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Opinion & Analysis

Will the trend of players without equipment contracts continue?

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Last year was full of surprises when it came down to equipment. We even saw players winning majors without having a contract with golf club manufacturers. Will this trend continue in the future? The simple answer is no.

Let me tell you why.

It doesn’t happen very often that a big equipment player like Nike leaves the stage. Due to this sudden exit, lots of players were “forced” to find a new sponsoring contract for financial reasons, since having a club contract generates income. Therefore, it’s only natural that many players switched to new equipment sooner rather than later. Whether these players really needed the extra pocket money or not is a different story to be told.

Of course, there are always certain players who don’t seem impressed by the big bucks sponsorships generate. However, you shouldn’t compare a Robert Rock or Ollie Schniederjans to one of the current major winners.

Whether you like those players or not, all three major winners of 2018 are top notch players. Yes, even Patrick Reed. Would I invite him for a brewski? Probably not. Would I bet money on him to win the Masters after rounds of 69, 66, 67? Hell yeah!

I don’t know if the general dislike of Patrick Reed is the main reason why he hasn’t had a big equipment contract in a while. What I do know is that golf brands, like every other sports brand, are not only looking for good athletes. What they need are outstanding brand ambassadors everybody loves. If this isn’t the case, they won’t let someone onto their payroll simply because bad press is a killer in today’s world of social media. Whether Patrick Reed, aka Captain America, ticks all the necessary boxes in order to be such an ambassador is something you can decide for yourself.

The remaining two major winners were both signed by Nike and must have had some pretty sweet deals. As a consequence, Francesco Molinari and Brooks Koepka won’t be cheap to sign. Whether one of the manufactures will allocate the appropriate money and sign one of them is something the future will tell us.

In this connection, it shouldn’t be forgotten that due to their recent achievements, neither of these players are currently in a financial predicament. Each and every one of them proved themselves to belong to the best golf players in the world. Therefore, it would be a very foolish move to change the winning formula: “I play whatever tickles my fancy.”

Last but not least, it is only fair to say that Nike must have made some pretty good irons. Although I never liked them, there is nothing more to say if one of today’s best ball strikers is desperately looking for certain irons from Nike. Now, before you say something, we’re not talking about Paul Casey or a set of Slingshots!

Instead of debating any further what will or will not happen in the future, we should better enjoy this very unique moment in time and watch what some of the best players in the world believe are the best clubs for them based on performance. At some point soon this will be over again for sure.

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I’m 29 years old, born in Switzerland and started playing golf when I was eleven years old. Back in the day, I won two national team championships. Besides being a passionate golfer, I do have a big interest in the industry itself. My favorite golf player is Angel Cabrera. I hate slow play and love a proper foursome with friends on a Sunday afternoon followed by a decent BBQ. Not long ago I founded my own company in Switzerland. Its purpose is to identify & develop new innovative services for the golf industry. Right now, we are working on different approaches on how customers can fully customize golf clubs & headcovers. Equipment: Driver: Titleist 905s (9.5, Graffaloy Blue S) 3 Wood: Callaway xHot Pro (15, Diamana Kai’li S70) Irons (3-p) Mizuno MP-37 (Dynamic Gold S300) Wedges: Cleveland RTX 588 (50, 54 & 58 Dynamic Gold S300) Putter: Odyssey TRI FORCE 1 Golf Ball: Pro V1

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Tom

    Feb 25, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Equipment deals are drying up except for the very top players, the industry is in trouble. Just a sigh of the current market….

    • Simms

      Feb 25, 2019 at 6:32 pm

      For the last 5 years or more all the equipment companies are putting more money into advertising it seems and boy are they getting good at turning heads…all my playing partners are in the 16 to 20 handicap range and NOTHING is any better for us then what we are using…sure nice and pretty (50% of that is just the new grip right?) Just today we played with a new guy as a dreaded 5 some…he let us all hit is new $550 driver a few times as no one was behind us….sure it was not fitted to our swings but we could all tell right away there was no magic going to come from a $550 driver…4 no sales here…

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Mondays Off

Mondays Off: Chez wins the Travelers with his own swing and holiday golf is approaching!

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Chez wins the Travelers Championship with a swing that Steve is unsure of. Talking about the Rocket Mortgage and when Knudson is going down to watch. Look out, it is holiday golf and 5.5-hour rounds are the norm!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

Hot & Cold: Where strokes were won and lost at the Travelers Championship

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In “Hot & Cold,” we’ll be focusing each week on what specific areas of the game players excelled and disappointed in throughout the previous tournament. On Sunday, Chez Reavie captured the second PGA Tour title of his career, and here’s a look at where some of the most notable players gained and lost strokes over the four days of action at the Travelers Championship.

Hot

Chez Reavie held off the challenge of Keegan Bradley to win his first title on the PGA Tour in over a decade, and the American’s irons were critical to his success. Reavie led the field for strokes gained: approaching the green in Connecticut, gaining 6.4 strokes over the field in this area. Check out the clubs Reavie used on his way to victory in our WITB piece here.

Jason Day returned to form last week, and the Australian excelled with his iron play for the four days of action. The 31-year-old has had issues with his ballstriking recently, but at the Travelers, Day gained 6.4 strokes over the field for his approach play – his best performance in this department since the 2016 PGA Championship.

Keegan Bradley’s putter has often been a thorn in the 33-year-old’s side, but last week in Connecticut it served him beautifully. Bradley led the field in strokes gained: putting at the Travelers, gaining a total of 9.8 strokes with the flat-stick. It snaps a streak of 11 straight events where Bradley had lost strokes on the green.

Cold

Jordan Spieth continues to struggle, and once again, the issue revolves around his long game. The Texan lost a combined total of 4.3 strokes off the tee and with his approaches at the Travelers – his worst total in this area since The Players.

Justin Thomas showed plenty of positive signs last week, with the second highest strokes gained: tee to green total in the field. However, Thomas’ putter was stone cold, and the 26-year-old lost a mammoth 7.8 strokes to the field on the greens. That number represents his worst performance of his career with the flat-stick, and Thomas has now lost strokes to the field on the greens in his last seven successive events.

Brooks Koepka struggled on his way to a T57 finish last week, with the 29-year-old losing strokes to the field off the tee, with his irons and on the green. It is the first time that Koepka has lost strokes in each of these three areas in a single event since the 2018 Tournament of Champions.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The best golf club innovations?

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Being in the golf equipment industry for nearly 40 years, I have paid close attention to the evolution of golf equipment over its modern history. While I’ve never gotten into the collecting side of golf equipment, I have accumulated a few dozen clubs that represent some of the evolution and revolution in various categories. As a club designer myself, I ponder developments and changes to the way clubs are designed to try to understand what the goals a designer might have had and how well he achieved those goals.

Thinking about this innovation or that got me pondering my own list of the most impactful innovations in equipment over my lifetime (the past 60 years or so). I want to offer this analysis up to all of you for review, critique, and argument.

Woods: I would have to say that the two that made the most impact on the way the game is played is the introduction of the modern metal wood by TaylorMade back in the 1980s, and the advent of the oversized wood with the Callaway Big Bertha in the 1990s. Since then, the category has been more about evolution than revolution, to me at least.

Irons: Here again, I think there are two major innovations that have improved the playability of irons for recreational golfers. The first is the introduction of the numbered and matched set, a concept pioneered by Bobby Jones and Spalding in the 1930s. This introduced the concept of buying a “set” of irons, rather than picking them up individually. The second would be the introduction of perimeter weighting, which made the lower lofted irons so much easier for less skilled golfers to get airborne. (But I do believe the steadfast adherence to the concept of a “matched” set has had a negative effect on all golfers’ proficiency with the higher-lofted irons)

Putters: This is probably the most design-intense and diverse category in the entire equipment industry. History has showed us thousands of designs and looks in the endless pursuit of that magic wand. But to me, the most impactful innovation has to be the Ping Anser putter, which has been…and still is…copied by nearly every company that even thought about being in the putter business. Moving the shaft toward the center of the head, at the same time green speeds were increasing and technique was moving toward a more arms-and-shoulders method, changed the face of putting forever. I actually cannot think of another innovation of that scale in any category.

Wedges: Very simply, I’ll “take the fifth” here. To me, this is a category still waiting for the revolutionary concept to bring better wedge play to the masses. The “wedges” on the racks today are strikingly similar to those in my collection dating back to a hickory-shafted Hillerich and Bradsby LoSkore model from the late 1930s, a Spalding Dynamiter from the 50s, a Wilson DynaPower from the 70s,  and so on.

Shafts: Hands down, to me the most impactful innovation is the creation of the carbon fiber, or graphite, shaft. After fruitless ventures into aluminum and fiberglass, this direction has improved the performance of golf clubs across the board. You haven’t seen a steel-shafted driver in two decades or more, and irons are rapidly being converted. Personally, I don’t see me ever playing a steel shaft again in any club – even my putter! But beyond that, I’d have to say the concepts of frequency-matching and “spine-ing” shafts made it possible to achieve near perfection in building golf clubs for any golfer.

Wild card: This has to go to the invention of the hybrid. After decades of trying to find a way to make clubs of 18-24 degrees easier to master, Sonartec and Adams finally figured this out. And golfers of all skill levels are benefitting, as this is just a better way to get optimum performance out of clubs of that loft and length.

So, there’s my review from a lifetime of golf club engineering. What can you all add to this? What do you think I missed? I hope to see lots of conversation on this one…

 

*featured image via Ping

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