Public course: Golfer offers a blue chip shot

Going for the green, PGA Tour hopeful sells slices of his career

Sports Plus

January 06, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Scuffling to pay their way from tournament to tournament, most aspiring golf pros are eventually forced to take stock of their game.

Don Bell is going about it differently. He's selling stock in himself.

Bell, who competes on the fledgling New England Pro Tour, has formed Bell Golf Inc., which went public in March, and has sold almost $250,000 in shares at a dollar apiece, said financier Ed Lewis, who helped devise the project.

"Think of it as owning a piece of a racehorse," Lewis told the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel. "If he does badly, just have another martini. It's got to be better than investing in a dot-com."

And speaking of dot-coms, Bell has a Web site.

Go to and you can read a stock prospectus, analyze the private contractor's pro resume, check his latest scores on the mini-tour circuit and even download a subscription agreement.

Bell, 37, is paid a salary of $72,000, plus expenses, benefits and insurance. He gets a percentage of every dollar he wins, with the rest directed toward replenishing the initial seed money.

Investors eventually will receive a dividend if Bell makes enough money - which, realistically, won't happen until he plays on a major tour. After all, he earned just $12,483 by finishing 10th on the NEPT money list last year. Bell advanced to the second of three stages of the PGA Tour Qualifying School in 2000 and tried again late last year - unsuccessfully.

Why invest in a long shot?

"People play fantasy golf; this is reality golf," Bell said. "A lot of people put money in mutual funds, then ask, `Where did it go?' Whether I'm successful or not, at least I'm a real person."

Sign of the times

There's another way to invest in golfers.

Morgan Pressel, who last year at the age of 12 became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, says, "One boy in school asked me for 10 autographs, so he could sell them."

Investing is a hazard

"You want to really unnerve some of today's PGA Tour golfers and give them the yips?" Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel wrote recently. "All it takes is this simple question: `So how are your investments doing?'

"Stocks are plummeting faster than Greg Norman on Sunday at Augusta. ... These guys are so in tune with the market, you mention the name Bobby Jones and they ask, `Is he any relation to Dow?' "

Bank shots hit or miss

Shane Battier, who played four seasons at Duke, comparing his NBA potential with that of high school players who also entered last June's draft:

"I'm looking at it in terms of the stock market. A lot of these young guys are like IPOs. The potential for greatness is obviously there, but there is a chance they may dissolve."

Market shakeout

Jonathan Clements of the Wall Street Journal, citing good things about a bad stock market:

Your 11-year-old has gone back to trading baseball cards.

At cocktail parties, you can go back to talking about football.

When you get the local paper, it's OK to read the sports section first.

Hot commodity

Former NBA player Jayson Williams on Michael Jordan's comeback at the age of 38:

"Invest in ice."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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