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Should Faldo Disclose His Ties Before Discussing Rory's Upcoming Equipment Change?

It's long been an issue: announcer conflicts of interest. Whether it's Johnny Miller's lack of fear in noting the positive equipment changes by Callaway players, Jim Nantz's voice on Titleist ads as he's covering players in the stable, golf announcers have long had low standards when it comes to corporate conflicts.

So when Nick Faldo called Rory McIlroy's now-confirmed departure from Titleist a "dangerous" move, I heard from a Nike fan who suggested that Faldo's alliance with Taylor Made should have been pointed out since it is believed Faldo's endorser lost McIlroy in a bidding war to Nike.

Should we learn in the coming weeks that Taylor Made bid on McIlroy but lost out, does that cloud Faldo's assessment?

Should Golf Channel or CBS note Faldo's affiliation before discussing these issues on air?

I say yes and yes. You say?

PS - here is the video of Faldo chiming in...

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Reader Comments (43)

If Rory were going to Taylor Made instead of Nike, would Faldo have said the things he said? Hard to say, though if pressed I would say that his comments would be tempered.

The above doesn't take away from the fact that everything he said made sense, and there are examples galore that support his point of view.
10.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux
Switching from Wilson to Mizuno to Adams gives him a good sample of success and struggles to pull from
10.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat Burke
Funny - did Faldo not play Nike late 90's-early00's?

He's right to an extent, but this is nothing new - Rory isn't the first and won't be the last. And there are just as many success stories of players changing equipment as disasters. The successes are just less well remembered and publicised.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGraham C
Faldo's slumps always coincided with an equipment change (Mizuno in ´91, Adams in ´98), so his words have merit. He would likely not have said it had Rory switched to Taylor Made instead, but then that would have been far more wrong than saying it now,
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Geoff, do you always disclose all of your ties before stating your opinion on a subject that you are a noted expert on?
The most fascinating thing about McIlroy's proposed mega-deal with Nike from my standpoint is that I understand that G-Mac owns 30% of Rory's agents, Horizon. How about that for a clever piece of business? Don't I know (as good as, or better, than Sir Nick) that there is always a risk in changing one's satisfactory brand of equipment - interesting days ahead.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
Faldo is correct. The move to Nike is extremely dangerous, particularly when one looks at past Nike converts who lost it all. Nike equipment seems to result in inconsistency for many pros and takes a while to get accustomed to. And then there is Duval's "Nike Curse" to consider.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreg B.
Duval won the British Open after having switched to Nike, so that was hardly the cause for his demise. 40% of the British Opens the last decade were won by Nike players, and Woods hasn't done too badly after making the iron switch in september 2002. I have a feeling Rory's going to be alright.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
These guys have no concept of what it means to have a conflict of interest when they comment on equipment.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose
How long does the average tour player "game" a set of irons? I know Faldo changed Mizunos several times.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Sports reporters, never forget you work in the toy department. stop taking yourselves so seriously.

and does a player really "change" equipment today? dont they just have an identical set of stuff made up and stamped with the new guy's logo? I know Tiger did that when he switched.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered Commentersmails
No disclaimers necessary in my opinion. It's not like Faldo tried to pitch TM. The subject matter is golf clubs, not investment recommendations. Nobody's 401-k or college fund gets crushed based on a golf club recommendation.

GregB., exactly which players "lost it all" when they switched to Nike? As for Duval, I thought a back injury combined with reduced competitive drive was the genesis of his downfall, how is that Nike's fault? Oh, well, I guess the big fat Nike contact may have contributed to the reduced competitive drive!
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Faldo should have disclosed, and this is just silly. Rory will be gaming clubs that feel the same to him next yr, as the ones he's using this yr. And as for the rest of us, all the clubs are good enough for our games.

In many horror story equipment changes, the reality is that the player cashed in on a peak yr, and then reverted to their previous level of performance. For instance GMac's 2009 and 2011 yrs are comparable - 2010 is the outlier
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterElf
Does anyone really care what kind of equipment Rory (or Faldo) uses? If he falls off after the switch, it'll be a great advert for Titleist, but if he plays at the same level, it's the archer not the arrow.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott
I think Faldo obsessed over his gear and he thinks making a large change like manufacturer can be volatile - not necessarily damning. I don't think there's any hidden agenda:
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStreaky Putter
And to summarize: BFD.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt
Stack and Tilt,
A) I'm not on television
B) I'm not paid handsomely by two networks and then also making money on the side.
C) If I were paid handsomely by a network, I'd definitely not have a manufacturer affiliation as well so that I could comment on players and equipment freely.
10.31.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
If you are particular and can feel minute changes, then an equipment change can be a major deal. Faldo reeks of fastidiousness and it seems as if Rory might be either way, as far as I can tell. So Faldo, IMO, is giving good advice if Rory is picky; not as important if he is a bit of a slob.

While my game numbers were never at scratch, I never had the time to spend on the game-but I could tell 1* bounce, loft, lie etc difference, and so Faldo's words ring true to me. The using the same shafts thru 18 years of irons tells a story about the need for feel, and the respect for accuracy, and the fear of losing it thru an inferior piece of equipment.

I would love to hear Faldo's take on Azinger's peddling performance SHIRTS!

And as to announcer's need for disclosure: yes, it would make it all above board, even in a piece like this, where Faldo did nothing ''wrong''.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
People, don't forget that Tiger did not put any Nike clubs in his bag for loooong time, nothing until he was perfectly comfortable with the specific club.

Rory will get the same deal. He better get the same deal, or his agent should be fired.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Yes, it should be mentioned, not that anybody will really care. It's like all of the times the news people remind us that NBC is owned by GE or used to be, or is owned by Comcast, which was purchased by Universal and then sold to the Chinese. It all gets lost in the cranium at the end of the proverbial day.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered Commentertlavin

There is a 63 page thread on Golfwrx about Nick's equipment history. Very interesting in some respects.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Thanks, Tighthead.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Faldo's comment is spot on, just ask any PGA TOUR pro. While he probably should have disclosed or commented about his current relationship with TM, it is still a totally valid statement.

Most TOUR pros know if their iron is off by a 1/4 degree because it influences feel, distance, ball flight, etc. Pat Burke can speak to this and I have a friend on TOUR who has told me the same thing.

The driver is super important and it will be interesting to see if Nike can build something that will work for Rory. For many pros, even with the same manufacturer, head, shaft, etc. it can be a challenge to get comfortable with an identical driver if you break one. Never mind a new head shape, feel, etc. that Rory will deal with. The ball is the other big one - Switching from a Pro V1x to a Nike is a MAJOR change. Totally different feel, ball flight and spin rates. At least with irons they can send Rory's specs to miura and have him build up some blades like they apparently do with Tiger, but they can't tweak the composition of a golf ball to make it "exactly" the same as what Rory is currently using. The wedges are another big dilemma - Rory has been using Vokey his whole life and now he has to switch to VRs . . . they can match the grind and shaft but the feel will be different.

Even Tiger has switched to from new to old Nike equipment - VR wood back to SQ wood - One golf ball back to Black. etc.

The most talented golfer in the world can probably navigate these issues without a problem, but there will still be an adjustment period. "Lesser" golfers have not been able to do it - eg) Johnny Miller & GMac. Sounds like Rory has $250M reasons to figure it out.
rory earlier this year changed his irons (712) and iron shafts (project x 5.5 to 6.0) after winning congressional, i believe they even got that 905 fairway wood out of his bag more recently (after wells fargo)

went on to #1 and 2nd major...

gg faldo
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterElyse
Pat/ Hawkeye

Faldo carried a Wilson bag - but I never saw him with a Wilson iron in it - aside from a sand-wedge. He played Mizuno irons when he won at Muirfield in 87.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Clayton
Does Golf Digest disclose their advertising relationships anytime they write a positive review on a club, ball, course, or resort? Put another way, has Golf Digest EVER written a negative review on anything that is produced or provided by one of their advertisers?

Tighthead, Faldo and Adams ended up suing each other in 2000 after Adams quit paying Faldo when he wouldn't put a set of their irons in his bag. His contention was they had an agreement that when Aams produced a set of irons Sir Nick found suitable, only then was he required to put them in the bag.

Faldo prevailed in the lawsuit, Adams had to pay him $1.6 million over time.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Here is the thread in all of its glory:

Faldo played several sets of irons.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Okay, trying again. Sorry if this is offside Geoff:

Faldo equipment history with a level of detail that is crazy/awesome
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
There is absolutely nothing wrong with what Faldo said and there was no conflict at all. He was correct about how big a deal it is to switch clubs and he never suggested going to a certain brand was the problem, only that switching at all for a player of that caliber is a big deal. He never suggested that Taylor Made would have been a better choice and he never disparaged Nike in any way, he also said that he played the same shafts for 18 seasons!!!!! that is a guy that walked the walk.
Nothing wrong with Faldo saying what he said here.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
If anything, Taylor Made could be pissed off that Faldo suggested moving away from Titleist is a dangerous move.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
I guess I should disclose that I have a relationship with my Taylor Made driver and my Titleist irons. It's not a great relationship, but it is a relationship.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
Another thought on those that think Rory changing gear is a bad idea I give you this from earlier this year an 8 event run that Rory had with his current gear.....

T40, 2, MC, MC, MC, T7, MC, T10, T60

He generally played pretty bad for 8 events over a 16 week stretch with the gear he has used for years and is perfectly fit for. If he has a stretch like that with his new gear next season many people, including here, will totally over react and completely ignore this stretch of play in 2012. Just saying.

** Posted this in the wrong Rory thread earlier. **
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
I can think of two examples of guys who struggled for a while after changing, Phil and Chad Campbell. Some guys tweak all the time and it doesn't seem to matter what they play, they do all right. I would think others are very loyal to a particular feel and it takes time to adjust.

I do think that it would be nice if announcers declared conflicts but as someone noted, do you ever read harsh criticism of any equipment that advertises significantly in the magazines? I mean some of the hype these companies use to hawk the equipment is just crap and the mags just regurgitate it in the reviews.
Perhaps I am skeptical although I doubt the average player can feel the difference of a tungsten (insert less than 1% semi precious metal here) in the "feel" of the club.
That's my rant!
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKG
Geoff- I don't think the type of media or the amount of money changes the equation. You and Nick are both highly regarded "subject matter experts" with many "irons in the fire" so to speak. Both of you are asked to provide opinions on many different topics. It would be awkward to recite the list of entities that you or Nick have received compensation from, or have partnership / collaboration with (past or present) from each time you offer an opinion.
Faldo=A fold!
10.31.2012 | Unregistered Commenter3jack
Tighthead, I stopped reading that thread several months ago...I was convinced that "The Gachet" had an unnatural interest in the subject.
10.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux
I say, who cares? Golf is a business. Any one who takes players', announcers' bloggers' word for anything is kidding themselves.
11.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterpeter
Kevin - the back and forth between The Gachet and Mat is quite something. Sad and impressive all at once.
11.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
Agree with you 100% peter. Same dynamic applies to those who rage on that Tiger "fooled them" into thinking he was a good guy with his various advertising campaigns and presumably they aligned their purchasing decisions with Tiger accordingly. LOL.
11.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
@Mike: Really? How could that be? Faldo was a second-tier Euro Tour player at the time of his Muirfield, so I wonder how he could get away with not playing the irons he was paid to endorse. I know you played the Tour with him then, so I take your word for it, but it does seem strange.
11.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye

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