Golf Buzz

January 22, 2013 - 2:04pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson
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Bubba Watson was among the top-20 earners in golf in 2012.

Have you ever wondered how much money your favorite golfer makes each year? With such a huge emphasis put on the money list -- or Order of Merit -- among the various tours, chances are you know what your favorite player is making on the course.

But, what are they making off it when it comes to endorsement deals, bonuses, appearance fees and more?

Ron Sirak, the executive editor for Golf World Magazine and a senior writer for Golf Digest, has compiled a list of 50 of the game's biggest stars. Interestingly, off-course deals alone accounted for more than $400 million amongst these 50 players.

Here's how Sirak introduces the piece:

How we did it: On-course income for 2012 includes all money earned on the PGA Tour and the five international tours (Japan PGA, PGA European, Australasian, Southern Africa, Asian) and the Champions Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and the Japan LPGA. It also includes unofficial money won in nontour events.

Off-course income includes estimates of all money earned from endorsements, bonuses, appearance fees, corporate outings, speaking engagements, licensing fees (video games, trading cards, etc.), course architecture, books, instructional videos and businesses that capitalize on a person's status as a player, such as product lines including clothing, wine and turfgrass.

Investment income is not included.

To view the slideshow with each player's 2012 rank, on-course and off-course earnings, click here.

For a bit of an idea of the unbelievable amounts of money these players are making, Tom Lehman -- last on Sirak's list -- raked in $4,856,231 in 2012.

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

January 22, 2013 - 8:42am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
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Phil Mickelson apologized for comments involving money and taxes that he made on Sunday in a statement to Fox News late Monday night.

As a follow up to the story we brought you Monday morning about Phil Mickelson being prepared to make "drastic changes" in his life because of the federal and state taxes he is paying, the star golfer -- in a statement to Fox News late Monday -- apologized to anyone he may have, "upset or insulted," with his comments.

Mickelson made his comments to the media on Sunday following the final round of the Humana Challenge. He said his high tax bracket was causing him to consider drastic changes in his life, possibly moving his family out of state and even retiring from golf.

Here's what Mickelson said in the statement:

"Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public," Mickelson said.
 
"I certainly don't have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family."

Sunday certainly wasn't the first time that Mickelson has gone off on an unexpected rant.

Golf Digest Web Editor Sam Weinman took an entertaining look at a number of Mickelson's unexpected rants over the years, including but not limited to Oakmont's "dangerous" rough and, as Weinman writes, "objects to a loophole by exploiting loophole."

It's a fun read and you should check it out here.

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

January 22, 2013 - 1:35am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Mobile Warming Gear golf outerwear
Courtesy of Mobile Warming Gear
The golf-specific vests and jackets from Mobile Warming Gear contain micro-alloy heating elements built into the back and chest area, which completely eliminate the need for extra layers of clothing while keeping muscles loose in all conditions.

Playing golf at this time of the year can be a challenge because keeping warm can be as tough as a 200-yard carry over water. If you live in the three-quarters of the country that are freezing right now, you know what I mean.

One great way to seriously lessen the challenge of cold-weather golf, however, comes from a company called Mobile Warming Gear. Its Mobile Warming system is based on concepts pioneered by NASA during early days of the U.S. space program, and use a small, rechargeable lithium-ion battery to provide hours of heat – sort of like electric blankets that you wear.

"While some golfers put their clubs away when the weather turns cold, those with a true passion for the game want to get in as many rounds as possible," said Mobile Warming Golf General Manager Keith Apple. "We're making that a comfortable reality, rain or shine, with a unique system that ensures a player's core stays warm for up to 10 hours."

Mobile Warming has launched its first collection of heated, waterproof jackets made just for golfers – in  fact, the company worked with a number of PGA Professionals to make sure the clothes are as swing-friendly as they are warm.

Each seam-sealed garment is crafted from ultra-lightweight and breathable technical polyester. Featuring four-way stretch, the jackets and vests provide significant freedom of movement throughout the golf swing – and, thanks to the placement of the heating units, they also conform to USGA regulations.

They're further enhanced by the system of micro-alloy heating elements built into the back and chest area, which completely eliminate the need for extra layers of clothing while keeping muscles loose in all conditions. At the touch of a button, this breakthrough technology provides heating and warmth, for an entire day, that exceeds the heat transmitted by any other form of insulation available in outerwear today.

Both the softshell golf vest and golf jacket and rain jacket are made of lightweight, stretchy Windshark fabric with elastic underarm panels for extra flexibility. They feature three heating panels to keep upper body muscles warm and loose, and include a rechargeable battery and charger. There is also a line of vests and jackets designed specifically for women golfers, as well as other non-golf-specific garments suitable for a variety of outdoor activities from snowboarding to motorsports.

The garments aren't cheap – they range from $159.99 for the vest to $219.99 for the rain jacket. But compared to what you'd pay for a parka or other cold-weather outerwear, they're certainly not overpriced, either – especially when it means the difference between enjoying some bonus golf in cold conditions versus being miserable all day or, worse, being stuck at home wishing you could play.

For more about Mobile Warming Gear, click here.

January 21, 2013 - 8:47am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
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On Sunday, Phil Mickelson said he's going to make some, "drastic changes," this year.

Phil Mickelson is no stranger to making headlines on the golf course. But, the headlines he made at PGA WEST on Sunday following the final round of the Humana Challenge had nothing to do with the way he played.

Mickelson vowed to make "drastic changes" in his life because of the federal and state taxes he is paying, and he confirmed that his decision to not buy an interest in the San Diego Padres was directly related to his financial situation.

Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports:

"I'll probably talk more in depth next week (at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines). I'm not going to jump the gun," Mickelson said. "There are going to be some drastic changes. I happen to be in the (tax) zone that is targeted both federally and by the state, and it doesn’t work for me right now."

Mickelson, 42, was responding to a question about why, in a conference call last Monday, he referred to “what’s gone on the last couple of months, politically,” when talking about the semi-retirement of fellow tour pro Steve Stricker.

"I think we're all going to have to find things that work for us," Mickelson said on the call. "I think we're all going to have our own kind of way of handling things, handling time in our career, handling what's gone on the last couple of months politically. I think we're all going to have to find things that work for us."

Asked if there was a correlation between his views and his withdrawal from interest in the Padres, Mickelson said, "Yeah, absolutely."

So what prompted Mickelson's comments?

In November, California voters approved Proposition 30, which imposed a 13.3 percent tax rate for incomes of more than $1 million -- a percentage increase of 29.13 percent over the previous "millionaires" tax of 10.3 percent.

As of June 2012, Forbes Magazine ranked Mickelson as the seventh-highest paid athlete in sports, with on-course earnings and endorsements totaling $47.8 million.

"If you add up all of the federal and you look at disibility and unemployment and the social security and the state, my tax rate is 62, 63 percent," Mickelson said Sunday. "So I've got to make some decisions about what I'm going to do."

The options for Mickelson would seem to be to move to a state with lower taxes or go into some form of retirement.

Time will tell, but it would seem fans will have little sympathy for Mickelson.

To read Leonard's entire report, click here.

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

January 20, 2013 - 11:49pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Jamie Donaldson, Brian Gay and John Cook
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Jamie Donaldson, Brian Gay and John Cook all had to come form behind to win on Sunday.

Wow, what a Sunday – on the golf course and the football field. Unless, of course, you started the day in the lead.

First off, world No. 5 Justin Rose teed off in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with a three-shot lead over unheralded Jamie Donaldson. Rose had led all week in commanding fashion, hitting greens and making putts. But his mastery never materialized on Sunday, as he was forced to scramble far too often while Donaldson – who only had one win in almost 300 career European Tour starts – was steady from the start.

Donaldson and Rose battled down the back nine, but it was Rose who blinked with a bogey on the 16th hole and a missed birdie try on the 17th. Donaldson, playing in the group ahead of Rose, three-putted the 18th hole for bogey, opening the door again for Rose. But Rose couldn't take advantage – his eight-footer for a birdie and a tie rimmed out, giving the title to Donaldson.

A few hours later, the Atlanta Falcons took the field in the Georgia Dome, and quckly jumped out to a 17-0 lead over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. But the visitors rallied, held the Falcons scoreless in the second half and advanced to the Super Bowl by a 28-24 score. I'd elaborate more, but I don't want to cause any further pain to all my colleagues back in the PGA.com home office in Atlanta. (Being a Dallas Cowboys fan, I know all about pain.)

Next up was the Humana Challenge, where Scott Stallings teed off in the final round with a whopping five-shot advantage that gave very few of his pursuers much realistic hope. However, Stallings struggled to a 70 on a perfect day for scoring – three players shot 62s – and, to make things worse, he bogeyed the final hole to miss out on the playoff among Brian Gay (who shot a 63), Charles Howell III (who shot a 64) and rookie David Lingmerth (who had one of the 62s). Lingmerth fell out on the first extra hole, and Gay birdied the second one to win his fourth career title.

After that came the AFC Championship Game, where the homestanding New England Patriots stood as 9-point favorites – an almost unheard-of number at this point in the playoffs. Like the Falcons, the Patriots started well, and owned a 13-7 lead over the Baltimore Ravens at the half. But the Ravens held the Patriots scoreless in the second half – just as the 49sers had done to the Falcons – and advanced to the Super Bowl by a 28-13 score.

The last event in our poor-performer pentathlon was the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the Champions Tour. David Frost led by one after the first round and two after the second round, and held on for much of the day on Sunday. But John Cook birdied the 18th hole, Frost couldn't match him and the two went to a playoff, where Cook won with a 25-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole.

So, to sum up the day for our favorites and front-runners: Ugh. But at least the golfers who grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory on Sunday can go right back out and try again. The Falcons and Patriots, meanwhile, get to go home and stew about their losses for six months.

January 19, 2013 - 4:00pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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Callaway X-bombs
Photo: Callaway Golf
Callaway's innovative x-bomb campaign ties in college football passion to the golf world.

 

Golf has come such a long way in the last couple of years in terms of social media, fan engagement and better branding ideas.  This is no small thing - industry insiders know that golf hasn't always been at the forefront of change nor communication with consumers. But I'm happy to say - I think those days are long gone.
 
Some of my favorite people on Facebook and/or Twitter happen to work in golf - and that's not coincidence or even industry driven.  The major equipment companies have made it a priority to hire and recruit people who have a keen sense of consumers, a sharp wit and an eye for a good picture or the tone of a good story. As the world of media and communication changes, they are in good shape to adapt and now - lead. It's no longer just telling a story - it's finding innovative ways to share it. 
 
One group who has been particulary active on social media fronts is the team from Callaway Golf.  Golfers will no doubt enjoy reading about their often hilarious brainstorms and campaigns or just following the crew as they engage in often hilarious back and forth on Twitter. From Callaway executives to Tour players to golf fans who are trying a new RAZR Fit Xtreme driver - they all get in on the conversation and the fun. And anytime you make it fun to learn, you're going to learn more, right?
 
 
But friends at TaylorMade, Titleist and Nike aren't taking a back seat to anyone. Nike Golf has long been a leader in engagement with fans - something their dominant numbers in the social space reflect. Cleveland, PING and Adams are also actively engaging with thier consumers. It's a new golf world - one that is better for all of us who work and play in this space.  
 
The technology says that there's never been a better time to buy golf equipment. But before I spend significant money - I want to know why I should.  It's no longer about the fun 30 second ad or the Tour player who's playing it - why is it good for my game?  Now, because of the efforts of some superstar marketing groups - you have avenues for answers you've never had before.