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Fuzzy¹s Brand is Crystal Clear¹s-Brand-is-Crystal-Clear/Page1.html
Golfing Magazine Staff
By Golfing Magazine Staff
Published on 01/2/2010
Untitled Document

Major champion Fuzzy Zoeller approaches the business world his own way, which makes perfect sense fo

Believe it or not, there was once a day when a professional golfer’s abilities fell victim to the aging process; once his body and skills fell from top-level status and he couldn’t get through competitions on experience and sheer guile, he would fade away, occasionally resurfacing as the “Pro Emeritus” at a ritzy club in a warm destination.

Well, as the Champions Tour (previously the Senior PGA Tour) reminds us on a weekly basis, this is not the case nearly as much anymore. But it’s not just the Champions Tour that keeps golf’s older stars in public prominence. These days, many professional golfers are traveling a well-mapped road to reinvention.

That happy-go-lucky rogue or steady grinder who used to relish a final-round challenge is now a calculating businessman, using the same mental toughness for a different type of success. Instead of reading the break of a putt, he’s reading balance sheets looking for ways to improve margins. Where he once played for the love of the competition (not to mention the money), he’s now trying to keep in the public eye to build awareness of the latest addition to his product line.

As a game whose cornerstone is based upon tradition, golf is full of players who rarely deviate from the norm. If one player tries something and is successful, others will follow exactly in the footsteps of the successful venture. For the most part, then, the evolution of the pro golfer to entrepreneur has been a copycat venture. The first golfer of note to branch out, or so it appeared, was South African David Frost, who came out with his own highly successful labels of South African wine decades ago. Soon to follow in the wine business were Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Duffy Waldorf, and Luke Donald, to name a few. Norman and Els have met with great acclaim in this area, while the others are showing varying degrees of success.

Given the volatility of the wine business, one has to wonder if the rest of those golfers knew that Frost had hedged his bet, and whether they would have tried the same path if they knew that hedging would be a necessity. In short, Frost had the distinct advantage of being from a family that had been extremely successful South African vintners for the past
six decades.

Golf-course design, a more natural venture for golf pros than wine, has been a popular offshoot to many players’ careers. Again, Norman and Els have been international success stories, but they have not received the critical acclaim awarded to Ben Crenshaw in this niche. Even restaurant ventures abound among golf pros, as they do in most other sports. But some work out while others fail, for a variety of reasons.

Interestingly, one pro has moved into an area that suits him in a way that knowledgeable golf fans would probably expect. For Fuzzy Zoeller to say, “This is the smoothest vodka I’ve ever tasted, which improves the taste of any mixed drink or even a glass of ice cubes,” seems like a natural, given his personality during many years on the pro tour. As one would expect, there’s no frou-frou wine products infiltrating Fuzzy’s enterprise.
“I do occasionally like a glass of wine with dinner,” Fuzzy says. “But to be honest, I can’t tell you which is a better wine and why that is. If I think tastes good, that’s enough for me. On the other hand, pour me a vodka drink and I can tell you what’s good, what’s not good, and why.” To Fuzzy, vodka has to be smooth and consistent, “just like a golf swing. I think that most vodka drinkers want it to be smooth, but with a great taste.

So Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka’s smoothness is enhanced by an aging process where a portion of each batch is separated and poured into oak barrels, left alone for two months, and then reintroduced into the batch. “The first time I tasted it,” says Zoeller, “I knew we had something very special here. We’ve run it in blind taste tests against top brands and have not been beaten.

Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka has become the flagship of the Zoeller fleet. But unlike Norman, Faldo, Els, and others, the Zoeller stable is groomed to accommodate first and foremost the segment of the population that supported him throughout his career. “I’ve been very fortunate to have had a tremendous relationship with golfers everywhere in the world,” he says. “They’ve been there during the good and the bad, and I’ve always tried to share the experience with them. And the same goes for the products I am involved with. While I may not offer the extravagant products that others offer, mine are limited to the things I use, and which I think golfers will enjoy.

Fuzzy’s list is short and simple. His barbecue sauce and meat rubs are staples at the Zoeller house every time he fires up his grill. The Zoeller driver-head cover (the yellow duck complete with sunglasses) is a replica of one he found in a pro shop years ago when he was looking for a color that would compliment his orange Power Bilt bag. He has added to the line a smaller duckling head cover for hybrid clubs. And he has bobble-head dolls commemorating his Masters, US Open, and Senior PGA Championship victories.

He’s also dabbled quite a bit in golf course design. Among his many designs are two courses in southern Indiana that he owns, Covered Bridge and Champions Pointe, plus his design at the renowned Georgia golf community/resort Reynolds Plantation, called the Plantation Course, which has gained a reputation as being a friendly course suited to golfers of all skill levels.

We realize that 70 percent of all golfers struggle to break 100,” says Zoeller. “So we have to design a course that they can enjoy playing. At the same time, you have to present a course that is challenging to players with a high skill level, one they will enjoy too.

So rather than take the road paved by other architects, who often design monuments to themselves, Zoeller has taken another road—one which fits right in with everything else he’s done in the world of consumer products. In Fuzzy’s case, each monument is built to honor not only all the people who play golf, but also the game itself.