Love Fore The Game?

Much can be said of appearance fees. Many a tournament have used them as initiative to bring golfers to play in events. Events that top players would otherwise balk at playing in. I have no doubt that appearance fees were used to a much lesser extent through the history of golf. What exactly was $4000 worth in 1932 compared to 2017? This topic is a bit random but what would make me write another editorial about love for the game and appearance fees?

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Before I continue I feel that I must state the obvious. Everything is about money for nearly everyone nowadays. Especially for athletes playing professional sports around the world. Whether it’s the NHL, MLB, NFL, NBA or any of the Premier Futbol leagues in Europe it’s business first. After all, all of these athletes have to pay agents for their services and of course their expensive toys. Often I’ve wondered if Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Joe Montana or Pele kept playing their sports professionally out of sheer love for their game?  A game in which their parents once paid for them to play in order to participate. Or did they continue playing in order just to keep the fat paychecks  rolling in? Of course, they were all inspired to keep playing at least partly due to their competitive desire.

Golf… a game that seems much maligned these days. A game where so much focus has been directed towards “growing the game”. A game where there’s a drive to develop new fans from the younger generation of golfer. Maybe American kids look towards a Rickie (Fowler) Lexi (Thompson) or Jordan (Spieth) to emulate. In some country’s where golf isn’t as prevalent like Bangladesh maybe by going to an event and watching Siddikur Rahman and young boy or girl would want to play golf and who knows maybe find an education through playing the game. In Australia there are a slew of golfers to choose from that may capture the imagination of young golfers to be… maybe it’s Jason Day or Adam Scott.

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Siddikur Rahman (Photo Credit: Asian Tour)

For any young Australian golfers out there looking to the latter as inspiration to play golf seriously they’ll be disappointed this year. Adam Scott… the sweet swinging Australian decided to withdraw from the Emirates Australian Open this week. Not because of an unbeatable affliction like “CSS” (Chronic Shanks Syndrome) or an injured wrist, back or in-grown toenail. Nope! How about because of his issue with an appearance fee ([ardon me while I sarcastically applaud Adam’s decision). Scott, who in 2015 had an estimated worth of about $40 million skipped out on his National Championship because he didn’t receive enough money in appearance fees! His first time missing the event in a decade. Really Adam? Not enough of an appearance fee? Sure his nose might be out of joint because Spieth was set to make $1 million before striking a golf ball. If Spieth is receiving that kind of  money it makes me wonder what the fee was going to be for Scott… a native son? No doubt it was more money than I have seen or will ever see in my bank account. I think that it’s shameful and disgusting that he or anyone would skip a tournament because they never received enough money just to show up.

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Show me the money… or Scottie don’t! (Photo Credit: Golf Digest)

As I pause my writing and think to myself for a second I wonder even further. If Spieth didn’t get an appearance fee as compensation would he play? We all know that the likes of Tiger, Phil and Rory have received huge appearance fees for showing up at tournaments in the past. Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia have each received an estimated $1.5 million in appearance fees for playing the Hong Kong Open. Combined the fees are worth more than the purse itself (such is the case with Spieth).

Have the appearance fees gotten out of hand? Maybe. But as long as the sponsors are willing to shell it out and the players have coffers to line they’ll gladly collect the fees. I would! But it makes you wonder in retrospect too. If the sponsors weren’t willing to cough up the “dineros” would the golfers be playing in the events? A game that “we” pay to play and through buying equipment from their respective equipment sponsors indirectly help pay their endorsement deals. Golf seems so much like the other professional sports leagues doesn’t it? It’s “us” the fans buying tickets and merchandise that line their wallets and support their families.

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What the game is truly about.

For guys and gals out there playing events on the various worldwide professional tours it’s fine for you to withdraw. Nobody with a soul would dispute sitting out an event because of illness, injury, or a family emergency. But sitting out of a tournament because you didn’t receive enough “thanks for being here money”? Quit being such petulent primadona spoiled brats. You truly forget what this game is all about.  £ove for the game? #whatever

Until The Next Tee!!

Rrrrroll Back??

Alright! Right up until this moment I’ve been very quiet about the hot topic that has come up lately. No it isn’t Tiger’s comeback at the Hero World Challenge but he is involved in this article. Then again so are legends of golf Mr. Jack Nicklaus and Mr. Gary Player. Of course I am talking about the latest talk of rolling back the golf ball.The reason is simple and I totally understand their concern. The fact is that Tour players are making certain golf courses obsolete. Most notably, some of the courses in the rota for the Open Championship. Imagine a world where there is no Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrew’s. When you think about it… it isn’t far-fetched at all.

The talk of rolling the golf ball back is not a new idea. Mr. Nicklaus has stated this in the past so his suggestion about a uniform golf ball is nothing new. I remember going back to 2015 during the week of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay the timeless legend Mr. Player stated that golf courses were “getting too long” and that the “mismanagement of the golf ball” is leading to the demise of golf courses. Even more recently, Mr. Player stated that it was “sad” to see the Old Course being defeated by today’s golf ball. He actually expressed concerns in 2005. Tiger Woods joined the “campaign” on dialing the golf ball back very recently as well. Of course, there were those who follow the game that said he wants the golf ball rolled back because he is no longer the longest guy out there. But there he was clearly stating that “We” need to do something. So if this is a concern than why has nothing been done?

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While evolution and progress can be a great thing in some cases it isn’t. In a world of checks and balances something has to give. I have a hard time seeing the likes of the major brands in the industry saying yes to having a uniform golf ball. After all, in the case of Titleist their marketing model has nothing to do with their golf clubs or their mid-range golf balls. It’s all about the Pro V1 golf ball. Play what the best in the world play! Of course, the Pro V1 will almost certainly continue to live for the masses.  But getting back to giving a new meaning to “the one ball rule” how would that process occur? Bids by the likes of Acushnet, Srixon Golf,  Bridgestone Golf, Wilson Golf etc with the winner being selected and to the victor go the spoils? Seems hardly fair right? If all company’s had to adhere to the same criteria that would theoretically work. But then I get this eerie premonition.

Just like when rolling and shaving softball bats was a thing when I was still playing softball. To make composite softball bats more lively guys at all levels of softball would shave the inner walls of the bat and roll the bats to make them “pop” reducing their break-in period which made the bats hot!!!. The result… pitchers dreaded lobbing up every pitch because of the balls exit speed coming back up the middle. Trust me.. it was deadly!   The governing bodies at Provincial Championships had x-ray machines to check for any suspected bats breaching the rule. Remember my premonition? Imagine the eventual winner of a tournament won a tournament that we’ll call ‘The Masters”. The winner was  hitting the “rolled back” golf ball long. Meanwhile, up in The Butler Cabin  by the fireplace sits an x-ray machine. Right before the Green Jacket presentation they examine the golf ball… or all of the golf balls in the golf bag of the winner. Somehow, there was one ball that magically slipped through quality and control at Plant#3 and there’s an illegal golf ball. Disqualification.

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Photo Credit: scottishgolfhistory.com

 

The reality of the game and rolling the golf ball back only is a concern for such a low percentage of golfers around the world. For everyone else (mere mortals) this debate doesn’t or shouldn’t really effect them. With all due respect to Mr. Nicklaus, Mr. Player and Mr. Woods the problem really stems back to my entire baseball bat scenario. Sure the golf ball is long. Maybe it doesn’t spin as much. But those baseball bats started to launch the ball out of the ball park 375 feet  at will. One league I played in had houses built right behind the sports complex. Segments of 50′ mesh nets were strung up in a vain attempt to protect the houses against incoming “mortar shells”. It sort of worked but yet windows were still getting smashed. The league brought in a flight restricted ball and sure the instances of baseballs being hit off of the roofs of neighboring houses decreased but not by much. So what was the correlation and why was it still a problem… other than poor city planning? The bats and athlete’s themselves.

I personally think that the issue with golf and this entire “rolling back crusade” is with the golf clubs themselves. Let’s face it… when you’re an arthritic 70-year-old man you shouldn’t really hitting the ball further than when you were 50. But you are! If there’s an issue with too much length look at the new equipment that’s being constructed from space-aged materials. If it’s anything it’s the equipment causing the issues.  Not just drivers and irons but the turf equipment too. Bear with me for a second regarding the latter. But again, this only pertains to a small percentage of golfers. Have scores dropped significantly among amateurs over the last 5 years with all of the advances in technology? The answer is no! Look at the technology in place for these guys playing on television on Sunday afternoon’s. Sure it’s out there for amateur’s as well  but the technology goes far outside of having the right shafts installed into your set. Who saw Rocky IV? Remember the technology that “Ivan Drago” had? Technology that actually makes the athlete with much advanced workout programs. Golfers at the collegiate and professional levels like their NHL, NFL, and MLB counterparts are quite simply bigger, faster and stronger. So… is the answer having 8,500 yard long golf courses? My thought is no! How the heck does that help and what is a solution?

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The course of the future now. (Photo Credit: Daily Mail)

I never thought that I would say this but maybe.. just maybe the USGA has had it “sort of” right all along with their set-ups. Maybe the superintendents at said courses would take an issue to this but maybe growing out the rough, making fairways narrower and the greens firmer and faster is the answer. Moreover, water the living “bejeezus” out of the fairways. Drench them… and forget about these guys getting 50+ yards of roll. My Lord… most of the fairways that these guys play on roll faster on a “Stimp” than the greens at most Semi-Private golf courses. The machinery that superintendents have at their disposal has come a long way since the era of “Caddyshack’. I’ve said for too long that golf has become hard to watch. Seeing these guys posting combined -24 scores for a tournament is hurting the game and making the game boring to watch. Many people go to car races for the “wrecks” and that’s why I love the carnage at the U.S. Open. High scores and punishment for wayward shots. Many of these courses also feature fairways as wide as the eyes can see… or they should be considering their width. Look at Erin Hills… wow! Heck, even Glen Abbey site of the RBC Canadian Open has massive fairways where the bombers can bomb away at will. If they miss… no big deal because there is no rough. If you want to roll anything back… roll back the course conditioning.

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2004 U.S. Open Shinnecock Hills (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Maybe my solution is too simplified. You aren’t going to be able to roll back the athlete (force them to be obese) and you might be able to do something about rolling back the ball and/or equipment. But the one thing that golf needs to do is preserve the game and preserve the likes of Tillinghast, Thompson, Nicklaus, Palmer, Robert Trent Jones and Ross. Make these guys “golf the ball” around the course. Screw “bomb and gouge” and make these guys hit golf shots. Make them work the ball and penalize a miss.

Until The Next Tee!!

Ho…Ho…Holiday Season (Gifts Under $100)

The time of the year is upon us. With Remembrance Day come and gone and Thanksgiving Day having been celebrated in the United States the holiday season fast approaches. Sure there are a multitude of gifts for golfers out there that can break the bank but what for those who are on tighter budgets? Believe it or not there is a cornucopia of great presents out there for under $100. Let’s take a closer look at what can be wrapped and placed under your Christmas tree or Festivus pole for those that have tighter budgets.

 

CHASE 54 – There’s a reason why I haven’t written a review for some time about this apparel brand. The reason is that quite simply I cannot write an objective review because of my allegiance to this brand. I have been a somewhat quiet part of TEAM 54 for a few years now. Why? The people around this brand are like family and I feel like I belong. Then you factor in the fabrics of their clothing which in my opinion are the “best in the biz”. The fabric always has great hand and they also pack some innovation into their styles like their GloFuze Technology. Speaking of their styles. The designs that Chief Designer Lulu Faddis comes with are sleek, fun and very stylish for both genders (Ladies fashions go up to 2XL). There is a Black Friday and Cyber Monday BOGO Sale coming up doubling down could be great for less than $100.

CHASE 54 Website

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Swing Wizzard – Other than receiving a holiday miracle or a trip to somewhere warm golfing may not be in the cards this holiday season. Yeah… yeah I know! There are the spoiled folks in warmer golf climates that can golf all year round. But the cold, snow-laden golfers need a way to practice their game or keep sharp. For those in need of a training aid that allows you to practice indoors and focus on key aspects of the swing give Swing Wizzard a look. For $79.95 you get a very effective training that gives you instant feedback regardless of the fact that you don’t need to strike a golf ball. Keep the fun in fundamentals and keep on top of these oft-overlooked positions throughout the golf swing. Every position from address, ball position, swing plane, position at the top and release are all things that you can work on with the Swing Wizzard. Worth the investment and please see my review for more information.

Swing Wizzard Website

 

Asher Golf – Unless the golfer on your list is in the minority of golfers that do not wear a glove you can never go wrong with selecting golf gloves. Especially when the golf gloves only cost $12 per glove. This is where Asher Golf is great. I remember when the brand brought out a range of gloves called the “10 Buck Chuck”. Of course, in that time fuel and manufacturing costs have increased so in the world of checks and balances the cost of each glove has now become the “12 Buck Chuck”. For $12 the gloves that you get are a very good quality, pretty durable and are fashionable. The color options are great as there is a color for every color in the rainbow. You can literally have a glove to match each of your golf ensembles. Great value and very practical.

Asher Golf Website

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36 Golf Company – Golfers are a funny bunch and for a good majority their sport becomes a passion, obsession and in many cases an addiction. But who wants to wear their golf apparel at home when they’re enjoying a sip of something or other? That is where a golf lifestyle brand like 36 Golf Company can come in handy for those looking for gifts for golfers. what 36 Golf Company brings is a combination of headwear, t-shirts, hoodies and accessories. The clothing is comfortable and you can wear their gear whether you’re at the range, at your friend’s house for a bonfire or at the gym. Making it an even better value is that the brand is based in Toronto, Canada. So if you live near anywhere else in the world where the exchange rate for currency is in your favour look no further than 36 Golf Company.

36 Golf Company Website

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Rosemark Grips – I am about to release a review in the very near future on this product. I had the opportunity to test the second generation of putter grips from Rosemark Grips this summer/fall. Testing with these grips has been fantastic and to be honest what the Thorn 1.25 and Thorn 1.52 grips represent are the best feeling putter grips that I have used… period! The texture is second to nobody and they feel great!! The mantra behind Rosemark is “Tension Free Putting” and that it is. The arms stay loose because of the texture and the shape of the grip itself. Loose arms lead to a putting stroke with more flow. The cost per grip runs from $25-$40 per grip and comes in a wide range of colors. Lydia Ko got to her #1 World Ranking in Women’s Golf using a Rosemark and there is a reason why she has gone back to them.

Rosemark Grips Website

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There are a host of options in this category of gifts for golfers and these are just a few of them based on my personal experience using these products. I have no doubt that whatever you get for the golfer in your life or buy and put under the tree yourself will be much appreciated. Happy shopping… and Happy Holidays!!

 

Until The Next Tee!!