SBJ/20090907/This Week's News

Company equips golf bags with sponsor video

A Phoenix-based company has introduced a golf bag with a video screen that shows rolling advertisements to spectators and television viewers. ProBagAds debuted the flat-panel LCD screen in August on the bag of 50-year-old PGA Tour player Michael Allen.

The high-definition weatherproof monitor, 8 inches high by 10 inches wide, weighs about 5 pounds and rotates advertisements for up to nine hours. ProBagAds buys the monitors from New York-based General Digital and attaches them to the “belly” of the bag, the large panel opposite the shoulder strap.

Depending on the quality of the image and the size of the font, the screen content is legible from up to 40 yards, or approximately half the width of an average golf hole roped off for tournament play.

It costs $2,500 to $4,000 to install the screen, said ProBagAds owner Joe Kirkpatrick, a former pro golfer. Ads are now uploaded with a memory stick, but Kirkpatrick is working on a way to update them remotely.

The company is still writing its business plan, but expects to sell local and national ads to companies each week for a couple hundred dollars or more, depending upon the stature of the tour and a player’s ranking. The screen also could incorporate national endorsements and charitable associations.

Allen has used the bag in three events with ads from golf-related companies such as TaylorMade, The Golf Stik and Nineteenth Hole Wines, as well as various charities.

ProBagAds is working directly with Allen, who does not have an agent, and has talked with golf representation agencies about making the technology available for their clients. ProBagAds would install and maintain the monitors in exchange for a flat fee or cut of sales from the agency.

Kirkpatrick filed an application in May to patent the way the screen is attached to golf, tennis and nonsports bags, which should prevent agencies from developing their own version of the technology, he said.

There is no rule in the PGA Tour player handbook specifically prohibiting digital ads on golf bags, and Kirkpatrick dismissed skepticism that the concept might not play well in a traditional sport like golf.

“I’m a traditionalist and I don’t want to see some ‘Caddyshack’ bag,” he said, referencing Rodney Dangerfield’s bag in the movie that had a built-in car stereo. “But this is the way this kind of technology has hit every sport. Things progress.”

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