We are a golf marketing firm specializing in communications, strategy, products and services


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TaylorMade - Marketing 101

You have to hand it to the west coast dudes at TaylorMade Golf, because once again they have come up with something that has the golf world buzzing. Over the last few days it's been hard to avoid the name of their new club in the chat rooms and online golf sites. ROCKETBALLZ! Yes, you read that right, Rocketballz! That's the crazy name that allegedly came through their R & D department and some how stuck as the club went into production.

Personally, I think the name is awful and the "RBZ" on the bottom of the club would have been better, but the name generated the PR they were looking for, so good luck to them. What I do like is the look of the club and like everyone else, the possibility that it will hit the ball that little bit further is intriguing. They are claiming 17 yards, which I did find doubtful and upon investigation found that was with a launch monitor under ideal conditions. Still, even 5 or 10 yards will appeal to most club players.

TaylorMade has always been a company willing to "put it out there" and I particularly like the way that they have engineered a scenario in which they "own" the color white in golf clubs. They weren't the first in the game (white clubs existing 80 years ago and remember John Day using a white Cobra in his 1991 PGA Championship win) but they are now the undisputed number one driver on Tour and each and every contract player is recognizable on the tee with their white golf club. There were many sceptics when the R11 came out, but the sales numbers don't lie and the RBZ is a natural line extension that will keep white front and center in the game.

It's oficial - Tiffany owns light blue, The Masters owns green and now TaylorMade owns white.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cleveland knows Marketing! A Titanium Retro Driver!

The folks at Cleveland Golf have come up with a cool idea! A retro titanium driver! What's that you say? Take a look at this 50's style all titanium driver with a paint job reminiscent of a Hogan driver. I have yet to see it in person and as it doesn't launch until 2012, we'll have to wait for the Orlando Golf Show in January. The epitome of cool and a great idea from CEO Greg Hopkins and his team!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The year of the Trues!

Truly, it was the years of the shoes shown above, TRUE Linkswear. A terrible pun, but the best new shoes on the market!
These are shoes you can actually use straight out of the box without getting blisters and they feel like your old slippers from the first tee to the eighteenth green. I've been a Footjoy Classics (now Icon) user for 25 years, but 2011 has changed all that.
First came Freddie at the Masters and the Ecco Street shoes. I bought them, I liked them but the white suede "tips" proved to be a nightmare to keep clean. I hoped someone could do better and they did! I had high hope for TRUES as I know Rob Rigg from his great efforts to encourage golfers to get walking again through thewalkinggolfer.com.
The TRUE booth at the January PGA Merchandise Show was a zoo which augured well for them in 2011. So, I tried the black and white version and they were a revelation. Comfortable right out of the box and allowing me to "feel" the golf course. I swear my bunker play is better now I can actually feel (that word again) the sand.
I just returned from 5 days golf and wore my TRUES every day through rain and shine - including 36 holes at Winged Foot in 5 hours and 40 minutes! They were perfect, so much so that I ordered a white pair (above) for the last couple of games of the year and next season. At $159 they are exceptional value.
So good on you Rob (and Sean), you have created something very special. The fact that all the big boys are jumping on the bandwagon and creating "me toos" confirms you have a success on your hands. 
Let 2012 be the year of continued walking in TRUES! ....And my Classics? Gone....all of them to goodwill or into the trash, anywhere but on my feet! You can read more here on their website.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How Not To Present Using Powerpoint

I have just returned from a conference where I was blown away by the quality of the powerpoint presentations used by sane, successful, well respected, professional people. The wind was more hurricane, than zephyr! None and I mean none of these folks knew how to present effectively using the standard powerpoint application.
The most common error was simply reading the information on the slide, even though everyone knows humans read quicker than they speak (so the audience is always ahead of the game). Second was using font sizes so small that 90% of the over 50s audience found it impossible to read and third was the usual array of nervous mumbling, lack of clarity and simply straying off the point of the slide.

There are many great articles about how to use the ubiquitous PPT, none in my opinion more relevant and on point than the one written by former Apple and now Enchantment evangelist, Guy Kawasaki.

Kawasaki's 10, 20, 30 rule is simple

10 - No more than 10 slides.
20 - No more than 20 minutes.
30 - Font size no smaller than 30 points.

The poor chap has sat though literally thousands of pitches, so he know what he's talking about.
Watch Guy Kawasaki's 2 minute video here - the investment will pay dividends and yes, when we present, we stick to his guidelines. There's also a great book on the subject, which you can get at amazon called Presentation Zen. You can buy it here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Authenticity in Golf Marketing. How some companies get it and the Golf Channel still doesn't!

To be authentic in golf communications is critical. Golf is a game full of intricacies and nuance and the use of it in advertising and marketing is no less important. You would think companies using golf in their marketing would get that, wouldn't you? Well, in many instances they don't and the agencies they use are also clueless.

You would think the Golf Channel would get it right? Wrong! I have blogged previously about their awful Golf Now ads and the recent spots have not improved. They still lack authenticity. The actor clearly isn't a golfer, his terminology, his movement around the golf course, his use of a cellphone to book a tee time while his opponent is putting - we understand, it's supposed to be satirical - it isn't and it undermines the campaign.

To see a company using golf authentically in an ad take a look at the wonderful Zyrtec ad. Allergy drugs are not an obvious choice to associate with golf (particularly with a mother and daughter) but here it is pulled off with aplomb. Not only can the actors play, they look comfortable around the game and the closing shot of them walking is a joy! Great job by McNeil-PPC.

When you see further examples of the good, the bad and the ugly in golf advertising please let us know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The LPGA - What's going on?

These are interesting times on the LPGA, to put it mildly! Blindsided by the Chinese as they lose an event, weak TV coverage of the outstanding Solheim Cup event and now the dabacle over Lexi Thompson.

The best news on the LPGA seems to be Lexi Thompson's stunning 5 stroke victory at the Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville, AL. And the result of the 16 year old's win would be what? - an exemption onto the struggling Tour that needs all the good news it can get? Oh no, way too easy. The Commish has said she is too young and the rules state players must be 18 years old to compete. Big news..she is already competing and it will surely only be a matter of time before Commisioner Whan throws the rule book out of the window and creates a special exemption for the most exciting player to come to women's golf in many years. No doubt a plethora of lawyers (What is the collective noun for lawyers?) are working on all the documents as we speak. The sooner this decision is announced the better. Thompson withdrawing from Q school would seem to suggest that she has already had the nod and the LPGA is waiting until after the Solheim Cup to make the announcement.

Mmmm, The Solheim Cup scheduled the same week as the Tour Championship. Interesting! I guess at least with the Irish venue the time difference will work in their favor, but it still has no network coverage, which is a great shame. I was at the first Solheim Cup at Lake Nona and at least another 3 of them since then and it's a great event and deserves more. You can see it on the Golf Channel surrounded by Big Break 33 and horrendous Golf Now ads.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

3 Golf Products That Should Be Outlawed

1. The Long Putter. There has been win after win this season and even Phil has now seen fit to jam the long putter into his belly. But that doesn't make it right does it. Once again the games overseers, the USGA and R & A have been out maneuvered and outpaced by the game's manufacturers. And they only had 20 years to make a ruling on this one! If anyone doesn't think that anchoring the putter to the body doesn't provide an advantage then they haven't tried it. Again, it doesn't make it right and it sure isn't pretty to watch. I was at a junior event recently and saw quite a number of young girls and boys with these 40 inch monster putters. One more instance of the purity of the game vanishing before our eyes or is just a fad...let's hope it's the latter.

2. Range finders. I know I have waged war on these before, but I'm very specific about when and where it is acceptable to use these and when it is not. Professional golfers or caddies really needing to know the yardage to the exact spot for a tournament - no problem, fire away. Amateur golfers with handicaps, playing on the weekend, with a busy tee sheet - problem, stop! These people can't hit the ball the distance that they expect 95% of the time and yet they still insist on knowing the exact number of yards to the pin. They slow up play and look like idiots having spent two minutes working out a yardage and then 2 seconds hitting it 123 yards when the distance was 176!

3. Metal Spikes. When softspikes first hit the market 20 years ago, they were a great idea with horrible execution. Players slipped silently onto their behind, but at least they didn't spike up the greens. Fast forward to 2011 and the various plastic cleat brands on the market (softspikes is the generic, but not the brand leader anymore) are great - they grip, you can wear them indoors and they don't spike up the greens or tees. Most clubs have banned metal spikes now, so it just needs the professional tours to finally join the party and the century and force its players to make the switch.

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. Email me with anything else you think should go into the old club barrel!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Is it over yet?...the PGA Championship falls to a 4.3 rating

That was hard work wasn't it. Sitting through that golf tournament so we could see the SAME Omega ad 50 times and the PGA President trot out the old story about how the game is growing? Er, no it's not!

It was a great win by Bradley Keegan or Keegan Bradley, but not enough to see another ratings decline for the final Major of the year. (I think if they stopped saying "Glory's Last Shot" that might pick them up a point or two!). Of course, El Tigre making an early exit didn't help, but combined with a truly dreadful golf course (read Phil's comments here) and an inept telecast by CBS the writing was on the wall.

The PGA of America has a choice of literally thousands of golf courses and they decide on a course that isn't even the best in Atlanta and then they let Rees Jones do his worst. What were these x-large jacketed gentlemen thinking? They sit at press conferences and talk about making the game fun and then proceed to play their one and only major on a golf course that would be literally unplayable for the average golfer.

Well, it's in the books now and once again the PGA has confirmed its position in last place in the majors list. Bradley does look like the real deal and let's hope to see more of him at the President's Cup - maybe in place of the golfer formally known as Tiger.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Annika - A One Word Brand

It's pretty cool to be instantly recognizable by one name, like Elvis, Elton, Bono,....and Annika.
Perhaps even cooler than that, is to be as universally liked, as Annika is. People often ask what we do at MacDuff and we tell them the stock answer, golf marketing, consulting, content development and distribution (we know - it's a mouthful!). Their follow up question is almost always - who for? So, we tell them our client list and the reaction from them when we mention Annika's name is always the same - wow, that's really cool! What's even more amazing is that our non golf friends (yes, we do have some!) have all heard of Annika. So, thanks Annika for being our friend and client! Her e-news created by our great staff here is out today (with invaluable assistance from Annika's husband, Mike) and you can read it here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Chubby Slam - 3 down, 1 to go

Andrew "Chubby" Chandler's charges continue their dominance of golf's 4 majors. Darren Clarke's magnificent victory at RSG was the 3rd major victory for Chubby's boys, after Schwartzel at The Masters and McIlroy at The U.S Open. The omnipresent Chandler can always be spotted at the back of the range as his players near their tee time. One can only imagine the consternation at the IMG Monday morning meeting following the majors this year as another victory is chalked up to the British golf impresario! Congratulations Chubby!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The 140th Open Championship at Sandwich

The best in the world are back to Royal St. George's (or Sandwich) near Pegwell Bay in the south of England for the Open Championship or "The British" as it is often called in the US. The list of winners above shows several stand outs, notably in the modern era, Norman's final round 64 in 1993. The pre-war winners include a couple of the greatest ever including Hagen, Vardon and Cotton - check out those final round winning scores of 80 and 79 - I guess the British weather moved in!
TV coverage on ESPN starts at 4:30 am on Thursday and for those who haven't seen Sandwich you will see (IMHO) one of the weakest courses of the Open rota. Yes, the finish is tough, but there are only a few memorable holes. One of them, the 4th, for example, featuring 2 massive bunkers, one of which is named "Big Bertha". Against the wind it's a big carry from the back tee!
Hagan said it best,
"The first 9 holes were tremendous fun but not very good golf and the second 9 were tremendous golf but no fun at all"
As for the winner, I favor one of the Europeans on form, Westwood, Donald, McIIroy. I also like the Aussies including Jason Day who I watched for 36 holes at Congressional and watch for Justin Rose - he's coming into form and can play links golf!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Very Cool Golf App in the iPad & iPhone Store

We are helping our Swedish friends at Golf Clinic with their terrific new Golf App for the iPhone and iPad. It features our professional golf client since 1991, 2 time Ryder Cup player, Per-Ulrik Johansson. The app covers all the angles of the short game and features great teaching videos, so you can use it on the range. A unique scoring system also help you track progress of the most important part of the game - from 100 yards and in. You can read more about it here in the press release. AND you can buy it in the App Store after searching for "Golf Clinic".

Monday, June 27, 2011

5 Things We Would Change About The Game (if we could!)

1. Everyone Walks. (The only exemption is medical)

Yes, we know it's not possible in the U.S for so many reasons, most of which revolve around cart fee revenue. But, just for a moment, imagine the peace and quiet, golfers walking, good caddies, no maniacs screeching tires to get to the ball in a hurry (and then taking 3 minutes to hit it - more of that later). One of the reasons carts were introduced was to speed up play. Once and for all let's clear this up - they don't. Golfers using carts take, on average, 15 minutes more to play than their walking counterparts.

2. Simplify The Rules.

The books on the Rules of Golf and the Decisions on The Rules of Golf get thicker every year. Many of these rules get in the way of what should be a very simple game. Tee it up (behind the markers please!), hit it, find it, hit it, hole it. Simple. Since Dustin Johnson's "incident' at the trash strewn "bunker" at Whistling Straits last year we have had weird rules decisions coming at us from every angle - Harrington's ball moving one dimple, Villegas moving a divot with the ball in motion. For most of us these rules play no part in our regular game and yet I would suggest that they do keep people away from the game.

3. Let The Kids Play.

At Country Clubs all over the country, children are treated appallingly. They have to tee off just before it gets dark, they can't do this, they can't do that. Clubs need to embrace children, teach them basic etiquette (as they do in Europe) and let them go at it, regardless of the time of the day.

4. Let The Real Decision Makers Play.

We all know who they are, right? Yes, women are still treated as second class citizens in the game in the U.S. You know one of the main reasons men are playing less? Because women decide what the family does on the weekend and more are opting for something other than golf. The golf business loves to talk about this issue, but a game managed at the highest levels by men continues to pay lip service to women. You know the mentality, just make things pink and they will be happy! If the game wants to see some growth, the "pink solution" better disappear and fast!

5. Play Quicker!

Why is the game taking so long nowadays? I grew up in England where the game takes a maximum of 3 1/2 hours. America has done a stellar job in turning a morning activity into a day long slog. There are many reason for this - here a few.

a) Golf courses are longer. 40 years ago, 6,500 yards was the norm - now it is 7,000+. And handicaps are just as high as they were in the 1960s.
b) Carts are slowing the game down (See 1 above)
c) The PGA Tour (in fact all of the professional tours) have allowed 4 1/2 hours to be the norm for 2 or 3 competent players playing a medal round.  I love golf, love it, but watching Tour golf is painful to watch on television or in person (as we did last week at the U S Open). These professional laggards are making  watching golf as exciting as a root canal. As a result of the Tour slow coaches, millions of amateurs now think its okay to stalk putts from 3 angles, plumb bob, and measure their yardage down to the nearest inch. Well, none of these are acceptable to amateurs! Get a move on. Play ready golf. Call it what you will but for God's sake "you're away!" 18 holes should never take more than 4 hours, never!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Observations from a Member Guest Tournament

I had a great time recently playing in a 3 day member guest event at one of the best private clubs in the metro DC area. It's the first time I have played serious golf in quite a while and suffice to say my game was not up to the challenge. That's okay - my scratch days are long gone!

While my game flagged it gave me time to observe some of the newer trends emerging with club golfers. Here are 3 alarming observations.

1. Who came up with the idea to put a ball marker on your hat? I grant you it is acceptable for Paula Creamer and her pink Swarovski crystal encrusted marker to adorn her CDW hat. But and it is a big but, guys fiddling around for their marker on a sweaty hat is just plain wrong. That's why the US Treasury came up with dimes. Get a few and put them in your pocket!

2. With the average handicap remaining at around 19 (as it has done for 30 years) why do the hackers insist on using all manner of GPS and electronic devices to help them get around a golf course? Do they really need to know it is 159 yards to the front edge and 168 yards to the hole? Even if they could hit a club 168 yards, they rarely do it on request. All they are doing is slowing down play and contributing to the 5 hour rounds that seem acceptable in America. Use your eyes you people, look around, enjoy the walk, smell the flowers. Don't we all spend enough time looking at electronic screens?

3. The antithesis of GPS is plumb bobbing. Old school, harking back to a gentler time in golf - the only problem was it didn't work then and it doesn't work now. We had a group of 4 guys playing in front of us who were all doing it, almost as if they had all been afflicted with the same disease! I'm not sure who they have seen on Tour doing this....but for goodness sake...STOP. Did Hogan plumb bob? Nicklaus? Woods? No, they didn't and nor should you. Especially if there is a 4 ball behind waiting to hit!

Okay, I feel better now!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Great Walk For A Great Cause - The Ben Cox 108.

As regular readers may know one of my favorite golf courses on the planet is Ballyneal in Holyoke, Colorado. On June 20th, Tom Doak's masterpiece is playing host to an amazing event. Golf fanatic and author, Jim Colton is going to walk a minimum of 108 holes to raise money to support the healthcare bills of Ben Cox, a caddy from Ballyneal. In March of this year, Cox was paralyzed from the chest down in a skiing accident and Colton has done an amazing job of rallying friends and associates to support Ben's cause. Just look here at the raffle prize list that has been compiled.

And how do you play 108 plus holes in a day? Well, I guess you get some great shoes (True Linkswear anyone?), keep hydrated, put plenty of sunscreen on and try not to hit it too often! Good luck Jim and congratulations on this amazing initiative. We wish Ben all the best and here's how you can contribute through Jim Colton to his medical bills.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Digital Anthology of The Shivas Irons Society launches today

We have had fun working with The Shivas Irons Society these last couple of months creating A Digital Anthology of the SIS Journal. This 25 page electronic version features extracts from the four printed issues of the Journal that include the great work of Geoff Shackelford, Al Barkow, Hilton Tudhope and the writer of Golf in the Kingdom, Michael Murphy. 

You can read A Digital Anthology here.

In print, each of the four issues of The Journal is a unique, collector-quality publication intended as a vehicle for all of the creative arts inspired by the game of golf, with contributions from outstanding 
writers, artists and photographers from around the world.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Titleist moves to Korea

Well, they're not actually moving operations from their Fairhaven, MA home. But their mind will certainly be heading to the Far East after the acquisition last week by Fila Korea and a private equity group, Mirae Asset. As Korea is one of few growth markets in the golf world, this is likely a smart move by the financial types who do these kind of deals. Although, I did baulk at the price when I read it - $1.225 billion. As I said before, a couple months back, with net earnings of $80 million anything north of $1 billion would be a great deal for the seller, Fortune Brands.

Wally Uihlein will remain at the helm and he had the quote of the week on the deal for those of his competitors in the US who remain inward looking -  "Companies that are US-centric will be roadkill on tomorrow's scorecard". There's no doubt he is correct - the US market continus to bump along the bottom and the days of the the $500 driver are gone, there was another net loss in participation in 2010, clubs, both private and public continue to struggle. Wally and Co have decided that if the growth isn't happening here in the US, they need to look farther afield and Korea, its 3 million golfers and prospects for 500 more golf courses is the place to be.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Big News at Tin Cup!

Here's a picture of the first ever blister packaged Tin Cup! Pretty cool huh! You will soon see a range of Tin Cups in some larger retailers like PGA Tour Superstore. We had fun matching Tin Cups with pen colors (ok, you had to be there!) On the back are the usage instructions and UPC code.

Monday, May 9, 2011


There are not many golfers in the world with one name. Arnie, Jack, Tom, Gary...and Seve. Severiano Ballesteros was in my mind the greatest European player to have played the game. Sure Faldo won more majors, Monty more money lists, but no one in Europe has ever won more golf tournaments and at the same time commanded the respect from players and fans alike.

So many words have been written in the last 48 hours about Seve and it's hard to add to them other than to give one personal recollection of someone who was fortunate enough to work with him on many occasions on the European Tour. In the mid 90s on the European Tour I worked for ProServ and one of our clients Canon was an Official Tour Sponsor. As part of our sponsorship we ran the Canon Shoot-Out Series for 6 years. The events led up to the Shoot-Out Series Final in Crans Sur Sierre at the, then Canon European Masters. Seve was always a supporter of the event series and played whenever he could, so much so that Canon ended up sponsoring him. He was always a great competitor and won the Final on a couple of occasions. We were always guaranteed a huge gallery if the great Spaniard was in attendance. The point of the Shoot-Out was to eliminate a player each hole - we started with 10 players for 9 holes, thereby giving us 2 players playing the last hole and finally one winner. If a hole was halved there was a "Shoot-Out" which was a chip or bunker shot or putt. The European Tour referee who accompanied these matches would have a pre-determined position for the shot. If Seve was in the 2 or 3 man Shoot-Out, without fail, he would confer with the referee and come up with a more difficult shot so the players could show their "stuff". Needless to say his shot selection was always tough, including his famous 3 iron greenside bunker shot. One another shot he would walk behind a tree and say "we play from here!". The referee duly obliged, after all it was Seve who was asking! I remember vividly, he never lost one of these Shoot-Out shots.

He was always a fierce competitor, even in those fun events and always a gracious host to our clients. A great man, he will be missed by all those who knew him and European golf lost its greatest this weekend.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Just what do all those golf acronyms stand for?

I get asked almost every week by someone...Who really runs the game of golf? Who makes the money?, who makes the rules and why are there so many governing bodies for one game. All good questions and this White Paper posted in google docs gives you most of these answers, along with a few snippy observations! You can read it here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April News Out Today

The MacDuff April e-news is out today. It has information about a great new book featuring the wonderful writing of Herbert Warren Wind on The Masters, an update on Annika's new baby and after extensive research my take on the best iPad 2 cover. You can read it here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Augusta doesn't get much more fun than this

One of my most fun days ever on a golf course and I wasn't even playing - caddying in the Par 3 Tournament.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Golf Industry Embraces Social Media...er, no they don't!

I was at the Golf Inc. Conference last week at the Innisbrook Resort. Since being taken over by Sheila Johnson and her Salamander Company the inside accommodations at the Tampa resort are dramatically better, though the outside of the buildings are as dreary as they ever were. (more on that in another blog)

The conference was a 2 1/2 day affair and many of the movers and shakers from the public and private management side of the business were present. There was also a smattering of superintendents and architects and some outliers, marketing folks like me! (oh and Charlie Rymer, who was as vocal as ever). One subject that came up again and again was social media - I must have heard the expression 50 times in a number of presentations.

Is the golf business about to adopt current communications tools and technologies that other industries have been using for a couple of years now? No, of course they aren't. But man, do they like to talk about it. Over the years we have heard about the game embracing women, juniors and now social media as the new silver bullet to cure golf's ills. There was nodding and shaking aplenty that FaceBook and twitter will enable struggling clubs (and there are plenty) to pull themselves out of the mire. Surely by simply signing on and pressing send will do the trick right?

Wrong...it won't. There are two main reasons why. One, the golf business loves to talk about embracing new ideas and then it gets back to the norm - focusing on club technology, traditional print advertising and then continuing to ignore the consumer and developing a relationship with them. And two, the key is not communicating more...the key is creating communications that connect.

We enjoy helping companies in and around golf make these connections using social media as well as more traditional marketing communications tools. And, we don't just talk about it - we make winning connections for companies with their customers and if that sounds interesting to you then please call us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Changes to Q School...why?

The Tour has come up with a half baked plan to change the way that the traditional season ending PGA Tour Qualifying School (Q School) hands out its cards. Instead of playing well at Q School and earning a Tour Card, those that play well there will now earn a Nationwide Card. What was that you said? They qualify for Q School play 6 rounds and don't get to play on Tour. (some have played as many as 8 rounds just to get to play the final 6!) That's right, possibly starting in the 2012 season, the Tour is essentially pulling up the trap door and saying from here on you need to start your golf career on the secondary circuit and make it to the Tour that way. I have represented players who have qualified and not qualified through the highs and lows of Q school, so have lived the experience with them and these guys are not going to be happy about this.
It's not done yet and all the convoluted qualifying events have yet to be agreed, but just the thought that the Tour is doing away with one of the best season ending events played out over 6 rounds is just plain crazy. Now I'm not saying it has to stay the same because it's been this way for 30 years, but there has to be a better way. Why not have less players keeping their Tour cards - go from 125 exempt to 50 or 75 and let the rest of them fight it out at the end of the year in some way. This new proposal will impact dramatically those looking to turn pro and curtail the better amateurs from staying in the amateur game, which is not a good thing.
We all know Nationwide is not renewing when their contract is up on the secondary tour and this is a desperate effort by the Tour to inject some life (and TV) into it for the new sponsor. The truth is few want to watch a secondary anything (Triple A baseball anyone?) and one of the consequences of this half baked idea will be to drive new talent to the European and Asian Tour where they can play in the major leagues. The management of those Tours must view the PGA Tour's possible closed shop policy with relish.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Titleist Update - And Then There Were Ten!

Last weekend was the deadline for all those interested in purchasing Acushnet. So, I hope you remembered to buy your iPad 2 and submit your bid for Titleist, Vokey and Scotty! With operating income a tad north of $80 million, the price on the company that turns over $1.24 billion (mostly from golf balls) is expected to bring a sale price of $700 million on the low end up to $1.2 billion on the high end. Following the first round of bidders, the field will be cut to 10...then the accountants will do there thing and a spreadsheet frenzy begins. The bidder could still come from private equity as well as the usual suspects, including Nike, TMaG, even Cleveland Golf. No doubt the lawn at Augusta will see some interested meetings as the final scramble for the April deadline approaches.

Friday, March 11, 2011

So they can actually move faster!

Following last weeks rant about the PGA Tour and the slow playing professionals it does seem, after all, that they can actually keep up the pace. Especially when it is in their best interest.
At yesterday's World Golf Championships - Cadillac Championship (by the way who came up with that ludicrous name? So it's the Championship within the Championships - ah, very clever!) Rory Sabbatini (actually one of the fast guys) helped out his slow poke partners by sprinting to the ninth tee so they could all finish their round. His playing partners were still in the eighth fairway when he did it and for some reason Zack Johnson seems to be claiming the credit even though he was a hole back. The agreement seems to have been whoever hit it closest on 8, would get the baton and start running. Good on yer Rory. They all finished, got a good nights sleep and lived happily ever after.
It begs the question, if they can do it to get a decent nights sleep and no early morning start, why can't they just get a move on each week!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Come on you guys- Get a move on!

Two and three ball matches on the 2011 PGA Tour are back at a snails pace. Even matchplay as seen in last weeks Accenture event was taking over 5 hours...for a 2 ball. Clearly, there were not too many crys of "good, good"! We understand there is a great deal of money at stake, but for goodness sake you guys...get a move on! As well as the players taking an age to hit a shot, it is inexcusable for the players not to know simple rulings that could easily be discussed and agreed between themselves. On a number of occasions players are calling the referee for ball in the water (really, they don't know the options!), line of sight (ok, a little more questionable, but easily resolvable amongst adults!), or even OB! (It's outta here buddy - hit another!)

The question is WHEN is the PGA Tour going to do something about it? The last time a player was fined or assessed a penalty on Tour for slow play was, would you believe, 19 years ago. That player was journeyman, Dillard Pruitt, who in a shocking case of the ironies is now a PGA Tour referee. Surely he wants to get that monkey off his back? But no, the Ponte Vedra Beach suits are content to let the players dawdle along as television viewers across the country switch off in droves.

We aren't asking them to run around, simply get a move on and do all the things that golf magazines tell us to do every month. Be ready to play, keep up with the group in front of you, assess the shot ahead of time and please, no plumb bobbing for a minute before you hit a putt. Yes, we are talking to you JB  - one, it doesn't work and two, you are slowing up the whole field!

The solution is simple and one that the LPGA has already adopted and used. After the allotted time, 45 seconds or 60 seconds for a shot, give them a warning. On the second occasion, slap a 2 shot penalty on their scorecard and start watching them get a move on! Fining them on their 10th bad time for the season the sum of $20,000, which is the current ruling is non-sensical and also hasn't been operational, so why is it there?

Let us know what you think....it sure is time the PGA Tour (and the other governing bodies!) did something positive. Golf is a slow moving game - it doesn't need to get any slower.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Golf Now ads on the Golf Channel

I don't know who the Golf Channel's ad agency is, but they have succeeded in created the most cringe worthy ads I have seen in the golf space in a very long time.  The truly awful "Golf Now" ads showing constantly on the Golf Channel are embarrassing and about as authentic as a $3 bill. The dialogue is trite and the golfers watching must be scratching their heads at the bizarre scenarios and scripts.
Golf Now is a discount tee time booking service part owned by the Golf Channel and the constant bombardment of these ads is intended to encourage viewers to use the website to access these cheap times - these ads may have completely the opposite effect and if I owned one of the courses in the program I would run for the hills! You can see the strapline above....Driven from the program more like it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Phil's Greatest Hits (minus the best one at the 13th at Augusta last year))

Great stuff here from Phil's 19 years on the PGA Tour.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

So Let's Dance!

Who else but JD could do this? His Al Czervik moment has finally come. If he starts dancing I may lose my lunch.  Awful, just awful!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bifurcation, a nasty case of the splits!

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Bifurcation" means the division of something into two branches or parts.

The mere mention of the "B"word in the golf business right now sends different vested groups into a frenzy. You're either for it or against it. Those who are for it think it will cure all ills in the golf business and send manufacturer sales, greens fees and all things golf related back into the black, after several dire years in the red. It will lead to GROWTH! (They are wrong by the way!). Those against it think that messing with the game will mean eternal damnation for all those who would even speak of, for example, changing the size of the hole from its existing 4 and 1/4 inches....presumably to something larger!

Last week at the golf show an organisation was launched called The Alternative Golf Association with an idea call "Flogton." It doesn't take an English major to work out that this rather clumsy word spells Not Golf backwards. Their vision, fronted by Scott McNealy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle) is to create a game that doesn't abide by the ancient rules of the R & A and in the US the USGA.  You can tee it up in the fairways, move your ball at will to a better lie, even play to a larger hole, use non-confirming clubs. Pretty much anything goes. McNealy is serious about his golf and plays off 3, so for him to front this organisation says a lot about his belief that something needs to be done. He also know a thing about building an organisation, as he started Sun with about $100 in his pocket and sold it for $7.4 billion.

There are many discussion points here, not the least of which include - Will this new fangled version of the game bring people to the game? Was it really the equipment that was holding people back or snooty country clubs, many of whom are now getting their comeuppance! Where do people play the new game? - are Supers going to cut 4 1/4 inch holes in the morning and 8 inch cups in the afternoon? Alot of questions and no answers but at least a healthy debate about what can be done to stem the loss of people from the great game of golf. We are increasingly having these discussions with our golf clients and look to 2011 to be the year of an ongoing debate from new groups within the game to make some positive changes to slow the rate of decline. Growth in the game this decade - that's a whole other story.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's The O Show...again

It's that time again, when the number of PGA Merchandise Shows you have been to is seen as some bizarre badge of honor. (this is my 20th show!) I have previously blogged about the Show and this year I'll tweet away @macduffgolf - I'll look at the good, bad and indifferent and let you know once my feet hit the floor.  I always like to blog the key questions not to ask at the show and I like to see how long it takes to achieve the set of 6 - normally about an hour!
Here they are again.
1. Are you having a good show? The answer is always, yes
2. When did you get here? The show starts on Thursday, so as always everyone gets into town on Wednesday!
3. When are you leaving? Always a strange one that one - didn't I just get here!
4. Where are you staying? Your chance for oneupmanship...just say The Peabody and move on.

....and new for 2011: perm any 2 of these:
5. When will Tiger regain his Number One spot in the much maligned World Rankings?
6. When will the R & A and USGA meet and finally change the 18th century rules that govern a 21st century game?
7. Just how many people will buy a white driver?
8. Who is buying Titleist?
As always it will be fun! Great to see old friends and see the innovations the industry has in store for us as we enter another golf season. And it's only 10 weeks 'til The Masters! 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Harrington DQ...this is getting silly

So, Padraig, he of the ever changing pre-shot routine, is the latest to be disqualified in the trial by television debacle that is invading golf. On the replay, it's clear the ball moves, but Harrington says he didn't see it which is plausible as he was above the ball and not at the angle shown by the camera. No player or official said anything at the time and he signed his scorecard and headed to the range to adjust his pre-shot routine for the 13th time that day. Then he was informed by Andy McFee, the referee, that some eagle eyed viewer had once again "called one in". So instead of having Harrington in the field he is hanging by the pool in 120 degrees waiting for the next flight to Bahrain. IMG and HSBC must be thrilled by that and once again the rules are robbing the 283 expats who paid to watch the event on site.

Ian Poulter, the master tweeter summed it up very nicely in 140 characters "Rules of Golf Book Rule 22-4 paragraph 3 line 7, "the rules of golf are complete bollocks and are stuck back in 1932". Couldn't agree more". Why not just adjust the card by adding the 2 stroke penalty and move on. Don't give me all that "he should know the rules" and "rules are rules' nonsense. The game of golf needs to adapt and not let HD TV and someone with clearly too much time on their hands dictate the outcome of an event. In professional golf the 2 shots are more than sufficient as a penalty. Getting the Governing Bodies of the game to agree - that's another matter!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Captain Snore Redux

There are no Ryder Cup captains and then, just like that, two come along at once. It seems the European Tour and the PGA of America will both announce their respective captains this week. The question is why? Why now?... and why in the same week?

The European Tour will announce that Jose Maria Olazabal, the well respected 2 time Masters Champion will be the Euro captain. JMO is a good man, great player and passionate about the game of golf.

The PGA of America have once again chosen the safe, charisma free route with Davis Love III. No question DL3 is a great player with a major on his resume. But inspiring, er, I don't think so. If it is the fire in their bellies, led by a real passionate, emotional leader, that makes the 1/2 point difference in the best team match in golf, then once again the USA is going into the 2012 match 1 down.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Titleist Update - The Vultures are Circling

In early December it was reported that conglomerate Fortune Brands (FO) was looking to split itself into 3 parts and unlock greater shareholder value. Word is now out that a couple of Wall Street titans, Bain and Blackstone are circling around the different businesses and a deal is on way. Sumitomo Rubber is also mentioned as an interested party for the Acushnet /Titleist/Scotty Cameron/Bob Vokey divisions of the business.
In addition, FO has hired Morgan Stanley to auction the golf business with a price tag of $1.5B, which seems excessive to me based on the annual sales of $1.0B. All will become clear shortly and with the huge amounts of cash that have been sitting on the sidelines for a couple years, someone is about to place a very large bet on the game of golf.

Friday, January 7, 2011

And here's the video - You be the judge

Camilo DQ'd...really

Here we go again. An inane rule rears its ugly head and Camilo is on the way home - well he's moving Hawaiian Islands!
The day after signing for his 72, it seems some rules geek watching on TV called in a moving violation. Camilo swatted away half a divot (which his ball wasn't going to hit) and that is a violation of Rule 23-1, which states that, “When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed.” I was watching live and he did nothing wrong - nothing. Are we now saying you can't put a divot or touch anything until the ball comes to rest - great, that will add yet more time to the slowest game in America.
What a joke. He signed for his card and all was fine, than the next day when he is disqualified. Who wins here - no one, that's who. Once again the 18th century rules look foolish, the Tour should just say, sorry too late, the Golf Channel loses one of its most favorite sons and golf continues to try and play in the big time sports league by making these bizarre, viewer led rulings.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

And they are off...the start of the 2011 Tour season

Though with a field like this the ratings will be horrendous. A shame really because the folks in Hawaii have done a great job pulling off this event with a new sponsor, Hyundai. Unfortunately the sponsor and the field make it seem more Nationwide, than PGA Tour. Still, I for one will be happy to have golf back on TV! Another interesting season is ahead of us, although it will be a few weeks before the marquee players ride into town - most likely at Torrey Pines at the end of the month.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 - A year of second shots

2010 is behind us and we are looking forward to a great year of golf in 2011. Meanwhile, it struck us that there were a few really significant second shots in 2010. Here's our top 4.

1. Phil in round 4 at the Masters at Augusta National – 6 iron off the pine straw to 3 feet at the 13th…. Crazy good, well just plain crazy!
2. Dustin in round 4 at the USPGA at Whistling Straits – 4 iron off the trash (sorry, bunker) to the green at the 18th…Oops, that was a bunker…. Really, a bunker full of people and garbage.
3. Hunter on final day of the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor – chilly dip wedge short of the green at the 17th…. Ouch, but it was really all over prior to that with GMac making the putt on 16 to go dormie two up.
4. Tiger in round 4 of the Chevron at Sherwood – 8 iron to 2 feet in the heat of battle for the first time all year… No he didn’t win and you’ll wonder why I include this shot amongst majors and Ryder Cups. Well after the thousands of hours devoted to Tiger in 2010 for me it came down to this shot – could he hit an 8 iron stiff and close out the event. The answer was yes he could, he just got outputted by GMac who ended his stellar year in style. I think 2011 will be a different story.