Golf Buzz

December 31, 2012 - 1:21pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Cabot Links
Courtesy of Cabot Links
The new Cabot Links course in Nova Scotia rates a well-deserved mention in Greg Nathan's year in review.

By now, I think most of us have about had our fill of reflections on the year in golf just past and are more eager to get the 2013 party started – I know I am. However, there is one last look back I'd like to share with you because it's different – and better – than any other I've seen.

This one was written by Greg Nathan, and I encourage you click on over and give it a look. He's the senior vice president at the National Golf Foundation, but likes to call himself "the Mayor of Crazy Town," and his perspective ranges far beyond what happens on the tours.

The No. 1 item on his list is 2012 as a comeback year for the golf business. Right behind that is his praise for the PGA of America's Golf 2.0 efforts to grow the game. Those things aren't as sexy as Tiger vs. Rory, but they're really more important to all of us on a day-to-day basis. (Tiger and Rory are both on the list, I should point out, but down toward the bottom.)

And while I appreciate the industry-wide focus of Nathan's topics, what I appreciate most is his perspective. On the anchor ban, for example, he comments that the "best thing about the issue is that it makes us all think deeply about the game and what's most important to each of us, as golfers, administrators, guardians… and as business people."

He even finds some good news in the downbeat fact that this will be the seventh consecutive year that more golf courses will close than open in the United States.

"Don't let the media tell you that closure of golf courses is indicative of the decline of demand to play. Simply not true," he writes. "Net reduction of 500 courses since 2006 (out of roughly 16,000), is not a story at all."

Closing more weak facilities "would improve the health of the existing courses and the impact on golf demand would be negligible," he believes. And he says, "There is plenty of supply to serve America's golfers… and the quality of that supply has never been better."

A positive yet sensible outlook on what seems like a negative story? Hey, that's the kind of mayor I want in charge of my Crazy Town.

December 30, 2012 - 11:25pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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Tiger Woods
The PGA of America
Tiger Woods celebrated his 37th birthday on December 30, 2012

Tiger Woods celebrated his 37th birthday today. I trust and hope it was a good one.  

Regardless of a person's views on Tiger Woods the person, there really is not much debate on Tiger Woods the golfer - he dominated the game in stretches that this generation has never seen - perhaps no generation has.  Even more, golf as an industry owes much to Woods - and still rely on his drawing power to help the health of the game on many levels.  

Television ratings, ticket sales and yes, website views, still move significantly because of Woods.  So both sincerely and a little selfishly, I hope year 37 is a great one for him.  Whether he catches Jack Nicklaus' record of major wins or not, whether he ever regains the form that made him the top sports star on the planet - his impact on the game has already left an indelible mark.  And it's created some great golf jobs as well.  So at the very least, I hope him this birthday note.  Thanks and once again - happy birthday. 

 

 

 

December 30, 2012 - 9:00pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods turned 37 on Sunday, and will be looking to build on his three-win 2012 in the upcoming season.

Today has been a bittersweet Sunday in our house. For one thing, it's the final day of the NFL regular season, which means the last day of my wife's favorite TV show – the NFL Red Zone. I can't help but chuckle at how much she loves it, even as I'm frowning over how my home-state Houston Texans nuked my chances of winning this final week of the office football pool.

But I'm also happy because today is the second and final Sunday without pro golf on TV for the year. Yes, after two whole weeks of no golf, the PGA Tour kicks off its 2013 season with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions out at Kapalua in Hawaii, and our global tournament golf cup will runneth over for 50 straight weeks all the way up to the middle of next December.

The Tournament of Champions runs Friday through Monday, in part to give the players a bit more time to get out to Hawaii and also to give us a Monday finish. The TV times for the first three rounds give us plenty of prime-time golf, while play is ending earlier on Monday so as not to run into the BCS National Championship college football game.

Seeing as how Monday is a work day, I'm a little disappointed that most golf fans won't get to see much of the final round. If it were up to me, I think I'd go ahead and play the final round in prime time, even opposite the big game – there are so many starts and stops and commercial breaks that it'd be easy to flip back and forth and not miss much of anything. But, hey, this is no time to be critical. I'm just happy golf is back.

And, oh yeah, today is Tiger Woods' 37th birthday. Happy birthday, Tiger, and we look forward to seeing what you have in store for us over the coming year.

December 29, 2012 - 2:34pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Adam Scott
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Adam Scott lost a heartbreaking British Open and then saw golf's governing bodies propose a ban on his anchored putting stroke.

Over in the "lead story" area of PGA.com, I have just posted a column by Dave Tindall of the British wire service PA Sport in which he looks back on 2012 and offers up his picks for the top 10 moments of the season just past. I don't agree with all of his choices, but I posted his piece because Europe had such a big year and it's always fun to see what people from different vantage points have to say about the big happenings in our sport.

Offering a different perspective is Jake Mann over at Bleacher Report, who put together his own list of not only the winners of 2012 but also the big losers.

The winners, obviously, are pretty easy to pick, starting with Rory McIlroy and including the likes of Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson. More interesting to me are his picks of the losers. Some of golf's biggest names suffered some of the year's biggest setbacks – and some of them made his list for reasons other than losing on the game's biggest stages.

I encourage you to click on over, take a look at his choices and tell us what you think.

December 28, 2012 - 2:19pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Caroline Wozniacki
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Caroline Wozniacki sported a shiny diamond ring on her left ring finger on Friday as she warmed up for her first tennis tournament of the 2013 campaign.

Not to get all TMZ on you or anything, but tennis star Caroline Wozniacki showed up in Australia this morning with a big new diamond ring on her left ring finger. That has sparked plenty of speculation that she and Rory Mcilroy might have gotten engaged.

Wozniacki, who is playing in the Brisbane International as a warm-up to the Australian Open, had the ring on at the airport and as she prepared for her afternoon practice session at the Queensland Tennis Centre, according to the Australian Associated Press, but took it off before she played.

McIlroy, by the way, is with her in Australia. The two have been dating for about a year and a half, and speculation that an engagement might be in the cards began when Wozniacki playfully interrupted McIlroy’s press conference at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai about a month ago to ask him: "If you win this week, am I going to get a really nice Christmas present?"

"Have you not already got a lot of nice presents?" McIlroy replied. "I have been looking, I have been looking. But it won't take winning this week to buy you a nice present – I'll get you a nice present anyway."

I'm not completely convinced just yet. For one thing, Wozniacki is a bit of a practical joker, and this could all be a ruse to get a rise out of the media. Also, lots of European women wear their engagement and wedding bands on their right hands, not their left. So I guess we'll have to wait and see if there's an official announcement anytime soon.

Update: Now that I think about it, this ring might have made its debut in a photo that McIlroy and Wozniacki tweeted out on Dec. 24. Take a good look at the photo, and tell me if you see a diamond barely visible on her left hand.

December 27, 2012 - 6:36pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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The PGA of America
A total of 89 percent of recently surveyed golfers said it was nice to see juniors playing golf.

Everyone who's been paying attention lately knows that the golf industry is trying hard to grow the game – meaning, essentially, increase the number of people participating in golf. But, the National Golf Foundation wondered, do the people who already love golf want more company out there on the course? Or do they prefer not having to share the fairways with so many other folks?

The NGF put these questions to a panel of core golfers -- and discovered that most avid players believe that it's "the more, the merrier" when it comes to their fellow duffers.

"Industry stakeholders have long theorized that there might be a segment of golfers who would like nothing more than to see fewer people playing golf – however, we really never had any insight as to the possible size of that group," the NGF said. "This research, although a limited window into that phenomenon, shows evidence that this group of 'golf hoarders' is small – 5 to 6 percent."

The vast majority of core golfers approve of both juniors and women playing golf – 89 percent agree that "it's nice to see juniors playing golf" and 80 percent agree "it's nice to see women playing golf” – though the enthusiasm isn't universally overwhelming. Specifically, 41 percent of core golfers surveyed said they strongly agree that growing the number of golfers is good, while 38 percent somewhat agreed.

Another 15 percent of the respondents had no opinion on the question, while about 5 percent disagreed.

All in all, though, that is excellent to hear. I echo the BGF's conclusion that "it's good to know that our consumer base understands what is good for the game."