An old favourite makes a wel­come come­back

The Cut - - CONTENTS - Email: zane@linkz­golf.co.nz Phone (09) 813 6460

Those of you old enough to re­mem­ber crooner Bing Crosby and co­me­dian Bob Hope prob­a­bly also re­call that they were both se­ri­ously com­mit­ted to the game of golf.

While close friends, they were hugely com­pet­i­tive on the golf course and were al­ways try­ing to get one over on the other.

Well, in the early 1960s a fel­low named Ray Cook de­vel­oped a dar­ingly dif­fer­ent type of put­ter that he mar­keted from a small shop in San An­to­nio, Texas.

Cook had be­come in­spired through the physics and aero­dy­nam­ics classes he took while at­tend­ing col­lege through the Air Force.

He re­alised that the slight vi­bra­tions in metal tun­ing forks pro­vided more feel and as a con­se­quence he crafted the first alu­minium put­ter with grooves, in the process rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the way put­ters are man­u­fac­tured to this day.

Through­out the 1960s till the late 1980s, Ray Cook put­ters would come to dom­i­nate the PGA and LPGA Tours.

As a 14-year-old caddy at the Wil­low Brook Coun­try Club, Texas, Cook had not been al­lowed to play on the course’s greens. He had to prac­tise on the sand be­hind the pro shop, which is where he crafted his first put­ter, the M1 Mal­let.

Once he be­gan man­u­fac­tur­ing clubs, he re­alised he needed some­one of high pro­file to play with them.

So when he read that Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Babe Za­harias were to play a char­ity game for servicemen at Bak­ers­field, he sensed this was his op­por­tu­nity. Th­ese were the types of celebri­ties he needed to use his clubs.

Af­ter hitch­hik­ing there and watch­ing them play, he ap­proached Bob Hope af­ter he’d putted out at 18, shook his hand and pre­sented him with one of his patented put­ters.

The rest, as they say, is his­tory. Not long af­ter, Cook fa­mously re­ceived a call one evening from Bing re­quest­ing a put­ter of the type Bob was us­ing, be­cause Bob had beaten him.

Cook obliged and later re­ceived a note say­ing, “Thanks, Ray — I beat him!”

Not only did Hope and Crosby con­tinue to use the M1 Mal­let put­ters for the next cou­ple of decades, so did count­less pro­fes­sional play­ers.

Ray Cook put­ters were the put­ters to use and racked up more than 200 tour vic­to­ries.

Un­for­tu­nately, Ray Cook prod­ucts rather lost their ap­peal af­ter the com­pany was bought out and as ri­val com­pa­nies be­gan pro­duc­ing top-qual­ity put­ters.

But the good news is that in re­cent times New Zealand com­pany Linkz Mar­ket­ing, based in Kel­ston, Auck­land, has re­sus­ci­tated the brand af­ter suc­cess­ful ne­go­ti­a­tions at the Or­lando Trade Fair. Zane Miller, the man­ag­ing direc­tor of Linkz Mar­ket­ing, which has been a com­peti­tor in the New Zealand golf in­dus­try since 1988, says his com­pany is proud to be as­so­ci­ated with Ray Cook put­ters.

“We’re ex­cited about mar­ket­ing put­ters that rev­o­lu­tionised the game and dom­i­nated the game from the six­ties to the eight­ies.

“What is ex­cit­ing is that the clubs, and we’re talk­ing wedges as well as put­ters, will re­tail at re­ally com­pet­i­tive prices. When they first tried to re-launch the Ray Cook brand a few years back, they were too ex­pen­sive.”

The clubs are be­ing man­u­fac­tured in China for a New York com­pany and New Zealand is the first coun­try the clubs are be­ing ex­ported to.

Linkz is of­fer­ing the Blue Goose and Sil­ver Ray put­ters along with the orig­i­nal M1 Mal­let for both men and women as well as an ap­peal­ing range of ju­nior sets.

Bob Hope

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