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Most-watched May ever on Golf Channel

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ORLANDO, Fla. — With the latest Nielsen data pointing to last month as the most-watched May ever for Golf Channel, viewership for the network is off to its best start in its 17-year history.

Coming off its best year ever in 2011, Golf Channel continues to build on its momentum with a strong start to 2012. Based upon five-plus quarters of growth since becoming part of the NBC Sports Group, Golf Channel is the fastest-growing network on cable (among networks serving 80 million or more U.S. homes). Through May, average viewers are up 20 percent over 2011 and 52 percent over the same time period two years ago. Four out of five months in the books so far this year — and the last consecutive four months — have set a “most-watched” record for that month.

Month – % Increase vs. 2011 – % Increase vs. 2010

February – Most-Watched Ever – 19% – 70%

March – Most-Watched Ever – 28% – 105%

April – Most-Watched Ever – 14% – 34%

May – Most-Watched Ever – 33% – 26%

TOURNAMENT COVERAGE GOING STRONG:
PGA TOUR coverage on Golf Channel is up 19 percent over this time last year. Early round telecasts of every PGA TOUR event in May scored an all-time Golf Channel best for at least one round:

• Wells Fargo Championship Round One (0.9 household rating /907,000 average viewers) was the most-watched first round of this event since 2005 (including 2 years on USA Network and 5 years on Golf Channel). The round also was up 63 percent over last year.

• THE PLAYERS Round Two (1.8/1,804,000) was the most-watched early round for the event on record (including 5 years on USA Network, 7 years on ESPN, and 5 years on Golf Channel) and up 86 percent over 2011. This contributed to the most-watched week of THE PLAYERS in the history of Golf Channel, which included the network’s signature Live From news coverage.

• HP Byron Nelson Championship Round Two (0.7/708,000) also was the highest-rated and most-watched early round at this event since 2005 (including 2 years on USA Network and 5 years on Golf Channel) and up 34 percent over last year.

• Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Round Two (0.7/700,000) was the highest-rated and most-watched of any early rounds of this event since 2005 (including 2 years on USA Network and 5 years on Golf Channel).

Viewership for the LPGA Tour and European Tour on Golf Channel is up over last year and up 26 percent and 79 percent, respectively, over 2010.

NON-TOURNAMENT PROGRAMMING UP:
Tournament coverage on Golf Channel also has been complemented by news, instruction and original entertainment, all of which are up over the same time period last year and significantly over two years ago:

% Increase vs. 2011 – % Increase vs. 2010

Originals – Monday Primetime – 64% – 41%

Golf Central – 25% – 105%

Morning Drive – 36% – 160%

Instruction – 12% – 31%

MAY MOST-WATCHED: Golf Channel averaged 112,000 viewers per day during May, spurred by compelling PGA TOUR coverage and strong performances from the network’s original entertainment series:

• The second episode of Big Break Atlantis (May 21) was the highest-rated and most-watched (0.3/349,000) original entertainment program in primetime this year and of any Big Break Episode Two in four years.

• The Feherty episode featuring guest Donald Trump (0.2/215,000) was the highest-rated Feherty premiere this season. The series has bolstered the network’s primetime Monday lineup of original shows, which is up 64 percent over 2011.

DIGITAL KEEPS PACE:
GolfChannel.com continues to attract new users in 2012, with page views up 41 percent and unique users up 58 percent so far this year over last year. Page views for the site’s mobile application are up 368 percent over 2011.

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Equipment

WRX Spotted: New TaylorMade P790 UDI

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It’s Open Championship week and that means course conditions are the talk of the town. Firm, fast, and windy conditions are expected on the links of Portrush, so we will be seeing a lot of players using driving irons that they might not otherwise play with week to week on the PGA Tour.

Not only are driving irons a hot item for players, but for OEMs launching new and prototype versions including TaylorMade, which has a new P790 UDI in some bags including Mr. Tiger Woods (credit to Rob Brooks on Instagram for the spot).

Like with many clubs just being seeded to tour, we don’t have official comment from the team at TaylorMade…but, like many times before, we have a couple of ideas based off the cosmetics of what might be in store if and when this thing comes to retail.

Some history: It’s been a while since TaylorMade introduced a new UDI (Ultimate Driving Iron) to its lineup.  There was the GAPR Low, which was very UDI “like” but the UDI as a whole never had an adjustable hosel. (There were Tour Issue versions of the GAPR Lo that had a fixed hosel and no adjustability)

The original (2017) P790 UDI

The “just-spotted 2020 (?)” version

The most recent UDI was the original P-790, but this new version has some distinct differences

  • Thinner sole. Based off the pictures, this new P-790 UDI has a thinner sole with more camber to help improve turf interaction. More camber and well-utilized bounce make any club more playable in varying conditions.
  • Shorter blade length. There is no such thing as computer screen calipers but from what we can tell when comparing side by side the new version is shorter. A shorter blade length means a CG closer to the hosel and more workability.
  • Higher toe. Just like the shorter blade length, a higher toe is often more appealing to more players (better players are generally the target for these types of clubs) and what that also “potentially” does is raise the CG. A higher CG will produce lower launching shots BUT with more spin (workability). To counter act the potential extra spin loft adjustments can be made pretty easily, since loft is one of the biggest factors in creating spin.

The one thing that is harder to compared is whats going on inside of this UDI (obviously). There is a screw in the toe, so it can be assumed that there is some sort of foam or material that helps support the face and improve the acoustics of this face thin-faced iron.

Just like we wait for the first group off early Thursday morning at Portrush, we’re just going to have to wait to see what’s really going on this new UDI too.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Tiger Woods with a new Scotty Cameron at The Open”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from No Gimmes who was quick to spot Tiger Woods preparing for this week’s Open Championship with a new Scotty putter. Woods has also been seen warming up for this week’s event at Royal Portrush with his old faithful on the greens, but our members have been discussing the thinking behind the 15-time-major champion’s potential change, as well as the putter itself.

*Photos from Golf Central’s ‘Live From The Open’ coverage

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • TheMoneyShot: “I’m really surprised he is making the switch. Let’s see if it’s in the bag come Thursday.”
  • Hedgehog: “That topline and the alignment aid and all the smooth lines, gorgeous!”
  • MuniPukeLife: “Makes sense as his trusty NP2 is super light by today’s putter standards.”

Entire Thread: “Tiger Woods with a new Scotty Cameron at The Open”

 

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Mizuno T20 wedges: Let’s get spinning

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Spin.

We’re always trying to reduce it with our driver and increase it with our wedges for maximum control, but with the rules of golf being so strict, how do actually achieve a performance gain? Simple engineering…

This is the Mizuno T20 wedge.

It’s been a few years since we have seen a T (teardrop) wedge from our friends at Mizuno, and there is good reason.

Let’ get into a quick history lesson: before the JPX900 series was introduced, Mizuno had quietly been realigning the product cycles of the MP and JPX lines. You might remember back a few years ago now before the MP18s hit the scene that there was a bit of a lull in the MP line—so much, in fact, there was even a thread here on GolfWRX asking “Is Mizuno not making MP irons anymore?”

It was a naturally curious question to a company that always had very standardized release cycles, but it was a long-term play that has paid off tremendously. We now get “T” wedges with MP irons (MP20s to be exact), and we should (from everything I know) continue to see “S” Silhouette (more rounded profile) wedges with future JPX lines.

Before we get to what’s new, how about we first talk about what will be staying the same

  • Grain Flow Forged HD – like all new Mizuno irons, the T20s are made using the same forging process to increase the density of the material in the clubhead for an improved solid feel.
  • Boron – this little element when added to the 1025e mild carbon steel used in the wedges (we’re talking trace amounts equating to 3ppm – parts per million) increases the strength of the material by 30 percent—how crazy is that for chemistry? This improves groove life and has ZERO effect on club feel.
  • Variable Width & Depth Quad Cut Grooves – Like previous T and S wedges, the T20s will have quad cut grooves that will vary in shape based on the loft of the club. Lower lofted wedges are more narrow and deeper, while higher lofted wedges are wider and more shallow since impact happens at lower speeds this increases spin consistency.
  • Same beautiful Teardrop profile from address

So what’s new?

Flow. Just like the MP20s, engineers are bringing more a more extreme CG (center of gravity) shifting philosophy, or as Mizuno explains it, increased vertical moment of inertia to the wedges. As much as you (well maybe not “you,” depending on who you are) might think “a wedge is just a wedge” and loft is the only deciding factor for spin, you couldn’t be further from the truth. By relocating the CG throughout the set and changing the sweet spot height, engineers can further alter the launch and spin precisely for each loft.

It’s about gear effect—the higher you hit above the CG the less spin the ball with have, and the closer to or lower you make impact compared to the CG the more spin you will create. Either way these are wedges, so a 50 degree, for example, is still going to spin, but it is now more controllable (think less likely to ballon or get too high on full shots). On the other side of the equation, a 60-degree wedge will allow for even MORE trajectory and spin control for the low flying quick checkers with zip.

Now about that spin.

By the Rules of Golf, you can’t make grooves sharper, you can’t increase their volume, and you can only have so much surface roughness (sorry but that old Spin Doctor wedge is HIGHLY NON-conforming). So what do you do? You change the way you think about that surface roughness…

Hydroflow Micro Grooves

Instead of traditional laser etching parallel to the grooves, Mizuno engineers took a concept from the high-performance tire world and went perpendicular to the grooves and parallel to the direction the ball moves up the face to channel moisture away. This directional tread has proven to increase spin on shots especially in conditions with moisture up to 1,200 RPM (on a 60-yard shot), that’s a very tangible number. It’s not just about spin either: the more the friction that can be created also means more control on launch angle and less of a “floating” ball flight. That’s how those low zippers keep zippin’!

Don’t think for a second that Mizuno just changed the etching and was done with it. The process went through multiple iterations to figure out how they could improve its life (beyond the boron) and the solution was to etch before the chroming process to elongate the lifespan. The other groovy take for the T20s is the actual reconfiguration of the grooves. To get the bottom groove closer to the leading edge without having it disorient the overall look of the club and making it appear that the heel or toe is thinner on one side. The lowest groove has been shortened and centered.

All of these refinements; CG, micro-grooves, and reconfigured scoring lines add up to one thing: more control and improved shotmaking with your wedges.

Finishes, specs, and grinds

The wishes of many have been answered when it comes to the T20s, there will be a RAW finish (happy dance time) along with traditional chrome and the signature blue ion. Leftys will only be able to get chrome, but all the same options will be available as far as lofts and grinds.

Coming in lofts from 46-60 degrees, the grind options progress depending on the loft and bounce. Going from full-soled in the lower lofts to more aggressive back edge, and heel-toe relief in the 60 degree. These sole shapes came directly from Mizuno’s craftsman that worked with players and prototypes to determine exactly how the bounce and sole shapes should work in harmony.

All of this has come together to create Mizuno’s finest wedge to date.

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