Ted Purdy tackles
gig as car salesman
while struggling to get
back on PGA Tour
By Gary Van Sickle
Published: Friday, December 28, 2012 | 02:45:00 PM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In American pop culture, you
are what you eat or you are what you drive.
So when quiet, unassuming PGA Tour player Ted
Purdy pulled into the parking lot at Mountain Shadows
Golf Course in some kind of Batman meets the Dukes
of Hazzard vehicle, I had the same reaction as most
What the hell is that?
Purdy, the 2005 Byron Nelson Classic champion, has
one foot off the PGA Tour. He has minimal status,
played in only four events last year and finished 242nd
on the money list.
Until he gets both feet back into golf, he's got a
part-time gig as a sales rep for America's newest
muscle machine, the Rally Fighter by erstwhile
carmaker Local Motors.
He wouldn't turn more heads if he was riding in a
convertible with Lindsay Lohan.
"Yeah, it's fun," Purdy said. "I'm driving down the
freeway in Phoenix, and people are yelling out the
window and taking pictures. I should put a message on
the side that says, 'What kind of car is this? Call me.'
And then have my phone number on it. I think I will do
The car slightly resembles a 1967 Camaro. It's jacked
up high on the chassis, like it's ready for cross-country
action (and it is), has big wheels and a tank-like
attitude. The Rally Fighter has an engine with 450
horsepower and, well, it's a beast. How fast does it go?
You probably don't have the guts to find out. "It's
amazingly fast and quirky and powerful and beautiful,"
Purdy said. "Plus, you can run over just about
The Rally Fighter goes for a mere $75,000. Yeah, I'll
take three. Local Motors is the brainchild of Purdy's
friend Jay Rogers, who is following in the footsteps of
other independent car-makers like Tucker, DeLorean,
Bricklin and Tesla. Rogers has already been profiled in
a lengthy feature in Playboy magazine. He served in
the Marines in the special forces, then went to Harvard
University and got his MBA.
He borrowed several million dollars, started a car
company and held a design contest on the Internet. A
19-year-old from Korea won $20,000 for the winning
design, which was then tweaked -- again, online -- by
many of the other contest contributors. Rogers has a
plant where the cars are assembled in Phoenix. Local
Motors is turning out about 30 a year and hopes to
ramp up once sales pick up. The Rally Fighter, which
has a fiberglass body, went into production in 2011.
"Jay is one of the most amazing guys I've ever met,"
Purdy said. "And the Rally Fighter is the world's first
and only co-operative-created vehicle. It's unique."
Purdy, 39, hopes to help his friend get Local Motors off
the ground. His job is to get the Rally Fighter in front of
the wealthy country-club males it appeals to. Like PGA
Tour players, for instance. A lot of them are car
aficionados with surplus cash, so just parking one near
the TPC Scottsdale clubhouse during Waste
Management Phoenix Open week ought to create a lot
Meanwhile, Purdy hopes to play his way back onto the
Tour. He'll head to Honolulu to try Monday qualifying
for the Sony Open, and he'll go the Monday-qualifying
route as often as he can. He's always been a superior
ballstriker and a player who makes a lot of birdies.
What went wrong with his game the last few years, he
believes, is that his grip got too strong. That led to
snap-hooked drives out of play, which led to wide-right
tee shots trying to protect against the snap-hook.
"I grew up playing with no effort, reckless abandon, go
at the target," Purdy said. "That's how I played. I wasn't
able to do that with a bad grip. I started hooking the
ball and I just played terrible for a while. Now I'm hitting
it straight again, and I know where the ball is going."
As a University of Arizona alum, he was interested in
settling down and becoming a college golf coach when
the Arizona job came open last year. He didn't get the
job, however, so he took on the Local Motors gig while
working on his golf game.
He felt he'd solved his grip issues last fall but two
weeks before PGA Tour Q-school, he wrenched his left
shoulder while sitting in a dunk tank to raise money at
his kids' school. When a thrower hit the target and he
was about to be dunker, he grabbed on to a ledge with
his left arm and strained something. When he got to
Q-School, he still couldn't raise his arm above
shoulder level, and after a poor opening round, he fell
too far behind to catch up.
"When was the last time you heard of somebody
suffering a dunk-tank injury?" Purdy said with a laugh.
"It's always something, I guess. I've got two jobs I want
to do well at so I guess it's going to be a pretty busy
year for me. At least, I hope so."