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Morning 9: Phil Draculason? | Shackelford: What the governing bodies can’t say | McIlroy #1

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com and find me at @benalberstadt on Instagram and golfwrxEIC on Twitter.
February 11, 2020
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.

 

1. Phil Draculason?
An interesting analogy from John Feinstein amid an excellent piece…”But the fact that Phil was in contention until the closing holes should tell us something: Four months before turning 50, he’s not done. Mickelson is golf’s Dracula-every time you think he’s dead, he rises again. Two weeks ago, he hadn’t been in contention anywhere since winning at Pebble Beach a year earlier. He had played so poorly since Pebble 2019 that in December he failed to make a United States national team (Presidents Cup) for the first time since 1993 and had dropped far enough in the World Ranking that the question of whether he’d be offered or would accept an exemption to play in this year’s U.S. Open was on the table.”
  • “Except for this: Two weeks ago, after skipping the Waste Management Phoenix Open for only the second time in 31 years to take a huge-and controversial-appearance fee to play in Saudi Arabia, Mickelson finished T-3. Then, at Pebble Beach, a place where he has won five times, he lingered just off the lead all week before Taylor’s chip-in birdie at the 15th hole Sunday finally-more or less-put Phil away. Mickelson struggled most of the day in the high winds, shooting a two-over-par 74 to finish five strokes behind Taylor and one behind Streelman-after Phil had tied Taylor for the lead two holes into the final round.”

Full piece.

2. McIlroy back to No. 1 again
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“Rory McIlroy has supplanted Brooks Koepka atop the Official World Golf Ranking, and he did so without hitting a shot.”
  • “Both McIlroy and Koepka were idle last week, but because of slight changes to their respective OWGR calculations it’s now McIlroy on top with a 9.19-point average against Koepka’s new average of 9.16. This marks the first time McIlroy has held the top spot since September 2015, and his 53-month gap sets a new record for longest time between a player losing and regaining the No. 1 ranking.”
3. Tour asks for dismissal of Haney case
Mark Schlabach at ESPN…”The PGA Tour’s lawyers have asked a federal judge to dismiss golf instructor Hank Haney’s lawsuit, in which he claims the tour pressured SiriusXM Radio to suspend him and then terminate him from hosting his radio show after his comments about women’s golf last year.”
  • “In a motion filed to U.S. District Court Judge Rodolfo Ruiz on Friday, the PGA Tour’s lawyers wrote that Haney and his attorneys failed to prove that the Tour “unjustifiably interfered with Plaintiffs’ business and/or contractual relationship with Sirius XM” and failed to prove that the decision to fire him was “based on anything other than [the radio network’s] own review of Haney’s racist, xenophobic, and sexist comments about the LPGA and its players.”

Full piece.

4. Next steps? 
Digest’s Dave Shedloski polled the players regarding what next steps ought to be taken in light of the Distance Insights Report…
 
“Many echoed the sentiments of Jason Day, one of the game’s leading long-ball hitters. “I think everyone has to ask themselves is the game of golf in a good spot right now in regards to distance, or do we have to dial it back?” Day then answered his own question: “I don’t know why they would want us to hit it shorter.”
  • “How about because in response to players hitting the ball farther, golf courses are being renovated and lengthened, which means higher maintenance costs, more water usage and rounds of a longer duration?”
  • “But Day’s point has validity as it relates to his job, the PGA Tour, which is in the entertainment business (subset sports). Nothing in golf enthralls a gallery more than pugilism from the tee box…”
  • “If, however, the industry were to attempt to keep distance increases from continuing, among the remedies that tour pros discuss most is limiting the flight of the golf ball.”
5. Shackelford: “What the governing bodies can’t say”
You may disagree with Shackelford’s sentiment about the significance of OEM’s opinions, but you can’t disagree with the raw numbers. Anyway, here’s his take…”Golf is an $84.1 billion industry in America when you factor in everything from courses, to travel to sales, according to We Are Golf.”
“In the United States, the National Golf Foundation puts the manufacturers contribution to that number at $2.6 billion. Frankly, that seems woefully low to me, but even if you quadruple the number it’s still not a significant portion of the golf industry.”
“…in the grand scheme, fussing and fighting over the manufacturing world’s needs over the greater good seems short-sighted given the course industry and its 2 million or so domestic jobs. A healthy golf industry is good for all, but giving disproportionate attention and weight to the view of one constituting such a small portion of the overall financial picture, seems unwise.”
6. Pros on first time playing with Tiger

Excellent roundup of accounts from Tiger’s contemporaries regarding the first time they teed it up with the 15-time major champion.

“ADAM SCOTT: “I had just decided to turn pro in 2000 and got Butch Harmon’s blessing to do that because he was coaching me, and of course Tiger, at the time. We talked about it and he felt strongly that I should go and play in Europe first and gain some experience. A week or so before the U.S. Open, I was in Las Vegas and Tiger was stopping in on the Sunday before heading to Pebble Beach. Butch said to me on Saturday, ‘Tiger is coming in and if he goes and plays, you can play with him.’ So I was nervous, of course.”
  • “We went out and played and we had a match, and I was maybe 1-down through the turn at Rio Secco, and then Tiger stepped it up and went birdie, birdie, birdie and had an eagle. He closed me out on the 14th and shot 63 – with a double bogey at the ninth. I was a bit blown away by what I saw. It was quite windy and I thought I played quite well. I probably shot even par and I was nine off the pace. I made a throwaway comment to Butch, something like, ‘Maybe I should reconsider turning pro.’ The only thing that made me feel good was he won the U.S. Open by 15 the next week, so I was quite happy to see that no one else really played like that.”
7. Genesis as an invitational 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”The tournament formerly known as the Genesis Open is making its debut this week as the Genesis Invitational, a switch that’s more than simply cosmetic. First, the tangible changes: a reduced field size from 144 to 120; a three-year tour exemption for the winner, rather than the usual two-year pass; and a $1.9 million increase in the purse to $9.3 million, including a $1.674 million winner’s check.”
  • “On a more symbolic note, the Genesis joins the Memorial Tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, and the Arnold Palmer Invitational as PGA Tour events with “elevated status.” Now Tiger’s tournament, Jack’s tournament and Arnie’s tournament stand above the rest. Sounds about right.”

Full piece.

8. Who could buy in? 
Geoff Shackelford speculates as to the players the PGL is targeting (and if you want to know more about the potential team structure you have read Geoff’s piece)…
  • “And now for the $350 million question, who might be the twelve players targeted as a player-owner offered the chance to purchase a team maximum of 75% (documents use the word purchase, but I was not privy to what this would actually entail for players. Presumably there will not be a high price since they hope to lure players away from major Tours. Or perhaps players will be able to join forces with a rich friend?).”
  • “…Based on the initial list I saw and the description of players to be selected as based on “global profile, personality, marketability and playing potential and/or record,” here would be the most likely candidates. Oh, and don’t rule out an elder statesman, great talker or overall personality like Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington or Ian Poulter to enter the equation. (Els said last week he “loved” the idea.)”
Rickie Fowler
Dustin Johnson
Brooks Koepka
Hideki Matsuyama
Rory McIlroy
Phil Mickelson
Jon Rahm
Justin Rose
Adam Scott
Henrik Stenson
Justin Thomas
Tiger Woods
9. Topgolf Augusta?
Via Damon Cline of the Augusta Chronicle…”Topgolf has released details on its new Augusta entertainment venue, a first-of-its-kind prototype that is expected to be open by the Masters Tournament.”
  • “Craig Kessler, chief operating officer for the Dallas-based company, said the venue under construction at the Village at Riverwatch shopping center will have a mini-golf course, outdoor yard games and fire pits in addition to the company’s signature climate-controlled driving range.”

 

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GolfWRX Spotlight: Golf Drawn’s custom golf art

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I recently converted an extra bedroom in my house into a home office (golf-themed, of course). In my search for stuff to put up on the walls, I came across a company that was doing something different. They had a booth at this year’s PGA Show showing off some of their unique work, and when I dug in a bit more, I realized it was a really innovative product for the golf community. So, I reached out to the people at Golf Drawn to see if they could help me create a piece for my office.

Golf Drawn is a custom design and illustration service that specializes in creating original, hand-drawn course routing designs of your favorite club. Any club. That’s the best part. They can draw any course in the world using the wonders of satellite imaging.

Goat Hill Park

Brooklawn on Wood Canvas

Streamsong

“We began just as we still do now, by drawing up folks’ home tracks,” said Anthony Malky, Owner and Creative Director at Golf Drawn. “Whether it was a par three, municipal course, top-100, or whatever. Our whole deal was that we would draw any course….and we still do. There’s yet to be one that we couldn’t execute.”

If you’ve spent any time looking around for golf art or memorabilia, you realize how big a deal that actually is. The top-100 courses get all the love. Golf Drawn is filling a void out there and providing custom art focused on your favorite local course.

“We receive the course request from you and get to work on creating the design,” said Malky, “Once the design is complete, we send you proofs, and then you choose background color, labeling, frame and any additions.”

Popular additions to the framed prints include images of the scorecard table, compass to show direction of the course routing, alternative club logos, etc…

And Golf Drawn can then put that routing design or logo on a tee-shirt, sticker or other items if you like as well. Every new design requires a one-time design fee to get the work completed. But once that design is done, it is free to put on any framed print or tee in the future for anyone. Tee-shirts are becoming a rather popular item on the website.

If a course has been renovated or simply no longer exists, Golf Drawn has worked directly from old photos or original course plans to recreate the old track you remember. And, of course, Golf Drawn can do the famous courses as well. It’s a great way to commemorate a favorite round, hole in one, or once in a lifetime score.

My local club is Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. They already had a design drawn of Colonial, so it wasn’t hard to customize what I wanted and finish the order. I added the columns logo to the top left corner and script location on the bottom right.

So how did this all begin? Anthony Malky grew up in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. He caddied at Oakmont Country Club for over a decade…and even got to play the course on some Mondays. He loves golf, just like we all do. And he started drawing courses as a hobby.

“I began drawing up the clubs that meant a lot to me,” Malky said. “After some time, at the urging of others I made an Instagram. I had a ton of course designs done and figured might as well post them for folks. From there, the Instagram took off, that turned into a website…then the custom orders started coming.”

Fast forward a couple of years, and Golf Drawn now has an entire wholesale catalog of unique products, over 250+ club accounts, and products stocked in shops around the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. That is pretty impressive for a business that does everything in-house with a fully customizable product. And keeping prices low has always been a goal for Malky, as he remembers a time when he wanted to buy golf art himself but found everything to be overpriced and low quality.

Sticker Variety Pack

“We’ve tried to keep our prices, minimums at wholesale, all low and cost effective,” Malky said.  “That was part of the initial start too, allowing people to get their course drawn up, framed, etc. for a price that anyone could pay. Not some outlandish design fee or commission type setup.”

Prices per print with framing included

The supply is working hard to keep up with the demand. Golf Drawn is still a small operation and Malky does all of the designs himself. There is a team that helps with operations and a few sales reps across the country, but the business definitely remains small. That is intentional. Malky believes that allows Golf Drawn to offer a personal, high-level service to each individual customer. And it allows the company to remain focused on the reason they got started in the first place.

“It’s always been about shedding light on and propping up courses and places that otherwise wouldn’t be,” Malky said.  Giving attention to and making that local municipal course look as good as a top-10 track. Getting the par-3 course by your house designed, framed and up on a wall, highlighted in a way that many people have only seen the big courses like Pebble, Pinehurst, Oakmont. It’s always been about highlighting the places and the memories that mean so much to people.”

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Report: 2020 Open Championship set to be cancelled; R&A releases statement in response: “continuing to work through options”

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This year’s Open Championship will be cancelled outright by the R&A due to the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from Golf Digest.

Per the report, an unnamed source has divulged to the publication that the championship will next take place in 2021 with St. Andrews hosting the event. Royal St. Georges, due to host the 2020 Open Championship, would instead host the 2024 edition.

According to Golf Digest’s source, insurance has played a pivotal role in the decision making. As with Wimbledon, the Open Championship has an insurance policy that protects itself against a global pandemic if the event is cancelled by a specific date.

On Wednesday, the R&A officially announced that the 41st Curtis Cup would be played in 2021 while the organization also moved the British Amateur and British Women’s Amateur from June to August.

Though unconfirmed, this would mark the first major championship of 2020 to be cancelled outright, with the Masters and PGA Championship having been officially postponed.

*UPDATE*

On Thursday morning, in light of the speculation surrounding this year’s Open Championship, Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, released a statement where he said the R&A are “continuing to work through our options for The Open this year.”

“We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement. Due to a range of external factors, that process is taking some time to resolve. We are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can. We will give a further update as soon as we are in a position to do so and thank everyone for their support and understanding in this challenging situation.”

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Report: Woods-Mickelson Part 2 likely to happen in May and will feature two other sporting superstars

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Earlier this week, Phil Mickelson teased “The Match” Part 2 on his social media, and according to a report from CNBC the exhibition, though unconfirmed, is likely to take place in May and will include both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

On Monday evening, golf journalist Robert Lusetich stated that the potential “The Match” Part 2 would likely involve NFL legends, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in a two on two contest.

Now per CNBC’s report, who claim that “a person familiar with the negotiations” confirmed the story to them, the contest is organized by AT&T’s WarnerMedia and the PGA Tour, and would likely take place in May with the proceeds going towards coronavirus relief charities.

The report also claims the event would likely not be a pay-per-view contest, with plans also in place to feature big names throughout the PGA, NFL, and National Basketball Association.

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