The Other Masters Winner

Golf marketers are set to capitalize on Mickelson's two-driver victory

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Old saying: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

New saying: Two drivers in the bag could be worth millions.

When Phil Mickelson won The Masters April 9, he did so with an unconventional approach. For the second tournament in a row, Mr. Mickelson used two drivers-the club used to tee off on most holes-instead of just one.

Now golf manufacturers are jumping for joy. Golf is one of the few sports where its recreational participants are notorious for mimicking what the pros do, and industry observers are expecting a rush from amateur players looking to buy a second driver for their golf bags. Or, at the very least, purchase one new driver with the weight distribution technology featured by several manufacturers, including Mr. Mickelson's Callaway Golf clubs.

It could mean big profits for marketers, as drivers are the most expensive club in the bag. The Nike Sasquatch, for example, pushes $400.

"Any time golf manufacturers can sell more clubs, they will," said Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp, Chicago. "They like to portray themselves as being in the business of helping golfers, but the reality is they are selling clubs."

Callaway has already taken out a series of print ads congratulating Mr. Mickelson and noting in the copy that he "changed forever" the game by using two drivers. Mr. Mickelson used the two-driver approach a few weeks ago, winning the Bell South Invitational by a whopping 13 strokes, and followed it up with his Masters victory. One Fusion FT-3 driver was to "draw" his tee shot, from left to right, and another was to "fade" the shot from right to left, giving him better control over where the ball would land.

In addition to the print ads, Callaway rushed out a revised TV ad in which Mr. Mickelson speaks about the Fusion FT-3. At one point, he mentions his two major championship victories, but the revised spot references three wins, including the Masters.

"And we had him do another take in which he mentions his four major championships, just in case," said Callaway spokesman Larry Dorman. "There are some other things in the works right now that we're going to do to capitalize as well."

But that might not include pushing the two-driver concept. Using two drivers is mostly for professionals and serious golfers who play several times a week.

"The golfers who would benefit from having two drivers, they already know they would benefit. We don't have to sell them on that concept," Mr. Dorman said. "For the average weekend golfer, who in almost all cases does not have the time or the ability to make a big swing change [to accommodate using two drivers], they can really benefit from the FT-3 because you don't have to change your swing. That's the core message we'll send to those golfers."

TaylorMade, Callaway's chief rival, isn't likely to come out with ads reflective of its R7 driver, which also uses weight distribution technology that allows the golfer to adjust the weight in the club head to determine the path of the ball. The company just started a new multimillion-dollar campaign that features 16 different print executions and four 30-second TV spots that speak to the passion of the game.

David Braham, president of The World of Golf retail shops in New York, said he saw his usual increase in customers the day after the Masters. He expects a rush on drivers-maybe not two at a time, but an increase in sales for the weighted clubs.

"The amount of press and attention on the two drivers thing has actually put more of a focus on what I think is the most important change in golf equipment over the last couple of years, which is the increased attention to the distribution of weight," Mr. Braham said.
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