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Even though he describes himself as a "not very good" golfer, Michael Magerman has made it to the very top of the game.

For one of the key movers behind the development and marketing of Odyssey Sports putters-the latest new must-have club-the initial idea was simple enough: Insert a plastic strip into the head of a conventional putter to increase its "feel and forgiveness" and linksmen will beat a path to your door.

Less than four years after the first one rolled off the line, that path has become a superhighway. Odyssey currently holds about a 50% market share, sports 18 different models and expects to sell about a million putters this year-close to double over 1996.

Mr. Magerman not only still runs Odyssey but is also CEO and president of Tommy Armour Golf-the subsidiary of giant U.S. Sports that bought him out in 1995.

He did it all without using the professional pitchmen the competition considers de rigueur.

"We don't have to pay any pros to endorse our product. They already use it because it is the best in the world," claims Mr. Magerman, 35.

Instead, he says, "what we have done with our advertising and our products is to show that we are an authentic company of golf and golfers."

As sales leap, Odyssey has been generously boosting ad spending. The company is putting $4 million into media alone in 1997, up from $2 million last year. Distinctive b&w ads, from Vitrorobertson, San Diego, carry the tagline, "The number one putter in golf."

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