Golf Buzz

Jason Gore
Jason Gore made the 250 yards remaining on the 18th look so easy. (Via @PGATour/Twitter)

Jason Gore was 2 over on his day when he pounded his tee shot down the fairway on the par-5 18th.

Then he grabbed his fairway metal and took aim at the pin.

Double eagle anyone?

 

 

(Yes. Yes, we saw that Jason Gore.)

The hole-out moved him to 3-under for the tournament.

Gore is a California native and a graduate of Pepperdine University.

He has one PGA Tour victory - the 2005 84 Lumber Classic.

Gore started his day on the back 9 after weather prompted Tour officials to adjust the day's schedule because of the weather forecast.

 

 

January 29, 2016 - 11:19am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Kelly Mitchum
Pinehurst Resort
Kelly Mitchum, lead instructor at the Pinehurst Golf Academy, pulled off arguably the greatest "three-putt" ever executed. See it for yourself.

It doesn't happen often, but every now and again you stumble upon a truly "wow" type of golf video... or a friend in the business hits up your inbox with one.

Folks, this is one of those.

Alex Podlogar, Media Relations man at Pinehurst Resort, sent in this video featuring Kelly Mitchum, the lead instructor at the Pinehurst Golf Academy -- and a four-time PGA Championship participant -- executing the best "three-putt" these eyes have ever seen.

Let's go right to the tape:

 

That is simply amazing, isn't it?

It might even be better than this Mitchum effort from last July.

Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
PGA of America board member Lynn Swann sees getting more youths involved as the best way to grow the game.

When it comes to growing the game of golf, PGA of America Board Member Lynn Swann is fully in favor of the youth movement sweeping tournament golf right now.

But he's aiming at a generation even younger than the one dominated by Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler. Speaking at the PGA Merchandise Show on Thursday, Swann said the aim is to provide opportunities right now for future PGA Professionals. 

"I think we always grow the game best by taking it to young kids," Swann said. "I think reaching out to kids, not only to the ones whose parents belong to clubs and play golf, but to those kids in urban settings who don't have access to the game. It's about teaching the game and creating the joy of playing golf. 

"They may never become golf professionals in terms of on the PGA Tour. But they can help develop the game in golf design or being PGA Professionals, running golf shops and things of that nature. So giving them the opportunity of seeing what the avenues are is how we grow the game that way."

The 63rd PGA Merchandise Show is a perfect example of that, according to Swann. Not only is the Show a chance for PGA Professionals to conduct business, learn new skills and network, it's an opportunity to showcase the sport for people who may never have the skills to play golf on television for money but still want to pursue a career in the game.

"It's a great opportunity for golf professionals around the world to come in and see the latest technology of golf, the latest equipment and clothing, the things they want to put in their pro shops," Swann said. "But it's also an opportunity to learn. There are a lot of teaching sessions for PGA Professionals and interns, young men and women who want to get into the golf business.

"It's also a great opportunity for young kids to be here and see the technology and innovation that surrounds the sport. A lot of people think they want to be involved in sports by playing the game. In reality, there's so many other things around the business of sport that creates opportunities for everyone."

Swann said he picked up the game while playing football at Southern California, but didn't really get serious about golf until after he retired from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1982. 

"I had some friends who played golf," Swann said. "I had a friend named Charles Lyons who had a company called Holiday Golf Products. They had a line of products which eventually became TaylorMade. And Charlie was a lawyer by education and a USC grad. But he was a club designer. I played with his son who was about 13 years old at the time and he beat me handily. 

"But after I retired from football, I started picking up the game and just thoroughly enjoyed it."

When asked whether he was more nervous lining up on offense in the Super Bowl or teeing off at Augusta National Golf Club, the NFL Hall of Famer didn't hesitate -- he was way more comfortable with a helmet and shoulder pads than golf spikes and a driver in hand.

Much of that, Swann said, comes down to practice and preparation, plus motivation and desire. You don't win four Super Bowl rings without putting in the hours of preparation during practice, no matter how much natural ability you might have. And Swann said that's the same thing with golf.

"It's really any sport, or anything you do in life," Swann said. "As a professional football wide receiver, I would work every day on drills to have the skill set of catching the ball and running the correct route. Did I know how to run a route? Absolutely. Did I know how to catch a ball? Absolutely.

"But every day, it's important to ingrain the basic fundamentals over and over again, so when it comes time to do it, you're not thinking about it. Instead, it looks like you're just reacting to the situation. That's practice, that's preparation. And golf is the same way."

So how does Swann approach golf? It's serious fan -- and he tries to enjoy his time on the course instead of worrying about how he's playing.

"I'm not trying to be (a tour professional), so I take enough lessons and practice enough to have fun and go out and enjoy the game," Swann said. "Will I make bad shots? Absolutely. But I don't get upset about it because I haven't put in that kind of time or work. I just love the game, want to play it and compete at it to the best of my ability."

 

New golf equipment
Courtesy of Nike Golf, Ping Golf, Cleveland Golf and Mizuno Golf
Among the most intriguing new gear at the PGA Show this week is the (clockwise from upper left) Nike Vapor Flex driver, Ping G Crossover irons, Mizuno S5 wedges and Cleveland TFI 2135 putters.
 
 
ORLANDO – Walking the floor at the PGA Merchandise Show, it's easy to get caught up in the thousands of eye-catching new products on display. The fact is, however, that the vast majority of best-selling equipment comes from a handful of golf's most prominent equipment makers.
 
Here is a round-up of some of the biggest releases from golf's most prominent equipment companies – it is not in any way a complete list of the new offerings – presented in alphabetical order:
 
CALLAWAY: Riding a wave of momentum into 2016, Callaway is out with its XR16 driver and fairway clubs, which have a unique backstory. As clubhead aerodynamics become more prominent, the company teamed with aircraft maker Boeing to design the heads of these new clubs to cut through the air more easily than ever – Callaway bills it as "where forgiving meets fast."
 
"To make a driver as advanced as the new XR16, we had to think outside the box and come up with new techniques to break the common mold of driver design," says Alan Hocknell, Callaway's senior vice president for research and development.
 
The XR16 has a large head (450cc) like those of many modern drivers, but it is shaped to allow for more stability through the swing and positions the center of gravity lower and deeper than previous models. The Speed Step Crown is thinner and stretched out to lower drag.
 
 
The driver also contains the latest version of Callaway's R*MOTO face that's lighter and almost 20 percent thinner than before to help generate faster swings and more ball speed. It is available in lofts of 9, 10.5 and 13.5 degrees, and retails for $349.99. The tuned-up Pro model comes in lofts of 9 and 10.5 degrees, and retails for $399.99.
 
The XR16 fairway woods feature a larger head and a bigger footprint than you might expect. The crown is lighter than previous models, and the sole is cambered to get move more easily through the turf. Its Forged Hyper Speed Face Cup provides for more spring and forgiveness. 
 
The XR16 comes in 3+, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 models, and retails for $229.99 each. The Pro woods have a more compact head design, and are available in lofts of 14, 16 and 18 degrees with a retail price of $249.99 each.
 
CLEVELAND: At Cleveland, a lot of the focus right now is on proper alignment while putting. The company's latest advancement is small but crucial – they've raised the alignment bar on the flange of their new family of TFI 2135 putters.
 
On most putters, the alignment bar – the little line behind the face that helps you aim – sits on the flange, near the bottom of the putter. That's fine, Cleveland says, if your eyes are directly over the ball. But most golfers – the company says the number is 80 percent – don't actually set up with their eyes in that position, which can led to incorrect alignment and missed putts.
 
 
So on these new models, Cleveland's designers raised the alignment line up to where it is equal to the midpoint of the ball – 21.35 millimeters. At that level, they say, the line will never give you a misperception no matter where your eyes are when you address the ball.
 
The "2135" obviously stands for the 21.35-millimeter level of the alignment bar, while the "TFI" stands for True Feel Innovation, the name of the copper-colored face on these new models. Specifically, it is a Milled Copper Infused Face Cap over a Copolymer Insert for improved feel and consistency across the face. The three new putters retail for $129.99 (blade and mid-mallet ) and $169.99 (counterbalanced blade with a heavier 405-gram head weight).
 
COBRA: Cobra Golf got a nice boost over the weekend when Rickie Fowler won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship over a star-studded field that included Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Fowler won with a brand-new King LTD driver in his bag, and Cobra has five versions of the new King driver to choose from.
 
Cobra calls the King LTD the longest and straightest driver it has ever created. It has a 16-gram weight near the back of the head to lower the center of gravity for more stability and forgiveness. Its TexTreme Carbon Fiber crown is 20 percent lighter than standard carbon fiber, while its re-engineered Forged 8-1-1 Titanium E9 face is hotter than previous versions while also boasting a larger "sweet zone." 
 
 
Golfers looking for more adjustability can choose from the King F6 and F6 Pro Custom versions, which feature moveable weights, and there is also a standard King F6 model that has a "front-to-back" weight system that allows you to select your center of gravity. All the King models have Cobra's MyFly system that lets golfers choose their loft settings.
 
The King LTD and LTD Pro retail for $499, while the F6 and F6 Pro Custom retail for $399 and the standard King F6 retails for $349.
 
MIZUNO: Among the most eye-catching products on display this week are the "Blue Magic" S5 wedges from Mizuno. They get their nickname from their dazzling Blue Ion finish and their cache from the fact that Luke Donald not only helped design them but also uses them.
 
The S5 wedges have a new "silhouette" head shape that gives them a clean look and helps them interact more cleanly with turf and sand. They're made from 1025 mild carbon steel using Mizuno's famous Grain Flow forging process to produce a soft but consistent feel. 
 
 
These new wedges also boast Mizuno's Quad Cut Groove technology, in which the width, depth, draft angle and shoulder radius of each groove are precisely rendered to enhance spin control and ball-stopping ability in all playing conditions. For greater control on the high-bounce options, 15 percent of the center trailing edge is beveled, while 25 percent is removed on the low-bounce options. 
 
Along with Blue Ion, the S5 wedges come in a White Satin finish, and are available in 25 different loft and bounce combinations ranging from 49 to 62 degrees via Mizuno's Performance Fitting System. They retail for $129.99 per club.
 
NIKE: While Luke Donald was giving his input on the new Mizuno S5 wedges, Rory McIlroy was helping to fine-tune the design the new Vapor Fly line of clubs from Nike Golf. They're called Fly because the goal in creating them was to provide an overall higher launch angle.
 
"We've verified that if we can launch the ball higher, while managing spin, it will ultimately fly farther," says Nate Radcliffe, Nike Golf's director of engineering. "We are using innovative designs that consider mass distribution, tuned compliance and stiffness to help the ball consistently fly high and long."
 
The vanguard of the new line is the Vapor Flex 440 driver, whose 440cc head is made primarily of carbon fiber-reinforced RZN, the proprietary material that Nike uses in both clubs and golf balls. RZN is extremely light and strong, allowing the company's engineers to position more weight forward and down for extra adjustability and forgiveness.
 
 
The HyperFlight face is thinned out around the perimeter to help produce extreme ball speed across the entire face, while the FlyBeam Reinforced Covert Cavity Back stiffens the head and redistributes weight to the heel and toe for better ball speed and forgiveness. 
 
The Vapor Flex 440 also features FlexFlight technology – a RZN tube with a high-density weight on one end. Golfers can adjust their launch angle, spin rate and other characteristics by inserting either the light or the heavy end of the tube into the head. And Nike's FlexLoft 2.0 technology lets golfer select from among five lofts and three face angles to fine-tune their ball flight.
 
The Vapor Fly family also includes the Fly and Pro drivers as well as fairway woods and hybrids, and Vapor Fly and Fly Pro irons. The Vapor Flex driver retails for $600. 
 
PING: The new G Driver – the follow-up to its hit G30 driver – is obviously Ping's headline this year, but the company's most intriguing new offering is its G Crossover club. Ping says it combines the precision, workability and control of an iron with the ball speed and forgiveness of a hybrid. 
 
"People love the look and feel of the Crossover because they haven't seen anything like it," says Ping CEO John Solheim said. "It shouldn't be confused with a driving iron. It's higher-launching and much more forgiving, and offers a lot of versatility."
 
 
The distinctive gray head resembles a huge muscleback, yet the club has a narrow top line. The head also has extreme heel-toe weighting to keep the center of gravity low and back for extra stability and forgiveness. The high-strength Carpenter 455 steel face is machined for greater flexing and faster ball speed, while a cascading internal sole helps the entire face, sole and top rail to flex and maximize distance. 
 
The Crossover is available in three lofts – 18 degrees, 21 degrees and 24 degrees – and retails for 
$247.50 per club.
 
TAYLORMADE: Whenever TaylorMade introduces a new driver, it immediately generates worldwide attention. The company's other releases, however, often fly under the radar. The latest case in point might be its new M2 irons.
 
TaylorMade's focus for these new irons was to achieve maximum distance without sacrificing peak trajectory. For starters, the company's designers utilized a Thick-Thin Fluted Hosel, which removed three grams of weight from the hosel and distributed it as low as possible around the clubhead's perimeter to help lower the center of gravity and promote a higher launch.
 
 
MORE: The face is thinner than on the previous irons – it doesn't include the Face Slots found on some recent TaylorMade irons – and works with the Speed Pocket – the channel cut into the sole that helps the face flex – to increase the launch angle and ball speed, even on shots struck below the face's equator. Additionally, the 360° Undercut expands the unsupported face area for more ball speed across the face, and removes weight from the top line to allow for stronger lofts that maximize distance.
 
The M2 irons retail for $799 per set with steel shafts and $899 with graphite), while the tune-up M2 Tour version retails for $899 with steel shafts.
 
TITLEIST: There's no shortage of new gear at Titleist, most notably all the new irons that appeared last fall. But the big newsmaker at the PGA Show is the company's Vokey SM6 wedges.
 
The center of gravity is progressive through the set because, the company says, aligning it with the impact position of each loft produces precise distance and trajectory control. Lowering the center of gravity in the pitching and gap wedges moves more mass behind the ball, while the sand wedge has a mid-level center of gravity and the higher-lofted wedges raise the center of gravity even higher.
 
 
The wedges' TX4 grooves feature a new parallel face texture that creates a more consistent groove edge and tighter quality tolerances to generate more spin. The lower-lofted clubs (46 to 54 degrees) have narrower, deeper grooves, while the higher-lofted clubs (56 to 62 degrees) have wider grooves. These distinct designs, the company says, optimize contact with the ball for maximum spin.
 
The SM6 models also offer five different grind options and three different finishes, and they can be customized in many different ways. They retail for $169 per club. 
 
USA Today Sports Images
How much of a correlation is there when Dustin Johnson wins using TaylorMade equipment?

Win on Sunday, sell on Monday? Maybe that's an oversimplification of the correlation between PGA Tour viewership and golf product sales. But despite the number of variables involved, there's a way to "connect the dots" in a way that grows the game.

It's obvious that Tiger Woods' success generated huge interest in golf. That's an easy correlation to draw. But it's more complicated than that, TaylorMade research engineer Brian Bazzel said Wednesday at the PGA Merchandise Show.

According to Bazzel, the tournament golfer is just one piece of the complete picture of the growth of the game of golf. More viewers watching on television means more eyeballs noticing what brand of equipment the leading players are using.

"There's a lot of connective tissue between what you see on television and playing golf," Bazzel said. "For us, one of those things is our product. You see it on television and there is a correlation there between what viewers see and people going to buy it."

But that's not the only factor, Bazzel said. Local PGA Professionals can provide a secondary influence on their own clientele. So forging relationships at the PGA Merchandise Show is a critical component of TaylorMade's marketing strategy.

"They translate to the golfers around them," he said. "We spend a lot of time connecting those dots because it does help us grow."

So what's the short-term and long-term prospects for the game? Bazzel said his company is "really optimistic." TaylorMade just added to its arsenal with the M2 driver, fairway wood and rescue club, fleshing out what it calls the "M family." 

"Just over the last few months, it's been incredible -- not only the feedback for our latest product -- but the messages we're translating to the golfer," Bazzel said. They seem to be resonating. And that didn't just happen over the last couple of months."

And a lot of that can be indirectly related to the emergence of a new generation of tournament players with definable and marketable personalies.

"I can't tell you personally how excited I am for 2016 with all the players bringing this sport up," Bazzel said.  "I feel they're lifting the sport up and bringing more people into the game."

The key for TaylorMade and the rest of the golf industry is finding a way to make their messages resonate with people just being introduced to the game.
 
"We're working on more focused product launches and meaningful technologies," Bazzel said. "We're taking it to levels that are surpassing things that we've done in the past. And what does that mean for us? I think it continues to keep growing. 

"We are really optimistic."

As long as golfers at home are watching -- and then buying -- that's a recipe for continued growth.

Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Matt Adams moderates The History of the PGA Golf Professional with Dennis Satyshur, Hal Sutton, John Steinbreder and Billy Dettlaff during the PGA Merchandise Show.

Today's PGA Professionals share a common foundation that stretches all the way back to Scotland and Allan Robertson, the first golf professional. And the growth of the game directly relates to the love of the sport, particularly as the PGA of America celebrates its centennial in 2016.

PGA Professional Billy Dettlaff and longtime writer and editor John Steinbreder shared their talents in the production of recently-published "The Official PGA of America Centennial Book," and shared some of their experiences in putting it together Wednesday during a panel discussion at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.

Dettlaff's family has been involved in professional golf for more than a century. His father won a match in 1921 to earn his first job at a public course in Oshkosh, Wis., then became a PGA Professional two years later.

It's those experiences handed down through the family that intrigued Dettlaff enough to research more about the PGA of America and how the profession has evolved since the formation of the organization in the spring of 1916.

"Part of this exercise was to search out the foundations of the game and understand what it was like when my dad was a professional," Dettlaff said. "I don't believe the game could exist without the PGA Professional at the heart of the game.

"It goes back to Allan Robertson, the first recognized golf professional in St. Andrews, Scotland -- a fifth-generation feathery ballmaker who was a great player in his own right, considered the king of the game. He was the genesis of where we are today."

If there's an overriding theme to the book, it's how PGA Professionals have spread the sport through mentoring. For 1983 PGA Champion Hal Sutton, that meant more than just the game itself.

"I played at a little nine-hole golf course in Shreveport and a guy named Ed Peck was the professional there," Sutton said. "He actually finished second in the Armed Services to Orville Moody. So he was a good player. He mentored me as much about life as he did about my golf swing.

"I'd get there from school at 3 o'clock, and he knew I loved to drink Dr Pepper. So he'd have one sitting there on the table and ask, 'Tell me how your day went, pal.' And we'd talk about that for a few minutes and then we'd talk about what was going on in my golf game. He had an interest in my life, not just my golf game. And I think that's what a lot of PGA Professionals do."

What Dettlaff and Steinbreder learned during the compilation of biographies from more than 100 prominent PGA Professionals is how much institutional knowledge is being lost in the passage of time. Dettlaff used an African proverb.

"Any time an old man dies, it's like a library burning down," he said. "And what I hope the book will do is inspire people to study our history and to reach out to some of the older professionals and listen to their stories."

 

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