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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The European Tour excels again - Crazy Video Part Deux

Another great video from the boys at Wentworth! How to promote golf in the 21st century - Awesome!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The 2010 Majors - A Strange Year


It was a strange year for the majors – after Phil at Augusta who would have predicted Oosty 2, GMac and Kaymer as winners, especially around Pebble, St. Andrews and Whistling Straits. The year of “Tiger’s golf courses” turned out to be a wash out for him, but bearing in mind what happened at Thanksgiving 2009, I actually thought he played reasonably well. Watch out in 2011, because Tiger will be back. The players are all saying they are no longer intimidated by him – just wait ‘til he starts winning again and watch the “I” word slip back into their lexicon. Tiger is the most complete player ever to play the game and his swing (whilst it will never regain the fluidity of 2000) is on the way back.

Sadly, next years venues are not in the same league as this year.

Augusta – same as ever – say no more! No better place to play golf.
Congressional is the site of the US Open and it is an old style brute with punishing rough and narrow fairways. Pete Dye has once again changed the greens, though they are no better than they were the last time he re-did the greens – did we also mention it’s no fun to play!
Sandwich is my least favorite Open Championship venue. I have played it a half dozen times and nothing really stands out – given the choice I would play Rye or Royal Cinque Ports just down the road.
Atlanta Athletic Club is the venue for the PGA Championship (please don’t EVER call it Glory’s Last Shot!). Great club, not so great golf course (actually 2 courses). The last time a major was played there it was won by David Toms on the Highland Course who edged out Phil, by a shot. Toms’ cause was helped by a hole in one in the third round. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Captain Snore! What no Freddie?

It looks like the PGA of America has outdone themselves with another snore inducing US Ryder Cup captain. This time it looks like Davis Love 3 will take over the reins from Corey Pavin in the unquotable department. What happened to Fred Couples and some charisma?

Let's hope that, at least, the golf lives up to the 2010 edition - the role of the captain is overblown anyway!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

5 Golf Gifts for Christmas - time to go online



With only two weeks to go until Christmas, if you are like me you still have to get to the store to buy any presents. Actually, I have given up on bricks and mortar retail and I’m strictly online now and with free shipping and, in many cases, no sales tax, what’s not to love. Here are my last minute suggestions for real golfers.

One of the coolest products to hit the market in 2010 and the best way to personalize your golf ball. Through December 31st if you but two Tin Cups they are offering free shipping with the code FREESTC, which can be used at checkout. This saves you $5.95. There are more than 50 designs to choose from.

For the first time ever here is the ultimate guide to the best golf courses in the world. I have this book and with a course review, local hotels and maps of each course it really is unique. On Amazon, the book qualifies for free shipping.  At $34.95, it sounds expensive, but trust me, it isn’t and this book should be on every travelling golfers shelf.

Our friend Josh paints beautiful golf landscapes and right now a number of his prints are on sale on his website, www.joshsmithart.com. His picture of the iconic 7th at Pebble Beach, as it was in 1929, is a classic. Any golfer will be thrilled to have this image in their living room or den.

Annika Sorenstam is not only one of the greatest of all time, she is also a terrific businesswoman and has a knack for creating associations with great brands. One of these is the world renowned Wente Vineyards. Wente and Annika have produced wines worthy as perfect gifts for the oenophile in your life. The Chardonnay and Syrah have won several awards and great numbers from Wine Spectator. The Club is a great way for you to be among the first to get your hands on these special limited availability wines - we have tried both and highly recommend them.

Don't get me wrong, I love getting new clubs as much as any golfer. But, I also like getting a deal and if you haven't discovered www.callawaygolfpreowned.com, then set aside an hour and wander around the online store which has almost all the current woods, irons, putters and accessories, but at much cheaper prices. I'm guessing the clubs are either returns or trade ins and vary from "average" condition to "like new". I love the 2006 Callaway Hot 3 wood and I managed to pick up two of them for $120 each in perfect condition. It's my go to club and if you find a club you love you need at least one back up - the Pro's have even more than that (but that's a little easier as they don't pay for them). Anyway check it out for great gift ideas at terrific prices.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fortune Brands confirms Titleist spin off

Fortune Brands confirmed this morning that they are breaking the company into three. It'll be fun to watch the scramble for Titleist/Cameron/Footjoy/Vokey. We speculated in a recent post about who will pay for these world brands and whilst the Tour is in hiatus for a few weeks it will keep golf on our minds.

You can read the release here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Q School - The Six Day Grind

For those who didn't keep their Tour Card by earning a spot in the top 125 the next six days have the potential to be like water torture! 108 holes of strokeplay golf is alot of golf, even without the pressure of Q School. It's actually not that bad for the majority of the field (however the Golf Channel likes to paint it!) as the most of them have somewhere to play next year, even if it is on the secondary Nationwide Tour. Players who finished 126-150 on the PGA Tour in 2010 still get to play 15-18 events on Tour and every player who makes the four round cut gets their Nationwide card.
I have attended Q School as a player agent twice and the pressure and tension is definitely in the air, especially on the final day (both times my player made it through) but it's really not the doom and gloom everyone talks about.

You would think it would be a great opportunity for the Tour to test a great golf course under tournament conditions - sadly no. The golf courses at Orange County National are fine. Dreadful word "fine" isn't it. Let's just say the courses are on a par with their logo above...nuff said!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Titleist Going Solo?

Rumors run amok that pressure from certain key investors in Fortune Brands is going to force the NYSE quoted company to split their business into several parts. Fortune owns many great brands like housewares maker, Moen, liquor brands like Jim Beam and also the number one golf revenue generator, Acushnet. The brands within Acushnet are Titleist, Pinnacle, Scotty Cameron, Vokey Wedges and Footjoy shoes.

As an investor I'm all for unlocking value in a share price. The question is ...Who will buy Acushnet?

The suitors would naturally include industry giants, Callaway, Nike and TMAG. Let's have a brief look at these and see if there is a fit.

Firstly Callaway. I don't see this one. As much as Callaway would like to buy their nemesis, their market capitalization of $450M isn't going to support an acquisition of Titleist's reported $1B plus sales.

Nike and Titleist together. In England, we like to say "like chalk and cheese". In America you say "oil and water".  It means the same thing! The culture clash would keep HR busy for an eternity. Not going to happen.

TMaG (TaylorMade adidasGolf) is another potential candidate who would be anxious to get their hands on Titleist's hugely profitable golf ball business. They certainly have the money as the German giant, adidas generates revenues that the golf business can only dream about. As well as facing US monopoly issues, rather like Nike I just don't see the cultural fit.

The natural suitor comes from the East - Japan, Chaina, Taiwan, Korea. They have the money, especially with the exchange rate the way it is and they like "blue chip" brands like Acushnet. The company throws off a good amount of cash and it would be a great story for a Far Eastern company to own this prestigious US brand.

It's all conjecture at this time but good fun to speculate. Titleist and Footjoy under the Acushnet banner remain one of the great legacy brands of the game of golf and a company with deep(ish) pockets will pay for the privilege of adding it to their assets.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scotty Cameron - The Money Machine

Every couple of months, more during the season, I get an email from Scotty Cameron. Not actually from Scotty to me personally. I'm one of presumably hundreds, maybe thousands who are members of the Scotty Cameron Fan Club. We pay for the privilege - $100 or so for an annual membership to Club Cameron. Why do I do this? Well, I firstly like Scotty and what he does with putters and secondly I am a very interested observer in the business practice that essentially asks me to pay a fee to look at the merchandise. Great concept! Last time I looked Louis Vuitton, Hermes, heck, even Harry Winston on Madison Avenue let me walk into their shop for free.

Scotty has achieved the seemingly impossible. Make people join a club, put up the merchandise online and let the feeding frenzy begin. Members of the club, (who have 48 hour exclusive access) are literally fighting one another electronically to buy something with a Scotty dog embroidered into it. Amazing concept. Amazing execution.

Just for fun let's do some back of the envelope math. Let's say scottycameron.com launches a new headcover for $72 plus shipping plus tax. Well, he buys these from AM & E for, say $20, ok $25. He sells 2010, yes TWO THOUSAND AND TEN (the same number as the year) in one day! The gross for the day is a cool $144,720 (excluding the additional mark up on shipping). Net for the day, probably around $95,000. And, and it's a big AND, he does this 10 times a year. That's a Million Bucks a year, net from headcovers. That's not including golf bags, hats, even ladies tote bags and those pesky membership fees. Oh yes, he also sells putters and they are not cheap.

Today's offerings were sold out in a matter of hours and often with leather headcovers in limited quantities they sell out in minutes...minutes! The man is a marketing genius and no one has yet been able to replicate the model in the golf business. If  Titleist is indeed split up from Fortune Brands which is in the offing it will be interesting to see what happens to the money making putter maker.

Monday, November 8, 2010

10 Things We Love About The Game Of Golf (Part 2 - The Last 5)


Continuing with our Top 10 here are numbers 6 - 10.

6. The Masters Tournament. For me it is the Number 1 Major. Played each year since 1934 at Augusta National nothing will ever signal the opening of the golf season like The Masters. There are many vocal critics of the golf course, saying it's over manicured, too green, too long, just too much! I have had the good fortune to play Augusta on a number of occasions and in my opinion it is still the best golf experience in the world, bar none.
And none of the critics harping on matters come week 2 of April. The par 3 tournament featuring past champions and then 4 days of top drawer golf follow around Bobby Jones' place. The green jacket, the awkward closing ceremony in Butler Cabin, the schmaltzy music, Jim Nantz's "Hello Friends", CBS's coverage featuring actual golf (rather than ED drug ads) and a truly great golf course. It's the Masters.

7. Golf Literature. There are some great books written about the game of golf. History books, instructional books, architecture books, psychology books, business books, biographies. (we'll follow up some time with our favorite golf book list) Golf lends itself well to be written about -  a simple, yet incredibly complex game played for centuries all around the world by all ages. My favorite golf book is Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy - enough of a favorite to name the company after one of Murphy's characters, Seamus MacDuff.

8. Caddyshack. "Gunga la gunga", "so I've got that going for me, which is nice", "Spalding!", "looks good on you though", "pool and a pond...pond would be good for you"....stop, stop, we could go on for the rest of the blog just dropping memorable lines from the one, the only golf movie. Is there a real golfer out there who hasn't done their Bill Murray impression of caddying for the Dalai Lama? I even have Al Czervik's brazen entry with car horn blarring across the tee to Bushwood in his red Rolls Royce as my ringtone - you know the one!
It's golfs Citizen Kane and essential viewing every 6 months. "Be the ball Danny"!

9. Lists. Can you name the Top 10 tennis courts or soccer pitches in the world. No, not the stadium, the pitch! Doesn't really work does it. But with the game of golf arguments about the best hole, course, resort, public course, private course play out each and every day. The Golf Magazines are at the forefront with their Top 100 lists and the bi-annual architectural articles create endless comments and equal scorn. ( I should declare that I am on the panel for one of the Magazines, but am simply a lone voice amongst many)
The lists are great fun - simply that. They are a great way to list great courses on 2 pages and hopefully sell some magazines. No one course is really the winner, there are many great courses in the world and each of us has a preference for one over the other. There is no "Best Course in the World". The best is purely a personal preference. If pushed I would list Cypress Point at the top of my pile, but I'll also tell you I have 11 in my Top 10 confirming that I am tad confused. You can see my list at the bottom right hand side of the Blog.

10. The Icons. Arnie, Jack, Bobby, Lee, Ben, Byron, Tom, Sam, (yes, Tiger too!). Who did I miss?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

10 Things We Love About The Game Of Golf (Part 1 - The First 5)


This is our 100th post of 2010 and it's time for a little reflection about the great game of golf. What makes it so great? Why do we play? What do we really love about this infuriating game? Here's our Top 10. Let us know what you would add to the list...

1. Playing with friends. What other game allows you to spend a few hours in the company of great people. It's ideal for business to develop new relationships and foster existing ones and there is nowhere like the golf course for seeing someones real personality.

2. A Game for the Whole Family. Boys, girls, even grandma. All are welcome and with golf handicaps all can play a game together and on any given day anyone can win. Did you ever try and play tennis against someone who is way better than you? It's no fun for either of you, even with a 5-0 start!

3. The Rules. Respect them and play what is in the rule book. That said, if everyone agrees, play laterals, give putts...have fun! We're not on Tour!

4. Playing Ready Golf. Hit it, walk after it, find it and hit it again. That's the way to play the game. The obsession in American golf with putting everything has got to stop. Play matchplay - it's more fun and quicker!

4. The Equipment. We are serious equipment junkies - Scotty Cameron putters, Roger Cleveland (for Callaway) Wedges, Jan Craig headcovers, Mackenzie leather golf bags  and more, much more! We love it all!

5. The Venues. Is there any doubt that the best golf courses are the premier venues in all of sports. The view from the 16th tee at Cypress, the atmosphere on the 1st tee at Merion, the ocean on the 18th at Pebble, the amazing vista on the 11th tee at Pacific Dunes.."nuff said!

* and yes, that is the 10th hole on one of the Top 10 in the World, The Old Course at Sunningdale, Surrey, England.

Part 2 (the next 5 to follow shortly)

Friday, October 22, 2010

ANNIKA - The hardest working non-golfer in the business

We thought Annika Sorenstam had retired? You know, living in Florida with her feet up watching the ocean waves roll in. That couldn't be further from the truth as she circumnavigates the world this month promoting her businesses, speaking at conferences, accepting awards, promoting fitness for kids through her foundation and also looking after her toddler, Ava! She is one busy lady. You can read the latest ANNIKA e-News here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

5 Great Holiday Gifts - For Golfers

What do you mean... for golfers - isn't this a golf site? Well, these are actual golf gifts that will be appreciated by the golfer in your life - not the sponge ball cleaner, the combination spike mark/shoe horn/groove cleaner, you know the ones I'm talking about. Those are well meaning gifts that no real golfer would be seen dead with on the first tee. Here are five great gifts that you will actually want. My advice - leave the blog open on your computer, forward to your significant other, tweet it, FB it, anything you like to get it into the hands of whoever is buying you a gift this holiday season.

1. Tin Cup. Okay, fair warning, they are a client. That said, this is one of the coolest customizable golf gifts out there. The Tin Cup ball marker allows each player to mark their own ball with a unique design. The website has about 50 standard designs available immediately or you can get a custom cup made with your initials or company logo - customs take about 3 weeks and really makes a big impression!

2. Scotty Cameron Headcovers. Pure golfers use Scotty Cameron putters and real golf geeks (including me!) collect the putters AND the headcovers. Scotty releases about 10 different covers each year and they come in many colors to match your golf bag. The best place to find them is on ebay - Scotty's site is almost always out of stock of the really cool stuff - it goes fast.

3. Anything from Iliac Golf. You think I like headcovers! It's true and Iliac make the best classic leather headcovers. They come in a myriad of colors and are 100% totally retro and very cool. The owner of Iliac, Bert Lamar is a former professional skateboarder and most of Iliac's products are RAD. His 2011 range is beautifully handcrafted and contemporary but with a classic twist. You can see them here.

4. Dream Golf by Stephen Goodwin. This is the updated version of the book that includes the Old Macdonald back story that led to the creation of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort's fourth course. Mike Keiser changed the face of golf in America with his amazing foresight to build Bandon - here's the true story behind the best golf resort in the world. Buy it here.

5. Joshua C F Smith Golf Course Prints. Josh is one of the foremost golf landscape artists in the US. His work adorns many Top 100 clubhouses and his prints on canvas and fine art paper are now available in limited editions. His courses include Pebble, Bandon, Ballyneal and Royal County Down and are priced from $225. You can see them here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Fall Vanish, I mean Finish

Is there anyone out there? Watching golf that is. NFL is in Week 6, the baseball season is in the real playoffs and the PGA Tour is at the Fry's.com Open. Don't get me wrong I love the Fry's Electronic stores AND I love professional golf, I just wonder how many people are actually tuning in to watch the end of the golf season and a bunch of guys trying to keep their cards for 2011. Having been the manager of players in that very position I understand the need for this season ending torment (for the players grappling for Top 125) - one just has to wonder about the value the sponsor gets from the TV package that is an integral part of the sponsorship buy. The Pro-Am is therefore even more critical for the sponsoring company to entertain clients - this week they have 2 Pro-Ams, which is telling.
Messrs Finchem and the 76 VPs are in a tough position - they need to provide these season ending events - it's just a shame no one is watching.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pinehurst - Great town, Great golf

No town in America says "Golf" quite like Pinehurst in North Carolina. About 4 1/2 hours from Washington D.C it is a must for any serious golfer. A group of us have just returned from playing in and around Golf Town, USA.
If you are looking for the best deal in town stay at the Pine Crest Inn. Once owned by renowned golf architect Donald Ross it is a haven for all things golf. The bar is frequented by locals and gets pretty rowdy on a Saturday night, but that's all part of the fun of the place. The old tradition of chipping into the fireplace continues, albeit with a new astroturf version to preserve the picture above the fireplace that was regularly in need of reframing.
Breakfast and dinner are included in the golfers package and represent incredible value, particularly when compared to the overpriced and understaffed Pinehurst Resort that sits 500 yards away. The Pine Crest's Pork Chop is the stuff of legend. Right up there with the hamburger at The Tap Room at Pebble Beach (in CA), the milkshakes at Castle Pines (in CO) and the meat loaf at Mckee's Pub at Bandon (in OR).
We played at 4 courses and the unanimous group vote was

1. Dormie Club - Crenshaw and Coore's latest private club - tough to get on but call everyone you know to try and experience golf as it is meant to be. Exceptional.
2. Pine Needles - Designed by Donald Ross and wonderfully restored by John Fought it is a must play.
3. Tobacco Road - Designed by Mike Strantz it is "Sand Hills golf on LSD" It's crazy, fun, maddening but one of the most enjoyable golf courses you will ever play. I guarantee you have never seen anything like it. Now, if only they could get those rangers to do their job and kick people off who can't play golf. 
4. Mid Pines - Also owned by the Bell family (like Pine Needles) it's clear where the budget is allocated and that's to Needles, not Pines. That said it's a very playable, though somewhat mundane layout and when we played had suffered from the summer of 2010.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Charles Blair tells it how it is....

"Viewing the monstrosities created on many modern golf courses which are a travesty on Nature, no golfer can but shudder for the soul of golf. It would seem that in this striving after ‘novelty and innovation,’ many builders of golf courses believe they are elevating the game. But what a sad contemplation!"
C.B. MACDONALD

What a wonderful quote from the great Charles Blair Macdonald, considered by many to be the father of American Golf Architecture. Is he talking about Ryder Cup venues, Celtic Manor or The Centenary Course at Gleneagles, the simply awful venue for the next RC in Europe. No, he died in 1939, but he sure saw it coming!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tin Cup E-News Published Today - with Free Shipping Code

We published the October Tin Cup e-News today. You can read it here. Included is a coupon code that you can use for free shipping on 2 or more Tin Cups. The code is FREESTC and you can use it on the Tin Cup site to save $5.95. It's a great time to start the Christmas shopping!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Ryder Cup: Drama until the end

Well, we reached the finish line. And what an end it was with the Cup eventually going to the Euros by a single point. Mahan was beside himself at the press conference, but he isn't to blame for the defeat - his was just one point amongst many that could have been won by the US. As for his duffed chip, I would defy anyone reading this to even hit the ball under that pressure. I have been at several Ryder Cups representing team members and they make it look easy, but their heart rates are double the norm and they still get it done 95% of the time...remarkable.
After PlaneGate, (when the US plane left 3 caddies short), RainSuitGate, (when Sun Mountain weren't able to produce a rain suit that lived up to its name), and finally BagGate, (when the Belding bags let in water) all will be forgiven after a superb ending to the match. It is interesting to note that the Europeans didn't seem to have any wardrobe malfunctions - only the Americans. I wonder why that was?
No doubt the TV viewing figures were decimated by the 3 a.m starts on cable stations, but it didn't stop me or I'm sure many others switching on the coffee maker early and then flipping through all sorts of nonsense before finding USA Network. Johnny Miller was on form and by that I mean upsetting as many people as possible, including his suggestion that if Phil couldn't chip and putt he would play like a SoCal used car salesman - Phil was not amused and his win today was one in the eye for Johnny.
Watching golf in the US still requires an inordinate amount of patience after decades of watching golf on the BBC with no ads. The producers here have their favorites, like Tiger and they insist on showing more putting than actual golf shots, which is painful. Also, with an ad break seemingly every 5 minutes, it's tough to get into the flow of the game. Golf shot, putt, putt, ad, putt, putt, ad is not the way to watch our great game.
An epic 3 day event forcibly spread over 4 days with so many great story lines and wonderful golf. We couldn't have wished for more.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Calling George Costanza...white courtesy phone

Do you remember when George Costanza had the brilliant idea to outfits the Yankees in cotton uniforms? (if you don't then you are either very young or missed one of the classic Seinfeld episodes) Well, Captain Pavin and The Captainess followed George's lead and made a pretty awful decision with their choice of baseball style rain suits made by Sun Mountain. Sun Mountain make great golf bags...Rainsuits, not so much.
So, not only are the SM suits ugly, they don't do the one thing that a rain suit needs to do - keep out the rain! The picture show the new ProQuip jacket that the PGA of America bought from the Merchandise Tent as a replacement. I really like the European Flag on the sleeve, as I'm sure will the US team. The weather continues to rain on the Welsh Tourism Board's parade, which is a real shame, but at least it has provided a great story.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Woods is Missing!

Always the man to put the "i" in team, Tiger seems to have something missing on his rain jacket. Does his Nike contract preclude this? What do the other players think about this? I'm sure they are thrilled that he gets the preferential tailoring treatment. Answers on a postcard please...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another sunny day in Wales

Nick Faldo in his inappropriate closing remarks at the last Ryder Cup made the Welsh Tourism Board apoplectic. He said "Don't forget your waterproofs" and this after the WTB had spent millions securing the event. Well, the politically incorrect Mr. Faldo could prove to be correct as the weather forecast from Friday is rain every day. That said the weather forecast is about as reliable as the US local forecast, so we'll see.

Quite why the US team sought to block out the sun on a dreary Welsh day on their arrival is unclear. Five of the team came in disguise with their sunglasses firmly on. Perhaps Captain Pavin didn't see them with their "shields up" as they were standing behind him. We thought he was in charge and yet he allows this to happen for the official arrival. Oh, yes, he has banned tweeting, but wearing sunglasses on a dull grey Welsh day made his team appear aloof and it's only Day 1.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Looks good on you though!

That's the worst jacket I ever saw....looks good on you though! It seemed the most appropriate line to steal from Caddyshack having seen these simply awful jackets the US team may be forced to wear should the weather in Wales turn nasty. What was Captain Corey thinking or was his arm twisted by The Captainess? I, for one, can't wait to see if Tiger and Phil put these on. Along with the purple cardigan featuring large red logo the US team is going to make quite a sight. Calling Marty Hackel...white courtesy phone!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Has the Ryder Cup jumped the Shark?

Fonzie was the first to do it, TV comedy Friends did it and now the Ryder Cup has joined the illustrious roll call of shark jumpers. There are not one, but two instances this week that conclusively prove that the governing bodies of the event have lost the plot.

The first, reported by the vigilant Stephanie Wie is that the wives of the players have been given a $7,500 dress allowance for the opening Gala Night dinner. No, that's not for the whole team, that's each. Just another great example of how out of touch the governing bodies are with the state of the game. Twenty-four millionaires are given a total of $180,000 for dresses - in Wales that would buy a row of houses, not a row of sequins!

I'm not quite sure what seed entrepreneur, Samuel Ryder would make of such an outrageous waste of money. I suspect he was a more frugal man. When he came up with the simple idea for The Ryder Cup in 1927 it was a match. Just a match between Great Britain & Ireland and the United States of America. Professional golfers playing a good course in a team format designed to find the best twelve. No wives, no hoopla, just the players and their caddies walking down the fairways. And now look at it, $7,500 dresses for the wives when the economy is in dire straights, 4 vice captains on each team, inferior golf courses and more hangers on than a U2 concert.

I wish we could get back to Mr. Ryder's original idea of 12 v. 12. I know it's not going to happen and that's a shame. The money generated by the event supports European Tour golf (when in Europe) and the PGA of America (when in the US) but one can look back and dream of a purer time in the game when the game was more important than the haute couture.

Of course another week couldn't go by without a Monty story. This time he is reported to have requested that the European Team room be soundproofed. The possibility of an American overhearing his inspirational nightly team talk is just too much for him and so, as above, more money wasted on a ludicrous request. Just who is saying "yes" to this request...we deserve to know. And while you are rebuilding the room please ensure that all the green M&Ms are removed from the European team room (they deserve yet another Spinal Tap moment)

Note - Surely, the $7,500 dress allowance will be spun by the time you read this...either in charitable donations or disappearing altogether

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

FedEx Cup - The Reset Explainer

You simply cannot make this stuff up. The Tour's website has a 750 word explanation of how the "points reset" works. More complicated than any set of "Play Offs " in any sport anywhere in the world and roundly criticized by the players and confusing all who watch such things and absolutely guaranteeing that players that have no rightful place in the Majors actually qualify for the Majors. Fear not, the FedEx deal is up in 2012 and word is they are not happy and heaven knows who would step into their shoes on this confusing mess. Read it Here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tour Championship sans Tiger

No Tiger at the Tour Championship repeating his non-kissing of the Trophy. ( I can't bring myself to capitalizing the word Tour!) I guess that isn't too much of a surprise after his, er, slow start to the season, but it's still a big disappointment for the Ponte Vedra VPs. The next time the world sees TW is at the Ryder Cup, where for some reason everyone seems to think the Euros will win hands down. Well, that's not going to happen and the design of the event is such that it always comes down to the final day singles. Like Gentle Ben famously said "I've got a good  feeling!"

The FedEx Play Off system still favors those who play well for 3 weeks, rather than those who play well for the season and the expected moaning from the players who didn't make it is audible. Notables missing the East Lake event include Ryder Cuppers Cink, Fowler and McIlroy. Read their comments here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Packaging the FedEx Cup


It's opening day of the NFL and the 3rd event of the FedEx Cup, The BMW. The mere presence of the NFL impacts every sport and the final two weeks of the FedEx Cup will not be spared the mercy of mighty professional football. The PGA Tour needs to find a solution to this. Golf's version of the "Play Offs" lasts 4 weeks and going up against the NFL is just bad business. I'm sure the CMO of FedEx is hanging on the Nielsen data for the final events and checking if they are getting the bang for their substantial buck. There is a solution and that's to move up the events on the calendar and many people have suggested this. The Commish is resisting until he knows how the rest of his tournament sponsorship deals are looking. He may face a bigger issue soon - FedEx pay at least $50 million a year for this series of events - that's a lot of packages and as value for money goes we may be at the beginning of the end.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Are you awake out there? The US Ryder Cup picks


Is anyone still awake after Corey Pavin's press conference. You won't need Ambien after listening to him at the Stock Exchange. The press would have been better served asking the Vice Captains questions, because Corey is just not good in that environment. What's up with all those Vice Captains by the way? Sluman was smart and was unavailable.
When Pavin read the names one by one, there was not a tinge of excitement in his voice. There were also no surprises. Woods - how could he not pick Woods?, Cink - see Woods!, Zach Johnson (the other Johnson is already in team) and Fowler. I think Fowler was a good pick and will add some fun to The RC - especially if he ends up playing the European version, McIlroy. Who knows maybe Captain Pavin can even get Rickie to the barber before the match starts. At least it will give him something interesting to talk about!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Killing the game one slow shot at a time.


A fun story by serial PGA Tour observer (er, basher), Geoff Shackelford. Read here his thoughts on slow play on Tour and how they could use ShotLink data to actually do something about it. It's been 16 years (yes, you read that right) since a fine was imposed on a player in a Tour event. Now that is impossible - except for the fact that the Tour has decided not to make the players ever receive a penalty, even though everyone knows it is absolutely ridiculous for a round of golf to take more than 4 hours.
Growing up playing golf we would regularly play in 2 1/2 hours - that's 4 people playing their own ball. No running, just walking swiftly between shots and hitting it when it was your turn. When will the Tour and other official bodies realize that in this "instant world" kids don't want to spend 5 hours playing golf. They don't want to spend 5 hours watching either and as a result, Tiger or no Tiger the TV numbers are down. All of the governing bodies have a responsibility to get the game moving - if they don't the slow professional game of golf will continue to slowly erode the fan base and kids will simply go do something which takes up less time. Go on PGA Tour - fine someone and see what happens!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Ryder Cup picks - No Rose, are you kidding!


Of course only winning twice in the last couple of months on the PGA Tour wasn't enough for Justin Rose to make the team. What was Monty thinking not picking Justin? The day before the picks were announced Justin shot 65 in the WGC event, a day when all the players were under pressure. He has an outstanding record from the last Ryder Cup, he's a great team guy and obviously the preferred partner of Ian Poulter who is already in the team. Oh, that's right, he's not with IMG. I knew there was something. To pick Harrington and Donald (both IMG) ahead of Rose is just plain crazy. On current form he can beat both of them, which is to take nothing away form Padraig and Luke (they are both great players), and in early October we will find out if Monty's choices prove to be correct. I bet Monty is cursing Peter Hanson for keeping one of his world top 20 guys out of the team!

Friday, August 27, 2010

US Amateur at Chambers Bay


...and very fine it looks too. I'm not a huge RTJ2 fan but he does look to have created a terrific looking golf course in Washington state. I'm sure the USGA will learn a tremendous amount prior to the U.S. Open being played there in 2015, albeit at a different time of the year. The course is playing firm and fast and with "brown being the new green" golf course looking great. It's wonderful to watch the amateurs playing quickly, for the most part. Just a shame that the geniuses at the Golf Channel saw fit to show the beginning of the quarterfinal matches and not show the end. Now why would we want to see the end of those matches when we could watch Phil miss the cut in The Barclays. Are you kidding? who is in charge of scheduling in O town? A 5 year old? Remember a few weeks back they cut away from the French Open playoff to show Tiger play the front 9 when not in contention. What's up (The) Golf Channel?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Monty's Choice


Only 4 days to go until Colin Montgomerie has to finally make his 3 player choices for the European Ryder Cup team for the early October match in Wales. With only 3 picks there are going to be some unhappy campers. Today, the 9 players in the team look like this. With 2 events this week at Gleneagles and Ridgewood, much can and will change.

Westwood
McIlroy
Kaymer
McDowell
Poulter
Fisher
Molinari - Francesco
Hanson
Jimenez

That leaves a handful of great players outside looking in. These include the obvious choices, Casey, Donald, Harrington, Langer, Rose and the less obvious but still possible Edoardo Molinari, Robert Karlsson and Rhys Davies from Wales. Now, Monty early in season was insistent that those players who supported the Johnnie Walker event in Scotland would be looked upon favorably. Nice try Monty! No one bought that and all the usual suspects are playing the World Golf Championship event in the US, so Monty backtracked and is now "understanding" of this decision. Really.
Peter Hanson winning last week certainly threw Monty a curve - he would have preferred a brand name guy in that spot, which could still happen.

My choices would be Langer, Rose and Casey. What do you think?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Debacle at Whistling Straits


In soccer it's common to hear "we were robbed". In golf, not so much. And yet on Sunday the cry went out all over the golf world...Dustin Johnson was robbed!
Robbed of a place in the play off that had resulted from the most exciting back nine of a major for many years. The fact that the participants were all "bit" players didn't detract from wonderful, spirited play on the over-rated Whistling Straits. At least on Sunday the golf course showed up - a little wind to dry out the over-designed, over-watered "links style" golf course. I have played Whistling Straits and there is nothing, nada, zip, zero that is "links" about it. It is a manufactured, muscle course with little nuance and very little fun.
Okay, enough of my rant about Mr. Kohler's debacle. Let's focus on the blue blazered brigade's cock up. Granted, there was a rules sheet confirming the ludicrous 1200 plus bunkers. The fact that they couldn't seem to confirm this number seems to have been worn like a badge of honor. Instead of what it really was - a joke!
So, Dustin Johnson is on 18 after a nervy drive in an area that is covered in trash, looks like a sandy path and surrounded by a thousand of his closest friends. And these friends are actually standing in the bunker. Funny that, haven't seen that at Augusta, or any other major venue. No, I get it - it's his responsibility to read the rules sheet provided each week to the players. My question is why every "bunker" outside of the ropes being trampled by Wisconsin's finest was not declared "through the green" and therefore allowing the club to be grounded. I think everyone agrees he gained no advantage by grounding his club.
There are no winners here - DJ lost his chance to become the PGA Champion and Kaymer's win will be overshadowed by "bunkergate".
The PGA of America demonstrated their ability to choose an awful golf course and then lose control of a manageable situation. While we are on the subject of the PGA, if I hear once more about the dedicated "28,000 dedicated men and women" I will throw up. America's dedicated men and women are in the armed forces, not selling pencils in a golf shop!
So, there you have it. A great Sunday's golf mangled by an inept ruling. DJ - you was robbed!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Over-engineered & Unnecessary- the double golf bag strap


What's up with all the manufacturers only providing golf bags with the simply awful, over-engineered double bag strap? I grew up with a simple golf bag with a single strap that you threw over your shoulder and walked. It no longer seems to be an option with the major manufacturers and I'm not picking on Titleist (above) for the ugly looking contraption. Why don't they make it an option? Single or double strap with your bag, sir?
I was recently at a club where my caddy had swapped my entire set into a single strap bag so he could double bag. Well, I need my "stuff" with me when I play, so drastic action was needed so I took my bag into the shop, borrowed a box cutter from the pro and cut the useless second strap off. Result - Happy caddy, Happy player.
And don't give me all that "oh, it's so much better for your back nonsense". Walking, not driving is better for your back and having a bag of clubs on one shoulder a few times a month isn't causing any back pain.
Have a look at the top picture of the Mackenzie Walker golf bag - doesn't that single strap look better than the double? Of course it does AND it's way more comfortable. Let me know if you agree or not?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tiger Out, Langer In....Watch this space



It's going to be a wild ride into the early October Ryder Cup in the next few weeks as Captains Monty and Pavin have some tough decisions ahead. Firstly, how can Pavin seriously consider picking Tiger - he's playing the worst golf of his career, he doesn't want to be in Wales and the UK tax authorities are threatening all athletes "earning" money in the UK with a 50% tax hit on endorsement contracts. It could possibly cost him $900,000 on his Nike contract, unless there is some swift negotiation with the Inland Revenue. It makes the Av Gas bill look small!
Regarding Langer, the question is not does he pick him?, but how does he not pick him? Langer has been a stalwart of the team 10 times and as the winner of the last 2 senior majors he is the man on form. Those other guys looking for a Monty wildcard handout should wait a couple more years - their time will come.

Friday, August 6, 2010

TMaG and Villegas - too much too soon.


What are TaylorMadeadidas Golf (TMaG) up to? Publicly announcing Camilo Villegas is under contract from 2011 to them while still under contract to Titleist in 2010 is just asking for trouble. And they got it when the litigious Titleist filed suit against them.

If they were looking for publicity by their actions they got that too - just the wrong kind! Not only that, watch the results of Villegas in the coming months while this plays out and it will be surprising if he shows up in the Top 10.

In the past, we have had players switch manufacturers from year to year. Of course this happens all the time, but there is a unwritten rule that the switch, usually mid season, happens quietly and without a huge fuss. Press releases come and go and the public see the player with new equipment and figure out what has gone on. BUT, to announce mid season while the player is under contract to another company is just underhanded and as the lawyers will argue damaging to the existing company's business. TMaG - cheap shot - actually, maybe an expensive shot!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Erin Hills is open...again, again


Once more Erin Hills has been re-opened, again. Let's hope that this time it is way better than it was when we visited last year. At that time it was an absolute disaster with slow greens, dirt everywhere except where it should have been and a routing that made walking similar to treking to Everest basecamp. The fact that the USGA has already announced the 2017 U.S Open there is amazing to me - although you can do alot in 7 years - hopefully that includes building somewhere for people to stay - it is along way to the nearest hotel!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Oosthuizen withdraws from Scandinavian Masters


That was the headline you would have expected to read the week after his historic win at The Open at St. Andrews. But it was not to be as Louis, Louis honored his commitment to the Swedish event and a grateful crowd and tournament promoter, Jesper Parnevik. A great decision by Louis and excellent player management by Chubby Chandler.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bethpage Black: The Pre-Game Show


Thanks to Tom Dunne at Out-and-Back.net for publishing my piece about our experience at Bethpage Black. You can read it here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The 150th Most Boring Open Championship


All credit to Louis Oosthuizen. Great swing, great play, great win. But, in the words of the legendary film director, Martin Scorsese, "Where's the drama, Who's the Protagonist, Who's the Antagonist?" I had high hopes of a great Open Championship, but just like the U.S. Open it didn't transpire. The weather blew away the field and Oosthuizen is no Dustin Johnson and there was scant chance of him folding. His fundamentals are solid and he looked at ease as he walked to the first tee. Even those who did switch on ABC in the morning in the US were unlikely to stay the course, especially after the 4 shot swing on 12. If the lack of drama wasn't enough those cheesy Scottish vignettes were enough to make the viewer reach for the remote and find a Baywatch re-run. When will the US networks stop making these cliche ridden pieces and simply focus on the golf. I know, never, but I still needed to say it. Well done Louis, the deserved Champion Golfer of the Year.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The best photo of The Open


This is priceless. The looks on these faces says it all. Harrington gets the joke, Woods standing behind Watson, the old Stanford Alum who positively despise one another, Trevino mad, Vicenzo looking bewildered, and Daly as always looking like a slob. The R & A must have been thrilled with this...not

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Open Championship Perpetual Spirit Issue by Rolex


The beautiful, new Rolex Perpetual Spirit Collectors Issue about The Open Championship has just been released. The Open is 150 years old this year and the magazine contains wonderful stories and photographs that celebrate this achievement.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

ANNIKA e-News launch

`We launched ANNIKA's e-Newsletter today. Thanks to Mike and his team for all of their help. You can see it here.

We won another award!


There was a great surprise in the mail today. MacDuff, for its work on the Callaway iMAG, won an Apex Award. These awards are presented annually to companies to recognize excellence in print and online publications. This is the 3rd such award for the Callaway iMAG and you can see the great work of Paula Story and Jim Wise here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Greg Reaches Out to Dustin


Well, he knows how Dustin feels. Greg Norman, the best ball striker in the modern era and holder of the dubious title of Saturday Slam Champion extended a hand to Dustin Johnson this week. Following Dustin's meltdown in the final round of the U.S Open at unplayable Pebble it was a classy thing to do by Greg. Who knows what was said in confidence, but it sure was good of him to show some empathy, even though the mere mention of Bob, Larry, Jack and Nick must be enough for Greg to throw up! Nice going Greg!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Seve announces decision not to play at St. Andrews


As everyone knows, Seve has had a very tough time in the last couple of years with brain cancer. He has now announced his decision NOT to play at St. Andrews in the Wednesday special event prior to The Open Championship. This is under doctors orders and there is no question that it would be a stressful day for him. It sounds like a good decision to me, but the St. Andrews event will miss Seve and so will the British golf public, who LOVE Seve. I have been on the back of the range at hundreds of events and he was one of only a couple players who could stop the range dead with his ability to hit a golf ball. I couldn't resist showing Seve at the 1984 Open - one of the greatest and happiest moments in Open history. On his final putt, the ball seemed to be 6 inches outside the right edge with 3 inches to go and Seve literally willed the ball into the hole - his reaction stills ranks as one of the greatest ever.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Very Strange Day at Pebble.


I was so looking forward to the last day of the U.S Open. And yet, even after a win by the affable Graeme McDowell I was left unsatisfied. How could all of the challengers fall away without a fight? How could McDowell shoot 74 and still win by playing 18 with a driver, 8 iron and sand wedge. When will Tiger stop blaming everyone but himself? The TV golf pundits will overanalyse as usual, but what's clear is the Pebble Beach course won - the cost was a desperately dull and negative telecast with Johnny Miller clearly mad that no one, save Mr. McDowell, could hit the ball in a straight line. On to The Old Course at St. Andrews in 3 weeks and a real links golf course. Let's hope the drama lives up to the expectations.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Same Old Tiger...only worse


Tiger said he will change. His attitude, his interaction with the crowd, his outlook. And he has changed...he's even worse. More arrogant than ever and he has now taken to criticizing the golf course, the USGA, who knows maybe even the courtesy car driver? His attack on the USGA on Thursday about the greens being "awful" was childish and unnecessary. We didn't hear the moaning in 2000 when he was simply playing better on the same greens. They are still poa annua and on poa the ball bounces more than bent. All the players played the same golf course and the same greens, but only Tiger moaned like a 6 year old. Clearly there has been no change. All he needs to do is play better and quit moaning. No one wants to hear it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Monday visit to Pebble

I was at Pebble on Monday and the golf course is in magnificent condition. It looks so different from the bumpy wet golf course played in February for the AT&T. The thing with Pebble is there are so many great holes you tend to forget the bland ones. The golf course doesn’t really get going until the 5th and Nicklaus did a great job with the tough par 3 that hugs the cliff. Through the 10th it’s exceptional and then the 11th through the 16th are just so average, until reaching the 17th tee. The 14th is one of my least favourite holes in golf, a long, uphill par 5 to a ridiculously small sloping green. Just no fun at all and the players hate it, though they are trained to say nothing. The 18th looked great, though I miss the 2 big trees on the right side of the hole. Arnold Palmer has added another bunker up the right, but it is more cosmetic than in play. It is going to be a great U.S. Open with the golf course running hard and fast. The greens are tough to hold, so watch out for the players with strong short games. Anyone say Phil?

(the picture is taken from the Beach club looking at the 17th green and 18th tee)