Longtime Sports Illustrated writer and author Michael Bamberger joins us to talk about a variety of issues along with his fascinating new book, Men In Green (A review and email Q&A with Michael are forthcoming.)
On the golf course, a man may be the dogged victim of inexorable fate, be struck down by an appalling stroke of tragedy, become the hero of an unbelievable melodrama, or the clown in a side-splitting comedy--any of these within a few hours, and all without having to bury a corpse or repair a tangled personality. BOBBY JONES
Longtime Sports Illustrated writer and author Michael Bamberger joins us to talk about a variety of issues along with his fascinating new book, Men In Green (A review and email Q&A with Michael are forthcoming.)
That's what Josh Sens at golf.com says.
The funniest part? The developer, Pacific Links International, confirms and even produces a boilerplate quote from Woods. And Tiger's spokesman Glenn Greenspan? No comment.
Asked about the Beijing project, Tiger spokesman Glenn Greenspan said that Woods had nothing to announce at the moment.
But in a statement provided to Golf.com by Pacific Links, Woods is quoted as saying, “We strongly believe this course will stand the test of time and be one of the most prestigious courses in China, and even Asia.”
Pacific Links executives did not respond to questions about the financial terms of the deal.
It's still illegal to build a "golf course" in China where construction has been in full stop mode according to Dan Washburn (and others who, so maybe Team Tiger is just trying to avoid being seen as breaking the law?
With the change in CEO's and suggestions of parent company Adidas planning aggressive product launching, it's hard not to wonder if the company has already cut Taylor Made off at the pass and will return the popular brand to something resembling its disastrous three-drivers-in-one-year product launches. You may recall that approach led to an array of issues with customers, sales figures, layoffs at retailers like Dick's Sporting Goods, suggestions the game was dead and led to higher-ups getting "promoted".
Outgoing TaylorMade CEO Ben Sharpe, who took over in April 2014, was flushing the toilet on excessive launches and trying to right the ship. Sharpe was re-establishing sanity and earning back the trust of loyal customers. Yet just a few weeks shy of his one-year anniversary on the job, he was replaced by David Abeles.
And the future vision sounds familiar, as Ellen Emmerentze Jervell reports in a Wall Street Journal story, suggesting parent company Adidas is going to aggressive launch products in the United States.
Adidas has also vowed to speed up how quickly it brings new products to market and invest more in its core brands, particularly in the U.S. The company wants to open 55 new stores in the U.S. in the next 2½ years. It has 30 today.
Add the WSJ to the list of those confusing rejected product release cycles with the health of the game.
Adidas has suffered a number of setbacks lately. The company has a large presence in Russia where slowing economic growth and the plummeting value of the ruble have crimped the country’s contribution to Adidas’s results. Waning popularity of golf has hit sales at its TaylorMade-Adidas golf unit hard.
No, three drivers in one year was the problem. But it sounds like he's already forgotten what his company said.
And here's where the questions should begin regarding where TaylorMade fits into the Adidas vision:
As part of the new five-year strategic business plan, named “Creating the New,” Adidas said it would respond to consumer trends immediately and push out new products in-season.
In a few years, Adidas aims to use purpose-built machines to create personalized products instantly in its stores. It also plans to quadruple e-commerce revenue to more than €2 billion by 2020.
As for the U.S., Mark King, Adidas’s North American CEO, said the company wants to increase its market share to 15% by 2020.
He lives! Will he have TaylorMade rapidly releasing products again?
TaylorMade can do whatever they like and I hope they find great success since they are a popular, important company in golf. But the sport and business must defend itself from those suggesting the health of the game is poor just because golfers refuse to buy $400 drivers three times in a year.
Another nice win for the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance and their counsel at Morrison & Foerster’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Group, as the 9th Circuit (who we could see in action here) sides with the public golf course.
The full press release and and how this moves things one step closer to eventually restoring the course:
PRESS RELEASE: NINTH U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS DISMISSES ENVIRONMENTALIST GROUPS’ APPEAL IN SHARP PARK GOLF CASE
San Francisco, CA., March 25, 2015
A four-year-old lawsuit brought by a collection of environmentalist groups to close Sharp Park Golf Course – the 83-year-old public masterpiece of famed golf architect Alister MacKenzie – came to an end here Wednesday, March 25, when a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal in Wild Equity vs. City and County of San Francisco.
Filed in March, 2011 by Wild Equity Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and other groups, the lawsuit sought an injunction to close the course based on allegations that golf operations kill frogs and snakes protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
“We’re very pleased that the court of appeals’ decision will allow this historic public locale to continue to serve golfers of all means and levels in the Bay Area,” said Joseph Palmore, co-chair of Morrison & Foerster’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Group, who argued the case in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, a non-profit coalition of local golfers working to preserve affordable golf for Bay Area residents. The group intervened in the case after the plaintiffs began their effort to close Sharp Park in 2011. Both the Golf Alliance and Morrison-Foerster have worked pro bono on the lengthy litigation.
In December, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston dismissed the case, ruling that it was moot following an October, 2012 Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service imposed strict protective terms and conditions on golf operations, but allowed “take” of a small number of frogs and snakes provided that the City complies with those terms and conditions.
On appeal, San Francisco Deputy City Attorney Jim Emery said the question on appeal was academic: “was the case moot then [at the District Court] or is the case moot now”? “Moot squared” was how attorney Palmore characterized the case.
Court of Appeals Judges William Fletcher, Morgan Christen, and Andre Davis were unconvinced by the environmentalist groups’ attorney’s arguments that the case comes within a narrow “capable of repetition yet evading review” exception to the mootness doctrine.
I mistakenly let the Buzzfeed-style headlines scared me off from reading about Aaron Baddeley's round one birdie in the Valero Texas Open. That was a mistake.
Because as Alex Myers explains, this one really is an all-timer.
On the drivable par-4 17th (playing 336 yards to the pin today), Baddeley yanked his tee shot into the woods. But after taking an unplayable lie, he re-teed and miraculously holed his next shot. Again, from 336 yards. In other words, this is NOT a misprint:
Baddeley hit driver on both shots, but choked down on his second attempt with the hole playing downwind. The improbable result put him just one shot behind Charley Hoffman after the first round.
"I just thought I'd just hit it straight and so I hit it and started walking and then heard the crowd going nuts," Baddeley said. "I was like, wait, I just made birdie."
Meanwhile 31 of 141 players shot 80 or higher. Jim McCabe attempts to dissect what happened.
Wild moment from the Valero Texas Open today as Mickelson's 8-iron broke at impact. He was playing a fairway bunker shot at the 12th. He made bogey and probably will get fined for texting someone after (probably looking for a replacement or a FedExCup shipment of a new one).
The video with great sound and replay zooming from the NBC/Golf Channel crew:
Nice to see Phil's friends at Callaway not running from the moment. This tweet is from their creative director, Johnny Rodriguez:
In the world of bequeathing emeritus status, The Greenbrier's second pro emeritus Tom Watson, has not had his contract renewed, reports Ryan Ballengee.
If there's a contract involved, it's not really an emeritus situation now, is it?
The resort's head, Jim Justice, says he is looking for a new pro and mercifully, one of the non-emeritus variety.
Ben Sharpe is out after almost a year at the helm. He replaced CEO Mark King last April.
For Immediate Release:
TaylorMade Golf Company Names David Abeles as CEO and President
CARLSBAD, Calif. (March 26, 2015) — The adidas Group has appointed David Abeles as CEO of TaylorMade Golf Company with immediate effect. Abeles succeeds Ben Sharpe, who has decided to leave the company for personal reasons. Abeles will report directly into adidas Group CEO Herbert Hainer.
Abeles rejoined the company as President of TaylorMade and Adams Golf last month. A 12-year veteran of TaylorMade Golf Company, Abeles brings a deep executive skill set, leadership competence and business acumen built both within the golf industry as well as in the world of sports. Most recently the CEO of the Competitor Group Inc., Abeles is widely respected within the golf community for his relationships and energetic connection with both the retailer and consumer.
Herbert Hainer, CEO of the adidas Group: "David has a proven track record of success and leadership excellence. I am convinced that David will lead our golf business into the next era of growth. At the same time, I would like to thank Ben for his passion and many contributions to our company over the last nine years and I wish him all the best for his professional and private future.”
**David Dusek at Golfweek on Abeles. The piece includes a photo for the Big Oak crowd wanting to kiss up to the new guy.
In March 2014, Abeles, 43, was named CEO of Competitor Group Inc., a company that operates marathons, half-marathons and races. He previously worked at TaylorMade for 12 years and rose to executive vice president of TaylorMade-Adidas Golf. According to his LinkedIn page, Abeles also worked as vice president of sales and marketing for Acushnet Co. for six years ending in 2007.
E. Michael Johnson says this is Abeles' third stint at the company. He also points out that the task will be tall, with parent company adidas wanting to bring products to the market more rapidly, the very strategy that undermined Taylor Made's credibility with some customers.
Another WSJ article published today noted that Adidas' stock price fell 40 percent in 2014 and that it was seeking to bring products to market at a more rapid pace. The article detailed that Adidas reported 2014 net profit of 490 million Euros, down from 787 million Euros the year before, on sales worth 14.5 billion Euros.
Rio de Janeiro's mayor Eduardo Paes, who in recent months has sought to distance himself from Rio's Olympic golf course and even suggested it never would have been built if it were up to him, has seen the light. This week anyway.
Touring journalists around the course as it grows in post-construction, Paes and his team came armed with evidence that the site was, once in fact, mostly concrete and that the course will actually increase habitat area for critters.
The unbylined story features many ground shots from the bizarro course tour, though it's very clearly in the grow-in phase where bunkers are not maintainted and turf is the focus.
'Does this look like an environmental crime?' he exclaimed, arms akimbo, as he led reporters over the course's spongy grass. Earlier, Paes projected aerial photos from the 1980s apparently showing what's now the golf course dotted with concrete structures.
Environmentalists contend that hardy subtropical vegetation had since retaken the area and that before the bulldozers descended it had become home to several endangered species, including species of butterflies and frogs.
'He (Paes) thinks that all green's the same,' said Jean Carlos Novaes, a member of the Golfe Para Quem (Golf For Whom) group that has been protesting outside the site for months. 'But non-native grass is just not the same thing as the native ecosystem.'
Novaes, who was among a small group of protesters on Wednesday, insisted it was unnecessary to build a new course in the first place, since Rio already has two other golf courses - despite golf's status in Brazil as an unpopular sport played almost exclusively by the moneyed elite. The owner of one of the courses has said he wrote to authorities to offer it up for the Olympics but never heard back.
I guess this would be a tough time to explain to him that the ball goes too far and that the other courses simply were not an option?
There will be many farewells to Ben Crenshaw's storied Masters career, and while his two wins will get most of the attention, David Westin reminds us of what an incredible run Gentle Ben had in years not ending in '84 or '95.
Brother Charlie is convinced that Ben could easily have won two more.
“Two or three more times, at least,” Charlie Crenshaw said.
He was in the final pairing of the closing rounds in 1977, 1987, 1988 and 1989. In 1987, he finished one shot out of the playoff involving eventual champion Larry Mize, Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros. In 1989, he fell one short of joining the playoff with winner Nick Faldo and Scott Hoch.
“There is a lot of great things to remember and a lot of heartache,” said Scotty Sayers, who has known Crenshaw since 1962 and been his manager since late 1984. “There’s no question he could have won in 1987 and 1989.”
David Fay sheds a little light on one of the last private places in the game: the post round scoring tent.
While I won't spoil the ending to his April Golf Digest column, let's just say that if Fox wants to innovate in golf, they'll convince the USGA to let them install a nanny-cam in scoring tents. Maybe stream that on a separate channel. With sound, of course.
There was this:
Some players behave like princes, regardless of their score. Good examples: Ben Crenshaw and Nick Price. On the other hand, Ben's college teammate, Tom Kite, would fall into what I coined The 67-76 Club. All smiles and compliments after a 67, but a steady stream of criticism—usually about the course setup, sometimes about the guy he was playing with—after a 76.
I preferred the guys you could count on to be jerks all the time over the chameleons whose score dictated their behavior. Let's just say that the players you've heard stories about typically lived up to their reputations. And don't think there weren't some LPGA players who could lose it, too. (By the way, it should come as no surprise that Jack Nicklaus was a model citizen: always pleasant, never saccharine, no matter his score.)
Tiger life guru and senior swing consultant-to-the-consultant Notah Begay tells Scott Rude of 120 Sports that his student is 50-50 to play the Masters.
But only on Tiger's terms.
“I think that’s very important. It’s easy to get bullied into trying to acquiesce to the media’s concerns, or the PGA Tour’s concerns, or other people’s agendas. My suggestion to him was to take as much time as he needed to just figure out this issue with his short game and also to work on or clean up a couple of things that might be a little loose with his golf swing."
Few first world problems are more acute than that of the Masters and the desire to keep the field under 100 players for logistical reasons (starting weekday tee times at a civilized hour, for one).
And as this year's field approaches the number, Doug Ferguson makes a strong case for keeping the PGA Tour winner's exemption restored by Chairman Billy Payne, but trimming some of the official world golf ranking fat from the field.
Perhaps it’s time to get rid of the first cutoff for the top 50 at the end of a calendar year, and simply have one deadline at the end of the Florida swing. That still allows two weeks for players to plan a trip to Augusta. And the tournament is more likely to have the top players in form.
Dating to 2008, when the Masters returned to its policy of awarding spots to PGA Tour winners, an average of nearly three players per year were among the top 50 at the end of the year and failed to stay in the top 50 at the end of March.
There was so much turnover in 2010 that five players were added to the field after the March cutoff. Five others who had been in the top 50 at the end of 2009 still got into the Masters. Three of them missed the cut.
Tom Cunneff in a special to CNBC caught up with Greg Norman en route to a Teeterboro wheels up situation to chat about Great White Shark Enterprises and reveals some interesting things about the empire that is all things Shark. Mercifully, his Instragamming was not discussed.
Complaining about too much banking regulation in his adopted homeland, Norman has started the Great White Shark Opportunity Fund.
The newest division at Great White Shark Enterprises he's most excited about is the Great White Shark Opportunity Fund, an asset-based debt-lending fund that provides alternative and flexible capital to small- and mid-cap companies. Norman won't reveal what companies they've invested in so far but said they have $75 million in capital.
"It's a good place to be in right now, because a lot of small, entrepreneurial businesses can't get capital to grow their business," he said in his familiar Australian accent. "Many years ago my partner, David Chessler, and I invested in a couple small business and just saw the returns we were generating, in the high 20s and even above. We started off very small, but now we're growing at a comfortable pace, and we have institutions interested because we have a performance track record that's very positive. We don't want to be a $20 billion fund. We just want to be like the space we're in."
Cunneff says Norman's design fee is down to $1.5 million from a peak of $2 million post-recession, and says the Shark's famous wine business has seen a decline.
One division that's still lagging is wine. Norman has been a connoisseur and collector since 1976, when he won a bottle of the award-winning Australian red Penfolds Grange. Twenty years later he partnered with California-Australian conglomerate Beringer Blass (now Treasury Wine Estates). The company, Greg Norman Estates, makes 13 different varietals and shipped 160,000 cases last year to Australia and the U.S.—down about 90,000 cases from 2006—with the majority made in his native country. (A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand will debut in April.)
"Part of business is identifying the divisions in the company that need to be helped a little," he said. "And now, with the Australian dollar below par, our margins are improving on wine. It's a business I really want to start focusing on and getting it back up to where it was pre-recession."
Other than the huckster politicians bellowing on about nothing of much importance or interest, the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony for Jack Nicklaus made for enjoyable viewing.
It's not often seeing the Golden Bear get so choked up, even as he stuck to his script in hopes of not getting emotional.
From D.J. Piehowski's PGATour.com report from Congress:
Nicklaus took the stage last, after being awarded the medal from Speaker John Boehner. Among other things, he touched on his worldwide competitive record, his work with the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and the role his wife Barbara played in all of his success.
“Yes, Jackie, I just played golf,” said Nicklaus, referring to the time his son gave that simplistic answer when asked what his father did for a living. “But my whole life’s work was to make you all proud of me. I hope I have.”
GolfChannel.com posted a nice slideshow of images from the day, including this of the medal.
Also note the shots with Arnold Palmer, who made the journey to be there.
The full ceremony:
The Rio Olympic course is finished and growing in. But that didn't stop Judge Fabio Dutra from ruling (again) that construction may move forward, despite attempts by city of Rio prosecutors who have attempted to halt completion due to environmental concerns.
There's one catch: construction is complete! Proceed!
All of this is made that much more surreal when going on in a city that on the same day admitted it's trash and raw sewage infested waters will not be cleaned up for Olympic sailing (doody!), 500 days away.
Yet some are still lamenting the creation of a golf course, yet unable to demonstrate any negative impact on the environment. This is one wild and zany city!
Prosecutors did not immediately say whether they would appeal again, although this was considered their last chance to stop the construction before work becomes too advanced.
In his ruling, judge Fabio Dutra said the matter is "highly complex" and needs to be further evaluated, but conceded that at least some of the environmental concerns were taken into consideration. He noted that course's construction was already in an advanced stage, and mentioned the importance of the Olympics to the city.
I'm leery of manufacturer-produced videos but this Nike piece with Rory McIlroy in the gym is quite exceptional on many levels. Namely, the minimalist vibe (though it surely was done by top-notch pros), the black and white, the quiet and of course, Rory discussing why he's gotten into working out so much.
Granted, it lacks the Omega Hall of Fame ad's ability to squeeze a confession out of even the most disciplined terrorist when subjected to repeated playings, but I can see this motivating aspiring players or those who've let their training slack off.
If you made the mistake of trying to watch Bubba Watson on the Jimmy Fallon Show, you were treated to some first rate Mustn't See TV. Oh well.
Mercifully, the effort to promote the upcoming Drive, Chip And Putt with Watson and 2014 winner (and only 2015 repeat qualifier) Kelly Xu was far more enjoyable when the charismatic duo appeared on CBS This Morning and Golf Channel.
The CBS interview let young Kelly shine (again), and at the 4:30 mark the dreaded millennials are brought up and Bubba makes a nice defense for the game.