TaylorMade Hits Ground Running with Maxfli Acquisition
HUGHES IN AT TAYLORMADE: Soon after taking over Maxfli late last year with a five-year deal to distribute the Maxfli and Slazenger golf brands, TaylorMade-adidas Golf has plucked some of Maxflis top marketing talent as well. Edward Hughes, who has steered Maxfli marketing since 1997, will now handle it as global general manager, effectively running all TaylorMade-related golf ball operations.
You wont see changes so much from a logo perspective, Hughes said, but weve changed the company structure. The changes are more related to the investment in the business and research and development. Now, of course, we have the R&D staff in Carlsbad [whereTaylorMade is headquartered] working on the business.
And well see a good bump in our tour presence; TaylorMades belief is that the tour is central to success.
Another advantage: TaylorMades ownership by adidas, the second largest sporting goods company in the world, with its expertise in athletic fabrics, could help Slazengers apparel line make a run at Nike.
Under the new setup Dunlop Slazenger Group will manufacture TaylorMade, Maxfli and Slazenger balls at Maxflis Westminster, S.C. plant, and TaylorMade will get them to market. Now Hughes will stop working for Dunlop Slazenger and report directly to Jim Stutts, TMaGs CEO. TaylorMade will also assemble Maxfli clubs.
WATCH THAT TOUR COUNT: As if TMaG didnt have enough to keep its people busy ' that tour presence Hughes mentioned will be a big priority this year. Expect to see some new endorsement signings for dollars in the 70 thousand to 250 thousand range, as well as pool payments to any player who tees up with TMaG woods, irons and even putters.
How much money is on the table? Last year, TMaG pumped up the PGA Tour count of its 300 Series drivers with weekly payments of $1,500, say industry sources. No word yet on the level of 2002 tee-up payments for other TMaG clubs.
Even though there will be a few big names on staff, the primary focus will be on high tour counts rather than icons, said a TMaG insider. That strategy, which requires losing some expensive endorsers to free up money for broader use, will lead to premium-segment dominance, TMaG believes.
In the endorser exit column: Lee Janzen, a six year TMaG veteran. Hes likely to sign a new deal with MacGregor Golf as early as the week of Jan. 14.
MACGREGOR TO UNVEIL NEW TECHNOLOGY: Not sure which model Janzen will be playing, but MacGregor will be pinning a lot of hopes on its new V-Technologies clubs at the PGA Merchandise Show, Jan. 24-27 in Orlando, Fla. The weight-moving design puts more mass behind the hitting area, MacGregor says. Its available in forged and cavity-back irons, as well as specially weighted woods. Staff player Jose Maria Olazabal has already won with prototypes, MacGregor says.
STRATEGY CHANGE AT MIZUNO?: Clubs from Japanese golf power Mizuno have been the most-used irons every year on the PGA Tour since 1994. But it never paid staff endorsers to use the clubs, so the company could take only limited advantage of its prominence.
That may change, though. A Mizuno executive in the United States who requested anonymity said the company may have to take on some name players to continue to compete. As with TaylorMade, Mizuno hopes to finalize some deals during the week of Jan. 14.
PRECEPT GETS OUT THE INK: In the midst of efforts to capitalize on the 2001 success of it soft-core MC Lady golf ball, Precept Golf has signed Justin Leonard to play its Tour Premium LS ball. Its the first ball change for Leonard since his career began; he was on Titleists staff. Matt Kuchar also signed up to use the ball, as well as Precepts Tour Premium driver and irons and a Precept glove.
Not that Precept is forgetting its soft mission: Golf writers have received sample packages of the new Laddie ball, which is presented in a yellow box with a cow on the front, and four quarter sleeves inside ' soft as butter. Get it?
GIVING NIKE THE SHAFT: Club genius Tom Stites, who cut his teeth working for Ben Hogan, designed Nikes new golf clubs. So you know hed be a stickler about whom he chose to make the shafts. Two of the winners are Fujikura, which claims the most popular shaft on the PGA Tour in 2001, and Graphite Design International, both of which are based in the San Diego area. Fujikura will supply graphite shafts and offer selected models for Nikes custom wood program. Graphite Design will make shafts for two models of forged titanium Nike drivers.
ROUNDS WAY UP IN NOVEMBER: Unseasonably warm weather was probably what helped rounds played numbers skyrocket in November versus November 2000. The monthly tally issued by industry metrics leader Golf Datatech and the National Golf Course Owners Association showed rounds up everywhere but California (where they were down 7.6 percent).
For instance: 106.4 percent in the East North Central region (Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio) and 241.7 percent in West North Central (the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri). That makes the respectable bump of 46.3 percent in the Middle Atlantic (Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey) seem modest.
Rounds in the United States overall were up 25.3 percent for the month, but still down 1.3 percent for the year through the end of November.
NEW CAMERON WEBSITE UP: Fans of Titleist putter guru Scotty Cameron can learn more about Acushnets milled metal master and what he does at a new website, www.scottycameron.com. Thats also linkable from the Titleist site, www.titleist.com.
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x