Beman has new contact lenses but old clubs: a set of Callaway irons and a Bull's-eye putter that has been lying around his garage for 25 years. No Pings. The biggest blot on Beman's PGA escutcheon came from his ban of square-grooved clubs, including most notably Ping Eye2s, from the Tour in 1990. The resulting lawsuit cost the Tour several million dollars and, some claim, hastened Beman's exit.
That's chump change compared with what he brought to the Tour: Under his direction purses grew from $8 million to $100 million. Says Senior player Jim Colbert, "Deane provided the opportunity for some of us to go through our entire lives without a real job. And he's responsible for golf being the only major sport without player-owner controversies. Baseball is on strike. Football, basketball and hockey have salary-cap problems. Without him it might have been PGA players versus sponsors."
Such praise, however, is not universal. "—— Deane Beman!" says Dave Hill, one of dozens of Seniors Beman fined last spring in a purse-splitting scandal. "His return is——. He took money away from players who needed it at the same time he was making a million and a half dollars a year. He ain't gonna be too damn welcome on the Senior tour." That sentiment is seconded by Hill's younger brother, Mike: "I don't have anything good to say about Deane Beman, so I guess I won't say anything."
Beman remains unruffled. "I think these guys can separate the job I had to do from who I am," he says. "And now I'm a golfer, just like they are." Beman's successor, Tim Finchem, has joked that Beman will be banned from attending player meetings for two years. "I'm gonna appeal," says Beman, smiling. "But I'm not sure I wanna appeal."
A Drive-Away Drive
It's one thing when your ball strikes a caddie, quite another when it strikes a Caddy. At the pro-am before the Bank One, an errant shot from the 17th tee shattered the rear window of a Cadillac Sedan De-Ville parked behind the 15th tee. The car was supposed to be the prize for a hole in one on that par 3 during Sunday's round. The anonymous pro or am who sliced the shot didn't bother playing the lie—at the end of the day the ball was still on the Caddy's backseat. "You have insurance here?" joked Lee Trevino, who shills for Cadillac. "That may be my car."
The contrasting styles of irons used by the players on the teams in the Presidents Cup provided insight into golf-equipment marketing. On the U.S. side, seven of the 12 players used investment-cast, perimeter-weighted irons, which tend to produce more distance and have a larger effective hitting area. On the International side, only Fulton Allem used that style of club. The other players used traditional, forged-steel irons, which are thought to have better feel and distance control.
On the PGA Tour as a whole, most players still use the forged blade. But that is not true for some of the U.S.'s brightest stars, whom manufacturers seek as endorsers of the investment-cast clubs, which have become more and more popular among average golfers. Four members of the American team in particular—Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Corey Pavin and Hale Irwin—have major contracts that require them to play investment-cast irons.
In contrast, only one of the International players who competed, Nick Price, is well enough known in the U.S. to command a huge endorsement contract, and he has insisted on playing forged clubs. Allem himself played forged irons until this year, when he was offered the best club contract of his career to play investment-cast irons. The rest of the International players, who don't have the name recognition to command huge dollars, have decided to stay with forged irons.
The world's best players are entering the so-called equipment revolution cautiously, and for most professionals, control will always be more important than distance.