Golf Buzz

August 9, 2012 - 1:47am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones escaped from the bunker in this photo, but didn't fare so well in the sand at the 1921 British Open.

To wind down from the last of my pre-PGA Championship duties on Wednesday night, I caught up on this week’s episode of the SYFY show “Warehouse 13.” As usual, the story dealt with Secret Service agents in hot pursuit of missing “artifacts” – famous items that somehow possess superpowers. One of the missing artifacts in this episode was the bag of golf clubs that Bobby Jones used in the 1921 British Open.

As golf historians know, the 1921 British Open at St. Andrews was perhaps the low point of Jones’ competitive career. During the third round, he got so frustrated that, after struggling to get out of a bunker on the 11th hole, he simply picked up his ball and walked back to the clubhouse. Jones was well-known for his temper in those early years of his career, and he later said that quitting in the middle of his round was “the most inglorious failure of my golfing life.”

On “Warehouse 13,” however, one of the agents said that Jones “threw his clubs all over the green.” That, by all accounts, never happened.

If the show played fast and loose with golf history, it had some good fun with Jones’ clubs later in the episode. After they were tracked down, agent Artie Nelson, played by Saul Rubinek, wound up swinging Jones’ 9-iron around like a “Star Wars” light saber because whoever held the 9-iron was inexplicably filled with rage. And at the end of the episode, the bag was returned to the warehouse, where it was stored next to the drum set of the equally hot-tempered Buddy Rich because, one of the agents said, “their energy ought to cancel each other out.”

August 8, 2012 - 9:52pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bubba Watson
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Do you know this man? More than 40 percent of people in a recent survey had no clue.

Bubba Watson became a megastar in the world of golf after his amazing victory in the Masters four months ago, but he’s apparently got a long way to go before he conquers the world at large.

In a survey conducted by CBS News that was reported in the August issue of Vanity Fair magazine, a sampling of 976 adults nationwide was asked: Who is Bubba Watson?

The choices were:
A. Pro golfer
B. Famous blues guitarist
C. Governor of Virginia
D. Celebrity Chef
E. Don’t know

Only 31 percent of the respondents correctly identified Watson as a pro golfer – 44 percent said they didn’t know who he was, while 17 percent thought he was a blues guitarist, six percent thought he was the governor of Virginia and three percent thought he was a celebrity chef.

“The 33-year-old Georgian golfer and winner of this year’s Masters—over an especially surly Tiger Woods—is still an unknown,” said CBS News.

“Amazingly, 44 percent did not know that he recently won the world's most prestigious golf title -- the Masters -- with an unforgettable recovery shot out of the woods,” CBS added, with the presumption that the Masters is in fact the world’s most prestigious tournament and an unnecessary swipe at Tiger. “If he keeps playing like that, they won't be forgetting his name very much longer.”

Not to nitpick, but I don’t think the poll respondents forgot who Bubba was; they likely hadn’t heard of him yet. But I do agree – if Bubba continues to play well and win more majors, more people will get to know him for the genuine, easygoing, fun-loving and quick-witted guy he is, and he’ll be on the way to becoming a star who transcends golf. Unless, that is, he decides to become a celebrity chef, the governor of Virginia or -- my personal Plan B for Bubba -- a blues guitarist.

August 8, 2012 - 3:43pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Davis Love III
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Davis Love III is at Kiawah Island this week for the PGA Championship. At tournament's end, he will know eight of the 12 players he'll be taking to Medinah for the Ryder Cup.

In his latest blog entry, U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III talks about his excitement for this week -- PGA Championship week -- and how at the end of the tournament we'll all know eight of the 12 members he'll be taking to Medinah in September. Check it out here.

August 8, 2012 - 11:24am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
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Many of our Facebook friends identified Tiger Woods as the player to beat this week.

We asked Facebook Nation who they thought would win the 94th PGA Championship at The Ocean Course. Check out the list of the top-9 potential winners identified by you, our Facebook friends!

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 - 9:51pm
Posted by:
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John Kim, Scott Stallings
John Kim via Twitter's John Kim meets up with friend and two-time PGA Tour winner Scott Stallings.

Last year, just prior to the start of the PGA Championship, I was celebrating the first win of my friend Scott Stallings' PGA Tour career. Scott had won the 2011 Greenbrier Classic and was headed to Atlanta for the season's final major, and I even wrote a well-received piece detailing how we met, how much I respected his dedication and the challenges he had overcome.

So here we are, one year later. Scott, who has battled injuries all year, is finally feeling good and ready to contend this week here at The Ocean Course. Again, he is coming off a win (two weeks ago at the True South Classic) and sits just below the radar as one of the up-and-coming stars in golf.

But even more, he's still a humble, well-mannered and fun person. We had traded texts this week hoping to find time to say hello. Of course, schedules get crazy and we missed connecting -- until a chance meeting outside Fresh Fields on Kiawah Island.

And a short visit with him, his wife and some friends -- and one photo for Twitter later -- we parted ways, hoping to say hello again later in the week.

Good guy, good golfer and good friend. If you need a golfer to fill out your fantasy roster -- or just want to root for one of the good guys on tour -- I'm going to recommend Scott Stallings to you.