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"You lose a lot more in golf than you win. So when you do win, you have to enjoy it. I'm going to go back home and enjoy it with my friends and enjoy it with my family and, yeah, I love being from Northern Ireland. I tell everyone how great it is. For me, it's the best place on earth. I'm obviously biased, but I love it back there and I love the people."

 

 

HINT: Look at the bottom of the page.

 

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If Tiger Woods can’t even talk (press conference) what chance does he have to win a tournament anytime soon? Remember this is the guy who said repeatedly he only enters to win. Two weeks after pulling out of a tournament due to back spasms, its still plaguing him? And what we do know is that he flew to LA after flying back from Dubai and then was advised by his doctor to remain horizontal! This doesn’t add up or for that matter pass the smell test? It would seem prudence should intervene and in turn caution prevail. Is it too early to suggest the chances of seeing Woods in Augusta with his golf clubs are remote??? Meanwhile, his agent is on the record as saying, “The goal is to get everything to calm down, have it calm down for a while, continue to get treatment and get back to a place where he's chipping and putting and hitting balls. We're not talking about an extended break.” His body, if we are to believe everything we’re told, would appear to say otherwise!

 

People want it, while others do everything they can to prevent it. Ask anyone who plays and the number one thing they want is more distance off the tee. The motto for the USGA and R&A is to preserve the integrity of the game and the root of that centers around distance. Damned if you do, if you are the stewards of the game and damned if you don’t if you are the equipment manufacturer. In this eternal tug of war, it isn’t too difficult to see which side is really winning the battle.

The governing bodies recently published their annual review of driving distance. According to the organizations, driving distance data was used from seven of the major professional golf tours, based on approximately 285,000 drives per year. Data from studies of male and female amateur golfers has also been included for the first time. 

Key facts noted in the paper include:  

Between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance on five of the seven tours has increased by approximately 1.2%, around 0.2 yards per year.

• For the same time period, average driving distance on the other two tours studied decreased by approximately 1.5%.

• Looking at all of the players who are ranked for distance on the PGA TOUR and PGA European Tour, the amount by which players are “long” or “short” has not changed – for instance, since 2003 the 10 shortest players in that group are about 6% shorter than average, while the 10 longest players in the group are about 7% longer than average. The statistics are not skewed toward either longer or shorter players.

• The average launch conditions on the PGA TOUR – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin – have been relatively stable since 2007. The 90th-percentile clubhead speed coupled with the average launch angle and spin rate are very close to the conditions that The R&A and the USGA, golf’s governing bodies, use to test golf balls under the Overall Distance Standard.

When you consider the hundreds and hundreds of new drivers that have been introduced from the manufacturing community from 2003 to 2016, all promising greater distance its startling to think the data categorically refutes the marketing departments claims! Forget about all the times the word innovative has been used to articulate the next game changer being promised from marketing departments. The reality, according to the USGA and R&A DATA, is that simply isn’t the case. What this information supports is the argument that the driver you already own is just as long, if not as good as the one you’re about to buy!

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, stated, “In the interests of good governance and transparency it is important that we continue to provide reliable data and facts about driving distance in golf. Driving distance remains a topic of discussion within the game and the review provides accurate data to help inform the debate.” Clearly Slumbers will never be confused for a marketing maven!

The 2016 report can be viewed at usga.org via this link and RandA.org.  

 

 

It was an unusual 2017 for the equipment business. Rounds played were flat once again. Despite the static play of recreational players Nike Golf clubs and retailer Golfsmith departed the landscape. TaylorMade was up for sale through the year and no one stepped forward to acquire it. That could change soon, but its  unlikely that it helped sales for the company in 2017.

Callaway Golf reported its full year sales were $871 million, up $27 million or 3% from 2015. Fourth quarter sales were $164 million, an improvement of $11 million on 2015, which aided the full year results. Metal wood sales for the year were $201.8 million, down $20.4 million in 2015. Iron sales were $205.5 million, up $6.4 million versus 2015. Putter sales were $86.3 million, down $251,000, while golf ball sales were $152.3 million, up $9.1 million. The area that represents the greatest improvement for the company was accessories. Callaway reported full year sales of $186.6 million, an improvement of $32.5 million over 2015. Clearly, the overall top line sales growth for the business came from the category of accessories and gear.

Looking at a geographical breakdown, US sales were $447.5 million in 2016, an increase of .3% from 2015. European sales were $122.8 million, down $2.3 million or 1.8%, while Japan reported $170.7 million, an increase of $32.7 million or 23.7% over 2015. It would be a safe conclusion that Japanese accessories were Callaway’s saving grace in 2016 for the sake of producing top line growth.

Callaway reported income before income taxes of $58.4 million in 2016, compared to $20 million in 2015. The company sold a portion of its investment in Topgolf last year, which netted it $17.66 million inflated one-time 2016’s results. 

 

The company's fourth quarter and full year 2016 financial results prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States ("GAAP") benefitted significantly from the non-cash reversal of a significant portion of the Company's deferred tax valuation allowance. Callaway did not recognize any Federal U.S. income tax in its financial statements. As a result of this reversal, it recognized a non-cash income tax benefit in the fourth quarter of 2016 of $157 million. Also it was required to retroactively recognize Federal U.S. income taxes for all of 2016.  Callaway’s income tax provision therefore increased by $16 million for 2016 for a net benefit of $141 million related to the reversal of the valuation allowance.

 

A comeback story in sports really does something to warm any man or woman’s heart. Whether it’s in team sports such as football and basketball, or individual ventures like boxing and tennis, there will always be a soft spot for athletes who seem to rise from the ashes and claim glory once again. Take Tiger Woods, for instance.

After more than a year of being out of the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods recently announced he’s set to make a comeback – where it all started – in April’s Masters. The former world number one backed himself that he’ll be 100 per cent injury-free come the spring season, making the prospect of a fifth Augusta National green jacket all the more enticing. (Photo: pixabay)

As many recall, Woods went through grueling months of surgery and rehabilitation the past couple of seasons, so many media outlets see this comeback as an exciting time to relive his storied career. Golf experts Play Your Course even complied a handful of memes and featured those in their blog post, ‘Here are the Best Reactions to Tiger Woods Returning to Golf’.

The 14-time Major winner hosted his first press conference in 2017 at the exclusive Riviera Country Club near downtown Los Angeles. This same course will also be the venue of the Genesis Open, a golf tournament set to tee off on February 16th, hosted by Tiger Woods.

He’s slated to play four times in five weeks, including the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, the Dubai Dessert Classic in Dubai (a tournament he won in 2006 and 2008), and the aforementioned Genesis Open. In addition, Woods is preparing to play in the Honda Classic, this time in Palm Beach County, Florida.

As much as his fans are eager to see him on the course and make a comeback, Tiger Woods is more than thrilled to be part of the tour once again. During his recent press conference, he claimed: “I am very excited and just looking forward to competing again and getting out there and playing and being part of it again.”

“I feel good about playing four of the next five weeks and all I need to do is just go out there and do it and see what happens,” Woods added. “But then I know feeling good about it and then going out and doing it, is a completely different matter.”

Of course, many will welcome this comeback but whether he can ever achieve the greatness he reached earlier in his career will be extremely difficult. For Tiger Woods, maybe touring the world and playing in various golf tournaments – post-injury – will revitalize his 41-year-old body. But knowing how competitive the enigmatic Woods is, he will be looking to compete at the very top in the coming months. No one should rule him out regardless of his recent struggles. After all, this is Tiger Woods - arguably the greatest golfer to have ever lived. Here’s hoping for another touching sports comeback story.

 

Getting better seems simply enough to do. Yet it’s harder to accomplish than you think. Another new year is growing older by the day and many have made resolutions with the best of intentions. Weight loss is often at the top of the list. But finding a few more yards off the tee could be a close second place for many golfers. Each year we start out thinking this one will be different, yet we rarely have a plan or blueprint to follow or guide us to where we want to go. Eventually the best of intentions waiver and we find ourselves back in the original place that led us to consider making changes.

If Santa didn’t deliver that driver that promises a few more yards, it may be time to look in the mirror. By in large, most golfers don’t practice very often or take lessons. Pretty remarkable when you stop and think about it that such lofty expectations are even considered without an effort to achieve it. Golf has been known to be fashionably trendy. Stack and Tilt was popular for a time, however it seems to have been a godsend for chiropractors everywhere. Instructors have also run hot and cold. Sean Foley, Hank Haney, Butch Harmon, Jim McLean, David Leadbetter, etc., have all been touted as oracles of the swing. Golf has been fascinated with the mechanics of delivering the club into position, but it’s essentially been a one-dimensional process. It’s viewed from the outside looking in. Originally it was left to the naked eye to determine what went right or wroserong. Then with the advent of video cameras it was able to capture a swing that could be dissected frame by frame. Yet little if anything has been analyzed from the inside out. Have you ever heard the one about looks can be deceiving? How about you can’t judge a book by its cover?

If you take your car to a mechanic does he assess it merely from the exterior or does he pop the hood to look at the engine as the car is running? Golf addicts and instructors have diagnosed their swings for decades by the equivalent of watching a car pass by. The time it takes to swing a club is over in virtually the blink of an eye. Why do players, even elite ones, position the club incorrectly at times? Even when they know otherwise, it still happens. Golf is a difficult game and how we attempt to correct our faults is often equally mystifying.

Launch monitors have become the equivalent of golf instruction’s comfort food. However, it simply chronicles what happened, not why it happened. Its been said the best houses have the strongest foundations. The same can be said about golf swings. The lower body provides the foundation to balance and in turn delivering the club in a repeatable motion. What changes from one day to the next in any player, even the best of the best that sees a shift or change in ball striking? What causes bad habits to form and why is it so difficult to find solutions to these mystifying if not chronic problems?

Swing Catalyst, a Norwegian company, has taken an alternative approach. The company uses pressure plates to understand what the body is doing during the swing. The company touts that it offers a complete game improvement system for golfers and golf instructors. It also has an app (FREE) that acts as an online portal. Swing Catalyst’s video analysis software represents the ecosystem that connects the golfer to the instructor. Instructors are now able to communicate directly with their students, while students can record their own swings and get a detailed swing analysis directly from the instructor.

The Swing Catalyst sensor plates (Balance Plate and 3D Motion Plate) add an important dimension to golf instruction. It provides the instructor with critical information that will lead to a better understanding of the golf swing, ranging from Center of Pressure (CoP) patterns to accurate vertical and horizontal force mccormickmeasurements, none of which could be determined by the best trained eye or even expensive high-speed cameras. This is the equivalent of looking underneath the hood of a car to understand the performance of an engine. The sensor plate data is synchronized with the video images as well as with data from the most popular ball and club tracking devices (FlightScope, Foresight, Full Swing Golf and TrackMan). This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road, as the say, as instructors can interpret what is happening to a player’s body as they deliver the club during the swing.

The company already has some influential proponents of its program. “Following my philosophy of measure twice, cut once and leave an athlete’s functional fingerprint intact; it’s imperative that the diagnostics and assessments I make equip me with valid actionable insight,” said Cameron McCormick, who Jordan Spieth trusts to oversee his swing. “For this reason I trust in Swing Catalyst to help me see beyond the visible; pairing together high speed motion video with ground force traces and accompanying collision dynamics and shot results they are pushing the boundaries in technology to aid in player development.”

“In my quest to be the best player I can be, Swing Catalyst helps me leave no stone unturned and gives me confidence I’m always working on sound principles. I feel I have also learned what it takes to create speed and power by using Swing Catalyst,” said Justin Rose, Olympic Gold medalist and a Swing Catalyst customer.

“I am always striving to get the most out of my game so when it comes practicing I like to have any and all information at my fingertips, Swing Catalyst gives me all that and more,” said Ian Poulter. “Since using Swing Catalyst I have been able to pin point exactly where in my golf swing I can find some more power.”

poulter“Some of the most important aspects of any effective golf swing -- such as timing, rhythm and ‘using the ground’ -- are often elusive quantities for many golfers,” said Chris Como. “Swing Catalyst is the most powerful technology I have found for getting immediate feedback in order to help a player develop these fundamentals in a way that fits their own unique swing. With its ability to integrate video analysis, radar data and ground reaction force measurements, Swing Catalyst is the complete tool to aid a coach in the training of a player of any skill level.”

Sean Foley is also a believer. “I am constantly striving to learn new and improved ways to maximize the efficiency in a player’s swing. Appreciating the importance of ground forces in the development of an effective golf swing, the Swing Catalyst system is unique in that it allows me to examine pressure-shift patterns and balance; information that I couldn’t ascertain if I were to rely on video alone,” he said.

Mike Adams, World Golf Teacher Hall of Fame member and Golf Digest Top 50 Instructor added, “Every golfer is unique in how they swing the club in time and space. Only by being able to combine high-speed video, swing radar information, and understanding the students’ ground reaction pattern am I truly able to create a swing blueprint for each golfer. Swing Catalyst ability to integrate all three into a real time application gives me the keys to proceed with each student. The traces I get from Swing Catalyst helps me to guide each student into the changes necessary to help them use the ground more efficiently and create more power resulting in longer straighter shots. The Swing Catalyst 3D Motion Plate is the Ferrari of all force and pressure plates."

Wall Street relies on data driven research. Anecdotal evidence or word of mouth, is often more supportive than driving a future investment. Which approach should you take with your golf swing?

 

 
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