Hello 2011: Ames Jumps Ship, Callaway Cuts Jobs, Weir Won't Use Exemptions

Calgary's Stephen Ames has left longtime agency IMG Sports

Welcome back. If you’re still hungover, I can’t help you. But if you’re interested in some golf talk well the Canadian season may still be months away, but the PGA Tour year kicks off this week in Hawaii.  So set your PVRs folks. In the meantime, here’s a few quick nuggets…
  • Calgary’s Stephen Ames has left IMG Sports after a long tenure with the agency. I can’t get confirmation, but it is widely anticipated Ames will join Wasserman. Perhaps not surprisingly, Ames was previously managed by Chris Armstrong, who jumped ship from IMG to Wasserman late last summer to set up a Canadian office for the company. Wasserman has since signed former Canadian amateur great Nick Taylor (who is being managed by former PGA Tour pro Ian Leggatt), as well as golf coach Sean Foley. I’m sure there will be some at IMG who won’t miss dealing with the blunt and outspoken Ames, but he had his fans there as well. What does he mean to Wasserman? Hard to say. Ames turns 47 this year and while he’s regarded as one of the best ballstrikers on tour, he is also coming off a poor year. And Foley seemed to indicate at the end of the year that Ames didn’t want to work particularly hard — and skipped defending at Disney not because of a bad back, but because he didn’t want to travel to FLA.
  • A week before Christman I was having lunch in Vaughan with a friend when I ran into two senior Callaway employees. “Hey, it is two of my favourite people from Callaway,” I said, surprised to see them both. “Well at least for a few more days,” came the response. It turns out that Callaway has undergone a big job cut in the U.S. and Canada and realigned its operations. That means both of the employees I ran into are now without — or soon to be without – jobs. I’d heard from others in the equipment business that Callaway had its struggles, with TaylorMade taking some marketshare. Either way, it is never a good sign in the business when an equipment giant slashes jobs. Maybe that economic recovery isn’t as far along as we though. Interestingly the job cuts come at the same time the company announced it had dominated Golf Digest’s “Hot List” awards, and had a 200% EBITDA growth in 2010.’s Ian Hutchinson has his takeand a talk with Callaway Canada mainman Scott Reid.
  • Mike Weir won’t use one of his two career money exemptions this year if he fails to make enough money to retain his card in the first five starts of 2010, according to IMG Canada. Weir has to make $250,000 to crack the Top 125 from 2010 and get his playing privileges back after being out since the end of August with an elbow injury. If he fails to make the cash, he could have used one of two lifetime money exemptions to play for the rest of the year, but instead will ask tournaments for exemptions on an individual basis. It is an interesting decision — and no one can tell me whether he’s already written to tournaments asking for spots already. Assuming Weir will start at the Hope, as he’s already stated, he’ll likely follow that up with starts at Waste Mgmt event, as well as at Pebble Beach and Riviera. That takes him into Florida. Hard to imagine Arnold would turn him down if Weir needs to ask for a spot at Bay Hill, but that’s about where his injury exemption will end. Could Weir even head to Mexico and play in the conflict event there that runs against the Matchplay? And no word on who the golfer will use for a caddie following the departure of longtime looper Brennan Little.

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Jeff Lancaster

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