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SBJ/20110103/Labor & Agents
Bramlett signing may draw Team Services futher into golf
Published January 3, 2011
Fred Fried will represent Joseph Bramlett, the first golfer of African-American heritage to graduate from the PGA Tour's qualifying school in 25 years.
Bramlett's potential impact on golf, as the only PGA Tour member of black descent other than Tiger Woods, is clear. But he might be making an impact on Fried's agency, Team Services LLC, as well.
Fried, the former ProServ and SFX executive, co-founded Team Services in 2002 and the firm primarily has been known for selling naming rights to buildings like the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, 3Com Park in San Francisco and the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland, Fried's alma mater.
One thing Team Services has not done until now is represent athletes, although it's something with which Fried has extensive experience from his previous stops. Over the years, Fried has directed the marketing activities of Michael Jordan, Steve Young, Boomer Esiason and Dan Jansen, among others.
Now Bramlett is the first athlete client at Team Services and Fried is not discounting the possibility of more work in the golf space.
"We would consider expanding in golf," said Fried, who co-founded Team Services with his partner, E.J. Narcise. "It'll be interesting to see how this goes. If you're doing things the right way, a natural question for companies to ask is whether or not you have other golf clients. … We're not a player rep business. In fact, we made a conscious decision not to be a player rep business, but this time we made an exception."
For now, Fried's complete attention is on Bramlett, 22, a long-hitting 6-foot-4 graduate of Stanford. Fried signed Bramlett without any competition from traditional player rep agencies.
A mutual friend introduced Fried to Bramlett's father, Marlo, two years ago and they struck up a relationship that led to talks about representation. The Bramletts never interviewed other agents.
"We found similar value points and connections on several fronts," Fried said. "Joseph has some unique opportunities in front of him."
Bramlett already is drawing comparisons to Woods. Both went to Stanford, come from racially mixed families and wear the Nike swoosh, but Fried is quick to point out that Bramlett and Woods traveled significantly different paths to the tour.
Woods left Stanford after two years, won on tour during his first season and never had to go to qualifying school. Part of Bramlett's charm is that he overcame a serious wrist injury in college, and doggedly advanced through all three stages of Q school to earn his tour card.
Bramlett played Nike equipment and wore its apparel as part of the school's all-sports deal with the brand, and that association will likely continue into Bramlett's professional career. Fried is deep into talks to have Nike on Bramlett's bag, joining other Nike golfers like Woods, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Justin Leonard, Paul Casey and Anthony Kim.
Fried envisions two or three more sponsors — endemic and non-endemic — coming on board in 2011 during Bramlett's rookie season.
"There will probably be fewer corporate relationships in the first few years than what Tiger had," Fried said. "Tiger came out, won twice and was exempt, and then won the Masters. He's a totally different case than a guy who is thinking about top 125 on the money list."
Fried also will seek relationships that will help Bramlett promote the game to the African-American audience.
"There is an underlying importance culturally to him succeeding," Fried said.
Bramlett will be featured in NBC's coming golf show "Ticket to the Tour," which looks at newcomers on the PGA Tour. While the PGA Tour will be promoting its young stars in 2011, Bramlett is not expected to be among them, said a tour spokesman, because he has not yet hit a shot as a tour member.