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Big purses, big doings: PGA of America and PGA Tour announce joint initiatives

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On Wednesday, while the PGA Tour geared up for the first round of the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course on St. Simon’s Island, Ga., the Tour and the PGA of America made a number of announcements of programs aimed primarily at further broadening and deepening golf’s influence across the country.

The centerpiece of that list of programs was the announcement that the purse of the PGA Championship would increase by an impressive 25 percent for 2014, from $8 million to $10 million. This purse increase vaults the PGA into a tie for the honor of richest single PGA Tour event with The Players Championship, whose purse has been increased by $500,000 for its 2014 edition.

Now, the PGA Championship, the only major that has struggled over the decades to carve out an indelible identity, has a massive dollar figure to lean on, which is sure to help it prestige-wise. This move builds further momentum for the image of the event in the wake of speculation that the PGA Championship may start looking to introduce some venues outside the United States in future years.

Though the announcement of purse increases for the PGA Championship and The Players constituted the main “wow” factor of the announcement, the other three key aspects contain most of the meat of what appears to be a closer partnership between the Tour and the PGA. First of all, both organizations announced that a number of PSA-style ads will air during Tour events—on television and on the Sirius/XM PGA Tour Network Radio’s golf coverage—that will foreground PGA professionals as instrumental factors in the growth of golf.

Members of the PGA of America will also take a more visible position on the Golf Channel show “Inside the PGA Tour.” Each week will highlight the ranking PGA rofessional at the next Tour venue, with the goal of providing the audience extra insight into the host golf course.

Lastly, the PGA Tour will facilitate increased interaction between fans at events and PGA professionals in attendance. Special emphasis will be placed in The Players, the three World Golf Championships held in the United States (the Accenture Match Play, the Cadillac Championship and the Bridgestone Invitational), The Barclays, the Tour Championship, the Northern Trust Open and the Presidents Cup.

This move is significant in both overt and subtle ways. In the first case, it is a positive step to see the two organizations take a bit more mutually snug stance, especially given their light disagreements with regard to the USGA and R&A’s impending tournament ban on anchored methods of putting. And given that the PGA Tour is the primary driver of casual viewing interest in the game, for Tim Finchem and the rest of the Ponte Vedra crowd to give an promotional platform to the PGA of America constitutes a show of confidence that should make those of us on the outside who yearn for golf’s further growth more hopeful.

The subtlety that one might draw from this announcement is the omission of the likes of the USGA and the R&A. Does the PGA of America and the Tour drawing somewhat closer necessarily mean that both bodies are marginalizing the game’s main amateur organizations? If so, is this intentional? There is no clear answer to either of these questions at the moment, but those who follow the politics and business of high-level golf might want to monitor the situation going forward. The economic downturn of recent years has certainly caused those who care for the game to reassess key aspects of their philosophies, and it a chess game of sorts may be starting to play out before the golf world.

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Lessons from your glove

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Almost all golfers wear a glove, but most don’t realize that a close inspection of your glove can tell you a lot about your golf swing and your equipment. It’s like your own little barometer of some things that could be going on that can negatively affect your performance.

One of the simplest things to look at is how quickly your new white glove begins to turn black . . . even if you are using grips on your clubs that are some other color. That’s because the moist and tacky glove picks up dirt and grime from your grips. Yes, they get dirty down in the bottom of your golf bag, and grips need to be cleaned regularly. The best way to do that is with a soft bristle brush and a dry, mildly abrasive cleanser like Ajax, Comet, etc. It’s a good way to invest about a half hour in your equipment on a regular basis.

Just rinse each grip with warm water, sprinkle the cleaner on it, and brush away. The white foam will quickly darken as dirt is removed from the grip and then you can just rinse thoroughly. Be sure to rub the grip with your hands while rinsing so that you can feel when there is no more soap residue – you do NOT want to leave any soap on the grip. When you are finished, your grips will feel like new.

Another great reveal from your glove is the soundness of your left hand hold on the club. The vast majority of golfers wear out their gloves in the heel of the hand, many of you much more quickly than you should. That’s because almost all golfers allow the club to move in their left hand during the swing. There are two reasons for this movement, which, by the way, is a power killer and accuracy thief.

The first problem is that most golfers hold the club too much in their palm, so that the club is across this heel pad – rather than under it – from the start. That kind of hold on the club prevents you from having the left-hand control good golf requires. [NOTE: This is actually aggravated by the fact that the largest part of the golf club grip is being held by the shortest pinky finger. Why that has never changed is beyond me.]

If you will grip down on every club even an inch, you will find that it is easier to hold the club firmly in the fingers of the left hand, and that will improve your distance and performance dramatically. Don’t worry about “shortening” the golf club as you try this, but I knew a very good player once who purchased all his clubs an inch longer than standard, so that he could grip down on them by that same amount to get a better hold on the club . . . pretty smart idea, actually.

The other reason golfers wear out their gloves in the heel pad area is that they are allowing their wrists to “hinge” in the downswing, rather than rotate through impact. The angle between the golf club and your left forearm should remain relatively constant from address to top of backswing back to impact. Yes, there is a little hinging, but it must be minimized to allow a proper rotational release through the impact zone.

If you do that incorrectly, you will lose much of your stored-up power. But if you do it right, the golf swing becomes much more efficient . . . and your gloves last a lot longer.

Another wear pattern I see often is a wearing of the glove at the first segment of the forefinger. This also indicates “looseness” at the top, which allows the club to “hinge” at that point. Again, a firm hold with the left hand throughout the swing is paramount to repeated solid contact.

So, take a close look at your gloves and see what you can learn. My bet is that it will be a bit eye-opening for you.

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The Gear Dive Special Edition: Going in REALLY deep on Callaway Golf Balls

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In this special edition of TGD, Johnny chats with Callaway Golf Product Performance Manager of Golf Ball R&D Nick Yontz. It’s a serious deep dive into the ideas, process, and tech that makes up the ball used by Phil and Xander.

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TG2: Hitting Honma TR21X irons and the Tag Heuer Golf Edition watch on the wrist

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Honma Golf’s new TR21x irons are super long, forgiving, and still retain a good amount of that solid Honma feel you expect. The TR21x irons fly high and just want to go straight.

TAG Heuer’s Connected smartwatch has a golf edition with a special band and bezel. The Golf Edition is really well built and is the most comfortable GPS watch I have worn.

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