Equipment

August 8, 2012 - 12:36am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade RocketbBallz fairway wood
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The popularity of TaylorMade's RocketBallz club line has help expand the company's market share.

Golf’s largest equipment makers likely will get even larger and more smaller companies will be bought up or disappear over the next several years. That’s the take of Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade, which has grown into golf’s biggest equipment company in recent years.

“It’s a very challenging industry to find success,” said King in an interview with Bloomberg News. “In some parts of the industry, like retail, we’ve seen not only consolidation, but shrinking. We’ve seen the reduction of some of the golf courses. We’ve seen plants disappear. So there’ll still probably be some consolidation.”

Sales of golf equipment in the United States dropped by 17 percent to $2.41 billion between 2007 to 2011, according to Golf Datatech. Nevertheless, TaylorMade grew its sales by 27 percent over that period and parent company Adidas recently bought Adams Golf.

TaylorMade has gotten a huge boost this year by what the company calls “fast-growing” sales of its RocketBallz line of clubs, and King told Bloomberg he hopes to boost TaylorMade's global market share for irons to 30 percent from its current 25 percent. To help get there, the company is building a series of performance labs nationwide that allow players to get their swings analyzed and their clubs custom-fit.

TaylorMade plans to try to capitalize on golf’s return as an Olympic sport in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. King also sees China as offering a huge growth opportunity over the next decade or two.

August 7, 2012 - 1:16pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
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Phil Mickelson
getty
Mickelson put a new putter in play a week before the season's final major. Good call?

Equipment changes before a major are rare. Putter changes before a major are virtually unheard of.

Guys might experiment with a driver or two the Monday before. And a new wedge could occasionally slip into the bag. Depending on the venue, a driving iron or hybrid might make a temporary appearance. But almost never is the putter, the most important and intimate club in the bag, jilted for a new mistress on the eve of one of the Big Four. 

But Phil Mickelson did just that, putting an Odyssey prototype in the bag the Friday of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The club resembles an old friend, the No.9 model he has used in the past, with a low profile heel and a raised toe.

According to Mickelson, the design gives the putter “a kind of a hook roll.” 

Whether it’s the newness of the romance or the mechanics of the instrument, Mickelson averaged 28 putts per round with the new putter, putting him T13 in the field. He also gained 1.217 strokes per round putting, seventh in the field.

“It just rolls off the face like magic, and it has this great track,” Mickelson said. “I was making a lot more 15- to 30-footers because it was holding such a tight roll.”

Rain precluded practice on Tuesday and Mickelson canceled his press conference, so nobody could confirm if the affair continues. But if it does, Phil will once again generate a lot of a buzz with his decision making. 

 

 

August 5, 2012 - 11:01pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Keegan Bradley at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Getty Images
Keegan Bradley now has three wins on the PGA Tour in the last 15 months, all with the use of a long putter.

Another week on the PGA Tour, another win for a long putter as Keegan Bradley drained a key 15-footer to save par on the final hole at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational final hole, then watched Jim Furyk miss a five-footer with a short putter to salvage bogey and force a playoff. The latest win with a long putter prompted a few reactions from other Tour players via Twitter:

Joe Ogilvie: Hmm...5 months until I peg it at the Sony Open, do I waste my time mastering belly putter or re-master short putter? Golf is now Congress.

Joe Ogilvie: I think anchoring has 24 months left. Rule will be +/- shaft can't come in contact w/any body part except for hands until you are 50.

Luke Donald: Nice one @Keegan_Bradley you got a spare belly putter for me to try?!?!

Luke List: omg bellyputter wins again! Media is to blame. If using a belly was cheating everyone would use #upgradingboat #congratsKB

A couple of quick thoughts:

--Joe Ogilvie's opinions are as well-informed as any. If he thinks anchoring will be gone in 24 months, I’m inclined to think he’s on to something.

--I can only chuckle at Luke List blaming the media for the long putter controversy. We golf writers certainly like to talk about the big issues of the day, but we only reflect what we see and hear out there. If so many top players and governing body officials weren’t conflicted about whether long putters should be legal or not, the issue wouldn't stay on the front burner.

To read the complete story of Bradley's victory, click here.
 

 

 

August 1, 2012 - 1:29pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Steve Flesch
Getty Images
Steve Flesch believes that long putters don't eliminate mistakes.

One of my favorite parts about covering big tournaments is the chance to talk golf with the people who are playing the game at the highest level. The next best thing to being there might be to "listen in" to some of these conversations on social media, and recently there was a fascinating exchange on Twitter between PGA Tour veterans Steve Flesch and Bob Estes regarding one of the big equipment issues of the day.

Here’s a recap of their discussion:

Flesch to Estes: Don't waste time with this long putter nonsense, by which Ernie [Els] and Adam [Scott] were nearly last in putting [at the British Open], look at the ball. The real issue

Estes to Flesch: True, but would Ernie & Adam have finished 1 & 2 without the long or belly putter? They obviously thought it helped them. But you're right! The ball got away from the ruling bodies, as did the size of driver heads.

Flesch to Estes: From a guy who has used every type, length, and method of putting, I believe that belly and long don't eliminate mistakes.

Estes to Flesch: No method is foolproof. What matters is, does anchoring the putter make you a better putter than you would be otherwise?

Flesch to Estes: agree entirely, but anchoring doesn't appear to help so much that it needs to be banned.

Estes to Flesch: How can you say that when 3 of last 4 majors have been won with belly putters. They don't putt that way 2 putt worse!

If you’d like to follow these guys on Twitter, Flesch is at @Steve_Flesch and Estes is at @BobEstesPGA.

And, of course, you can follow PGA.com at @PGA_com

July 30, 2012 - 2:46pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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Getty Images
Zach Johnson wielded his SeeMore FGP putter during his second victory of 2012 at the John Deere Classic.

This week’s edition of What’s in the Winners’ Bags is up, and you can see it here http://www.pga.com/golf-equipment/winners-bag/whats-in-winners-golf-bags-week-july-15-2012

A few quick observations:

1. After winning the Senior PGA Championship with a Scotty Cameron Studio Select Laguna 1.5 putter seven weeks ago, Roger Chapman took it out of his bag and replaced it with a Rife Aruba and then won the U.S. Senior Open. Both putters are Anser-style blades that look and feel fairly similar to each other. Just goes to show that even after by far the biggest victory of his career, Chapman – like all the rest of us – is never fully satisfied with his gear.

2. Johnson proved more loyal to his flatstick, winning both his 2012 titles with an FGP Black model from SeeMore. It’s fairly rare when one of the smaller companies wins a big tournament, so a week in which underdog puttermakers capture both of the two biggest events on U.S. soil is well worth noting.

3. Zach Johnson (John Deere Classic) and Roger Chapman (U.S. Senior Open) both won on Sunday, and both also won on May 27 (Johnson at Colonial and Chapman at the Senior PGA Championship). So each has two wins on the year, and both came on the same days.

July 30, 2012 - 2:29pm
Posted by:
John Kim
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Kentwool
The orange socks for women (above) and men feature moisture-wicking and odor control technology, and come with a blister-free guarantee.

The color palette at Kentwool got even bolder this week with the unveiling of the company’s bright orange golf socks for men and women. The eye-popping color joins black, green, light blue, natural, pink and purple in the golf sock spectrum.

"We're part of the phenomenon of people wanting a broad range of colors to accentuate their outfits and personal style," says Kentwool President and CEO Mark Kent. "The demand became even more evident following the massive success of limited-edition, multi-colored socks we produced for Bubba Watson to wear during the Masters and U.S. Open."

Blended from fine merino wool and high-tech fibers for superior moisture management, the socks also feature WINDspun technology, which infuses the fibers with air, creating a micro-climate system that wicks moisture and provides superior odor control. It also provides enhanced cushioning at micro-stress points along the foot, says Kent, for extra comfort while reducing injury risk.

Retailing from $19.95 to $24.95 per pair, the socks are available in the ankle-length Tour and Low Profile models for both men and women and mid-calf Tour Standard for men. They are all backed by a blister-free guarantee, are made in the USA and are available in leading green grass shops nationwide and at http://www.kentwool.com.

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