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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Equipment makers remember Golfweek columnist James Achenbach, who died last week at the age of 78

It was nearly impossible to fold my 6-foot, 4-inch frame into the passenger seat of James Achenbach’s tiny purple Pontiac Solstice convertible, reading the GPS screen as I took off from the dashboard and rolled under my feet as he struck a sharp turned. International Drive in Orlando. After a few minutes in the car with the godfather of golf equipment writers, I was ready to hide under the seat, too.

We arrived safely that morning at the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge for Demo Day of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, and made it back safely that night after Jim and I walked around the massive circular driving range. Jim was a since 1975 golfweek The columnist—and he was the magazine’s equipment editor for many of those decades—and at every booth, people came out to the gym to shake hands, talk, and show off something new. He was available to all of them, speaking slowly and carefully, but enthusiastically.

Handheld photos of pros’ golf clubs and Sunday night’s “What in the Bag” column Before equipment became standard fare for reports, Achenbach developed a platinum-level Rolodex that included direct phone calls to CEOs, designers, salespeople, and marketing managers. Numbers included. And every major figure in the golf equipment industry. He had long-standing relationships with prominent figures from the USGA and Augusta National Golf Club, and was involved in major events for decades.

when i joined golfweek To write about Gear in 2013, I was terrified that Jim might feel angry that someone else was coming and working on his beats, but he did so during my first week on the job with a phone call. With that quickly got that notion out of my mind. He was welcoming, said he had admired my work over the years and was excited that I had joined the staff.

I can’t say we worked perfectly together because, like many others, I rarely knew where he was and only had an idea of ​​what he was going to write any week. The editorial calendar and planning meetings were like suggestions for Jim.

Jim Achenbach (David Dusek/Golfweek) in 2013

What I discovered was that Achenbach was passionate about the instrument and the people who designed it. He wasn’t just an insider, he was the voice of the Weekend Warriors who dream of hitting a draw to a tee. He was well versed in technical terms but always translated them into simpler ideas for golfers who were chronically three-putt. And, above all, he had a soft spot for shafts and helped readers understand the mystic arts of graphite and steel.

When I called, texted, and emailed people over the weekend to let them know that Jim had died, the responses were a mix of sadness and appreciation for hard work, friendship, and kindness. below are some notes golfweek Received.

From John A. Solheim, President and CEO of Ping Golf:

“I’m deeply saddened by Jim’s passing. He was a great friend to me and my wife, Sunny. Jim and I used to have a standings meeting at the Masters every year, which I loved very much. He loved all talk of golf. He was a great listener and very inquisitive. We talked frequently during his wonderful career, mostly about instruments because he was very interested in understanding how and why things worked or not. He was very curious And he challenged the status quo to bring his readers stories that mattered to his game. He liked to tinker with his own equipment, whether it was long shafts, varying grips or changing lofts. Trying out. They adopted the term ‘gearhead’ before it became popular.

Of course, Jim’s golf writing skills weren’t limited to reporting on the equipment. He was extremely versatile. They have covered the sport’s great and all but the big events, but they always have time to file a story about a state or local event, giving those golfers the exposure they deserved. Those were some of his best stories, as they always had a human-interest element that embodied the spirit of the game.

I will remember Jim for his friendship, passion, fairness and love for the sport.”

From Chip Brewer, President and CEO of Callaway Golf:

“I’m really sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. I met Jim with Adams (golf) in his early days, probably around 1999, and was close to him until his retirement after moving to Callaway. I’ve always loved him. It was nice to be around and I was always fascinated by his work. He was a true professional writer and straight shooter – but he always had a smile on his face. Other than family, I don’t see him writing about or playing golf. was something other than Next time I get that chance, I’ll toast it among friends.

My condolences to his family and friends. He was a wonderful person.”

From Dave Schneider, president and COO of shaft manufacturer Fujikura:

“Jim Achenbach was a very unique and talented writer. In my younger years in the golf business, I constantly asked golfweek Why wouldn’t Jim write stories about Fujikura. We would send them our press releases and marketing materials but they never showed interest in covering our products for a story. But when I personally took the time and got to know the gym, things changed and I realized that Jim was as crazy about golf equipment as I am. He was very passionate about improving his game with new and latest equipment, and it sparked my passion every time he spoke. He had an amazing ability to ask questions and tell a wonderful story to my answers. He was a great ambassador for the game of golf and will be missed.”

From Mark Gunther, vice president of sales and marketing for shaft manufacturer Mitsubishi Chemical America:

“Really, was there ever someone with a sharper wit than Jim? He was so sharp. I always respected and admired his professionalism. When we started our office in 2004-05, he treated me the same way as i was [as big as] call away. That’s how he made us feel. It was a gift. ,

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