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Barney Adams introduces himself as a GolfWRX Contributor

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Hello GolfWRX readers. Let me introduce myself, as I’m about to write a series of columns for the site. The initial effort will be a six-part series on the drop in participation and what can be done. After that columns will reflect comments directed by you, the readers.

My name is Barney Adams and as I understand it many of you are younger, avid golfers. So why would you be interested in reading anything from a relic like me who doesn’t use any of today’s social media?

Well, to start, I used to be you. Only now I have a lot more experience, so you can ask me whatever you want about the game or equipment and you’ll get a straight answer. Back in the persimmon and balata days I was a decent player; a 2-to-3 handicap for many years. I was never considered professional material (not because of a lack of time, but because of a lack of talent), however, I did get on the occasional streak, have broken 70 dozens of times and have a tournament registered low of 64 (with a double bogey, I might add, which I remember vividly some 40 years later).

Later when I got into the club business, I worked as a club fitter down range from Hank Haney and his teaching staff. This was when I was trying to develop my own line of clubs and the hands-on experience was invaluable. In those days prudent observation would have me going broke any day, so as a back-up plan I studied teaching methods. Fortunately, I got lucky with a club I designed called the Tight Lies and it provided a platform for Adams Golf to become a real company. Along the way I have repaired clubs, picked up eight patents on designs and came up with some good ideas: some that I’d rather forget. I still have a shirt with embedded epoxy as a keepsake from my assembly days.

I provide all this personal data not to try and impress anyone or reflect upon days gone by, but because I hope it opens the door so you will ask questions that I’ll attempt to answer publicly. I’m not affiliated with any golf company, and you can be assured you’ll get straight answers. That’s the type of dialogue that’s important to me.

My first six columns will be a series on declining amateur participation in golf. For those of us who love the game and want to see it flourish, this is a serious issue. I first started writing about this three years ago and it wasn’t a subject some in the industry wanted openly discussed. There is an old saying that I first heard when I was working in the Silicon Valley decades ago:

“You can always tell the pioneers. They are the ones with arrows in their backs.”

Now that I’m 75, I’m far more concerned about the status of my aching back than some golf twit who doesn’t think it’s proper to discuss the players leaving the game. The erosion has continued and today it’s become a popular issue for discussion. So what I’ve done is trace the pattern, offer insight as to why its happening and propose a definitive solution.

You may notice the occasional attempt at humor and that I’m an equal opportunity offender.

So here my email: barneyadams9@gmail.com. You might want to table any questions until the series has run its course, but if you’d rather send them now I’ll hold onto them and respond as soon as I can.

I’m very interested to see where this goes, and am looking forward to your feedback and questions. Thank you in advance for reading and your support of this game I love so much.

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at barneyadams9@gmail.com Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. tbowles411

    Jun 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Well, this is just cool. Think I can stop in on my next trip to Dallas in a month? 🙂

  2. Ken

    Jun 17, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Welcome to the Golfwrx site!!! I have always respected your insight and look forward to all of your future columns.

    I’ve been a long-time Adams user. Started as most with the Tight Lies FW’s, but I’ve always loved Adams irons. Over the years I’ve played the GT Performance, GT Tour, GT Ultimate, and now the Adams CMB. Really looking forward to your input.

  3. Clarkson Golf Alumni

    Jun 16, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I played golf at your alma mater, Clarkson University. The one thing I’ve always wanted to ask is why Adams Golf was not involved at all with our golf program. We used Ogio bags and later Ping. No players on the team used any Adams clubs. It wasn’t that we didn’t like your equipment, it was the fact that Adams was one of the manufacturers that we didn’t get a discount from. My teammates and I presumed you would have wanted us to have Adams/Clarkson golf shirts and Adams/Clarkson bags rather than other manufacturers. Like all our golf equipment, we didn’t expect it for free, but the fact we didn’t even receive a discount was puzzling. I frequent the golfwrx forums and now that you are posting, I had to ask.

    Thanks.

    • Barney adama

      Jun 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Years ago there was a problem with my old Fraternity. I called the office of the then President to see if I could get any details. A spokesman told me to go away. I asked again saying I was just curious and was told to go away that the school wasn’t interested in anything I had to say. I then asked them to mark my file ” deceased ” that was President Brown. Now the school has Tony Collins a great guy. Of course now I can’t do anything because I have no affiliation.

  4. RG

    Jun 16, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Mr. Adams,
    Thank you! Your clubs have given me joy and confidence in abundance through the years. I can’t wait for your articles and insights. Swing away!!

  5. LB

    Jun 14, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    This is fantastic, can’t wait to read what you have to say. And congrats on a stellar career. Your company was churning out remarkably performing clubs in every category which is a credit to your leadership.

    Tee it forward I agree is a misnomer. If you are left with long irons into every approach shot you need to move up, plain and simple. My biggest issue with slow play is those that don’t recognize it or don’t care, when every group is backed up and they make no effort to get going.

    Outside of that, the game is what it always has been. There’s simply less time to get away in 2014.

  6. Greg Hunter

    Jun 14, 2014 at 12:54 am

    That’s awesome to have someone with the background and street knowledge. It will be cool to ask questions!

  7. makaveli

    Jun 13, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Welcome to the best golf site ever Barney.

  8. paul

    Jun 13, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Welcome Mr. Adams. I loved my first set of golf clubs, a set of Adams I picked up on a garage sale. In regards to growing the game, I think it is not going to happen for a while. The bubble burst, now things are going back to normal. Where I live in Canada golf is still thriving. The reason is because our local economy is strong, and even trades people make enough money to go play. We also have time because courses around here were built a long time ago and only one or two are crazy long. The big problem is our culture doesn’t share the values that are built into the core of golf, and that’s why more people don’t play.

  9. John Wunder

    Jun 13, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Simply Amazing. This site never ceases to surprise me!

    Welcome Mr. Adams!

  10. Dave Davis

    Jun 13, 2014 at 7:40 am

    As a fitness contributing writer I Welcome you Barney, looking forward to your additions. I know i will have questions as an aspiring golfer trying to improve my game.

  11. 4pillars

    Jun 13, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Barney

    As a very successful designer of Hybrids how do you feel they should be hit off the deck

    hit down like an iron, or a sweeping action like a wood.

    I see advice from different coaches on this and wondered how you designed them to be hit.

    Thanks

  12. Jim Gilbreath

    Jun 13, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I am very pleased that Barney Adams will be a regular contributor, especially with the topic of the first six. I have read a lot of his writing in the past 2 years. I am a big fan of Tee It Forward, and have promoted that as much as possible at my home club, and with some success. We are also participating in the PGA of America’s Family Tee program, but it’s hard to get people to move up that far.

  13. Tommy

    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Welcome to the WRX community Mr. Adams. When I was 11 years old I had a go-to club, an Adams Tight Lies 5 wood, it was my favorite club and used it for everything. I cannot wait to hear your knowledge about the future of golf.

  14. EF

    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I’m going to try to say this nicely because you seem like a nice guy. But if your first article has anything to do with teeing it forward, 15″ cups, only playing 9 holes at a time, slowing the greens down to 3 on the stimp meter or generally not following any of the rules of golf, I won’t be reading any further in the series. Those topics have been absolutely brutalized to death at this point. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on on those issues, they are at minimum completely belabored at this point. But I’m just getting a feeling that article 1 will be something about teeing it forward. And if that’s the case, there’s already about a hundred such articles already on this site.

    You know a really good idea for an article on declining participation? How about peeling back the layers from the items I noted above and taking a real look at it. Want an even better idea? How about an article on whether it really matters to the future of the game whether it grows.

    • John

      Jun 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      How can they be “brutalized to death” when it still takes five hours to play 18?
      I’d hold your fire a little bit until the man has an opportunity to actually write something. There may be more layer peeling than you think.

    • Barney adama

      Jun 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Hit like a 5 iron

    • Barney adama

      Jun 14, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      A) I’m not really a nice guy I’m much too blunt. b) teeing it forward is a misnomer which I will explain , I don’t favor anything that breaks the rules. As to taking a hard look and whether it matters ; read on.

  15. Reid

    Jun 12, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    It’s so awesome to see you here Mr Adams. I’ve been a fan of yours since day one with the Tight Lies. I think your innovation to the game is something that many of the newer/younger golfers don’t realize when they pick up a hybrid and fairway wood. Although the brand may not be Adams, the innovations you developed so long ago are shared so many times over throughout the equipment lines. Welcome and Aloha!

  16. Ken

    Jun 12, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Welcome, sir. This is the kind of thing that truly adds value to WRX. I find this preferable to some guy asking whether I play better in black or khaki. Looking forward to your columns.

    Ken
    Adams in the bag

  17. Sean

    Jun 12, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Welcome! I’m a big proponent of teeing it forward Barney, and have talked about it extensively, unfortunately not many agree. I think if more people did tee it forward they would enjoy the game more. Perhaps one of the reasons people do leave the game is frustration? If so, teeing it forward may be one way to keep them around. 🙂

  18. Tom Stickney

    Jun 12, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Awesome guy; met him in palm desert several times…always friendly! Welcome.

  19. Clem

    Jun 12, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Barney I’m looking forward to your comments and insights into the game of golf. As well as what can be done to increase the participation of young and older players to this great game.

  20. John Muir

    Jun 12, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Excited to hear this news, Barney. You were a subscriber to my golf equipment newsletter some time ago and I always appreciated your input/notes to me.

    John Muir

  21. Jason Hat

    Jun 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Looking forward to reading your articles. Thanks for your time here.

  22. Chuck

    Jun 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Barney thank you for taking the time to write and for sharing your invaluable knowledge.

    I hope you’ll answer this question at some point in the series: Why not rollback the USGA’s testing specs on golf balls?

    It doesn’t seem to me to be much of a threat to the golf CLUB business. We’re all great lovers of golf clubs and technology on this site. Some of us are great lovers of classic golf course architecture. I know of virtually nobody, apart from Wally Uihlein and the people he pays, who are particular fans of golf BALLS.

    Is it not conceivable, that if golf ball specs were significantly altered, that the change might well result in a boost to equipment sales, as players adjusted their club choices to better match new balls?

    As for general distance gains for recreational players, the data seems inconclusive. Some experts claim that technology (that has unquestionably revolutionized elite-level golf) has done little to change recreational golf. Other experts claim that technology (THEIR technology, most often) is significant and essential to growing the game. Do you take a side? If so, what’s your evidence?

    • John

      Jun 13, 2014 at 1:56 am

      Great question, and great idea. I am not looking forward to 8,000 yard courses, and neither is the water table. Too much land, resources etc. When Bubba hit a gap wedge into 13 at Augusta, I just thought something has to be done. I also agree that the club manufacturers wouldn’t lose anything with a ball rollback, they might even gain as the original poster pointed out as people adjusted their set ups for playing golf instead of bombing golf.
      The ball is ruining the game.

    • Barney adama

      Jun 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Will address golf balls in a future column.

  23. Steve Barry

    Jun 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Welcome to the site Barney, I’m sure you’ll have a ton of great info to add with coming from such experience. Looking forward to your additions!

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Opinion & Analysis

The coveted FedEx Cup Top 30: Why making it to the Tour Championship really matters

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This week at the BMW Championship held at Medinah Golf Club in Chicago, the top 70 players left in the FedEx Cup Playoffs are looking to seal their spot in the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship.

Not only does getting into the top 30 mean a chance at winning the FedEx Cup and a cool $15 million bonus for winning the event, but heading into the 2020 season, being in the top 30 comes with some big perks. This top 30 threshold allows players the opportunity to build their schedules around the biggest event in golf.

Let’s take a look at what punching a ticket to East Lake really gets you

  •  An automatic invitation into every major in 2020: The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, and The Open Championship. For many players qualifying for these events, especially The Masters in a lifelong dream.
  • Invitation to all the WGC Events: There are only a few event on tour that get you an automatic paycheck and FedEx Cup points. Being eligible for the WGCs shows that you are a world-class player, and with these events on the schedule, you don’t have to worry about qualifying through world rankings.
  • Invitation to all limited field events: This includes the Genesis Invitational (formerly Genesis Open / LA Open), The Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial, and The Players Championship.

If a player was to play every one of the qualified events that would put them at 12 events for the season—to maintain a card for the next year a player has to play in at least 15 events. If you conclude that many of these are also winners and will play in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii that would put the players at 13 events.

This is why being in the top 30 is such a vital line in the proverbial sand—it gives these top players the ability to pick and choose their schedules for the 2019/2020 season without the stress of worrying about what events they are in. Although not to the same extent, this is also why every cutoff is so crucial for each player, whether it be the PGA Tour top 125, PGA Tour 125-150, or those players that gained their cards through the Korn Ferry Tour. Every dollar and every point earned accumulates towards playing opportunities for the next season!

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Opinion & Analysis

WRX Q&A: NewClub’s Matt Considine

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A friend of a friend pointed me to NewClub’s website. Having never heard anything about the effort previously, my first impression of NewClub was a product of its homepage, which looks something like (OK, exactly like) this.

“Sounds great,” I thought. “But what the heck does all of this mean practically?”

To get the answer to that question, I got in touch with founder and CEO Matt Considine, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about the venture.

GolfWRX: Let’s start with a little bit about your background in golf…

Matt Considine: As Lebron likes to say “I’m just a kid from Akron” and like many Midwestern kids, I’ve loved playing games with my friends, especially the game of golf. I grew up working and playing at area clubs, munis, and driving ranges. I always had a club in my hands — my mom will attest to all the divots in her carpet and repaired windows in our house. My first internship in college was with IMG Sports in Cleveland and that was my first formal introduction to the golf industry.

WRX: How did arrive at the concept for NewClub?

MC: Golf societies have been around since 1744, so I’m not sure I can take credit for conceiving anything. We took an old idea and made it new again, something that would mesh with the life of a modern golfer.

The first time I was introduced to a golf society was in 2005, and I haven’t been able to shake the concept since. Like many people I’ve talked to, I was burnt out and frustrated with golf, so I quit my college team and shipped off that summer to study at University College Cork in Ireland for 9 months.

I left to get away from golf but it was my experiences in Ireland that introduced me to a whole new way of enjoying the game. After getting laughed off Cork’s Hurling team (Ireland’s native sport) they found out I could play a little bit of golf and offered me a spot on the club team (league rules permitted one American per squad). My dad shipped my clubs over and I was back in business. Because their University teams operated on a lean budget, we would play matches against local societies and clubs in between the college matches to keep the competition sharp. It was those matches and people I met that taught me a whole new way to look at, appreciate, and enjoy the game of golf. It was a miraculous blessing looking back on it now.

Fast forward 10 years, I was living in Chicago working in business development for a technology company. I kept meeting people who were self-proclaimed “golfers,” but not playing much golf. So a small group of friends took a trip over to Scotland where we had an especially enlightening experience playing the Old Course and hanging out at The New Golf Club of St. Andrews after our match.

It was our experience there that was the final spark that NewClub needed. We enjoyed our lunch while The New Golf Club members file through the entrance, four golfers at a time to reminisce about their game on one of the seven links courses available to them through the St. Andrews Links Trust and their golf society membership.

We met teachers, bankers, architects, grocers, police officers, accountants, and fishermen. We heard stories about legendary members like Tom Morris and Sandy Herd. The New Golf Club of St. Andrews is a magical place where any golfer in their community, anyone in good standing with a passion for the game could make their golfing home.

When I returned to Chicago from that second pilgrimage in May of 2015, I decided it was time to start enjoying golf again. Just like the way I used to as a kid, the way those clubs and societies did in Ireland, and the way those members did at The New Golf Club of St. Andrews. That summer I started a standing game every Saturday at any compelling course I could find and my golf society was born. Then in 2017, we made NewClub official with 50 founding members and 5 clubs in Chicago willing to host the society.

Matt Considine

WRX: What’s happened since launch and where you are now?

MC: The society has grown to over 300 members and we have relationships with over 50 private clubs and golf courses that we find fun and compelling places to play the game. We have standing tee times every Wednesday to Sunday throughout the golf season and host five tournaments and three trips every year. Next Spring, we have our first NewClub trip scheduled to back to Scotland.

We’ve also introduced an ambassador program for people from all around the country. It’s been amazing how many people we’ve met who are eager for something like this in their own community, a golf society that they can genuinely be proud of.

WRX: Anything more about what members are saying and what the feedback is been like?

MC: In a lot of ways, we’ve set up this really unique society golf experiment, so we’re not afraid to try new things and see how people respond. Our members have been incredibly helpful with feedback. We’ve been listening a lot, watching how they use the mobile app, how they play their golf, learning about things they need, things they don’t. It all has helped us get to where we are now.

Overall, we’ve found that people have enjoyed the access and discovery of new and exciting courses, but the more pleasant surprise has been how much our members enjoy meeting new people and playing with each other. Nobody ever thinks (or admits) that they need golf buddies. But what we’ve found is that people are far more likely to play a round if they know they’ll be playing with someone they actually want to play with.

We’ve also learned that match play is very unappreciated in our country. Members love the matches, and match play is one of our core principles at NewClub.

WRX: What’s next for NewClub?

MC: We have plans for our second market launch in 2020 and will continue to grow our ambassador program to show us the road ahead. People are starting to stand up and say “this is how I want to experience golf,” so we know there is a serious need out there and we want to make sure we are meeting the demand by growing in the right way.

WRX: What do prospective members need to know?

MC: We have a really straightforward and proprietary application process on our website. Every prospective member needs to complete the application before being considered for membership. We look for applicants who possess a high quality of character, passion, and respect for the game of golf, and always leave the course in better shape than they found it.

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Opinion & Analysis

Slow play is all about the numbers

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If you gather round, children, I’ll let you in on a secret: slow play is all about the numbers. Which numbers? The competitive ones. If you compete at golf, no matter the level, you care about the numbers you post for a hole, a round, or an entire tournament. Those numbers cause you to care about the prize at the end of the competition, be it a handshake, $$$$, a trophy, or some other bauble. Multiply the amount that you care, times the number of golfers in your group, your flight, the tournament, and the slowness of golf increases by that exponent.

That’s it. You don’t have to read any farther to understand the premise of this opinion piece. If you continue, though, I promise to share a nice anecdotal story about a round of golf I played recently—a round of golf on a packed golf course, that took a twosome exactly three hours and 10 minutes to complete, holing all putts.

I teach and coach at a Buffalo-area high school. One of my former golfers, in town for a few August days, asked if we could play the Grover Cleveland Golf Course while he was about. Grover is a special place for me: I grew up sneaking on during the 1970s. It hosted the 1912 U.S. Open when it was the Country Club of Buffalo. I returned to play it with Tom Coyne this spring, becoming a member of #CitizensOfACCA in the process.

Since my former golfer’s name is Alex, we’ll call him Alex, to avoid confusion. Alex and I teed off at 1:30 on a busy, sunny Wednesday afternoon in August. Ahead of us were a few foursomes; behind us, a few more. There may have been money games in either place, or Directors’ Cup matches, but to us, it was no matter. We teed it high and let it fly. I caught up on Alex’ four years in college, and his plans for the upcoming year. I shared with him the comings and goings of life at school, which teachers had left since his graduation, and how many classrooms had new occupants. It was barroom stuff, picnic-table conversation, water-cooler gossip. Nothing of dense matter nor substance, but pertinent and enjoyable, all the same.

To the golf. Neither one of us looked at the other for permission to hit. Whoever was away, at any given moment, mattered not a bit. He hit and I hit, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes within an instant of the other. We reached the putting surface and we putted. Same pattern, same patter. Since my high school golfers will need to choose flagstick in or out this year, we putted with it in. Only once did it impact our roll: a pounded putt’s pace was slowed by the metal shaft. Score one for Bryson and the flagstick-in premise!

Grover tips out around 5,600 yards. After the U.S. Open and the US Public Links were contested there, a healthy portion of land was given away to the Veteran’s Administration, and sorely-needed hospital was constructed at the confluence of Bailey, Lebrun, and Winspear Avenues. It’s an interesting track, as it now and forever is the only course to have hosted both the Open and the Publinx; since the latter no longer exists, this fact won’t change. It remains the only course to have played a par-6 hole in U.S. Open competition. 480 of those 620 yards still remain, the eighth hole along Bailey Avenue. It’s not a long course, it doesn’t have unmanageable water hazards (unless it rains a lot, and the blocked aquifer backs up) and the bunkering is not, in the least, intimidating.

Here’s the rub: Alex and I both shot 75 or better. We’re not certain what we shot, because we weren’t concerned with score. We were out for a day of reminiscence, camaraderie, and recreation. We golfed our balls, as they say in some environs, for the sheer delight of golfing our balls. Alex is tall, and hits this beautiful, high draw that scrapes the belly of the clouds. I hit what my golfing buddies call a power push. It gets out there a surprising distance, but in no way mimics Alex’ trace. We have the entire course covered, from left to right and back again.

On the 14th tee, I checked my phone and it was 3:40. I commented, “Holy smokes, we are at two hours for 13 holes.” We neither quickened nor slowed our pace. We tapped in on 18, right around 4:40, and shook hands. I know what he’s been up to. He understands why I still have a day job, and 18 holes of golf were played—because we both cared and didn’t care.

There you have it, children. Off with you, now. To the golf course. Play like you don’t care.

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