If The PGA Show Fits

By Adam BarrJanuary 15, 2008, 5:00 pm
2008 PGA Merchandise ShowYou dont hang around for 55 years without building some tradition ' and getting good at a lot of things.
The 55th edition of the PGA Merchandise Show begins in Orlando Wednesday with a demo day on the huge 360-degree range at nearby Orange County National Golf complex. The traditional convention part of the Show then runs Thursday through Saturday at the massive Orange County Convention Center. Its a multi-faceted exhibition and meeting that brings together pretty much the entire golf industry to get ready for the new season.
But the products to be shown ' and the ways exhibitors will use the Show ' will readjust the boundaries of tradition.
Sure, there will be plenty of new stuff to look at. I lost count of the new premium irons that are on the way, and of course there will be bags full of new drivers, putters and wedges. There will be innovative bags, golf balls with the latest that aerodynamic science has to offer (even a new ball for kids), and shafts galore.
But what everyone is looking at is'well, how the industry will adjust.
I think there will be a great deal of discussion surrounding the [U.S. Golf Associations] recent ruling on club adjustability, says Dan Murphy, senior director of marketing, Bridgestone Golf. From what I gather, PGA professionals and retailers are eager to see how OEMs will be integrating those design properties into their product line-ups.
Last year, the USGA told manufacturers they could make clubs that are adjustable for more than just weight, as long as the adjustment couldnt be easily made during a round. And the effective date, January 1, 2008, came up fast. So manufacturers have scrambled to bring out adjustable gear, some of which was already in the developmental pipeline. And the first frontier of adjustment: fitting.
So what well see is some innovative product mixes ' such as Callaways I-MIX system, which allows clubheads and shafts to be purchased separately. Players can get a driver head and multiple shafts to try ' or change out round to round, depending on conditions. Nickent has an interchangeable shaft system called Evolver that uses its large, stable 4DX head. Other manufacturers are planning innovation on a similar level, all supported by space age connection systems and wrenches that work at the tip end of the shaft.
Look also for moveable weights in hybrids and putters ' not exactly a new development, but due for a bigger push. Thats true for much of the fitting and customization technology, some of which has been around for years but not promoted vigorously. The tour van in a box concept ' giving consumers the kind of adjustability in their equipment that tour players have enjoyed for years ' is the focus of the recreational side of the industry and the intent of the new USGA rule.
And fitting isnt just a matter of screwing shafts in and out of heads. Some manufacturers are going deep with technology ' including Ping, who returns to the Show for the first time since 2003.
Our main objective is to introduce our nFlight fitting software, as well as our fitting system, which includes interchangeable fitting clubs, says Pete Samuels, director of communications for Ping.
The software, which arises out of a lot of hours and sweat by Ping engineers, can be used indoors or out. It provides a 3-D ball flight readout, and can process more than a million fitting combinations from a support database that includes 20,000 equipment tests and the performance characteristics of 30,000 shafts. Sophisticated modeling engines make precise fitting recommendations.
But as novel as Pings new technology is the way the company has decided to use the Show. Rather than have a traditional booth, Ping will present more of an education center right next to the hall-wide indoor test range, the Equipment Testing Center. The company will have its gear there, but the main idea, concocted in conjunction with the PGA of America, is to invite pros, club fitters and others in to learn about the new approach to fitting from Pings experts in the field. There will even be a special section on the unique task of properly fitting golf clubs for women.
Its one of six stations, so that doesnt necessarily mean its the main focus, says Samuels. But it will highlight what were doing with our Rhapsody equipment line. And fitting women is different from fitting men, Samuels said, noting that Ping wants to take custom fitting to the next level for all kinds of golfers.
But dont forget ' the PGA Merchandise Show is not just a product platform, but also a huge industry meeting. For some people, the meeting function is paramount. Bridgestone is the official golf ball fitter of this years show, but the meeting will also help its execs take the pulse of the industry.
The Show has become much less of a launching pad for new products and much more about having an opportunity for collaboration with key audiences such as media, vendors and retailers, says Bridgestones Murphy. I value these opportunities as I believe each plays an important role in better serving the end-user. The show is a great source for generating ideas, whether theyre R&D related or marketing/sales focused.
Another thing you can usually get out of the Show is the general mood of the industry for the coming year. By speaking with retailers and taking a close look at all the product offerings you can typically gauge what type of year this will be for golf. The Show is a great barometer for what opportunities or challenges the new season holds.
And the Show tends to have a lasting effect on manufacturer mindsets ' even those who have been in a position to see it all.
I cant say that Ive seen a lot of truly unusual things at the Show over the past handful of years, but Ive definitely seen lots of interesting trends develop, Murphy says. Probably the most significant is the fact that the Show and industry as a whole has become a lot less about hype and more about substance. Consumers are taking on much more a show me mindset rather than being satisfied just being told what is good. That mindset is forcing some changes; it is forcing some myths to be dispelled and some truths to be revealed.
What will be revealed this week will set the tone for the golf industry, certainly for this year and perhaps beyond. One thing is for sure every year ' whatever the economic health of the game may be, theres always something interesting at the PGA Show. For the 55th version, theres no reason to believe things will be any less exciting.
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.