Posted by & filed under Blog, Debates, Feature Articles.

We recently ran a survey about how to get more women playing golf, unveiling a selection of the best responses we received shortly afterwards. The response was so overwhelming that we decided to turn the power of our dedicated golfing audience to the just-as-difficult task of getting more young people playing golf too – and you didn’t disappoint. Here are some of the best.

playing golf

 

*Allan – Star Answer*

Let kids play for free, as long as they are with an adult. Additionally, offer free golf lessons for groups of children.

Clearly the best way to get more youngsters playing golf is to make it cheaper and easier to play, and what is cheaper than free? What’s more, in a group atmosphere it’s easier to create the friendly competition and camaraderie that is so crucial to golf as we know it.

 

Keith

Low cost membership options aligned with shorter competitions.  Plus, a more relaxed dress code e.g. allowing trainers on the course as they do less damage to greens than spikes.

More than just free lessons, making ‘junior’ memberships even cheaper – or perhaps making them ‘weekend-only’ would allow keen young golfers to be a part of the club – while short tournaments would give them motivation and something to aim for. As for dress code, as long as they stick to the colours of the club – we can’t see an issue with dark trainers, but perhaps not for the competitions. That way there’s a serious match standard at the end.

 

Suze

Have forward tees at every club, have fun days where they can involve parents, integrate them with the older generation so there is a seamless transition.

There’s nothing wrong with a learning curve, is there? As an alternative to the shorter competitions, playing golf with further forward tees are a good way of keeping round length down and motivation up. If it was paired with a ‘fun’ day, whether that’s themed or charity-focussed – who wouldn’t want to join in?

 

Lee

Teenagers love comparing themselves to others in online games and competitions. I suggest Stats and League tables available for comparing with others nationally. It could be based on an individual’s performance against course difficulty including some sort of rating scale for weather.

While difficult to create, leaderboards and rewards would be an excellent way of getting teens golfing more. Whether it’s an app which the chance to unlock clothing, balls and even equipment for consistent practise and play – it would be a masterstroke. The only difficulty is getting the majority of clubs or manufacturers to sign up for it. Over to you, European Tour?

 

Tony

Introduce a golf day out to a local course for schools. The local can show kids how to use a club and hit a ball, plus show some of the advantages and the enjoyment of the game.

There are so many other sports that get taught at school, it has always seemed a shame that golf isn’t often one of them. We appreciate that the equipment and injury dangers involved are usually what put schools off, so the idea of taking the kids to the course rather than visa versa is a good idea. That way, the golf club already has the equipment and facilities needed, and in return might just get some lifelong members!

 

Posted by & filed under Feature Articles, Golf Equipment.

We’ve already had the collarless shirts from Nike, and now we’ve got the Puma untucked polos, which are sure to create heated discussion in the clubhouse.

The untucked polos form part of the new Puma 2017 autumn winter collection and we may see Rickie Fowler wearing them during tournament play later this year. They don’t have to be worn untucked, but they are designed in such a way that if they are untucked they still look smart. The pattern at the bottom starts where the shirt would normally come up to on a player’s waist…

The AW17 collection also features Evoknit technology in a range of pieces which is designed for supreme comfort and breathability. The Pwrwarm gear can trap body heat and repel water, creating a warmer microclimate even in the wettest, coldest weather. There’s also a number of new footwear models including the Ignite Disc Extreme and Spikeless Pro, both priced at £100.

What do you think, would you wear one?

golf equipment

Callaway bring back classic Steelhead fairways

This is becoming quite a regular occurrence. Callaway have been bringing some of their classic models back to life for a few years now. Recently we’ve had the new Great Big Bertha driver and Steelhead XR irons and hybrids.

golf equipment

Now we have the Steelhead XR fairway woods which feature classic hallmarks of the original, blended with the latest tech.

The new Steelhead fairway has a modern Hawkeye Sole which has been re-contoured to increase versatility and smooth turf interaction to promote a clean, square contact from every type of lie.

golf equipment

It has a super-light carbon crown (20 grams lighter than the previous XR Fairway crowns), and a low and forward CG, promoting easy launch and low spin – just like like the original model.

There’s also Callaway’s speed step crown and hyper speed face cup which are aimed at improving club and ball speeds.

 

 

What’s your Titleist Pro V1 special number?

You may have spotted that Titleist released a number of limited edition golf balls last week to mark 69 years as the No.1 ball at the US Open. And while the number ’69’ featured on these balls may be a popular choice, golfers now have the chance to play their own number on their Pro V1 and Pro V1x.

They were introduced as part of a loyalty promotion where golfers who purchased three dozen Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf balls were rewarded one dozen free. The Special Play Number promotion allowed golfers to choose their own number to feature on all Titleist balls purchased.

golf equipment

Special Play numbers accounted for 40 percent  of all orders placed during the promotion.

They are now being launched as a custom and stock option with a range of popular numbers being made available at selected retailers.

golf equipment

“The addition of Special Play numbers as part of the Loyalty Rewarded promotion was extremely popular with Pro V1 and Pro V1x players,” said Michael Creighton, Titleist golf ball manager. “Launching Special Play Numbers as a stock option for consumers means more of our golf ball loyalists will be able to choose a personally-significant play number and stand out within their four-ball.”

Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x Special Play numbers, available in 00-99, in both stock and custom options  with an SRP of £55.00 per dozen.

 

Callaway Allsport watch designed for golfers

golf equipment

Callaway has introduced a multi-sport watch designed specifically for golfers. Meet the Allsport.

It fits fitness tracking features into a conventional golf GPS watch, including a step counter, calorie tracker and multi-sport training capabilities for a range of sports including running, cycling and swimming.

The GPS function offers yardages to the front, middle and back of greens for more than 30,000 pre-loaded courses, plus layup and carry distances to hazards and doglegs.

It also measures shot distance and has a scorecard that tracks total shots, GIR and putts-per-round.  The battery life lasts 8-12 hours while in GPS mode.

 

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Ladies European Tour

This week the second ladies’ major of the year takes place at Olympia Fields near Chicago. A total of 156 women are playing in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, one of who is Georgia Hall. She currently leads the Ladies’ European Tour rankings for the Solheim Cup but hasn’t played competitively since April when the LET travelled to Spain. Indeed her 2018 season has thus far comprised of just three starts.

Now, in an email (marked CONFIDENTIAL) sent to the players from the LET’s player president Helen Alfredsson, it has been announced that the Ladies European Masters has been cancelled. The event in Germany, which was originally played at The Bucks which is the home of the LET, has issues with their sponsors and the tournament has now been pulled from an ever-decreasing schedule.

The 2018 calendar, which was released in January of this year, showed events in China, Turkey, an ‘event in southern France’ and the Czech Republic but all four have already been removed from the schedule. The Ladies European Masters makes it five and Alfredsson’s email also advises players not to book their flights to Qatar for November due to the current political situation there. One worrying factor of all this is the Solheim Cup, a bigger one is the future of the LET. One unnamed player told The Times: “We do fear the financial collapse of the tour, especially when you look at the accounts. There are so few events now that earning a living is becoming impossible for many of the players. It is much worse than it used to be.

“Apart from the very top players we are like seasonal workers, earning a bit on the main tour and then having to play mini tours, which don’t make any money, and corporate days. We can’t commit to other work as the cancelling of events comes so late in the day. There were all sorts of noises that having golf in the Olympics was going to transform the scene for women’s golf in Europe but that has not happened. This mess has to be put at the door of the management — we pay their salaries through a 7 per cent levy on our prize money, and they are not producing. It is a total contrast to many other women’s professional sports in Europe which appear to be going from strength to strength.”

 

The other side

As with everything there is two sides to every story. I sat down with the LET Ivan Khodabaksh recently and, while he admitted that his job was far from straightforward, he did point to a rosier future particularly with the money that the Solheim Cup would bring in.

“In the past we haven’t exploited the value of it. It’s only now with the 2019 competition that we are actually getting great financial benefits for the tour. In 2011, there was the economic crisis in Ireland. In 2015 the contract was already signed so I couldn’t do anything on the finances and, in fact, we did spend a bit on the tournament as I wanted to showcase the LET in a positive way,” said the chief executive.

“And it’s paid off by not only having Gleneagles as the 2019 host, but at the bidding seminar we had 10 countries sitting around the table and this of course creates conversations for us.” Time will tell what the future hold for the tour but don’t expect to find out what the players think in the coming weeks as they have all been sworn, via Alfredsson’s missive, to secrecy.

“Even though you will all feel sad, disappointed, upset, furious, angry, and I must say rightfully so, but I ask you PLEASE KEEP IT INSIDE THE ROPES!” Ivan thunders. It is tough enough, but just all try to be a team at this point and look professional. We won’t gain anything by using social media to vent the frustration, I BEG YOU!!!”

 

Posted by & filed under Blog, Competitions, Debates, Feature Articles.

How did we come to use the term bogey – and what’s it got to do with Great Yarmouth and Caister?

bogey golf

 

Great Yarmouth & Caister is a club that could feature in this column several times over. It is the oldest in Norfolk – founded way back in 1882. The course also winds its way at several points through the nearby racecourse.

You’ll hit shots over the rails onto greens. Indeed, on the first, you criss-cross the barriers before you get onto the putting surface.

But what Great Yarmouth & Caiser is really renowned for is being the home of bogey golf.

 

Ever played in a bogey competition? It’s great fun, although something of a head-scratcher if you’re not used to it. It harks back to the days when all serious golf was fought out over match play. What a bogey competition does is take that central element – winning and losing holes – and mould it into a stroke play competition. You are rewarded based on how you do against the course, rather than an individual player.

So what’s this got to do with Great Yarmouth & Caister?

bogey golf

 

In 1890, way before golf became ‘par for the course’, a member of Coventry had the idea of playing a match under a handicap against the number of shots a scratch golfer would rack up in a perfect game, says the club’s website. This became known as the ‘ground’ score.

The idea was proposed to Dr Thomas Browne, who founded Yarmouth, at the club’s autumn gathering and was then introduced. Yarmouth’s website continues: “These competitions were played throughout the winter, at the same time a music hall song ‘Hush! Here comes the Bogey man’ was gaining in popularity.”

When one competition participant said to Browne ‘This player of yours is a regular Bogey man’, the bogey score was born. It was the staple term to describe golf’s scoring system, until par was born, and today we know it as a score of one over on any given hole.

 

Posted by & filed under Blog, Golf Equipment, Interviews, Majors.

When Rory McIlroy announced he was signing a long-term equipment deal with TaylorMade there were a few eyebrows raised. The four-time major winner seemed happy to stay a free agent after Nike decided to stop making hard goods.

McIlroy was sent equipment from every brand on the planet in a bid to tempt him to use their gear, but ultimately it was TaylorMade who got their man after an intimate fitting session at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida.

Keith Sbarbaro (VP of tour operations), Brian Bazzel (senior director of metalwoods creation), and Eric Loper (director of golf ball R&D) recall what turned about to be a very significant day for McIlroy and the brand…

 

The opportunity

Keith: “I think every manufacturer sent Rory equipment pretty soon after the announcement that Nike was getting out of hard goods. This was an unexpected opportunity. But as soon as that announcement was official, I made the call. I just wanted Rory and his team to know what we thought of him and how much we’d love to have him playing with our stuff.”

Brian: “I give Keith a lot of credit. We didn’t have the Tour Truck there, and he essentially brought a mobile Tour truck through an airplane. We had everything we needed to do a complete fitting. He did an incredible job preparing for the most elaborate one-person fitting that I’ve ever been a part of.”

 

The TP5x golf ball

golf balls

Image credit: TaylorMade

 

Eric: “With every player, especially at this level, you need to have a strategy for evaluating new equipment. What does the player like and dislike about their current equipment? How do we want to talk about the key technologies that make the product perform? Keith and I sat down about two weeks prior to determine how TP5 and TP5x would benefit Rory.”

Brian: “Honestly, our plan was to start with the golf ball… and I think we had him at the ball. I don’t know how a player of that caliber could walk away from the performance that he witnessed with TP5x. It was a defining moment.”

Keith: “I think the initial ball test was the winning moment. In his words, he was ‘shocked’ at how good this golf ball is. It was by far the star of the day.”

 

The M2 driver

taylormade

Image credit: TaylorMade

 

Brian: “There are a few golfers that seem to be a step above when it comes to driving the golf ball. DJ is one of them, no doubt about it. McIlroy as well—when you look at the numbers and his ability to overpower golf courses with his driver, his performance with the driver in his hands is insane. At the end of the day, we had 10 driver setups that were within one or two yards of each other, but it’s not just about maximising distance—it’s about how it reacts when you’re trying a certain shot, what happens when you try to go after one… we did all of that.

And he plays at a D8 swing-weight, which is pretty heavy relative to the average Tour player. But we tried everything to see if we could pick up any performance and we concluded that D8 was the best fit for him. The fitting was extremely thorough and he left with three drivers that he could legitimately go start a major championship with.”

 

The irons

Keith: “When we sent him the new Rors Proto irons, he called them the most beautiful irons he’s ever seen. They’re like jewellery. And he didn’t want to hit them because he knew if he hit them, he would want to play them and he didn’t want to be changing things up that close to the Masters. We took a similar design to what he was playing and made the top line a little thinner and took out some of the offset. There were hundreds of little things that we did to improve on what he already had.”

Brian: “I think another place where we started to shine as a potential partner for Rory was when we started testing utility irons in preparation for The Open Championship. We gave him an M2 driving iron and a UDI. As he hit both of those clubs, he was shooting looks back at us like, are you kidding me?”

 

The player

Brian: “His capacity to be hitting drives at 180+ MPH without wavering was incredible. Showcasing differences between shafts, heads, weight, CG… it was like using a robot. I was also really impressed with his ability to work the golf ball. He could sweep a draw with a driver with some significant curvature. At that speed, to be able to control it and curve it on queue was incredibly impressive.”

Eric: “It was amazing to watch. When he missed, it wasn’t a huge miss. His slowest ball speed was about 177mph. He was like a machine.”

 

The future

Brian: “He is who he is. He is who people think he is. He is as genuine as they come. He’s making a decision that’s going to help him win golf tournaments—and that’s how it felt he approached the fitting.”

Keith: “I think his bag is in the best shape it has ever been in and his excitement level is unbelievable. Good things are coming.”

 

Posted by & filed under Blog, Debates, Feature Articles.

We recently asked The Golfers Club policyholders what percentage of their local golf club members were female. You can see the full results for yourself here, but the shocking statistic to emerge was that 80% of respondents placed the number at less than a quarter.

Clearly, we need to get more women playing golf regularly. In fact, that was one of the main aims of May’s National Golf Month. So, who better to help us brainstorm potential solutions than our very same policyholders that helped highlight the issue? We asked and you answered – with the top answers discussed below…

women in golf

 

Ann – *Star Answer*

“Introduce reduced green fees or lower club membership prices for working women. They often play far less than the average male member given they mostly have families to look after as well.

The idea of a reduced rate for limited memberships isn’t something that has been championed often enough for our liking. In a similar way to ‘off-peak’ gym memberships, it could be an option of a few times a month rather than the full access. That way, women can play when their schedule suits, without worrying about ‘wasting’ money if they can’t find time to go.

 

Brian

“Firstly, encourage clubs to offer free taster sessions to enable them to learn the basics if new to the game. Secondly, encourage clubs to offer a quiet period of their week e.g. one afternoon to be ‘ladies only’ to allow more groups of ladies of all abilities to organise events & competitions during this time.”

Brian makes a good point. The most pressing need is to encourage women to ‘take up’ golf, and the only way that will ever work is if it’s easy to try. National Golf Month worked with countless golf clubs up and down the country to offer taster sessions throughout May. The important thing now is to keep them going, and to have more of them!

His other suggestion is a further option for women like Ann, with an amount of time set aside per week for women’s competitions or practise. If this was free to join, or at least competitively priced, we can see it being extremely popular.

 

Eileen:

“Have rounds of 9 or 12 holes available – with more tee-times as a result. Plenty of women, especially mums, do not have 3 or more hours to play 18 holes.”

Marilyn:

“Some ladies can’t spare the time for 18 holes of golf. Why not encourage them to play nine holes? It would give them a chance to play and still meet up in the clubhouse for a coffee and a chat with some fellow female golfers.”

The recent success of GolfSixes has proved that if golf wants to motivate people to take up the sport, 18 holes may not always be the best way to do it. As a result, any local golf club needing an influx of new members should consider testing a weekend competition of six, nine or 12-hole play, open to all – whether men, women or children – to see the results.

Without the long rounds or time demands, plenty might find golf accessible after all. What’s more, the idea that female golf would prosper by encouraging the same after-round drink, chat and camaraderie that the male game already possesses in spades is an extremely strong one.

women in golf

 

Phillipa:

“Show more ladies golf on television.”

Couldn’t agree more. There is already an abundance of women’s golf on American television, which shows there is definitely an audience. Sky Sport’s coverage in 2017 is more far reaching than ever – including all five majors – but there is still an argument to be had about the impact of sport on terrestrial TV versus satellite. Viewing figures for The Open’s final round, for instance, dropped 75% when it moved over to Sky from the BBC last year – and that was the Men’s Open! Perhaps it’s not just a case of having more ladies golf on television, but accessible television as well.

 

We’d like to thank everyone that responded for giving their time to help the cause. Ann – your star answer means you’re this month’s winner of 12 Srixon golf balls!

 

Have you thought of a better idea? Keen to add your thoughts to the conversation? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!