Keith Pelley is a man on a mission. The European Tour CEO is leaving no stone unturned, as they say. Under his watch, which began last year, he has reduced the minimum number of starts required for European Tour membership from 13 (including the World Golf Championships and majors) to five (excluding the World Golf Championship and majors). Pace of play has been an ongoing issue and he is out to reduce the time it takes the best in the world to apply their craft by 15 minutes per round. Furthermore, fines will be transparent when a violation occurs. He’s even allowed players to wear shorts during practice rounds. “Shorts was a lot bigger story than I thought it would be, but it is something that the players have certainly embraced,” he said recently. “We also extended this to our staff, and I received a number of pictures of some of our staff in shorts this week in Dubai. It's more than just the players that are enamored with it; it's the staff, as well.” Maybe this story has legs!
Pelley has plans for the European over 50 circuit too. Just recently it was announced the Senior Open Championship will go to St. Andrews in 2018. “I think the Senior Tour, it needs a transformation. We are looking at a plethora of different concepts, ideas, working with the current members, have brought in an external group to look at it. It's safe to say that the Senior Tour in 2018 will be significantly different than it is today. It's not where we want to be,” he revealed.
Craig Watson has been appointed as Captain of the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team that will face the USA at Los Angeles Country Club in 2017. Considered one of Scotland’s most successful amateur golfers, Watson succeeds Welshman Nigel Edwards, who led the GB&I team to a record 16 ½ - 9 ½ win in the 2015 match at Royal Lytham & St Annes. The 49-year-old Watson won The Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s in 1997 with a 3&2 victory in the final over future Masters champion Trevor Immelman, from South Africa. He played in The Open that year at Royal Troon and the Masters Tournament in 1998.
“Playing in the Walker Cup team is one of my proudest moments in golf,” said Watson. “I still remember the nerve-wracking moment when I teed it up on the first tee in the afternoon singles on the first day but I settled down and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It is a privilege for me to take over the captaincy of the team and I have a hard act to follow as Nigel did a fantastic job. I am looking forward to getting started and to making sure we put out the strongest team we can next year in Los Angeles. It is a hugely exciting time for amateur golf and you only have to look at the performances of the amateurs in The Open at St Andrews last year to see how competitive the game is at the moment.”
The 2017 Walker Cup Match will be played on September 9th and 10th at Los Angeles Country Club in California.
It was back in November (10th specifically) that the Daily Pulse reported adidas said TaylorMade adidas Golf was turning over a new leaf. “Due to the strong early demand and quick selling retail rate, our Q4 launch quantities for the M1 are already sold out,” Herbert Hainer, Chief Executive Officer of the adidas Group told Wall Street analysts. “Unlike as in the past, we have decided not to push further volumes into the market in order to keep the product fresh and the demand high.
“The successful launch of M1 will be the fountain for the coming quarters because as mentioned before, we are moving towards an annual release for metalwoods around the fall, satisfying the early adopters, as well as our wider audience looking to buy in the spring. We’re absolutely convinced that this launch will be one of our best and will provide golfers of all abilities with a product that really performs.”
It was on September 10, 2015, TaylorMade introduced the M1 driver at $499. The product arrived at retail in early October along with fairway metals priced at $299 and the M1 Rescues clubs at $249. January the company is stealing a page out of the late Steve Jobs’ playbook with something new and potentially better than the M1 in the form of the M2.
Golf is a proud business. Its rare that you’ll find “opportunities” advertised at some of the game’s most famous locations. Consider it a sign of the times or simply another example that it is attempting to provide greater inclusion into the “golf old boy’s club.” Winter is a magical time in Pebble Beach, as are the other three seasons, and to ring in this special season, Pebble Beach Resorts is offering four packages for guests.
NEW YEAR'S EVE AT SPANISH BAY: The Inn at Spanish Bay is once again hosting its famous New Year’s Eve party. This year’s theme is “Celebrations Around the World,” where guests will ring in 2016 during an evening of international glamour. Guests will mix and mingle through decorated rooms celebrating the Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, Día de los Muertos, Holi, Venetian Carnival and Oktoberfest. Open bars, a champagne station complete with caviar and cheese, delectable desserts, and even a full breakfast starting at 11:30 p.m. are just a few of the dining highlights, while party entertainment includes music, a casino, arcade, photographer, caricature artists, psychics, and the chance to win raffle prizes for spa, golf, dining and accommodations at Pebble Beach Resorts. A one-night package starts at $1,463 and two-night package starts at $2,076; both include two tickets to the party. Party-only tickets are $425 per ticket, ages 21 and older.
PEBBLE BEACH STAY & PLAY PACKAGE: In what can only be described as a memorable two-night getaway, guests will have the opportunity to create their own championship moments with a round at Pebble Beach Golf Links along with a second round at The Links at Spanish Bay or Spyglass Hill Golf Course. The package also includes a $100 resort gift card, perfect for enjoying the Spa at Pebble Beach or one of the restaurants or shops at Pebble Beach Resorts. Guests booking a third night at 25% off the rack rate will enjoy a complimentary round of golf at The Links at Spanish Bay. Package starts at $2,035 for The Inn and $2,365 for The Lodge. Offer valid through March 31, 2016.
CASA PALMERO SPA RETREAT PACKAGE: Casa Palmero – a 24-room Mediterranean-style estate adjacent to The Spa at Pebble Beach – invites guests to escape and pamper away their seasonal stresses with the Casa Palmero Spa Retreat Package. An ideal getaway for a girlfriends’ weekend or couples retreat, guests will be treated to a luxurious one-night stay in an Estate Room, along with a $300 spa credit per night for the Spa at Pebble Beach. Guests will also enjoy complimentary evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, along with a complimentary continental breakfast delivered to the guest room. Package starts at $975 per night, and is valid for stays through February 3, 2016.
PEBBLE BEACH EXPLORERS PACKAGE: The Pebble Beach Explorers package affords endless hours of family fun. The adventure begins at check-in at The Inn at Spanish Bay, when kids receive a scavenger hunt map to explore the hotel and learn about its storied history. Young guests will then be treated to a holiday welcome gift while seated by their cozy in-room fireplace. A sunset serenade by the bagpiper caps off an unforgettable day on one of the world's most scenic coastlines. This package includes complimentary meals for kids 12 and under at STICKS and Roy’s; complimentary tennis, horseback rides and golf at the par-3 Peter Hay Golf Course; and more. Package starts at $495 per night, and is valid for stays through March 31, 2016.
For more information, to book a Pebble Beach experience, and to sign up for special email offers, please visit www.pebblebeach.com or call (888) 251-9790.
PING has launched a new app that includes the Golf Workout, an Apple Watch feature engineered to capture and track fitness data, swing tempo and on-course statistics. It also houses updates to iPING, a putting-improvement tool that attaches to a putter shaft using an iPING Cradle, and works in conjunction with iPhone. In addition, there’s a new PING trivia game created to share the brand’s heritage and its focus on innovation. The iPING app is a free download from the App Store. The full Golf Workout experience is available as an in-app purchase at an introductory price of $4.99.
“Our Golf Workout for Apple Watch presents a tremendous benefit for golfers without disturbing the tranquility that so many of them seek through the game,” explained David Solheim, PING Vice President. “We’re strong believers that electronic technologies can play a positive role in the future of golf, but they need to be delivered in the most organic and unobtrusive way possible. By utilizing the power of Apple Watch, we have taken an already desirable device and crafted an experience that renders the inherent appeal of golf more accessible and helps golfers improve their game via sensor data.”
According to Solheim, PING’s in-house app development team focused on bringing more visibility to golf’s health benefits by using key exercise metrics gathered from Apple Watch. Golf Workout records heart rate, step count and calories burned in either the Swing Practice or Play Golf modes. “One of the benefits of Apple Watch is the ability to monitor your fitness activity. This has led to the popularity of Apple Watch owners challenging themselves to ‘close their Activity Rings’ on a daily basis,” Solheim said. “With the Golf Workout feature, you receive Workout credit during your round or while you’re practicing. It’s a great way to bring the fitness element of golf into the general conversation of the many benefits golf has to offer current and future players.”
In the Swing Practice mode, golfers can also time their backswing and downswing, providing a measure of tempo to help hone their swings for improved results on the course. The Play Golf function allows the stat-focused golfer to track important data, including fairways hit, greens in regulation, and putts per round. You can also keep score using the PING app on Apple Watch.
“We look for technologies that improve a golfer’s experience and ultimately help him or her play better and enjoy the game more,” Solheim added. “We see Apple Watch as a way to further that strategy of innovation in a harmonious manner.”
The iPING feature has been updated with a new graphic interface and provides golfers two options that lead to improved putting. In Practice mode, golfers can focus on improving key attributes of their putting stroke, including tempo. The Putting Handicap function analyzes a series of five putts to determine a consistency score, which equates to a handicap patterned after the traditional handicap system (lower is better). Each five-putt session is stored for comparison as golfers challenge themselves to lower their Putting Handicap (PHcp). PING is offering new iPING cradles to fit the iPhone 6/iPhone 6s and iPhone6 Plus/iPhone 6s Plus via http://www.ping-shop.com/product/iping-app-crdl-iphone-66s.
“When it was introduced five years ago, iPING quickly distinguished itself as an important putting-improvement tool used by golfers of all abilities,” Solheim said. “The new version simplifies the experience while offering the same benefit of improving consistency on the greens.”
There was a time not that long ago when TaylorMade adidas Golf defied gravity. Company revenues continued to swell as the peer group struggled just to keep pace. While it appeared this could go on forever, reality has set in. The old adage of what must go up, must come down has in fact come into play for the business. Further evidence surfaced as its parent company, adidas, reported its third quarter operating results. The golf division represents a small portion of total sales back to adidas, which makes it somewhat easy, if not convenient, to hide behind the veil of the corporate parent when times get tough. Nevertheless, the few details released make it challenging to spin that the golf business is improving for this once, be it now fleeting, darling child.
Third quarter sales at TaylorMade were 159 million euros, up 21 million euros from a year ago when the company reported 138 million euros in revenues. On the surface the increase doesn’t look that bad. However, its being compared in part to a soft number and during the reporting period TMaG released its highly touted M1 driver along with its PSi and PSi Tour irons. New product launches, which were largely absent in 2014 due to an over exhausted retail channel, help to create the illusion that business is on the upswing. Also factor in the surge of Jason Day’s profile, in part due to him impressive performance at the PGA Championship in August, but also in the world ranking system. He reached #1 when he won the BMW Championship, in September, which also coincided with the first win by the M1 driver. Neither event, however, seemed to made a difference to TaylorMade’s third quarter performance.
TaylorMade’s nine-month sales are 678 million euros, an increase of only 5 million euros, from 2014 when it came in at 673 million euros. Clearly the sales increase, year-to-date, is fueled by the third quarter product launches, which at this point appear to be missing the mark with retailers and consumers. Granted it’s late in the season for golfers to be buying a new driver or set of irons. However, the revenues reported represent shipments to retail as it prepares for future anticipated sales of the items. It doesn’t reflect sell through to the consumer.
In his letter to shareholders, Herbert Hainer, CEO of the adidas-Group, stated, “Revenues at TaylorMade adidas Golf increased 6% during the quarter. And while this year-over-year improvement also reflects a cleaner trading environment and first operational improvements, it is to a large degree the result of easier comparisons with the prior year.” To amplify this point in order to make it even more evident how far TMaG has fallen recently, third sales peaked for the golf division in 2012 at 283 million euros. In 2015, the sales volume is nearly 50% of what it was in 2012! Nine-month sales in 2015 are now reminiscent of 2009’s volume, when TMaG reported 633 million euros and a far cry from two years ago when it reached 1 billion euros during the same time frame! The world is in a different place in 2015 compared to 2009! TaylorMade would clearly like to turn the clock back to a happier time, yet it’s future was nearly as bright as some might have once thought.
“And this is why, no matter what the outcome of the strategic review, which we expect to be concluded during the first quarter of 2016, will be - we continue to press ahead with our far-reaching restructuring plan, which aims at achieving operating efficiencies across the four pillars of manufacturing, assemble, margin and marketing working budget. In addition, TaylorMade adidas Golf will continue to work on the redesign of the organization through streamlining of its global business and processes. As part of this, TaylorMade adidas Golf will reduce its global workforce by 14% by the end of the year. While this will negatively impact the profitability by a low double-digit million euro amount in the fourth quarter, the immediate result will be a more nimble organization, which will have a positive effect on the Group’s profitability from 2016 onwards. And I am absolutely convinced that these measures, combined with our industry-leading product line up, will bring TaylorMade adidas Golf back to the top of the golf world,” Hainer said.