Golf Buzz

Hao-Tong Li (left) and Xin-Jun Zhang
Courtesy of Nike Golf
Hao-Tong Li (left) and Xin-Jun Zhang will represent Nike golf in clubs, ball, footwear, glove, apparel, headwear and accessories.

It's not on the level of signing Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, but Nike Golf has taken a potentially big step in the world of golf sponsorships. The company announced Monday that it has signed its first head-to-toe endorsement deals with two players from China who aren't yet known around the globe.

Hao-Tong Li, age 18, and Xin-Jun Zhang, 26, have signed multi-year agreements and will represent the Swoosh in clubs, ball, footwear, glove, apparel, headwear and accessories.

Li, from the Hunan Province, turned professional in 2011 at age 16. As an amateur, he won nine gold medals and six silver medals in the Asian Games in various cities in China. Before turning pro, he tied for 21st in the 2011 Nanshan Masters on the OneAsia Tour, and was named Best Amateur Player. 

He also represented the Chinese National Team as an amateur in 2010 and 2011.  More recently, he tied for 39th in this 2012 Australian PGA Championship and tied for fifth in the 2013 New Zealand PGA Championship on the PGA Tour of AustralAsia. He has won $6,664 by making two cuts in five starts on the 2013 OneAsia Tour.

From the Shanxi Province, Zhang turned professional in 2010 at 23. In 2007, he was selected to the Chinese National Team for several international tournaments. He won two gold medals and one silver medal in Chinese Professional Tournaments in 2011 and 2012. He also tied for 13th in the 2011 HSBC Champions in Shanghai, an event won by Martin Kaymer.

''We are excited to welcome these two young and talented athletes to the Nike Golf family,'' said Mark Thaxton, Global Director of Sports Marketing Operations at Nike Golf. ''Hao-Tong and Xin-Jun are our first head-to-toe athletes in China and they will make great additions to our stable of athletes at a global level.'' 

Nike's siging of these two players reminds me a bit of Major League Baseball teams signing amateur teenagers from the Dominican Republic or Taiwan in that you're often betting on potential. But it seems more likely every year that the next wave of raising golf stars will emerge from Asia, and these deals help Nike show those young players that the Swoosh is serious about helping to cultivate their talent. And signing a couple of the higher-profile players in China sure can help Nike broaden its exposure over there.

And speaking of young Chinese golfers, Guan Tianlang remains an amateur unbeholden to any specific equipment company. During his foray in the United States this year, he's been playing a TaylorMade R1 driver, a Callaway X Hot 3-wood and two X Hot hybrids, Nike Pro combo irons, Scratch wedges, an Odyssey White Hot Pro #7 putter, and a Callaway HEX Black ball.


June 11, 2013 - 2:30pm
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John Kim's picture
Chris Gilley makes double aces
Southern California PGA
PGA Professional Chris Gilley makes two aces on the same hole on the same day.
It's a thrill of a lifetime for many golfers to actually make a hole-in-one. But how many get a chance to say they've made two? How about two on the same hole...on the same day? The odds of that are....let's just say, extremely low.
However, not so much for PGA Professional Chris Gilley.  The pro from Sea Cliff Country Club in Huntington Beach, Calif. was playing in the Southern California PGA TPS Series, a 36 hole event at Indian Wells Golf Resort, when he aced the 127 yard 17th hole in his first round.  Later in the day, during his second he came back to the hole (this time it played to 131 yards) and miraculously, made another '1'.  
In the understatment of the year, Gilley called the day "the greatest day of his life on a golf course."  You can hear his thoughts on his amazing day here.
Gilley ended up coming in a tie for second place in the tournament.
You can follow John Kim on Twitter at @johnkim_10
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
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.