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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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On Spec

On Spec Special Edition: Houston Open winner Lanto Griffin talks equipment

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In this special edition of On Spec, Ryan has the chance to interview recent PGA Tour winner Lanto Griffin. Lanto talks about what it’s like to stand over an event winning putt, finding the right wedges, and how testing gear sometimes happens right out of another player’s bag.

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

The “70% Rule” is still the winning formula on the PGA Tour

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In June of 2010, a year before the Tour launched Strokes Gained Putting analysis, I published an article on my blog (www.NiblicksOfTruth.blogspot.com): “PGA Tour Winner’s – 70% Rule.”

I had been studying the winners of each tour event for years and realized that they all had specific success in three simple stats–and that the three stats must add up to 70 percent

  1. Greens in Regulation – 70%
  2. Scrambling – 70%
  3. 1-Putts from 5 to 10 feet – 70%

Not every one of the three had to equal 70 percent, but the simple addition of the three needed to equal or exceed 70 percent.  For example, if GIR’s were 68 percent, then scrambling or putting needed to be 72 percent or higher to offset the GIR deficiency—simple and it worked!

I added an important caveat. The player could have no more than three ERRORS in a four-round event. These errors being

  1. Long game: A drive hit out of play requiring an advancement to return to normal play, or a drive or approach penalty.
  2. Short game: A short game shot that a.) missed the putting surface, and b.) took 4 or more total strokes to hole out.
  3. Putting: A 3-putt or worse from 40 feet or closer.

In his recent win in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Kevin Na broke the rule… by a bit.  He was all good on the 70 percent part of the rule

  1. GIR’s: 75 percent
  2. Scrambling: 72 percent
  3. 1-Putts 5-10 ft.: 73 percent

But not so good on the three-error limit

  1. Long game: Two driving errors and one approach penalty (three errors).
  2. Short game: A chip/pitch shot that missed the green and took FIVE strokes to hole out (one error).

No wonder it took a playoff to secure his win! But there was another stat that made the difference…

The stat that piqued my interest in Kevin’s win was connected to my 70 percent Rule.  It was his strokes gained: putting stat: +3.54, or ranked first.  He gained 3.5 strokes on the field in each of his four rounds or 14 strokes. I have never seen that, and it caused me to look closer. For perspective, I ran the putting performance of all of the event winners in the 2019 Tour season. Their average putting strokes gained was +1.17.

Below, I charted the one-putt percentages by distance range separately for Kevin Na, the 2019 winners, and the tour 2019 average. I have long believed that the 6–10 foot range separates the good putters on Tour from the rest as it is the most frequently faced of the “short putt” ranges and the Tour averages 50 percent makes. At the same time, the 11-20 foot ranges separate the winners each week as these tend to represent birdie putts on Tour. Look at what Kevin did there.

All I can say again, I HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS. Well done Kevin!

For the rest of us, in the chart below I have plotted Kevin’s performance against the “average” golfer (15-19 handicap). To see exactly how your game stacks up, visit my website.

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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