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


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.



“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.



“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.”


“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



“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!

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

This month is National Golf Month, and the theme for this year is Women In Golf.

It is a well acknowledged fact that more needs to be done to get the next generation of females into golf – hence the twitter hashtag accompanying National Golf Month – #girlsgetgolfing.

To help us understand how widespread the issue is, we recently asked The Golfers Club’s customers to take our short survey about women in golf. The results?


Q1: If you’re a member of your local golf club, what percentage of the club would you say were female members?

National Golf Month


As you can see, over 80% of the golfers we asked said that less than a quarter of the members of their local golf club were female.

To measure it against support for female golfers, we also asked our customers about a recent hot-button topic around women’s struggles in golf.


Q2: Do you agree with Muirfield Golf Club’s recent vote to allow female members?


National Golf Month


As we can clearly see, it was hardly down to a lack of support amongst our customers, and hopefully, the wider golfing community.

So, what more needs to be done to get more women into golf? It is a question we pose to the wider golf community. Tell us here!

As an added incentive, the best suggestion will win a dozen Srixon AD333 balls too!


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

Golf’s governing bodies are working on a single system used the world over. And it’s about time.

Imagine having a handicap you could use all over the world.

You could play a competition in America, Japan, or China, and your performance would directly affect the mark you play off in your home club tournaments every week. This has been a dream for many club and elite amateur golfers, and it could soon be reality.

The R&A and USGA have enjoyed a busy 2017. First, they announced they were giving the rules a thorough going over – in a bid to simplify the game. Now, the two most prominent golfing organisations on the planet have announced they are working with other authorities to develop a single ‘World Handicap System’.

World Handicap System


Why is this needed?

There are around 15 million golfers, playing in more than 80 countries, who have a handicap – the number that is a measure of a player’s skill level. The problem is there are a variety of different systems in operation and they don’t easily match up.

In Britain, handicaps are administered by the Council of National Golf Unions – known to everyone as CONGU. But there are similar bodies in Australia, Europe, South Africa and Argentina, as well as the United States. If I were to play a tournament in Europe, it wouldn’t currently count towards my British handicap. How is that right? Or fair?

Different systems also bring with them different conceptions of ability. Is a three handicap in Britain the same as in the United States, in South Africa or Argentina? A single, unified, system would remove those questions. Just to get to this point of announcement has taken two years.


The interested parties have already looked at course ratings and the systems currently in use and a joint committee has been formed that will announce proposals later in the year. The favourite model will probably incorporate modified elements of the USGA’s course rating system. Part of that includes ‘slope’, which, in very simple terms, measures courses in terms of difficulty. Under this system, playing handicaps on any given day can rise and fall depending on how hard a course is considered.

So, if I have a handicap of 11 on my home course it might be a couple of shots higher at Carnoustie, for example, and a couple of shots lower on another course rated easier. It’s important to note that a whole range of other factors also goes into determining a course rating.

England Golf, though, have been using the USGA Course Rating System for a while now. Even if all sides are in total agreement later this year, though, don’t expect this to be a change that comes in overnight. You won’t be popping out to play a qualifier on a proper links track with a bigger handicap next season. It’s more likely to be 2020.

But this is still great news for all of us who want to tee it up no matter where in the world we play.


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

Golf’s governing bodies have changed the rules to limit video reviews – but would it have spared Lexi Thompson’s blushes?

The R&A and USGA have installed a new addition to the Rules of Golf which will limit the use of video evidence in the game.

Armchair referees have been a fixture in golf for some years, most recently when Lexi Thompson was hit with a four shot penalty while leading by two at the ANA Inspiration earlier this month. Thompson, whose violation occurred during the third round, was penalised after the 12th hole on the final day, causing uproar in every corner of the golfing world.

A statement issued by the governing bodies reads that the new rule, 34-3/10, implements two standards for rules committees to limit the use of video.

rules of golf


Firstly, when video reveals evidence that could not reasonably be seen with the “naked eye”, and secondly, when players use their reasonable judgment to determine a specific location when applying the rules.

The first standard states “the use of video technology can make it possible to identify things that could not be seen with the naked eye”. An example includes a player who unknowingly touches a few grains of sand in taking a backswing with a club in a bunker when making a stroke. If the committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the rules, even when video technology shows otherwise. This extends the provision from ball at rest moved cases, which was introduced in 2014.

The second standard applies when a player determines a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location in applying the rules and recognises that a player should not be held to the degree of precision that can sometimes be provided by video technology. Examples include determining the nearest point of relief, or replacing a lifted ball.

So long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player’s reasonable judgement will be accepted, even if later shown to be wrong by the use of video evidence.

rules of golf


Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said the governing bodies want to ensure that “the emphasis remains as much as possible on the reasonable judgment of the player rather than on what video technology can show”. His counterpart at the USGA, Mike Davis, added: “Advancements in video technology are enhancing the viewing experience for fans but can also significantly affect the competition. We need to balance those advances with what is fair for all players when applying the rules.”

The new rules are unclear as to whether or not Thompson would have been spared at the ANA, though it’s almost certain she would have been cleared via the “naked eye” clarification. But it certainly would have meant Anna Nordqvist wasn’t slapped with penalty shots at last year’s US Open after several television replays showed she flicked a few grains of sand while in a bunker.

The biggest question is – why has it taken the R&A and USGA five years to issue what is essentially common sense?


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

The European Tour is busy experimenting with new formats and any attempts to interrupt the monotony of 72-hole strokeplay every week of the year must be applauded.


Frankly, it doesn’t matter what I think about them, and to a lesser extent, you neither. I watch golf through the fall season, Race to Dubai, build-ups to majors, Fed-Ex play-offs, Q School – and I can’t even resist an hour of the Franklin-Templeton Shootout. I’m guessing you’re not far behind. We’re not really the problem. It’s the rest of the population.


PGA Tour


The recent World Super 6 in Perth and the upcoming GolfSixes at Centurion – why does everything have to involve a six? – have attracted some support as well as more than a little derision. I don’t see how you can complain about golf’s resistance to change and then mock when it tries to do just that.


I must, though, sound a note of caution for those who cite golf’s need to find a version of T20 in order to boost participation. T20 has done many things for cricket but among them is not re-populating village greens up and down the land every weekend with people in their whites.


By the same token, we should not confuse Keith Pelley’s admirable attempts to change the record with being the answer to dwindling numbers of golf club members.


At grass-roots level, though, we do share with the European Tour a necessity for something to change. Pelley is at least acknowledging that.


A look at the tour’s schedule for the season shows that there is practically nothing to appeal to a Ryder Cup-level player between the Desert Swing, that concludes in early February, and the BMW PGA Championship in late May. That’s not a gap – it’s almost a third of the year.


I’m not sure it’s ever been an easier decision than it is right now for an up-and-coming star to take his chances on the PGA Tour.


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