The Cut – The 2021 Masters Tournament

It’s now “Moving Day” at the 2021 Masters. A quick look at who made the cut and who didn’t. Who out of the first groups could make a move today to get back into contention. Thoughts on Will Zalatoris, Justin Rose, DJ, Rory, and Bryson DeChambeau.

Even the trees at Augusta National Golf Club have helped Justin Rose thru 36. (Photo Credit: PGA Tour)

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

Free Agency in Golf (Is the Grass Greener?)

Professional golf is like all of the other professional sports. Players earn their paydays through a variety of means. The obvious way is through performance. Perform and you get paid. There are endorsement deals, in some cases these endorsement deals from manufacturers and sponsors alike, can be quite lucrative. For example, did you know that Tiger Woods earned $60 million dollars without hitting a golf shot? Crazy eh?!

Photo Credit: SB Nation

Professional golf at the highest of levels is a business so lucrative that, sometimes a professional golfer will chase dollar signs to play a certain brand. After all, there are bills to pay. A temptation so hard to resist when the carrot dangled in front of their nose is big and juicy enough. Especially, as the end of their current contract is ready to expire. To paraphrase “The Clash”, should they stay or should they go now? Essentially, this is golf “free agency”.

But sometimes, it’s not about dollar and cents. In many cases, a player will leave a certain brand because, well, their career went stagnant playing a certain brand. So, a change in equipment manufacturers could be the breath of fresh air that their playing career needs.

In some cases, the change can be monumental and it could springboard a career, getting said player back on the right track. Or, there’s the flip side of the coin. The move doesn’t work out and maybe the results weren’t as good as before the change. Life and golf is a gamble.

So, who are some golfers that come to mind where the change failed to have the desired effect? Or where a change has really helped out a player. Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? Let’s take a look at some golfers who in recent years have made, the change.

Justin Rose – After testing products from Honma Golf for some time, Justin Rose departed TaylorMade Golf when his contract expired towards the end of 2018. He made the change not because of dollar signs necessarily but because with Honma Golf, he had the opportunity to have more input with club design. Rose and his playing record started out well enough with Honma Golf, as he captured a victory in his second start playing their equipment. At the time of signing with Honma Golf, Rose was #1 in the OWGR but as time wore on his world ranking and weekly results started to slide. Eventually, Rose started to throw some more TaylorMade golf products back into his bag. Essentially going back to what he was comfortable with. A short time later, both Rose and Honma Golf dissolved their relationship and the multi-year contract that was signed.

Photo Credit: Honma Golf

Sergio Garcia – When the contract of Sergio Garcia expired back in 2018, it was at the tail-end of a 15-year stretch with TaylorMade Golf. Sergio was going to be leaving TaylorMade Golf and it was less surprising that he ended up joining Callaway Golf. The relationship didn’t last very long, ending about a year for reasons that were described as not being a “good fit”. By all accounts, his play in 2019 with Callaway Golf culminated with 2 Missed Cuts in Major Championships and in 13 starts on the PGA TOUR that season, he missed 4 cuts including The Masters ,where he was the defending champion. After proclaiming that he was a free agent, Garcia has had a golf bag that was far from being brand agnostic. Proving that you play the best equipment for your game, Garcia’s win back in October was catapulted by a cornucopia of golf equipment. TaylorMade Golf metalwoods, PING Blueprint irons, Vokey Wedges, a TaylorMade Golf Spider putter, and the TaylorMade Golf TP5 golf ball.

Anna Nordqvist – It seems like a lifetime ago when Anna Nordqvist had become a bit of a household name for golf fans and observers. Nordqvist won two Major Championships playing PING in 2009 (LPGA Championship) and TaylorMade Golf in 2017 (Evia Championship). It’s unclear why she departed TaylorMade Golf in favour of PXG. Looking at her past with PING, the fact that she went to school at Arizona State which consequently has a close relationship with PING and the fact that PXG hired former PING Director of Engineering, maybe PXG simply had developed better products for her game. Her career has been relatively quiet since, or that was until the 2020 KPMG LPGA Championship. Nordqvist was in the final group paired with Canada’s Brooke Henderson, where she finished 5th this past October.

Photo Credit: PXG

Bubba Watson – Having signed a “lifetime” deal recently with PING, a brand that he has played since he was 8 years old, you know that an equipment change will not happen when it comes to Bubba Watson. That isn’t to say that the golf ball can’t be changed. Bubba changed golf balls and that move didn’t work out too well. In 2017, Watson signed a multi-year deal with Volvik to play the brands colourful golf balls. The man with the pink driver playing pink golfs (or similar), why not?The golf ball is the only piece of equipment that we use from tee to green on every shot. In 2017, Bubba missed 7 cuts in 22 starts. His ranking in the OWGR fell from 9th to 63rd. Citing that he was “frustrated” he became a golf ball free agent and went back to playing Titleist Pro V1. Say what you will. His earnings were $1.2 million in 2017 and then in 2018 he earned almost $5.8 million in earnings. Since then, Bubba has struggled. In 2020, Bubba missed the cut in over a third of his starts. He now sits 44th in the OWGR. Was it the golf ball or was it the player?

Photo Credit: FOX Sports

Zach Johnson – It’s still “weirds me out” to see the former Masters Champion playing PXG golf equipment and not Titleist. I still see him, in my mind, standing by his caddie with a Titleist Staff Bag. But, in 2016 ZJ made the switch from Titleist to PXG. The move started out good enough, putting together a couple of excellent journeyman-like seasons. But then 2019 and 2020 happened. Not only did Johnson plateau, but in comparison to years like 2012 and 2014 where his earnings were over $4 million, Johnson practically flatlined. His 2021 is off to a better start and his earnings are almost equal to or greater than in both of those 2019-20 campaigns.

Tiger Woods – Following on the heels of Nike Golf exiting the golf equipment manufacturing sector, speculation was wild about there Tiger Woods would end up. Would he continue with Nike Golf equipment or would he move on? I was at the PGA Show back in 2017 when I received a hot tip from the Marketing Manager of TaylorMade Golf Canada. I was informed that I should make my way to the TaylorMade Golf booth for a huge announcement the next day. With a crowd gathered together, “Frank” made his way onto a large screen. Tiger had joined the ranks at TaylorMade Golf. The booth was electric! Health aside, the switch that Tiger made has worked out very well. All that he’s done since joining TaylorMade Golf is tie Sam Snead’s record of 82 career wins and win The Masters in 2019. His first Major victory since 2008. It seems imminent that Tiger will be the record holder for victories by himself, and that will, in all likelihood, happen with TaylorMade Golf.

Speculating The Future

Speculating is fun and dangerous. It can be an easy way to make yourself look like a fool. There are some golfers who might need a change, just for the sake of making a change. So I’m going to pick one current fallen star where a change might do them some good.

Photo Credit: GOLF.com

It wasn’t too long ago that Spieth was “The Golden Boy”. It’s been pretty tough to watch the former #1 as he’s continued to struggle for the last couple of seasons. Just when we think that he’s going to snap out of his funk, he gets one or two bad bounces and the wheels fall off. I would love to see Jordan get the “kavorka” again to not only contend, but win. It’s hard not to envision someone like Jordan Spieth making a switch from Titleist, as unlikely as it seems. Imagine how weird it would look to see Spieth playing Callaway Golf , TaylorMade Golf or any other equipment manufacturer not named Titleist.

It’s the wacky season in golf and the period from November to January when the season kicks off in Hawaii is interesting. This is when we see movement of players switching from one brand to another. Which big name will make a move? Will any?

Until The Next Tee!!

#seeuonthenexttee #fightandgrind

***Earnings and stats taken from the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour

If There Are No Fans… Does An Event Really Make a Sound?

Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about sporting events continuing without fans.

When you think about it, the game of golf and its professional iteration of it is no different than other professional sports. In an article from 2019, I pointed out the contrasting similarities. It doesn’t matter which sports league it is, professional golf really is no different than say the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and NASCAR to name a few. How do I figure?

Well in what is a relatively easy question to answer, all of the sports have things in common. First of all, there’s free agency. Golf? How? Simple, when equipment contracts expire, often we’ll see a play jump ship to play a different brand. Look no further than Justin Rose who departed TaylorMade Golf in favour of Honma Golf. Granted, Rose did return back to a golf bag predominantly filled with TaylorMade Golf products, save for a COBRA Golf KING SPEEDZONE 5-wood when we last checked in March. Then there’s Sergio Garcia who left TaylorMade Golf for Callaway Golf just to… actually, we’ll leave that one alone. I wouldn’t touch that one with my dog’s 6-foot social distancing stick. Often money and more lucrative equipment deals are the “inspiration” for leaving one brand and joining another. It isn’t necessarily about better equipment to be had. There’s just so much parity in the golf equipment industry.

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Photo Credit: Golf.com

Merchandise. Yes, there’s that as well. You could be walking around your golf courses Pro Shop or local golf retailer and the “merch” is everywhere. Polos that say Adidas Golf or Nike Golf on them. At events, there’s always “pop-up” shops with logoed products of the event that you’re attending. Ultimately, the merchandise goes back to the golf manufacturer and in a roundabout way, that also partially pays for a player’s logo deal or apparel contract. Do you realize how much the fans of other professional sports ultimately pay owners and players by purchasing and wearing their jerseys or baseball caps? It’s a massive revenue generator.

All of the sports including professional golf also make a ton of money from ungodly television contracts. In 2019, every NFL team received $255M from the league’s television contracts. Recently, the PGA TOUR renewed its contract with CBS and NBC for an astronomical $700M per annum over the next nine years. That’s big money rolling into Ponte Vedra, FL. Without you, the fans, watching the events on your television that simply isn’t possible.

Basically, without fans none of this is possible. In saying “this” I am referring to professional sports even existing. Which ultimately gets me to my main point.

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The Ryder Cup. The bi-annual team event that pits the best professional golfers from the United States vs Europe. Being Canadian, I have no vested interest in who wins or loses because Canadian golfers are excluded. I’m just a fan of good golf. There’s been a lot of scuttlebutt that in the wake of the global pandemic facing us, the Ryder Cup will be played with no fans in attendance. Honestly, in my opinion, that makes this event borderline “pointless”. While the golfers themselves have something to play for, with no fans in attendance the event itself would be so sterile. The fans make the Ryder Cup what it is. They’re the ones who create the atmosphere. There’s talk that the NBA and NHL has vetted cities like Toronto to host the playoffs without fans. At that point, I wouldn’t even watch it on television. No atmosphere and no emotion. It’d basically be like watching a scrimmage where I’m the only person in attendance in the arena. The teams feed off of the energy of those in the galleries or stands.

Now what I do have is a crazy suggestion for the golf powers that be. Postpone the 2020 Ryder Cup until 2021 and keep the venue the same (Whistling Straits). What about the Presidents Cup you ask, which finally yielded an entertaining event in 2019? Play that in 2021 as well. Often, I’ve said that the U.S. has so much depth that they could field two teams. Put my theory to the test. Just look at all of the “Stars and Stripes” on the OWGR. It’d be a great chance for the USGA to see what they have for the future by immersing players like Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff, Max Homa, and others on the team. Not to mention guys like Kevin Na, Kevin Kisner, and say Phil Mickelson as a playing captain.

The television ratings for both would be amazing. Hello, television and TOUR executives. Just think of the dollar signs while you sit there in your “ivory towers”. Without the fans at live events, what’s the point?

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

2020 Major Predictions – PGA TOUR

As the calendar winds down on the calendar for the year 2019 there are many things to look at and think about. Tigers Woods wins at The Masters and in doing do he collectively “flipped off” all of the naysayers who said that he was done. How does crow taste by the way?

At Bethpage, the polarizing Brooks Koepka claimed the Wanamaker Trophy in winning the PGA Championship. He may not win regular events, but he’s a threat every time he tees it up in a Major. The very likable Gary Woodland won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. His first Major championship. You had a feeling that it was going to come eventually. But if there was a newly minted Major champion that you have to like and feel good about. Shane Lowry would be that guy. It was fun watching him win the Open Championship. He really ended up running away with the Claret Jug besting runner-up Tommy Fleetwood by 6 strokes.

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Lowry signing autographs at the 2017 RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey.

As we fast-forward to 2020 I thought that it might be fun to make bold predictions regarding the 2020 Major tournaments. Oh, and before anyone suggests it, no I will not talk about The Players Championship. My opinion is to just leave it as it is. A stand-alone tournament for… The Players. So without further delay. Here we go!

(Injuries and unforeseen circumstances can really put a damper on these things)

 

The Masters – Is it just me or can you practically smell the azaleas, dogwood, and pine straw already. Honestly, I don’t know what it smells like there but I have an image, or smell, conjured in my imagination. It’d be easy to pick Tiger to win The Masters and repeat. Seeing that, as it stands now he is the favorite to win again according to oddsmakers. So with that said. Here’s my pick. This guy made putts on the fast and firm greens of Royal Melbourne during the Presidents Cup. He’s long and has the control. My pick. Justin Thomas.

PGA Championship – TPC Harding Park will be the venue for the 2020 PGA Championship. The “San Francisco Treat” was named after avid golfer and former President, Warren G. Harding and opened in 1925. Tight tree-lined fairways and small undulating greens were the norms of courses designed in this time frame. A premium will be placed on accuracy and iron play. Will length be a determining factor in this one? Maybe not. Then again, is length really a factor for many of these guys?

My pick had a sneaky journeyman-like 2019 campaign. A pretty good striker of the golf ball his iron play is solid, putting is good and has adequate length for a 7,200-yard golf course. Currently ranked #8 in the world. My pick is Justin Rose to heave the Wanamaker Trophy over his head. Sorry about the jinx Rosey!

harding_park

Photo Credit: PGA.com

The U.S. Open – A Father’s Day tradition. Sticking with the theme of golf courses designed in the 1920’s Winged Foot Golf Club is another golf course that features tight fairways and distinct green complexes. The A.W. Tillinghast-designed gem has hosted a cacophony of major events including some prior U.S. Open’s. What separates this course from TPC Harding Park? The USGA. I hope the USGA does what it does best. Set the course up in such a way that it makes professional golfers irate.

If this thing ends up a “Battle of Attrition” you have to like Brooks Koepka‘s chances. It might be an unpopular choice because he’s as polarizing a player as there is in professional golf. He may not win a ton of PGA TOUR events but he really shows up for the Major’s and he loves the U.S. Open. We don’t know how bad his injury truly is that kept him out of the Presidents Cup.  His health could be a factor.

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The Open Championship – The 149th Open Championship will take place at Royal St. George’s. The venue last hosted the Open Championship in 2011 which was won by Darren Clarke (his first and last). While I can see the likes of Rose and Tommy Fleetwood contending here I think both come up just short. Weather is always a factor during the Open Championship perhaps a little less so in England than in Scotland or Ireland for that matter. So if it’s cold and crappy out that could hurt an “old guy” riddled with past injuries (Tiger Woods).

With all things being equal and taking the lousiest weather conditions into consideration I like Rory McIlroy to win the Open Championship. He had a solid 2019, really solid in fact and I just think he’ll continue to roll in 2020.

 

The maiden 2 Royal St Georges

It’ll be fun to watch all of the Major championships in 2020. I think the collection of courses by architects of the 1920s makes the events more intriguing. You know what else will be fun? Watching my picks “crash and burn”.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

APPLYING ADVANCED VISUAL TECHNOLOGY TO THE GOLF BALL CATEGORY FOR THE FIRST TIME, TAYLORMADE GOLF COMPANY ANNOUNCES NEW TP5 PIX™

Utilizing Industry-Leading 5-Layer Construction of TP5, Speed Meets Enhanced Visibility in the Most Complete Tour Ball

 

CARLSBAD, CALIF. (March 13, 2019) – TaylorMade Golf Company, an industry leader in product innovation and technology, today formally announced TP5 Pix golf balls, optically designed using advanced visual technology to offer more visibility in The Most Complete Tour Ball in TaylorMade’s product lineup.

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The Genesis of TP5 Pix

The fastest growing segment for TaylorMade in the golf ball category is a non-white (traditional) product. Golfers’ growing trend toward playing a golf ball that allows for a different look has also opened the door to improving visual performance and visual technology through the use of machinery that has never before been used in the space.

Pix, derived from ‘pixelated’, was designed following extensive research with partners at Indiana University, the same team the company has used for a multitude of projects including TaylorMade’s most recent putter line, Spider X, which features the all-new True Path™ alignment system that was optically engineered to help golfers visualize the intended target line for improved putting accuracy.

First and foremost, Pix™ is easier to see than a normal white golf ball. The human eye processes lighter colours more efficiently when it’s darker and darker colours when it’s lighter. It’s this phenomenon that led designers to the two-colour design of TP5 Pix. Whereas most competitive products have only one colour within a single image or shape, TP5 Pix’s unique design features 2 colours within one shape, further enhancing visibility and delivering a product that’s easy to see, regardless of the time of play during the day. Producing this shape requires a unique, one-of-a-kind printing machine which has taken more than 18 months to design and develop.

In almost every sport utilizing a ball in play, the ball itself delivers immediate feedback – such as a baseball’s spin out of the pitcher’s hand. The larger contrast graphics of TP5 Pix allow golfers to see how much overall and side spin is generated around the green. Pix’s unique pattern with 12 evenly-spaced images allows the product to show spin when putting and chipping. The feedback the ball provides allows the golfer to immediately see the amount of spin being generated and the direction of that spin on shots on and around the green.

“White, round and sits on the ground is no longer the norm for golf balls. Visual technology has given us the opportunity to not only change the appearance of the golf ball but also allows for players to see immediate feedback where spin matters most – on and around the greens.”

Mike Fox, Category Director, Golf Balls & Accessories

The durability of graphics is a foremost concern on any golf ball with graphic or lettering, and to contest wear and smearing of the graphics on TP5 (and TP5x), engineers have utilized undercoating printing to ensure maximum graphic durability. This is the same process the TaylorMade logo and TP5 side stamp goes through to ensure the performance features of the shapes will last as long as possible.

The Performance of TP5 Pix

Highlighted by its new High-Flex Material (HFM) and Speed-Layer System, TaylorMade has taken the ’19 TP5(x) line to a new level of performance – built on the same platform, TP5 Pix is no exception.

 

The new Speed-Layer System is comprised of four increasingly stiff layers, featuring a new material called HFM. HFM is the fastest material TaylorMade has ever used and is essentially a tightly wound spring and when compressed generates more rebound energy for more ball speed. The tightly wound spring characteristic of HFM also increases the force on the driver face, further increasing the speed of the golf ball when it leaves the driver face.

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Tri-Fast Core 

The Tri-Fast Core consists of an extra-large, low-compression inner core (16 compression in TP5 Pix, the exact same as TP5) and a progressively stiffer outer core and mantle. The combination of these three layers work in conjunction to create lower drag and increased carry—the primary reason TP5 and TP5x have become the hottest Tour balls in golf. The Tri-Fast Core delivers breakthrough iron performance by achieving maximum carry, giving golfers of nearly every swing speed (over 60 MPH) choosing less club into the green.

 

Dual-Spin Cover 

The Dual-Spin Cover boasts an ultra-soft cast urethane cover and a 30% more rigid inner cover. This system creates a condition that is ideal for greenside control, as the rigid inner cover forces the soft urethane cover into wedge grooves for maximum spin generation.

 

Additional enhancements in the 2019 TP5 and TP5x models include a new Soft-Tough cast urethane cover. In order to achieve improved scuff resistance, shear resistance, and overall durability, the new cover features a cast urethane compound and new paint formulation to help each ball feel better and last longer.

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Pricing & Availability 

TP5 Pix will be available this spring across Canada at an MSRP of $59.99 CAD per dozen (Pix will be available in TP5 model). To learn more about TP5 Pix or any of TaylorMade’s golf ball offerings, visit TaylorMadeGolf.ca.