WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?

December 1 — When you’re 88th in the world golf rankings, you need to do something splashy to attract attention. LPGA golfer Kyeong Bae will attempt just that when her LPGA Tour Championship caddie displays her golf bag, complete with a flashy front panel broadcasting sponsor logos, billboard ads, and full-motion video commercials.
The end is near? In what some golf traditionalists may see as yet another sign of the apocalypse, and others as a natural and potentially lucrative next step in event advertising, Bae will show off a Zonson golf bag with a built-in high-def TV monitor. The screen will air a series of ads pitching a local restaurant as well as Bae’s charitable causes.
The commercials, intended for on-course spectators and TV cameras, will rotate every few seconds on the 10.4-inch screen. Bae will be the first LPGA player to use the ProBagAds’ system, although PGA Tour pro Michael Allen debuted it at the Travelers Championship at New England’s TPC River Highlands (Cromwell, Conn.) back in June.
Perfect for Daly. And you can stop wondering. Everybody’s favorite Loudmouth, John Daly, will carry a custom golf bag for the entire 2011 season, according to ProBagAds owner Joe Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick came up with the idea some12 years ago when he played professionally. Real-world capabilities have only recently caught up with his brainchild.
“The technology really wasn’t applicable to putting these systems in the bag without making it 50 pounds heavier than it already is,” Kirkpatrick said.
ProBagAds technicians tweaked Allen’s bag so the one that Bae carries has the screen situated lower on the bag for better visibility. It also weighs less, as battery technology has improved. Without clubs, the sack comes in at a “svelte” 14 pounds, Kirkpatrick said.
Duck! While one can only imagine the first time an iPad commercial pops up during Tiger Woods’ back swing, Kirkpatrick said the screen should not distract other golfers with glare or movement. It’s also up to caddies to place the bags away from players as they take their shots, said Kirkpatrick, who uses Wi-Fi capability to download ads remotely.
Kirkpatrick’s system could be a boon for smaller and local advertisers who want to hook up with professional golfers, as well as for players who will have more space for endorsements than if they plastered their shirts with embroidered Nike, Callaway, Barclays, and SAP patches.
So, what’s in it for the everyday hacker — beyond being bombarded with more and more puffery? Kirkpatrick envisioned a time in the next year or two when weekend golfers will meld their cell phones with touch screens for all the latest apps like GPS systems and mobile TVs.
Sure, a $20 GPS app for your iPhone would be ideal for golfers not wanting to shell out a couple hundred bucks for a range finder. But a boob tube maneuvering its way down the fairway? Look out, six-hour rounds.
“Having TV out there [on the course] seems like it would slow play down,” Kirkpatrick conceded. “But in certain markets people would be happy to watch football games while playing golf.”
No “Caddyshack.” To dispel visions of a whacked-out Rodney Dangerfield squawking on the phone from his TV-equipped golf bag, Kirkpatrick dialed back the craziness. “We don’t want to get into the “Caddyshack” realm,” he said.
(Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. Check her out at the Waggle Room, Boston Golf Examiner, and National Golf Examiner websites.)

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?