Just Gimme a Pizza

By Adam BarrJanuary 12, 2003, 5:00 pm
They lost me about the time they put the cheese in the crust.
 
Open-minded fellow though I am, there are some things that should not be messed with. Stuffed-crust pizza threatened to shred like mozzarella my long-held conviction that cheese belongs on top of the pie, and nowhere else. Instead of oregano, I smelled gimmick. With respect to pizza, my wallet closed as tight as my mind. My wife hit upon the perfect homemade crust recipe, and she knows where to put the cheese. Friday nights are joyous at the Barr house.
 
I wonder if similar thoughts might not occur to consumers of premium golf equipment.
 
Even though golf may be the most gearheaded of sports that dont involve wheels, skepticism about equipment companies annual claims of newer and better is an always-audible mutter.
 
Driver heads expand (the mid-1990s), contract (1998), and expand again (2000 to present). Golf balls lose their windings and go solid-core throughout the market. Putters faces go soft (Odyssey, mid-1990s), hard (Never Compromise, with Odysseys former marketing guy in charge, late 1990s) and semi-soft again (Odyssey by Callaway, 2001). The national average handicap continues to flatline. The good player with rusty irons and delaminated persimmon can still beat the mediocre player outfitted with the latest.
 
So whats the delivery guy bringing? Are all these pumped-up, new equipment features and benefit claims nothing more than stuffed crust? Meat lovers? Chicago style? Cinnamon thingies? Justdough?
 
Maybe yes. After all, how much more can you do to the head of a golf club that hasnt been tried? How much better can recreational players hit a golf ball? Can shafts get much lighter, and would it make a lot of difference it they did?
 
On the other hand, there may well be a lot that can be done with golf balls, according to the cooks who guard the rubber-core recipes. And arguably the product most energizing to the industry in recent memory was a golf ball. Thanks to a stunning publicity blitz and delivery on its promises both on tour and for recreational players, the Pro V1 woke up a sleepy segment, and may have saved Titleist in the bargain.
 
Another product that consumers say lived up to its billing was the Odyssey 2-Ball putter, which has become ubiquitous on and off tour.
 
And its encouraging to see innovations that represent fine-tuning. Lamkin is touting a corded grip that offers the benefit of a rough finish, but places it where it wont chew up the skin on the ungloved hand.
 
So its not all cinnamon sticks. But still, golfers I meet often pull me aside, glance around for spies, and ask in a whisper whether the latest and greatest isnt all marketing hooey. Or worse yet, they simply assume it must be. Like me, they are nagged by the thought that golf companies underestimate our appetite for solid, reliable golf gear we can pass on to our children. They believe the golf companies are simply trying to churn profits. Dont embellish the pizza, just give me a driver I can love for years.
 
There may indeed be some of that going on. The generational business model doesnt sell many clubs year-to-year in a sport whose participation is static. Desperate to fortify the bottom line, some manufacturers may prop up our golf egos with vaporous claims.
 
But the mozzarella seems to rise to the top, as did the Pro V1 and the 2-Ball. If consumers can sublimate their golf egos enough to avoid buying because of foursome envy (you know, you see it in one guys bag, he bangs a few good ones, etc.) or fear of being passed by, manufacturers will have to respond.
 
Getting more people to play should be the industrys goal. Next-big-thingism hasnt worked. Consistent quality might.
 
And at least until my wife can pour a good titanium driver head, thats what Ill be looking for.
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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)