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Achievement in the golf business to be recognized by ING

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Another challenging year for the golf industry is coming to a close. Total number of rounds was down again, and merchandise sales, in general, were below expectations.

But there were some outstanding achievements by individuals and companies in the golf business. The 21st Annual ING Industry Honors awards program recognizes some of those in 11 categories.

The program is conducted by the non-profit International Network of Golf, based in Lake Mary, FL. Nominations are taken throughout the year in every category, then trimmed to the top 3 in each category by sub-committees.

A vote by ING members then determine the winners, who are announced and honored at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando January 23.

Nominees in the various categories are listed below.

BUSINESS ACHIEVEMENT

Eric Affeldt, CEO, ClubCorp - The world's largest private club operator put together the most significant golf industry IPO since the 1990s, taking the company public and making owner KSL Capital Partners' investors happy with the cash infusion. Even ClubCorp's industry competitors have to be happy that Wall Street and the SEC found enough merit in a golf-related company to support an IPO. ClubCorp has raised revenue consistently in the last three years, with a 10 percent growth from 2010 to 2012, topping $754 million.

Pam Swensen, CEO Executive Women’s Golf Association – Through Swensen’s leadership, the EWGA is leveraging the power of its 14,000+ members and their $66M impact on the game to create new opportunities for existing members and welcome new ones with 125 EWGA Chapters in nearly every U.S. major market and internationally. EWGA provides a community for women by offering affordable, organized golf, networking, success insights from accomplished executives, travel and equipment discounts and a wide range of local and national events and benefits. The Commonwealth Institute has twice recognized her as one of the top 10 female CEO’s leading a not-for-profit business in Florida.

Frank Thomas, Founder, Frankly Golf - Thomas invented the graphite shaft for Shakespeare Sporting Goods in 1969. As USGA Technical Director for 26 years, he developed the GHIN Handicap System, introduced the Stimpmeter and wrote, re-wrote and monitored all equipment standards and rules. In 2000 he founded of Frankly Golf, dedicated to helping golfers through www.franklygolf.com . He conducted the largest Growing the Game Study, has spent the last 12 years researching putting and directs a putting academy. He created the Certified Putting Instructor Course, adopted by 8 PGA’s worldwide to educate professionals. Thomas is a Technical Advisor to Golf Digest and Golf Channel.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Haggin Oaks Golf Complex conducts several programs that bring new golfers to the market. 1,500 junior rounds given away with our Kids Play Free year-round promotion, 400 golf clubs given away at Play Golf America Day, nearly 200 clubs given away as egg prizes in the Free Easter Egg Hunt and Pancake Breakfast, the new FootGolf Course launch to tie soccer popularity to golf and more than 2,000 kids in our First Tee program are just a handful of the key metrics that Haggin Oaks Golf Complex has achieved in player development in 2013.

Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development (501c3), originally established in 2008 as a pilot program for children ages 3-8 at a single daycare, has now grown into something much bigger. The organization founded by multiple local & national award winning PGA Professional Brendon Elliott now boasts over 140 members, 10 instruction program locations, a year round “Tour” Series with events at 13 locations, a four year running International Pee Wee Swing Video Contest and a new program called G.O.A.L.S. for children with disabilities. Tremendous growth is predicted in 2014 with a goal of 200 members by year’s end."

The Quik Course Concept, Island Hills GC, in its second year, has enabled more golfers to play more golf, more quickly, achieving three player development goals. Five Quik Course layouts are routed within the regulation 18-hole course. A beginner can graduate through the Quik Course layouts and eventually play a complete 18 holes. Or, remain comfortable at any Quik Course level. Affordability is another solution. Example: The “Bucket and Three” program provides a bucket of range balls and three holes of golf. For $15 and within 90-minutes, golfers get their “golf fix” in and then return back to their active world.

PRINT ADVERTISEMENT – Products & Services

Ashworth – “Golf Is A Game Of Feet, Not Inches”

Callaway – “It’s Not Complicated”

Winn – “Tacky Elegance… Dri-Tac”

PRINT ADVERTISEMENT – Trade Publications

John Deere – “Business Class; More Than Just Equipment”

Toro – “Create Ambience … Generate Revenue”

GCSAA – “Work Of Art”

PRINT ADVERTISEMENT – Travel & Real Estate

Colonial Williamsburg – “Couples Getaway”

Pinehurst – “Until Then, The First Tee Is Open”

The Cliffs – “Monday”

PRODUCT INGENUITY – Emerging Companies

Golfalyzer is a personal pocket breathalyzer that golfers can use to monitor their blood-alcohol content (BAC). Lots of golfers understand the positive effect a few drinks might have on their ability to relax the body and quiet the mind. The easy-to-use Golfalyzer helps golfers identify the amount of consumed alcohol that produces their optimum performance level. Even more importantly, golfers realize what their BAC is by the end of the round. Voted “Conference Best” favorite product at the ING Spring Conference.

Nexbelt’s GO-IN! Golf Series of belts provide maximum comfort and minimum adjustment hassle by allowing the wearer to adjust the belt in ¼ inch increments as opposed to the outdated pin/buckle style belt. This unique ratcheting system, dubbed PreciseFit, allows the golfer a reduction of up to 15 waist sizes with the same belt, allowing for a more comfortable golf swing. The GO-IN! Golf belts not only provide comfort, but also the convenience of a hidden ball marker located behind the face of the belt.

The YAR putter, designed by Dr. Essay Ann Vanderbilt, has near-zero moment of inertia, which effectively “self-corrects” a stroke such that the person putting has only to accelerate the putter through impact in order to effect perfect roll and direction. Putting blindfolded proves the effectiveness, as does one-handed putting. It’s as simple as aim and swing, with the result that unless the player decelerates the putter at impact, or purposely re-routes the path, the ball will roll where first aimed – essentially self-correcting the stroke.

PRODUCT INGENUITY – Market Leading Companies

Adams Golf Tight Lies Fairway Woods – Similar to the original hot-selling Tight Lies, the new version features the tri-level sole design reduces amount of turf interaction to increase performance from the fairway, rough or tight lies. The new version has cut-through velocity slot technology that creates a hotter face. Low-profile upside down design produces larger impact area below the ball for better contact, and easier launch out of a multitude of lies.

Cobra AMP Cell Driver - featuring MyFlyTM technology, allowing you to adjust your loft to maximize distance and manage your trajectory. SmartPad™ Technology delivers a square face at address, regardless of loft setting and with no additional adjustment needed. Advanced Material Placement and CELL Technology free up discretionary weight for a 12% larger E9 face shape, delivering faster ball speeds even on miss-hits. Comes in four flavorful colors and a stock Fujikura Fuel shaft.

TaylorMade Golf SLDR Driver - The SLDR has a center of gravity that is lower and more forward than any driver TaylorMade has ever produced. That allows golfers to launch the ball higher and with less spin, which is the key to longer drivers. It also gives the it slightly faster ball speeds and more forgiveness, particularly on shots hit low on the face. The 20-gram sliding weight is easy to adjust, and allows for much more precise tuning.

PUBLIC RELATIONS/PROMOTIONS

National Women’s Golf Alliance - The NWGA offers golf facilities various strategies on how to make their courses more attractive to women who may be daily fee players or potential club members. The group’s mission is to grow the game by increasing the number of women playing golf and to improve the engagement levels of existing women golfers. The organization developed standards and best practices to help make golf facilities more welcoming and accessible to women. Facilities that achieve an 80% score in at least three of five key areas earn NWGA “Rolling Out the Green Carpet” certification.

TaylorMade Golf - To help launch the RocketBladez irons, TaylorMade became a driving range sponsor at AT&T Pebble Beach which enabled them to fit every amateur golfer into a custom set of RocketBladez irons. They literally parked a TaylorMade tour van on the amateur driving range and fit and worked with everyone. Also, to help promote the “One Bucket” campaign, TaylorMade provided the amateurs and our players with yellow bucket hats. To ensure that the bucket hats were worn, they offered up to $1 million dollars for anyone who made an Ace on No. 17 hole.

USGA “While We’re Young” Program – Pace of play ranks at or near the top of any list of issues affecting the growth of golf. The United States Golf Association created a wide-sweeping campaign to create awareness of the issue. Most TV golf fans have seen the various “While We’re Young” commercials featuring several named players. There have also been press releases, stories, interviews and extensive coverage on the USGA website, where you can sign the pace of play pledge. Nearly 200,000 people have done just that, along with suggesting ways to pick up the pace.

TOURNAMENT SERVICE

Golf Fore Kids Tournament - Created in 2005, this unique charity event in Mesquite, NV, combines the excitement of golf with the joy of giving. What makes this tournament unique is that no cash is involved. Courses and food are donated. The tournament entry fee is a new toy valued at $50 or more. Through an organized community volunteer effort, toys are distributed to less fortunate families in Mesquite and surrounding communities. Last year the 400-plus golfers donated over $50,000 in cash and gifts for Christmas to help over 800 children.

The National Golf Club Challenge – This inter-club competition in the U.K. serves as a fundraiser for Help for Heroes, a charity organization supporting injured members of the British Armed Forces. With the help of spokesperson Lee Westwood, £228,600 was raised this year, bringing the four-year total to around three quarters of a million pounds. UK golf clubs raised funds while running a qualifier event. Winners from each event progress to regional semifinals and possibly to a National Final at Turnberry Resort sponsored by Your Golf Travel.com.

The Thunderbirds – The PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open hosts, The Thunderbirds, will distribute $6,214,711 to local charities through proceeds raised from the 2013 tournament. Since October 2003 when the tournament first brought on a title sponsor, The Thunderbirds and the Open have raised more than $60.3 million for charities. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. The Thunderbirds consist of 55 “active” members and more than 250 “life” members.

TV INDIVIDUAL COMMERCIAL

Bridgestone – “Can Someone Explain Compression?”

Mitsubishi Electric– “Comfort Zone, With Fred Couples”

NIKE Golf – “Apologies, With Tiger Woods”

TV COMMERCIAL SERIES

Bridgestone – “Play What Fits Your Game”

Srixon – “Question Your Ball”

USGA – “While We’re Young”

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