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The USGA held its annual meeting last month. Mike Davis, CEO, addressed the audience on a variety of topics. Given the recent comments made by Jack Nicklaus, it is interesting to revisit some of what Davis said last month. Nicklaus indicated through his private conversation with Davis that changes could be coming. However, if accurate, this appears to be a shift from Davis’ own words.

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While the golf ball gets all the attention in the distance debate, there are other factors that influence it. While it doesn’t get anywhere the same level of attention, it is just as important. Case in point, Jack Nicklaus, who clearly believes changing the golf ball is the way to go, acknowledged the modern driver has also been a game changer.


“When they first came out with the metal drivers, I remember the '86 Masters, I was playing that little one that Bridgestone came out, that was a Jumbo (Ozaki). It was a little tiny head metal driver. It was a good little driver. I tested it against my wooden driver and there was a yard difference,” said Nicklaus.


“So when I got to '86, I used the wood driver. Then they started enlarging the head a little bit and then it started making more sense, because I got a little bit more out of it. But then they got to the mid 90s, that's when they changed the golf ball from the wound to the composite ball, that's when you all of a sudden found out there was a big difference. Because the wood driver didn't hit it anywhere,” Nicklaus said.


“I remember going to open up a lot of golf courses and I would have a wood driver made and I would sign it and put the date on it and give to them, and I hit the opening tee shot. I said, okay, guys now I'm going to show you why we don't use this driver anymore and then I would hit the metal driver and hit it 80 yards past the other one.” 


So in an apples to apples test, using the same ball Nicklaus admitted the oversized metal driver significantly influenced the distance the ball travelled! And that is the golf ball’s fault?


As pointed out in the February 13th issue, under the BANK THE DRUM SLOWLY heading, some in the golf industry want a back to the future approach to the game. A week later and more evidence is continuing to mount that the ruling bodies of the game have hatched a plan to roll back the distance golf balls travel. “I had dinner with Mike Davis Sunday night, and Mike said, ‘We're getting there. We're going to get there.’ He said, ‘I need your help when we get there,” Jack Nicklaus revealed at the Honda Classic. “I said, ‘That's fine. I'm happy to help you. I've only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA. I said, ‘I assume you're going to study for another ten years or so, though.’ He says, ‘Oh, no, no, no. We're not going to do that. I think we're getting closer to agreements with the R&A and be able to do some things and be able to help.’ I've talked to Mike a lot. Mike's been very optimistic about wanting to get something done but hasn't been able to get there yet.”

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As we all know golf is a very hard game to play. Its also a difficult business to make money in. The game doesn’t always follow a logical pattern. Explain how Jordan Spieth, #3 in the world rankings, missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week? The golf business can be just as unpredictable.


Callaway Golf provided a pleasant surprise when it reported its 2017 financial results. Sales were $1,049 million, a 20% increase compared to 2016. Anyone see that coming? A compelling argument could have made a year ago that a 20% improvement just wasn’t in the cards for any equipment business. Yet, low and behold, Callaway proved otherwise. 


In looking deeper into the results, Callaway’s improvement came from a couple of segments. First and foremost, metal woods grew by 42.5%, which equates to $91.8 million. When you divide $91.8 million by the cost of an individual metal wood (somewhere between $250-$400), its an incredible amount of volume that it picked up. What makes this even more impressive is the metal woods category was off double digits in on/off course units sales in 2017, according to Golf Datatech research.

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Polara Golf, the maker of one of the most controversial products in the modern history of golf, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Merrifield company — whose legal name is Aero-X Golf Inc. — has less than $1 million in assets and nearly $3 million in liabilities, according to a Chapter 11 petition filed Dec. 13 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. READ MORE>>>





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