GOLF : Edwards Is Able to Keep a Grip on Two Sports

The PGA keeps statistics on such minutiae as drives for distance, greens hit in regulation, eagles, putts and sand saves. At the end of the year, the leaders receive monetary awards.

Danny Edwards wishes they had one for "quickest time from hotel to golf course."

Danny, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, drives fast. Not with his graphite driver, but with his black Ferrari.

He also drives race cars, a Mustang LX for Kaufmann Racing in the World Challenge Series--formerly the Escort Endurance series--and a Sports 2,000 Swift for the Pfiffer-Ridge team of Sonoma in the American City Racing League.

While qualifying his race cars on soft "tacky" tires that gripped the racing surface, Edwards got the idea of creating a "tacky" grip for his golf clubs that would give him a soft feel without slipping.

"Ninety-five percent of golfers have hard, slippery grips that force them to hold the club so tightly it restricts their swing," Edwards said. "Leather grips are popular because they are soft, but they either wear out quickly or get hard and slippery with time. I felt there was a real need for a soft grip that would last, and I got the idea from the different racing tire compounds."

Edwards contacted an old friend, retired engineer Dennis Livesey, who had been involved in the golf industry, and between them they developed a grip that they now manufacture and distribute from their Royal Grip, Inc., headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"When I went to play in the Greensboro (N.C.) Open last April, I took some of our grips with me and when I went to the driving range, there was so much interest in them I never got around to playing my practice round," Edwards said. "I got there about 7 in the morning and was still showing players about them at 8 that night."

Despite missing his practice round, Edwards played well enough to make the cut. Greensboro has been good to Edwards. He won there twice, in 1977 and 1982. "I'll only play about 10 or 12 tournaments this year, but you can be sure one of them will be Greensboro," he said.

Edwards, who has seen his role gradually change from golf player to golf entrepreneur, also conducts four-day golf schools for corporations from an office in Torrance.

"We started out in 1985 with one or two outings a year, and now we're up to 17 or 18. We advertise them as the most expensive golf schools in the country and it's become a $3-million-a-year business."

For his schools, Edwards uses top-rated courses such as Carmel Valley Ranch, Ventana Canyon in Tucson, TPC Sawgrass, Palm Beach Polo in Florida, and La Quinta Hotel, where one was held over the weekend.

"The golf schools have been so successful that we've started executive outings for snow skiing, fly fishing and tennis. The corporations can't seem to get enough of that type of thing."

Golf Notes

The Golden State Tour's Spalding Pro Series, 14 three-day events paying $50,000 each, will start Tuesday at Half Moon Bay in Northern California. Round Three of the series will be played April 3-5 at Brookside GC in Pasadena. . . . The GTS spring series of 12 two-day $20,000 tournaments, which ended last week, was dominated by Robert Meyer of Sacramento, who won three of the first nine. . . . Ray Carrasco, 42, and Keith Wyrick, 36, are leading in the Mid-Life Crisis Tour, which is for players 36 and older who can't compete with the youngsters in the weekly Golden State Tour events. The Mid-Lifers, perhaps significantly, will play their next two tournaments in Sun City along with senior pros and amateurs--Monday on the Cherry Hills GC course and March 19 at Menifee Lakes GC.

Results of this year's PGA Tour events lend support to the theory that there are more players capable of winning than before. In the first 10 events, there were four first-time winners--Robert Gamez in Tucson, Tommy Armour III in Phoenix, David Ishii in Hawaii and John Huston in Coral Springs, Fla. Last year at this time, there had been only one, Greg Twiggs in San Diego. . . . Ronald Fream, who built Desert Falls CC course in Palm Desert and the soon-to-be-open Redhawk course in Temecula, is working on a course in Estonia. Desert Falls is the fifth most difficult course in Southern California, according to SoCal Golf Assn. ratings.

The Players West Golf Tour, a California-based series for women professionals not on the LPGA circuit, will play this week at Lake San Marcos CC and next week at Sierra La Verne GC in La Verne. Both events will start on Monday, with a noon shotgun pro-am, and follow with 54-hole tournaments starting Tuesday. More than 40 players are expected to participate. Starting times in the pro-am are available for the public. . . . The Women's SCGA will hold its annual Safari tournament March 22-23 at the Bakersfield and Stockdale courses.

Jim Duffin, whose National Golf and Tennis, Inc., manages the Whittier Narrows, Marshall Canyon and Victoria courses for Los Angeles County, has been awarded the contract for the Rockwood municipal course in Ft. Worth, where more than 90,000 rounds were played last year. . . . Early warning: Entries for the 90th U.S. Open are due in the U. S. Golf Assn. office by April 25. The 90th annual championship will be played June 14-17 at the Medinah CC, near Chicago. . . . SoCal PGA executives are patting themselves on the back for having staged the No. 1 consumer golf show in the country. Director Don Sandefur reports attendance of 14,951 for the three-day run at the Anaheim Stadium Exhibition Center.

For a $60 donation to the American Lung Assn., Southland golfers can get a Golf Privilege Card that entitles them to 30 free rounds of golf at such Inland Empire courses as La Quinta Dunes, Mission Hills, Moreno Valley Ranch, Cathedral Canyon and Palm Desert. To obtain the card, golfers may call the association office at (714) 884-5864 or (619) 323-0344.

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