Web Street Golf Daily Pulse
ANY IDEA WHO SAID THIS? "I always used to look. Not anymore. I used to do it every week. I've stop looking, just because it's not a very nice number to look at. It was good when it was No. 5. It was great. I used to look at it all the time but 200 doesn't sound very good, does it. So I stopped. You have to scroll down a bit. It's really annoying when you click on the page and it's like 1 to 50, 50 to 100,100 to 150. I hate going four pages down. It's miserable."
BRAIN TEASER: This two-time winner on the PGA TOUR had a heart attack during the 2016 Honda Classic. Who is he?
STANDING THE TEST OF TIME: Time is a valuable commodity. Some equate time with money. Yet, in today's world conventional thinking implies escapes should be controlled into shorter durations. Golf has long been plagued with the time it takes to play the game, especially at the professional level. Many subscribe to the belief that it influences recreational play. Earlier this week, the R&A announced it would adopt "ready golf" at this year's Amateur Championship.
"Pace of play is something that we've been talking about extensively in the last 12 months," said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers. "The more evidence that I've seen this year, the more I'm going to continue talking about it because I think it is increasingly important to the development of the game."
Golf isn't the only sport that is attempting to modify its product. Major League Baseball is also trying to compress the time it takes to play a game. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed, as some people have suggested," Rob Manfred, Commissioner of Major League Baseball said, "and I think last season was a concrete demonstration of the potential of our game to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture. We routinely draw 75 million people live to Major League Baseball games every year and another 40 million to Minor League Baseball. No other sport has that kind of drawing power. At the same time, I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change. It's about two things: It's about pace and action. It is about pace in the sense that we would like to take dead time out of the game. It's about action during the game that keeps fans engaged," he stated.
The average time of a game increased by 4 minutes, 28 seconds last season after a reduction of more than six minutes the year before. Baseball games are routinely more than 20 minutes longer than the average NHL game and 40 minutes longer than an average NBA game. MLB games are shorter than an average NFL game. Yet, it's much more reasonable for fans to spend three hours watching a football game once a week than every day to follow their favorite baseball team.
"There is no ideal time for that and the fact of the matter is once you induce action it's hard to predict what you're going to get in terms of time of game. But we've never thought about it that way, that's why we've stayed away from the phrase 'time of game,' as opposed to 'pace of game.'"
Golf has made a point, especially in the Tiger Woods era, to make its telecasts more available for fans to watch. The PGA TOUR began live streaming coverage on Thursdays and Fridays via Twitter at the CareerBuilder Challenge in an effort to grow its audience in the digital world. It's offered some lip service towards pace of play, yet it hasn't followed through.
At the 2016 U.S. Open, the USGA reported the organization was comfortable on Thursday and Friday pace of play of four hours and 45 minutes for a threesome. "We think 4:45 is a very reasonable time," said Mike Davis, Executive Director of the USGA. "I will also tell you that there's a lot of research that goes into this. We have this year 21 minutes worth of walking time between greens and tees (Chambers Bay). Put that in perspective. Last year at Pinehurst, we had 13 and a half minutes. Merion the year before 11 minutes. So we had to add some time to that. And then obviously it's a U.S. Open. It's a tough test of golf. But we feel that this is an appropriate time." The organization was silent on the topic in 2016 at its national championship. Meanwhile, an average 2016 Major League Baseball game was three hours and 26 seconds. Manfred's earlier comments are in an effort to a reversing trend. MLB games in 2014 lasted three hours and eight minutes and went to two hours and 56 minutes in 2015. Golf would be well advised to take such a proactive stance on this aspect of its product. In the instance of baseball, the player's association balked at agreeing to any changes in advance of the 2017 season. Yet, Manfred and company has an ace in the hole. Under its collective bargaining agreement, it can implement the changes it wants without the permission of the MLBPA in the second year of its original request. If only golf's power brokers had the same conviction and recourse to help improve its product in a world that worships under the premise of less is more. Final word goes to Manfred, but should be echoed by golf's power brokers, "I'm firmly convinced both our avid fans and casual fans want us to respond to and manage the change that's going on in the game. I'm certain that our job as stewards of the game is to be responsive to fans, and I reject the notion that we can 'educate fans' to embrace the game as it's currently played."
BROADENING GOLF’S APPEAL: “We talk about golf participation, but getting people to watch golf is also a challenge, and we’ve got to get the right product,” said Slumbers, who is now around 18 months into his tenure, having succeeded Peter Dawson following his retiral after 16 years in the post. “The people that come and watch The Open, and I would say probably the same for the Women’s Open, tend to be golf clubbers. We need to move beyond that to sports lovers, who particularly want to see the very best women play in sport and trying to get an angle from both of those is part of our business plan.” READ MORE>>>
OFF AND RUNNING: January of 2017 featured good weather across much of the United States (West Coast not withstanding), and the golf equipment business responded positively, getting off to a solid start with Consumable sales (golf balls and gloves) up over 10%, clubs growing by 9% and light durables (bags and shoes) improving by a little more than 6%. Following the good weather theme, Green Grass sales grew more than READ MORE>>>
INVESTING FOR THE FUTURE: PING has signed Gee Chun, #4 in the Rolex World Ranking, to a multi-year agreement. The South Korean was the runaway LPGA Rookie of the Year last season. “In Gee has been playing at an elite level since she turned pro in 2012, but it’s still amazing that she’s only 22 and has already won 13 times worldwide,” said PING Chairman & CEO John A. Solheim. “As her multiple major titles demonstrate, she has a tremendous all-around game and her consistency is what any player looks for. It seems like if she’s not winning she’s always in the mix on Sunday. We welcome the continuation of our relationship with In Gee and we look forward to watching her compete in the coming year.” Financial terms and the length of the agreement were not disclosed.
MASTERS TIE IN: Golf fans love the Masters. It’s the biggest tournament of the year, every year. Lamkin is looking to cash in on fans’ love for the toonament by offering special edition versions of its Z5 and SINK grips. The Z5 Majors Edition ($7.99) is comprised of traditional green and white rubber with bright yellow paint trim and cord in the upper zones. The SINK grips (starting at $12.99) include traditional green with yellow and white accents and is available in both 11 and 13-inch options.
“The first major of the year is not only an iconic tournament, but it also signifies the beginning of the golf season in many parts of the world and we wanted to commemorate it in a fun way,” said Bob Lamkin, President and CEO of Lamkin. “The Z5 is the most advanced grip we’ve ever created and has been tremendously well received, so we’re thanking our customers by building a limited version to go along with the sought-after SINK.”
HAPPY ENDING: I first approached Stewart Cink about doing a story on the challenging journey he and his wife, Lisa, have been navigating since she was diagnosed in April with an aggressive form of breast cancer because I thought it would be a good story to tell. As I spoke with Cink, a 20-year PGA Tour veteran and always one of the good guys in the game, I quickly discovered it not only was therapeutic for Cink to speak about the struggles, but it became a cathartic experience for me. “I learned really fast that I wasn’t ready to be out there,” Cink said. READ MORE>>>
WHO IS THE BEST OF THE BEST? Imagine the best players in golf competing at the absolute top of their games. Who's the toughest to beat? World ranking computations aside, who's the real No. 1? That question was a lot easier 10 years ago. The answer is a lot more difficult now, and it could take years to sort out. Jason Day has not won since May and still held the No. 1 ranking for 47 consecutive weeks. In this culture of short attention spans, it's easy to forget that he won seven times in 17 tournaments and at times looked unbeatable doing it. READ MORE>>>
ANSWERS: “I always used to look. Not anymore. I used to do it every week. I've stop looking, just because it's not a very nice number to look at. It was good when it was No. 5. It was great. I used to look at it all the time but 200 doesn't sound very good, does it. So I stopped. You have to scroll down a bit. It's really annoying when you click on the page and it's like 1 to 50, 50 to 100,100 to 150. I hate going four pages down. It's miserable.”--Ian Poulter
A year after suffering a heart attack on Friday of last year’s Honda Classic, Jason Bohn will make his 11th start in The Honda Classic this week. Following last year’s medical emergency, caused by a 90 percent artery blockage, he returned to competition on the PGA TOUR at the RBC Heritage in April.
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