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GolfWRX Morning 9: Average driving distance on Tour in ’18 | Mel Reid | Valentino Dixon doc premiers tonight

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

December 11, 2018

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Double the distance gain?
Mike Stachura at Golf Digest ran the numbers and found a four-yard increase in average driving distance on the PGA Tour in 2018.
  • He writes…”What the USGA once described as a “slow creep” in distance exploded in 2018-at least on the PGA Tour. Driving distance leapt from 292.1 yards to 296.1-a four-yard, one-year increase. That came after a 2.1-yard jump the year before, a number that caused the USGA and R&A to launch the Distance Insights Project, an 18-month, comprehensive study that will blend data with input from virtually all of the game’s stakeholders, including everyday golfers, via online and telephone surveys.”
  • Stachura also found, “Fourteen players averaged 310 yards or more this past PGA Tour season and 60 topped 300 yards compared to 7 and 40, respectively, the year before.”
2. In a similar vein…sort of…
Perhaps it was this news, or the Christmas season in general, but Golf Channel’s Randall Mell was inspired to channel his inner Dr. Suess, and well, there’s really no right way to introduce this piece…
  • Mell writes…”The old guard from a bygone era of players has wailed for years against the advances in technology. This group got excited this year when the USGA and R&A finally went on record to say they were concerned about driving distances. It’s unclear where a new study the governing bodies launched in 2018 will take the game, but if Dr. Seuss were filing a Christmas report, it might go like this …”
  • “Every Pro down in Proville liked Christmas a lot.
  • “But the grumps who aged north of Proville did NOT.
  • “The grumps hated what Christmas brought. They hated the wicked science so easily bought.
  • “They hated big-headed drivers wrapped in the prettiest bows. They hated nuclear-powered golf balls that practically glow.
  • “Oh, how they hated that part of the season!”
This is, of course, only the tip of the Suessian iceberg. Full piece here.
3. Mel Reid’s announcement
Bill Speros at Golfweek…”Reid said the move to come out was part of a greater mission. “It’s important for me to always fight for equality,” she said.”
  • “She said the pro golf community has been very “welcoming” to her and she said it was “rare” when anyone had an issue with her sexuality or her positions on issues of gay rights and equality.”
  • “The only problem we run into is that being gay is still illegal or frowned upon in certain countries we play in,” she said. “There are also a lot of male-dominated sponsors that are looking for certain types of players, so that’s why I have felt I can’t be quite as open as I would like to be when it comes to my personal life,” she told Athlete Ally.”
  • “At the LPGA, we have a great relationship with so many companies, but would love to have more women come to events and publicly support women in sport. I think this would make a big difference and create more exposure opportunities for us players. I’d also love to see more equipment companies in general support women and show our faces in stores and in ads,” she said.”
4. Champion Golfer/European Tour Player of the Year
AP Report…”Francesco Molinari has been voted the European Tour golfer of the year for 2018, capping a year in which he won his first major title and produced a historic performance at the Ryder Cup.”
  • “Molinari became the first Italian to win the British Open after his triumph at Carnoustie, and finished the season as the Race to Dubai champion for the first time.”
  • “At the Ryder Cup outside Paris, he became the first European to win all five points from his five matches against the United States.”
5. The LPGA Tour’s next dominant star?
Digest staffers are rounding up their newsmakers of 2018 in the world of golf. Keely Levins suggests Ariya Jutanugarn could be the LPGA Tour’s next dominant figure.
  • “Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn recorded top-10 finishes 17 times in 2018-including three wins. At the end of the season, Jutanugarn had won every award available to her: Player of the Year, money leader, the new Leaders Top 10 competition, Rolex ANNIKA Major Award, and she walked away from the tour championship with the $1 million CME season-ending bonus. It’s a resume that’s impressive without explanation, but even more impressive with it. One of those three wins was the U.S. Women’s Open. Jutanugarn blew a seven-shot lead on the back nine to land in a playoff with Hyo-Joo Kim. It was a painful reminder of events early in Jutanugarn’s LPGA career when she struggled to close out tournaments.”
  • “But diligent work on her mental game paid off at Shoal Creek, as she resurrected her championship to win after four playoff holes. The 23-year-old’s talent has never been in question. After that win, any concerns with her ability to finish off a tournament were silenced, too. The only thing that may be lacking is that feeling that she’s going win every tournament that she shows up at. It’s something that’s a bit out of her control: She’s playing on a tour where pretty much anyone could win every event. With 26 different winners in 2018, the LPGA has never been deeper, making it harder than ever for an individual to become a dominant force. But Ariya’s 2018 performance is certainly a move in that direction.”
6. How much do fans benefit from golfers’ social media?
An interesting question, here, amidst – after initial trepidation – the Tour and its players plunging headlong into all things Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • Martin Kaufmann writes…”This gets to the heart of the disconnect in the Tour’s media efforts. It talks a good game about what McClellan calls a “fan-first strategy,” and Lawrence talks about making the players “more accessible” via social media.”
  • “But do you really feel more connected to the players now? I don’t. My sense is that the larger objective has less to do with the fans than business objectives. As Lawrence said, as the players’ social-media audiences grow, “there’s undoubtedly interest from sponsors and partners to tap into that audience.””
  • And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with the players maximizing their value. But let’s not confuse that with fans developing a deeper connection with the athletes just because players are posting their highlights. If we’ve learned anything about social media, it’s that the carefully crafted public persona doesn’t necessarily mesh with the celebrity’s private reality.”
  • What we’re left with on social media is a safe, sterile presentation of Tour players, who are, by and large, already safe and sterile personalities. In this virtue-signaling era, where every social-media posting is scrutinized, there’s little incentive for athletes to stray beyond distribution of the most mundane content.”
7. Talking shop with JJ Van Wezenbeeck
Andrew Tursky caught up with Titleist Tour Rep JJ Van Wezenbeeck to talk about QBE Shootout winners Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman’s weaponry.
A morsel….”Is that tough for you as a fitter, dealing with the different personalities and different plans of attack for each player?”
  • “It’s one of the benefits of having relationships with these players. Brian and I first met when he was transitioning onto the Titleist staff. Sometimes there’s that little get-to-know-you period. But someone like Patton, we’ve been working together since his days on the Web.com Tour, so when you have that history with a player, you can remember a shaft that they played five, six, seven years ago, and you always have that in your internal database, as well as us keeping track of those types of things that allows us to reference those and know where that players likes to live.”
  • This is kind of an interesting scenario with them both being such opposite players, it’s kind of like the yin and yang, a problem that a lot of consumers deal with. Can you talk about how the specs differ, the lie angles and swing weights between a player who’s short and a player who’s tall?”
  • It’s kind of interesting when you look at their setups. We take Patton, he has three drivers actually, a half-inch short. It’s 44.5 inches. It has a mid-70’s weight shaft in it. When you look at Brian Harman, he plays a shaft in his driver that’s closer to 55 grams and plays it slightly long. He’s one who’s looking for a little lighter weight there, and is trying to create speed, whereas Patton, being a big tall guy, we’re trying to hone in the direction for him and the centeredness of the hit. Then as we get into irons, Harman’s are slightly short and Patton’s three quarters of an inch long. It doesn’t always correlate as ‘well I play my irons long so my driver should be long,’ or ‘I play my irons short so my driver should be short.'”
Many more Qs and As in the full piece.
8. New Wilson super game improvement irons
Our Gianni Magliocco...”Wilson Golf has announced that 2019 will see the release of their new super game improvement Wilson Staff D7 distance irons.”
  • “The new Wilson Staff D7 distance irons will keep the aesthetics from the FG Tour V6 and C300 irons while integrating Wilson’s RE-AKT technology, which is designed to provide golfers with extra power.”
  • “Speaking with regards to the new irons, manager of Wilson Golf Innovation Jon Pergande, described precisely what the new clubs are set to offer golfers.”
  • “The D7 line is our latest installment of game improvement irons that will give golfers increased distances on longer irons and precision with the shorter clubs. Our RE-AKT technology and ultra-thin responsive club-face increases ball speeds to help produce maximum distances, while the shorter clubs give golfers a greater feel and more distance control.””
  • “Just how has Wilson Golf gone about constructing these new irons to achieve these goals?…Well, the Wilson Staff D7 long irons (4-7 iron) feature three rows of power holes, and will also contain Wilson’s thinnest club face ever, designed to provide golfers with both maximum distance and greater responsiveness off the club face.”
  • “The D7 short irons, on the other hand,  feature fewer power holes and optimized weighting with the aim of providing maximum feel and greater distance control.”
9. Dixon doc to premier tonight
Should be a good one. Golf Channel will premier a Valentino Dixon documentary tonight at 8 ET.
  • Golf Digest’s Joel Beall with some context...”Narrated by actor Wendell Pierce (“The Wire,” “Jack Ryan”) “27 Years” spotlights how a diversion-in Dixon’s case, drawings of golf courses-served as a conduit to freedom. However, while the sport plays a vital role in Dixon’s tale, one that ultimately delivers a happy ending, the production doesn’t gloss over the disconcerting truths. It examines the frightening and deplorable circumstances that led to an innocent man’s guilt, which includes an interview with the lead prosecutor in Dixon’s case.”
  • “The show spotlights how negligence, along with racial and socioeconomic discrimination, have become feature players in America’s justice system. Through talks with Dixon’s family, the viewer sees how a man’s incarceration ruins more than just one life. Coupled with additional obstacles encountered by governmental red tape, “27 Years” can be a maddening watch.”
  • “Yet at the heart of Dixon’s story is hope. The show reveals how a team, which included Golf Digest’s Max Adler, the Golf Channel and a group of undergraduate students from Georgetown University, came together to right this wrong.”
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  1. Scott Hilgendorf

    Dec 12, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    The driving distance stat used to support the distance gain is flawed. It is only the measured holes where players are able to air it out. Rory shows 122 measured drives but he actually had 712. And of those tee shots 62% were over 300 yards.
    https://www.pgatour.com/stats/stat.214.2018.html

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Morning 9: Latest memo from Tour to players | Phil’s post-Match perspective | Greg Norman’s regrettable take

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1. Latest “bubble” memo
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard details the most recent communique from Tour to its players…“In a memo sent to players on Wednesday, tournament director Michael Tothe outlined many of the protocols that will be required when play resumes on June 11 at Colonial including the four Fort Worth, Texas, hotels that will create the foundation of the circuit’s “bubble” for the week.”
  • “The core of the PGA Tour’s plan to return was always about testing, but it’s a fine line to walk. In two weeks, at the Charles Schwab Challenge, we’ll find out if it will be enough.”
  • “Players are allowed to stay in individual RVs or rental homes but they are being encouraged to assure the health and safety of their accommodations if they choose to stay outside the bubble.”
  • “Players were also informed where COVID-19 testing will occur when they arrive in Fort Worth as well as meal options at Colonial, which will be limited to grab-and-go lunches in order to follow safety protocols.”
2. Little John finishes second at Crooked Stick 
Kyle Neddenriep, Indianapolis Star…Daly II made that same walk on Wednesday, up the 18th fairway for the final round of the inaugural Dye Junior Golf Invitational at Crooked Stick.”
  • “I think a lot of guys have re-watched the 1991 PGA tournament,” Daly II said. “I watched it every night before the tournament. (Watching him) walk down the 18th with all of the fans everywhere was pretty cool. He started as the ninth alternate and didn’t expect to play. For him to win, it was a ridiculous story. He loves it.”
  • “Daly II put together a remarkable tournament in his own right, finishing a three-way tie for second place behind winner John Marshall Butler of Louisville, Kentucky. Daly II was 4 over for the two-day, 54-hole event, which featured 33 of the top high school boys players in the country and 33 of the same on the girls’ side.”
3. Phil open to wearing mic
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Speaking on the Dan Patrick Show, Mickelson admitted that he didn’t expect the same level of banter during a typical Tour event with a seven-figure prize on the line, but he’d nonetheless be willing to broadcast his inside-the-ropes dialogue.”
  • “I would be open to the idea because of how it’s being received, and some of the insight and so forth,” Mickelson said. “But you don’t have the play between individuals. I had a partner, and Tom and I could talk back and forth. And maybe you could get some of that with the caddie, but having a partner is much more intimate and you have much better conversation.”
4. …wants annual Match
AP report…”Phil Mickelson, fresh off the success of Sunday’s charity golf exhibition with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, says he would like to see “The Match” become an annual event.”
  • “I think you could showcase guys like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan or Tony Romo and Patrick Mahomes, who are all good golfers, elite talents and have great personalities,” Mickelson told the Los Angeles Times in a column published Wednesday. “Those personalities are going to come out with this event. Or you could have someone who loves the game and is competitive but is really entertaining like Larry David and Bill Murray. I think that could shine.”
5. More audience info
Interesting stuff from Geoff Shackelford…“According to Showbuzzdaily.com, almost 1/3 of The Match 2’s audience was in the coveted 18-49 demo and the number was even better on on TruTV, also meaning there are people of any age group who know how to find TruTV”
  • “About 30% of The Match’s audience landed in the 18-49 demo despite the 44.5 average age of the participants…The numbers for TaylorMade Driving Relief with a foursome averaging 29.5 years”
  • “That’s 25% of the almighty buyers for a younger, supposedly more millennial-friendly group of golfers. And a grand total of (at least) 860,000 fewer viewers 18-49.  While not a huge difference in the percentage department, The Match did rout Driving Relief in overall audience and even took chipped away at NASCAR’s ratings.”

Full piece.

6. After a long layoff, how do the pros play?
Dylan Beirne, 15th Club for PGATour.com, examines the question…“As we might expect, there’s a clear relationship between performance and the number of weeks a player has been off. We can analyze how well players perform by comparing our estimate of their ability (how we would expect them to perform) to how they actually performed.”
  • “Generally, players taking small breaks of two weeks or less are marginally better than expected, while longer breaks result in an average drop in performance of between 0.1 and 0.2 strokes per round. For context, a drop of 0.2 strokes per round is about the gap between 100th- and 135th-ranked players in the world. It’s a significant change, but not enormous.”
  • “Additionally, the drop in performance after a 10-20 week gap is quite consistent across different levels of players. Top-50 players in the world are affected by a similar amount to those outside the top 50.”
7. A really bad take from Greg Norman
I mean, what else can you call it? A man who has a history of obtuseness and putting his fin in his mouth outdid himself with unfounded speculation about the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash in an interview with Michael Bamberger…“I asked Norman about the January helicopter crash in Los Angeles that killed all nine people aboard, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, among them. I asked Norman if he had any insight, from his own experience as a helicopter pilot, and as an elite athlete who has flown often in helicopters as a passenger, into the tragedy.”
  • “Yes – yes,” he said. His voice was sober. “Probably pilot error and pressure from the back,” Norman said. Norman could imagine the legendary basketball player saying, “‘Get me through this; get me there. I’ve got to get my daughter to this game.’
  • …”My instructor and I had a saying, ‘If you can’t see through it don’t fly through it.’ If I was flying to Doral or Orlando or Naples and there was fog, we just put it down and waited it out.”
8. Sprint to the Cup
Ben Everill at PGATour.com…“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting cancellations and postponements of tournaments leaves just 11 eligible tournaments over a 10-week stretch for players to qualify for the Playoffs and a chance at the $15 million bonus that comes with the season-long FedExCup crown.”
  • “While the top 125 will not double as the cutoff for TOUR cards next season in this reduced schedule, it will remain the mark to get into THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first of three Playoffs events in the chase for the FedExCup.”
  • “Gone is the luxury of extended rest between starts for those sitting way back on the list, such as Koepka, who was just starting to find his feet again on a return from injury when the pandemic halted play in March.”

 

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Morning 9: Improving golf coverage | Oral history of TW’s “best shot” | Nichols: Charity matches were great…but why no women?

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1. Match-inspired innovations for improving golf coverage
Golf Digest’s Shane Ryan with a few thoughts…Mid-round interviews…There’s no really good reason beyond mild annoyance to the players that this couldn’t work, even in the current COVID-19 environment, provided that safe social distancing is practiced. In the major team sports, coaches are obliged to give interviews, and players will occasionally speak at halftime or between periods. There are no “coaches” in that same sense in golf, but the game happens at a slower pace, and a 60-second walking interview between holes is not too much to ask. I don’t think there’s a reasonable argument that it’s overly disruptive, especially if planned in advance.”
  • …”Mic’d up players and caddies…In exhibitions past, we’ve witnessed players with live microphones, but the purpose behind it is dreaded “banter,” which typically comes across as hollow, forced and not very funny. But if players and caddies wore mics during a round, producers could find riveting audio that captures natural conversation or impromptu strategy sessions. Phil serving as a mentor for Tom Brady was riveting and hopefully stokes our appetite for similar mid-round insight…”
2. An oral history of Tiger’s “best shot” 
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com…(This is just the introduction to a fantastic piece that talks to Bob Weeks of TSN and Steve Williams, among others!)…”Had it slipped between Tiger Woods’ 6-iron and golf ball, one rogue grain could have sunk his hopes of winning the RBC Canadian Open in 2000, becoming the first since Lee Trevino in 1971 to win golf’s Triple Crown – the U.S., British, and Canadian Opens in the same year.”
  • “So was it the ultra-fine margin? The stakes? The absurdly improbable physics of the shot itself?”
  • “Yes. Yes. And yes. All of these things compelled Scott Verplank, among others, to call it “the greatest shot I’ve ever seen in my life,” Woods’ 218-yard masterstroke from the wet sand at the par-5 18th at Glen Abbey. Woods’ caddie Steve Williams would return to the bunker once the commotion had died down, still struggling to get his head around what he’d seen. Others have made the same pilgrimage and tried to visualize what Woods had, tried to feel what Woods felt, for this was magic.”
3. Thrive? Struggle? Survive? 
Golfweek’s Adam Schupak contemplates what’s ahead for the golf industry…”These are strange times living through a global pandemic. Suddenly, golf courses are packed in a way the industry hasn’t experienced since Tiger Woods was revolutionizing the game in the late 1990s and former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem was predicting 50 million golfers by 2020.”
  • “Well, that didn’t happen, but golf has been given this new-found seal of approval highlighting its healthy aspects and its ability to provide safe recreation. As courses across the country re-open there is pent up demand among golfers to get out and play. Tee sheets are mostly filled and former golfers and those trying out the sport for the first time are emerging out of the woodwork desperate to be in the sunshine and doing something, anything that has been deemed “COVID OK.” There is renewed belief that golf can grab a bigger piece of the pie among recreational and entertainment options.”
4. Where were the women?
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols wonders…How can there be downside to two Sundays of golf taking center stage and raising mega-money for COVID-19 relief?”
  • “Well, there is no a downside, but it could’ve been more. As LPGA player Mel Reid tweeted during the TaylorMade Driving Relief Challenge, the broadcasts could’ve represented all of golf.”
  • “They could’ve included women.”
  • “…It would’ve been great to see an LPGA player and her sponsorship partners get in on the action in a similar fashion.”
  • “The TaylorMade event could’ve been a mixed-team format. Maria Fassi and Paula Creamer are both in Florida. Some of TaylorMade’s female stars could’ve also called in during the broadcast as Jon Rahm did. Staffers who could’ve called in include Natalie Gulbis, Muni He and Charley Hull. Sung Hyun Park, who speaks limited English, was involved in a charity exhibition in South Korea with current No. 1 Jin Young Ko. Women’s golf frequently takes center stage in that part of the world.”
5. 80% of golf retail open
From the NGF Q…”The number of physical golf retail outlets that are back in business continues to increase – from off-course stores and specialty club-fitters to green grass pro shops.”
  • “Approximately 66% of golf course pro shops are open at facilities that are open to play, the equivalent of almost 9 million square feet, although some states and counties have limitations on the number of customers permitted at one time. That percentage is up from 36% at the start of the month, but is unchanged over the past week as pro shops in at least 10 states (including Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and New York) have government mandates that say they must remain closed inside to customers.”
  • “Meanwhile, approximately 79% of off-course golf retail stores were open (in terms of total square footage) through May 25. This is up from 73% last week and 59% two weeks ago. In early April, only about 4% of the 6.5 million square feet of total off-course golf specialty space was open to in-store traffic. Roughly 81% of all off-course retail stores are now open to customers.”
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GolfWRX Classifieds Spotlight (05/27/20): Adams, Mizuno, Ping

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Gator5 – Adams CMB Irons

Forged – check, Multi-Material construction – check, cool as all heck because these clubs are sweet and Adams made some really cool gear – check!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Adams CMB Irons

Member Ksears – Brand New Mizuno MP20 Irons

Did someone say brand new Mizunos??? What else could you really want from a forged blade beside being meticulously crafted and forged in Japan – as well as being priced lower than retail.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link hereMP 20 Irons

Member 1hellaofashot – Ping G410 7 Wood

Speaking from experience let me just say this “stop denying the inevitable and embrace the 7 Wood” It’s endlessly versatile, more forgiving than a hybrid, and because this one for sale is a Ping G410 it is adjustable. Here’s your chance to dial in your own par 5 killer.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Ping 7 Wood

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds 

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