The practice tee? John Daly walks right by it without stopping on his was to the first hole. The fitness trailer? Daly may see it as he heads toward the catering tent, but he never stops in. It’s hard to lift weights with a cigarette in one hand and Diet Coke in the other.
If there is any golfer on the PGA TOUR that looks as out of place than Big John, we've never seen him. But time and time again, Daly's name appears at or near the top of the leaderboard. Guys like Vijay Singh, who spend hour after countless hour grinding away on the practice tee until there are no more balls to hit must wonder how Daly's work regimen as well as health regimen don’t catch up to him.
The galleries that follow John are only rivaled by those following Tiger Woods. Daly represents everyman, those of us who play the game see just a little bit of ourselves in the Arkansas native: the undisciplined swing, perhaps the extra weight around the midsection and the penchant to play quickly and get to that post round burger and beer.
Perhaps that's why Daly endorses a putter called Red Neck and a ball named LoCo. No fancy numbers or some high tech names for his clubs. Daly knows what feels good in his hands and he knows that he can find that comfort zone in the Dunlop equipment he uses to play with the world’s best.
"It’s no secret that I am known for my long game," said Daly. "That’s why my Dunlop equipment, which has the distance enhancing LoCo line is the perfect choice for me."
Daly, who admits to never having a lesson because, " any pro would not want to go near a swing like mine," has always been his own man. The "do-what-I-want" kind of guy sometimes strikes out on his own when it comes to equipment. While many TOUR pros flock to the same companies, Daly decided he wanted to play with equipment that not only fit his game but also fit his lifestyle, and really felt good in his hands. Perhaps that explains why he has aligned with a company like Dunlop, also not known for signing big name players to endorse their clubs.
Dunlop Golf eschews the big player contracts and over-the-top marketing and advertising campaigns in an effort to steer the bulk of their expenses toward club development, therefore keeping prices within reach of the average golfer - their core audience.
"John fits perfectly with the attitude of our LoCo and Red Neck line of clubs," said David Villareal, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development at Focus Golf, Inc. "John is the most colorful and fun personality in golf and we like to think of ourselves as the most colorful and fun equipment manufacturer."
So far, so good for both parties. Once Daly started using Dunlop equipment, he recorded his first victory in 189 events. The 2004 Buick Invitational win was just the jump start Daly and Dunlop needed. Not only did Daly go on to capture Comeback Player of the Year honors, he elevated his game from 299th in the world to his current spot in the Top 50.
"John Daly has definitely helped enhance Dunlop, along with our LoCo and Red Neck lines, among golfers and golf fans," said David Villareal. "He brought a lot of validity to what we do."
And what Dunlop has been doing since 1910 is making equipment for the everyday player. Their manufacturing plants went into overdrive once Daly returned to the winner's circle. Golfers from around the country flooded Dunlop's offices with phone calls. They could not wait to get their hands on the driver, irons, putters and balls that Daly used.
The equipment – much like Daly – is flashy. As Daly looks more and more like a endorsement –covered NASCAR driver, Dunlop has splashed the color palette on its equipment. The putter - true to its name – has a red hosel and the woods feature brilliant blue heads and bright yellow shafts.
The LoCo Pro titanium driver leads the way among Dunlop’s line of drivers. Along with it's 450 cc forged beta titanium head, the driver comes with a yellow Harrison Striper XL graphite shaft. The LoCo fairway woods are available in 3,5,7 and 9 and have stainless steel heads with graphite shafts.
The irons come in several designs, including the RG Designs Players irons and the LoCo Red Neck models. The Players irons are muscleback while the Red Necks are undercut cavity backs. They both feature stainless steel heads with chrome plating and are available in #'s 2 – PW.
The Red Neck set is packaged with a pair of hybrid clubs – in 18 and 21 degree lofts – and feature steel heads and Harrison graphite shafts and the Red Neck irons come in #'s 5-PW with True Temper steel shafts and Golf Pride grips.
Dunlop's wedge line satisfies many tastes. The golfer can choose between the traditional chrome finish and an oil-quenched finish that will rust over time. Both lines feature scoopback designs, plus soft carbon steel heads. The chrome wedge also has a channel groove for a smoother lift and comes in 52, 56 and 60 degrees of loft. The oil-can is available in 56 and 60 degrees.
Daly prefers to putt the TOUR's fast and smooth greens with the Red Neck line that Dunlop offers. The most noticeable feature is the red anodized aluminum hosel. There are currently seven models in the line, all offering milled carbon steel heads with platinum champagne plating. There are no inserts in the putter's faces, and the heads are more like the standard heel to toe weighted style. Golfers can choose from several shapes and flange designs.
The ball that Daly is putting on his peg may not be one that fits your game, so Dunlop has come up with six ball lines totaling 17 different models. Long John is playing the LoCo Pro – a ball featuring multilayer three-piece construction. Daly plays a compression rating of 95, because of his high swing speed and he only plays balls marked with a "3."
"John finished 2004 as PGA comeback player of the year and statistically ranked 4th overall on the tour. That’s incredible validation for our LoCo Pro ball," said Bob Sameski, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Focus Golf Inc. "With his strong play, there is no telling what John can accomplish with a ball designed specifically for him. The potential is boundless."
Dunlop took quite a chance signing an endorsement deal with the 39-year old Daly. He's packed quite a few lifetimes in his years and his resume, both on and off the course, is peppered with the stuff of legend.
Married four times, Daly has been in and out of rehab for problems with alcohol. He struggles with his weight, currently at around 245, and had a closet full of pants in waist sizes 36 through 44, just in case.
Sherrie - his current wife and mother of his two sons John and Austin, has appealed a prison sentence of 5 months for her role in a money-laundering scheme that has sent both of her parents to jail.
He has lost a number of lucrative endorsement deals, including Wilson and Callaway because of his off-course behavior and has been fined in the neighborhood of $200,000 for bending several rules on the golf course.
But this against-the-norm behavior is one of the reasons why he is so popular with galleries at every PGA TOUR stop. Daly says he has never been booed on the golf course, signs copies of his music CD sold out of a trailer at TOUR events and is one of the most charitable players on the TOUR.
In fact, when Daly won the PGA Championship at Crooked Stick in Indianapolis in 1991, a spectator who had been struck by lightning had died, leaving two young daughters behind. Daly, whose winner’s check totaled $230,000, asked the PGA of America to put $30,000 of his winnings in a trust for the girls college fund.
Fourteen years later, the girls have been through college and are pursuing work in the medical field. They recently approached Daly, who has never met the girls, via e-mail and he plans to meet with their families later this fall.
For Dunlop, and fans of golf, John Daly truly is a man of the people.