PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – For decades, television cameras, reporters and photographers have taken fans inside the ropes at golf tournaments and special events. With the growth of blogs and social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, equipment manufacturers now can do the same – and they're sharing behind-the-scenes information that gearheads love.
For example, Nike Golf has approximately 1.9 million "Likes" on Facebook, the most among golf equipment makers. The company posts photographs and video clips routinely, and they typically get a thumbs-up by thousands of readers.
On Twitter, TaylorMade's social media manager, Charles Kautz (@CharlieTour), routinely sends messages and photographs from PGA Tour stops, including this one from the Players Championship:
"My job really started as a pilot role at the beginning of last year," Kautz said on the range at TPC Sawgrass. "Internally, we felt like there was a lot going on out on Tour that we were capturing, but not necessarily capturing in a way that would be exciting for golfers. The reps out here on tour are so busy that it's hard for them to capture information and distribute it. I don't think they really realized the value of the ...
Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday.
After all that fuss about deer antler spray, after all the debating and screaming and conjecturing and expending of emotional and financial capital and backroom and clubhouse lawyering and eleventh-hour laboratory testing, remarkably we have come to this: Deer antler spray is no big deal after all.
Or, as Shakespeare came up with comedically more than 400 years ago, “Much ado about nothing.”
The monster that was deer antler spray, of course, exceeded its 15 minutes of fame with regard to Vijay Singh. The Fijian twisted in the wind of public opinion and a PGA Tour investigation for three months since admitting he used the now-famous but apparently unhelpful deer antler spray, then on the Tour’s banned list, in late January.
He continued to play among whispers if not shouts, only to be cleared Tuesday because of a simple but powerful memo from the World Anti-Doping Agency to the Tour that in part read: “The use of deer antler spray (which is known to contain small amounts of IGF-1) is not considered prohibited.”
And so that is that. Or is it?
For certain, the silent ...
Now that the Masters is over, the PGA Tour is likely to act soon on the case of Vijay Singh, one Tour insider said Wednesday.
In early February, the three-time major champion admitted he used deer-antler spray, but was unaware it could have contained IGF-1, a banned substance with HGH-like properties. The review has gone beyond the 45 days the Tour used as a ballpark timeline.
The Tour apparently didn’t want to take away focus from the Masters, where Singh is a past champion, the Tour source said.
In a sense, Singh’s mistake was as much not asking for a ruling as it was taking the substance. Per the Rules of Golf, players are responsible for knowing the rules of the Tour’s drug policy.
Guy Kinnings, an IMG agent who represents Singh, said Wednesday the Tour said it would “let us know ahead” of any action. But Kinnings had not yet been notified, he said from the United Kingdom.
“Vijay has said throughout that he did not do anything knowingly,” Kinnings said. “He has assisted as much as he can in the (Tour’s) process.”
While IMG represents the golfer, Singh has “handled (this matter) very much ...
IMG Worldwide announced today that it has acquired IGP Sports & Entertainment Group and will expand IGP’s office in North Palm Beach, Fla.
Terms were not disclosed.
With the acquisition, Ken Kennerly, the Honda Classic’s tournament director who has led IGP Sports, will join IMG Golf as head of its North American events division.
The acquisition will add the Honda Classic to the IMG stable of events and provide the global management company a significant presence in Florida. As many as five IMG staffers from the Cleveland and London offices will move to Florida, according to Guy Kinnings, senior vice president and global head of IMG Golf.
“The acquisition allows us to create an instant presence in South Florida, a market that has always been very important in the professional golf industry and where a number of our clients are based,” Kinnings said.
Kennerly said IMG’s size will allow him to develop additional business that he was unable to procure with IGP.
“It’s about time they’ve come and diversified and moved out of Cleveland a little bit,” said Trevor Immelman, an IMG client. “There’s no doubt that having an office in Florida is going to ...
PORTHCAWL, Wales -- Lovers of classic links like Royal Porthcawl should watch this year’s U.S. Open at Merion with interest. A successful staging of America’s national championship at Merion should provide food for thought for those who would love to see Royal Porthcawl one day host the Open Championship.
Wales has never staged an Open Championship. Indeed, it is the only country in the United Kingdom not to host the game’s oldest major. It’s maybe about time that was corrected.
Merion could provide the template.
Anyone who’s been to Merion will tell you it’s hard to imagine staging a modern U.S. Open over this fine Philadelphia course. It may have staged four U.S. Opens in the past, but the last time the USGA took the U.S. Open to this fabled course was in 1981, when David Graham became the first Australian winner of America’s national championship.
Of course, 32 years ago the U.S. Open wasn’t as big a deal as it is now. Merion hasn’t been on the USGA radar since because it was previously seen as too short, and not having the space to accommodate a ...
Bifurcation is the big word on everyone’s lips these days. I’m not sure why. A bifurcation of one part of the rulebook already seems to exist. An example of that was obvious in the closing stages of the Avantha Masters in Delhi.
Once again we saw that professional golf doesn’t always conform to the simple laws of etiquette most ordinary club golfers obey.
South Africa’s Thomas Aiken triumphed in India to win his second European Tour title. However, he waited longer to record that victory than he should have done.
Playing in the last group along with China’s Wenchong Liang and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Aiken faced an interminable wait on the 18th tee while Scott Hend in the group ahead consulted a rules official after hitting his tee shot into a pond.
The Aiken trio spent nearly 15 minutes waiting back on the tee while Hend discussed where to take a drop along with playing companion David Drysdale and the official. Of course, any club handicapper knows the correct procedure in this situation. It’s obvious from the rulebook – simply let the group behind play through.
Page 19 of my rulebook makes it pretty ...
When I heard that David Feherty was going to open the 2013 season of his eponymous interview show by talking with Jack Nicklaus, my first thought was: How will the Golden Bear react to the host’s scatological humor?
Not to worry, however, a more restrained Feherty visited with Nicklaus at his home in West Palm Beach, Fla.. “Feherty” is one of two season premieres airing on Golf Channel on Monday. It follows the season debut of “The Haney Project,” now in its fifth season.
For more than a half century, Nicklaus has lived a very public life and has never been reluctant to share his opinions. So there’s not much new ground for Feherty to plow. Still, it’s good viewing.
With Feherty, Nicklaus comes across as the favorite uncle you seek out for life advice. The episode is a reminder that Nicklaus is a son of the Midwest, and he still speaks to the values of the heartland, such as when Feherty asked him how he handled losses.
“My dad said to me, ‘Jack, (when you lose) put a smile on your face, make sure that the person that you’re congratulating genuinely thinks that you’re ...
Finlen, 54, a certified golf course superintendent from The Olympic Club in San Francisco, has headed the maintenance operation at the 45-hole Bay Area club since 2002. Last year, he worked with the U.S. Golf Association on the setup and conditioning of the club’s Lakeside Course for the U.S. Open while managing a total reconstruction of the club’s Ocean Course with architect Bill Love. Finlen, the new president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, answered Golfweek’s questions on the eve of the industry’s trade show in San Diego.
Why take on the presidency of the GCSAA after a year like that?
Actually, the timing is perfect for me, for the club and for the GCSAA. This will be my eighth year on the board, and that service has helped me become a better superintendent, a better manager and a better person. So I don’t see it as time away; I see it as time invested.
What changes are your fellow superintendents making as you adjust to a tougher business climate?
Many of the budget cuts actually started right after 9/11, so superintendents were better prepared for what hit the country ...
ORLANDO, Fla. – Dick Rugge has a one-way ticket to this week's USGA annual meeting, on Feb. 1-2 in San Diego. When everyone else heads to the airport after the gala dinner, he'll simply drive home. By that time, the sun will have set.
"When I realized the annual meeting was being held in San Diego, it seemed meant to be," Rugge said. "I can say goodbye to a lot of people."
Rugge, 65, is calling it quits this week as the USGA's senior technical director. He was an executive at TaylorMade when the USGA hired him to oversee golf equipment testing procedures, and led a team of 18 full-time employees that tests more than 2,500 clubs and golf balls a year. To do so, he uprooted his family from Carlsbad, Calif., but he always hung on to the family house with a promise to return someday. His wife committed to 10 years in New Jersey. They stayed for nearly 13. "I've been working on borrowed time," Rugge told me.
Over the years, he has been generous with his time. You never needed to contact a media official to schedule an interview. He returned phone calls ...
Jaime Ortiz-Patino liked to think of himself as a “benevolent dictator.” His words, not mine.
Patino, who died Jan. 3 at the age of 82 (read the obit here), was owner of Valderrama Golf Club in southern Spain. With a fortune made from tin mining in his native Bolivia, he had the money to spend on the course that became his true love.
No detail was overlooked in his quest to build the best course in Continental Europe. For 16 years, Patino’s layout hosted the European Tour’s season-ending Volvo Masters. It was the venue for the 1999 and 2000 WGC–American Express Championship. More recently, Valderrama was home to the Andalucia Masters.
However, his greatest triumph came in 1997 when Valderrama hosted the first Ryder Cup in Continental Europe.
Make no mistake about it: Patino used his vast fortune to buy the Ryder Cup, just as Michael Smurfit did in 2006 and Terry Matthews in 2010. However, unlike Smurfit and Matthews, Patino knew what was needed to maintain a golf course to tournament and Ryder Cup standard.
Patino was awarded the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America's Old Tom Morris Award in 1999. It was no honorary ...
If they really want to protect par at The Old Course at St. Andrews, all they need to do is buy a big wind fan. Or at least make sure that the one the Big Guy upstairs provided is humming along nicely for the one week every five years when The Open Championship returns to the Scottish town.
Obviously, this is a busy week for the esteemed Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. In conjunction with the U.S. Golf Association, the R&A, which is based at St. Andrews and serves as the governing body for rules and championships worldwide except in the U.S. and Mexico, is about to announce its decision on whether to ban the anchoring of long putters. Got to protect tradition, especially in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that using the long-necked goose of a putter doesn’t really look like a golf swing.
So why, if the R&A, is so tradition-bound with this club, does it feel the need to change the sacred Old Course, to the point where it has started changing bunkers, undulations and flattening out a portion of the 11th green to recapture a hole location or ...
Your correspondent’s research shows that all top 18 players in last week’s PGA Tour putting rankings regularly use a conventional putter. Not a belly nor a broomstick to be found on that top shelf. Yet golf’s powers that be are expected to ban the anchoring of such longer implements.
Perhaps then, the czars have it backward.
If there is a competitive advantage in stroking the standard flat stick, then outlaw its use and load up the trash bins and eBay lists.
There is another reason to endorse such a notion. If long and belly putters supposedly are so great and practitioners of conventional versions are so stupid that they don’t switch, then take away their toys as punishment.
Frankly, I’m shocked they’re even considering a change. When, after all, was the last time you were afraid of an opponent who walked up carrying a long putter? For years it has been a symbol of deficiency.
Yet golf’s two governing bodies apparently feel anchored putters violate the spirit of the game. The contrary view, subscribed to here, is that said weapons make playing more enjoyable for the masses – in a game that continually loses ...
Turns out the golfer won, but you wouldn’t know it from the immediate reaction of the industry. Not, that is, if you judge by the withering tweets of former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger (“Americans chose big govt, big entitlements, and big taxes. . .“) and others in golf.
Perhaps more representative of the professional golf industry’s political tone throughout the presidential campaign was evident in Jack Nicklaus’ effort aside Mitt Romney out on the campaign trail. Nicklaus said he regretted not coming to the defense of golf-playing Gerald Ford in 1976 against non-golfer Jimmy Carter.
President Barack Obama’s love of golf is well known. It's so well known that it became an object of criticism earlier this year, when Republican candidates during the primaries took aim at the commander-in-chief for his visits to the links, saying the nation’s pressing business should have claimed his attention. Apparently, bosses are not supposed to take some time off and de-stress. It’s a line of political attack that was famously self-imposed by President George W. Bush, when he announced he was swearing off golf while American troops were fighting in Iraq.
But in Obama’s case, and in the ...
Early in 2000, just after Trey Holland had been elected to his first term as U.S. Golf Association president, I sat down with him for breakfast and conversation at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Holland, normally a quiet and introspective man, was overflowing with conversation. He had not been seated more than 45 seconds before announcing, “We have hired Dick Rugge as senior technical director.”
Rugge, 64, announced his resignation Nov. 5 after nearly 13 years on the job. He will step down Feb. 2, ending a regime that took a giant step toward clarifying current and future golf equipment rules.
What captured my attention 12 years ago was the confidence with which Holland was speaking. “We are very, very pleased with this decision,” he said with conviction.
My reaction: Gulp!
Rugge was one of my closest friends in golf, but I had no idea this was about to happen. I called him, and Rugge explained he had been contacted by a firm whose job was to create a short list of candidates for the USGA.
The search for a leader of the USGA Research and Test Center was widespread, but few observers expected the final choice to come from ...
IMG, the management and marketing giant, announced today the signing of Ernie Els to a representation deal, marking a rebound for the firm beset by recent agent and player defections.
IMG will manage business affairs on a worldwide basis for Els, 43, who captured his fourth major title at this year’s Open Championship. The South African, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011, has more than 65 titles to his credit, including 19 on the PGA Tour. One of the Tour’s marquee players, Els has expanded his off-course endeavors to include golf course design and wine businesses.
The victory at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in July revitalized the career of Els, who had undergone a couple of management changes. After a long tenure with agent Chubby Chandler, Els signed last fall with Pros Inc., a new firm launched by industry veterans Buddy Marucci, Vinny Giles and Giff Breed. According to an IMG statement, Els’ “management at Pros Inc. will be moved to IMG.”
Explaining his decision to join IMG, Els said: “IMG has a global network of offices, loads of experienced and dedicated golf staff operating in every aspect of the game so ...