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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.