Golf Buzz

January 3, 2014 - 6:23pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Henrik Stenson
Callaway Golf via Twitter
Henrik Stenson will be playing a bag full of Callaway gear in 2014 and beyond.
Callaway Golf has signed endorsement deal with Henrik Stenson and Pat Perez, the company announced Friday.
 
Stenson finished the 2013 season in historic fashion, as he became the first player to win the FedExCup on the PGA Tour and the Race to Dubai money title on the European Tour in the same season. Having amassed more than $12 million in earnings in 2013, he enters 2014 ranked No. 3 in the world.
 
"After having the best season of my career to date in 2013 using Callaway irons and fairway woods, the option of extending my relationship with Callaway Golf was a very natural progression, and I look forward to continued success in 2014 being back as part of the Callaway family," Stenson said.
 
Stenson played a mixed bag last season that at various times included clubs from Callaway, TaylorMade, Cleveland and Piretti. He ended the year playing Callaway fairway woods and irons. Callaway hasn't yet specified what clubs he'll play in 2014.
 
Stenson is set to play both tours again in 2014. He is scheduled to begin his season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January, and make his U.S. debut about a month later at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
 
Perez made 22 starts on the 2013 PGA Tour, making 14 cuts and earning $974,800 to finish 84th on the final money list. He picked up an extra $125,000 in four starts in the early part of the 2013-14 wraparound schedule. 
 
He played TaylorMade clubs last year, with the exception of an Odyssey putter.
 
Callaway also hasn't formally said which clubs Perez will be playing, but Perez spent much of Friday afternoon tweeting out photos of Callaway gear that we might assume he'll be using. He showed us a Big Bertha driver, a 17-degree H2 Hot fairway wood, Apex irons, Speed Regime 3 golf ball and an Odyssey Metal-X Milled putter.
 
Callaway has hinted that several more signings will be announced next week. The company announced the signing of two-time PGA Tour winner Harris English on Thursday, and earlier signed youngsters Thomas Pieters, James Erkenbeck and Chase Seiffert.
 
January 3, 2014 - 10:15am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Low Tide Custom Putters
Low Tide Custom Putters
Low Tide Custom Putters offers a variety of personalization options on putters and also offers a "Putting Puck" which is great for practice any time, especially on a crowded green before tee off.

In case you didn't know, your options for high-quality/high-end putters isn't limited to what you find in your local golf shop.

There are quite a few boutique putter makers out there who not only build incredible putters that can double up as pieces of art, but they can also customize your flat-stick however you desire.

One of those boutique putter makers relatively new to the business are Josh Bumgarner and Zack Potts, owners of Charlotte, N.C.-based, "Low Tide Custom Putters."

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Like most great stories in these circles, Low Tide's started on the golf course.

In the spring of 2012, Bumgarner and Potts where playing a round of golf when they came up with the idea to design their own custom putters. They strived to come up with something that couldn't be purchased off the rack -- something that was more personal and could be passed down through generations for families.

Between the two, 10 years of design experience and another 12 years of machining and CAD experience, Bumgarner (Low Tide owner, putter designer, putter maker, CNC programmer and machinist) and Potts (Low Tide owner, putter designer, graphic designer and marketing specialist) were able to make their vision become a reality.

We recently caught up with Bumgarner and Potts for a Q&A about the new company.

PGA.com: Tell me a little about yourself. What is it that got you involved in making putters?

Potts: Josh and I met on the golf course. We knew that there were many putters available to the public, but we wanted to create something that was unique and personal. Having over 10 years of design experience and a dozen years of machining and CAD experience under our belts, we knew that we had the know-how to make it happen. We each have been playing the game for nearly 30 years, so we knew what we wanted. We came up with a couple of designs that we liked and started working on them.

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PGA.com: Was this a hobby that turned into a business?

Bumgarner: It was completely a hobby, until we made our first putter... The night that we made the original FIN, we looked at each other and knew that we had started something special. After we shared our story online, we immediately received positive feedback. Within the first 30 minutes of our story being posted, we already had nearly a dozen inquiries of people asking how and where they could purchase one of our putters. We didn't expect that at all.

PGA.com: Boutique putter makers -- such as yourself -- seem to be popping up all over the place lately. Why do you think that is? Do you all just envision a need or want that you can't seem to find elsewhere?

Potts: There are many great putter makers out there but we live in a day and age where people want something different, something personal. Using the foundation for the designs of our putters, we allow the customer to have say in how their putter is made. We want it to fit their eye perfectly. Many off the rack companies don't make that accessible for the majority of golfers.

PGA.com: What separates Low Tide putters from others?

Bumgarner: We allow the customer to customize in more ways than one. Many manufacturers are mass producing their clubs and because of this, they limit the number of adjustments that can be made to their product. We're different. If someone calls us and wants a putter with 8 degrees of loft, 63 degree lie angle, and a length of 38.25 inches, we'll make it happen. We also like to keep our customers updated as much as possible during the process. We usually send pictures of the putters in progress so that they can see where their putter is during different stages.

PGA.com: Tell me about your current offerings. It looks like you've got three different models with seemingly endless customization options.

Potts: We set out to make putters that are different, not similar. We keep it simple. We use minimal lines with easy alignment. When we designed the first putter, the FIN, we wanted to make a wide body blade style putter that squared up to the target easily. The Whale Tail followed shortly after. We knew that Mallets were hot in the marketplace and that they were growing in popularity .

PGA.com: What has been the highlight of Low Tide so far? Any customer feedback that truly sticks out?

Bumgarner: We think that the customers deserve all of the credit. We have a lot of passion for what we do but to receive the kind of feedback that we do on a regular basis is incredible. We love getting emails or phone calls saying how they were completely blown away by their experience and how well the putter feels.

PGA.com: Can you tell us about the process involved in making a putter?

Potts: Each one of our putters is milled from a solid billet. Nothing is cast and every piece that we do, is done by us in Charlotte, N.C. Because each piece is milled on the CNC, the tolerances are extremely tight and we are able to produce a high quality and precise product for our customers.

PGA.com: How did you come up with the name, "Low Tide?"

Bumgarner: After brainstorming about 200 different names, we each picked our favorites. Low Tide was the one that we both picked as our first choice. We live in Charlotte and love the beach. We feel that the words alone can evoke a feeling or memory in people. We wanted something casual, laid back, and fun.

PGA.com: Along with the beautiful putters, you also offer something called, "the Putting Puck." Tell our readers about it. It looks like a fantastic tool to keep in the bag for those times when you want to warm up on a practice green only to find there are no holes cut out on the green -- or great even for putting practice at home.

Potts: We wanted to create something for our first 20 customers as a commemorative token, but we wanted it be useful. The putting puck was designed to be the exact diameter of a golf hole. You never want to show up at the course on a Saturday morning and try to compete for one of the five holes on the practice green. The putting puck is a great tool (and conversation piece) to have in your golf bag or at home. Because it's mobile, you can place it anywhere on the putting surface to practice the type of putts that you need to.

PGA.com: If someone was trying to decide between a Low Tide putter and one from a big-time manufacturer in a box store, why would you encourage them to lean toward Low Tide?

Bumgarner: During our research, we've discovered that most people are not using a putter that fits their stroke. Our goal is to not only make you a stellar flat stick, but also make sure it's set up for you. For years it seems the industrial standard has been 71-degree lie angle. We have found most golfers have a flatter lie angle. The average seems to be around 68 degrees. We believe that the optimal position for the putter head is for the sole to lay flat on the ground. The putter should be parallel with the ground at impact. All putters have loft and when the toe or heel is pointed toward the sky a compound angle is created causing the face angle to open or close.

PGA.com: I read on your site where you want your putters to be something that people can pass down in the family -- almost like a family keepsake. How satisfying is it when you complete a putter for a customer that tells a story? Is there any one in particular you can share with us?

Potts: When someone places a custom order we really want the experience to be personal. There have been some amazing stories that our customers have shared with us on why they have chosen the custom engravings that they want to include. From children and loved ones, to meaningful nicknames and lucky numbers, it is a piece of their story and we are happy to apply it to something that they will be proud to use out on the course. Golf is a social sport and we want our customers to be proud to share their personal story when someone asks about their putter during a round.

To learn more about Low Tide Custom Putters, visit www.lowtideputters.com. You can also find Low Tide on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, @LowTidePutters.

Pricing for Low Tide Custom Putters start at $275 and go up depending on finish and level of personalization.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 

January 2, 2014 - 7:39pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Harris English
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
Harris English is making his debut playing Callaway and Odyssey gear this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui.
Harris English has signed an endorsement deal with Callaway Golf, company officials announced Thursday.
 
English is making his debut playing Callaway and Odyssey gear this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui. Callaway hasn't yet revealed the specific clubs in his bag.
 
"I've been really happy with the new Callaway clubs, and the team at Callaway has been fantastic,'' said English. ''In a short period of time I've been able to take advantage of the resources they have and I'm excited about the start of the 2014 season."
 
 
English is coming off a breakout season in which he earned his first PGA Tour win at the FedEx St. Jude Classic last summer, and backed it up with another win at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba at year's end. English was a four-time All-American at the University of Georgia, and won on the Nationwide Tour as a college amateur in 2011. 
 
English, 24, is just the latest young talent to join the Callaway tour staff. In recent days, the company also signed Thomas Pieters, James Erkenbeck and Chase Seiffert.
 
Pieters, a native of Belgium, won the 2012 NCAA individual championship at the University of Illinois and has earned status on the European Tour. Erkenbeck was the Mountain West Player of the Year at the University of New Mexico and a member of the victorious U.S. Palmer Cup team. And Seiffert was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at Florida State University as well as the winner of both the 2012 Florida Open and the Florida Amateur.
 
January 2, 2014 - 7:04pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Graham DeLaet
Courtesy of Puma Golf
Graham DeLaet will wear Puma Golf apparel and accessories, and will play in red and white – Canada's national colors – every Sunday on the PGA Tour.
Graham DeLaet has signed an endorsement deal with Puma Golf, the company announced Thursday. The fast-rising Canadian star will wear apparel and accessories from Puma Golf's Spring/Summer 2014 Collection. 
 
His 'go-to' polo will be the Golf Tech Polo, featuring coolCELL technology for its combination of moisture-wicking properties and anatomically placed airflow for temperature regulation. Breathable mesh panels in the center of the shirt's back offer superior ventilation to one of the body's sweatiest zones while the three-button placket and self-fabric collar provide classic golf style. 
 
DeLaet will kick off the 2014 season at the Farmers Insurance Open later this month, and will play in red and white – Canada's national colors – every Sunday on the PGA Tour. Puma Golf will support DeLaet's signature Sunday look by sharing photos socially using the #CanadianSunday hashtag. 
 
 
In 2013, DeLaet finished second at the Travelers and Deutsche Bank Championships, and had 11 top-25 finishes. He ended the year ranked 36th in the world.
 
''PUMA Golf is a great fit for me and I couldn't be more excited to be part of the team,'' said DeLaet. ''I have always been a fan of the brand and the innovative combination of function and fashion they bring to the game. Their unique style is matched with top-performing gear that will undoubtedly help improve my game, and I look forward to represent PUMA Golf on Tour in 2014 and beyond.''
 
DeLaet also will be featured in Puma Golf's 2014 campaign through print, online and social ads as well as in-store signage alongside Rickie Fowler, Jonas Blixt, Jesper Parnevik and Blair O’Neal, and the campaign will highlight DeLaet's key looks from each collection. The first two looks of the Spring/Summer 2014 Collection are available at retailers and online now, while the next offering, with fresh styles and colors, will be available at retail Feb. 1. 
 
January 2, 2014 - 4:12pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Adam Scott at the Masters
Getty Images
Adam Scott was named the Player of the Year by the Golf Writers Association of America for his breakthrough Masters victory and his overall excellence throughout the season.
Adam Scott edged Tiger Woods by a mere five votes to be named the Male Player of the Year by the Golf Writers Association of America, the GWAA announced on Thursday. The choice was hardly as close elsewhere as Inbee Park (Female Player of the Year) and Kenny Perry (Senior Player of the Year) each gathered 91 percent of the 220 votes to take their honors.
 
Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters in April, then added a FedExCup playoff victory at The Barclays. Those two victories lagged behind the five titles won by Woods, which earned Woods the Player of the Year honors from both The PGA of America and his colleagues on the PGA Tour.
 
But the GWAA, which has honored Woods 10 times in the past as its Player of the Year, takes into consideration play around the globe. In addition to his two wins in the United States, Scott won the Australian PGA Championship and the Australian Masters in back-to-back weeks, then teamed with Jason Day to win the team portion of the World Cup of Golf the following week, and lost the Australian Open by a single stroke to Rory McIlroy the week after that.
 
For the year, Scott – who is ranked second in the world behind Woods – played 20 tournaments worldwide, won four of them, finished in the top-3 eight times, had a remarkable 10 top-10 finishes and never missed a cut. In addition to his win at the Masters, Scott tied for third at the British Open and tied for fifth at the PGA Championship.
 
 
''It is an honor to be recognized as the most consistent male golfer of 2013 and it is appreciated to have the respect of the Golf Writers of America. Thank you,'' said Scott from Maui, where he's preparing to kick off his 2013-14 PGA Tour season at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
 
The 25-year-old Park scripted one of the most compelling golf stories in 2013 by stringing together victories in the season's first three majors – the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the Wegmans LPGA Championship, and the U.S. Women's Open. Her bid for a Grand Slam came up short when she tied for 42nd at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. She finished the year with six victories, the LPGA Tour money title and the No. 1 spot in the LPGA Tour's Player of the Year standings.
 
''Last year was a year that I could never forget,'' said Park, who finished well ahead of Stacy Lewis in the balloting. ''I was able to put my name among the greatest players around the world. Now, on top of that, I am being recognized and honored by golf writers. They are those who know what has just happened last year in every detail. I can almost say that they know me better than I know myself. That's why this honor is very special and means a lot to me.''
 
Perry had three wins on the Champions Tour, two of them majors – the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship and the U.S. Senior Open. He also earned the season-long Schwab Cup Championship and easily won the GWAA honor over Bernhard Langer.
 
''It is my highest honor, from the players or the writers, to be named player of the year,'' said Perry. ''Here I am at 53 doing stuff I probably shouldn’t be doing, I’m so honored that the writers are paying attention to me.''
 
The winners will be honored April 9 at the annual GWAA Awards Dinner in Augusta, Ga., the night before the start of the Masters.
 
January 2, 2014 - 11:20am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Adam Scott
Getty Images
Adam Scott had an incredible 2013 season around the world. Will he get the new calendar year off to a solid start in Maui?

The field for the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua's Plantation Course in Maui features 30 PGA Tour winners from 2013.

Here are the five you'll want to watch:

SCORES: Follow the Tournament of Champions all week with PGA.com's leaderboard

5. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2013: Won the BMW Championship
Reason to watch: First of all, Johnson is one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour (just four missed cuts in 24 starts a year ago). Secondly, do you remember how he ended 2013? With an incredible hole-out on the final hole of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge -- an unofficial event -- that eventually earned the past Masters champ in a playoff with Tiger Woods. Johnson took Tiger down in the playoff. We can't think of a more positive way to end a calendar year. Johnson must be thrilled to get 2014 under way.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: An insider's look at Kapalua's Plantation Course | Review the Plantation Course

4. Jordan Speith
Best finish in 2013:
Won the John Deere Classic
Reason to watch: If 2013 is any indication, Speith is going to be an electric player to watch for years to come. To think -- when the 2013 Tournament of Champions was being contested last January, Speith had no status on the PGA Tour. He relied on sponsor exemptions, parlayed them into top finishes, won an event to snag a two-year Tour exemption, was a captain's pick for the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team and earned PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors. And he's only 20 years old.

3. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2013:
Won the Masters and The Barclays
Reason to watch: It's hard to imagine that 2014 could be a better year than 2013 was for Scott. He became the first Aussie to ever win the Masters and proved himself to be a regular contender in all the majors. Add to that three victories in his homeland at the end of the year -- the Aussie Masters, Aussie PGA and the World Cup (alongside Jason Day) -- and a narrow defeat to Rory McIlroy in the Aussie Open. Scott has been on fire. He has also announced that he'll be taking six weeks off after the Hawaii swing on the PGA Tour, which means he'll miss the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Expect him to play great to go out on a high note before the break and certain major preparations.

2. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013:
Won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial Tournament
Reason to watch: Like Zach Johnson, Kuchar never makes any big mistakes. His name is just always hovering around the top of leaderboards throughout the season (15 top-25 finishes in 23 2013 starts). There's never one particular time of year when he's "hot" -- he's always consistent. Here's a look at Kuchar's last three finishes in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions: 3rd/2010; T6/2011; T9/2013. About the only thing left to do for Kuchar at Kapalua is win.

1. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2013:
Won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Johnson is the defending champ in Maui. And, he also won the WGC-HSBC Champions in Asia in November -- which counts toward the 2014 season. Let's face it, he's got some of the most raw talent on Tour. The only thing that seems to stop Johnson these days are injuries. If he stays healthy, 2014 could be a huge year for DJ. He'll feel extremely comfortable at the Plantation Course.

Update: Yeah, about DJ and the whole staying healthy thing -- since this story published Thursday morning, word out of Maui is Johnson has withdrawn from today's Pro-Am with a stiff neck. We'll see if that keeps him out of the field once the tournament begins Friday when he's scheduled to tee off with Adam Scott at 12:50 p.m., local time.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.