Golf Buzz

February 7, 2013 - 12:25pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Wayne Gretzky and Dustin Johnson
TaylorMade via Twitter
The "One Bucket" bucket hats from TaylorMade, modeled here by hockey great Wayne Gretzky and PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson, certainly stand out, even amidst the beauty at Pebble Beach.

The Monterey Peninsula is absolutely one of the most picturesque spots in all of golf – not to mention all the world. But there's a little something extra to catch your eye as you gaze longingly upon the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this week.

Out there among the celebrity hackers and drop-dead scenery over the next four days, you'll no doubt notice a lot of people decked out in bright yellow bucket hats.

No, all those folks don't have the same retro fashion sense. Instead, they're all taking part in TaylorMade's newest promotion.

It's called ''One Bucket'' – meaning all you need to do is hit one bucket of balls with the new RocketBladez irons to be convinced of their quality. To drive the point home, TaylorMade has supplied its staff players plus a number of celebrities and amateurs with the buckets, which are emblazoned with the Twitter hashtag #onebucket along with the RocketBladez logo. The photo above shows Wayne Gretzy and Dustin Johnson modeling the hard-to-miss headwear.

TaylorMade is the master of this kind of eye-catching promotion. Remember last February, the company had its staff players wear white caps with a big heart on the front to show their ''driver love'' for the R11S driver.

A month later came the ''17'' campaign in which players wore caps and even shirts emblazoned with the number 17 to indicate the number of yards a golfer could gain by using a RocketBallz 3-wood. And earlier this year, we saw ''war paint'' on some of its players to promote the new R1 driver.

No doubt the "One Bucket" promotion will generate the kind of visibility that TaylorMade wants for its RocketBladez irons. And, hey, if you want a bucket hat of your own and can't make it out to Pebble (or the Joburg Open on the European Tour) this weekend, you can always buy your own right off the TaylorMade website.

For more on TaylorMade's new RocketBladez irons, click here.

 

February 7, 2013 - 9:57am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
Getty Images
Phil Mickelson is the defending champion of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Lefty comes into this week after a win at TPC Scottsdale on Sunday.

 

Richard Langford, a featured columnsist for BleacherReport.com, put together a nice primer to get you prepared for the start of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which starts today at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and the Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course.
 
Langford offers up some things to watch and highlights the tee times and TV broadcast times.
 
Have a look for yourself at Langford's piece here.
February 7, 2013 - 12:42am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Davis Love III
Getty Images
Davis Love III says he wishes he would have dealt with his neck issues five years ago.

Davis Love III plans to have an operation on Friday to deal with problems in his neck that have bothered him for more than a decade.

''I've been working around it and it's been a nagging thing for a long time, '' Love told the Golf Channel. ''The last three months it's been more than a nagging thing, it's just been a constant annoyance and needs to be fixed.''

The 20-time PGA Tour winner hopes to be putting again within five days of the surgery and chipping again after 10 days. He expects to be off the PGA Tour for a total of six to eight weeks to complete his recover and rehabilitation – but he believes the operation could alleviate his neck pain for as long as three to five years.

Love has been dealing with pain, numbness and diminished strength in and around his neck since 2000 as a result of spinal stenosis and joint bone spurs, and had to pull out of both this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open. He said a visit to a doctor in Scottsdale last week for a third opinion cemented his decision to go ahead with the operation, which he likened to the 2011 procedure that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had.

Love said he considered holding off on the surgery until after the majors this season, but decided to go ahead. He got a cortisone shot in his neck last week, but still felt uncomfortable when he swung a club.

''It seems like the right time,'' Love told the Golf Channel. ''I wish I had done this five years ago.''

February 6, 2013 - 6:11pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Paula Creamer
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Paula Creamer will head to Thailand for her first LPGA Tour start of the season after a dominating developmental-tour victory.

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Major League Baseball camps, but Paula Creamer went through her own version of Spring Training this week.

With the beginning of her 2013 LPGA Tour season not scheduled for another couple of weeks, the Pink Panther decided to knock some of the rust off by playing in a Suncoast Ladies Series event this week. The 54-hole event kicked off on Monday, and this afternoon Creamer wrapped up an 11-stroke victory.

''The reason I played is I'm not going to Australia next week, and I wanted to get a scorecard in my hand and get a tournament under my belt before starting the LPGA season, '' Creamer told the Golf Channel. ''It was a good golf course,'' she said of host venue Orange Tree Golf Club in Orlando.

The 2013 LPGA Tour season begins next week at the the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. Creamer is planning to start her campaign the following week at the Honda LPGA Thailand event.

Creamer pocketed a check for $2,100 for her victory. She led by five after the second round, then closed with a 65 to establish her 11-shot victory margin.

Despite the beatdown, Creamer's presence was a positive for her young competitors, said Suncoast Ladies Series Director Scott Walker.

''It's nice to see a player of her stature in our event, '' he told the Golf Channel. ''It's good for the players who aren't as established to play with her and see how they compare.''

February 6, 2013 - 1:11am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Cleveland 588 Altitude iron
Courtesy of Cleveland Golf
The heads of Cleveland Golf's 588 Altitude irons contain internal weights that create a lower, deeper Center of Gravity to improve both forgiveness and a higher ball flight.

What are the 588 Altitude irons from Cleveland Golf built for? Their name gives that answer away.

Designed for mid- to high-handicap players and other golfers with slower swing speeds, these super game-improvement irons are a blended hybrid-iron set. Every club in the set is engineered to get the ball up into the air easily for both playability and performance.

The clubs feature what Cleveland calls Full Hollow Construction. In essence, the clubheads are hollow, with the exception of internal weights that create a lower, deeper Center of Gravity to improve both forgiveness and a higher ball flight.

Each club in the Altitude set has a forged face to enhance feel and ball speed, along with a bendable hosel. To fit different swing types, the hosels can be bent up to 3 degrees upright or 2 degrees flat and the loft can be bent 2 degrees weaker or stronger.

And finally, the 588 Altitude, 588 Mid Trajectory and 588 Tour Trajectory irons can be easily interchanged to customize a set with the preferred combination of ball flight, feel and forgiveness.

The standard Altitude set includes a 4-iron through ''D'' wedge (a D wedge is a 50-degree wedge that works both a pitching wedge and sand wedge), though a 3-iron and standard sand wedge are also available. They carry a suggested retail price of $699 for an eight-piece set with steel shafts and $799 for an eight-piece set with graphite shafts. There is also a women's set.

Categories: 588 Altitude
February 5, 2013 - 2:09pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Phil Mickelson and his Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver
Callaway Golf / Getty Images
Phil Mickelson enjoyed a record-setting victory in his first week using a Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver.

Back in the good ol' days of NASCAR when the race cars actually looked like street cars, there was a saying: ''Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.'' That meant, of course, that fans would want to buy the cars that prevailed on the track.

There's no similar adage in golf, but the same principle applies. That's why you so often see golf equipment ads touting the success of products on tour.

Seldom, however, is the correlation between tour success and sales as immediate and direct as it was over the weekend.

Phil Mickelson put a new Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver in his bag last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, then went out and shot a 60. Afterward, he spoke glowingly – and specifically – about the new club.

''I finally gave our new RAZR Fit Xtreme a chance,'' Mickelson said after his round. ''And I tell you what, on Tuesday, when I hit it, I kept looking up and I was almost in disbelief at how easy it was, how straight it was, and the misses weren't bad. I put it into play in the pro-am yesterday and I hit it great.

''I drove it phenomenal, and felt really good with it,'' he added. ''And the thing that's so great about it is I can make the same swing with my irons as I do with my driver and the ball goes very straight and easy. … So that was the big thing. I drove the ball much better here.''

Mickelson went on to a wire-to-wire win, tying the Phoenix Open scoring record and barely missing the PGA Tour’s 72-hole scoring record. And because of his performance, and his vocal support of the driver, sales began to pick up – and up!

Over the weekend, Harry Arnett, the senior vice president for marketing at Callaway, sent out this tweet: ''At 2:30pm it was already the most drivers we've sold in one day on our Ecom site. #xtreme #phileffect.''

I asked Callaway for details and, while they wouldn't provide specific sales figures, they did confirm that the weekend – even with the distraction of the Super Bowl – was one to remember.

Callaway sold more drivers on its e-commerce site on Saturday than any previous day, the company said. That record lasted exactly one day, when 20 percent more drivers were sold on Sunday. Sunday also ranked as one Callaway’s top five days ever for web traffic, the company confirmed, and the weekend in total was Callaway's biggest for web traffic.

There are two obvious lessons here:

--For all the recent talk of bifurcation (different equipment rules for tour pros and amateur golfers) last week shows very vividly that everyday golfers still pay very close attention to the gear that the pros play – and that they want to play the same gear that their favorite players use.

--Phil can still move the 'ol needle.

Are you interested in buying the equipment mentoned in this post? Check out the Pro Shops -- a one-stop destination for new and used equipment sourced, inspected and sold by an elite group of PGA Professonals nationwide.

 

 

 

Categories: RAZR Fit Xtreme