"If the Burner Bubble is a success, we wouldn't be as affected as Ely [Callaway] would, because he owns the wood business," says Tom Crow, vice chairman of Cobra Golf. "You have to remember that Taylor has never established an iron. They're a woodmaker, and Ely has never really established an iron, so he really is a woodmaker, too. I think Taylor had no choice but to confront Callaway and try to take some of that wood business back."
Callaway is diplomatic about the Taylor Made threat. "We congratulate our competitor on an interesting new product," he says. "We wish them well."
In the three years that Fred Couples has used Lynx's Boom Boom driver and Parallax irons to earn nearly $3 million on the PGA Tour, Lynx's parent company, Zurn Industries, has lost $24 million. Last year Lynx also signed U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, who set a single-season worldwide earnings record of $2,862,000, and Michelle McGann, who, using Parallax irons, had her second-best season on the LPGA tour.
The equipment obviously works. So why the losses? Lynx attributes them to three factors: Some of the most costly advertising in the industry; considerable funds poured into its casting facility in 1989; and mixed signals created by the success of Couples and Els. "The fastest growth in the last few years has been for companies marketing player-improvement clubs," says Dave Boone, vice president of product development and marketing for Lynx. "People think the Parallax is a professional's club. We decided to go to a more radical approach."
That would be the Black Cat iron, a club whose most distinguishing characteristic is a black military-grade urethane ring inside the cavity. The club face is one of the largest on the market, but it doesn't look oversized at address because it is closer to the hosel than most. The Black Cat's other unusual feature is a flare-tip shaft that is 19% bigger than the conventional step shaft.
Lynx needs all the good luck the big Black Cat can bring.
The Club King
It seems that everyone at the PGA Show has a story to tell about Nat Rosasco II, whether it be about his 100-foot yacht, which mysteriously sank years ago in Lake Michigan; the two Rolls-Royces he always brings to the Show; the massive seven-carat diamond ring he sports on his left pinky; or his oak-paneled office in Chicago, which wouldn't be complete without its original Louis XVI furniture and museum-quality bronze sculptures.
But Rosasco prefers another kind of story. He'll tell you that he's the only white person with a hole named after him at the Joe Louis "The Champ" Golf Course on Chicago's South Side; that he was honored to spend an hour with Mother Teresa two years ago in Italy; and that he has given millions of dollars to people in need, from underprivileged kids in Chicago to Chi Chi Rodriguez when he was a fledgling pro.