Twitter: GeoffShac
  • The 1997 Masters: My Story
    The 1997 Masters: My Story
    by Tiger Woods
  • The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup
    by John Feinstein
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant and Irreverent Quotes, Notes, and Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Sports Media Group
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Sleeping Bear Press
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
« DVR Alert For PGA Tour Recorders: Expect To See More Of Duke-Maryland Than You Ever Wanted | Main | USGA Gets Into The Branded Stimpmeter Business »

Taylor Made CEO: "The USGA within 10 years will be...a non-factor in golf one is signing up for what they represent."

Score one for Rick Young at Scoregolf, who gets Taylor Made CEO Mark King talking up a storm. Without copying the entire interview (it's that provocative!), I encourage you to click the link and read the entire thing.

But in the interest of discussion and clipplings storage, my autopsy...

King: "I don't think this is an equipment issue. I think it’s a golfer issue. What I think needs to happen is the industry needs to come together without the USGA. Leave them out."

SG: That's pretty extreme.

King: "I know but it needs to be extreme. We have an industry that should be growing, it should be exciting, it should be fun and it’s not. And it’s not because the USGA won't let it. Now the USGA would tell you 'Oh, we don't have that power we only make the rules.' But the way this is constructed is the top of the pyramid is the USGA and until they support a new form of golf that is fun and engaging, nothing is going to change. Nothing."

King may have a vision for the game that would support this argument, but to date all data suggests that (A) technology has not grown the game (B) the economic state of affairs along with changing attention spans is hurting the sport more than anything and (C) golfers like being part of something with a tradition and core values that reward skill.

SG: So what needs to happen?

King: "If I were running the PGA of America I would write my own set of rules. I'd do it with the PGA Tour. Right so then what would happen with the U.S. Open and those 11 tournaments? They would follow suit because they would have no choice. Because if they don't have any players they don't have any tournament and if they don't have any tournament they don't have any money."

There is no money to be made in writing rules, so the PGA's won't do it.

Asked if he was concerned for the sport...

King: “No not yet. But the conversations are intensifying. If we don't do something different and new and creative then the game is in trouble. If we weren't having these conversations right now then I would say yes, it’s in trouble. Here's a prediction: the USGA within 10 years will be a non-entity, they will be a non-factor in golf because they are choosing to be on the outside and no one is signing up for what they represent. The industry is going to move away from them and pass them. They're obsolete. I hate to say that but that's their behaviour.”

Gee, I guess  me complaining about getting in the Stimpmeter won't look so bad after those remarks!

Now this is interesting, because as most of you know the USGA/R&A rules are completely optional and equipment makers are free to make what they want, but don't because golfers might not care for non-conforming labels. King is now saying they will forge ahead with non-conforming clubs no matter what happens.

King: “What we’re (TMaG) going to do whether there is bifurcation or not is we will continue to make long putters for golfers. If they roll the ball back we're not going to roll our ball back. We will for a tournament ball but we’re still going to sell you a ball you can play. Like I said, two sets of rules are coming. Whether they're sanctioned or not we are not going to stop making long putters and I'm not going to stop playing one. I won't. By the time it happens the USGA is either going to have to get with it or stand off somewhere all by themselves.

And I would agree with this sentiment simply because of Tim Finchem's comments from earlier in the week:

And look I'm still not convinced the PGA Tour is going to completely embrace the long putter rule. I'm not. So what's going to happen? If Tim Finchem says he's going to use all the USGA rules EXCEPT the long putter rule there you go. You have two sets of rules. That's where it’s going and it’s coming fast. The sadness I have for the USGA is instead of leading this they're fighting it and for what reason? I don't know.”

Well, that should spark some discussion! And I say good for King for expressing his views to promote some discussion. Thoughts?

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (66)

I am a life-long player, caddy, 7 cap at 70 years of age...I cancelled my USGA membership a few years ago...I believe in the rules, tradition and history of golf...but I am fed up with the elitist, arrogant, overpaid, blue/blazer/khaki crowd that the USGA has become. Golf should be a game for all people...the USGA has created a monster: themselves.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
It's great that TaylorMade is going to go their own way -- that should provide hard evidence regarding the choices that golfers make.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterArthur Nelson
I believe in bifurcation because I don't play the same game pga tour players play, but the ball should be rolled back for tour players, and they shouldn't be allowed to anchor, and no I don't think the players should be the one writing the rules.

And courses need to be shorter, fans have to stop trying to/wanting to play 7000 yard courses for their ego
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Bobby D I've been wondering about you. I enjoy your posts, even when I don't agree.

T/M seems to be priming the pump, wouldn't you say?

Stay cool, man; you must be a hell of player to be a 7-- I'll be 63 on Monday, and got it to a 5.1 before my body starting falling apart worse than it was, but if I can get healthy, a 7 at 70 would be a great goal. You have inspired me, and those who have seen me post a long time know that my desire for a realistic set of rules will never come from out friends in the Blue blazers, several of whom I deeply respect. But it needs to come.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
If King were commissioner of baseball, he'd legalize aluminum bats and juiced balls.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterWill
I agree with elf

I also think that the USGA has long since gotten away with a high and mighty attitude. Look at their executive committee. Not an average joe/jane among them. All of them live in a bubble. They wonder why the game isnt growing? Many of the fans that Tiger brought to the game cant hardly affor the equipment or rounds of expensive golf. Pebble is open to the public? Yeah okay but good Lord its too expensive. Torrey? Yeah its cheap if you live in San Diego county. Outside and you are coming off a few dollars to play.
Taylor Made CEO also needs to realize hes partly to blame too.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJSP
Explosive piece! Would any of this be necessary if everyone just played from the appropriate set of tees? I would just play the tournament ball and clubs from the appropriate set of tees. Done. And the TMaG people are ignoring the handicap ramifications. Just because I'm not a pro doesn't mean I don't gamble...which necessitates the USGA.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike Urann
Look I know we (amateurs) play to a different standard, but we sure as hell play the same game. If bifurcation comes in, why not start allowing mulligans and gimme putts....

I want to play the same game as the pro's, by the same rules and protocol because what they play is golf and that's what I want to be involved in. Anchoring is the same as "spooning or lifting"" a ball to get a chip in the air, sure it's possible and the clubs will allow you to do it, but my golf shoes are part of my equipment and I'm not allowed to kick the ball into the hole.......
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert
Man you would think they were trying to take his gun not his putter. Nobody likes the prospect of yipping putts almost equal to public speaking, now there's a fun way to spend your free time.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
Man, we are living in vitriolic times.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
''I want to play the same game as the pro's, by the same rules and protocol because what they play is golf and that's what I want to be involved in''

You certainly can, no different than a hacker taking a mulligan.

I can see weekly games, like the Clay/Kizer Tuesday nooner, that can have a half dozen or more pros always playing to the letter of the law, but I can also see a few 4somes on the other course playing to a ''casual'' set of real rules, that would make their day, and the time it takes to play a round what it should be. No one has ever come up to us and said we need to move up a tee box- if we play ghin golf we play ROG, if we are having an outing we don't....but it would be nice to have an alternate set of rules, not some make em up as you go.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
I play Taylor Made clubs. I guess I will never again buy Taylor Made if they put sales ahead of the integrity and tradition of the game. The modern ball and equipment is hurting the golfer by adding huge costs (in clubs and longer courses) and taxing the environment.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMAC
No surprise that there is tension between a premier manufacturer and the USGA. I like and respect Mark King, but his vitriol is over the top. The USGA has been quite the enabler for TaylotMade and the rest of the manufacturers. We're it not for that enabling negligence of the USGA, we might not have monster drivers, balls that hardly turn, four-foot putters and championship courses pushing 8K yards. It finally takes a baby step on anchoring and King goes nuts. Chill, my man.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
USGA is the only thing standing in the way of these criminal thugs.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBam-Bam
Side bet that Mark King backpedals in the next couple of days.
The game is already bifurcated. What's the difference between moving to an up set if tees and an 8 foot basketball hoop, 30 foot base paths. Look, I don't always play the back tees but let's be serious, most of us don't. We're already playing a different game.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
Again. I refuse to beleive distance is a widespread problem. Stupid course owners are the problem. It's simple. 1% if golfers hit it far enough to overpower courses. If you spend $millions on lengthening and upkeep to accommodate the 1%, you are an idiot or ego maniac needing a pro tournament to validate your club membership. You get what you deserve.

Historic Old tracks becoming too small for the game? 1) that applies to what? 25 courses worldwide? 2) time marches on.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBsoudi
I wonder if King knows how much the USGA does OTHER than Rules/Equipment. I've been a USGA volunteer for over 20 years and there are thousands just like me that are willing to give their time to help the game. I've met and worked with dozens of USGA staffers and hundreds of committee members (not the executive, but the championship, green section, etc.) and they are some of the best and most dedicated people I know. Just the turfgrass research/advisory visits have helped improve the game tremendously...our course was in bad shape and had some pretty severe issues and a USGA agronomist came out and gave us a full advisory visit and gave us guidance to not only improve the course, but do it more efficiently.

I wonder how much money TaylorMade has poured into turfgrass research, amateur championships, and grant programs to allow organizations the chance to function?
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
WOW! Double WOW!

I wonder if in the wake of this the USGA might consider no longer accepting clubs from TaylorMade for certification? Wouldn't that be something. Then the PGA Tour would really be in a pinch because all TM equipment would be by default non-conforming.

Insane......can't wait for Act 2!
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
King stands to benefit from not going with the USGA. At this point, the USGA has a sustainability point. I don't think hitting the ball further benefits anyone but Mark King. Balls wear out, so rolling the ball back makes the most sense. So long as pros hit it farther than amateurs, and you hit it farther than your buddy, the rest of it doesn't really matter
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterErik Hallgrimson
Ed, don't forget about all those stimpmeter sales revenues that should start rolling in soon!
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
"...if they put sales ahead of the integrity and tradition of the game."

Umm, that horse left the barn some time ago. There was a time when the manufacturers (lead primarily by TaylorMade and Titleist) were not simply a Marketing Juggernaut with little regard for anything other than the CEO's bottom line. But when the engineers figured out how to domesticate the Pinnacle and make thin-faced trampoline-like "woods" out of titanium that was no longer needed to spend the Warsaw Pact into the ground (even Tom Watson has been seen promoting a fairway wood that behaves like a driver in that regard!, albeit for a minor partner in the Juggernaut), there was nothing to hold them back. These companies are following the path blazed by the NGF and its acolytes (one course a day, preferably a country-club-for-a-day). The end is predictable even if its final form remains unknowable.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Golf Channel had some video of Finchem appearing on a panel discussion and when asked about the anchoring issue it was perfectly clear that the Tour is giving some serious consideration to breaking from the USGA on the issue. Then they had another video of an in studio discussion and Michael Breed was asked how many junior players he was seeing use the belly or long putter and his answer was "not many". This argument that "a whole generation of golfers don't know anything else" is just completely false. Blend all that in with the CEO of TM's comments and it sure appears that the...

...long putter is back up off the mat and is throwing some serious haymakers!!
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I think King is right about USGA. On the other hand he is missing a key element to growing the game and that is cost of entry into the game. Take his company; they pump out new product every 3-6 months. Why? Too keep revenues up. Paying $249.00 for a 3 wood is ridiculous. That is ONE club. You make $9 an hour you have to work 30 hours to pay for that ONE club. Not going to happen. Until companies like TMaG reduce costs on equipment the game will not grow. The pie is shrinking and all facets of golf need to get on board and stop pointing figures at each other as the problem and work together to solve the issue. Cost, time, and accessibility IMO are the 3 key areas that need to be addressed.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Regali
So is King somewhat advocating "outlaw" golf? Do what you want to make it fun and exciting? Should we allow people to yell during drives? Play in groups of 10 (hey, the more the merrier), and so forth?

I wonder if he realizes that the USGA and extending branches (state golf associations, committee members,and such) essentially run the game of competitive amateur golf? Not just the USGA events, but state, regional and many junior events are typically run by those affiliated with the USGA. Often those same people are involved with numerous organizations and even college golf uses many of those people as well for rules officials.

What about the R&A, they are a joint partner with the USGA in rules and equipment? Not sure if King realizes that the R&A bankrolls much of the amateur golf in Europe and other parts of the world. They provide a lot of funding and education for smaller and up-and-coming nations in golf.

I'm guessing all these thousands of people wokring and volunteering with the USGA/R&A aren't doing it so Taylor Made can sell more clubs!
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhil
@DTF.... Don't be silly. The USGA makes money every time a club manufacturer submits a clubs (or other gear) for conformity testing. The USGA charges for every loft of a particular club (driver, fw, wedge, etc). As quick as TM (as well as Callaway) churns gear the USGA would be out a great deal of scratch. See below.

www usga org/equipment/testing/submission_process/Getting-Equipment-Tested-Submission-Process/
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
"...consumers only want what's new and exciting. They don't want last year, they want new, innovative cool stuff"

Here lies a big part of why our nation and world is in such big trouble. We are living in a time that, for many, nothing is good enough and we need new stimulation all the time to keep interested.

I started playing golf 35 years ago with blades the size of a matchbook and persimmon woods. Golf was hard, it was frustrating...but it was addictive and I loved every minute of it and couldn't wait to get back on the course. Now it seems that people are more worried about getting the latest and greatest equipment more than the concept of spending a few (or more) hours on a serene golf course with no other care in the world but playing the game that we love.

So if consumers want what is new and exiting, I guess we should shut down all the classic courses as they are "old and boring". There are many people like myself that don't need the latest and greatest, love the challenge of playing the game by the rules and look at golf more than just a hobby, but a passion.

I am really disappointed and saddend by the comments of Mr. King. But I guess he is a businessman at heart and not a golfer like many of us here.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie H
OWGR, so you're saying the USGA needs that revenue stream that TaylorMade provides and wouldn't ever take a stand and fire TM as a customer? Interesting situation!
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
The USGA and R&A officials might be arrogant and otherworldly in some respects, but I think the game would be in an even worst condition with commercial cowboys like Mr.King and his fellow CEO's in charge of the way golf should develop.
The greatest misconception of all, is that golf should be more easy to be enjoyable. Bullshit! I grew up with blades, persimmon and balata and liked the sport back then as much as I do today (some will say that is because old guys like me can still play thanks to modern material, but that is simple not true). You have to work hard, spend a lot of time on the practice range and on the putting green to master the most beautiful game on the planet. This challenge, so essential to golf, probably is in contradiction with the modern (American) attitude that all things in life should come easy.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartin
@DTF.... As you know old 20th century money still drives the USGA to this day so they would never turn down money from any source regardless of who it is. In this example even TM with the mouth of Mark King. Business is business.

For another example... Per Geoffs article from Friday showing that the USGA is now pimping an officially licensed stimp meter that most of us could make in 15 seconds with an old hot wheel track from a box in our garage and a thumb tack from a kitchen drawer. Yet some people will gladly pay the money to have an offical USGA logoed POS. Channeling the fool and their money quote from the cliche machine. Just saying. ;-)
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
The ball should be rolled back for everybody. We need to get back from 8000 yard courses for professionals AND 6500 yard courses for amateurs.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
That man's not well. Is it possible Taylor Made is facing financial armageddon because it's running out of ideas to rip off joe public?

The game was never meant to be easy. If it were, we'd all be bored to death with it and cease playing.

If the male ego weren't as big as Phil Mickelson's bank balance then I would simply suggest golfers unable to derive sufficient "fun" from the game move to a more forward tee position!
Well it is interesting seeing commenters here taking the side of the usga. For years and years Geoff and his commented have in their small way diminished the authority of the usga by constantly complaining about them. "Out of touch, old money, blue blazers who have ruined the game".
Well, TM knows now that the usga has lost enough authority that they can act independently.... and that other equipment mfgrs may join them.

Geoff this was all part of the plan, wasn't it?
01.26.2013 | Unregistered Commentercreek
Insert foot in mouth. Repeat. The PR department at TM will be working overtime this weekend to put a spin on that pile of rubbish.
I got $20 that says the USGA will still be around in 10 years but Mr. King won't.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterP-Dog
Hey guys, Mr. King is just trying to keep the bottom BIG.He only cares about the equipment he has in stock...
There is already a different set of rules being used.Just go join a different group each day and they have their own set of rules.
It's very hard to find anyone that is playing to the rules as written currently.Heck the group I have played with tees it up even on the fringe or first cut of the green.I suggest playing it down and you think I was cussing their mother.
I would love to play the game as written.The course manager promotes the altered playing methods or thats what I was told.I like the structured method of golf and The Mr. Kings are ones that want to change to suit their bottom line..
I believe it's society that is changing , if I don't like it then I don't do it... The courses are too long, more and more and the tee locations are much too far apart taking more time to play.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKingRat
Mark King is off his rocker. Crackpot. Wow, been a while since I've seen such vitriol from someone in his position. He just brought WMD to the dinner party. Hey, I know working with the USGA isn't all peaches and cream but plenty of CEO's have managed to move along and find common ground up to this point.

I have avoided playing TM because they keep releasing a new product every 10 weeks it seems like. And then you're not playing the same stuff the tour pros are (and yes, I'm looking to play the same heads as I play competitively and reshaft my own stuff).

This jackass have Tourets? Crazy.

Much more likely TaylorMade is gone in 10 years than the USGA. I'd buy put options on that.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim
Wow Mark King is a lunatic! I fully support the USGA in its stewardship of the game (alongside the superior R&A, of course).
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStord
Based on all the rocketbalz woods I see in bags, I bet the average golfer thinks TM does more for them than the usga.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered Commentercreek
King ignorant statement # 1: "I mean I thought they were regulating equipment not how you use the equipment."
Reply: No, actually the USGA regulates the rules of golf. Just like you can't side-straddle your putting line ala Sammy Snead.

King idiotic statement # 2: "What I think needs to happen is the industry needs to come together without the USGA. Leave them out"
Reply: That would work really well. I'm sure Mr. King would strong-arm and bully his way around with the rules just like they do to other golf companies.

King ignorant statement # 3: "We have an industry that should be growing, it should be exciting, it should be fun and it’s not. And it’s not because the USGA won't let it."
Reply: The game not growing and not being exciting is not because our driver/ball combo doesn't go an extra 6.2 yards or our wedges don't spin an extra 300 rpm it's because of 6 hour rounds. It's because of archaic things like the collared shirt rule which alienates younger golfers who feel weird in such attire. It's because these younger golfers don't want to shell out an extra $15-20 to ride a cart (which is often mandatory). If they are allowed to ride the newer courses sometimes have 1/4 mile stretches from green to tee... hardly walk-able. And Mr King, it's because the game is too expensive... they don't want to jack balls over the fence at $4 apiece. They don't want in course OB. They want to walk, play fast, and have fun for under $50.

King ignorant statement # 4: "Now the USGA would tell you 'Oh, we don't have that power we only make the rules.’"
Reply: The USGA has done more to try to grow the game and introduce to kids through outreach in the past year than all golf manufacturers combined in the past decade. And speaking of kids, why is it Mr. King that golf manufacturers (including TM) put out such a lousy lineup of clubs for them? The effective swing weight for a 3 year old’s 7-iron is somewhere in the F range. Way too heavy… my little guy could tell you that. And why is the entire lineup of TM iron sets $900 to $1400?! We were getting down to a $600/set standard just a couple years ago. Did your purchase of Adams Golf factor into that?
01.26.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim
I don't think he is saying to heck with the USGA as much as being disapointed that they have not taken the lead in developing the game, that is, keeping a new line of potential players interested as attrition occurs- he says that THEY should be doing this and they are not, and he is correct.

Look at the griping here about the clubhead size, the ball, the course lengths, the putter--- and where have the Blue Blazers been? Not taking care of the game. King says they should be, and if they don't, then they will not be a factor, and he is right, whether we like it or not.

Things change. It is not a matter of Golf having to b easy, but when pros have to call an official, who then has to consult with others, to apply a rule, how can you expect a player on Tuesday to adhere to the rules, even when he wants to. This is my gripe, and I believe this is a lot of King's point....... the USGA is moving by USPS, while even the most challenged of us who ''don't want change'' are here, on a computer.
01.26.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.