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Opinion & Analysis

Money Never Sleeps: PGA Tour acquires Canadian Tour

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PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and officials from the Canadian Tour held a press conference today to announce a key move in the expansion of the PGA Tour’s global reach. The PGA Tour will assume operational control of what was the Canadian Tour. It will become the PGA Tour Canada in 2013. The conversion will begin Nov. 1 of this year.

The PGA Tour Canada will provide a way for players to qualify for the PGA Tour by granting the top finishers in the Canadian Order of Merit access to the Web.com Tour.  The No. 1 finisher receives full exempt status for the Web.com Tour, while the next four finishers receive “conditional” or partial exemption to tour events. The Web.com Tour is now the sole means of qualifying for the PGA Tour. Canadian Tour officials acknowledged that the PGA Tour had been offering both operational and financial support throughout the 2012 season, and that the Canadian Tour had long sought to build a formal collaboration with the PGA Tour.

“Having gained a thorough understanding of the golf landscape in Canada over the course of the 2012 season, we are confident that by fully dedicating our assets and resources, PGA TOUR Canada will be well positioned to play an increasingly important role in professional golf,” Finchem said. “With a solid foundation of existing tournaments along with outstanding opportunities to establish new events, we are confident PGA TOUR Canada will strengthen and grow in the coming years.”

The Canadian Tour is a 10-speed bike compared to the high-powered race car of a tour that is the PGA Tour. Even in the challenging economy of the last five years, the PGA Tour has maintained its sponsorship levels, prize money has held steady and the TV money is still rolling in. The real question is: why was the Tour in acquisition mode for  a unique fixer-upper of a property?

One of the answers is players, both professional and amateur. On the amateur side, approximately 21 percent of Canadians play golf, twice the percentage of Americans. This represents a group that is ripe for the marketing machines that the PGA Tour can bring to bear in the country. Not least among the marketing teams that will be anxious to start planting signs will be Royal Bank of Canada. Despite their blue-ribbon sponsorship level they have zero consumer branches in the U.S. An opportunity to appeal to a broader base of customers will be very attractive to RBC and will help to keep them snugly in the PGA Tour portfolio.

On the professional side, there is an arms race between the U.S. and European Tour. The Euros have conceded that the very best of their Tour will come to the U.S. to compete for fortune and glory. But they are determined to keep the best of the rest in Europe. Just last week, the European Tour announced that they wil be adding the Turkish Open to their schedule, and they are aggressively courting the same big-name sponsors that the U.S. tour seeks. In the current business environment, there isn’t enough sponsorship money or playing talent for everyone. There will be winners and losers and both sides are in it to win it.

You have to give credit to Finchem. The acquisition of the Canadian Tour comes almost a year to the day of the creation of the PGA Latino American Tour, another circuit that provides young players a path to the big show. Under this NAFTA-like umbrella, Finchem has created a strong allure to bring the best young players in the world to North America and keep them there into the 50s and beyond. He has also created a marketing area for potential sponsors that covers two continents seamlessly. With a global tour becoming more and more of a certainty than a possibility, Finchem has positioned some strong pieces in the chess game that is to come.

He summarized it perfectly.

“We have great support in Canada. If you just look at when we play tournaments up there, the turnout and the response, and the support of sponsors at all levels and the fans have been extraordinary. It just kind of makes sense that the extension of that to the early period of professional players careers, that is the qualifying part of it be part of that down to the grass roots. We think that all fits very well as well. We’re very optimistic about the opportunities to reach out to the business community in Canada and bring in that kind of support.”

Now, if someone would just do something about the LPGA Tour.

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

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

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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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