Road Noise from the PGA Merchandise Show

By Casey BiererJanuary 16, 2008, 5:00 pm
Editors Note: GOLF CHANNEL business reporter Casey Bierer hits the practice ranges, putting greens and tour trailers of professional golf to speak with company owners, tour reps and players in this series, Road Noise.
This week, Casey reports from the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida.
This will be the 55th PGA Merchandise Show. And to think, it started in a parking lot with pros exhibiting merchandise out of the trunks of their cars. Can you imagine if we went back to those days? No, I cant either. And its just as well. I mean, it would have to be one heck of a big parking lot to accommodate 10 square miles of space1 million square feetover 1,200 of golfs leading companies and more than 45,000 of golfs most dedicated professional participants. Probably more SUVs in one place at one time than ever before. Yeah, forget the parking lot thing.
Show buzz is always the big thing. Last year it was largely shape geometry in drivers that led to higher MOI; in short, longer, straighter drivers. I dont believe for a minute that that story is going away this show or any time in the near or even distant future. I mean, who doesnt want to hit it longer and straighter? We all do. And as such, the manufacturers will continue to mine advances in technology that allow us to do that.
There is semi-official show buzz this year that is louder than all the other bits of buzz. Its the prospect of adjustability through head and shaft interchangeability. And lets be clear; this is adjustability on the consumer use level not just adjustability for fitting on the range. And its not just adjustability as in moving weights; although, that was and still is considered a major evolution and revolution in the advancement of golf club design.
On March 30, 2005, the USGA indicated an interest in considering allowing more types of adjustable features on woods and irons. As stated at the time:
'The Rulebook currently states that wood and irons must not be designed to be adjustable except for weight. The USGA is considering allowing more types of adjustable features to be used in woods and irons. It is possible that a proposal to allow more types of adjustable features on woods and irons could be made in the future. An important consideration of any such proposal would be to continue to disallow any adjustments being made during a stipulated round.'
The USGA is now proposing to amend the current rule to permit some additional forms of adjustability of woods and irons. The USGA believes that permitting this type of technology is a change that can serve to help many golfers obtain clubs that are well suited to their needs without causing any harm to the game.
On February 27, 2007, the USGA followed the 2005 letter with the following information:
From (current rule):
Woods and irons must not be designed to be adjustable except for weight. Putters may be designed to be adjustable for weight and some other forms of adjustability are also permitted. All methods of adjustment permitted by the Rules require that:
  • the adjustment cannot be readily made;
  • all adjustable parts are firmly fixed and there is no reasonable likelihood of them working loose during a round; and
  • all configurations of adjustment conform with the Rules.
    The disqualification penalty for purposely changing the playing characteristics of a club during a stipulated round (Rule 4-2a) applies to all clubs including a putter.
    To: (proposed rule)
    All clubs may incorporate mechanisms for weight adjustment. Other forms of adjustability may also be permitted upon evaluation by the USGA.
    The following requirements apply to all permissible methods of adjustment:
  • the adjustment cannot be readily made;
  • all adjustable parts are firmly fixed and there is no reasonable likelihood of them working loose during a round; and
  • all configurations of adjustment conform with the Rules.
    The disqualification penalty for purposely changing the playing characteristics of a club during a stipulated round (Rule 4-2a) applies to all clubs including a putter.
    The primary buzz experienced at this years PGA Merchandise Show will go to the heart of adjustability technology. Specifically, interchangeable shaft technology.
    Interchangeable shaft technology has been approved by the USGA, says Jon Claffey, director of marketing for Nickent Golf. Early on, Jon continued, Nickent recognized the significance of this and what it means to our business - the commerce of golf - as well as what it means to golfers looking for ways to improve their game. We are launching the 4DX Evolver interchangeable driver shaft technology. Aside from the hybrid technology we pioneered that really put Nickent on the map, this is the biggest technology and innovation story we have had. Jon says, Nickent is a big part of the symposium at the show that is being put on by Reed Exhibitions and the PGA of America. Our chief designer, John Hoeflich, will be a featured speaker. So, considering that the theme of the show this year is shaft interchangeability and adjustability, were pretty excited to be right in the epicenter of this new technology revolution.
    Bill Bryant, a golf industry pubic relations veteran, has attended 11 PGA Merchandise shows. This will be his 12th. I think the show is a great time and place to recharge your batteries, says Bill. We can remind ourselves, Bill continues, of what a cool business we work in. We could be in banking or the mortgage business. But, we work in golf. And thats not bad, is it?
    As the man behind the name of Bryant Marketing Communications, Bill has a number of key clients at this years show. U.S. Kids Golf has a new golf ball, says Bill Bryant. It is designed for kids and as we know most kids have a slower swing speed. So it makes sense that as the golf industry gets more and more serious about fitting golfers, young golfers shouldnt get left out of that equation. So these golf balls take in to account ranges of swing speed. 90 mph down to 70 mph and then another ball for swing speeds 70 mph and less. This is an indication of the commitment that U.S. Kids golf is making to help kids learn golf with a proper swing rather than having to learn to swing by making forced compensations because the equipment isnt right.
    Another of Bills clients, Club Car, is launching what is essentially a new golf car. In 2004 the company came out with the Precedent; a platform that represented an extreme makeover for the company. From the outside, says Bill Bryant, the golf car doesnt look that much different. But from what we call under the hood it is dramatically different with a new charging system and a new electronic drive system. So it represents a major step forward for Club Car in creating efficiencies in golf car design and operation.
    Another rules change by the USGA, this one regarding distance measuring devices used on the golf course during tournament play, was adopted in the beginning of 2006. It has benefited companies like Bushnell. A world wide leader in laser guided optics, Bushnell has leveraged its brand and advanced engineering to carve out a big chunk of the golf industrys distance measuring product category. If there has been a knock on Bushnell devices in the past, its that they can be a bit cumbersome to use because of the size.
    Jen Messelt, public relations specialist for Bushnell Outdoor Products, tells me that downsizing the newest unit while building in more features than ever is giving golfers just what theyve been asking for. Were debuting the TOUR V2, Jen says. It is a single hand, vertical configuration laser range finder with PinSeeker technology. Its the first model we have offered that has all of the features and benefits of our larger units, but, it is vertical in nature. Golfers have been asking for this model for quite some time and we are very pleased to be able to offer it to them now. This is also the first unit that we are going to offer in other than the graphite color. We are also going to offer it in orange and in blue in limited quantities.
    Wowhappy color laser range finders. Now youll be able to think happy thoughts as your learn you are 195 yards from the pin with 6-yards of elevation on a treacherous par-4.
    What about thoughts on the economy as they relate to the golf industry and the 2008 PGA Merchandise Show? Bill Bryant believes it could potentially be a factor. I think the economy is the wildcard in this years show, says Bill. Certainly, more so than it has been in the last several years. If the economy continues to tighten up the question will be what the effect it is going to have on discretionary spending. After all, were talking about a game that people dont necessarily have to play. They can choose to use their money for golf or for other more necessary things. This has to be on the minds of people in the golf industry; attendees, exhibitors, manufacturers and the like. So, Ill be interested to see if the economy has an impact, directly or indirectly, on the show this year.
    Jon Claffey, at least from Nickents point of view, is bullish on their position in the golf industry regardless of the state of the economy. Golf as a sport is stagnant, says Jon. We gain two million golfers a year and we lose two million golfers a year. Thats what the experts say. Yet, Nickent has grown 30 percent every year since weve been in business. Weve been doing our thing which is kind of off the charts compared to what other companies have been doing as far as growth. So, I dont know if I subscribe to the accepted theorem of golf is down, business is down. Our business is up sharply. You know, we view golf as a way people have to go out and forget about their money troubles, or business or life problems. We know that there are a lot of people out there with money and these people are hooked on golf and we just make it our business at Nickent to reach as many of these people with our exciting message as possible.
    So, another PGA Merchandise Show is upon us. Number 55 as I stated at the beginning of this column. Last year at the show I spoke with a man and his wife who were attending their 44th PGA Merchandise Show. They were all smiles; like kids in a candy store. This will be my fifth PGA Merchandise Show. Im a newcomer by many standards. Personally, I really enjoy the show. Im a kid in the candy store as well; an equipment junkie. So, whats not to like? Its more than just the equipment, however. I agree with Bill Bryant. I enjoy the people; people I dont get to see very often and people I am just meeting for the first time. Golf folk on the whole, I think youll agree, are a classy bunch; interesting if nothing else. Some people get rich in golf. Thats only normal. But many if not most people are involved in the golf business because they love the game of golf. And getting rich or not, they probably wouldnt have it any other way.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''