Company cuts ties with golf stores over military discounts

September 29, 2006

A well-known golf club company is canceling its account with two golf stores in Augusta, and the reason is raising eyebrows across the country.

The two stores were offering a small discount to the military, and the company, Ping, doesn't like it.

Head over to Bonaventure Golf in Augusta, and it's easy to see how they feel about our troops.

Open the door and you'll see the sign--right above "God Bless America"--that offers a 10 percent military discount.

"The reason I started the discount is for our troops heading to Iraq," says owner L.D. Waters. The way he sees it, our troops are heading to the world's largest sand trap.

"So a lot of them come by here, and some don't even one or two clubs and take with them when they go over there," he says.

He gives them a 10 percent discount. Not a lot of money...but the discount rubs the golf club company Ping the wrong way.

They don't want any store discounting their products for anyone, and they sent Mr. Waters a letter saying so.

"They don't even have the decency to call me on the phone and cut me off," Waters says. "They just wrote me a letter."

So Ping and its long time customer are parting ways.

But he's keeping his military discount, and raising it to 30 percent on everything from ping: clubs, bags, hats, you name it.

"And once it's gone, I won't put Ping merchandise back in my store."

The same thing goes for Gordon Lakes at Fort Gordon. They got the same kind of letter from Ping for the same reason.

No telling whether Ping will reconsider, but one thing's for sure: the Arizona-based company is facing a public relations nightmare.

And it started in Augusta, a city that clearly loves the military as well as the game of golf.