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Spray Fuels Controversy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque entrepreneur is touting ‘illegal’ club-head spray

Danny Sanchez has a goal to hook slicers on his product.

And hook some hookers, too.

Sanchez, a 54-year-old Albuquerquean with the style, smile and charisma of a boxing promoter – which he once was, not coincidentally – is out to change the face of golf.

The club face. Albeit not through traditional, or at least sanctioned, ways.

“The USGA (United States Golf Association) always gets on me,” says Sanchez, who promises that his product, Power Straight, will reduce a golfer’s slices and hooks.

“They tell me, ‘You’re promoting cheating.’ I say, ‘No, I’m promoting fun.’ There have been 5 million golfers who have quit playing in the last seven years. This makes the game more enjoyable and will bring more players back to the game.”

Power Straight is a spray that coats the club face and is billed as an anti-slice golf club coating. One application lasts a whole round. Sanchez says it reduces the side-spin when striking a ball, which cuts back on slices and hooks. Sanchez said it was tested on swing machines and reduced side-spin by 30 percent.

Sanchez has promoted his product by driving his decked-out Power Straight vehicle to nine stops on the PGA Tour. He’s hitting the road for at least three more events, including the Ryder Cup in Medinah, Ill.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from a lot of pros,” he says, “but our clients are confidential. But we do have players from all skill levels all over the world using our product.”

Nick Geyer, a former star golfer at the University of New Mexico who turned professional in 2010, isn’t one. He is a USGA Boatwright intern and in charge of tournament operations for the Sun Country Golf Section.

Geyer said he had not heard of the spray, but “the spirit of the game is about honesty and integrity. It doesn’t sound like it’s part of the spirit of the game.

“Golf, for the most part, is one of the own self-regulating sports. You call penalties on yourself.”

So, is Power Straight legal for tournament play on the professional or amateur level?

“Absolutely not,” Sanchez says without hesitation. “But I’m here to make money and advocate my product. I’m not here to police the rules of golf.”

Sanchez, who has the national rights to Friktion Tek – a ceramic coating to reduce friction in a car engine – has played golf for decades, and in many “high-dollar games.”

He says a longtime trick of many high-stakes golf gamblers is to coat their club faces, particularly the driver, with lip balm or Vaseline to reduce spin.

“It’s called ‘greasing,'” says Pete Sierra, 69, one of the city’s top amateur golfers for decades. “You don’t play without grease in (Las) Vegas (Nev.) for big money. I played for money all over Vegas, and it’s an understanding, ‘We’re playing grease.’ But it gets messy. Danny’s product is pretty close to grease, but there’s no way to detect it. You can’t even see it.”

Sanchez, a longtime friend of Sierra’s, says a number of his golf buddies in Las Vegas, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Albuquerque asked him about making a product for a golf club, similar to his automotive spray.

“We have a private chemist and told him what we were looking for,” says Sanchez, whose office is on Central and Washington. “He came up with several different products over two years, and we tried them on a lot of players. We came up with this last year.”

Sanchez publicly launched the product at the Masters in April.

He says sales have been brisk and really skyrocketed when USA Today featured Power Straight as a “hot golf product” earlier this month.

“It’s really going crazy in Korea,” he says.

Sanchez says he filled an order for 3,000 cans ($19.95 each) this week, and expects to sell 100,000 by next spring.

“I sell it at my course, and I need to get some more because I’ve sold out,” says Dan Koesters, director of golf at the New Mexico State University Course and one of the state’s top professional players.

“I’m happy to sell it; I don’t care if it’s legal. You see all kinds of crap that’s been sold over the years that’s not legal. Most training aids are not legal. You can use them while you’re training, but not on the course.

“This might help you; it might not. But if it does, great.”

Koesters says the spray isn’t for top-notch players, but it could benefit the average golfer who has problems correcting a slice or hook.

“It’s plain and simple physics,” Koesters says. “When a club face makes contact with a golf ball at an angle, it’s cutting across it, which is going to create a side-spin. If you do anything to reduce friction on the club, it won’t spin the ball as much.”

Sam Zimmerly, director of golf at Ladera, says he hadn’t heard of Sanchez’s product, but is very familiar with “greasing and the old Vegas skins games.”

“In the late ’60s, early ’70s, that was a big deal because the ball was balata (covered), and they would spin too much,” Zimmerly says. “Modern golf balls are meant not to spin left or right, and stay in the air longer. So the real good players wouldn’t want to use (the spray), because they want more spin on a ball so they can work it left or right. But for beginners with extreme open and shut clubs, this could be a real aid.”

Los Altos director of golf Chris Moya says he’s familiar with the product. He isn’t sure how much it can help.

But it couldn’t hurt.

“Whatever makes a guy want to come back and play again, he should use it,” Moya says. “If he thinks it gives him a few more yards, more power to him. Whatever tools you need to help you enjoy your game, use it, as long as it’s not in a tournament.

“But I don’t care what you put on a club or a ball, you still have to make contact and put it in the hole. You still have to hit the shot.”

Geyer, whose duties at the Sun Country include enforcing the rules of the game, says that Sanchez’s spray is taboo in tournaments, but he can understand the average player wanting to try it during a noncompetitive round.

“It strikes me as odd that he’s going to PGA Tour events to promote it,” Geyer says, “because most of the vendors there are trying to get their product in the hands of tour players. But if he’s taking the stance of helping to grow the game with average players, I’m a huge proponent of growing the game. He’s going to be fighting quite a battle if the USGA doesn’t like it, but if it’s something that makes players want to return to the game, that’s not a bad thing.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal