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Opinion & Analysis

The $100 Million Man: Tiger’s power color is green

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By Zak Kozuchowski

GolfWRX Managing Editor

Tiger Woods recently became the first player in PGA Tour history to surpass the $100 million mark in career on-course earnings.

When asked how it felt to be golf’s first $100 million man at Wednesday’s press conference before the BMW Championship, Woods tried to downplay his earnings, saying that he was lucky to “come along at the right time.”

“We’ve had purse increases,” Woods said. “We’ve had a lot of things go our way. I’ve won some tournaments, yes, but as I said last week, Sam Snead won more tournaments than I did, and obviously he didn’t make the money that I did, just because it was a different era. I happened to come along at the right time when TV was booming and our commissioner did some fantastic deals with TV, and our purses just leapt by a lot. I think that all that said, I’m not opposed to it; put it that way.”

But it wasn’t solely luck or the Tour’s shrewd business deals that resulted in Woods playing in an era where golfers earned huge paychecks subsidized by corporate sponsorships and television deals. Woods was the main force behind golf’s big money era.

Sure, Jack Nicklaus won more majors than Tiger has thus far in his career, and Sam Snead won more tournaments in his career than Tiger has. But no player has been more important to golf’s global impact as Tiger Woods, who has not only been the most popular golfer in the world for most of his career, but also one of the most popular athletes in the world.

In golf, players drive for show and putt for dough. But Woods proved to players that they can drive and do tons of other things for dough, too. His pre-scandal endorsement contracts with General Motors, General Mills, American Express, Gillette, PepsiCo, Tag Heuer, Accenture and Upper Deck, along with his current endorsers: Nike, EA Sports, Rolex, Vantelin Kowa and Fuse Science mean that his on-course earnings are just a fraction of his total career earnings. Only Woods and his accountants know the real figures, but many suspect that Woods had earned over $1 billion off the course in his career.

Many people who follow sports like to say that golfers aren’t athletes, but Woods made his fortune partly off the premise that he was an athlete. His swing speed, physique and unrivaled dominance fascinated not just the golf world, but the entire world of sports. Woods is the modern day Arnold Palmer, bringing golf to the masses, only on a much larger scale and on a much larger stage.

Palmer was golf’s most marketable player prior to Woods for five reasons: he was good looking, he was from a humble background, he had tremendous talent, he liked taking risks and he wore his emotions on his sleeve. Palmer’s legacy is the reason he was still able to rake in $36 million of the course in endorsements in 2011, 58 years after his last major championship victory.

Woods shares all of Palmer’s traits, only he is more talented and more emotional. As a result of the scandal, he’s also become more human. Despite Woods’ off the course problems, expect him to be thought of in the same way that Palmer is now, even after his swing slows and his hair grays. Sure, we’ll always remember Woods’ crash. But we will recall more vividly the fields he demolished and the impossible shots he pulled off under pressure.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz and GolfWRX @GolfWRX.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

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Opinion & Analysis

More Distance Off the Tee (Part 1 of 3): Upper Body Training

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If you read my previous story, Tour Pro’s Revealed: 3 Tests to See How You Stack Up, you are well aware of the fact that improving your upper body power is one of three sure ways to increase your distance off the tee. If you have not, I strongly suggest you check it out to gain some context about what is to follow and what is critical for your golf game.

Through our testing and the testing done of many of the industry leaders in golf performance, we have found that the ability of golfers to generate “push power” from their upper body is critical to maximize efficiency and speed in the swing. The way that you can test your power is simple. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your back on the chair, chest pass with both hands a 6-pound medicine ball as far as you can. When you compare this to your vertical jump as described in More Distance Off the Tee (Part 2 of 3): Lower Body Training Plan, the number in feet you threw the ball should be relatively close to your jump in inches.

If you threw the ball and it went 5 feet, you have an upper body power problem. If you threw the ball 25 feet and jumped only 14 inches, your upper body is not the problem — you probably need to focus on your lower body. It’s not rocket science once you understand what you are looking for. What can be challenging is knowing how to improve your power once you identify a problem. That is where the rest of this article comes in. What I am going to outline below are three of the most common upper body power exercises that we use with our amateur, senior and professional golfers.

The key with any power training exercise is to make sure you are as rested as possible between sets so that you can be as explosive as possible for the repetitions. Try not to do more than 6 repetitions in a set to assure that each one is as fast and explosive as possible.

Med Ball Chest Pass on Wall

This is one of the most basic exercises there is for developing upper body push power. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart and don’t be afraid to use your legs to help maximize the punishment you deliver to against the wall!

Med Ball Wall Ball

Watching the video, you may be scratching you head and wondering why this is in the upper body power article when clearly the athlete is using his legs. The reason is that in the golf swing, power starts with the legs.

Med Ball Sky Chest Throws

This one is simple. Laying on your back, all you need to do is push the ball up as high as you can, catch it on the way down and the explode it back up into the air as high as you can. If you incorporate this exercise into your routine even once a week, you will see huge gains in your ability to swing faster if this was a problem area for you.

That being said, power creation requires not only speed but also strength development. It is also important that you have a solid strength program to increase your ability to generate more force. While this is beyond the scope of this article, finding yourself a solid golf fitness expert will help you create your ideal program.

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Podcasts

GolfWRX Forum Member dpb5031 talks about the TaylorMade Twist Face Experience

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Forum member dpb5031 (aka Dewey) joins TG2 to talk about his Twist Face Experience at The Kingdom. Recently, him and 6 other GolfWRX Members went to TaylorMade HQ to get fit for new M3 and M4 drivers. Does Twist Face work? Dewey provides his answer.

Listen to the podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the Ropes: 5 things you didn’t know about playing on the PGA Tour

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Golf finds a way to take a hold on you… whether you become entranced by the skill of the world’s best professionals, fall in love with the feeling and beauty of a well-executed shot, or simply enjoy getting outside and having fun — the game is addictive.

I started playing at the age of 4 and began watching the pros on TV dreaming what it would be like to play golf on the PGA Tour. When I earned my PGA Tour status for the 2014 season, that dream became a reality. And like anything, it’s not until I actually experienced that life did I have any idea what it entailed.

For those of you who are curious what it’s like to be on the PGA Tour, here are 5 things to describe it.

1) The Culture

Traveling the world to various cities can be fun, and it’s an underrated part of the Tour lifestyle; you get to see new landscapes and taste the cuisines that define different regions across the country and the world. Unlike some other professional sports, where players stay in one place for maybe a night or two, we get to stay in places for a week or more, which allows for plenty of time away from the course to see the sights and get a feel for what the cities and their cultures offer.

2) The Show

The setup and time that goes into planning an event — the grandstands, concession stands, volunteers, and the whole network that makes these tournaments run — is beyond impressive. We see the finished product at the event in the epicenter of it all, but the planning goes on behind the scenes all year. When it’s game time and the golf ball gets teed up, it’s time for us players to block all of that out, but we certainly appreciate all of the hard work that goes into putting on an event. It may feel like being in a circus at times, but performing in the show is a thrill.

3) The People

The game of golf in general brings people together, but especially so on the Tour. Thousands and thousands of fans come to watch the golf action and enjoy the festivities. The Pro-Ams are a great way for the fans to get an up-close look at what goes on at a Tour event, and they’re also a great way for us pros to interact with fans and maybe provide some helpful swing tips, too. In my opinion, one of the best events of the year is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am — a gathering of pro golfers, athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities. It’s a testament to how the game can bring people together from different walks of life.

4) Inside the Ropes

The Tour is almost like a private school of sorts. It’s a select group of a couple hundred guys traveling around playing these events. The jocks, the nerds, the geeks, the loners; you see a little of everything. As much as there’s a sociable aspect to traveling on Tour and getting to know these people, it’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone is playing for their livelihood and playing privileges.

5) The “Pressure”

A season-long race can come down to a single shot making the difference — for some it’s between winning and losing a tournament, and others it’s between keeping and losing your card. The cameras, the grandstands, the noise… it can all be quite distracting. The idea is to block all of that out and pretend you’re playing like a kid, focusing with pure imagination for the shot. All the extra attention can help heighten the focus further, adding inspiration to “give the people what they want” and hit even better golf shots.

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