Golf Buzz

April 10, 2013 - 3:01pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway Phrankenwood
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The 'Phrankenwood' that Phil Mickelson will use at the Masters blends the heat of a driver with the workability of a fairway wood.

Phil Mickelson famously won the 2006 Masters using two slightly different Callaway drivers. This week, he's trying a similar strategy.

No, Mickelson doesn't have two drivers in the bag, but close. Along with his Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver, he's got what Callaway is calling the ''Phrankenwood.''

Essentially, it's a 2-wood (remember those?!), based on Callaway's X Hot fairway wood technology. Mickelson's prototype model has 8.5 degrees of loft with a 250cc head, and is outfitted with a Fubuki k 70X prototype shaft, says Scott Goryl of Callaway.

Like other X Hot fairway woods, the Phrankenwood has a stainless steel head with a Speed Frame Face Cup made of high strength Carpenter 455 stainless steel. The face cup – the front piece on the head, including the clubface – is 40 percent thinner than previous Callaway fairway wood faces, and contains a 90-percent larger sweet spot.

At his news conference at Augusta National on Tuesday, Mickelson said he began playing the X-Hot 3-wood earlier this year and was immediately impressed.

''I hit it as far as my driver,'' he said of the X Hot 3-wood. ''I couldn't believe it, it like shot off the face. It had, you know, the optimum spin that a driver would have, and I hit it as far as my driver. And if you've noticed, as I've played Doral and I've played Houston and I've played these last few weeks, I hit it off almost every tee because it's so easy to hit, and it just bores through the air and I don't have to manipulate it and it just goes so far. 

''So I asked the engineers to take that technology in that club, in our 3-wood, and just put it on steroids,'' which he joked was probably not the best way to phrase that. ''But I wanted to make it more like a driver.''

So the Phrankenwood, Mickelson explained, ''looks like a 3-wood, but it's bigger than our 3-wood. And it's almost like a small driver, but it's the 3-wood technology of our X Hot into a driver. What it's done is taken a lot of spin off of it. And if you watch, you'll see a lot of the shots off the tee that I hit have a lot more scoot on them.''

Mickelson said his practice with the club so far this week has produced exactly the results he had hoped for.

''Tee shots on 9 are getting down to the bottom of the hill, and I haven't been able to do that in years,'' he said. ''Tee shot on 10 is getting another 15 to 20 yards, giving me a club or two less than I've had in years. And the tee shot on 15 is getting down to where I have one or two clubs less, and because it comes off fast, as well as low spin, it's running, which is exactly what I wanted here.'' 

 

 

April 10, 2013 - 12:46am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bubba Watson'a autographed menu from Champions Dinner
Bubba Watson via Twitter
Bubba Watson'a autographed menu from Champions Dinner contains the signatures of many of golf's greatest champions.

As is the Masters tradition, Bubba Watson hosted the annual Champions Dinner at Augusta National Tuesday night. 

I was kind of hoping that Bubba would make everyone pile into the General Lee for a road trip over to Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que or the T-Bonz Steakhouse, with maybe a stop at Sonic for dessert. But Watson was true to his southern roots, serving a meal of grilled chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni and cheese, corn bread and, as a nightcap, confetti cake and/or vanilla ice cream.

No doubt, Bubba's menu was popular among most of the attendees. But Nick Faldo did take to Twitter to get in a little dig, teasing the host that it took him a whole year to decide on grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, macaroni & cheese, and adding the hashtag ''#HappyMeal.''

Bubba was happy, though. He tweeted a photo of his menu, full of awesome autographs, and added his own hashtag: #Blessed.

For complete coverage of the Masters, including news, features, video, photo galleries and more, click here.

April 9, 2013 - 2:33pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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Shopping at the Masters
Shirts and sweaters are among the most popular, and pricey, items to be found in the gift shop.

So I read on Twitter (which is always right!?) that the average visitor to the Masters will spend $650 in the gift shop.  And my first thought was...probably unprintable.

$650?!?!

Even if the going rate for a badge averages four digits, (now reportedly $7000 on the street (or 'Net) for a badge!), I had a hard time accepting that most patrons, especially those visiting for just one day during a practice round, would spend anywhere near that amount.  I mean, the retail price of a Monday practice round badge is $50. Do you think really one of those visitors is going to drop almost $700 on golf souvenirs?

Then I arrived on Monday and spent a little time in the gift shop. Boy, was I wrong.

First of all, just getting into one of the gift shops (the largest is in the area just past the driving range as you make your way onto course from main entrance) means navigating through an amusement park ride-type line.  But not-so-surprisingly, the line moves pretty fast and smooth.

Once in, prepare to feel a little claustrophic as the crowd stops and "oohs" and "ahhs" over a wide assortment of Masters memorabilia. From logoed teddy bears to iPphone covers to every type of hat to a few hundred types of shirts -- pretty much anything you can think of that's golf related (and so much that isn't) -- you will probably find with the iconic United States map with the red flag. It's easy to get caught up in the euphoria that is The Masters and get a little carried away with the credit card.

I met Brooks Friesenhahn and friends while in line to take a photo at Founders Circle. (It's the world-famous photo of the flower bed shaped as the United States that sits in between Magnolia Lane and the clubhouse. If you're at Augusta National, you really should get that photo taken. Even the longest wait is usually less than an hour.)

Anyways, in our conversation, Brooks told me he had already visited the gift shop and taken his purchases back. I thought he would be a poor case study on gift shopping, after all, he and his friends were college students at Texas A&M. My thought was, they probably have to pool money to buy a pizza, it's ridiculous to think they'd spend a hundreds of dollars on golf swag. And I was right, he was nowhere near the $650 range. It was $1,700.

Actually, he spent around $1,000 on items for him and had other money given to him by friends to pick up something while he was on the grounds. (A common mistake for first time visitor -- don't tell people you are coming or you'll have a wish list longer than Santa Claus!).  But of the money he spent on him, Brooks told me, "Around 75% is with me for life. I got my direct family each a shirt and hat but that's about it. As far as selling anything, not a chance in the world....This was a lifetime memory and it wouldn't be right to pawn off my merchandise just to make a few bucks."

Lest you think Brooks just has money to burn, he also added he is usually hesitant to spend more than $50 at any other big sports event, it was that the Masters was "just different."

Another couple I ran into while on the grounds, Richard and Sally Means of Pinehurst, N.C., said they were attending their first Masters practice round and were pondering going back to the gift shop for a few more purchases.  "We've spent $450 between us and I think we've done pretty good," Sally told me. "But before we leave, we may have to pick up a couple of more items; you never know when you're going to be back."

The Masters is famous for keeping patrons top of mind when it comes to prices and attending the event. The food and drinks are the most competitive you'll find anywhere -- sports or not.  But the souvenirs from the gift shops, while not outrageous ,are not as bargain-priced as the sweet tea. Most golf shirts run around $65-$85 with the higher end shirts north of $125 and some jackets and sweaters topping $300. Tee-shirts are between $20-$35 and hats are in that same range. Ball markers are $9, a set of four Tervis Tumblers are $60 and even Masters boxer shorts can be had at two for $45. 

It does add up quick -- not because the prices are so high, but because the "want" is so large.  Every visitor understands this is a special experience and thus wants to commemorate it with as many momentos as possible.  But still, when is enough enough?  I saw one man leaving with two carts (large industrial carts) of Masters lawn chairs. That was probably $3,000 of inventory right there! 

Brooks Friesenhahn answered that for me as well as he is making definite plans to make a return trip next year. "I wouldn't change a thing next year, not even dropping $,1700 in the pro shop! Honestly I would probably spend more because I can already think of things I wish I would have bought."

You can follow John on Twitter at @johnkim_10

For complete coverage of the Masters, including news, features, video, photo galleries and more, click here.

April 9, 2013 - 10:07am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Nick Faldo
Getty Images
Nick Faldo hasn't played in a Masters since 2006 and he may never play in another one.

 

It's certainly not earth-shattering news seeing as Sir Nick Faldo hasn't played in a Masters since 2006, but the three-time Masters champion has gone on the record saying that his Masters playing days are likely over.
 
Faldo, winner of six major championships overall, revealed to Augusta Chronicle writer David Westin that despite his lifetime exemption at Augusta National, he probably won't tee it up in the tournament again.
 
Westin wrote:
 
Nick Faldo doubts he’ll ever play in the Masters Tour­nament again.
 
“Probably not,” the three-time winner at Augusta Na­tional Golf Club (1989, 1990 and 1996) said this week.
 
The former No. 1-ranked player, now 55, stopped playing in the Masters after the 2006 tournament, turning his full attention to his budding golf broadcasting career. He shot 79-74 and missed the cut on the 10th anniversary of his third Masters title.
 
Six months later, Faldo signed a multiyear deal to be the golf analyst for CBS, which broadcasts the Masters and other PGA Tour events.
 
It was unprecedented for a former Masters champion at that age – Faldo was 49 at the time – to stop competing at Augusta National. He had played in the Masters 23 times and ended with a streak of 19 in a row.
 
Faldo doesn’t plan to play in the next few years, and he won’t be one of those former champions who plays a “farewell” Masters in his golden years. Predictably, they shoot high scores in the first two rounds and miss the cut by a mile.
 
“I can’t see that,” Faldo said. “I couldn’t let myself go and shoot any number. It’s just not me. … If I keep my nose clean and keep my job at CBS, I’m quite happy to be here and doing that.”
 
 
For PGA.com's exclusive Masters coverage, click here.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
April 8, 2013 - 10:46pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Rickie Fowler's Masters outfits
Courtesy of Puma Golf
Rickie Fowler will blend right in Thursday through Saturday, then stand out as usual on Sunday.

Okay, all you fashion mavens, here's the post you've been waiting breathlessly for – the big reveal of the apparel Rickie Fowler will be sporting at the Masters.

The photo above shows his wardrobe from (left to right) Thursday through Sunday, capped off, of course, by his traditional all-orange final-round outfit.

Here's day-by-day details of each outfit, provided by Puma Golf:

Thursday: Golf Duo-Swing Polo shirt, Golf 5 PKT Tech pants, AMP Cell Fusion shoes, Monoline 210 cap and High Shine fitted golf belt 

Friday: Duo-Swing Diamond Polo shirt, Golf Tech Style pants, AMP Cell Fusion shoes, Monoline 210 cap and Spectrum fitted golf belt 

Saturday: Ombre Tech Polo shirt, Golf Track jacket, Golf Tech Style pants, AMP Cell Fusion shoes, Cat Patch Snapback cap and Form Stripe belt 

Sunday: Golf Duo-Swing Polo shirt, 5 PKT Tech pants, AMP Cell Fusion shoes, Cat Patch Snapback cap and High Shine Fitted golf belt 

For complete coverage of the Masters, including news, features, video, photo galleries and more, click here.

 
April 7, 2013 - 5:42pm
Posted by:
John Kim
john.kim's picture
Petco Park
photo: TaylorMade Golf
Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, gets foul-IER down the lines.

 

TaylorMade Golf has long been noted for being aggressive and innovative in their marketing efforts. And their newest campaign of being "IER" has certainly drawn notice as being....well, edge-ier and funny-ier (at times).  So getting this note from my friend Dave Cordero at TaylorMade as well as the photo above was not surprising but still a fun way to off Masters Week as well as baseball season. 
 
"In 2011, TaylorMade pulled off one of the most creative in-stadium advertising features when it erected an 88-foot R11 foul pole at Petco Park in San Diego. The pole represented a three-year partnership with the Padres. In 2012, the pole changed from R11 graphics to the company's record selling RocketBallz 3-wood. In 2013, the final year of the contract, TaylorMade is taking its taking its partnership even further-IER. As you have seen in TV and print advertising, TaylorMade has been promoting its new RocketBallz Stage 2 as longer-IER than the original.   So logically, TaylorMade is making Petco Park "Petco Park-IER."
 
" In-stadium takeovers when a Padres player hits a homerun (signage like Deep-IER, Yard-IER, Smashed-IER)
" A TaylorMade branded tape measure that will provide HR distance
" A TaylorMade swing simulator at every home game for fans to demo the product and compete in long drive competetions
" Giveaways of RBZ Stage 2 product during games
 
We are also swapping out last year's foul pole for the new RocketBallz Stage 2 3-wood and temporarily making it "foul pole-IER" (10-feet longer than the standard size of the foul pole). See attached image. This IER structure was built to celebrate the partnership and take "IER" to a fun/new level. It will not be displayed permanently throughout the season."
 
You can follow John on Twitter at JohnKim_10