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Feherty is a Hit!

Feherty is a Human After All

I was really looking forward to seeing this and I missed the first show. But luckily I caught it when it was re-aired by the Golf Channel later in the week. I am really happy I did and I intend to watch every week. The Golf Channel has done it right with David Feherty ‘s show. This is not another gratuitous ride on a personality like Donald Trump, but a thoughtful, yet humorous romp through the human condition with golf as the backdrop. It is quirky yet informative, it is real and funny, and it is entertaining. It was a brilliant stroke to bring on Lee Trevino for the first show. He is such a delightful soul, and I learned some things about him I would otherwise not have known. (Semper fi Lee) One might think with Trevino and Feherty that it would be too much personality and they might clash, but David Feherty has been in this business long enough to know when to let the “horse run” and when to interject his humor and comment.

Feherty is More Than Golf

This is a show that it is not limited to the niche world of The Golf Channel, it would thrive on a major network channel. There is human interest and humor in it that transcends knowledge of golf – even though it’s central theme is obviously golf. Feherty brings his history of addiction, his resume as a professional golfer and golf analyst, and a lovable personality and sense of humor flavored with the slight edge of “I’ve been there, you’re not going to bullshit me” thrown in. Feherty has risen from some depths most of us could not and he is now giving at every turn. From working with the Troops First Foundation (internal link) to visiting them in country, he has become an American in every sense of the word and lives it passionately. His show could have been too silly, but thankfully it is not. Feherty is just the right mix of fun and lore…and personal example.

Make Time to Watch Feherty

Airing at 9 PM on Tuesday nights on The Golf Channel, Feherty has to become a favorite of golfers. And, as I alluded to above, the show has great entertainment value to non-golfers as well. Unfortunately, I am not sure how many non-golfers will tune in…perhaps through its ‘affiliation’ with NBC, they will advertise outside of The Golf Channel (they may be already, but I am not aware) to draw the folks in. At any rate, if you have not yet seen Feherty, tune in – I promise you will be entertained.

Rory McIlroy Wins 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional

What a U.S. Open Weekend!

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy wins the U.S. Open,  his first major, in a storm of scoring on a weakened, yet still long Congressional Country Club golf course. As I watched Rory throughout the tournament I was impressed with his poise and patience, not only on the course, but off as well. I can only imagine how many times he has answered the questions regarding his Masters back nine fall a few weeks before. Even Bob Costas’ ill-timed inappropriate question about The Masters during the championship award ceremony did not phase Rory, but who would have blamed him if it did? (Come on Bob, save those questions for the post tournament press conference!) But Rory has grown up in preparation for this moment. He has proven to be gracious in losing, and now gracious in winning. He is delightful to watch.

A Vulnerable U.S. Open Golf Course

The course was vulnerable this week. With the rough down somewhat in anticipation for hard and fast greens and then rains softening the greens during the tournament, the course was ripe for better than normal U.S. Open scoring…and there was better than normal U.S. Open scoring. Not taking anything away from Rory’s performance as he did lap the field, but there were lots of players under par (20 including Rory). Also, an accomplishment of very few in past, he was not the only player to shoot all four rounds under par – he was joined by Robert Garrigus (T3), although Rory did so with all 4 in the 60’s (65/66/68/69). Garrigus shot 70 3 times making a tough clutch par putt on 18 to make it happen.

Who Showed at the U.S. Open & Who Didn’t

Jason Day once again showed brilliance in a major finishing alone in second. We saw some small glimpses of the Sergio of old. Chappel and Garrigus were the lone Americans in the top 10 at 6 under par, T3 along with Y.E. Yang and Lee Westwood. Where was Phil, Luke and Martin?  The amateur Patrick Cantlay (pictured behind Rory), an incoming 19 year old sophomore at UCLA and the world’s number one amateur, did spectacularly carding an even par score for the tournament and taking low amateur honors.  His next amateur competitor was Russell Henley, a Georgia Bulldog, finishing at 4 over par.

U.S. Open Coverage

It was an interesting dynamic to watch the U.S. Open as broadcasts switched from ESPN to NBC then to ESPN again on Thursday and Friday. What a dichotomy of announcers and styles! I also listened to part on Sirius/XM ESPN. NBC televised the Saturday and Sunday rounds and we got our fill of Johnny Miller. I have to say, I would much rather watch and listen to Curtis Strange (he was broadcasting on radio) than Miller. Miller seemed to be manufacturing scenarios to make it more “interesting.” He was a little out of character I think in his incessant praise of McIlroy’s swing. Usually he will find something wrong somewhere.

What was NBC thinking when they edited out “under God” from the American pledge of allegiance in their tribute to American patriotism? Does that strike anyone else as a strange juxtaposition, to edit a pledge in a tribute to patriotism?! Did they think that most people hadn’t said it in so long that no one would remember it and it would just pass? The apology was lame. As if they simply mistakenly edited out the words. There is no doubt in my mind that it was intentional. What arrogance! Whoever made that decision needs to be fired. We just don’t change the words to fit our agendas…

U.S. Open Repercussions?

A thought came to me that maybe this is just the kind of motivation to bring Tiger out of his funk. Sure, he has injury, but motivation is key to recovery. Doubters of this theory would say that surpassing Jack’s major total is enough motivation. Is it? Now, after the personal failures and the inner searching Tiger is obviously undertaking to find his new self? Maybe this surge of 20-something talent will bring out a hungry Tiger. Just a thought.

Thanks Rory for a great U.S. Open showing!  You’re a great Champion.

The “Golf Boys!”

Golf Boys Debut

There are some stodgy old golf purists out there that are spewing coffee through their nostrils this morning after watching the latest video Ben Crane (and sponsor?) has put out. But it isn’t only Ben Crane  now – he has enlisted (or they have jumped on the wagon) some of professional golf’s best young players to take part in this hilariously funny, self-deprecating, and dare I say it – exciting – video.

Golf Boys Intro at U.S. Open

I get the electronic version of Golf World Magazine via email and came across this in their 6/16/2011 “Things We’re Talking About” article.  There is a great photo of the Golf Channel guys (Rich Lerner, Brandel Chamblee, and Frank Nobilo) and our 4 amigos Ben Crane , Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler , and Bubba Watson at the desk with Congressional in the background laughing it up over the video.  I clicked the link to the video of the “Golf Boys” that Golf World provided.  My first impression was, Man, I want to watch these guys play golf!  My wife watched the video with me, she is not a golfer, and she had the same reaction.  To quote the Guiness guys – Brilliant!”

Golf World – “…this is probably not a video Hogan would have made.”

Watch the Golf Boys video (below)!  Ben Crane is consistent with his wardrobe of a red wetsuit and black open face scooter helmet from previous hilarious videos.  But then there is Hunter Mahan in tights, a furry jacket, and a scraggly beard looking like a “mod squad Viking”…hey Hunter, what’s in your wallet?” And Bubba Watson, of course, Bubba is from Baghdad, Florida and in Baghdad everyone knows that denim over-alls is the way to go to get that “feel all free underneath feeling.”  If you need advice on getting that feeling, just call BR549 – Junior may answer, just ask for Bubba.  And finally, there’s Rickie.  Isn’t it most appropriate that Rickie looks like he just stepped out of a session with the Backstreet Boys?  If only his lip synching was as good as theirs – : )

The Golf Boys Video

Golf Boys for Fun and Charity

This is masterful marketing, fun, and good for charity.  Yes, if anyone buys the song “Oh Oh Oh” on iTunes, all proceeds go to charity.  Farmer’s Insurance will certainly benefit from some You Tube play – this thing has probably already gone viral.

It’s something to see these guys loose and off the course and the humor makes you want to root for them.  Now, I am not going to go out and buy an orange get up to play golf in, but I am now more of a fan of these guys than I was before.  Thanks again Ben for bringing out the best…well, the fun and personality.  Everyone knows the players work hard, but it’s good for the public to see their “other side.”

Ok, enough of the open shirt stuff golf boys, follow Ben’s lead and get a wet suit – but not too tight.

(Look for “The Making of Oh Oh Oh” with the Golf Boys on Ben‘s website:  http://www.bencranegolf.com/)

Frazar Wins in Memphis

Frazar Wins!

Harrison Frazar, a player for 13 years on the PGA Tour, has finally won a PGA golf tournament after 355 starts. He won it this weekend at the FEDEX St. Jude Classic in Memphis, TN and it took 3 holes into a sudden death playoff with Robert Karlsson to do it after they both finished the regulation 72 holes at 13 under. It was essentially a two horse race on Sunday with the nearest competitors finishing at 8 under, there were five of them.

A Little About Harrison Frazar

Harrison Frazar grew up in Abilene, TX and moved to Dallas in 1985. He was a three-time all-state player and won two state championships with Highland Park High from 1986-1990.  Frazar graduated from University of Texas in 1996 with a degree in Psychology and Business Foundations. He then went to work in Dallas for a commercial real-estate firm working as an analyst for office, retail and industrial acquisitions and development, as well as golf course management and development. Frazar recently began designing golf courses in Texas. He enjoys spending time with friends and family.

Harrison Frazar has been down the Hard Road.

Frazar has overcome doubt and hip surgery to make his way to this moment – a month prior to his 40th birthday. He is a first time winner on a course that doesn’t necessarily suit first time winners. The last time a first timer won this event was back in 1994, it was Dickey Pride.  This is the 11th playoff for the PGA Tour this year. The competition is tight and it is fun to watch!

Congratulations Harrison Frazar on your first victory!

( Personal information and photo of Frazar courtesy of PGA Tour.com media guide. )

The U.S. Open is Coming Soon!

U.S. Open on Television

I do not blog for a living (some of you might say that that’s a good thing).   Yes, this is a business that I do on my free time, but of late my free time has been scarce.  Last Thursday I had knee surgery for something long overdue, a torn meniscus in my right knee.  It went well and I am recovering, and with that recovery comes some down time from my primary job that will free me to contribute as I watch this year’s U.S. Open on the couch.  I am really excited about the positive that brings to this down time from playing golf and other activities.

I love the U.S. Open

The first golf professional tournament (and only) I have ever attended was the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.  Watching the players up close is worlds away from seeing them on TV.  It was a great experience, albeit wet and muddy.  Katie and I stayed in Manhattan and rode the “U.S.Open Train” in every day for the event.  I am targeting next year’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco to visit once again.  I live relatively close to Congressional, but alas, priorities of life have superceded my presence there this year.

U.S. Open Story Lines

The story lines are many, to include the absence of Tiger (please let’s not dwell on this!), the rise of Luke Donald, the continuing battle for number 1, and the growing cadre of players who have closed the talent gap since Tiger’s fall and Phil’s apparent issues with performing.  Who is the favorite?  You have to like Steve Stricker and Luke Donald whose games are well suited for a U.S. Open set up.

Talking about story lines, let’s not forget Ken Venturi and his win at the U.S. Open at Congressional in 1964.  He prevailed even through his heat exhaustion and the warnings from his doctor.  It’s going to be another hot one this year, figuratively and in reality.  More later on the U.S. Open as the week goes on…

The Players’ 2011 Champion KJ Choi

I keep hearing about David Toms’ second shot choice on 16 on Sunday and I wonder, what about KJ Choi’s magical pitch shot on the same hole?  As you should know, David Toms was leading by one on Sunday in the heat of finishing arguably the “fifth” Golf Major.  If David Toms hadn’t made that putt on 18 to tie KJ for a playoff would we be talking about KJ’s pitch?  I doubt it, why is that?

I have been listening to the PGA channel on Sirius/XM during the last two days and Matt Adams (I like this guy) and his callers are discussing the Toms shot.  Now, to be fair, Adams is not second guessing Toms’ choice to try and get to number 16 green in two rather than lay up with a one shot lead…especially since KJ had to lay up because of his crooked drive to the left.  KJ left himself in an awkward spot short and left of the 16 green with a tree overhanging his line to the pin.  Callers are commenting that upon seeing this it should have been a key to Toms to layup as well with his lead in hand.  Toms never thought twice about going for it and mishit his shot slightly and put in into the water ultimately making a bogey 6 on the hole.  KJ then hit a magical “threading the needle” pitch shot to the green just skirting the rough and a trap on the right to get his ball to within about 7 feet or so.  Hit missed his putt for birdie to take the lead, but made par and tied it up.  This was the turning point!!

Of course, after Toms made an awesome birdie on 18 (from a lie in the fairway in a divot to about 20 feet and 1 putting) to take it into sudden death, KJ won with a par on the par 3 17th after Toms’ 3 putt. 

Not quite, but somewhat like the popular let down we saw at the British Open when Stewart Cink beat Tom Watson in the playoff, it seemed a ‘disappointment’ for Toms to lose to KJ Choi.  That is a shame.  KJ seems to be a terrific person and wonderful golfer who raised his game to this level on his own later than most in life.  We should be proud of KJ andhis accomplishment…and proud of David Toms in his gracious failure to win for the first time in several years, heartbreaking as it was.

Review: Golf’s Sacred Journey

I was at the movie theater a couple of weeks ago and learned about a movie coming out soon based on Dr. David L. Cook’s book, Golf’s Sacred Journey – Seven Days at the Links of Utopia. I normally love to watch the previews at the movies, but this time my wife and I finished the “Tub O’ Corn” before the previews were done and I wanted some more. (I know – it’s a pitiful thing…) About the time I was leaving, the preview for the movie Golf’s Sacred Journey was coming on. All I saw as I left was that it was a golf movie and Robert Duvall was in it (I really wanted that popcorn). Afterwards at home, my wife googled the movie and we learned it was based on the book I described above. I immediately ordered the book from Amazon.com. I knew I would see the movie and I wanted to read the book beforehand. I am glad I did.

In one day during a two-leg flight from Norfolk, Virginia to Pensacola, Florida I read the book cover to cover. There is a foreword written by Tom Lehman, acknowledgements, an introduction, the text, and finally an epilogue. As I began reading the text I was thinking, OK, here we go again with another “golf is like life” parable. But, as I moved deeper into it all the while keeping an open mind there were some clear messages that spoke to me. I had some “aha moments” that kept me thinking and the story line itself was interesting and compelling enough to keep me entertained. The messages in the book were really thought provoking for me. I reflected a great deal on them. I will read it again.

Without getting into any details, I will provide some insight into the book provided by the author himself on the cover.

“You never really know when you might meet someone who will change your life. More importantly, you never know when your influence might change another life. This book is about influence. The story is based on thousands of athletes David Cook has counseled, and the great mentors and teachers from whom he has learned, told through the lives of two characters – a rancher with a passion for teaching truth and a young golf professional at the end of his rope.”

As the book’s cover says, it is about influence. Why do we do things? What is important? A notion not from the book, but one I derived in reflecting on the book, is that oftentimes when we want to do something or cause something to happen it is the opposite of that which we initially think of as a solution that is a key in actually making it happen. Like in golf when you want to hit the high shot, you must hit down on the ball. When you want the swing to be correct, you don’t “control it,” you actually have to let it go (a very Hogan-esque idea).

Utopia is a real place. I think the two major characters are real also, only they are a compilation of individuals from the author’s life and work. Oh by the way, since I knew Robert Duvall was going to be in the movie, as I read, it dawned on me how perfect he is for the part. Think of a wiser, tamer Gus from Lonesome Dove.

Interestingly, Tom Lehman won the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek in Alabama this past weekend. It is a Champions Tour major and his third win this year. He believes in what Dr. Cook writes in this story. In his foreword he states, “Only you know your character, the person you see when you look in the mirror. Your reputation is who people think you are. Don’t confuse the two. Dr. David Cook is a man of character. I have learned from him. You will too.”

I took the messages from the book to heart and to the course last Sunday. In first application on the golf course I think I did okay shooting 74 at my home course. I found myself straying from what is really important a couple of times and the score on these holes reflected it. More importantly, I am also incorporating the messages into my life. I have made some major changes in my life in recent years and this is important I think.

The book: is it a story of golf with parallels to life or is it a story of life using golf as its form? It is all of the above. I highly recommend it. The movie: I’ll let you know.

Official World Golf Rankings

This week Luke Donald lost in a 3-hole playoff to Brandt Snedeker at The Heritage Classic (Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, SC).  Congratulations Brandt!  Had Luke Donald won, he would have secured the Number 1 Ranking in the world.  But, since he did not win, Lee Westwood secured that position on the merits of the win this weekend at the Indonesian Masters.  Listening to the PGA channel this morning while driving to work, there was a lot of discussion about Westwood’s rise in the rankings and how that could happen.  How is it that Lee Westwood, playing against a much weaker field in Jakarta, Indonesia, can move to the number one spot?  This brings to my mind questions regarding the formula used for figuring out the rankings in general. 

I have been contemplating this for awhile, since Tiger dropped from the top spot.  Face it, while he was on top, no one cared how they figured out the numbers – it was readily apparent that he was number one.  Now it is not so clear who the top figure is, but apparently it’s Lee Westwood according to the Official World Golf Rankings.   Also, all of a sudden a bunch of European players have risen to the fore, how has that happened? 

tigerSo, how do they figure out where a golfer falls in the rankings?  First, check out this website of the Official World Golf Rankings as find out: http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/about_us/default.sps?iType=425

It lays out the numerical values of wins (and placings) of certain tournaments around the world associated with certain Tours.  Majors are afforded the largest and so on.  But, are the numerical values correct?  If you play a lot of second and third tier events around the world, plus place well in few PGA events, and place well in perhaps a Major or two there’s a good chance you can do well and place yourself fairly high in the world rankings.  Remember my question above about the numbers of European players rising to the fore?  Is the European Tour as strong or deep week in and week out as the PGA Tour?  I don’t think so.  It would seem to be in the interests of a European Tour player to stay on that tour and garner points in the rankings “more easily.”  Why?  Well, take a look at this excerpt from Wikipedia:

“A professional golfer’s ranking is of considerable significance to his career. For example, a ranking in the World Top 50 explicitly grants automatic entry to three of the four majors and three of the four current World Golf Championships; see table below. Starting in 2012, a ranking in the top 70 will grant automatic entry to the Tournament of Hope, a fifth WGC event to be launched that year.[7] Also, ranking points are the sole criterion for selection for the International Team in the Presidents Cup and one of the qualification criteria for the European Ryder Cup team. The rankings are also used to help select the field for various other tournaments.

Tournament Automatic entries
The Masters Top 50
U.S. Open Top 50 through 2011
Top 60 from 2012[8]
The Open Championship Top 50
PGA Championship (Top 100)see note
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship Top 64 (sole criterion)
WGC-CA Championship Top 50
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Top 50
WGC-HSBC Champions Top 25
Tournament of Hope (from 2012) Top 7

Note: The PGA Championship does not have an official automatic entry based on the Official World Golf Ranking but has invited those in the top 100 for the last several years. It makes note of its strong field by referencing the number of top 100 ranked golfers entered in its press releases. [1] [2]

The rankings are well known to those who follow men’s professional golf and feature prominently in media coverage of the sport. When Vijay Singh temporarily ended Tiger Woods’ record run as world number 1 in 2004 it was one of the most reported golf stories of the year.”

The formula is there for examination for anyone who cares to go through the “gozintas.”  Listening to Nick Faldo, he has suggested that Majors be given even greater weight than they have now.  If that were true, I would imagine that Martin Kaymer would probably still be number one.  I wouldn’t venture a guess where the shuffling would occur below that, but I am sure it would.  I personally believe the Majors should be given more weight, Faldo’s comments are on target.  Granted he is a multiple Major winner whose number one status was a topic of discussion back in his day:

“On a few occasions the ranking system has caused discussion about whether it has produced the ‘right’ World Number One. This usually occurs when the number one ranked player has not won a major championship during the ranking period, while a rival has won more than one – notably at the end of 1990, when Nick Faldo remained ranked just behind Greg Norman despite winning three majors in two years. On that occasion, as detailed in Mark McCormack’s “World of Professional Golf 1991” annual, it was also the case (but less immediately apparent) that Norman had won 14 events during the ranking period to Faldo’s 10, and when the two had competed in the same tournament, had finished ahead of his rival 19 times to 11. In April 1991, a quirk in the way the rankings treated results from previous years meant that Ian Woosnam, who had never won a major, took the number one spot from Faldo on the eve of the latter’s attempt to win the Masters for a third year in succession; as if justifying the ranking system, Woosnam – and not Faldo – won the tournament.”  Wikipedia

So, there may be some personal issues involved with his commentary, but I still think he is right.

Who is number one is not really that important to me.  I think what needs to be taken care of is the possibility of players “playing the system” to garner the much rewarded top 50- 70 spot in order to get automatic invite to the most prestigious tournaments.  How come Westwood wasn’t at Harbor Town this week?  If he were truly number one, you’d think he’d want to play against the best in the world week to week.  It seems he may have gamed the system a bit, don’t you think?

Golf Coaches and Owning Your Swing

Everyone is covering the “clash of the coaches.”  That is, the Sean Foley and Hank Haney thing.  But it is more than those two really, it’s also Brandel Chamblee and Johnny Miller, and I guess you could say Jack Nicklaus.  Lots of people are commenting on Tiger Woods’ difficulties and decision to retool his game at this point in his career, a third retooling I believe.  It is getting to the he said, they said place and is ridiculous.  Some are coming off as rich arrogant a-holes with more identity pride than common sense. 

But lets move past the “Tiger thing” for a moment and talk a little about swing coaches in general.  As quoted in the 28 March GolfWorld, Nicklaus talked about his teacher, Jack Grout, and his hands off approach during tournament prep and play. Grout believed and Nicklaus followed that a golfer needed to be in charge of his own swing.  He also referred to commentary received from Bobby Jones that “he only reached his potential after being less reliant on teacher Stewart Maiden.”  Also in the 28 March edition of GolfWorld, Jack Burke Jr.  commented in an unrelated story that  “I don’t think you can do anything well if you don’t teach it….A lot of the kids on the tour nowadays hire instructors, so they aren’t really thinking for themselves about their technique and how to improve.  They don’t trust themselves, and when things start going badly, they have nowhere to turn.  In the middle of a round, they can’t call their coach to come over and give them a tip…if the young fellas on tour now had some teaching experience, they could stand for themselves and be richer for it.  Ben Hogan didn’t have an instructor.  Neither did Byron Nelson or any of us from our generation.”  There is some old school wisdom for you.

I don’t know about instructing per se, but owning your own swing is something a pro had to do in those days, now many seem to delegate the responsibility to someone else.  Now back to Tiger – the question is however, how much is Tiger Woods “in charge of his own golf swing?”  How much influence do the swing gurus have on his changes when he changes?  Everyone knows that its helpful to have the right set of eyes on you and reinforcing commentary when tinkering with a swing.  (Although, Ben Hogan would tell you the flight of the ball says all you need to know.)  But, this is Tiger Woods and I believe he is in complete charge.  He is human and requires support and the expert set of eyes, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that he is a “product” of Harmon, Haney, or now Foley.   The problem I see here is not the coach, but the stuff between Tiger’s ears.  He seems to be on an ever present quest for perfection.  I am not sure that is not a Don Quixote endeavor, but it is in a way brave of him to  make the changes.  I’d like to see him chill out a little and have fun with his swing and his game.  I think he – and we – would be better for it.

2011 PGA Merchandise Show: Great Expectations

I had the great pleasure of attending the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida this year, a first for my wife and me.  This year was the 58th PGA Merchandise Show and it was very exciting and absolutely huge!  I have attended many major defense industry shows during my 28 years in the military and this rivaled all and outdid most.  There were companies there from the very largest to the newest start-ups.  In addition to the merchandising, there were also seminars, media opportunities, demo opportunities, and much more.   

“Nearly 42,000 PGA Professionals and industry executives from every U.S. state and 88 countries filled nearly 10 miles of aisles while previewing the latest products and writing orders from nearly 1,000 golf companies and brands, Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 27-29, at the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.   All of golf’s best names in golf manufacturing joined with its brightest stars for equipment introductions, product testing, fashion presentations, industry announcements, a series of education seminars and networking special events to set the tone for golf business in 2011.”  (PGA Merchandise Show Press Release)

We arrived late Friday and stayed through Saturday afternoon.  Our plan was to go and just check things out – I had no great expectations.  I wasn’t sure what story line I would take for this blog, so we just waded in.  The PGA Merchandise Show was a first class event – from the constant running shuttle busses to and from nearby hotels to the extremely well organized system of assistance and credentialing of attendees and everything in between.  The floor layout made sense, organized categorically with apparel at one end to the indoor range facilities on the other.  My wife and I were mesmerized by the size and scope of it all…well, I was mesmerized, she was just curious and hoping I wouldn’t want to buy anything for myself. 

As I said, we attended without a specific plan except to know that there would likely be lots to talk about here in the blog.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew there would be all the new golf technologies available to inspect, hold, and talk about first hand with industry representatives.  While all that was interesting, as I wandered the aisles I found myself particularly drawn to the booths of some small companies with some great, interesting, and wonderfully simple ideas. 

I have always been a gadget guy.  When I walk through a store and see a gadget I haven’t seen before, I will stop and take a look.  There were lots of gadgets to be seen at the PGA Merchant Show.  But there were a few that stood out for me. 

Get SQRD Up!  As you may imagine, there were all manner of alignment tools on display at the Show.  The gadgets designed for alignment could have been a show unto itself!  Alignment sticks of every imaginable color and style – how many ways can you market a stick?!  There were also alignment tools to attach to your putter or iron.  There were alignment tools with lines, plastic boards, and mirrors.  Then I happened upon the one that struck that “why didn’t I think of that” cord in my mind.  Mike and Randy Bowman of SQDRUP have developed an alignment tool that integrates portability and simplicity with laser technology.  (Photo)

SQRD Up - Portable Laser Alignment

SQRD Up - Portable Laser Alignment

Mike told me he was using the crossing lines in his driveway to work on his set up and alignment one day when he realized that he could create something with lasers that he could take and use on the practice range to achieve the same kind of sight picture.  He built the prototype in Randy’s basement and they created the business and website just in time for the PGA Merchandise Show.  Tap on the top to the T-Shaped device with your club and the lasers come on.  They stay on for a period of time and then automatically turn off.  Another tap on the top of the device with the club and the lasers are back on.  The key word here is SIMPLE.  No bending over to adjust sticks, just set the device down and align it with your target and you’re swinging away.  Does it work in the sunlight – YES.  Mike and Randy will make them available on their website very soon.  From the interest I saw at the show, you may see them available retail right away!  (www.sqrdup.com)

Look for “the Mully!  As I was walking through the labyrinth of products this thing just jumped out at me.  Brothers Jeff, Rick, and Matt Mullen and their pal Darrin say “Don’t Play Dirty!”  They have, within the past month, fine-tuned a terrific product and managed to debut it at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show.  The product – the Mully – is a small golf towel attached to a thin retractable cable that you can attach to your belt.  You merely reach back for it, pull it forward, wipe off your club and let go.  It retracts back into position and away you go onto the next thing.  What a simple yet elegant idea for golfers.  (Photo)

The Mully

The Mully

Born from recurring discussions on their annual golf trip together through the years, the brothers finally created the product and established the company.  The Mully’s debut has created great interest from a major retail sporting goods chain.  There are also companies at the PGA Merchandise Show who showed interest in the product as a company logo’d gift for golf outings and marketing at other events.  The bottom line is this is a product that I know I will use on the golf course and I believe most golfers will like it as well.  The key word is SIMPLE.  Check out the website for more information on purchasing and logo/color options.(www.themullytowel.com)

Hang onto your head cover with CoverGuard.  Alan Codkind, Founder and CEO of Visioneering Sports Products has developed a very simple, yet effective method for preventing accidental loss of your head covers.  The product clips to the head cover(s) and tethers them either together or to hardware on your golf bag.  There is another clip mechanism to detach a single cover from the tether if you like.  (Photo)

CoverGuard

CoverGuard

I, for one, have been the victim of the falling putter cover.  How frustrating is it to be walking the course only to find you must walk back a few hundred yards to recover your putter cover?  Worst yet, you find it is missing, retrace your tracks in your cart and can’t find it at all.  Just peak behind your local pro shop’s counter and you will probably see a box full of lost head covers.  I have the clips on my bag now.  It is a great idea and again, the key word is SIMPLE.  Check out the website – you may purchase the clips in different numbered sets and many different colors to match your bag’s color scheme.  (www.visioneeringsports.com)

It appears that I have succeeded in my quest for a theme for our visit to this great show this year.  If you haven’t figured it out, I am a champion of the underdog and the little guy.  Heck, I think of myself as one of those guys.  But you know, however small these ideas may seem on the surface, you have to admit that they are the kind that make you wonder “why didn’t I think of that?!”  I like smart and simple and these products are certainly smart and simple.  These entrepreneurs have proven that there are still untapped opportunities out there in the golf industry, amazing as it may seem.  Yes, there are lots of golf gadget ideas that get introduced that are crazy or in the “what’s the point” category.  But, at least in this PGA Merchandise Show’s world of big companies and high technology, these guys have proven that there still is a place for the little guy with “great expectations.”