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.
The third quarter in golf doesn’t reflect the best of times for most equipment companies. Typically this is when it becomes a very costly business to be in. Over the last ten years, Callaway Golf has reported operating losses, cumulatively, in excess of $201 million in just its third quarter alone. Only once in that period has it turned a profit. But that was back in 2007, when the equipment giant was under the steady hand of George Fellows who wasn’t afraid to stuff the retail channels with anything and everything. Case in point, Callaway’s 2007 third quarter sales were $235.5 million, which resulted in an operating profit of $1.3 million! Meanwhile, back to the future, Callaway Golf reported 2015 third quarter sales were up $7 million from 2014, coming in at $176 million. According to the company, unfavorable changes in foreign currency exchange rates during the quarter negatively impacted sales by $13 million. However, the bottom line was more of the same for the maker of Big Bertha as it recorded a net loss of $4 million. In the 2014 third quarter, Callaway reported a net loss of $1.1 million.
TaylorMade Golf Company has released its 2016 golf ball lineup, which includes a new Tour Preferred X, Tour Preferred and Project (a) models. The new Tour Preferred ball (4-layer construction, 80 compression), features TaylorMade’s next-generation SpeedMantle inner layer. According to the company, the inner mantle is comprised of a material that is more than 65% softer and more flexible than the previous generation’s version. It has allowed engineers to create a softer feeling ball, the company said, while still maintaining the performance characteristics of the original Tour Preferred golf ball. The new Tour Preferred golf ball promises higher launch and greater spin for long irons while maintaining the same distance off the tee and greenside spin as the previous Tour Preferred X but with a softer feel.
TaylorMade’s new Tour Preferred X ball (5-layer construction, 87 compression) features a new thicker re-engineered Soft Tech cast urethane cover for more greenside control. Similar to its predecessor, the Tour Preferred X promises low spin off the tee, low iron ball flight but with more greenside spin, as preferred by the best players in the world. According to the company, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Jason Day are among those already playing the Tour Preferred X. “We developed forty three Tour Preferred X prototypes throughout our exhaustive pursuit to engineer a better golf ball and put them in the hands of our Tour players,” said Eric Loper, TaylorMade’s Director of Golf Ball Development. “They were unanimously drawn to the ball that produced more control around the greens, and that was the new Tour Preferred X. We’re excited by their initial reactions to its performance and look forward to their transition into the new models for the ’15-’16 PGA TOUR season.”
Both Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X will be available at retail on November 6th at an MSRP of $47.99 per dozen.
TaylorMade’s 2016 lineup also features an updated Project (a), designed specifically for the competitive amateur player to promote more spin and improved performance where needed most: 30 yards and in. The new Project (a) has an overall compression of 70 (versus 88 in the original model), which was achieved by dropping the core compression by 33%, according to the company. The core compression has been reduced from 60 to 40 by way of a REACT Core with a new speed optimized formulation. As amateur players generate nearly 50% less spin than players on tour, according to TaylorMade, Project (a) is specifically designed to deliver more spin on mid irons, short irons and shots around the green.
The new Project (a) will also be available at retail on November 6th at an MSRP of 34.99$ USD per dozen.
Anytime a new product comes to market, it’s doubtful anyone truly knows what to expect. Manufacturers have high expectations, as do retailers since both have a financial interest in the matter. Sometimes expectations are met but rarely does it exceed. Consumer response is the tricky part of the equation. A critical element in golf is validation of any product. Typically, this requires the assistance of the some of the best players in the world, otherwise referred to as the pyramid of influence. Perhaps the best case study for any product introduction is Titleist’s Pro V1 golf ball.
Fifteen years ago, at the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas (now the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), 47 players switched to the Pro V1 the first week it became available. Bill Morgan, Senior Vice President for Titleist Golf Ball R&D, was on site at the 2000 Invensys Classic at Las Vegas to introduce the new Pro V1 to players. He described the almost universal feedback he received from those who put the new ball to the test early in the week. “While we expected early adoption, we weren’t certain what the ball count would be, because players only had a day or two of practice rounds,” said Morgan. “Forty seven players, or over half of all the Titleist players in the field, immediately put the new Pro V1 in play. We heard from players, that for the very first time, they didn’t sacrifice anything in a golf ball. The Pro V1 provided total performance by delivering exceptional distance gains off the tee while providing incredibly soft feel and what we called ‘drop-and-stop’ short game control. It also had a durable cover that wouldn’t cut or shear the way the traditional balata-covered balls did.”
The Presidents Cup concluded for the first time in Asia and by all accounts it was a big success. Of course those are anecdotal accounts. However, it appears the PGA TOUR’s bank account is yet again a resounding success as Tim Rosaforte of Golf World and The Golf Channel fame reported the cost of doing business for the next time the biannual events are held on international turf. Rosie reported (click the hyper link above to hear from the horse’s mouth on this) South Africa had to come up with $29 million for the event but wasn’t able to do so. Instead the event is going to Royal Melbourne in Australia for $25 million! Rosie said the World Cup is being thrown in to secure the deal.
How any venue can justify this price tag is mind-boggling. Even if a foreign government, often rumored, is involved in a partial payment, it adds to the dysfunctional structure of the event. Keep in mind; the PGA TOUR is also using the event as leverage with its television “partners” for even more financial gains. Tape delayed coverage of the 2015 Presidents Cup drew a 0.9 overnight rating on NBC both Saturday and Sunday, down 18% from the comparable telecasts in 2011, which was the last time the event was held outside the United States (1.1 on both days). The 2013 event, held at Muirfield Village in Ohio, produced overnights of 2.2 on Saturday and 2.5 on Sunday action. Regardless, the domestic ratings are anemic and unlikely to ever improve significantly since it goes up against NFL football in October. However, it doesn’t require much imagination for the PGA TOUR to oversell its digital reach to dovetail with its global audience in order to justify its asking price. It begs really only one question: How much is the Ryder Cup worth??
Chances are you were one of the first to be seen wearing FootJoy’s D.N.A. golf shoe. The reason the odds suggest you were is that after the initial launch back in February, 2014 D.N.A., it only needed three months to became the best selling shoe in golf.
FootJoy will be making available shortly the new D.N.A. (DryJoys Next Advancement) golf shoe now with full customization through its MyJoys program. “We were faced with the challenge of how to make our most feature-laden golf shoe even better and I believe we’ve accomplished that,” said VP or Product Design and Development WW, Doug Robinson, “With influence from our leading Tour players we have upgraded the overall performance of the shoe while giving golfers the ability to add their own personal touch through the myriad of custom options in MyJoys.”
The latest D.N.A. golf shoes feature a new TourLock Cleat System for enhanced performance and traction in all conditions. While maintaining its low profile appearance, the new cleat system significantly enhances retention. Inside D.N.A., an improved SnugFit Tongue conforms to the top of the foot and locks it in place, FootJoy said.
Meanwhile, consumers might have some hard choices to make. MyJoys currently offers more than 14 million ways of customization, including exotic print leathers, personalization, country flags and novelty, MLB and Collegiate logos. “D.N.A. loyalists have been clamoring for a customizable version of the shoe since its initial launch nearly two years ago, so we’re excited to offer it as a part of our MyJoys Program,” said MyJoys Marketing Manager, Rita Lepage.
Stock availability begins on October 28th, but MyJoys order availability has already begun! The MSRP for stock offerings is $220 or $240 with the BOA lacing system. For those that choose to customize through MyJoys the price points move to $260 and $282 with the BOA system.