1 Does the WGHOF matter?
Geoff Shackelford with an interesting take via his blog. As with all things Shack, the points are sound, the only question: is he too far afield in his thinking, or are his opinions shared by the majority? In this case, it’s tough not to think more of the latter than the former.
Regarding whether we ought to ignore the World Golf Hall of Fame…”That’s the question I’ve grappled with on the news of the World Golf Hall of Fame’s latest induction class announced today…The short answer to the above question is a simple, lamentable and painful yes.”
“This is not a reflection on the current class, all fine contributors to the game who at various times were, are or will be worthy inductees at Pebble Beach next year. The problem lies in the increasingly clubby edge to who does get inducted. I’ve grown bored with the blatant, almost incomprehensible disregard for anyone who might have contributed to the game prior to 1990. Or, anyone who might have crossed former the long list of executives and former players whose feathers are easily ruffled.”
“Because, heaven forbid, someone designed a bunch of brilliant courses, wrote profound books that documented the game’s charms or broke ground in the instruction world. Those core professions vital to “growing the game” mean nothing to golf’s Hall of Fame. Remember, this group only took A.W. Tillinghast after much kicking and screaming, then inducted him with tributes from esteemed historian Harris English and other tour players. A man who gave his life to the game on multiple fronts, who had more golfing soul than most of the Hall members combined, and continues to influence the sport decades after his passing, could barely get in the Hall.”
His full take…well worth a read.
2. PGA Champ deal is done
The AP’s Doug Ferguson…”The PGA Championship will remain with CBS Sports and pick up ESPN for weekday rounds as part of an 11-year agreement in which the networks will combine to deliver 175 hours of coverage across broadcast, cable and digital platforms.”
“Financial terms of the deal announced Wednesday were not disclosed, though it was clear the PGA Championship is more attractive held in May than in August….The agreement gives CBS and ESPN, which broadcast the Masters, the first two majors of the year.”
”I can tell you from our standpoint, the property was more valuable in May than in August,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports. ”We are paying a rights fee increase. It was definitely a more attractive package.”
McManus said the number of households watching on TV is higher in May, and he spoke of a ”halo effect” in broadcasting the next major after the Masters, which is the highest-rated golf telecast of the year.
3. British Masters
Meanwhile, at Walton Heath…the Matthews are impressing.
Via EuropeanTour.com…”Local favourites Matthew Fitzpatrick and Matt Wallace took a share of the lead on the opening morning of the Sky Sports British Masters.”
“Wallace is a three-time winner on the European Tour this season, while Fitzpatrick claimed the first of his five wins at this event in 2015.”
‘Fitzpatrick and Wallace moved to four under after 12 and 13 holes respectively at Walton Heath Golf Club to sit a shot ahead of fellow Englishmen Richard Bland and Matthew Southgate, Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal and Frenchman Clément Sordet.”
4. Burgoon-a win the CIMB Classic?
Defending champ Justin Thomas opened with 66, but it’s Bronson Burgoon at the top in Malaysia.
AP Report…”Burgoon’s 63 on the par-72 TPC Kuala Lumpur West Course gave him a one-stroke lead over Austin Cook. Scott Piercy and Billy Horschel, and Taiwan’s C.T. Pan were another stroke back after 65s.”
“Thomas was in an eight-way tie for sixth, including 2012 champion Nick Watney, Kevin Chappell and Paul Casey.”
“Burgoon, ranked 162nd, had eight birdies and an eagle. His only bogey came on the par-4 13th.”
5. Jason Day’s TaylorMade P-760 testing transcript
Interesting stuff here. Jason Day went live on Instagram to show off a bit of his testing session with TaylorMade’s upcoming P-760 irons.
While the irons are the story for most folks, Day’s back and forth with TaylorMade’s Tomo Bystedt is pretty cool. And fortunately, GolfWRX has done the yeoman’s work of transcribing the dialogue.
JD: We’re gonna test it. We’re doing it live.
Tomo: But what we don’t want to do is give up any feel or control that you currently have with your 750s. So a more playability and more distance. Especially as you get into the 3 and 4 irons, you’re going to get more COR in these heads where you’re probably going to see 5-7 yards more distance. So not massive difference, not a 790 type distance.
JD: You said 5-7? I’m gonna hold you to that. So I’ve currently got a 9-iron, my 9-iron from my current set is a 750. So tell me how far this is carrying.
Tomo: Yea we’ve got Trackman going here. So, is that a good benchmark there?
JD: Eh. It was ok.
Carry was 153.
JD: So if I’m hitting summertime like right now, I usually hit it about 160. I caught it a bit heavy.
About 158 carry.
JD: A good Tuesday swing. I’m not amped. Trying to get through the day. Bloody TaylorMade has been chasing me all over the shop. So I’ve got the new 760s.
Shot. 760 9-iron.
JD: It felt solid. Nice little baby draw, which is good.
Tomo: So give me your first comments… feel, look?
JD: It felt stable. The feel of it I know… How do I explain this? It felt soft but firm. How do you get that?
Tomo: You might notice if you take a look at the sole grind, it’s a little different leading edge than what you have currently in your 750s. See that leading edge? See how there’s a little bevel there? Trying to get that camber.
6. Day on Day
Also on the J-Day front: The Australian sat down for the Golf Digest Interview.
One of his replies…”How many players today are playing for history? Are you one of them?”
“I’m definitely one of those guys There are probably five to 10 right now. You can look at the top of the world ranking and pretty much figure out most of them. The rest? They’re trying to make a good living, enjoy life and go on about their way.”
“I don’t want to put a number on majors or victories or goals, because sometimes you get to a point where you’re just struggling to get to that number. But let’s say you have 20 to 30 wins and multiple major championships. Not a lot of guys have done that. I’d also like to win the [modern] career Grand Slam. Only five guys have [Sarazen, Hogan, Player, Nicklaus and Woods]. That, plus being No. 1 in the world and 20 to 30 wins, yeah, that’s a pretty phenomenal career.”
7. Cink reflects
While the 2018 Ryder Cup has come and gone, I can always read more about the unique state of anxiety the tournament produces in its participants–seasoned professional golfers.
Stewart Cink said this of his maiden experience in 2002.
“So here we are, it’s time to go warm up on the range. I went through my warm-up and it was hard to breathe. My heart was racing. I came out to the putting green about 10 minutes before the bell goes off and I heard the next group in front of us go over to the tee, that first Ryder Cup tee, with the chanting and both sides going at each other.”
“I walked straight over to Jim and said, ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking about it, I think you should take the odds.’ He knew exactly what I meant.”
“His tee shot set up perfectly for my approach. It landed in the first cut and the ball couldn’t have been teed up better. I was standing behind the ball with an 8-iron, looking toward the flagstick with the crowd all around the green, and I remember asking myself, what’s my pre-shot routine again?”
What’s my pre-shot routine again? Crazy. Full piece.
8. The story behind the Nike driver that never was
Digest’s Joel Beall verified what we reported: this baby was headed to market.
“…according to a former Nike insider, the picture of the VPR Strike is “very real.””
“It was very much a done product,” the source told Golf Digest. “It was fully cooked and athlete-tested. It was locked and loaded.”
The source said the rumors swirling since the photo appeared may have several “embellishments” and “partial truths.”…But, the source said, “What might have been…”
The Instagram user who originally shared the photos told us
“There was going to be 2 drivers, the Vapor Strike and the Vapor Strike Elite. The theme was angle of attack as most higher handicappers are steep so the VPR Strike was aimed to launch high off a steep angle of attack. The Vapor Strike Elite was a RZN head and the ball speeds were incredible. It was aimed more at the guys who sweep the ball and better players. Rory loved it and wanted to put it in play following final testing at The Oven, but Nike wouldn’t let him. I heard an extra 8 mph of ball speed vs. the blue Vapor FLY Pro. One interesting technology I heard this driver had, was that it was illegal in certain parts of the driver face, but legal in the parts where COR was measured. Was going to be marketed potentially as ‘The legal, illegal driver.'”
9. TW prop bets for 2019 majors
You know ’em, you love ’em. A couple of days after a look at the latest Masters futures, here are a few Tiger Woods prop bets, courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
Will Tiger Woods Win a 2019 Major?
How Many Majors will Tiger Woods Win in 2019?
0 Majors 4-11
Exactly 1 Major 5-2
Exactly 2 Majors 14-1
Exactly 3 Majors 60-1
4 Majors (Grand Slam) 250-1
250-1 for the Grand Slam. Yeesh. No meat on that bone.
Wednesday’s photos from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational
GolfWRX is live from the 2019 Terra Cotta Invitational at Naples National Golf Club, which will be contested April 26-28. Past winners of the amateur event include Justin Thomas and Emiliano Grillo.
Denny Glass, chairman of the Terra Cotta Invitational, was kind enough to give us a little more information about the tournament.
For GolfWRX members who aren’t familiar, tell me a little bit about the tournament and its history
Glass: The Terra Cotta Invitational began in 1996 and was originally a combination stroke play/match play event. 20 players were invited and they played 36 holes of stroke play then the top four finishers went on to match play with the others playing an 18 hole consolation match.
I changed it to a 54-hole stroke play event with 50 players in 2006 when I took over as Tournament Chair. This was done to be eligible for Titleist/Golfweek Amateur Ranking Points. The field increased over the years and now has 75-81 players. The tournament is now ranked as a “B” level event in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Rankings) run by the USGA and R&A. This ranking is one level below the top-ranked events in the world. The WAGR rankings are based on the strength of the field so we are proud to be ranked so highly.
As it’s an invitational tournament, can you tell me a bit about who gets invited in general and who’s in the field this year, specifically? Tournament format?
Glass: It is an invitational so we invite as many of the top-ranked amateur players as are available. The field consists of many juniors (up to age 18), mid-amateurs (19-25) and some seniors (50+), along with collegiate players. While it is an invitational, we still receive more than 150 applications to play.
Can you talk about the host course and the relationship with Naples National?
The tournament is played at Naples National Golf Club. The tournament was started by the membership back in 1996. The club opened in 1993. The club hosted the World Championship of Golf, which was an LPGA event in its second year.
I know the charitable impact is important. Can you tell us about that?
The net proceeds are donated to Naples based children’s focused charities. The tournament has donated over $517,000 since it began.
- 2019 24th Annual Terra Cotta Invitational @ Naples National GC
- 2019 24th Annual Terra Cotta Invitational @ Naples National GC – Wednesday #2
Winner of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge to receive a 1973 Dodge Challenger Restomod
Under new sponsorship, the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge which takes place at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, will have a special prize on offer for its champion – a fully restored and customized 1973 Dodge Challenger.
The vehicle pays homage to the year which Schwab Corporation was founded and is equipped with tartan fabric seats and custom glacier blue paint. The car will serve as a complement to the Leonard Trophy and tartan jacket awarded each year at the tournament.
Charles Schwab worked in collaboration with Steve Strope of Pure Vision on the restoration process, and the car will be on display at Colonial throughout the tournament until it is presented to the winner on May 26.
The tournament runs from May 23-26. In 2018, Justin Rose won the event by three strokes.
Honma EVP John Kawaja on marketing, tour strategy, working with Justin Rose, and putting a rumor to bed
John Kawaja, executive vice president at Honma golf, spoke with our Johnny Wunder in the latest edition of the Gear Dive.
The industry veteran touched on a number of topics under the marketing and tour strategy umbrellas, including plenty about staffer Justin Rose. And while the entire podcast is well worth your time, we understand that some WRXers are more textually inclined.
So, as we often do, here are a few highlights from the ‘cast.
On working with Justin Rose
Kawaja: Mark [King] and I have worked with Justin for many, many years…he’s a consummate professional. He is by far and away the best brand ambassador one could have when it comes to playing great golf, being a great spokesman for your brand and really knowing equipment, which is helpful for a company [that is]…trying to get better every day…”
What was a bit surprising, to be honest, is how quickly we were able to switch out the No. 1 player in the world to Honma equipment…we’ve got 11 clubs in his bag, including a driver that has a Honma shaft…that’s probably the biggest surprise…People were saying, “he’ll probably never play their driver.” And I’m not sure there are many people on the planet that would have bet he was going to play a Honma driver with a Honma shaft.
With Justin, everything is always in the pursuit of getting better. We’ve got a 47-degree wedge and a 52-degree wedge. We a 56-degree wedge in his bag for most of the year, but the 60-degree wedge, we’re working on. He has a certain feel and a sensation…all these guys have fantastic feel, but I think Justin is the most extraordinary I’ve worked with…so, we’re working on the wedges We’re working on CGs and bounce and grind and grooves and groove spacing…but until we can make something that’s better than what he’s got in his bag, we don’t expect him to change what he’s playing.
He’s really happy with the irons. He’s delighted with his long iron…that is a prototype of a set that we’re introducing in June called the Tour World X iron…fairway woods, we actually haven’t even started…we’ve just been focused on other parts of his bag. We don’t want to force him to feel like he needs to have 13 clubs in his bag…and we’re never going to touch a putter. But we’ve just started to work on fairway woods. Next time I see him, we’ve got some product for him to hit.
On the company’s approach to professional tours and what’s next
Kawaja: We wanted to start with Justin and…establish ourselves with the No. 1 player in the world…he’ll be the face on tour of our brand for the foreseeable future. Anybody that Justin has played with this year, we’ve heard from, because they’ve noticed what Justin has seen. We’ve worked with tour players–some of the non-contracted guys, some of the guys that are curious…We’re not in any rush.
We’re never going to have the tour presence that a Callaway, or a Titleist, or a TaylorMade have…but we do intend to grow our presence…we do want to have a few more players…we’re going to look for players that have global reach, and we’re going to look for younger players. Younger players are always riskier, but we’re looking at kids that are making the transition from collegiate golf to professional golf…we think that we’ll grow our tour presence next year…but one or two.
On the importance of a tour presence
Kawaja: I think it’s extremely important. It always has been. You could always correlate No. 1 on tour with No. 1 in the marketplace in literally every single category. That, I think, says enough. Golfers are, we may all be different, but I think there’s one thing in the psychology of a guy that calls himself a golfer…there’s a gene we all share, and that’s the aspiration to hit one like a tour player.
They’re the best influencers. It doesn’t matter social media followings or whatever…if you’re watching golf and following golf, they have an influence on the bags, on the apparel, on the look of most golfers.
On dealing with rumors in general and the suggestion Honma’s TW 747 driver is too hot in particular
Kawaja: Well, [the rumor] is simply not true. …Our core message is about the beauty of our products and not performance, so it’s kind of ironic people are worried our drivers are illegal. We’ve been making the highest-quality golf equipment for 60 years. We know what we’re doing. We’re not a startup.
I think I understand where it comes from. We’ve been working with several PGA Tour players. Universally, they’re seeing faster ball speeds with Honma. Not incremental gains, but two, three, four miles per hour…One of the big four equipment companies…they’ve seen these results…and unfortunately, that rumor started. And I don’t know how it started, but it’s hard to believe. It’s not true. And frankly, it’s bush league.
On the competitiveness of the tour environment
Kawaja: It is a competitive environment. I remember when we were over at the other place, we talked every day about what our competitors were doing, and we tried to beat the crap out of them every day…We’re kind of new out there. I think the people that are out there every week, there’s a kinship among the tour reps who are working with players and working the range every week…we show up, we’ve got the No. 1 player, we start to work with guys, guys are curious…it’s competitive…
I’m a competitive guy by nature from a business perspective and from a previous life [Kawaja is a two-time curling world-champion for Canada]…and we welcome the opportunity to work with more tour players and show them what we’ve got.
Rory McIlroy’s Winning What’s in the Bag: 2019 Players Championship
Tiger Woods’ Winning WITB: 2019 Masters
The 22 players who can win the Masters
WRX Spotted: TaylorMade “Original One” Mini Driver
Kevin Kisner’s Winning What’s in the Bag: 2019 WGC-Dell Match Play
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Titleist TS4: It’s all about spin
Tour issue irons: A look behind the curtain
Line vs. speed: What’s really more important in putting?
The Wedge Guy: A discussion of bounce
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