Golf Buzz

January 30, 2013 - 1:29pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture

Earlier this afternoon, former Masters and PGA Champion Vijay Singh released the following statement regarding a Sports Illustrated article where he admitted taking a banned substance:

In light of the recent article on sportsillustrated.com, I want to issue the following statement:

"While I have used deer antler spray, at no time was I aware that it may contain a substance that is banned under the PGA TOUR Anti-Doping Policy.  In fact, when I first received the product, I reviewed the list of ingredients and did not see any prohibited substances.  I am absolutely shocked that deer antler spray may contain a banned substance and am angry that I have put myself in this position.  I have been in contact with the PGA TOUR and am cooperating fully with their review of this matter.  I will not be commenting further at this time."

It was reported on Tuesday that Singh admitted taking a banned substance. Early Wednesday, David Epstein -- one of the writers of that Sports Illustrated article -- appeared on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" and said Singh may not have been aware that the product he was using was banned.

To read Tuesday's blog post on Singh, click here.

For Wednesday's post with Epstein's explanation, click here.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.

January 30, 2013 - 11:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Vijay Singh
Getty Images
In an interview on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive," Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein said that Vijay Singh may not have realized the substance he was taking was banned.

Following up on yesterday's blog post where we brought you the news about Vijay Singh admitting to the use of a banned substance in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated, one of the authors of the story was on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" this morning and explained that Singh may not have been aware that the product was banned.

GolfChannel.com's Ryan Lavner posted a blog this morning explaining what was revealed in the Morning Drive interview with SI's David Epstein:

One of the authors of the explosive Sports Illustrated article that links several athletes to banned substances, including Vijay Singh, said Wednesday on "Morning Drive" that Singh was "pretty open" about his use of deer-antler spray and that the 49-year-old Hall of Famer may not have known that the product is on the PGA Tour’s banned-substances list.

David Epstein, a senior writer and investigative reporter for Sports Illustrated, said that he talked to Singh last week during an "extensive and specific" phone interview.

In the SI story, Singh reportedly paid one of S.W.A.T.S.' owners $9,000 last November for the spray, chips, beam ray and powder additive. He uses the spray "every couple of hours... every day," and "sleeps with the beam ray on and has put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders."

To read Lavner's complete post, click here.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.

January 30, 2013 - 10:59am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
birth.golf.death.
birth.golf.death.
birth.golf.death. has plenty of fun, unique golf gear (including polos, hats and jackets), but they also have a special Valentine's Day golf-inspired line of products including these pillows and eye/sleep masks.

OK, lovers, Valentine's Day is sneaking up on you. What are you going to get that loved one? The old, reliable, cliche flowers and a box of chocolates?

Why not think outside of the (tee) box this year?

A company called, "birth.golf.death." has some truly unique gifts -- some for on the course, some for off the course and some for pure relaxation.

Joseph Coonick, the owner and creator of birth.golf.death., has put a serious spin on the "country club" look -- he's actually turned it upside down.

"I started birth.golf.death. after a futile attempt to find a golf inspired t-shirt that I would wear," Coonick told PGA.com. "Everything I found was over-the-top cartoonish designs that I wouldn't be caught dead in and they made me wonder if they were even created by a golfer. So I took it upon myself to come up with a few designs. After high praise from golfers of all skill levels for these original designs, I started birth.golf.death. Originally, starting out with t-shirt designs only, demand for my 'victor' skull logo became so high that I was forced to expand my line to polos, outerwear, towels and hats. I will always strive to provide golfers with designs that come from 'outside the tee-box.'  I've been an avid golfer since age 5 and have had my handicap in the single digits. Combine that love of golf with my unique and subversive punk rock/industrial/goth inspiration, and you've got something in the golf apparel world that's never been scene before."

That's the truth. Coonick's designs might not be for everyone, but that's the thing -- they're not meant to be.

As for his Valentine's Day-inspired items, well, anyone would like those.

"I came up with my golf-inspired Valentine's Day designs because I wanted to create items that screamed golf, but not because they were of use on the golf course," he explained. "I also wanted an item that would pamper the customer as well as provide a therapeutic benefit. My Valentine's Day designs are hand made from the finest fabrics and filled with all natural organic fills including flax seeds, buckwheat hulls and lavender blossoms (also available unscented). The calming attributes of these designs make for a healthy mind and body yet are fully functional pieces of soft sculpture. Flowers eventually die, chocolates find their way to the hips and fancy dinners are soon forgotten; yet birth.golf.death. Valentine's Day gifts keep on giving for years and years."

birth.golf.death. offers polos, t-shirts and jackets for men and women, as well as hilarious designs just for kids.

Hats, towels, pillows, eye/sleep masks and keyboard wrist relax cushions are also available.

If you like one-of-a-kind gear, birth.golf.death. is for you. The t-shirts, in particular, are both edgy and clever. Here's an example of the wording you can find on some of the t-shirts: "Make birdies, not war"; "Birth.Golf.Death. -- Get busy golfing or get busy dying"; "WARNING: My golf swing is graphic in nature and may be considered disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised."

The bottom line: Along with comfort, birth.golf.death. is downright fun.

"I try to provide the ultimate selection of modern golf apparel for the course and street," Coonick said. "My t-shirt designs allow golfers to show their love of the great game of a golf off the course in an intellectual, hip and unique way. My on-course apparel provides golfers with an unconventional look while maintaining the most technologically advanced fabrics and designs to benefit their game. For example, my 'wicked rain jacket,' will not hinder your swing yet will keep you dry under the most formidable wet conditions on the course or your next whaling expedition, while my new 'maxx jacket' will have you looking slick and unconventional on the first tee or in a mosh pit."

To see all that birth.golf.death. has to offer, visit their website here.

You can also check out birth.golf.death. on Twitter and on Facebook.

As Coonick so eloquently says, "Golf now -- die later."

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.

January 30, 2013 - 10:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Michael Phelps
Ping Golf via Twitter
In a photo tweeted out by Ping Golf, Michael Phelps poses with his new golf clubs.

File this under: Well, that didn't take long.

U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, a 22-time medalist (including the all-time record for Olympic gold medals with 18 -- double the second highest record holders), is a certifiable golf nut.

Phelps, who said the 2012 Olympics in London would be his last, has been spending a lot of his time on the golf course these days. He's renowned coach Hank Haney's latest "Haney Project," on the Golf Channel and it was just announced today that Phelps is the newest endorser of PING clubs.

Steve DiMeglio from USA TODAY reports:

The most decorated Olympian in history has plans for the next stage of his career — on dry land this time.

Michael Phelps, the winner of more gold medals than any athlete in Olympic history, has traded in the pool for the golf course and has wasted little time making an impact.

He's been on the cover of Golf Digest. He's jokingly said the only way he'll get back to the Olympics is by playing golf. He holed a 153-foot putt at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year, which reportedly is the record for the longest televised putt in golf history. He's noted golf instructor Hank Haney's project this year.

And today, Ping will announce an agreement with Phelps to play a full set of the company's custom-fit clubs, which he'll debut in the pro-am of the Waste Management Phoenix Open when he plays with reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson. Phelps was fitted Tuesday at Ping for his new G25 driver, fairway woods, hybrids and irons. He'll also play the Tour Gorge Groove wedges and Scottsdale TR (True Roll) putter.

To read the complete story, click here.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.

January 29, 2013 - 3:20pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Vijay Singh
Getty Images
Vijay Singh, former world No. 1 golfer, has admitted to using a banned substance in this week's Sports Illustrated.

According to an article in this week's Sports Illustrated, former Masters and PGA Champion Vijay Singh has been named as one of several athletes to use a banned substance from a two-man company  called S.W.A.T.S. -- Sports with Alternatives to Steroids.

Golf.com's Ryan Reiterman blogged:

The two men, Christopher Key and Mitch Ross, run their company from a gym in Alabama. They sell products such as deer antler spray and hologram chips that they claim will help athletes perform better on the field.

The deer antler spray contains IGF-1, which SI describes as a "natural, anabolic hormone that stimulates muscle growth."

It is also a banned substance by all major pro sports leagues.

Despite warnings from the PGA Tour that the deer antler spray was a banned substance, SI reports that Singh ordered several products from S.W.A.T.S. last November.

(Vijay Singh, however, remains a vocal supporter. In November, Singh paid Ross $9,000 for the spray, chips, beam ray and powder additive -- making him one of the few athletes who is compensating S.W.A.T.S. He says he uses the spray banned by the PGA "every couple of hours... every day," sleeps with the beam ray on and has put chips on his ankles, waist and shoulders. "I'm looking forward to some change in my body," Singh says. "It's really hard to feel the difference if you're only doing it for a couple of months.")

To read all of Reiterman's report, click here.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.

January 29, 2013 - 1:14pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
TaylorMade Golf CEO Mark King
TaylorMade CEO Mark King believes that actions like the proposed anchoring ban will hurt golf, and that golf's governing bodies run the risk of becoming irrelevant if they continue to pursue them.

We're about two months into the three-month comment period that the USGA and R&A instituted after they announced their proposed rule to ban the anchoring of long putters.

Mark King, the CEO of TaylorMade, has a comment. And, wow, what a comment it is.

In short, King told The Telegraph newspaper in England that the anchoring ban is nonsensical, urged the tours to break away from the USGA and even predicted that the USGA will become a non-factor within a decade.

"The anchoring ban makes no sense to me at all," said King, whose company owns TaylorMade, adidas Golf, Ashworth apparel, Adams Golf and puttermaker Yes! Golf. "If I were running the PGA of America, I would write my own set of rules. I'd do it with the PGA Tour. The industry needs to come together without the USGA. Leave them out."

PGA of America President Ted Bishop issued a statement expressing his concern with the proposed ban immediately after it was announced. The European Tour has indicated it will go along with the ban when it goes into effect in 2016, but the PGA Tour hasn't yet formally established its position.

It would be a drastic move for the PGA Tour to flout the USGA and R&A, which establish the Rules of Golf worldwide, Telegraph columnist James Corrigan wrote. But, he noted, King feels it could happen because such prominent players as Keegan Bradley, Ernie Els and Webb Simpson have expressed strong opposition to the ban.

"I'm still not convinced the PGA Tour is going to completely embrace the long putter rule," said King. "Here's a prediction: The USGA within 10 years will be a nonentity. They will be a non-factor in golf because they are choosing to be on the outside and no one is signing up for what they represent. The industry is going to move away from them and pass them. They're obsolete. I hate to say that but that's their behavior."

Bifurcation – having one set of rules for professional players and another for amateurs – is not only inevitable, King told the newspaper, it's coming fast. "If [PGA Tour Commissioner] Tim Finchem says he's going to use all the USGA rules except the long putter rule, there you go. You have two sets of rules."

Regardless of whether the ban is instituted or not, King says TaylorMade will continue to make long putters. And if the USGA ever acts to restrict ball flight, as has been rumored, the company will keep making hot balls. There's no reason to doubt him, either -- TaylorMade has enjoyed record-setting sales in each of the past two years, and is by far the dominant company in the golf equipment space these days.

"The whole world, not just golf, the whole world is about innovation and consumers only want what's new and exciting," he said. "They don't want last year, they want new, innovative cool stuff and if we're going to stop that or limit that, we're going to kill the industry not just equipment but the playing of the game.

"So if the USGA doesn't jump on board and lead this new way of golf, they're just going to be obsolete," he summarized. "And if Finchem goes ahead and leaves the long putter in, it's just the start. The USGA is going over the edge."

King is the first big-clubmaker CEO to come out so strongly against the anchor rule, and others might not follow. However, having the largest equipment company come out so strongly against them has got to at least furrow some brows at the USGA and R&A, and King's vocal opposition might encourage other opponents to speak out as well. It'll be very interesting to see what happens from here.