Missing three footers giving you fits? Ready to snap your driver because you can't find a fairway? Relax, it's just a game - it's supposed to be fun. The joy of the game is the challenge. It's not like your efforts are going to put you in a mental institution -- well, unless you're this guy.
Rickie Fowler fans know that the kid loves motorcycles and fast cars almost as much as he loves golf. He even spent last weekend in Austin hanging out with the Red Bull folks at the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
And on Monday night, he was talking cars with some fans on Twitter. A fellow auto enthusiast said he knew Fowler had a Nissan GTR, a Porsche 911 GT3RS and a Cadillac Escalade, and asked Fowler what other vehicles are in his stable. Fowler responded that he also has a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and a 1966 Mini Cooper S, which, he said, has the steering wheel on the right side.
The shaggy one also shared pictures of a couple of his favorite rides, which I have cobbled together above. The one on the left is obviously the Mini Cooper, and the one on the right is the Porsche 911. As different as they are, they both look exactly like what you’d think Rickie Fowler’s cars would look like – cool, and ready to roll!
With the arrival of Thanksgiving Week, golf season around much of the country is winding down -- or at least slowing down -- so it’s a good time to take a look at what kind of a year the industry is having.
A few days ago, I posted an item reporting the good news that rounds played through the first three quarters of 2011 were up about 9 percent nationwide over the same period in 2011. That info came from the National Golf Foundation's State of the Golf Industry Update, which also takes a look at several other aspects of the industry. Here are some more details from that report:
Golf Course Operations: Logically, golf courses operators have benefitted most directly from the jump in rounds played. PGA PerformanceTrak reports golf fee revenues up nearly 9 percent at member facilities, and these facilities report similar gains in food, beverage and merchandise revenues. However, the report noted, the weather, local competition and the state of local economies drive individual course performance, and stressed that courses are battling harder than ever for business.
Golf Course Development: U.S. golf course openings remain at historic lows and that won't change for the foreseeable future, said the NGF. Course closures will be about the same as last yea, and the NGF believes this gradual reduction of the number of courses open for play is expected to continue into at least the near future.
The good news is that golf course transaction activity has increased in 2012 as distressed properties are being purchased by opportunistic entrepreneurs, many of whom continue to operate them as golf courses rather than re-develop them. Some of the factors preventing course owners from turning their courses into housing developments or finding other uses for them are the lack of available credit, low commercial space occupancy rates and large amount of houses already on the market.
Outside the United States, golf course development continues to grow. The NGF says it has identified more than 150 new course openings in the last two years, and is aware of more than 300 new courses currently under construction in 85 countries around the world.
Golf Equipment: Sales of golf equipment continue to trend upward after bottoming out in 2009, says the NGF. Wholesale golf club sales are up more than 8 percent in 2012 (in both units and dollars). While still below pre-recession levels, the report adds, this evidence of recovery is encouraging.
Interestingly, however, the sale of golf balls has yet to recover, even despite this year’s 9 percent increase in rounds played. In fact, the total dozens of ball shipped this year has actually dropped over the last year, though the dollar amount paid for those balls has risen over last year.
Adam Scott was thrilled to finally win the Australian Masters, a tournament he has watched since he was small boy.
Announcers on Australian television were equally thrilled to have one of their own charging to victory in the final round.
Always prone to witty metaphors, one of the announcers during Saturday's third round said, "Adam Scott has the Miss Venezuela of golf swings."
With no further explanation or follow up, it was left up to the viewer to decide what that meant. The picture above should help.
I’m not exactly sure where in the guidelines of golf etiquette this falls, but Ian Poulter and Adam Scott appeared to be engaging in a bit of good-natured ribbing during Saturday’s third round of the Australian Masters. Instead of trash-talking, though, they exchanged the kind of hand gestures we used to make as kids.
Poulter made several big putts on the front nine, and a Getty Images photographer caught him making his "nane-nane-boo-boo" gesture to Scott after one of those putts. Scott drained a 15-footer for birdie on the 18th hole to pull back within a shot of Poulter and, as you can see in the right-hand photo, flashed his five-finger salute back at Poulter with a big grin on his face.
Poulter and Scott are the two biggest names in the field, and are running 1-2 after 54 holes in Melbourne – that we know. What remains unclear, though, is exactly what was going on between them.
My theory is this: During their pre-tournament press conferences, several prominent players were asked about their thoughts on the possible ban of long putters. Scott, one of the long putters’ biggest advocates, of course defended them. Poulter, who uses a regulation-length flat stick, said unequivocably that they should be banned.
So my guess is that, since both players flashed their signs after making big putts, the duel of the digits was their way of supporting their position on putters.
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the entire golf industry should be giving thanks for some of the best news of the year – rounds play in 2012 are way up over last year.
"In fact, if fourth quarter rounds are flat with the same period in 2011, we would end the year with the largest single-year jump since the turn of the century -- a national gain of more than 30 million rounds," says the National Golf Foundation in its State of the Industry Update.
Nationwide, rounds are up 7.4 percent through September, and nearly every state experienced a gain over 2011. The fourth quarter accounts for only 16 percent of the annual rounds, the NGF says, so the 2012 gain should come in just above 6 percent. Rounds played have declined about 11 percent over the past decade, the NGF adds, so 2012 will recover about half of that dip.
What’s behind the big improvement? It’s a dramatic increase in rounds played across the northeastern quarter of the United States from the Dakotas down to Kansas and over to Maryland and Vermont. Year-over-year growth in that quadrant averaged 12 percent, according to the Golf Datatech National Rounds Played Report. That region is so important because 44 percent of all U.S. golf courses and 47 percent of America’s public golf courses are located there.
Why was there so much improvement up north? One big reason is that the weather was much better this year compared to last. In fact, the PGA’s PerformanceTrak reports a strong 8 percent increase in playable days nationwide. Another big reason: Consumer confidence and spending also have been consistently edging upward.