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CHANGES ROCK THE PREMIER GOLF NETWORK TEEN'S 'TUDE UPSETS LPGA VETERANS CARNER STEPS DOWN AS CAPTAIN

Feb. 05, 1996
Feb. 05, 1996

Table of Contents
Feb. 5, 1996

CHANGES ROCK THE PREMIER GOLF NETWORK TEEN'S 'TUDE UPSETS LPGA VETERANS CARNER STEPS DOWN AS CAPTAIN

TROUBLED TIMES AT CBS

This is an article from the Feb. 5, 1996 issue Original Layout

UNEASY LIES the crown on CBS, long considered the leader in
televised golf, as it opens its season this week at the AT&T
Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The trouble began when, soon after
the firing of Ben Wright, Dave Kenin, the president of CBS
Sports, reportedly asked longtime executive producer Frank
Chirkinian to step down. Jim Nantz, the CBS wunderkind who
anchors the golf telecasts, was so upset by Kenin's mandate that
he considered quitting. Nantz was pacified only after Chirkinian
salvaged his job through a face-saving agreement with Kenin to
work eight events this year, including the Masters and the PGA.
A likely candidate to replace Chirkinian is Lance Barrow,
currently a CBS producer.

Change seems to have come all at once to the network, which once
had the most stable team in golf broadcasting. Pat Summerall
left to join Fox early in the 1994 season. Then Gary McCord was
banned from Masters telecasts after complaints from tournament
officials. Next, Ken Venturi announced that he would retire
after the 1997 season. Finally, Wright was fired after he was
quoted as making sexist remarks about the LPGA.

Behind the scenes, a group of aspiring producers and directors
allegedly was plotting to overthrow the 69-year-old Chirkinian,
who has directed CBS's golf coverage for 38 years. And all the
while, the network has been looking over its shoulder at
hard-charging NBC, which, with a vastly improved lineup and the
rights to the U.S. Open and the Ryder Cup, is challenging CBS
for supremacy.

While Kenin moonwalked away from any culpability in bringing
down Chirkinian, the man they call the Ayatollah staunchly stood
by his team and his network, as usual. "We are all
professionals, we still have the best crew in television, and in
our estimation we are still the Number 1 network in golf--and we
plan to stay there," Chirkinian says. "This is a mere glitch in
our lives."

BATTLE OF THE BANDS

Two of the golf industry's powerhouses, Cobra and Callaway,
turned up the volume full blast last week at the PGA Merchandise
Show in Orlando. Cobra's dazzling, $1.3 million exhibit included
a sound system that would do any rock concert proud, and the
company's advertisements were aimed at the Callaway booth
directly across the aisle. The music was so loud on the first
day of the trade show that Callaway sales representatives had a
hard time hearing customers, and Ely Callaway asked the PGA of
America to intervene. Cobra turned it down a notch the next day,
which was probably a wise move considering the retaliation
planned by Callaway. "We had Alice Cooper in here," said a
company salesman, "and if Cobra didn't turn it down, we were
going to have him plug in an electric guitar and blast them out."

BALL WARS

The most touted new ball in golf is the HP2 Tour by Titleist.
Trouble is, under new testing procedures approved for 1997 by
the USGA, the ball could be ruled illegal, and if that happens,
look for fur to fly between the giant manufacturer and golf's
governing body. Much like the notorious square-grooves case
involving Ping irons in the late '80s, this dispute revolves
around a technical point understood by few outside the industry:
the "launch angle" of golf balls. Titleist takes the position
that it has been blindsided by the changes endorsed by the
association's Ball and Implements Committee and is talking tough.

"Who the hell and where is the Ball and Implements Committee
that has taken it upon itself to decide how this $6 billion
industry and its internal affairs should be conducted?"
thundered Titleist president Wally Uihlein. USGA technical
director Frank Thomas, who was on the receiving end of such
sentiments during a meeting with Uihlein a few weeks ago,
responded by saying that Titleist is overreacting.

ARNIE TALKS THE WALK

Arnold Palmer, a staunch supporter of walking, was being painted
as a hero after stepping in and rescinding a carts-only policy
that had been instituted at scenic Presidio Golf Course in San
Francisco by the course-management company that bears his name.
The fact is, though, that 14 of the other 16 public and
daily-fee courses in the U.S. managed by Palmer's company
prohibit walking during peak hours.

WORST IMPRESSIONS

Cristie Kerr's attitude, which some veterans viewed as haughty,
did not play well in the recent HealthSouth Inaugural. Cristie,
an 18-year-old senior at Sunset High School in Miami, was dubbed
Dottie Junior by some players after making her first cut in an
LPGA event and showing some of the same characteristics as the
combative and sometimes petulant Dottie Pepper. Kerr's
indifferent reaction to being paired with Nancy Lopez and Helen
Alfredsson in the second round at Walt Disney World didn't make
her any friends.

"I think it's O.K. to come out here and be confident, but that
has nothing to do with treating people nice and being humble,"
Alfredsson said. "Humbleness is something that is such a virtue
to have."

CARNER RESIGNS

For 34 years, Don Carner faithfully supported his wife JoAnne's
career. They traveled together to almost every tournament,
pulling an Airstream trailer from stop to stop. "We did
everything together," JoAnne Carner says. Now Don is suffering
from Parkinson's disease, and last August he was felled by a
stroke. Because Don needs almost constant care at the couple's
home in Palm Beach, Fla., JoAnne has regretfully resigned as
captain of the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

Carner had great fun as captain of the 1994 team. She wore a
red-white-and-blue-sequined baseball cap and chain-smoked as her
team drubbed the Europeans 13-7. When it came time to name a
captain for this year's match in Chepstow, Wales, the LPGA did
not hesitate in giving the job back to its Big Momma. Now it has
formed a committee to find a replacement.

THE SHORT GAME

Need more proof that the price of golf is going up? The Ram FX
Ti Forged driver that debuted at the PGA Show retails for
$1,000.... A rift has developed between the Pebble Beach
Company, which owns the three courses used for the AT&T Pebble
Beach National Pro-Am, and the Monterey Peninsula Golf
Foundation, which runs the tournament. The Pebble Beach Company
wants more control over tournament operations.... Golden Bear
International is looking to go public within a year. Jack
Nicklaus Design, the most lucrative arm of the Golden Bear
empire, and Nicklaus's equipment company would not be part of
the package, which would include the Nicklaus golf schools and
centers, the event management division and all licensing and
marketing, publications and video productions.... At last week's
PGA Show, Ben Wright made his first public appearance since
being fired by CBS. Wright was representing Pro Gear and said he
had plans to breed his Arabian horses. "I'm enjoying a new
life," he said. "That's all I'm going to say." ... Raymond Floyd
brought Don Shula to Hawaii for the Senior Skins as a
66th-birthday present for the former coach of the Miami
Dolphins, and Shula celebrated by making a hole in one on the
South Course at Mauna Lani.... The USGA has extended Nicklaus an
invitation to play in his 40th straight U.S. Open. The other
invitations to this year's championship at Oakland Hills went to
Jumbo Ozaki and Tom Watson.... Twenty-four hours after Wilson
said that it would produce 1,000 exact replicas of the original
8802 putter and sell them for $500 apiece, the company announced
that it had orders for every one of them.

COLOR PHOTO: BEN VAN HOOK Cobra Golf's high-voltage exhibit at the PGA Show sent a message that came in loud and clear.COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES While Kerr's play drew raves, some players said her demeanor had plenty of room for improvement. [Cristie Kerr]

PICK THE PRO

People who follow golf, and even some who don't, know that Jack
Nicklaus's nickname is the Golden Bear; Arnold Palmer is called
the King; Greg Norman will respond if you call him the Shark;
and Craig Stadler is known as the Walrus. But here are some
nicknames of Tour players you might not have heard before. See
if you can match the nickname with the player:

1. Carnac II A. Fred Couples
2. Pudgy B. Bob Estes
3. Chachi C. David Duval
4. Spaceman D. Craig Parry
5. Brillo E. Paul Goydos
6. Robopro F. Steve Pate
7. Sunshine G. Bob Tway
8. Owl H. Tom Watson
9. Cuz I. Billy Andrade
10. Ant J. Billy Mayfair
11. Volcano K. Tom Kite
12. Penguin L. Neal Lancaster
13. Popeye M. Jesper Parnevik

Answers: 1-H, 2-J, 3-I, 4-M, 5-G, 6-B, 7-E, 8-A, 9-L, 10-K,
11-F, 12-C, 13-D.