Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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A Logo Turns 40

“I also think the logo gave tournament sponsors a feeling of unity to be under that logo,” she continued, “something they didn’t have before.”

Even with the overwhelming popularity of the logo, Beman wasn’t entirely happy with the winning design, especially with the bottom of the logo that featured square instead of rounded corners and the golfer’s feet outside the rectangle. Needing a second opinion, Beman took the prototype to a friend in Jacksonville who in later life became known as “The Master of the Logo.” The commissioner wanted a little tweaking, and he knew the man to do it. If Floyd Benton, a partner in Benton and Hoover Plus, knew anything, it was logos, having created images for numerous companies throughout his career after graduating from North Carolina’s Elon University.

Prior to his death in 2000, Benton, shared with his son, Mark, a current PGA TOUR employee in the Creative Services department, how satisfied he was to be associated with his work on the logo. Floyd’s wife, Lura, knew her husband felt the same way.

“My husband was a pretty humble guy, and he would not have spoken so proudly about the logo if he had not made a significant contribution to the design,” Lura said.

After Floyd finished his handiwork, Beman, with the top-choice logo in hand and all four sides completely closed and the golfer’s feet inside, moved to the next step in the process. He was confident he would get the thumbs-up treatment, but he understood it wasn’t a 100-percent certainty that the Policy Board would unilaterally accept the new logo. That made board approval his next item of business

Beman wanted the players’ buy-in, as well. After all, the new logo would be the banner under which he anticipated they would play for, well, forever. So, he organized a logo committee that consisted of one player (Tom Kite), a golf administrator (the United States Golf Association’s Joe Black) and Donald Regan, a Policy Board member and the CEO of Merrill Lynch, who, two years later, would become Treasury Secretary in President Ronald Reagan’s cabinet. Before his signature began appearing on U.S. currency, though, Regan first had to sign his name endorsing a really big change for the TOUR.

“Those three guys weren’t involved in the process very much,” Beman recalled. “What they did do was help in notifying the players and carrying the message to the rest of the board to get [the logo] fully approved.

“We had a board that had the ultimate call and decision,” he continued, “but they relied on the staff and on me to make sure that when they were asked to rubber stamp something, it damn well better be pretty good.”

West elaborated. “We were not going to go to that board and have them vote no.”

Judy Beman had this recollection: “I think that since Card was peripherally involved in the design, that carried weight, too, because he was the person who had the most creative background of the members of the board at that time.”

And how did the vote turn out? “Bam! Eleven to nothing,” West said. “New logo approved. We’re out of here.”

A couple of months later, Antram was putting the final touches on a press release that announced the new logo. There was no big rollout of the logo like you might see today. The announcement was an understated affair, consisting of a simple media announcement but no logo-under-satin-draping unveiling anywhere to be found. The Associated Press did write an article about it, and a smattering of newspapers printed the piece. Golf World ran a short, three-paragraph story. In California, signage at the Bob Hope Desert Classic featured the new logo at all four of the tournament’s sites: Indian Wells, Bermuda Dunes, El Dorado and La Quinta. Beman’s press release statement was simple and to the point: “We think the new logo, which clearly says PGA TOUR and golf in a distinctive and graphic way, will serve to strengthen our identity and image.”

Prescient comment.

Back in Ponte Vedra Beach, in early January 1980, Art West arrived at his office. There was a delivery sitting on his desk. As he sat down, he saw the newly printed PGA TOUR media guide waiting for him. Prominently displayed on the red cover of the book was the new logo. Having overseen its creation from start to finish, and more than slightly acquainted with the emblem, West liked what he saw, especially how it stood out and what he felt the logo represented.

I can sell that, he thought.

The marketing director leaned back in his chair, a wide, broad smile forming on his face. On the other side of the country, at a golf tournament in California, a self-proclaimed salesman had the same response.

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