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Monday, November 25, 2013

Our 3rd Annual Christmas Gift Guide

Are you looking for a cool and truly authentic golf gift? Then you have come to the right place. Yes, they are all clients and I make no excuses for promoting their terrific American made products. Hey, it's my blog! There are in alphabetical order, so here we go.

Josh Smith Golf Landscapes
Josh's day job is as a golf course superintendent at the wonderful California Club in San Francisco. By night he turns into golf landscape painter extraordinaire! Josh's much acclaimed work hangs in many Top 100 clubs and also in the offices of many of the great architects in the game today. His work includes the Bandon courses, Ballyneal, Pebble and many more. As well as private commissions, Josh has a series of limited edition giclees on canvas available of many of his paintings. They are $825 and this includes hand finishing by Josh, hand stretching onto stretcher bars, so they are ready for framing and also fedex. These limited editions of only 30 pieces are stunning! Take a look at his site here and if you like what you see email me and I can take your order! 

Lee Wybranski
It's been quite a year for Lee as he worked on all four major championships, including creating the official posters for the U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship. (At The Masters he painted a series of limited edition pen and ink drawings). There are a couple of great offerings in particular I wanted to bring to your attention. The first of these is a limited edition print of the U.S. Open poster personally signed by the champion, Justin Rose. A significant percentage of the proceeds benefits The Kate & Justin Rose Foundation, a charity created to "inspire children from the inside out: through nutrition, education and experiences." You can read more about the charity here. The 100 pieces in the limited edition are priced at $281 - the same number as Justin's winning score at Merion. You can reserve one of these unique pieces by emailing me here.
The other cool gift is the "Summer Slam" collection of 3 majors posters of Merion, Muirfield and Oak Hill. Available at a special package price and all signed by Lee, why not buy one for yourself and give the others as gifts. You can buy the collection here.

MacKenzie Walker Golf Bags
Todd Rohrer and his intrepid band of Portland craftsmen make the best leather golf bags in the world...bar none. Handmade from the finest leather and customized with initials, logos and more (including secret pockets) these golf bags make a statement. For me, they say I love golf, I want to walk and I am serious about the history and tradition of the game. MacKenzie has no need for useless double straps and ten pockets - these bags have what you need, where you want it. They are available in many colors and finishes and they will last you a lifetime and then some. You can read more here.

Seamus Golf
Another Portland based company is Seamus Golf. They have created a cool niche by making authentic woolen head covers crafted from the finest fabrics from Scottish and American wool mills. And I love them! Seamus covers are now in many of the country's best pro shops and the full range is available online. At MacDuff, we commissioned our own tartan covers from MacDuff fabric (see below) and they make perfect gifts. Can you see that little leather tab with our logo? - love it!  Buy them here.

Stitch Golf
Stitch makes gorgeous leather head covers - plain and simple. These instant classics made in Cary, North Carolina have garnered high praise across the country as well as on Tour and I can attest to the cool good looks and admiring glances from fellow golfers. This month Stitch has launched the Italian Collection and those green ones have my name written on them! But be quick, because they are a limited edition and will go fast. You can see all the new covers here.

Tin Cup
Tin Cup continues to grow and more and more people are "making their mark" before teeing it up. With over 140 designs as well as the opportunity to create a unique custom cup, everyone should be marking their ball with this great little American made product. A great way to buy Cups is the Foursome Package - you get four cups, clips, leather valuables pouches and pens - so choose your favorite and give the others as gifts. Three presents solved in one go...perfect! Buy the Foursome Package here.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Glory's Last Shot is Shot!

Final the worst phrase associated with a golf tournament is done. Allegedly following pressure from Tour head honcho, (and G5 frequent flyer) Tim Finchem, the PGA of America has made the wise decision to drop the clunky phrase "Glory's Last Shot."

So, with a little luck, the commentators from TNT and CBS will have read the memo and it will be a "GLS" free telecast. We will still of course have to put up with a zillion CBS promos and filler that will ensure that the 4th major will also continue its position as the 4th placed telecast. And please don't tell me it has the best field of all the majors based on the spurious World Ranking - because that has nothing to do with the quality of the tournament or the lousy TV production.

Now, if only we can lose "The Green Mile" and the "Bear Trap"! Another project for another day.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The USGA Needs to Stay on Message (and Find Some Actors Who are Golfers!)

Any political pundit worth their salt will tell you that running a campaign is all about staying on message. Having sat through countless PSAs by the USGA during the U.S. Open telecasts, someone needs to remind the American governing body of the game this fact. With the game of golf losing players hand over fist over the last ten years, they (along with a number of the other alphabet soup governing bodies in golf, namely The PGA, PGA Tour, RandA) have seen fit to spend tens of millions of dollars on consultants who continue to massage their egos by convincing them that golf and growth should be in the same sentence.
During the NBC broadcast we were pummeled with three campaigns - Tee it Forward, Get Golf Ready and While We're Young. There were too many confusing messages and one of these blue blood consultants should stop hanging out at the Merion clubhouse, earn their pay and tell the USGA that one of these campaigns is enough. So, let's take a look at the campaigns and their effectiveness - or not!

Tee it Forward.

Featuring Jack Nicklaus, the concept is that all of us should move forward one set of tees and make the game more enjoyable. No argument here and something we do in our group regularly.

Outcome - Good ad, good execution, clear message.

Get Golf Ready

Featuring Tom Watson, this one encourages new players to pay $99 for a series of five lessons and have fun, fun fun! There is no mention really of how it all works and the feedback from many clubs is average at best. The program is often managed by the assistant pro, players come for one or two lessons and then what do they do? Where do they play?

Outcome - Poor ad, average execution, unclear message.

While We're Young

Who doesn't love CaddyShack and the thought of the blue blazers actually watching the movie is hilarious enough. But, and it's a huge but, on the week that the USGA rolled out the ads to everyone to encourage us to get moving on the golf course, their own tournament rounds averaged 5 hours and 15 minutes. And this in two and three balls...no slow play penalties, just the odd warning thrown around for affect.
And the ads themselves featuring Golf's "A" List throw up many questions.
1. Why do agencies continue to employ actors, not golfers? Just watch the actors (not the celebs) - they don't know how to hold a club, address a ball, even walk like a golfer. One would think that the USGA would do authenticity well....wrong! Clearly, they were led up the garden path by an ad agency that knew nothing about golf.
2. Ah, Clint Eastwood and Arnie. This one will be good! Nope, they are never in frame together and it's no wonder that Clint is playing slowly, he is using a Tour Pro's bag at Pebble - where you can't actually carry your own bag. Again, just appalling in its lack of details and credibility.
3. Annika does a great acting job in hers but be honest, the first time you saw it did you know what she was doing with her hand? It's not until the Butch and Paula ad, which has a sub title explaining the Rodney Dangerfield "move" that you can understand what Annika is doing. Only then can you go back to Annika and say, oh I see!
4. The other Arnie ad features the (non golfer) actors pretending to be golfers...badly! The guy is thirsty and looking for refreshments? Who says that on a golf course? And, once again it's blindingly obvious that Arnie's piece to camera was shot with no other actors present. Having been told by Arnie "While we're young" the actor walks onto the tee holding his club only as non-golfers do. I know, I'm a nit picking, pedantic, old sod - but credibility and authenticity are key here and these ad fails on both counts.

Outcome - Poor ads, awful execution, mixed message.

Let's hope the USGA can decide which message is most important to them and focus on that in the coming months and leave the others on the shelf. And when making golf ads, use real golfers, will ya!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Father's Day Gift Guide - Five Authentic Gifts

I make no excuses with our Father's Day Gift Guide. All of these fine golf companies are clients and we are very proud to work with them. I'm sure you'll find something very cool here for Dad. One key thing to note with all of these great gifts - they are ALL Made in America. Which is nice!

1. Josh Smith Golf Landscapes. Josh paints gorgeous golf landscapes. His portfolio runs from Bandon Dunes Resort to Pebble Beach and many wonderful courses in between. We recently found three perfect, limited edition, tubed giclees on archive paper in a cupboard. The images are Royal County Down (3rd hole), Bandon Trails (3rd hole) and Pebble Beach (7th hole as it was in 1929 - above). Just because it is you, we are offering these for $195 each, including USPS shipping. There are three left and that's it! - if you would like one email me at nick@macduffconsulting.com and we'll get it out the same day to you.
2. Lee Wybranski Art & Design. Lee is having quite a year and his latest poster for the USGA for this year's U.S. Open at Merion is another stunning piece. Featuring the iconic red wicker basket, it is perfect for Dad's den! You can buy it here on the USGA's site. If you would like to explore more of Lee's work have a look at his website here.

3. MacKenzie Walker Golf Bag Company. Todd Rohrer, way out west in Portland, Oregon produces the best golf bags in the business - bar none! Now this gift takes some thought and perhaps input from your father to produce a one off handcrafted piece of magic. I have been guided through the process three times by Todd and each golf bag is a work of art! Some would say they are expensive at $845, but think about it - you spend that on a set of clubs and two years later switch them out and they are worth about $50! The MacKenzie will last a lifetime and the memory will be priceless. Have a look at the amazing selection of leathers here.

4. Stitch Golf. Based in North Carolina, Stitch makes amazing leather headcovers and other cool leather accessories - I have their #1 iPad cover! We first came across Stitch last year and in a short period of time they have made huge strides at retail and with consumers. Look out for their Merion U.S. Open covers if you are at the tournament - but be quick, because they are going to fly off the shelves! Read more about Stitch here.

5. Tin Cup. The Father's Day Package here is a great way to choose the best cup to fit Dad's golf game. Plus it includes a couple of pens, poker chip and leather valuables pouch. Tin Cup is now in over 1,400 retail outlets in the U.S. as well as being on line here with 140 designs. In addition you could create a one off custom design here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Streamsong - Smart, really smart!

The smart marketers at magnificent Streamsong in Florida have begun promoting the 6 and 12 hole game. It's very hot in central Florida during the summer and they have thought outside of the box to create a compelling reason to play a few holes and then have a nice dinner and glass of wine. The package price is very reasonable and having had the good fortune to play Doak's Blue course and Coore and Crenshaw's Red course, this is an offer that should be snapped up. 
A shortened version of golf, be it 6, 9 or 12 holes is much under rated. I grew up playing at North Hants Golf Club in Hampshire, England and we had all of those options due to the wonderful routing made by James Braid in 1904. 

Great thinking Streamsong! ps - it's tough to read on the picture above so go and take a look here - Read More Here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

So many stories in golf - where to start?

What a crazy few weeks its been in the world of golf - a 14 year old making two cuts out of two, Tiger's Dropgate, Vijay's attempt to grow deer antlers and the ongoing dust up between the R&A and PGA Of America.

Let's start with Tianlang Guan making the cut at Augusta and then the Zurich Classic in New Orleans. There is no doubt that a whole new generation of golfers are coming out of China, which is good for the game around the world. Let's hope he is well managed by his parents and whoever is advising him and he doesn't turn in to the underachieving Michelle Wie.

Tiger's DropGate at Augusta and once again the rules of golf, (overly complicated and baffling at best) were the main story at Augusta...sorry Adam! It's clear now that the Rules Committee at ANGC dropped the ball and 2013 will be the last year with no walking referees in each group - the only major not to do so. Tiger just did what he was told and those that called for him to DQ himself were just plain wrong.

What on earth was Vijay thinking taking deer antler spray? As has been reported previously, there was an incident in Indonesia in 1985 where Vijay altered his scorecard during the event and this deer spray nonsense has once again brought that up and Vijay's proclivity to court controversy. The Tour, as always, dodged the bullet and found a way around fining or banning the Fijian.

The ongoing war of words between the R&A and The PGA of America took a turn for the worse at Augusta. Ted Bishop, the PGA President and Peter Dawson, Secretary of the R&A had words under the tree and Dawson left in a huff. The argument continues about the anchoring of the putter (which is really a lot of nonsense) when there are bigger challenges in the game and hopefully the R&A and USGA will announce their decision shortly so we can talk about something more important!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Condi at Augusta - Come on R&A, wake up!

The first picture of Condoleezza Rice in a well cut green jacket is out and very fetching it is too. Now the question is when will the R&A join the century and admit is first female member? What do you think?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Walk Around Augusta National

I had the good fortune to play Augusta National and here are some photographs taken last year of the golf course. Enjoy The Masters Tournament.

What a view!

From the 1st Tee

 The approach to the 3rd from the right side

 The 6th tee (front left pin)

6th green (looking back up the hill)

The 7th is called Pampas

7th green from the 8th tee

Approach to the 7th

Approach to the 11th

Hogan Bridge and 12th green

Tee shot on the 14th

Looking back from 16th green

 The mowers were following us on the 17th

 It's a tight tee shot the 18th!

 And it's over all too fast - walking up the 18th

 A great place for an Arnold Palmer!

Monday, March 18, 2013

TaylorMade - Awful...ier

TaylorMadeAdidasGolf (TMaG), the current undisputed golf-marketing champions have once again created a buzz with their "IER" campaign. Rather like technology, in marketing, just because it can be done, it doesn't mean it should be!

The awkward TV ads with the players clearly stifling their laughter and yet happily cashing the TMaG check, the dreadful "IER" hats, the dull print ads with simply the phrase "IER" added - all of it, just plain bad and not befitting or comparable with the other strokes of marketing genius they have pulled off in recent years. For example, the yellow bucket hat promotion earlier in the year was cool, contemporary and worked across different platforms. This is just plain terrible...ier!

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Tale of Two Golf Companies - TMaG & Callaway

Yesterday, industry giant, TaylorMadeAdidas Golf (TMaG is less of a mouthful) announced another stellar set of numbers. Proof positive that their aggressive marketing tactics, sponsorship of leading Tour players and sell though at retail show confirms there is life in the retail golf business. For the record, they reported iron sales in 2012 up 32%, with metal woods growing by 21% from the previous year. Footwear was up and even their golf bag sales grew 47%. In total, sales for the year were up $390 million at $1.7 billion - impressive numbers in a very tough market. Mark King, their head honcho said that sales of the new products, including the (ugly - my words - not his!) R1 driver, RocketBladez irons, and adidas Golf’s adizero footwear have also been very strong year to date. TMaG are hitting on all cylinders for sure, but these are really zero sum gains as the overall market is not growing - it would seem they are taking share from the other big boys in the market, Titleist, Ping, Cleveland, Nike and of course Callaway.

Speaking of Callaway, I read with interest that the have sold their only remaining ball plant in Chicopee, MA and become tenants. Probably a good idea and adding $3.9 million to the coffers won't do any harm - but on the day we are reading about TMaG's $1,7 billion it seems like a drop in the ocean. Callaway have a great product line up this year and the industry needs a strong number two to keep the number one on their toes. I expect to see a market share bounce back, perhaps in Q3 of this year as the first year of Chip Brewer's tenure rolls out and a terrific and simplified product line up sells through.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"It's just a bit of a mess,” said Rory McIlroy.

A very accurate quote by the world number one. The mess he is talking about is putter anchoring - the hottest topic in golf right now. Following the decision, a couple of months ago, by the USGA and R&A to ban anchoring the putter in 2016, every golfer on the planet seems to have an opinion. The governors of the rules strangely allowed a 90-day window to hear opinions from professional tours, amateur bodies and anyone who could type or write. It's almost as if they didn't have the strength of their own convictions and this hesitancy has opened a huge can of worms.

With only a few days to go before the 90-day window expired, the politically trained Commish, Tim Finchem came forward with the views of the PGA Tour. There has been much discussion on the pro tours amongst the players, including those guys like Tim Clark and Carl Petersson who have used anchored long putters for years. Some are opposed and some are for it, but is seems the majority are against the ban. Cue The Tim!

And when did The Commish choose to announce the defection - yes, that's right on the NBC telecast during the final of the Accenture World Matchplay. Oh, the sponsor must have been thrilled at that decision, but clearly Finchem was making a big statement and on live TV. He knew what he was doing and the coming days and weeks are tantamount to a stand off between the organizations. The governing bodies on one side, perhaps joined by The European Tour, Augusta National and on the other side The PGA Tour and the PGA Of America who are supporting the Commish. Could this really be the start of bifurcation? But not as anticipated - this would be bifurcation between tournaments!

So, potentially a player couldn't use an anchored putter in the Masters, then back to the Tour with a different anchored stroke, over to The Open Championship and no anchored stroke, onto the PGA Championship and anchoring again....if he couldn't putt well before, this will really get in his kitchen! Clearly, some kind of solution will emerge, but I don't see the Commish backing down any time soon, so this is the first real test of Mike Davis' leadership at the USGA. Watch this space!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Streamsong - First impressions of Red and Blue (and the gorgeous clubhouse)

The first thing I noticed on arrival at Streamsong, near, (actually, not near anything) in Florida was the magnificent clubhouse. Contemporary, but not over bearing, the architect has made gorgeous use of natural materials and created a stunning building. It is located between 3 massive dunes and Alberto Alfonso's building is befitting of this new development that may well be the first serious contender to Bandon resort in Oregon in many years. Of course they will need more than two courses, but with thousands of acres available that is surely a matter of when, not if.

Inside the building is warm, inviting and service levels are first class, in keeping with everything Kemper Sports (the managers of the property) does in golf. Check in was great and our caddie for the day, Rich was a gem. It's somewhat disconcerting having a mini-tour player as a caddy, but he calmly and kindly put up with our tops and shanks and really made the day. The new 216-room hotel is under construction in the distance. The hotel is quite a way from the clubhouse and the red and blue courses and begs the question "Why build it so far away unless one or two more courses are on the way?" There are currently 12 guest rooms in the clubhouse, but securing one of those requires an advance reservation many months out - we tried!

So, the real reason we traveled 84 miles south of Orlando was to play golf. We began on Coore and Crenshaw's Red Course. The first tee is 30 yards from the back door of the clubhouse, right next to the large putting green. The condition of both courses was exceptional, with the greens stimping at about 12, which with the sloping greens was perfect. The superintendant and his team have done a remarkable job growing the golf course in and it's hard to believe Streamsong has just opened. On the way to the first tee we walked by the "Bye Hole", which a nice glimpse of what is to come. Here it is:

I have been fortunate to play many Coore and Crenshaw courses from Bandon Trails in the west to Hidden Creek in the east and I am a big fan. I suggest you add "Red" to their growing list of must play golf courses. There is plenty of room from the tee and I used every club in the bag. That said, prepare yourself, because this is also the hardest golf course from C and C I have ever played. My golf game these days is what I call fragile, so bring your game! Missing the wide fairways you will still find the ball and have a recovery shot from the sand. If you move the ball back a couple inches in your stance it really is not a hard recovery shot. Here's one example of a journey I made into the sand!

The greens complexes are fair and a number of holes are reminiscent of their opening design in Nebraska, the majestic Sand Hills. Here's a memorable and much photographed hole on the Red, the tough par three, 16th.

Following a quick (and excellent) lunch in the clubhouse we ventured up a huge dune to the first tee of the "Blue". This is a Tom Doak design. I'll start by saying I am a Doak fan and his Ballyneal course in Holyoke, Co is one of my top 10 courses in the world. So, I guess you know where this is going. You're right...this is not his best golf course and I suspect the main reason is he didn't have the best land to work with - most of that seems to have been used on C and C's "Red". For me the only stand out hole is the par three, 6th and even with this hole an awkward routing necessitates a walk back and forth across a wooden bridge to access the green. It also seemed to me that the left side of the green will require some work. The caddies said players regularly putt into the water hazard from the green...mmm, not good. That said this will be the most photographed hole on the course. The course is by no means easy, but it is much more forgiving on a player's game and I recommend playing "Red" and then "Blue" as we did - playing the closing nine on the Red with a tired swing will be very tough! Don't get me wrong, the "Blue" is a very good golf course - it's just not as good as the"Red"

Streamsong is a wonderful addition to the Field of Dreams philosophy of "build it and they will come" started by Mike Keiser at Bandon. It's miles from anywhere and a brave decision by the mining company, Mosaic to commit to building a first class resort. It provides great golf and a much easier travel alternative to Bandon and based on my observations of operations, the owners have a real winner on their hands. I expect more courses are in discussion on the property and Streamsong is going to provide the perfect winter destination for those from Chicago to New York looking for world-class golf and sunshine.

Here are another couple of photographs - looking at the clubhouse from the "Red"

We were blessed with gorgeous weather - 50 degrees warmer than D.C!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

MacDuff Monthly News

As more and more of you are reading our blog, perhaps you would like to receive our monthly e-newsletter. We talk about golf, cool products, books and much more. Just email us at nick@macduffconsulting.com with MacDuff News in the subject line and we'll add you to the list. You can see the February Issue that came out today - here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Romance of Golf Ball Names

Take a look at the picture above and observe the wonderfully inventive names used by the manufacturers back in the golden age of golf. The Ace, The Nimble Shilling, Tee Me and more. All romantic and fun names for the white orb. As a kid playing and growing up in the 70's some of these cool names were still in existence and I regularly played the Spalding Dot, Penfold Ace and the ubiquitous Dunlop 65 (named after Henry Cotton's remarkable score of 65 in the second round of the 1934 Open Championship at Royal St. Georges.) At that time my choice of golf ball was mainly dictated by what I found in the various ditches at North Hants Golf Club! I remember the sheer joy of finding a brand new Titleist in the trees and saving it for a special round - happy days! But I digress. In the last couple of decades the romance of golf ball names has all but disappeared - Pro V1, E5, B330, Tour iX dont conjur up much magic to me - as good as they all are technically.

It's interesting that TaylorMade, who have come up with many crazy names for their products in recent years have recently launched a golf ball with a name rather a mixture of consonants. It is called Lethal and though I haven't tried it, the name alone makes me want to give it a shot. Callaway also has their Diablo - a great name in my opinion. Let's hope that more of the manufacturers opt to add some more colorful names to their golf ball offerings - from a marketing perspective it's easier to build the brand with a name, rather than a bunch of numbers and letters. Consumers can then make an emotional connection to the name and build an affinity to a specific and interesting name.

Once more thing while I am on the subject - when will one of the golf ball manufacturers go old school and individually wrap the balls and package them in threes - what will that add to the cost - a couple of pennies? For those of you who don't remember wrapped golf balls - it was a special sensation unwrapping a new ball for a big game. It would be a great marketing differentiator and add some golden age romance to the game!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Slow Play - Keep It Moving People!

The USGA's new President, Glen Nager has been vocal recently about the curse of the game in America, namely slow play. It was the main topic in his recent speech at the USGA annual soiree and he was quoted as saying:

"Slow play has now become one of the most significant threats to the game's health" and "six hour rounds threaten to drive players away from the game"

Well, let's ignore the fact that new players are not coming to the game, so presumably he is talking about existing golfers leaving the game. But his point is well made, that slow play in America is an epidemic within club golfers. A recent experience highlights this fact - A group of us were at a wonderful golf course in the Pinehurst area, Tobacco Road. Now, we are all reasonable players and in front of us were two groups who literally could not hit the ball and despite our protestations with the clueless marshalls no one was asked to leave, no one was let through, no action whatsoever. And so after 5 1/2 hours for 13 holes we walked off. We raced to the airport, likely never to return.

This is fascinating on many levels.

1. How does a golf course not kick off players who can't actually play?
2. How does a golf course allow guys making $0 manage the golf course?
3. How does the Pro not know what is going on when his 0730 is still not in the clubhouse at 130?

Growing up playing golf in England and Scotland, it was the norm to walk the golf course comfortably in 3 hours. During tournaments (in the days when I could actually play!) rounds would creep up to 3 1/2 hours. This is still the case in the UK, the land of fewer carts, cheaper golf and less GPS devices.

So, the question is what happened and when did times start creeping up and up and is anyone to blame? And what can be done about it? Well, here are some random musings on these questions.

There's no doubt the professional tours are in part to blame - Tour players continue to take an age and the Oxford shirts at PVB just will not discipline anyone, even though everyone knows who the culprits are. Can you believe the last guy to get fined a shot was Glen Day (also known as All Day!) in 1995. Twenty years and no one has been out of position, not one...amazing!

I didn't grow up playing in a cart and for me it is THE worst possible way to play the game. I get it - they generate revenue and some people do need them. But if you have 2 good legs, get off your xxxx and walk - it's quicker and healthier. More and more clubs are giving players the option to walk or take a pull cart. And don't tell me carts are quicker than walking - they aren't!

I would posit that US golfers have considerably less knowledge of the etiquette of the game than those in other countries and this impacts the speed of play dramatically. No one is questioning your manhood if you let some one who is playing faster - everyone wins and yet is really happens here.

Maybe the "clubs for profit" model is to blame? Squeezing more tee times into an hour just to drive incremental revenue. Again, that model doesn't exist at most clubs in the UK as they are private member clubs without tee sheets and designed to end the year with $1 in the bank. They will gladly accept outside play, even at the very best, such as Muirfield, but you better keep up with the group in front or you really will be politely asked to leave.

Some organizations in golf have been trying for many years to address the problem addressed by Mr. Nager. Namely the American Junior Golf Association who have a strict tournament policy of ready golf, move onto the next tee when finished, tee off when you are ready regardless of who won the hole - all of which have contributed to them cutting 30-45 minutes from playing times and made for a more enjoyable game. I wish clubs would adopt a similar model - maybe the AJGA should rollout their tournament model in conjunction with the USGA to clubs across the country?

I think we all know there is no silver bullet here - it is going to take a concerted effort from everyone to speed up play and to make the game more enjoyable for playing partners and those behind you! It's great that Mr. Nager has chosen to highlight this huge problem during his tenure and use some of the USGA's considerable resources to create greater awareness and hopefully some practical solutions.

I have been vocal on this subject before - You can read my slow play blog from April of last year - The Curse of the Game and 5 Culprits here)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

MacDuff's 3 Best Products at "The Show"

It's all over for another year and all the walking and talking is done until we descend on O Town again in 2014. There was certainly a positive energy in the room on the back of solid "rounds played" numbers last year - but don't be under any illusions, this "growth" was all about the weather and not about new players to the game. It was a busy show for MacDuff, but I did find the time to look at some cool new products and here are my Top 3 Best New Products for 2013.

1. G-Fore

Once again, fashion designer Mossimo Giannuli has created a stir with color. Last year it was his gorgeous leather gloves and this year he has turned his attention to golf shoes. Available in a several vibrant colors including these green ones with blue and white detailing - they have my name written all over them! You can see the gloves here and the shoes are on the way shortly.

2. Swingbyte

There were a proliferation of small devices like Swingbyte at the show. Confusingly, they all seemed to have "swing" in their brand name. I looked at them all and for me this was the best. Inside the Swingbyte are gyroscopes, accelerometers and other extremely long words. Through bluetooth the device pairs with your iPhone or iPad and generates masses of data and very cool graphics showing swing plane, swing speed, clubhead speed and much more. The Swingbyte 2 comes out in April and features a slightly different way of attaching to the shaft, as well as a software update. See more here.

3. Stitch Golf

I have been a fan since I first saw these woolen and leather head covers last year and I think 2013 is going to be a big year for Stitch. Made in North Carolina and already stocked by many of the leading clubs in the country these guys make beautiful products. The owners are industry veterans and already they have developed a reputation for great service as well as cool products. You can see them here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

7 Tips for a Successful PGA Merchandise Show

I have been going to "the Show", as everyone calls it, since 1989 and yes, it is golf's Groundhog Day but I wouldn't miss it for the world. It's an opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones and see the latest and greatest equipment from the big manufacturers and from those one man bands who just might strike gold with their latest product. So being an old hand here are my Top 7 tips to make the most of the show.

1. Wear comfortable shoes...this is no time to break in your FootJoy teaching shoes.

2. If you want to do business, dress appropriately. Smart casual is perfect and don't dress like you are on Tour...you're not, or you would be in La Jolla or Qatar and not schlepping around Orlando like the rest of us.

3. Eat a good breakfast at your hotel because the food in the Orange County Convention Center is like a hot dog in a movie theater...overcooked and overpriced.

4. Be very specific about where to meet your appointment. Pick a booth, preferably a small one so you can't miss the person you are meeting. Confirming your 1030 at the TaylorMade booth will almost certainly guarantee you'll still be looking for one another 20 minutes later. And remember there is nowhere to sit down in the Hall, so be prepared to stand and talk.

5. Give yourself time to move about the floor. It's a long way from the 1000 aisle to the 6000 aisle so don't make three appointments in 60 minutes in three locations. It's like trying to get from uptown to downtown in Manhattan at 4pm with no cabs - all the stars need to be aligned and it still takes twice as long as you think.

6. Be patient. Everyone is busy and often running a few minutes behind. Whether you are buying or selling they will come - see above!

7. Take some time to wander the floor. Go see the new products section and marvel at the craziness of this business of ours.