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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Delavan company takes swing at USGA project

By Mike Heine/The Week

Come June, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and a host of other professional golfers will be staring at the work of Delavan's Tom Lee and Sally Adams.

Terry Mayer/The Week
Sally Adams and Tom Lee, co-owners of Signs of the Times in Delavan, package tee markers that will be used at tournaments sponsored by the U.S. Golf Association.
The co-owners of Signs of the Times are creating the tee markers for the U.S. Open and 12 other United States Golf Association championships, including the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Women's Open.

"I never imagined we'd have such a big job," Adams said. "To have someone call us out of the blue from our Web site, it's just neat."

The USGA ordered 1,080 tee markers, Lee said. It's the largest order the small company has ever had.

"We'll be like a factory for a few weeks," Adams said.

Lee credits the company's 3-year-old Web site for getting the work.

Officials from the USGA conducted a Google search for sandblasted signs and found Signs of the Times at the top of the list, Lee said.

Angelo Masino, USGA senior coordinator of championship administration, was looking originally for a limestone marker.

Lee told him about high-density urethane foam, which is weather-resistant, will not swell, shrink, rot, soak up water or attract bugs and is incredibly lightweight.

"I did it in multiple sizes. Finally I got to one and they said this is exactly what they wanted," Lee said.

The first order was for 36 markers. Then it went to 120. Then up to 370. Then 540. Finally, enough for all 13 tournaments, plus a few extras.

"I said, 'We can do it. We have the time, space,'" Lee said. "We laid it all out, showed them we can do it. They were as thrilled as we are."

The USGA went with Signs of the Times because they offered a product the organization needed and Lee and Adams had the right attitude to do it, Masino said.

"I'm looking forward to working with them," Masino said. "They seem enthusiastic about it and that was a big thing."

The USGA will also look to re-use the markers at future events.

"Something that we're going for is a uniform look," Masino said. "We had the courses doing them, but it's something that we looked into (this year). I was looking for someone excited to do it."

Most of the flags and flagsticks will also be uniform, likewise showing the USGA logo, Masino said.

He's not sure how much the markers will be shown on TV, but they will be visible at times and always visible to the crowds and the players.

Lee, who will be watching more golf on TV this summer than ever, is hoping they're not so obvious that the players will take a swing at them after a bad shot off the tee.

"There may be an angry golfer or two who wants to take a whack at one," he said.

And if they do, the company will be ready to replace them.

"I've got my fingers crossed," Lee said of continuing work with golf organizations. "Each one of these markers will have our nameplate on them. Any golf manager that's there can pick one up and discover our name and have an instant connection back to us. And that Web site will be on there, too."

The Championships

The markers will be used at 13 USGA championships throughout the year. NBC will air the three biggest tournaments:

--- U.S. Open Championship, June 12-15

--- U.S. Women's Open, June 26-29

--- U.S. Senior Open Championship, July 24-27

The Web site

To learn more about Signs of the Times, visit www.signsofthetimeswi.com.

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