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Thursday
Jan232014

Taylor Made Introduces Non-Conforming Clubs, Sun Still Expected To Set In The West

Brendan Mohler reports from the PGA Show floor on Taylor Made's discreetly launched starter clubs, a major break from the tiresome resistance major manufacturers have had in resisting the release of non-Rules of Golf conforming equipment.

In this case, the non-conforming label is meaningless as the clubs are designed to appeal to a beginners and fans of Star Trek, The Next Generation.

The set includes four clubs -- driver, iron, wedge and putter -- that are meant to strike a larger-than-normal golf ball, with the end goal of holing the ball inside a 15-inch cup. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade's Chief Technology Officer, says the company has found 100 courses that are willing to create 15-inch cups on six or eight of their holes and allow play with the non-conforming clubs. Not wanting to scare away traditionalists, or even just the average golfer, those holes will still include the usual 4.25 inch cup.

"This is all just an experiment," said Vincent. "We have no idea what this will lead to, but that's not stopping us from trying it out. The idea is to make golf more fun for more people. Part of the plan is to have people playing only for an hour or 90 minutes at a time, at least at first."

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Reader Comments (26)

Shocking Equipment manufacturer comes up with new more fun way to play golf that means selling more equipment.

Clubs that help beginners back up in the air, and with proper grip positions, isn't a bad thing, and nothing wrong with the non-conforming part either. But for most people golf is more fun when you play in groups with friends, and instruction would help more than anything.

What I would like to see is for a golf org (first tee, TAG, whatever) team up with youth recreation leagues, to start youth golf leagues like you see in basketball, fb etc. Come out and play as a team with your friends, use existing recreation facilities.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered Commenterelf
I have never met anyone who said the game is too hard, so I quit. A bigger hole sounds like a good idea for kids, part of the appeal of golf is that it is slightly hard and there's a satisfaction one gets when the ball goes in the hole. Watch any beginners face when they make a 7 ft putt into the 4 inch cup. 15 inch cup? A monkey could do that. This is a stupid idea.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterVwgolfer
Vwgolfer,

We have never had the pleasure of meeting.

I stopped playing golf because it was too hard. Perhaps a better way was to say I was not good enough.

There are many things I quit because they were too hard. Something that makes an activity easier is a good idea.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Matthew IV
Golf is easier now than it has ever been (hybrids, cavity backs etc). Clearly that is not the answer
01.23.2014 | Unregistered Commenterelf
I would say using this sort of equipment for kids or total beginners as a way of showing them the ropes is harmless. But sooner or later, they are going ot have to transition to regular equipment. Think T Ball and baseball. Ultimately, the longer they keep playing T Ball, the worse it is for the long range development.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
The world is full of used guitars, from would be rock n rollers who could not get past building up callouses on their fingers, and not realizing that it is painful at first to press strings, even nylon srings on classical guitars if you ''play'' for more than a few minutes.

Every year some new ''way to learn to play in only 3 hours'' comes along, but all these wannabees play air guitar or that video guitar thing. Wii tennis is not tennis. Air guitar is for 10 year olds. Golf is a fun game/sport, that requires time to get good at.

Fake golf with 15 inch holes is ok, especially if it inspires some to really learn how to really play. We know, they know, everyone know it is not really golf. Good luck with it Hopefully it will inspire and get kids outside

As Same Sneed and Ben Hogan ALWAYS said-- the hole is too small- it became 4.25 inches because that was the size of the sewer pipe that he first hole cutting tool was made from....until the tool was made , the hole was various sizes, even over 6 inches....it should be about 5-5.5 inches to be the correct size relative to the length of a real course.

15 inches is silly.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
The modern game is easy, it has lost most of the penal, its lost much of the great blind Holes, its lost most of the challenge and worst of all equipment is replacing the need for skill which is what golf is all about.

The cup size is fine, the courses and Green are better than they have ever been making it easier on the player, but still it seems to hard - certainly age and medical issues will affect many making it hard but for able bodied player will find it just too easy.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterOld Tom
Oh no. A company came out with golf's version of flag football, futsal, and half court basketball?

Summon Chicken Little. The Sky is Falling!
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDC
Tennis has recently benefited from low compression beginner balls that my professional tennis buddies tell me make a huge difference in introducing tennis to kids. Sounds like T-made is trying something along the same lines.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterNo Longer
The average PGA pro last year was 54% from 5'-10'. That is on the best double rolled greens in the world, with a professional reader on the bag, with unlimited free putters to find just the right one. The argument for a bigger hole is a no brainer for ams.

The argument that the game is easier now is only true if you're playing old golf courses. For every golf course built in the past 35 years that argument doesn't even begin to hold up.

Instead of bifurcating the equipment (which I'm not against), it would be easier to bifurcate the ball and the cup - virtually no cost to do this.

Golf should be in emergency mode to figure out how to make the game more FUN. Not 'easy', but 'fun'. There is a difference.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdan
Dan

These courses you mentioned built in the past 35 years the argument doesn't begin to hold up - now is that based upon using modern equipment or that from 35 years ago?

Golf has lost it penal, that flew our of the game when the aerial game became established prior to WW2, so in all honesty I cannot accept your point - The Aerial Game has made Golf easy, easier, has more or less rendered many hazards/traps useless leaving the navigation of a course to one of a more aerial than the a ground game. Penal was what made golf challenging, fun, testing, enjoyable, engaged the spectators and attracted many to participate in the game hence new clubs forming all over the place.

To day golf and aerial denotes the so called Championship Courses, these icons of golf which for the most parts are becoming white elephants because of the aerial game, but because so many new players love the aerial game as they seem to believe distance mean playing good golf when in fact it has nothing to do with it, it just refusing to engage with the real game of golf. However, yes I accept that courses, that is many modern courses are designed more for the aerial game so players will follow in that vein - yet in truth is it just easy to hit a ball some distance against that of engaging with a course with multi hazards located a landing zones forcing the player to seriously think about his shot rather that wham bam thank you mam aerial shot.

The art to golf, to attract new and keep the old is not in the Heavens but firmly with feet on the ground - yet its deemed as going backwards however we are not, we are just correcting a stupid error by minimising the aerial game to regenerate the game of golf as it once was - no need to spend fortunes on new clubs, just get the game back on course.

This of course means getting people to play golf, to walk, to accept penal traps thus forcing thinking to be more part of the game. However the problem is that may not happen because too many lazy players are now in the game riding is the norm and aids are running a muck with no one willing to say this is madness - we need to get back to playing golf. Nothing clever or special by riding or using aids, in fact its actually the opposite of what golf is all about - golf encourages thinking by walking and absorbing the information that you can see feel and breath, it is generated from within, that's why golf was once so popular.

Not only do we need a ball rollback we need both golfers and players to grow a pair and start talking about defining what game it is they want to play, but if its golf then its hard walking thinking game that requires the player to rise to the challenge. Make it easy you erode the very structure of the game, throw in carts and all other forms of aids, even breathing becomes too difficult for some players.

Playing Golf then get with the program - stop watering it down, be men or women and step up for the test and challenge or just stop moaning and follow the lies as clearly you are unwilling to face the truth, play with your toys and make it easy giving you the excuse to play the game on your computer screen rather than face the elements not to mention the effort of walking to your cart.

Today we a reaping what has been done to the game since WW2 that of making it easy, to encourage the lazy non-committed in the hope of making money - yet the silent golfing majority keep silent showing just how committed they too are to the game of golf. Boy do we deserve what we have done to this once great game.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterOld Tom
This:

<< I stopped playing golf because it was too hard. Perhaps a better way was to say I was not good enough.

There are many things I quit because they were too hard. Something that makes an activity easier is a good idea. >>

Then, if you'll pardon me for asking, JUST WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING ON A GOLF BOARD?

This is priceless: << There are many things I quit because they were too hard. >>

So much for much for persistence, enjoying a challenge or overcoming the odds. Something isn't easy, then bay all means QUIT. Loser talk.

When my hot-headed pre-teen was starting to join me by learning the game on a par-3 course, I told him only two things:

1) Golf is hard.

2) Golf is a Gentleman's game.

If people don't want to play golf because it's "too hard" then let them watch TV or go bowling. I certainly don't feel that EVERYONE must love golf. But when manufacturers choose to tout ridiculous gimmicks that remove the challenge of the sport, then I want to draw the line. Picture yourself rolling one into a 15-inch cup. From five feet... big deal, right? 10 feet? Ho hum. Will you need to start making 50-footers to get even HALF the thrill of downing an eight-footer into a 4 & 1/4 inch hole? I'm thinking 20-footers will now be deemed "gimmees."

Want more players? Easy. Set up courses where the new golfer and average hack can have a good time by 1) finding their golf ball 2) rolling it onto the green 3) avoid long walks between green and tee. Make golf faster and more affordable and presto! You'll have more players out there. Oh, and if you find golf "too hard?" It's not the GAME, fella... it's YOU. Take lessons, read a golf book, build a golf swing. You'll start hitting enough good shots that you'll enjoy the sport.... even if the Tour is something you'll only see on TV.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered Commenterbenseattle
"But when manufacturers choose to tout ridiculous gimmicks that remove the challenge of the sport, then I want to draw the line. "

Agree wholeheartedly. Their "experiment" is simply a transparent effort to pad profits and mollify Wall Street -- nothing more.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Geoff, I like the notion of non-conforming equipment.

It is the "bifurcation" that already exists; conforming and non-conforming equipment. Giving people the open, honest, straightforward option to play with non-conforming equipment, just gives more license to the USGA to roll back and more carefully legislate the officially "conforming" equipment.

A big non-conforming equipment market = time for a ball rollback, it seems to me. Let real golfers play a real game; and let everybody else who has an issue with the USGA play whatever the heck they want. I expect that every member at every good club from the NGLA to LACC, and every place in between, will play with conforming equipment. And the equipment manufacturers can sell whatever else they want, to whomever else they'd like as customers. The only guys that get caught in between (in-between super balls and rollback balls) is Titleist. LOL.
01.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
Chuck,
I like it too for no other reason than we get a chance to see if it helps the game. It's rather silly when you think of it that its take this long to have cool looking beginner's clubs. I'm glad they are doing it.
01.23.2014 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Any initiative that brings new people into golf is good. This is not golf and eventually these new people will hopefully make the step up.15 inch holes are a poor idea in my opinion- a bit bigger maybe but not nearly 4 times the size! What would be great would be shorter simple to play and maintain inexpensive starter courses- I would vote for that- much better than trying to learn on a driving range.
01.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Chico

We had starter course in a few places that promoted golf, we had wide courses to accommodate the inexperienced (giving them options) - most of courses come from the so called Dark Age of Golf the 19th Century

The Jubilee Course St Andrews was once known as the Duffers or later the Ladies Course while the wide fairways of TOC offered up many options for the newer players. However in our modern wisdom we offer little to assist the newbies, even to the point of explaining how the game is played - its purpose while trying to sink a ball in the least number of shots. Explain a little why GCA is important, why designers need to understand the land they are developing into a golf course - the key word of course is GOLF Course not a COURSE.

If we ever get a rollback on the ball that is the ideal time to reset and produce a design criteria on the golf clubs too. Ball and clubs fit for purpose all conforming to strict regulations as the engines of Formula One. A uniformity of purpose of measure and of performance and the total limit if not banning of any further new club introduction that offers any sort of gain in distance or the replacement of skill.

Then again it depends just how many people today understand let alone care for the game of golf thinking only of winning by any means forgetting that Golf also carries a course etiquette, regrettable much ignored in this day and age.

Want more to take up golf, explain to them the game and offer up challenges, tests give them a reason to want to play golf., while trying to bring costs down.
01.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterOld Tom
Ben:

I had a great epiphany a few years ago. I can watch golf but not play golf. Since then, I have watched a lot of golf on TV and in person. I volunteer when the pro tours come to my neck of the woods. I am here because of Geoff and the intelligent comments from his readers. Rare are there personal attacks calling people losers.

How many football fans play or ever played football yet it is the most popular sport in the country..

As for quitting something I was not good at, I doubt that is unique to me but sorry if it offends you.
01.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Matthew IV
Good for you John. Thanks for posting here and sharing your opinion.
01.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
Where can I get a TaylorMade frisbee?
01.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Well John that would be the difference between a fan and a player of a sport.

I have found that I would rather play a sport or a game than watch it. When I go out and play I do not expect to be anywhere near as good as the pro players but I want to play not watch.

Golf is a pretty simple game, hit ball repetitively until it gets in the designated hole. I have played golf on some of the roughest playing grounds, very rudimentary courses.. These were courses hacked out in the middle of nowhere by guys who want to play but are a long way from a real course. Most of the grasses if not all are just what grows in these clearings and one of these courses even had the most amazing moss greens. It was playing at one of these courses that I realized that I liked the game for what it is and not what the equipment manufacturers and course operators want it to be. Walking with friends and chasing a ball to its destination in a beautiful location, what more do you want.

I notice that very few of the initiatives involve the health aspect of golf. I am guessing this is because most course operators and equipment manufacturers do not see the game as a walking game or the walking game takes away revenue thus not something to promote.
01.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBear
John M4

Thank you for responding. Ben is a regular, and I think he aqsked a warrented question, and you gave a very intelligent answer. I wish that more ''players'' would quit worrying about their ''score' and enjoy those 3 or 4 good shots a round, hit right on he screw, and feel the awesome ''knife thru butter''' of the well struck shot. The embarassment of tops, shanks, pop ups etc, keeps too many people from playing, and even pros shank, pop up, and top balls....

A great way to play is to establish yur own ''par''. be it bogie or more per hole, and also, as I have mentioned on here, to keep 6 3 hole scores---so if you blow up, you startover on the next 3 hole set.

Or just don't keep score at all.

I was giggling at a moment I saw or read Trump whining about his buddies that ''may not play anymore because the miss a 3 foot putt but 9 inches, and they ''need'' the long putter'' NO- THEY NEED TO RECORD ANOTHER STROKE IF THEY MISS. If they want to keep score- they should acknowledge missed putts.


Or just don't keep score.

I find my mishits amusing; to hit such lousy shots after years of good play--- but it happens, and I am not going to spoil a good walk (ride)

Keep posting John M4..... I watched golf on TV for 20 years before I ever played.
01.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
I concur, Digs. Myself, 10 years before trying.
01.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterEnigma
@elf, PGA has already done that, I believe it started this year with teams and uniforms, etc...I think it went over decently in certain markets.
01.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Lets have fairways that collect everything and funnel them down on to
a mat in the middle of the "fair way"
And then, we make all the greens concave, with a hole at the bottom so any shot within
a hundred yards gets sucked into the vortex, right in to the hole!!
Replace bunkers with trampolines so the ball bounces out.
And make certain that everybody that finishes a round gets a trophy.

Free wins for everyone!!!!!!!!!
01.25.2014 | Unregistered Commenterwhy not
Love the TUFFGUY, football coach attitude on here. Too hard? Get better, wimp.
Seriously, everyone should at least be able to imagine that having a realistic chance to hole out from the bunker or 30 yards off the green might, just might, be entertaining and a worthy challenge. Especially for kids.

Why do sports teams have mascots, dancers and half-time entertainment? So people that love to go watch THE GAME can bring their kids with them. A 15 inch cup for kids is the same idea. Think out of the helmet a little:)
02.5.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRon

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