Golf Buzz

TaylorMade and Callaway U.S. Open golf bags
Courtesy of Callaway and TaylorMade
The Callaway bag (right) has a few big and bold icons, while the TaylorMade bag (left) has a few more graphic elements.

One of my favorite parts of the run-ups to the majors these days is all the special gear that the big equipment and apparel companies come up with commemorate the big weeks. As usual, TaylorMade and Callaway lead the pack with their staff bags.

The Callaway bag is clean and bold, with a big white star on a field of blue where the big magnolia blossom was on the Masters bag. (Click here to see the Masters bags from Callaway and TaylorMade).

The TaylorMade bag is a bit busier, but everything on there has meaning. Right under the bag's lip, I especially like the word ''OPEN'' in a square, like the famous LOVE statue by pop artist Robert Indiana that is a longtime Philadelphia landmark.

On the bag's belly is TaylorMade's unique logo for the 2013 U.S. Open. The logo – which appears on the caps and other accessories as well as the bags that the TaylorMade staff players will use this week – is a rattlesnake wrapped around the Liberty Bell.

The snake represents the rubber snake that Lee Trevino brought with him to his 18-hole playoff with Jack Nicklaus at Merion that Trevino famously won in 1971. The snake is coiled around the bell much the way a serpent is wrapped around a staff in the universal symbol for medicine. This, TaylorMade says, is a salute to Ben Hogan, who won the 1950 Open at Merion after his near-fatal car crash the year before, and to Olin Dutra, who won the 1934 Open at Merion after winning a long battle with dysentery.

The top of the bell is emblazoned with MMXIII – the Roman numerals for 2013. And behind the bell's top is the snake's tail, where its rattle has been replaced by a wicker basket like those found atop the flagsticks at Merion.

Both of these bags are for sale to the public in limited quanities. You can buy the Callaway bag here, and buy the TaylorMade bag here.

 

 

 

Tiger Woods, Nike Golf, TW '14, golf shoe, golf
YouTube
In the latest Nike Golf commercial, the company known for the famous swoosh uses Tiger Woods in various settings to prove golf is a sport.
 
The ad campaign is called: Nike TW '14: The Sport of Golf
 
That, of course, is a rebuttal to those who suggest golf is a game, not a sport.
 
Those of us who play and love the game know, it is a sport.
 
Nike cleverly drives home that point with various elements from a number of sports set in the background as Tiger Woods performs.
 
Well done.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
Muirfield Golf Club clubhouse
Getty Images
The 2013 British Open at Muirfield will deliver a £70 million ($109 million) economic benefit to Scotland.

Scotland has long been known as the ''home of golf,'' but only recently has its golf industry been analyzed in detail. The results are interesting.

The new 'Value of Golf to Scotland's Economy' report found that the industry generates £1.171 billion ($1.82 billion) in annual revenues, including what it called ''direct, indirect and induced effects.'' By contrast, the U.S. golf economy is worth $68.8 billion per year, according to the We Are Golf coalition of U.S. golf industry leaders.

More than 20,000 people are employed in golf in Scotland – one in every 125 jobs in the country is dependent on golf. That creates wages of £300 million ($466 million).

''This report clearly demonstrates the significant value of golf to Scotland's economy,'' said Hamish Grey, CEO of the Scottish Golf Union. ''Comparing it to other industries, we can now see for the first time that, for example, golf's direct contribution to GDP is 89 percent that of fishing and fish farming, and 83 percent that of air transport. 

The report focuses on six sectors of the golf industry – golf facility operations, golf course capital investments, golf supplies, golf tournaments and endorsements, golf tourism and golf real estate – and is based on 2011 data. Here are some of its key findings:

--There are more than 600 golf facilities in Scotland, of which 597 are golf courses. In total, golf facilities support more than 12,300 jobs and generate annual revenues of £582 million ($905 million).

--The sale of ''golf supplies'' – what the report counts as equipment, apparel and accessories – adds up to revenues of £157 million ($244 million). Golf professionals and on-course golf shops account for approximately 85 percent of the market. The golf supplies sector supports 1,660 jobs.

--In 2011, golf tournaments and endorsements generated total revenues of £46 million ($71 million), though the report notes that the British Open was played in England that year. The R&A forecasts the 2013 Open at Muirfield will deliver a £70 million ($109 million) economic benefit to the greater Edinburgh region.

--Golf tourism generated £120 million ($187 million) in revenues for the Scottish economy. This excludes green fees, which the report counts as golf facility operations revenue. Scottish golf tourism is worth about £220 million ($342 million) annually, and about 1,480 people are directly employed in golf tourism. 

--About one-third of the rounds in Scotland are played by non-Scottish golfers. Of those, 57 percent are from the rest of the United Kingdom, 19 percent from Europe, 17 percent from North America and 8 percent from elsewhere.

The 'Value of Golf to Scotland's Economy' report was commissioned by the Scottish Golf Union in conjunction with VisitScotland (the government tourism arm) and Scottish Enterprise (which helps identify opportunities for economic growth). It was conducted by KPMG in association with Oxford Economics, and released June 4 at the KPMG Golf Business Forum in St. Andrews, Scotland.

A related study of the social impact of golf in Scotland is being developed and will be finalized later this summer.  

To read the entire report, click here.

 
2016 Olympics golf course site
Getty Images
Several holes of the golf course to be built for the 2016 Olympics in Rio Janeiro will border the shore of Lake Marapendi – the long, skinny lake between the course and the barrier island.

A couple weeks ago, the International Olympic Committee tweeted out a peek at the plans for the course that'll be used when golf returns to the Summer Games in 2016. Now we have a bird's-eye view of the cleared-off property on which the course will be built.

The course is being built at Reserva de Marapendi in Barra da Tijuca, the district of Rio de Janeiro that will contain the largest number of Olympic Games venues. It will be "a unique Olympic Games venue," says the IOC, located about three miles from the Athletes' Village and five miles from the Main Press Center and the International Broadcast Center.

The course, which was designed by American course architect Gil Hanse – who was chosen for the job a little more than a year ago – will boast a number of sand and water features, including a large inland lake surrounded by several holes on the right side of the photo. The practice range will be on the far left side of the photo, running from the road down toward the water, and the course will begin and end right next to the range, in the lower left area of the photo.

Several holes will border the shore of Lake Marapendi – the long, skinny lake between the course and the barrier island. None will dramatically interact with the large lake, though the long 13th hole will run parallel to the coastline, next to the wooded area, in the upper right of the photo. Beyond the barrier island, by the way, is the Atlantic Ocean. 

After the Olympics, the IOC says, "the course will be used as a public facility with the chief purpose of promoting golf in Brazil and the globe, representing one of the most important Olympic Games legacies for sport development in the country."

If you know Rio, the course is south of the Avenue of the Americas, and a few miles west of the famed Copacabana neighborhood.

 

Orange Whip, Orange Peel
Orange Whip
Both the Orange Whip and the Orange Peel have been popular training aids for top-level touring professionals, but they can also help your game no matter your playing ability.
Whether you're hanging out at the driving range during a professional event, or hanging out at your local muni waiting for your tee time, chances are you've seen an orange ball sticking out of someone's bag -- mixed in with the clubs -- and wondered to yourself: what the heck is that?
 
What it is is a training device developed by PGA Professional Jim Hackenberg called, "The Orange Whip."
 
The Orange Whip is described as, "the ultimate golf swing trainer and fitness tool for today's golfer and athlete. It is versatile, dynamic and the most effective swing aid on the market. Consistent use of the Orange Whip will improve your golf swing and provide an essential core-muscle workout."
 
If you're really into golf, chances are you've seen countless infomercials promoting golf-training aids. But how many of those are proven to work? With the Orange Whip, it seems there's no question as to whether or not it works -- over 100 PGA Tour players currently use the whip, as do over 50 on the Champions Tour and over 30 on the LPGA Tour. IN 2012, 47 of the top 125 money winners on the PGA Tour used the Orange Whip regularly.
 
If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.
 
Recently, we had a chance to sit down with Hackenberg to talk about the Orange Whip and the Orange Peel (a boogie board-sized platform to improve balance that promotes proper rotation around the center of gravity).
 
PGA.com: What compelled you to create the Orange Whip? It seems like the perfect aid to develop tempo and rhythm especially right before a round of golf.
 
Hackenberg: As an instructor, my goal was to encourage my students to learn a more reliable golf swing motion. What is it that good players do, that bad players don’t? They swing in a balanced athletic motion.
 
I had the opportunity to caddie for a friend on the PGA Tour for a couple years. This allowed me the ability to watch the best players in the world and how they go about hitting balls so effortlessly. I started seeing the pros swinging the golf club as if it was a ball on the end of a chain. Imagine the medieval weapon the Mace and Chain.   
 
The only way to swing a device like this is to synchronize your arms and body into a natural rhythm, like the Tour pros. So the idea came from this concept, but early on in my prototype development I had to switch from a spiked steel ball to an orange rubber ball and the chain was replaced with a very flexible shaft, all in the name of safety!
 
PGA.com: Clearly the feedback has been fantastic evidenced by the number of touring professionals who use the Whip. What's the best feedback you've received by a top-level player?
 
Hackenberg: It would be difficult to state the best feedback that I've received from a top-level player since I have spoken with so many and they always have positive comments.   
 
The most satisfying thing for me is to receive pictures from various sources showing an Orange Whip in the bag or hands of a top player preparing for an event.
 
I did receive a great email from Greg Norman last year and he stated this: "Jim, Greg Norman here. I just tried your Orange Whip when I played with a friend who had one yesterday, impressive. Can you tell me if I can get one shipped (Fed/Ex'd) before I depart for a tournament Wednesday morning? Happy to pay for it, just wanted to make sure getting one ASAP is possible. Well done on the product. I wish you all the very best for a successful business venture with a product that gives you a tremendous amount of feedback with the timing and release of your swing."
 
PGA.com: Well, that's pretty cool! Hackers in particular may be weary of trying or purchasing an aid that Tour players use, simply because they may not think they're good enough to use it. That couldn't be further from the truth with the Whip, could it? This is one aid that transcends playing ability. It seems like the perfect tool not only for pros, but especially for beginners who are trying to "feel" what the athletic golf swing feels like.
 
Hackenberg: That is exactly correct. The Orange Whip was originally designed for those who are just learning the game of golf and how they can develop a consistent swing. The great thing for my business has been that the Tour players and top instructors immediately noticed the benefits, so they were the first to begin using it. I was grateful for this situation because I feel that golfers who are looking to improve will look up to the 'better' players at their golf club and do the things they do.
 
One of the best and often overlooked features of the Orange Whip is the ability to use it indoors without compromising its unparalleled performance. It only requires a minimal amount of space and 5-10 minutes of training time per day. No golf swing trainer is more time efficient and effective. You can work with an Orange Whip year-round and never again have to depend on weather conditions or daylight when you want to improve your golf swing and fitness. It’s the ideal tool for those living in challenging winter environments and busy individuals with little time to practice.
 
PGA.com: The Whip obviously has a number of great benefits. Can you highlight some of them for us?
 
Hackenberg: Sure.
 
Power -- By swinging the Orange Whip back in forth in a repetitive motion, the user will develop the most efficient way to use their body to create an athletic swinging motion.   An athletic swinging motion leads to more relaxed muscles, therefore allowing more freedom and trust in one’s swing.   If a person has trust, they can really let it go and create much more power.
 
Flexibility -- The weight on each end of the flexible shaft provides a low-impact stretch while swinging.
 
Strength -- The Orange Whip provides a core muscle workout when used during repetitive motion drills. The wrists and forearms receive a workout doing various drills and during the hinging action while swinging.
 
Coordination -- The Orange Whip synchronizes the arms and body while swinging it repetitively. If this motion is out of sync, the user will lose their balance and/or feel awkward.
 
Tempo -- As the arms and body work together, a natural rhythm takes over the swing. This is how your tempo develops, some may be fast or slow, yet always in balance with an efficient motion.
 
Consistency -- Being able to reproduce the same motion allows the user to be consistent in their swing. If the user is also consistent in their address position, their ball striking has to improve and become more consistent.
 
PGA.com: Along with the Whip, you offer the Peel... yet another brilliant aid. Tell our readers a little about the Peel and what a player can accomplish when using both aids simultaneously.
 
Hackenberg: The Orange Peel is a balance platform that will center your core and promote a much more powerful rotation in your golf swing. The Peel is the size of boogie board and placed on the ground. The surface you stand on is concave, so it resembles standing at the bottom of a nine-foot diameter sphere. Also, by simply moving the position of your feet on the peel, you can create any lie angle you could find on the golf course: uphill, downhill, side-hill.
 
The Orange Peel and the Orange Whip are individual products that work very well together.    Since the Peel focuses on balance and rotation, and the Whip synchronizes the arms and body motion to create an athletic use of your body, by using the two products together speeds up the learning process.   
 
PGA.com: Being a PGA Professional, I'm curious -- just how beneficial do you think the Whip and the Peel are in assisting other PGA Professionals when it comes to teaching?
 
Hackenberg: I am also a PGA Professional, and with my focus being instruction, I have found that teaching is much more effective when both the Orange Whip and the Orange Peel are used to convey an idea to a student. If a person can 'feel' the proper motion and athletic balance, the job of the instructor just became much easier.
 
PGA.com: The thing I love most about the Whip and the Peel is the ease of use. There's nothing to put together, there's no video to shoot -- unless you so choose -- and they pretty much offer instant feedback. Shouldn't everyone who plays golf be using these tools?!
 
Hackenberg: A good friend of mine (PGA Golf Instructor, Ben Weir) always says, “If you're not using the Orange Whip, you are at a disadvantage to those who are using the Orange Whip on a regular basis.”
 
I do believe all golfers should be using the Orange Whip products, even if the only reason is to stay flexible and balanced; those are very important benefits. But, learning to swing like an athlete is so important to improve one’s game and enjoyment of the game!
 
To learn more about the Orange Whip and Orange Peel, visit www.orangewhiptrainer.com.
 
You can also find The Orange Whip on Facebook, or follow on Twitter, @OrangeWhipGolf.

The Orange Whip is available at most golf retail stores for around $109, while the Orange Peel retails for $209.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
 
 
 
KENTWOOL, U.S. Open, Bubba Watson
KENTWOOL
KENTWOOL's special U.S. Open Tour Profile performance sock.
Once again, KENTWOOL -- the makers of "the world's best golf sock" -- have a special sock available to commemorate next week's U.S. Open at Merion.
 
Here's the release from KENTWOOL:
 
To celebrate the U.S. Open, a special KENTWOOL Tour Profile performance sock in red, white and blue is available at www.kentwoolsocks.com.
 
Slated to be worn during championship week by Bubba Watson, the commemorative design ($19.95) is crafted from a proprietary blend of fine merino wool and high-tech fibers creating a micro-climate system for superior moisture wicking and odor control.
 
By infusing its footwear fibers with air, KENTWOOL provides cushioning at micro-stress points along the foot enhancing comfort, boosting energy levels and reducing abrasion for a 100-percent blister-free guarantee.
 
While originally thought that the USA sock would be a "limited-edition" style, because of its success it will remain on the KENTWOOL website as a part of the Tour Profile collection.