlings stock a "buy," has changed its position to give the company's stock a neutral "hold." Rawlings has lowered its revenue projection for the fiscal year by 3.13% to $145M (Christopher Carey, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/24). MERCHANDISE SALES SLOW ALL AROUND: Although the sale of licensed baseball merchandise is down due to the strike, retailers and analysts hope revenue will pick up as the season progresses. According to Nancy McCusker, Sports Services Dir of Merchandising, the "good news for the clubs and merchants is that fans who show up at the games are buying food, caps, shirts and other goods at about the same rate per person ... as they did this time last year." Industry watchers all note that exciting pennant races would help the $2.5B business return to past performance. John Horan, publisher of SPORTING GOODS INTELLIGENCE, said there are "lots of problems," but by the playoffs, "sales will back to normal" (Robyn Meredith, USA TODAY, 5/24).
Volume Services has been selected to provide concessions for the Jaguars and all events at the team's new stadium. As part of a three-year deal, Volume Services will manage all food, beverage and merchandise concessions in the stadium. Jaguars President & COO David Seldin said the company "has a strong track record as the industry leader in NFL stadiums." Volume Services is the largest concessions provider to the NFL. Jacksonville's new stadium, in the rebuilt Gator Bowl, is on schedule for completion in mid-August and will seat 73,000 fans. The first game is scheduled for August 18 (Jaguars).