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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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  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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Breaking down FedEx Cup changes | Details in amateur golfer’s death | USGA survey

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Yes, I know in the subject line of the email version of the M9 I said “FexEx.” I am an idiot. With the cat out of the FedEx box, however, there’s nothing I can do…
1. FedEx Cup changes officially official…
As had been previously established, the Tour will move from four playoff events to three. Most dramatically, the rumored staggered Tour Championship scoring, with the No. 1 player on the points list starting at 10 under, is now a reality. The next four players in the standings will being a 8 under through 5 under. No 6-10 will start at 4 under. Every five players after that will start a stroke further back, with No. 26 through 30 beginning at even par.
  • There will also now be a $10 million regular season bonus pool sponsored by Wyndham Rewards, aptly named the “Wyndham Rewards Top 10.”
  • The FedEx Cup Playoffs will wrap prior to Labor Day, thus finishing before the NFL season kicks off. The field for The Northern Trust will be 125 players, 70 for the BMW Championship, and 30 for the Tour Championship, with the points remaining the same for the first two events.
  • Regarding the $10 million Wyndham Rewards Top 10, the Tour says it, “will also put an even greater premium on excelling over the course of the FedExCup Regular Season.”
  • The leader of the top 10 will earn $2 million, with the runner-up pocketing $1.5 million. The existing FedEx Cup bonus pool will now total $60 million-$25 million more than the existing pool. Accordingly, the FedEx Cup champion will earn $15 million, rather than the $10 million in the current system.
2. …still not playoffs
And yet…still the Playoffs are not playoffs, as Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner points out.
  • He also offers this take: “In a move that surely will alienate many of its hardcore fans, the Tour on Tuesday unveiled its new format for the Tour Championship. Beginning next year, players will begin the week at East Lake with a predetermined total based on their position on the points list, the leader starting at 10 under par.”
  • “In an age of points and projections, the Tour’s desire for simplicity is understandable – RIP, Steve Sands’ whiteboard – but its new-look finale violates the spirit of competitive sports…There are no head starts in sports. That’s the beauty of them.”
3. Details in amateur golfer’s death
Look, this story is just awful. May Celia Barquin Arozamena rest in peace. That said, details were scarce in the initial report of her on-course murder, yesterday, so I made the decision to wait until there was more of substance to report. Now there is. It’s horrible. Here it is.
  • Per an ABC News report…”A homeless man has attacked and killed a top amateur golfer from Spain who was playing a round near her university campus in central Iowa, leaving her body in a pond on the course, according to police.”
  • “Collin Daniel Richards, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Celia Barquin Arozamena, a student at Iowa State University (ISU)…Barquin was found Monday morning (local time) in a pond at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, about 50 kilometres north of Des Moines.”
  • “Police were called to the golf course around 10:20am to investigate a possible missing female after golfers found a golf bag with no one around it.”
  • “Officers found Barquin’s body some distance from the bag, with several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck, according to the criminal complaint filed on Tuesday against Mr Richards.”
  • “A police dog tracked Barquin’s scent to a temporary camp along a creek near the golf course, where Richards had been living in a tent, the complaint said…Officers found Mr Richards with several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting, and a deep laceration in his left hand that he tried to conceal, it said.”
4. Tiger Woods off probation
Golf Channel Digital report…”Tiger Woods’ year-long probation stemming from last year’s DUI arrest has been terminated a month early.”
  • “According to Sam Smink of WPTV, Woods, 42, was let off probation early for successfully completing all regular and special conditions of his probation after pleading guilty to reckless driving and entering a diversion program last October.”
  • “Under the conditions of the program, Woods was required to pay a $250 fine and court costs, attend a DUI school and undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program. He was also subject to random drug and alcohol testing under the program.”
5. The Full Dechambeau
Bryson DeChambeau, scientific method in tow, is testing the effects of morning dew on his golf ball.
  • Before we get into specifics: I don’t think there’s anything crazy about this. Golf is a game of variables and minimizing misses. Any effort to further understand a variable or minimize a potential miss is wise. Full stop.
  • Anyway, here’s what BAD was doing per Christopher Powers, “DeChambeau, who does things a little differently to say the least, took his preparation to a different level on Tuesday at East Lake ahead of this week’s Tour Championship. According to the PGA Tour’s Sean Martin, who was watching DeChambeau closely on the range, the Mad Scientist was spraying his golf balls with water to simulate morning dew, because of course he was.”
Photo via PGATour.com’s Sean Martin.
6. Spieth’s violation settled
…but we know not how.
  • ESPN’s Bob Harig…”With next week’s Ryder Cup, Spieth will have played in just 24 events this season after competing in 24 last year. All along, he had planned on being at East Lake, where he won the 2015 FedEx Cup.”
  • “PGA Tour regulations stipulate that a player in violation of the policy is subject to a “Major Penalty,” which can include a minimum fine of $20,000 and a suspension of at least three tournaments.”
  • Don’t expect Spieth to be sitting out any tournaments. In fact, according to the PGA Tour’s Andy Pazder, it appears that Spieth will be adding events in the coming season.
  • “We have come to a resolution,” said Pazder, the tour’s chief tournament and competitions officer, on Tuesday at East Lake, site of this week’s tournament. “You will see it next season. I think it will be good for the tour, for fans and for golf in general.”
I guess we’ll look forward to that next season…
7. Jay Seawell reflects
PGATour.com’s Helen Ross filed an excellent look at the work of Alabama men’s golf coach, Jay Seawell.
  • A bit…”Under Seawell’s guidance, the Crimson Tide won national championships in 2013 and ’14, and finished runner-up in 2012. Five of his former players are on the PGA TOUR right now – Justin Thomas, Trey Mullinax, Tom Lovelady, Bud Cauley and Michael Thompson.”
  • “Seawell says Thomas was probably 15 years old when he started recruiting the future world No. 1. He remembers getting a call from someone who said the teenager might be interested in attending Alabama and Seawell followed up immediately. After all, he says, Thomas could have gone anywhere in the country. He had the “buffet in front of him,” the coach explains.”
  • “The recruitment on him started from him, believe it or not, and that’s the way it happens a lot,” Seawell says. “There are a lot of players out there and so he just kind of sent word through a third party who called my phone.”…”They said, ‘Hey, I think Justin Thomas would be somebody who’d be interested. They wanted me to know that if you’re interested they would like for me to watch him play.’
  • “So it kind of was initiated by Justin and his father and of course, when we first saw him we were like, ‘Wow, this is great.'”
8. USGA survey time!
The USGA wants your feedback on the distance debate.
  • As for the essence of the questionnaire, Geoff Shackelford had this to say.
  • “The USGA/R&A distance survey is a bit like a Robert Trent Jones design: needlessly long, seemingly takes longer to get through than you think, isn’t the most rewarding experience and you’d never do it again….But unlike some tired old RTJ effort, this one really won’t cost you a dime and will entertain at times if you are intrigued by reading between the lines or general survey construction.”

And for our international readers, the R&A’s

9. Out of bounds
I want to call your attention to the fine work Ms. Amanda Rose is doing for GolfWRX. She’s only made a handful of videos at this point, but this former college golfer has something of the spirit and substance of Katie Nolan; and it’s a voice we certainly could use in the golf media space.

Check out her latest Out of Bounds video

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The FedEx Cup overhaul is official. Here are the details

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The PGA Tour substantiated the rumored changes to the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Tuesday, unveiling a new playoff format in general, an overhaul of the Tour Championship in particular, and a new regular season points race.

As had been previously established, the Tour will move from four playoff events to three. Most dramatically, the rumored staggered Tour Championship scoring, with the No. 1 player on the points list starting at 10 under, is now a reality. The next four players in the standings will being a 8 under through 5 under. No 6-10 will start at 4 under. Every five players after that will start a stroke further back, with No. 26 through 30 beginning at even par.

There will also now be a $10 million regular season bonus pool sponsored by Wyndham Rewards, aptly named the “Wyndham Rewards Top 10.”

The FedEx Cup Playoffs will wrap prior to Labor Day, thus finishing before the NFL season kicks off. The field for The Northern Trust will be 125 players, 70 for the BMW Championship, and 30 for the Tour Championship, with the points remaining the same for the first two events.

“This is a significant and exciting change for the PGA Tour, our players, our partners and – most importantly – our fans,” said PGA Tour commissioner, Jay Monahan. “As soon as the Tour Championship begins, any fan – no matter if they’ve followed the PGA Tour all season or are just tuning in for the final event – can immediately understand what’s going on and what’s at stake for every single player in the field. And, of course, players will know exactly where they stand at all times while in play, which will ratchet up the drama, consequence and volatility of the competition down the stretch.”

Regarding the $10 million Wyndham Rewards Top 10, the Tour says it, “will also put an even greater premium on excelling over the course of the FedExCup Regular Season.”

The leader of the top 10 will earn $2 million, with the runner-up pocketing $1.5 million. The existing FedEx Cup bonus pool will now total $60 million—$25 million more than the existing pool. Accordingly, the FedEx Cup champion will earn $15 million, rather than the $10 million in the current system.

Alternatively, there’s Geoff Shackelford’s summary of the changes: “This will be easier to follow than the current system where algorithms proved consistently boring to follow. This has to be better…the FedExCup as we knew it, did not work.”

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GolfWRX Morning 9: The real problem with the FedEx Cup | Golfer at gunpoint | What elite junior golfers all do

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

September 18, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Feinstein: the FedEx Cup Playoffs still aren’t right
Most agree the PGA Tour is yet to deliver the FedEx Cup (pardon the pun) of our collective dreams. John Feinstein offered some constructive criticism.
“Chances are good though, based on reports of the planned changes, that the tour still won’t get it right. It has been trying-sort of-for 12 years now to get it right. The problem is it doesn’t REALLY want to get it exactly right. Which is sad, because it shouldn’t be that difficult.”
  • “Because it wants so badly to convince the public that the events it controls are REALLY important, the tour barely gives more credit to those who win a major than to those who win the John Deere Classic or The CareerBuilder Challenge.”
  • “The winner of a regular tour event receives 500 FedExCup points. Those who win a WGC event-also part of the tour-receive 550 points.”
  • “Which is why a major should count for at least three times as much as a regular tour win in the points system. Winning a major is SO much harder than a regular tour event: the quality of the field; the pressure on Sunday; the understanding that you are playing for history, not just money.”
  • “It is ludicrous that Brooks Koepka won two majors this year and goes into the Tour Championship in seventh place on the points list. Tony Finau, who has not won anywhere, is third. Koepka could add the Tour Championship to his resume this week and NOT win the FedEx Cup. Seriously?”
Additionally, Feinstein levels the suggestion most of us agree on: the Playoffs should be actual playoffs.
2. …and speaking of still not right
Joel Beall follows up on the story of Montana parents being barred from watching their children play high school golf.
  • “It appears Kelly’s group has garnered a partial victory, as the MHSA has introduced a rule on a trial basis this fall that will allow non-participants on the course during events. Twelve guideline have been implemented, which state that spectators have to stay 40 yards from golfers and that cell phones must be turned off upon entering the property.”
  • “We will try it at all levels and see how it goes,” Luke Kloker of the MHSA executive board said to Montana’s Sidney Herald. “Every other state seems to be able to figure out how to make it work.”
  • “However, this pilot program will come with a price. The MHSA also announced that it will charge $10 for admission to the course for golf events. While it’s common for high-school sports like football, basketball, and baseball to charge entrance fees, it’s highly unusual for golf.”
What’s the rationale? Funding a beer cart?
3. Rosaforte on how Keegan made it all the way back
Tim Rosaforte does his usual picking of the low-hanging fruit and juicing it for all its worth with his latest: a look at Keegan Bradley’s resurgence. (Not a criticism of Tim. He does what he does and he does it well)
  • A morsel…”The decline in Bradley’s young career started with an exchange of high-profile swing coaches starting 2013, when he left Jim McLean for Chuck Cook and went back to McLean before settling on Darren May, an English teaching pro at The Bear’s Club.”
  • “We worked hard on making him accept the fact that he needs to be somewhat of an average putter, because his ball-striking and driving stats are so good,” May explained. “They’re all shooting scores in different ways.”
  • “Ranked second in strokes gained: approach and sixth in strokes gained: tee-to-green, Bradley ultimately fed off the success his close friend Webb Simpson achieved in 2018, when he overcame the anchor ban with a win at The Players and a spot on Furyk’s team.”
  • “Our career arc has been the same,” Bradley said, referring to Simpson. “Watching what he did really changed my mentality.”
  • “The final piece of Bradley’s resurrection were the words of encouragement passed along by Michael Jordan through a relationship cultivated at The Bear’s Club. Not long after he signed for the 78 at Ridgewood, Bradley started reading MJ’s inspirational words on his phone. His basic message: Take from the experience and build on it.”
4.  Evian finally has that major feel
Randall Mell writes (rightly) that major championships cannot be manufactured. Thus, the Evian was always going to have to grow into to fine garments the LPGA bought for it in awarding that status.
  • “There’s more to creating major-championship tradition than jacking up the purse, renovating a course and draping the winner in her country’s flag after it came flapping from the heavens under a skydiver’s parachute.”
  • “It takes Sundays like the one Angela Stanford delivered at Evian this past week….It was a big day for more than Stanford, who was such a feel-good story, breaking through at 40 to win her first major with her mother at home fighting a second bout with breast cancer.”
  • “It was a big day for LPGA commissioner Mike Whan and Evian Championship founder Franck Riboud…The Evian Championship finally measured up.”
5. Patty’s new Scotty?
While Reed is a free agent, he’s had nothing but success with an Odyssey White Hot Pro 3. Scotty Cameron is turning on the charm however, making the putter above to woo Captain America, according to David Dusek.
“A yellow box arrived at Titleist’s PGA Tour van Monday at East Lake Golf Club, containing a new, customized Scotty Cameron Tour Rat I putter that has a slightly darker, non-glare finish. While Reed is not a Titleist staff player, the putter, trimmed in red, white and blue, has Captain America stamped into the bumpers of the head, a nod to Reed’s nickname after the 2016 Ryder Cup.”
6. Want to be an elite junior golfer?
Our Brendan Ryan found some interesting results in exploring where PGA Tour pros played their junior golf.
  • “Based on the data of these 24 PGA Tour players, their average home course has a yardage of 6,772 and slope of 132. Wowzers! Can’t believe it? It makes perfect sense: To be competitive in golf, you must shoot under par. Shooting under par, like riding a bike, or walking, or writing, is a skill. It is developed through a combination of repetition and feedback.”
  • “Easier golf courses allow players the opportunity to shoot lower scores and build confidence. Over time, these skills become habit. When players enter tournaments, it is more likely they shoot under par. Breaking par at your home golf course is only the first step towards becoming an elite junior golfer. The data suggests that players (both boys and girls) need to average approximately 69 per round to win on the AJGA – on 6,800-yard courses for boys and just under 6,000 yards for girls.”
  • “No major championship venue has ever had a junior member go on to win, or even play, the PGA Tour. That’s right: the PGA Tour is not filled with junior members from Augusta National. Why? Because while playing Shinnecock Hills is an absolute treat, the course is extremely difficult, and 74 is a great score. Junior members at such courses create habits of shooting 74, and when they enter tournaments, like the AJGA, in general, they get beat.”
7. Coastal resorts weather the hurricane
Golfweek’s Martin Kaufmann reports…”Hurricane Florence inflicted untold millions of dollars of damage on the Carolinas, but most of the popular resort destinations along the coastline were not hit as hard as initially feared.”
“The hurricane looked like it was going to deliver a direct Category 4 blast to the coastline where North Carolina and South Carolina meet. The storm weakened as it made landfall but still wreaked havoc as it moved slowly across the Carolinas. But the damage was not as bad as initially feared.”
“North Myrtle Beach, S.C., Mayor Marilyn Hatley told the Myrtle Beach Sun News that she felt “blessed and thankful” that the area, while hit hard, didn’t suffer the devastation that had been anticipated.”
8. Odds to win the FedEx Cup
Per the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook…
2/1: Bryson DeChambeau
11/5: Justin Rose
6/1: Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson
8/1: Justin Thomas
16/1: Brooks Koepka
40/1: Jason Day, Rory McIlroy
50/1: Keegan Bradley, Billy Horschel, Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari
60/1: Bubba Watson, Cameron Smith
100/1: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay
150/1: Tommy Fleetwood
250/1: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler
500/1: Aaron Wise, Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Na, Kyle Stanley
1000/1: Marc Leishman, Gary Woodland
5000/1: Patton Kizzire
9. Golfer threatened at gunpoint…for trying to retrieve his golf ball from somebody’s yard
Just the facts, ma’am…
KDKA CBS Pittsburgh report…”Police say a Butler County man pulled out a pistol and threatened a golfer who was trying to get a ball out of the man’s yard.”
  • “According to state police, a 42-year-old Butler man was playing golf at the Bonnie Brook Golf Course on Serene Lane around 2 p.m. Sunday when he hit a golf ball in the direction of a nearby home.”
  • “When the man went to retrieve the golf ball from the yard, a 55-year-old man came out and the two got into an argument…During the argument, the man pulled out a pistol and threatened the golfer.”
  • “The 55-year-old man will be cited with terroristic threats, simple assault and harassment. He has also been told not to contact the victim.”

 

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