AFTER years in the rough, sand traps and water hazards, Jazz Golf has been teed up by a new owner.
The assets, inventory and trademarks of the 19-year-old Winnipeg-based company have been purchased by Goliath Golf Group Inc., a manufacturer and distributor out of Toronto.
Mike James, CEO of Goliath, said he first met with Mark Breslauer, president and CEO of Jazz, in December and after three months of negotiations, a deal was struck. No financial details were released. He said his plan is to add the Jazz brand to Goliath's stable of products, which also includes a pair of lines from golf legend Jack Nicklaus -- Jack Nicklaus Golf Equipment and Golden Bear Golf Equipment.
"We've always believed Jazz was a well-known Canadian golf brand to the consumer. It had built up a lot of consumer awareness over the years. But to the golf retailers and vendors throughout Canada, Goliath was a more established and reliable supplier. That's where I saw the marriage (of the two companies)," he said.
Terry Hashimoto, a former touring professional who founded Jazz in 1990, took it public in 1999 and stepped down as president four years ago, said he was "disgusted" with how the company was handled down the stretch.
"We've lost something that was a part of this city. When we were still building (golf) clubs in Canada, we (employed) nearly 100 people, I put a lot of sweat equity into that brand," he said.
Breslauer was out of the country Monday and unavailable for an interview.
James said no decision has been made with regards to the two lines of Jazz clubs designed by Sandra Post, the former professional golfer who was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
He said the golf industry, just like many other sectors, has been hit hard by the economic downturn.
"A lot of independent (golf) retailers have been crushed in the last two years. One of the final straws was the financial crisis that came in the fall," he said.
Jazz Golf: a history
11Launched its IPO at $1 per share on the Winnipeg Stock Exchange in 1999.
After some initial success, the firm's sales regularly failed to meet targets and posting seven-figure losses became an annual event.
The company eventually got out of the manufacturing business and focused on distribution.
Over the years, ENSIS Growth Fund continually bailed Jazz out with millions of dollars of bridge financing.
In the fall of 2006, Jazz struck a deal to sell its assets to ENSIS and was renamed Jazz Sports Limited, ending its seven-year-run as a public company.