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Monday, December 31, 2012

Three Big Golf Stories in 2012

It's the final day of 2012 and the perfect time to take a look back at some of the pivotal moments of the year. It's been a great year, particularly in the professional game, though the continuing decline in participation in the amateur game continues to be a cause for concern. And for all the talk of The First Tee and its $100 million spend, there is precious little to show for it.

1. The Rules of the Game. The governing bodies, The R&A and the USGA introduced the belly putter rule - well they talked about introducing it - the actual change comes in 3 years and just like the groove change a couple years ago, this will ultimately have little to no impact on the game. They continue to ignore the golf ball and the manufacturers have the upper hand as each year the golf ball travels farther and makes the great golf courses of the world relics from the past.

2. The Men's Pro Game. Continues to go from strength to strength. The best events of the year were once again non PGA Tour events, which must drive them crazy! European dominance of the 2 big Tours with Rors taking both money titles was a site to behold and McIlroy really stepped it up again this year. I think Tiger will add to his majors tally in 2013 and Rose will win his first.

3. Shots of the year. There were many contenders and here are my top 3:

First - Bubba's second shot in the playoff at The Masters. He was a long way into those right trees on #10 and somehow hooked the ball 50 yards with a wedge onto the green and set up an easy 2 putt par to win. Truly an amazing shot.

Second - Not one shot, but a series by Ian Poulter on Day 2 of the Ryder Cup that led to 5 birdies on the bounce to give Europe a glimmer of hope going into the singles on Sunday. The grit he showed was remarkable and alongside the memory of Seve as motivation, the Europeans once again proved that they relish Ryder Cup victory more than the Americans.

Third - It's still fun to see Louis Oosthuizen a couple hundred yards out from the 2nd green at Augusta National standing over his 4 iron. The ball seems to take forever to make it to the hole as it sweeps over the crest in the middle of the green. We all know where it is going, but it's great to watch again and again!

Happy New Year to you all and thanks for reading. 2013 should be a great year at the majors - the roster of Augusta National, Merion, Muirfield and Oak Hill will create drama around classic golf courses. Cheers to that!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Perfect Last Minute Christmas Golf Gifts

Several of our golf clients have products and services that would make ideal holiday gifts for the golfer in your life. Here they are at different price points and just in time for Christmas!
Club Champion
I was recently at one of Club Champion's Chicago locations and an extensive iron fitting proved one thing - I'm getting older and needs slightly more forgiving shafts. CC have a great deal running through February 28th, 2013 with 30% off individual fitting prices and a whopping 70% reduction for three of more golfers if purchased at the same time. Read More Here.
Joshua C.F. Smith Golf Landscapes
Josh produces incredible golf landscape paintings. One of his most recent paintings is of Cabot Links, the critically acclaimed course that opened this year. The Cabot clubhouse features this painting in the clubhouse. Josh's giclees on canvas regularly retail for $750 and through Christmas he is offering these for $650. Have a look at his website and if you see something you like contact me here.
Lee Wybranski Art & Design
Lee's new shop on his website now features more of his work than ever before. Lee is known for his iconic U.S Open posters, but have a look through and you will see there are many strings to his artistic bow. In 2012, he
added a contemporary piece of the 7th and 11th greens at The Old Course - it's really cool. Read More Here.

Mackenzie Walker Golf Bag Company

Todd Rohrer's company produces the best golf bags in the world. Period. I can personally attest to that and his new line featuring waxed cotton is already flying off the shelves. It will be the best investment in a golf bag you will ever make and likely be the last one you will ever need to buy - that's why I just bought another one! Read More Here.
Tin Cup
Tin Cup has had an incredible year of growth and is now in over 1,000 stores nationwide. They have a great deal for the holidays - Free shipping is included for all orders over $39 and they are a host of cool packages available including the perfect gift for all your buddies in the Foursome Package. Read More Here.
Zen Golf
Dr. Joe Parent is offering his "Listen, Watch and Learn Package" for $49.95 (a saving of $30). This great deal gives you lifetime access to his audio books and videos. Dr. Joe's Zen Golf book continues to be one of the best selling books in golf - and we hear a new book is coming in the spring. Read More Here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cobra's Baffling New Campaign

You should know I like Cobra. I worked with Tom Crow (the original owner) and various players on the European Tour many years ago. I also like John O' Hurley, though I don't know him. He seems like a good chap and as a huge Seinfeld fan his portrayal of Mr. Peterman in the iconic show was always a highlight.
But, put them together in the name of golf and what have you got...an almighty mess. Who ever thought this would help sell golf clubs in this economy? It's called "Mankind's Greatest Achievements" but doesn't really mention any of note. The 4 minute video, which I am sure Cobra hopes will go viral contains unnecessary seaside postcard humor and a bizarre script that defies belief. The Baffler was a great innovation and Cobra sold them by the truckload, because they worked. This "ad" doesn't! This will be 4 minutes of your life you will never get back and at the end I guarantee your jaw will be on the floor! See Mr. Peterman do his best here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pinehurst - the new and improved No. 2

I have been busy writing on my other blog - The Golf Purist. You can read my review of the new and improved No. 2 and also the wonderful Pine Crest Inn here. Another macduff consulting blog shortly... - really!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Digital Delivery Update

It turns out that this topic proved way more controversial than was intended! I was just commenting on the efficiencies (or not) of print delivery and how in 2012 there is a better way. I have heard from many people on both sides of the fence and a healthy debate is alway a good thing!
Well, guess what arrived this morning - my copy of Golfweek dated August 10th with Keegan Bradley's win at the Bridgestone - admit it, you can't even remember that event! Enough said!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Digital Delivery in Golf

My copy of GolfWeek magazine arrived today and I read that Rory McIlroy won The PGA Championship! Yes, that's right, 2 weeks after his wonderful victory the old style printed confirmation came through my mail box. Don't get me wrong, the writing in the magazine is solid and I admit it feels good to read something printed with ink on actual paper...but 2 weeks! Either they need to find a better distribution agent or go 100% digital.
When golf industry veteran Jim Nugent started his digital publication, Global Golf Post (GGP), a few years ago he had his doubters. I was not one of them and the well written comprehensive digital magazine lands in my inbox punctually on a Monday morning and to my mind is really hitting its stride now. The worldwide professional and amateur coverage is first class. Did I mention that is also free! I would happily pay for it and I have no knowledge of how the ad supported model is working in their business plan.
The old printed paper weekly model is at death's door and knocking, whether the older golf audience like it or not. It's called the future.
BTW - I have no affiliation with GGP. I just like it when things work and deliver on the premise. If you haven't signed up for GGP yet, you can do so here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's Official - Sunday's Red Shirt Has a New Owner (and the CBS coverage was once again awful!)

Maybe the time has finally come for Tiger to choose a new wardrobe for his Sunday play at the Majors. With Rory's conscious decision to wear a red shirt on Sunday he was trying to make a point. And he did so emphatically with a magnificent 8 shot victory. Two Majors for a 23 year old is an amazing accomplishment.

Not that too many people saw it, as the numbers were once again down with the dreadful CBS coverage. Sure the Olympics distracted many potential viewers, but it was really the wicked combo of the PGA of America and CBS and their awful production that dropped the ball. Ads and Fall show previews every few minutes, lack of full leader boards and too much Tiger (even though he was out of the event). The PGA continues to believe they have the strongest field in golf, which is just plain wrong. With twenty club professionals (all missing the cut) are we supposed to believe those guys are better than Tour pros ranked in the low 100s in the Official World Golf Rankings - I don't think so. Until the television coverage and field improves, the PGA will continue to be ranked a distant fourth in the Majors ranking list.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

3 Golf Success Stories in a Tough Economy - and they are all Made in America.

The golf business is going through some tough times right now. Rounds played are down, participation is down, private golf courses are going public, golf led real estate developments are being mothballed. okay, okay, we get it - enough bad news - tell us some good news! Well, here are 3 terrific golf products that have come to the market in the last couple of years that are making inroads across the board, both with new players and avid players looking for innovation in our great game.

Kentwool Socks
How do you reinvent socks? Good question and one I don't actually know the answer too. But I do know these guys are making awesome golf socks in South Carolina. And they seem to be on a roll.
If there is one thing you need when playing golf, it's comfortable feet. Yes, of course shoes are important, but don't underestimate your socks. Why on earth would you buy an expensive pair of shoes and then neglect what comes into contact with the shoes, namely your feet! I recently discovered Kentwool socks and they are unbelievable. They transform the feeling of walking and the natural fibers and wicking material used keep your feet confortable and dry. Matt Kuchar and Bubba endorse the product, (which is nice) but take my word for it and try Kentwools.
Read More Here

Stitch Golf
A couple of golf industry veterans (though they won't thank me for that!) have re-created classic golf headcovers. Available in wool and leather these beautifully produced covers will last a lifetime and with simple, clean designs you will find a set to match your golf bag with no problem. Once again, these are Made in America (spot the trend) and available on line as well as in pro shops and off course retailers. I was just in Manhattan and saw them in New York Golf Center on West 35th Street.
Read More Here

Tin Cup
Tin Cup has been a big success since its introduction in 2010 and like many ideas it is simple and solves a unique challenge golfers have - i.e how do they effectively mark their ball as suggested in the rules of golf. It solves the problem with pizazz and allows customization of a golf ball in unique and easy way. Just put the stainless steel stencil on the ball and using a fine point sharpie, fill in the gaps! Above is the Union Jack version and there are over 100 including colleges.
Full disclosure - Tin Cup is one of our clients and we have been fortunate to help with the growth over the last couple of years. Tin Cup is now in over 1,000 leading golf retailers.
Read More Here

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Olympics and Golf

As many of you will know, Golf makes a reappearance in the Olympic Games in 2016. The course, yet to be built, is being designed by a wonderful architect, Gil Hanse and I'm sure his design will be fitting for an event of this magnitude. Challenges are plentiful as the land ownership of the golf course property seems still to be in dispute and getting a golf course built in Brazil will be more of a challenge than in some countries, what with permitting, machinery, staff and more. That said, it should get done and with a 4 year time frame (right now) there is plenty of time. The format is yet to be confirmed and one can only hope the governing bodies try and do something other than a 72 hole, 4 day format - but I doubt it!

As I said it is a reappearance, because golf was played in the Olympics in 1900 and 1904 when the Olympics was a different beast all together. The 1900 Games was held in Paris and the 1904 Games was held in the US in St. Louis. Originally, the US Games was awarded to Chicago, but the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis would not accept another international event in the time frame. The exposition organization began to plan its own sports activities, informing the Chicago organizing committee that its own international sports events intended to eclipse the Games, unless they were moved to St. Louis. The founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, caved and awarded the games to St. Louis. What an amazing story and proof positive that Olympic politics was alive and well, even a hundred years ago!

Glen Echo Country Club (still in existence today) was the venue and 77 golfers from 2 countries (USA and Canada) competed for the medals. The individual winner was George Lyon from Canada who defeated Chandler Egan in a matchplay final, following a 36 hole qualifier.  There was also a team competition that awarded gold, silver and bronze. The winners of all 3 of those medals was the USA! That's right, the only teams competing were American and the winners of the gold medal were 10 guys from The Western Golf Association. Great stuff!

Seeing how the 2016 golf format plays out will be fascinating and we will follow the design and construction with great interest. Once the London Olympics are over on August 12, the golf debate will no doubt begin in earnest. In the meanwhile, Enjoy London!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Appearance Fees in Professional Golf...and Brad Pitt

Many people are getting in a flap about tournaments paying appearance fees to high profile players. The conversation began in earnest again last week with Tiger and Phil both playing (briefly!) in Jim Justice's Greenbrier Classic. Shock, horror, Mr. Justice paid them both to come and play and, as we all know, there is no appearance money paid on the PGA Tour. Every commissioner since the Tour officially began in 1975 has confirmed that this deplorable act never happened on the hallowed turf of PGA Tour events. Really, is that right? So Sam Snead, in 1945, just happened to be in Gulfport the same week as the tournament, opening a car dealership: Luke Donald, wearing an RBC patch plays in each of their events just because he is an RBC ambassador...what a coincidence!

The facts are, using a cinematic reference, if you want Brad Pitt in your movie what do you do? That's right you speak to his agent, send him the script and contractually pay him a large amount of money in the hope that you will get a return on your investment. Professional sports, including golf have been no different since athletes turned professional. If you want the best you pay for the best. In a past life, I used to run the commercial operations for Tour events in Europe and the PGA Tour and I have personal experience of these situations - it's in the budget.

So, all Mr. Justice was doing was the same as every Tournament Director would do (if they had access to similar funds), by paying players who have "draw" and sell tickets, hospitality and 30 second TV units. It's just business - happens on every tour in the world - always has done, always will do. So spare me the "golf is above paying appearance fees" rhetoric and take what you hear from Ponte Vedra with a grain of salt. The Brooks Brothers shirts there know what goes on and have been beneficiaries of this free market for decades.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Golf and Customer Service - De Vere - Oh Dear!

Having just returned from an extended trip to the UK, it gave me the opportunity to see how golf service levels were on the other side of the Pond. You can read about the majority of the trip at Golf Purist here. There was one more round to play with my Dad, brother and nephew before heading home to D.C. and that was at a typical semi private club in the middle of the country. The club, Belton Woods is near Grantham, Lincolnshire and is owned and operated by De Vere Hotels. The round reminded me of the great Seinfeld episode with the rental car - remember the one where Jerry says "You can take the reservation, but you can't hold the reservation". We teed off as planned at 0720 on the Lakes Course and all was proceeding well until our game was rudely interrupted by an officious guy saying "You shouldn't be on this course - your reservation was on the other course". We told him when and on which course the reservation was made and he said and I quote "That's impossible, the tee was blocked off for a competition from 0700". Really, so the 2 groups in front of us were also making it up were they?  I would note we were in position and keeping well in front of the group behind us. So Mr. Obnoxious drove off, clearly not happy. Amazingly, he returned 2 holes later to continue to harang us with the same story and this time was even more vociferous in his defence of the computer booking system (which couldn't possibly be wrong!).
Anyway, thanks De Vere and your rude, inefficient (and incorrect) staff for ruining our golf game. If this is your way of dealing with paying customers, it's little wonder rounds are down! Suggestion of the day - Get a copy of Six Sigma and pass it around!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Slow Play - The curse of the game and 5 culprits

Our 8-man buddy trip is coming up next month to London and Scotland. Finally, I have convinced the boys that London has such great golf that we would be crazy once again to suffer the agonies of Heathrow without the ecstasy of golf in the wonderful heath land to the west and south of the capital of the old country. The classic heather strewn courses are too numerous to mention and we have several of these on our plan - St. Georges Hill, Walton Heath Old, Sunningdale Old. It should be a treat. Then it's off to Scotland for The Old Course, Muirfield, and North Berwick (pictured above).
That all sounds great, but what's the point of this blog, other than to name drop? Well, the point is this, on several days we are playing 36 holes and although the tee times are not set in stone at most British clubs we will have no problem playing 36 holes on these world class courses. Sadly the same cannot be said for many of courses I have encountered in the US where 4 1/2 to 5 hours has become the norm. The reasons are numerous so let's take a look at a few and ponder why the US golfer has slowed to a crawl and yet British golfers simply hit the ball and when it stops, hit it again! Here are 5 of the main culprits.

1. Carts. A dreadful invention and used by able-bodied people who should know better. Golf is a game for walking, not driving. If you have a medical reason, no problem, but kids and anyone who can walk should walk. I see more carts moving sideways or backwards here than I see moving forward! Players driving over to see their opponents ball, or if "cart paths only" are in operation taking one club out to their ball only to return 2 minutes later for another!

2. Electronic devices. Regular readers will know I would like to blow these all up or have a large receptacle by the first tee for them. It would be just like going through the airport and the golf equivalent of the TSA would ask you to dispose of your electronic yardage device - you know it doesn't help anyway and they just add time to the round. "Jerry, you have 167 yards and not 169 yards" (as we thought by looking in a yardage book) - oh, let me take that couple of yards off my 6 iron swing! I don't think so and you took 2 minutes to make your mind up and hit it 130 yards!

3. Watching golf on television. The Brits watch golf too, but for some reason the excruciatingly slow play on the professional tours seems to have had a more negative effect on US amateur golfers than their foreign counterparts. The question is when will the tours actually try and speed up the game and stop pretending that 5 hours is acceptable. Go on, fine someone a shot and see what that does - money won't get it done, but shots will. The American Junior Golf Association has been proactive by introducing a "Pace of Play Program" for their young, aspiring College players - the tours should take a leaf out of the AJGA's book and follow suit, so guys like Webb Simpson, Jonathan Byrd and Ben Crane get a move on!

4. Drinks carts. Don't have 'em in the UK and the only reason they exist in the US is to generate revenue. A noble idea for sure, but just one more thing that holds up play. A bunch of old dudes chatting up the 19-year-old cart girl is no reason to add 15 minutes to the round. Fellas, she is not interested!

5. Keeping score. Stop it now! This is supposed to be fun! If it's inside the leather pick it up and move on. In the UK, 99% of golf is matchplay and it's the major reason that golf keeps moving. I don't need to be waiting 230 yards away watching you putting out for a 7... I'll give you a 6 if you pick it up and get out of the way! Think Chevy Chase in Caddyshack and measure your performance by height!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bubba - The Natural

Bubba Watson's victory at the Masters was a win for the old school. His self taught, natural way to play golf is refreshing in the world of overwrought swing coaches. He gets up and hits it, then he finds it and hits it again! And as he proved with his shot of the tournament wedge on the second playoff hole, it doesn't really matter to him if it is deep in the trees. (Yes, of course Louis' albatross on the second hole of regular play was majestic, but it was early in the round and the tournament wasn't yet on the line). We were happy to include him a week ago in our picks to win and he did manage to stay with it for 72 holes - actually 74 holes as it turned out. (we were wrong about a European victory, but you can't win them all!) So congratulations to Bubba and his pure talent and natural swing - let's hope it encourages some young people to explore the game with their unique swings and not have it coached out of them.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Phil, Masters Champ and Masters Fan

The opportunity to see "The Big 3" tee off was just too great to miss and along with thousands of other golf fans, 3 time Masters Champion, Phil Mickelson was there. Not only did he get to experience The King, The Golden Bear and The Black Knight hit their tee shots, but once again Phil proved that he is the people's champ...and the Master when it comes to PR. No other green coated players showed up and it was fully 6 hours before Phil teed it up, so he really made the effort and it didn't go unnoticed by the patrons or the members. Good on you Phil!

Friday, March 30, 2012

T minus 6 days to The Masters and a European victory

The anticipation is probably greater this year than for any Masters Tournament in a decade. The leading lights are all playing well and this year's PGA Tour has had many great finishes by a very strong contingent all looking to make their mark.

The resurgent Woods is the Vegas and British bookies favorite, followed closely by Phil, Rory, Lee, Luke and Justin. It's hard to see past that posse of first names, although we'll try. How about Charl to defend?,  Bubba to focus for all 72 holes?, Webb to hit a shot within the allotted 2 minutes?.  That said we still like the European players to challenge and ultimately prevail. The last European winner was Jose-Maria Olazabal in 1999 and it's time for another to step up and Charl to hand over the jacket.

On the golf course front, it will be in its usual perfect condition and you can expect to hear about the changes to the front of the 8th green and back of the 16th green. It's tough to tell from the picture above, but the back right quadrant of the 16th seems to have been flattened out giving enough room for a pin back there. I'm not saying its easy! - this remains one of the easiest 3 putts out there - I can testify to that!

Monday, March 19, 2012

European Tour players win again on the PGA Tour and Tim isn't happy!

You know Mr. Finchem isn't happy! For the first time ever, another interloper from Europe won on the insular PGA Tour, making it 3 wins in a row. This time it was Luke Donald winning in a 4-man play off at The Transitions. Last week it was Justin Rose's great win at the dreadfully named World Golf Championship - Cadillac Championship (one "Championship" in the title is sufficient!) and the week before that the media's new one word darling, Rory, at the new and improved Honda.
I have dug around on the PGA Tour website and can't find another instance of 3 of Mr. O' Grady's men winning 3 in a row, so this is great news for the European Tour and confirms my belief that The Masters Tournament trophy is once again heading west to Europe. Six of the top 8 in the Official World Golf Rankings are from the European Tour, including defending champ, Charl Schwartzel (who is also on top form). Only Webb Simpson and Steve Stricker represent the US in the elite 10. The countdown is on for Augusta, with CBS and the Golf Channel upping the promos to extraordinary levels - only 2 weeks to go before we once again get to see the green, green grass of GA.

Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 - A Mixed Bag of Majors Venues

As always, the season starts in April at Augusta National and The Masters Tournament. The golf course is completely different from that laid out my Messrs Jones and MacKenzie back in the 30’s, but it is still captivating both in person and on television. I was very fortunate to spend an overnight there recently and the golf course was in its usual perfect condition. I spotted a couple of minor changes including “softened” 7th and 16th greens. Both will have more accessible pin positions - that treacherous 16th hole top right pin looks like it will be a tad easier for the pros – I still three putted, so what do I know!

Onto the U.S. Open in June and Olympic Club. Now I haven’t played the golf course, but having seen it and played the other great courses in San Francisco – it may be the third best golf course in the city – after The Cal Club and San Francisco Golf Club. The Lakes Course, designed by Sam Whiting and (redesigned by RTJ Sr.) has a history of unexpected winners.  From Jack Fleck in 1955 , Billy Casper in 1966, Scott Simpson in 1987 through to Payne Stewart’s loss to Lee Janzen in 1998 the golf course does strange things to those leading at the end of round 3.  That said, they do have one of the great logos in golf! (see above)

Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club was founded in 1886 and the actual Open venue constructed in 1897. It has hosted ten Open Championships, two Ryder Cups and several other major tournaments. It happens to be one of my least favorite Open venues despite all of the drama that has happened there over the years. The stories are legendary - from Bobby Jones having to pay to enter the event after leaving his player badge behind and not being recognized at the gate, Seve’s magic around the greens and the car park in 1979 and 1988 with Woosie having one driver too many in 2001. All great stuff, but it’s not a golf course to love – the houses around the golf course are intrusive and Colt’s improvements and the subsequent R & A tweaking have done nothing to endear the golf course to the hearts of most players.

And finally on to the magnificent Ocean Course at Kiawah for the final major of the year. (PGA of America – please stop with “Glory’s Last Shot”). I first played Kiawah after the 1991 Ryder Cup and it was hands down the hardest golf course in America – we played off the secret tees making the golf course over 8,000 aided by 210cc metal woods and I may not have broken 90! In 1997 I was the Commercial Director at The World Cup, won by the Irish team of Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley and the course was considerably easier than at the Ryder Cup. Since that time the magnificent Sanctuary has been built, the 18th improved by moving it closer to the ocean and the rest of the golf course made more playable for the average resort guest. Don’t get me wrong, when the wind blows at The Ocean, it is as good as it gets and a whole lot of fun to boot!  It will be a fitting golf course to end to the Majors season. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Thoughts from "The Show"

I have just returned from Orlando, where the weather was predictable, the food at International Drive restaurants better than ever (no, really) and the food inside the cavernous hall impossibly bad and expensive. And quite why Reed Exhibitions and the Convention Center still seem incapable of providing more than 16 chairs for the 42,000 visitors to sit down is still a mystery. Okay, enough of the rant - It was a great show!

There was a real buzz around the hall this year and that augers well for the forthcoming golf season. There were really 2 shows this year. Nine hundred and ninety nine exhibitors were in the aircraft hanger know as Orange County Convention Center and TaylorMade Adidas Golf were in a "booth" that was big enough to have its own zip code. Once inside the TMaG extravaganza, having been scanned (actually Compuserv did a first class job of misprinting 90% of the badges, so I doubt anyone was scanned correctly!) visitors were treated to a veritable feast of fun golf activities and shopping opportunities. Mark King, the CEO of TMaG was clearly making a statement about the company's intentions for the year and he is continuing to build off the stellar year of the white R11 driver. Although I don't like the Rocketballz name (I do like RBZ) the 3 wood, hybrid and driver are great looking and at a $100-$150 cheaper price point than the R11 they are going to shift container loads of them.

On the cool products side I saw a hosts of good things including the TRUE Linkswear shoes, Callaway copper finish wedges, G-Fore golf gloves, Smathers and Branson belts and hatsSeamus Golf headcovers and new designs of Tin Cups.

Of course I also saw the usual array of products worthy of a spot on "the ridiculist"- a piece of cloth you stick on your head to stop sweat getting onto your golf cap, a golf tee that you stick in the ground and then unscrew to the correct height, a rubber mat with a logo that you jump up and down on to make a logo in the bunker. It will be surprising if any of these will be at the 2013 show and yet one has to admire the spirit and passion with which these inventors enter the golf business.

Let's hope the buzz at this years show continues through the sell in to the trade and to the season's real opener in April!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The PGA Merchandise Show - 3 Trends for 2012

Here we go again, another PGA Merchandise Show or simply "The Show" as it is called in the business. As product launch cycles have been completely turned on their heads by TaylorMade, we already know what to expect to see at the show, which is a shame. However, that's the commercial reality we live in and with the advent of social media and sites like GolfWRX and Golfspy posting pro range pictures (all supported and even paid for by the major manufacturers) there is very little at the show that we haven't seen. Hopefully some of the lesser known manufacturers with smaller budgets will give us a few cool surprises. I'll keep my iPhone close at hand and will post the best I can find.
Here's what we expect to see at the show and three trends we expect going into the season.

1. Long Putters. We are not a fan of the long and belly putters and the R&A and USGA have dropped the ball once again on equipment and the pros are taking advantage and so can you. In February all the major manufacturers will roll out the new long shafted versions of the old standbys - Mr. Solheim must be spinning in his grave at the prospect of a long shafted Anser!

2. Color in the golf bag. TMaG's hugely successful White driver, the R11 now has an "S" stuck on the end, but really the only change is it is 20cc bigger. It will continue to dominate the pro ranks and I'm sure many amateurs will also trade up this year, now that the gimmick factor has dissippated. Look also for colored grips from mainstream manufacturers like Lamkin and the continuing pimping of golf clubs, started by Scotty Cameron. This will continue across the brands and already Cleveland has stepped in with their Never Compromise putter line and also are extending this into their wedge program. I have green initials on my Callaway wedges, so I am all for a little pimp!

3. Long 3 woods. The unfortunately named TMaG Rocketballz (read my earlier blog here) got the ball rolling claiming extra yardage and Callaway followed suit with their 3 wood. It's not too hard to get more distance if you change the launch angle by making a 3 wood 13 degrees instead of 15 degrees - it's practically a driver! The TMaG groove (obviously not patented by Adams when they brought it out a couple years ago) is cool looking and  I look forward to hitting it, but I suspect these are going to be easier to hit for the long ball pros than your average amateur - less loft for amateurs is not generally a good thing as many struggle to get the ball in the air. Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What NOT to ask at The PGA Merchandise Show - Redux!

The PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando is just around the corner and we are in final planning for clients and meeting schedules. Last year I wrote about "What not to ask at the show" and it's worth revisiting with a couple of updates. Some have remained the same - No's 1-4 - please, please avoid asking these!,  No. 5 is still in play, No. 6 - there have been some improvements, notably the "moving ball at address" rule, No. 7, the answer was millions and this year people will be buying a white 3 wood and No. 8  - substitute the name Titleist with Adams.

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.
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?

See you there! Bring comfortable shoes!