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TaylorMade CEO: We firmly oppose ball rollback, bifurcation

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Last Monday, the USGA and R&A’s annual Distance Report pointed to an increase in distance in professional golf since last year and pledged continued study of the “concerning” trend.

Titleist was the first of the OEMs to respond, citing several issues with the USGA’s research and stating the uptick in distance “is not suddenly indicative of a harmful trend.”

We’ve also heard from Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker, and Lucas Glover.

Now, David Abeles, CEO of TaylorMade, has this to say.

“We have meticulously reviewed the USGA and R&A’s 2017 Distance Report and discussed its findings with key stakeholders. Additionally, we have carefully considered the inferred implications that the study may have on the game moving forward. The TaylorMade Golf Company firmly opposes any potential roll back of product performance or bifurcation of the rules in any form as we believe these movements will be detrimental to the game at every level.

“We are optimistic about golf’s future and we believe that the growth initiatives our industry has invested in are beginning to drive participation momentum in our sport. Any separation from the rules or any step backward in performance would be disadvantageous to the growth of the game.

“For millions of golfers of all skill levels, we believe innovation and technology lead to better performance, and better performance brings more joy to the game for all who play it.

“As the discussion around bifurcation and rollback formalizes, we look forward to having a seat at the table to lend our voice. Until then, we will continue to create the best performing products for all golfers.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members?

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Harry

    Mar 16, 2018 at 2:15 am

    The USGA “could” standardize the ball and decide that all pros in whatever tour would have to play the same ball. Every ball sport does that. MLB uses wooden bats for the same kind of reasons (also to protect the pitchers)- it limits the velocity of the ball off the bats. The players can use whatever wooden bat brand or design, but the same ball for all of them. To have different balls might truly be game changing for that sport. Why not for professional golf?

  2. Greg Platupe

    Mar 14, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    If something doesn’t happen, we will be needing 8000 yard courses to give same challenge as the 6700 course used to . Rounds are getting too long cause the avg Joe can’t play at these new yardages needed to maintain challenge

  3. steve

    Mar 13, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Here’s the rub…. the tour style balls do not provide the average golfer with more distance or better control. However, duffers will still want to buy the tour type balls in the hopeless hope their game will improve. That’s what TM and others are counting on… scam the gullible recreational golfer with costly golf balls that promise great improvements to their game.

  4. Mat

    Mar 13, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Don’t bifurcate equipment. If you want to have simplified on-course rules for non-tournament play, great! I’m all in for that. We all kind of do it anyway, and the rules are moving that way. Split or no, whatevs. But absolutely, 100% do not in any way split the equipment rules. It is the one thing that connects us to everyone else. So and so hits it 320? Cool. He’s 40 yards past me. Wow. If you have the conversation “He hits it 280, but he has to use a reduced ball and driver”, that just means that you’re cheating, figuratively, to reach the same results. That’s not fun.

    No one plays basketball with a size smaller just because NBA guys have big hands. High school baseball uses the same baseball, and the same CoR bats (albeit aluminum). If the USGA decided to roll back equipment, that’ll be a small bummer, but fine – just don’t split it.

    • J Zilla

      Mar 13, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      WRT basketball, there are different rules for different levels. Different 3 point lines, different fouls, International basketball had different lines on their courts, women and men use different size balls etc.

      HS baseball typically uses a different ball than the Majors as does college or American Legion.

      NCAA football uses a different ball than the NFL which in turn use a different ball than high school.

      Really what it comes down to is if the pro golf game remains an exciting product and if distance gains tearing apart old courses or distance gains making the product boring, then they should consider making rules to aid in increasing entertainment value. Pro sports are products and so are constantly tweaking their rules at the pro level to maintain or increase their excitement level. So what if they make rules that affect .001% of all golfers? You can still play your current clubs and the latest ball. It’s not like the vast majority of golfers should be playing pro level equipment anyway.

      • Rich Douglas

        Mar 13, 2018 at 11:56 pm

        Yes, but those are all spectator sports for the average fan; they don’t play those games. But they play golf, so using the same equipment (well, equipment conforming to the same standards) and playing by the same rule matters.

  5. tlmck

    Mar 13, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    In defense of bifurcation, that’s sort of already happened. The pros and top amateurs already play a different game from everybody else. On the other side, if you do not maintain a handicap and play in tournaments, you are perfectly free to use non-conforming equipment. The USGA are not law enforcement.

    And, if you want to play the same equipment as the pros, you are free to do that as well.

  6. Joseph Weiner

    Mar 13, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Good for TM. I’ve been tweeting-texting-commenting wherever I can. LEAVE the BALL Alone! and do not bifurcate this game.

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Is the BioMech putting sensor/app an essential for improvement? Here’s a deep dive interview

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A couple of years ago, Dr. Frank Fornari and BioMech created a stir with the BioMech Acculock ACE putter, a radical new putter design that integrated the principles of biometrics, the science of motion. The putter was designed to be used with a specific type of putting stroke that would be proven by the BioMech team to be the ideal method for putting. The putter developed a cult following, but the BioMech team is back with a tool that just might break into the mainstream.

Fornari’s team has developed the BioMech putting sensor and app. The sensor attaches to any putter and transmits data about each putt to an app that can run on any iPhone or iPad. It provides key data on what the player is doing, when they are doing it and why they are doing it, making the BioMech sensor effective whether you are a player, an instructor or even a manufacturer. With the golf industry driven more than ever by technology, the BioMech sensor could become as essential to putting and the short game as Trackman is to the full swing. I had a chance to sit down with some of the key personnel at BioMech to talk about the sensor and app, and why they are confident that they have the product that will change the way people learn, teach, practice and play.

Joining the conversation were BioMech CEO John Douglas, Dave Edel of Edel Golf, Director of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy Laird Small, and PGA Tour Professional Heath Slocum.

GolfWRX: So, let’s talk a little bit about the beginning of BioMech because I know John that you have a serious and complex background when it comes to science and learning technology and that sort of thing. How did you connect with BioMech and how did BioMech actually get connected to the game of golf?

John Douglas: Well Dr. Frank Fornari, who’s our chairman and founder, started BioMech. We met each other through some private equity and healthcare investment opportunities and started working together on a variety of notions and ideas we thought that we could bring to market to help improve quality of life. BioMech is a motion science company. We are scientists, engineers, clinicians, doctors and we’re focused on improving quality of life through improving quality of motion whether that activity is rehabilitative or whether you’re recovering from surgery or whether that’s actually putting a golf ball, and so it’s part in parcel to what we do. Now, what we do that we believe is unique in terms of technology is we try and take the highest technology that we can put into a format that people will use and deliver the most scientifically accurate and quantitative results in a format that people can easily understand.

GolfWRX: Right.

John Douglas: I started my career early on at Apple and candidly the take away from that for me was that the best technology is the technology that evaporates. It disappears, okay? It’s transparent because people don’t actually care about technology, what they care about is that they want to phone their mom or they want to get in touch with somebody or they want to send a message to somebody.

GolfWRX: Totally agree, I always say nobody knows how a refrigerator works but…

John Douglas: We all rely on it, right?

GolfWRX: Yes.

John Douglas: So, long story short, the intention is to take the highest resolution, most valid information and deliver it in the easiest to understand form to help people understand whatever it is they need to do to make them better.

GolfWRX: Outstanding. So, from concept to product, how many integrations did you go through and what the ups and downs of getting that done? Do we have enough time?

John Douglas: No, we can talk briefly about this but there are literally thousands, if not tens or even hundreds of thousands of cases of iterations to get everything just right and it’s about a five-year arc for the tech platform that we’re talking about. We’ve got real time sensors that operate over Bluetooth and optionally over Wi-Fi for stadium applications or sports applications, but they deliver the information in real time and by that we mean is 120 milliseconds for immediate delivery, immediate feedback.

GolfWRX: Imperceptible, really.

John Douglas: That’s exactly right and we’re able to do that from multiple points and because of that and because of the real-time nature we’re able to provide a Pavlovian experience where we’re reinforcing good behavior and moving people away from bad behavior.

GolfWRX: I’m imaging all the readers Googling “Pavlovian.” Laird Small, you are a Hall of Fame instructor. When you look at technology like this, because you’ve used thousands of things, to teach golf. You’ve used a stick in the ground, you’ve used a safety pin, you don’t need a lot. So, when you look at this technology, what convinced you that this is essential to the learning experience.

Laird Small: I think the first thing is ease of use and it’s extremely easy for the golf professional to use or even for the player to use. Also, how dependable is it and how accurate is it from a feedback and information standpoint and the fact that the information that this gives is spot on and it allows the player and the coach to be able to dial in exactly what it is that they want to work on in their putting stroke. It gives that information instantaneously, and what we find is that in this platform that we use, the golfer is truly so engaged in using it that it’s almost addictive. They can see their numbers change over time and they can see it change immediately, so by doing that, they want to continue to work on it because they’re seeing real time progress. So, it makes practice fun and usually practice and putting is very boring.

GolfWRX: If there’s anything that can make the putting practice experience more fun, then you’ve achieved something.

Laird Small: Right and the sensor is so small, it weighs about three quarters of an ounce and you put it right on the putter itself.

GolfWRX: I know there is a particular BioMech putter that advocates a style of putting but the sensor can be used on any putter?

Laird Small: Yes, any putter. Any putter, any stroke, any grip that you chose to have on the putter or grip type, it goes right on the instrument, and it only weighs three quarters of an ounce, so you can’t feel it on the club itself. Now, what’s so cool about it is that you can travel with it all over the place because most putting teaching is done indoors on large machines or it’s cumbersome and there’s stuff on the putter that actually disrupts the weight of putter. With the BioMech sensor, you go out on the putting green or what’s really cool, is you can go out on the golf course. See, what people are really interesting in is transferring the skill. They’re interested in transferring the skill from the practice facility to the golf course, and the question they always have is, “How come I can do it on the practice facility but I can’t do it on the golf course?” So, what you’re able to do with BioMech is to test what you do on practice facility and now go over to the golf course and actually see what happens and compare the data to see how your habits are either the same or how they have changed which gives great insights to the learning process and what each individual does.

GolfWRX: And it’s saving data that you can retrieve as an instructor later and it can also be sent real time to an instructor, correct?

Laird Small: Correct, we are able to see that right away.

GolfWRX: That’s fantastic, especially with a person like you who’s working with students literally all over the country, if not all over the world.

Laird Small: Correct. That’s exactly right, because usually a player calls in, “I’m struggling with my putting.” And okay, the questions have to be; What are you doing? What’s the ball doing? Is it going left, is it going right? As a remote instructor, you don’t know what’s actually happening, but these metrics are accurate so you’re able to see it and say “Okay, do this”. So, the conversations are easy and what it also does is help the player to trust their technique and that’s what’s so important. Once you can trust your technique and you can let go of it, you can actually just focus on the target and execute, and that’s what’s so spectacular about it. Most players, as you know Michael, have a dozen putters in their closet.

GolfWRX: At least.

Laird Small: And so then how do you know which one works for you correctly? “Well, I’ll try this one or I’ll try this one and now the magic’s gone away from this one.” So, what this sensor allows us to do is confirm that each putter has different properties to it, different weights, design, different concepts. It allows us to tell exactly which putter preforms better for you, and then you can stay with that putter and work towards perfecting the motion with that putter. That’s why I was so excited to introduce Dave Edel to this product because it really helps the putter fitter and it helps the manufacturer as well.

GolfWRX: Very interesting stuff. Dave, let’s go to you. You’ve seen technology like this come and go, so the idea of having a putting analysis system that isn’t exactly ground breaking here. There are a number of data out there so, from your perspective, as a top level manufacturer, what makes this exceptional as a tool?

Dave Edel: Well, I think it comes down to the fact that, as a putter maker, to me it’s not about me making putters to sell a widget, for me it’s about a conceptual understanding of how people can get better and the tools needed to do that and for years, putting diagnostic applications in been in the industry and they’ve evolved but they’re still, like I said, very cumbersome, they’re-

GolfWRX: Expensive?

Dave Edel: Yes. And they’re basically, they’re there to show the flaws in what someone’s doing but what I look at from a manufacturing standpoint and not from a manufacturing standpoint but more from a conceptual standpoint is to build my company around the core fundamentals of how people get better. So I build the putting fitting that has 25 million variations in it. What does that mean? It means it gives me the tools to give to Lawrence and every other fitter and teacher out there the ability to quantify why that variable is better. Now, let’s say I change aim from someone who aims a foot left, right? Now they’re been married to their motion for five years or their whole life that was an inside out blocking motion to offset the left aim, they get my putter that aims better and now they miss right instead of maybe making the put and what it allows me and the people involved in Edel is the ability to take a diagnostic like this which is portable, which is taken all the best analytics in the industry can offer and they go on steroids and they take care of everything I need to have happen and how does it report, what can I study, what can I give to the person so they can take that putter and now work on their stroke in a way that is beneficial and my putter never gets thrown under the bus, right? For, “Wow, I’ve got this expensive putter and went through the fitting process, totally believe in it, can roll the speed, but I miss it right every time.” Well that’s because your stroke, you don’t understand your stroke pattern. You understood it for the other putter but you don’t-

GolfWRX: And like you say, when you have a system that gives you, what? 25 million variations, you said?

Dave Edel: Yeah.

GolfWRX: Right so now you are mechanically able to respond to the data of what looks good and what works well. You can respond to that. So, that’s what I like. The idea that you can respond technically to what you get statistically.

Dave Edel: Exactly. Right. I mean, people need ways to quantify it and if you go on the putting green, why if in the past you’d get a sensor that would say, “Oh, I missed the put two degrees open.” Yet the ball went left.

GolfWRX: Right.

Dave Edel: The person’s saying, “How do I understand that?” Well, it’s the three axes of how that putter works in space, time, and motion and any one thing could be sending the ball in a different direction than maybe another sensor would say. This BioMech sensor is so sensitive and the application is so fantastic that it’s actually tracking in space, time, and motion in the stroke, where that putter faces and what velocity that head is moving and capturing the face rotation rate that makes that ball move so I can make a great putter. And then I can have that person go away and get the BioMech sensor and go get even better.

GolfWRX: Actually, what it all comes down to.

Dave Edel: I’m a performance-based company. That’s all I care about. I don’t care about selling people putters, I care about them getting better. I should be able to sell a putter if I do that and if I have that consciousness.

GolfWRX: Sadly, you are not in the majority in that.

Dave Edel: And, by the way, I should say we have had the great benefit of working with these wonderful gentleman in the development of this product and part of the way we look at the world in terms of building products, is that this is always an interactive experience, that no product is ever done and the best ideas for how we can improve communication and deliver this kind of information always come from our clients and from our partners and these folks are great at that.

GolfWRX: Beautiful. So, we’ve talked to the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker; let’s talk to the guy who has to actually go use this and make a living on it. So, Heath Slocum, as a player, it is literally all about performance for you. All you care about is does this thing make the ball go in the hole and you being the engine that drives that. From a player’s prospective, you’re a talented person, obviously, and you know how to make adjustments much more than anybody, how did you come to find that this is an effective tool for you that doesn’t hinder your natural ability, rather it helps you and augments your natural ability.

Heath Slocum: Well, like you said, it’s all about performance when you’re playing on the PGA tour and you’re trying to make a living with anything, with your equipment.

GolfWRX: Even if it’s a stick in a coke can.

Heath Slocum: Absolutely. So, I’m looking for the best equipment and the best technology out there that helps me find a quarter of a shot a day. I mean, we’re talking nothing. A shot a tournament just completely adds up at the end of the year. I was fortunate enough to become a partner with BioMech and to see where this was going and to see how this could actually help my own golf game, right? So, I’m always looking. Fortunate enough for me, Dave Edel not too long ago, and he fits me in a putter that he tells me is good for me, compare it to what I putted with for 15 years and to get better results. I’m able to take what he’s doing and to marry that with a sensor and to actually be able to see it, use it, quantify it, and then actually put some of this data together to make not only my sessions better but to walk myself in right before I go out and play.

GolfWRX: Right.

Heath Slocum: It’s such an easy tool to use. I get some of my best strokes when I’m playing my best; now I’ve got them locked in and I know what I’m doing and so if I struggle I can always go back and look and find the stuff and I don’t have to keep searching. I have it there, it’s easy to use and I can use it every single day.

GolfWRX: You know, it’s very interesting what you just said because of the whole saying that goes, “Same blank, different day.” But it’s really “different stuff, different day.”

Heath Slocum: Absolutely.

GolfWRX: You go out there and think you’re doing the exact same thing but you’re not so this is a way to say, “Why am I missing this to the right?”
Heath Slocum: Well, right because our own field gets in our way a lot of the times. Our perception is not always completely accurate-

GolfWRX: For me, it’s completely inaccurate.

Heath Slocum: Correct, so that’s the thing. Now I have a tool that I can go out, every single day, whether I’m just practicing, actually doing some drills or whatever I’m doing trying to prepare for a tournament, and it’s right there with me all the time. I can always go back, and all the analytics and my best putting sessions are there; I call them my “fuel”. I can actually go back and look at these numbers and this will tell me right away, instantaneous, whether I am actually doing what I feel and if not, why and how I can actually get those parameters back to where they should be, back to where I actually putt my best.

Laird Small: What’s so cool about this is that what players do when they struggle, they tend to go away from their thought process and the methodology so then they go to something else. They’re searching and what happens is it becomes it becomes they’re going down these box canyons that they’re never going to get anywhere with and what the best players do is they stay on track and on task with what their goals are and with what their concepts and philosophies are about putting or swinging the club or whatever it is, and they repeat that. What the technology helps you to do is say you’re still doing the stroke right, you’re actually really good, but perhaps your mindset changed that day. So, you can actually really go back and say, “Hey, my physicality of the stroke is okay, but my mindset was off.” So, you can really go do the proper work. It’s so important for people getting better because what happens is as soon as something goes wrong, they’re off doing something different; they change a putter, they change a concept, the change their grip. Whatever, that’s really frustrating for the player and for the coach.

Laird Small: And what’s so important is, putting is the most precise part of the game.

Dave Edel: As a manufacturer and putter fitter, people come to me and whether it’s a tour player or it’s a good amateur, or just a non-proficient player, they come in and say, “Boy, when I putted my best…” They’re always telling me about what they used when they putted their best and tour players are notorious for coming back and going, “I won the tournament doing this.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I know.” But they’re looking for that guy again or that gal…they’re looking for who they were, what happened in that two-year stretch where “I was unbeatable, I played the best I ever played.”

GolfWRX: There you go.

Dave Edel: It’s not that it was perfect, it’s just what they did and for some reason it matched. They’ll be able to do this now if they have a BioMech because now they can archive what they’ve done or the sessions that worked the best and they can keep going back on a daily basis and find their Scooby snacks.

GolfWRX: Let’s talk about some of the practicalities of how to get one into players hand. The product is in fact available right now, John, yes?

John Douglas: It is indeed.

GolfWRX: Talk about what are we using? When you get the product, what comes in the box?

John Douglas: The app is a subscription-based app, it’s available on the Apple App Store and it’s currently available in the United States and right after the PGA show, it’ll be available in most of the rest of the world. What comes in the box is a sensor and an international charging cable and adapter that can be used anywhere in the world. It also comes with shaft clips that are designed to be married with different kinds of putters in terms of the width of the shaft. One of the reasons we took that approach it makes it very, very easy to roll the sensor off of one putter and try it on another putter, and it makes it very easy to compare on a given day with different putters and make dynamic decisions.

GolfWRX: How big is the sensor? What are we talking about attaching to the club?

John Douglas: The sensor itself is about say two inches by an inch.

GolfWRX: So unobtrusive; you won’t feel it.

John Douglas: Three quarters of an ounce, 21 grams and no, you should not feel it at all. The sensor itself is available on our website or if you purchase the subscription to the app through the app store, it’ll walk you through the process of getting a sensor at the end of getting your subscription automatically.

GolfWRX: Right, and it’s the sensor and app that work together. Buy the sensor, get the app and then subscribe.

John Douglas: Yes. What the subscription gets you in addition to being able to use the app in general, is you get to multiple devices. So, for instance, if I’m using my iPhone and I’m out there practicing and I’m having the app talk to me as I’m putting out on the green but I’m not interacting with the technology at all, I’m just putting and I can hear my face statistics, I can then go back to the club house afterwards and I can pull up my iPad and I can review things in greater detail; I can share reports, I can compare what I just did to what I did a year ago at the same time. The idea is to allow that information to be shared thoroughly. And if I’m working with an instructor, the instructor subscription provides additional reporting, additional metrics and the ability to link to any number of students so that as an instructor I can actually go in and look in real time at the putting session and the putting activity of any of the people I’m partnered with. So, instructors can link to other instructors or other professionals who might benefit from the data that’s being generated.

GolfWRX: So, you have sort of a crowd sharing situation, where this information is available and can benefit a multitude of people, however many you to choose to include.

John Douglas: That’s right, and to be very clear, only to those people that you choose… The other thing I wanted to mention is that there’s video that’s available with this also, so you’re syncing the video of the putts and you see an animation of how the putter head is moving in space alongside video of the putt and I think that’s interesting because earlier putting analysis systems where camera based. It was all about measuring off of these pictures and a lot of it, I found, was kind of nonsense. You had to be in a particular place and it cost $500 dollars an hour to use and that sort of thing. But now, we have this accurate science available in terms of measuring movement of the putter head and you’re marrying it to the visual of your actual stroke. A very useful feature.

Laird Small: And so many people learn visually. That’s one of the main modalities, so they can see the technology and then they watch their stroke and the metrics change, all of a sudden it creates this wonderful picture that says, “Aha! I see it now and I see exactly where I do it.”

GolfWRX: I mean, how many people swing into a mirror? It’s kind of that same concept.

Laird Small: But it creates that awareness in real time so what you want to do is catch people in the act, so they need to catch themselves in the act in the act of what they’re doing.

GolfWRX: You wanted to jump in, Dave?

Dave Edel: We don’t require in any way, shape or form that you aim the camera at the putter. So, for instance, for people who are suffering from some type of dyskinesia or the “yips” or what have you, you may want to monitor what your head is doing during the putt and be able to synchronize that and watch that with what the putter face is doing. You can watch different dimensions.

GolfWRX: Great point, really good point. So, how much does it cost to get this into our toolkit?

John Douglas: The sensor itself is $299. The app subscription is $20 a month/$200 a year for players, and the instructors subscription is $50 a month/$500 a year.

GolfWRX: Are they in the field right now? Are we seeing anyone using it on tour? Have you seen any other tour players who’ve had some response to this, without naming any names?

Heath Slocum: There have been numerous tour players that I’ve had on the sensor and the feedback is been nothing but positive. The funny thing is that I’ve been using it for so long from the very beginning that I’ve had a lot of time to analyze in my own putting, what I’ve learned is that with some of the guys put on this thing, I can actually help a little bit, just to say, “Look, everything’s with your stroke is absolutely amazing so let’s look at your alignment, let’s look at your read but your stroke is great.” Or I can tell that you’re not closing the face enough, and Dave Edel can tell you a lot about this, but maybe just try a putter that swings a little more. And you actually see the results right in front of them and you show them and they’re like, “Wow!” It’s that easy sometime and again, I think more and more guys, now that is it available, are going to start using it.

GolfWRX: Success breeds desire.

Heath Slocum: Absolutely.

Laird Small: And to his point, players can’t get better if they’re focusing on the technique. So, if they can let go of their technique and the technology helps to confirm that, and Dave Edel’s equipment helps to confirm that as well, they just have to focus on the target. When they focus on the target and they let go of that stuff, now they think about reading the green, the right speed. All of a sudden golf becomes what it should be, a game.

GolfWRX: They stop playing swing and start playing golf.

Laird Small: Right, people don’t know how to get to that point.

GolfWRX: There you go, that’s the lead. Dave, from that manufacturer standpoint, you’ve made some of the most desired putters out there right now. Have you designed anything that’s working backwards from your experiences now with BioMech? Have you taken this and incorporated this system and its ability to create and track data and store data into your design?

Dave Edel: I think that, first of all, I’m a PGA professional that built a golf company with intent to make people better at golf. So, what BioMech will help me to do, the more I use it, since it’s a cloud-based scenario, is take all that data from people that are involved in our network and that information can come back to us and say what’s actually happening, what’s actually providing measurable results and improvements in people. That’s phenomenal.

I see BioMech as the last spoke that we needed to integrate a process, a concept. That’s the way I’ve looked at this since day one. I looked at an information platform that allows people to enter and get what they want out of it in terms of what their stroke needs to do, what their putter needs to do. How does my putter need to be weighted? How does aim work? How do I think when I’m making these motions, when I think this way or whatever? Without a diagnostic to measure something that our mind lets go, we wonder. But if we can eliminate as much confusion as possible, it could be quite a transformative scenario. This is the beginning of the new era of golf, I believe, because BioMech is doing special things. I don’t usually get wound up over this sort of stuff. I’m wound up on what’s going on with BioMech.

GolfWRX: I’ll let you have the last word on that. Thank you very much to BioMech, to Heath Slocum, Lawrence Small, John Douglas and Dave Edel. Thanks so much guys.

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GolfWRX Morning 9: R&A driver crackdown? | Golf ball mojo debate | Jim Nantz picks up a pen

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Good morning, GolfWRX members. As most of you are signed up for our newsletters, you likely already know that I’ve been sending this little Morning 9 roundup of nine items of note.

In case you’ve missed it, or you prefer to read on site rather than in your email, we’re including it here. Check out today’s Morning 9 below.

If you’re not signed up for our newsletters, you can subscribe here.

By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

 

July 17, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. R&A driver crackdown

Pictured: R&A officials looking for non-conforming drivers. 

  • Tim Rosaforte reports…”Thirty players, including seven major champions, arrived at the 147th Open and received a letter from the R&A notifying them to bring their respective drivers to the equipment standards office located on Carnoustie’s practice ground by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • “Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele and Brooks Koepka all confirmed that their drivers all passed the COR test (coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect) administered by the R&A.”
  • “The PGA Tour has been testing club for approximately five years but has not done random testing to this point.”
2. The great golf ball mojo debate
A concerned questioned asked Golf Digest if there’s a point at which new golf balls begin to underperform.
  • The reply: “Play it ’till you lose it, says Frederick Waddell, senior manager of golf-ball product management at Titleist. As long as the ball looks good to your eye, it’s ready for the next tee, he says. You’re not going to wear the ball out by playing it round after round, and you won’t decrease its ball speed or lower its spin rate. That said, if it hits something like a tree or cartpath, give it a close look. Shear or scuff marks about the size of a dime or greater will likely affect the dimples and compromise its aerodynamics.”
  • Missed opportunity to recommend a new sleeve of Pro V1s every round, Frederick! But really, he’s right, and credit to Waddell for an honest answer.
3. Firm & fiery Carnoustie awaits
Tales of 400-yard drives are everywhere as the players get in their pre-Open practice
Tiger…”Right now, the fairways are faster than the greens. I am sure they will probably speed the greens up a touch, but I’m sure this will be one of those weeks where the fairways are a little quicker than the greens.” …
  • “That’s what is going to be important, how hot you want the ball coming into the fairways,” Woods said. “You can really make the ball roll 60, 70, 80 yards, but is it really worth it or not? It is a risk-reward golf course and the way it is set up right now, it is going to play very narrow because it is so fast.
  • Ryan Lavner writes…“With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?”
  • ‘”The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”‘
4. More Harringtonia
A stellar look at the conclusion to the 2007 Open at Carnoustie from John Huggan.
  • “By his own admission the then 35-year-old Irishman arrived on the 72nd tee feeling “cocky and over-confident.” Having made nothing but 4s and 3s to that point, Harrington was expecting to “bust” his drive down the middle, just as he had all day.”
  • “It was at the top of his backswing that panic set in. Where there had been certainty, suddenly there was apprehension.”
  • “I didn’t prepare myself well enough to hit the shot I needed to hit,” he says. “That drive is one of the hardest in golf. And I stood on the tee thinking it was going to be a breeze. So when a small bit of doubt appeared, it was soon enough a big doubt.”
  • “Happily, of course, the now three-time major champion’s journey up the 18th had a very different ending 15 years on from his amateur dramatics. After two visits to the Barry Burn, Harrington got up-and-down from short of the water for a double-bogey 6. That was good enough to get him into a four-hole playoff with Sergio Garcia, from which he emerged both bloodied and victorious.”

 

5. Jim Nantz…a scribe!
Nantz picks up the pen for Golf Digest (his “favorite publication”). He touched on a few subjects, including the eternally overlooked work of PGA Professionals.
  • “As I begin my latest endeavor around golf, I can’t help but remember with deep appreciation my first employer. From 1975-’79, I worked for PGA professional Tony Bruno. For five years I watched, lost in admiration, as Tony ran the golf shop at Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, N.J. Tony put in 80-hour weeks doing what nearly 29,000 men and women club pros do every day: Keeping the game alive with a smile.”
  • “You learn pretty quickly that golf pros never have a bad day, at least not in front of their audience. They laugh along with the members’ bad jokes, they remember everyone by their name (plus their children’s names), listen intently as each player takes you shot by shot through their round, be it a 79 or a 97. They give lessons, manage tournaments, run the junior program, make sure the golf carts are operational, sell a shirt, custom-fit folks for their equipment. Trust me, there are countless nuances to being a golf professional.”
6. Fanny’s back!
Adam Scott has lured the legendary caddie out of retirement. Looper for the likes of Nick Faldo and Henrik Stenson, Fanny Sunesson, the first woman caddie to carry a bag for a major championship for one week only. Scott parted ways with his longtime caddie David Clark recently.
7. Ben Sharpe
The former TaylorMade CEO sat down with Digest for an assortment of softball questions now that he’s president of Toptracer–a technology that expands beyond just a shot trail on golf telecasts.
  • A taste…“At TaylorMade I’m proud of what we did there and pushed the boundaries in terms of what’s possible with the products we put out. This experience is similar, in that the group I’m with now, we’re pushing boundaries to help people have more fun and to bring a wider audience into what we do. The difference is that the potential we have here, the opportunity, we don’t think we realize how big this thing could be. Our product could be everywhere.”
  • “At TaylorMade there’s a finite number of products you could sell in a year, and you’re dependent on the market. What we can really do here is make new markets, and we’ve already installed our product into all the continents in the world and it’s growing fast. The whole gameification of the sport and the digital community is where everybody’s at now. To be able to provide ways in which we can give relevant and exciting content as well as playing the game and helping them get better, having that element of fun front and center in everything we do, that’s the exciting thing here.”
8. Trashing Tiger/Phil
Is this a trend? A strain of get-off-my-lawnist thinking? Several scribes have sounded off in criticism of the Tiger vs. Phil exhibition.
The latest: Tim Dahlberg of the AP...who unloads with the “1999” burn.
  • “Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in a prime-time television special playing 18 holes for – and let’s pause for a moment here – a cool $10 million. Put it under the lights in Las Vegas with some cool celebrities following inside the ropes, and it becomes must-see TV.”
  • “Back in 1999 anyway.”
  • “A concept past its time is heading to prime time, at least according to hints dropped by both Woods and Mickelson. The two say they are deep into negotiations to play a winner-take-all match with $10 million on the line.”
  • “The best part for both players? Neither will have to reach into his own pocket to pay the other off. “I would hope for a sponsor,” Mickelson said last week at the Scottish Open.”
  • “That takes some of the drama away from the match, mostly because $10 million isn’t life-changing money for either man. Woods has won $111,878,724 in official money in his career, while Mickelson is not far behind at $87,533,019, and both have made many times more in endorsements.”
9. Impressive impressions
Yes, this video is everywhere, but shame on you if you haven’t seen Conor Moore’s impression of the game’s stars ahead of The Open. We do rarely get humorous, satirical content in the golf world, so when we do, well, it’s like a perfect yardage to an accessible pin: you’ve gotta capitalize/watch the darn video!
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Tour Rundown: Drama at the Senior Players, an unexpected LPGA champion

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The United States Golf Association presented its first new Open championship since 1980. The debut of the USGA Senior Women’s Open was played at storied and seldom-seen Chicago Golf Club, near the windy city. Everyone hoped for a signature championship, and a signature champion, and the ladies did not disappoint. The professional tours teed it up in Scotland, Illinois, Ohio and Illinois again. Run, run, run it down now, in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Laura Davies dominates inaugural Senior Women’s Open

There were impressive performances this week across the world, perhaps the best such week of the season. None was more impressive than dame Laura Davies’ 10-shot victory at the first-ever US senior women’s open championship. Davies played cautious golf the first two rounds, always in the mix but never at risk. With 2 rounds under her belt, the English champion and hall of fame golfer took the Chicago Golf Club apart over the final 36 holes, leaving the field in the dust. Davies was a shot off Elaine Crosby’s first-round 70, but found herself tied for the lead at the midway point.

Chicago Golf Club played to a par of 73 for the championship, and Davies chopped 7 strokes off that figure, thanks to 6 birdies and 1 eagle. Her last bogey of the tournament came on the 4th hole that day. Oddly enough, it was a 6 at the par-five hole, a rarity for the long hitter. Eschewing tees as she has her entire career, Davies’ driving clubs played shots from turf-fashioned mounds to the fairway, all week long. Her challengers included Juli Inkster, who finished second at 6-under, and countrywoman Trish Johnson, who claimed third at 4-under.

As important as Davies’ signature victory, was the presence of the grand ladies of the game. Nancy Lopez, Joanne Carner, and Pat Bradley represented the Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wrights, and Patty Bergs before them. Raise a glass to the first of what will become a storied championship for senior women golfers.

Michael Kim claims first PGA Tour title

It’s probable that Michael Kim doesn’t care that he put on the second-best performance of the week, after Davies’. The former UCal and USA Walker Cup golfer began to fulfill the promise he offered, with a first PGA Tour win, in stunning fashion. The John Deere Classic was used to seeing Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson in the mix, yet Kim’s win might be the most talked-about for years to come. The 25-year old celebrated his birthday on Saturday, then went out on Sunday and shot 66, for an 8-stroke margin of victory. Four golfers tied for 2nd spot, including Francesco Molinari. Any other week, that foursome would have gone to extra holes, but this was Kim’s week, and runner-up money was their sole compensation.

Consider this for a moment. Of the 72 holes that Kim played, he made birdie on 30 of them. 42 percent of the time, his score was going lower. When your birdie-to-bogey ration is 10-1, you know that you’re in for something special. Of the runners-up, three were in desperate need of mid-career validation, while the fourth looks to take the next, major step in his career. Sam Ryder, Bronson Burgoon and Joel Dahmen have 0 victories and an average of 30 years of age. We know how much a win for any of the three would mean. As for Francesco Molinari, he has represented Europe in the Ryder and Seve Cups, and won on the European and USA PGA Tours. What’s the next step? Carnoustie or Bellerive, thank you very much.

Stone storms Scotland for Open title on European Tour

Brandon Stone is a very good golfer. He had two prior European Tour wins, both coming on home soil, in South Africa. Some might call that misleading, as those events don’t attract as strong a field as, say, the Scottish Open. Of late, Stone had struggled with his game, but he went out on Sunday, etched 8 birdies and 1 eagle on his scorecard for 60. Oh, and he won the Scottish Open. He beat guys like Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler, Thomas Pieters and Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter. Dream came true.

For the longest time on Sunday, viewers wondered if Eloquent Eddie Pepperell would double his career victory total, if Trevor Immelman would return to the glory he once knew, or if some other story would be written. For a few hours, that story was Aaron Rai. He opened birdie-eagle to take the lead at 14-under. It would take six more birdies for him to win, but he made four bogies and tied for 9th. Third round leader Jens Dentorp had his say, but three bogeys of his own dropped him to a tie for third. The Stone Express was so sudden; for most of the day, he was “making a nice move” or “having a good day of it.” Then, he birdied 14 and 15, and eagled 16 to stun the … well, pretty much the EVERYONE. On to Carnoustie!

Senior Players Championship to Singh in overtime

It’s hard to close out a golf tournament. Jeff Maggert had 3, maybe 4 opportunities on Sunday to do so. He didn’t. Bart Bryant and Scott McCarron, the latter the defending champion, came down with a case of ennui and played par golf from the final twosome. Jerry Kelly and and Brandt Jobe found their games on Sunday, shooting scores in the low 60s to come oh so close to the top spot. Along the way, a tall Fijian, name of Singh, shuffled his way into contention, hung around long enough to reach a playoff, then won the title with birdie on the second extra hole.

It went like this: Maggert hits a bad approach and make bogey, letting Singh back in. Singh hits a bad drive and has to scramble for miracle par, opening door for Maggert, who doesn’t step through. Maggert has legitimate birdies chances on last hole of regulation and first hole of playoff, but cannot convert. For a while, it was like watching Lionel Messi take a penalty kick! On the second playoff hole, Singh stuffed his approach to a few feet and made the putt for his first senior major title.

Suwannapura ousts Lincicome in extra holes at LPGA’s Marathon Classic

When you make the media scramble for a highlight reel, it’s safe to say that your victory was unexpected. Much like the Champions Tour, questions all day at the Marathon Classic centered on Brooke Henderson, Brittany Lincicome, and NOT on Thidapa Suwannapura. Henderson had another chance to put the field away and claim a title, but a combination of too much power and putting that needs improvement, kept her off the podium’s top spot. She finished one shot out of the playoff, with bogeys at two of her final four holes, and pars on the closing two holes, both par 5s (pssst…those felt like bogeys, too.)

Lincicome had a clean card on Sunday, making 4 birdies to shoot 67 and finish at 14-under. When Thidapa bogeyed 16, the last thing anyone expected was eagle and birdie on the final pair, but that’s what came off. To sudden death did Thidapa and Brittany go, and once again, the young Thai golfer had a birdie putt at 18, this time to win the title. She was spot on with her putt and the week’s most untouted champion had her coronation.

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