COR Ruling - Mutterings Over the Merlot
The retailers, some of them leaders of the biggest chains in off-course golf sales, mooned for a moment over the new Nike Pro Combo irons (the reason for the celebration), then muttered in the next minute something derisive about the U.S. Golf Association, which had just pulled the rug out from under any forecasting the retailers were able to do in this off-kilter golf equipment year.
The media, who despite their affection for seeming jaded are even bigger golf gearheads than their readers and viewers, also went wide-eyed at the new, chromed-up creations from Nikes Tom Stites ' and then fell to their notebooks or microphones when they perceived a mood shift in the retailer camp.
And Nike execs, lambasted by breaking news but with a captive audience nonetheless, spoke somberly one moment of the effect of reckless regulation, then smiled the next at the thought of jump-starting the sluggish premium irons market with the first set of Nike irons designed for non-elite players.
The wrench entered the works Tuesday morning, when the USGA announced that instead of instituting a five-year grace period for so-called 'hot' drivers (those with a coefficient of restitution of .86), it would stay with the current limit of .83 indefinitely, for all levels of play. The rest of the world will adopt a .83 limit as of Jan. 1, 2008.
This contradicted the joint USGA-Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews proposal of May 9, which set up the grace period for 2003 through 2007, except for highly skilled players, who would always play .83 drivers via a Condition of Competition expected to be adopted by all the top tours and tournaments.
Im amazed we were able to keep a secret, said David Fay, USGA executive director, when told of the universal ' and intense ' surprise the Tuesday announcement caused. It also caused turmoil, perhaps more than the May 9 proposal itself, because certain companies relied on adoption of the May 9 proposal as written ' relied economically, in their forecasting, marketing, and advertising.
How It Came to This
The May 9 proposal was a compromise designed to ease the rest of the world into a limitation on drivers that had been adopted in the United States only. The R&A, whose jurisdiction covers the world outside the United States and Mexico, never saw a problem with spring-like effect, and therefore never instituted the .83 limitation that the USGA did following the introduction of clubs such as Callaways hot-faced ERC series.
The regulation rift threatened the integrity of events such as the American Express World Championships of Golf, whose venues change and whose fields include pros with legal access to hot drivers. The problem became severe enough to move both PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Masters chairman Hootie Johnson to threaten this spring to devise their own equipment regulations. Those warnings helped get the USGA and R&A off the dime.
But the organizations had already been working for at least 18 months on healing the rift caused by the adoption of the .83 COR line in the sand, which Fay announced at a pre-U.S. Open press conference in 1998 at Olympic in San Francisco.
After San Francisco, what the USGA considered a reasonable solution soon became golfs Little Round Top, a battleground sure to be remembered ' and bloody. The games most persuasive and visible business personality, the late Ely Callaway, repeatedly took the USGA to task for imposing on the recreational game the kind of strictures needed only in the elite game. The USGA, which had employed that modus operandi for years, bristled, and resisted any attempt at bifurcation of the Rules of Golf based on ability.
Before the May 9 proposal, Fay kept largely mum about efforts to harmonize the USGAs equipment approach with that of the R&A, except to report sadly from time to time that it looked as if little progress had been made. So it was no surprise when he seemed elated on May 9, figuring that the joint proposal for a five-year grace period would settle the issue. And indeed, he got applause from an industry tired of the distraction of a rules rift.
Reaction to ' and Reliance on ' May 9
Callaway Golf and TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, both heavily invested in high-COR product, came down on the positive side of the new COR fence. Titleist did not, and more quietly, Ping expressed concern as well.
But the applause was not universal. Titleist, highly vocal through its leader, Wally Uihlein, said the Jan. 1, 2003 start date for the five-year .86 grace period was too soon after May 9, and that Jan. 1, 2004 would give manufacturers more time to clear out less-desirable .83 product.
Other issues clouded the proposal, Uihlein said: What is a highly skilled player, to whom the .83-only Condition of Competition would apply? Did that definition reach down into the amateur ranks? (USGA officials deflected such questions at the U.S. Open in June.) If the highly skilled players meant pros only, what of college golfers and juniors, whose September-to-May seasons straddled the Jan. 1, 2003 effective date for .86 drivers? Would they start the season with one club and finish with another? Uihlein also expressed concern that the notice and comment period, scheduled to last until July 15, was not being taken seriously.
After May 9, it was Titleist that led that charge to get out the vote on the proposal. Armed with the prediction that the proposal would probably be adopted as written (This is not going to be a rolling negotiation, Fay had said May 10 when asked about the notice and comment procedure), Titleist executives worked the phones to engage all manner of respondents: state golf associations, national groups, anyone with a stake ' just so they all knew that it wasnt only manufacturers who could make their voices heard.
Word is, the extra participation influenced the result that surprised the golf world Tuesday. But the real Jekyll ' or Hyde ' turned out to be Asia.
The Sudden Reversal
In mid-July, just before the notice and comment period on the May 9 proposals was set to close, the R&A began to get worried questions from Asian golf authorities, said R&A secretary Peter Dawson.
The problem was Japan, where some manufacturers believe they have drivers that exceed even .86, Dawson said Tuesday. With no portable measurement device yet adopted, how would a .86 limitation be enforced? Asian players, retailers and tournament organizers, all under R&A jurisdiction, chafed at the idea of a sudden rule after eons of no limitation. Confusion reined among sellers and buyers of equipment, and worry grew daily.
Informed by the R&A of this development, the USGA was only too happy to abandon the original May 9 compromise, having never been enamored of going beyond .83 in the first place ' the USGA did it only as a compromise to settle the rift issue.
So it was that manufacturers and retailers who had been aggressively anticipating the .86 period in their ads and forecasts woke up to a new headache Tuesday. Callaway had run a print ad showing the ERC II with the word Banned crossed out and Blessed written in. The implication was clear, despite an equally clear disclaimer in the ad that recognized the status of the May 9 proposal as just that, a proposal instead of law. TaylorMade went further, saying in its print ad copy that The USGA gave an inch. We give you 15 extra yards.
That language enraged competitors in all tiers of the industry, including Callaway (who relied on its disclaimer to distinguish itself from TaylorMade) and Zevo Golf, which made it clear to key golf journalists that it thought TaylorMades distance promise was scandalous.
TaylorMade was among a group of companies that went out on a limb product-wise as well. After May 9, TaylorMade hastened its release schedule for its new, hot-faced R500 Series drivers (the company also has a .83 version, called simply the 500 Series).
Likewise, many retailers planned for the expected demand for hot drivers. Some were said to go as far as closing out their entire .83 inventory in the expectation that only .86 would be on consumers minds come New Years Day.
We cant win, said one disgusted retailer who asked not to be identified Tuesday. Its impossible to forecast with this kind of stuff going on.
Callaway, which had banked heavily on the future of ERC II and had complained of the chilling effect of USGA pronouncements on prior ERC sales, was disappointed, but not surprised at Tuesdays regulatory reversal.
TaylorMades reaction ' or lack of it ' evidenced deeper misgivings. Not only did TaylorMade president Mark King not return calls, but stories circulated at the Nike gathering of a prominent golf journalist who was not even allowed on the premises of TaylorMades Carlsbad, Calif. headquarters on Tuesday. (TaylorMade has promised a substantial reaction by Friday, August 9.)
At Acushnet Co., owners of Titleist and Cobra, Uihlein focused on process, not result.
Were prepared to play by the rules, he said Tuesday. Whats important is that [the ruling bodies] listened to everyone, not just two people who had advertising goals for their own commercial gain.
Nike executives, glad their company is not invested too deeply in nonconforming product in the U.S. (although it has a hot driver in Japan), echoed Uihleins sentiments.
It certainly restores faith that theres a process at hand, said Mike Kelly, Nikes category business director for golf clubs.
We were prepared to go either way, said Stites, Nikes director of product creation. But this makes life more simple.
It may make life simpler for consumers as well, whether they like it or not. Just as every shot makes someone happy and someone else unhappy, so it is with regulation. Any .86 constituency Callaway and other manufacturers have developed will now be faced with a choice, as are those companies. Peer pressure and playing ability may affect consumer choice; market conditions and competitive pressures will bear down on the companies which, as Fay put it, gambled and lost on the May 9 proposal. (Callaway has already said it will replace any ERC II purchased during the recent promotional period with a product from its conforming line. TaylorMade is expected to make a similar arrangement.)
No aggrieved companies will discuss post-Tuesday strategy, including whether they will file lawsuits against the USGA or R&A. Callaway plans to continue selling .86 product in the R&As jurisdiction, and to abide by the .83 rule in the U.S., a spokesman said. TaylorMade continues to think things over.
As usual, though, the market will decide ' on hot drivers, the USGAs role in the recreational game, and what sells ' or doesnt.
Golf Channel to Deliver Worldwide Coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, "The Major of Golf Business," Tueday-Friday, Jan. 23-26
Morning Drive, Golf Central to Give Viewers Insider Access to the PGA Show with Nearly 20 Hours of Live Coverage; Golf Channel’s School of Golf Instruction Program to Originate From On-Site
Golf Channel’s Portfolio of Lifestyle Brands – GolfNow, Golf Channel Academy, Revolution Golf and World Long Drive On-Site at the PGA Show Contributing to the Network’s Comprehensive Coverage
ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2018) – Golf Channel announced plans for its comprehensive coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show – the largest golf convention and business gathering in the world – with nearly 20 hours of news and instruction coverage Tuesday, Jan. 23 – Friday, Jan. 26. Golf Channel’s coverage will span across the four days, beginning Tuesday with the “PGA Show Demo Day” from the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge driving range in Winter Garden, Fla., and continuing Wednesday-Friday at the PGA Merchandise Show from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
With an insider look at the PGA Merchandise Show – a golf industry event that is not open to the public – Golf Channel’s coverage via Morning Drive and Golf Central will be delivered to a worldwide audience in more than 36 countries. Coverage will provide viewers live interviews with industry leaders, professional golfers from the world’s major tours, PGA of America members and a comprehensive overview of the latest products and trends for 2018 from some of the nearly 1,100 golf brands exhibiting on-site.
PGA Merchandise Show Week Programming Schedule: Jan. 23-26 (All Times Eastern)
7-11 a.m. (Live)
5-6 p.m. (Live)
School of Golf
7-11:30 a.m. (Live)
5-6 p.m. (Live)
8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)
7-8 p.m. (Live)
8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)
7-8 p.m. (Live)
Golf Channel’s expansive coverage of the PGA Merchandise Show will utilize several on-air personalities from the network’s news division, beginning with Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson offering coverage of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day on Tuesday. In addition to Rymer and Thompson, Wednesday-Friday coverage from the PGA Show Floor will include Matt Adams, Cara Banks, Lisa Cornwell, Matt Ginella, Damon Hack, Bailey Mosier and Gary Williams.
DIGITAL & STREAMING COVERAGE
Golf Channel’s PGA Merchandise Show on-air coverage will be available to stream via Golf Channel Digital Tuesday-Friday. Comprehensive online editorial coverage also will be available throughout the week, with contributions from writers Jay Coffin and Will Gray. Golf Channel’s social media platforms will keep viewers engaged in the conversation about what’s generating buzz at the #PGASHOW throughout the week via the network’s social media channels – @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Twitter, @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Instagram and GolfChannel and GCMorningDrive on Facebook. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will host Golf Channel’s digital and social media coverage throughout the week.
PGA SHOW DEMO DAY COVERAGE
Golf Channel’s coverage of “Demo Day” will begin Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m. ET with Morning Drive airing live and on-site to highlight the latest in golf equipment from the expansive driving range at Orange County National. Rymer and Thompson will host Morning Drive on-site, featuring interviews and product demonstrations.
PGA MERCHANDISE SHOW FLOOR COVERAGE
Coverage of the PGA Show will transition indoors to the Orange County Convention Center, Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 24-26 to give viewers an all-access tour of the PGA Show. Morning Drive and Golf Central will provide on-site reports throughout the week, with featured interviews and segments originating from the PGA Show Floor. Coverage from the Convention Center will originate from a large, multi-purpose space elevated above the PGA Show Floor, with three set configurations for interviews, along with a putting green and a golf simulator for product demonstrations. Golf Channel also will feature a “Fly Cam,” a unique camera technology made popular in televising football and other sports. Suspended above the PGA Show Floor, the Fly Cam will span more than 700 feet, giving viewers an aerial viewpoint of the vast floor and the exhibitors. New for 2018 will be a “Jib Cart,” a mobile cart with a camera jib affixed allowing high shots of the booths throughout the Show Floor.
SCHOOL OF GOLF KICKS OFF EIGHTH SEASON WITH ONE-HOUR SPECIAL FROM DEMO DAY
School of Golf, Golf Channel’s signature instruction program that airs on Tuesday nights, will kick off its eighth season with a one-hour special at Demo Day on Tuesday, Jan. 23, airing in primetime from 8-9 p.m. ET. Originating from the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO booth on the Orange County National driving range and hosted by Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal, the show will include special guests and interactions with a live audience.
GOLF CHANNEL’S PORTFOLIO OF LIFESTYLE BRANDS ON-SITE AT PGA SHOW
In addition to Golf Channel’s on-air and digital coverage, the network’s lifestyle brands – GolfNow, World Long Drive, Golf Channel Academy and Revolution Golf will showcase their services at the PGA Show with special clinics, product demonstrations and on-site activations.
GOLFNOW EXHIBITING AT BOOTH #2173
GolfNow, the industry’s leader in golf-related technology and services, will be exhibiting Wednesday-Friday from Booth #2173. In addition to showcasing advanced technologies that have created the largest tee-time marketplace in golf, GolfNow also will be educating course owners and operators about innovations and services designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently and successfully. GolfNow Business experts will be on hand at GolfNow’s 2,400-square-foot booth, offering its course partners technology demonstrations, as well as consultation on any of the GolfNow Services: Plus, a top-line focused consultative performance system for golf courses, including marketing, sales and automated pricing; Answers, a call center for golf courses, answering customer calls day and night; and Ride, a no-cost purchasing program that saves course operators from 6-35 percent on items they buy day-to-day, such as food, office supplies and agricultural products.
WORLD LONG DRIVE BRACKET CHALLENGE
Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, World Long Drive competitors will be at the PGA Show to compete in a World Long Drive Bracket Challenge. Hosted by Golf Channel’s social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin and airing live via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live, the competition will take place at Golf Channel’s simulator on the Show Floor featuring eight men and four women, including World No. 2 Ryan Reisbeck, No. 3 Maurice Allen, No. 5 Trent Scruggs and 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Women’s Champion Sandra Carlborg.
GOLF CHANNEL ACADEMY INSTRUCTION
Wednesday-Friday, Golf Channel Academy coaches will provide on-site instruction clinics at Golf Channel’s simulator set on the Show Floor. Wednesday’s clinics will feature driving, full swing, wedge play and putting clinics. Thursday’s clinic will include the full swing and Friday’s clinic will feature the short game, all streamed live via Golf Channel Academy’s Facebook page.
REVOLUTION GOLF TO SHOOT DIGITAL INSTRUCTION SEGMENTS ON-SITE AT PGA SHOW
Revolution Golf, the industry’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform delivering high-quality video-based instruction, travel content and integrated e-commerce will have a significant presence at the PGA Show. Golf Channel’s newest digital acquisition, Revolution Golf will be shooting digital segments at Demo Day and throughout the PGA Show Floor, including segments with its team of instructors.
CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:
|T20||Charles Howell III||-14||$57,754|
|T36||Tyrone Van Aswegen||-12||$27,189|
|T69||Billy Hurley III||-6||$11,623|
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.