Tom Crow, chief of club design for Cobra, met with Bredenkamp only once, in December 1994. The subject was signing Price. "He was a bully," says Crow. "His attitude was, 'I'll tell you, you won't tell me.' I got the strong impression he didn't give a damn about our side." Their talks went nowhere.
The impressions Bredenkamp made on Crow and Hansberger—as domineering, secretive, aggressive, blunt—are the personality traits most often associated with Bredenkamp. As a young man he was the captain of the Rhodesian national rugby team. Obsessed with winning, he played with excessive zeal. As a salesman of tobacco and arms, Bredenkamp is described as having a fantastic capacity for travel and a desire to be present at any major transaction, but as someone who refuses to dicker on price. He is a willful man. Bredenkamp describes himself as an alcoholic who "hasn't had a drink in 20 years," and says his father and grandfather were alcoholics too. He did not join a program to stop drinking. "I just got up one morning and quit," he says. "Some people need programs. They are not strong. I was very strong."
Bredenkamp has known tragedy. When he was a teenager, his father, a Rhodesian tobacco farmer of modest means, killed his wife and then himself. His family life is complex. He has a wife and three grown children but reportedly also has a young son from an extramarital affair. Somewhere along the way, says a man who knows him, "money became his god."
However, Bredenkamp says he did not go into the sports-management business to make money for himself but for his friends. (In addition to representing 10 pro golfers, Masters International manages several prominent cricketers and rugby players, as well as Gary Kasparov, the Russian chess grandmaster, whom Bredenkamp met while doing business in Russia.) "I have always been very keen on sport," he says. "I have a number of friends who were world-class athletes, and today they have no money. I thought that was a bit of a tragedy. I wanted to try to give something back."
He is still learning his new business, and golf. Bredenkamp signed Campbell last year, a year in which Campbell finished fifth on the European money list and tied for third in the British Open. Bredenkamp negotiated a lucrative apparel deal for Campbell with Nike. (Leadbetter and Price also have deals with the shoe company.) Bredenkamp arranged for Campbell to play, for a fee, in tournaments around the world and in two unofficial events last fall. Now Campbell is weary, and his play has suffered. Worse, he is 177th on the PGA Tour money list and 145th in Europe, which means he might not earn a card on either tour for next year. In fact Campbell, who is from New Zealand, turned down an opportunity to play in last week's Presidents Cup so that he could compete in the concurrent Trophée Lancôme outside Paris in a desperate attempt to improve his status in Europe. (He finished 58th.)
"It has been a tough adjustment for me, the golf business," Bredenkamp says. "I am a very decisive person: 'Yes. No. Go. Let's do this.' Now I'm in a business where you're waiting and looking. People say, 'I will get back to you.' It is time consuming. It is not a very decisive business. You have to get used to it. If I want to stay in the business, I have to accept it."
Bredenkamp is asked: Do you want to stay in the business? He does not hesitate. "Yes," he says. In other parts of the house there's a buzz of activity, Bredenkamp's men at work. In the kitchen there is a black chef de maison, a young man from Zimbabwe who speaks a tribal language. He wears Nike sneakers given to him by Price. Elsewhere, one of Bredenkamp's assistants fields calls on a cellular phone. Bredenkamp seldom gives interviews, but he is enduring this one with patience. Over the past two years, he has begun to realize that the golf business is largely about marketing, that to be a golf mogul is to be a public person. He has seen Norman's successes.
Why, he is asked, do you want to be in golf? "I enjoy it," Bredenkamp says. "I enjoy the people—the people that we have."