Golf Forum - Golf Blog ( MyGolfSpy - "the top-secret golf site!" Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:07:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Survey – What’s In Your Bag? Thu, 28 Aug 2014 06:17:49 +0000 Tony Covey Post image for Survey – What’s In Your Bag?


Over the years at MyGolfSpy we’ve reviewed a lot of equipment.  From the beginning  we’ve been committed to providing objective, data-driven reviews that empower you, the consumer with the knowledge to make intelligent decisions about the equipment that goes into your bag.

As we move closer to the start of the next chapter of MyGolfSpy we want to hear from those of you who have purchased equipment because of something you’ve read on MyGolfSpy.

Survey Question

Tell us how an equipment purchase made because of a MyGolfSpy #DataCratic review improved your game? Post your personal story in the comments section.  

* Testimonials could be used on


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Selling Short - The Future of Cleveland Golf Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:08:43 +0000 Tony Covey [READ MORE] ]]> Post image for Selling Short - The Future of Cleveland Golf

Written By: Tony Covey

The Future of Cleveland Golf

Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but big changes are underway at Cleveland Golf. For those who haven’t been paying attention, Cleveland and its parent company SRI Sports (Srixon) have been dropping breadcrumbs for the better of the season. We touched upon the trail briefly in our lead-in to the Tour Rack Wedge giveaway, but for the sake of clarity, let me briefly walk you down the path of recent history.

  • Cleveland kicks off the MY CUSTOM WEDGE Program
  • Cleveland release super game-improvement Smart Sole wedges
  • Cleveland develops a video series with short game tips from Dave Pelz
  • Cleveland hosts short game clinics all over the country
  • Cleveland launches Limited Edition Tour Rack Wedge program
  • Srixon makes its most aggressive US launch ever with Z F 545 and 745 Irons and metalwoods


What does this all mean?

Do you notice a trend?

Let me spell it out for you. There’s a new plan underway at SRI Sports. While Cleveland isn’t completely going away, the brand’s role in the larger company will be significantly diminished. The Srixon brand will seek to make inroads into the US Market with its own metalwood and iron offerings, while the Cleveland brand will be used for short game clubs, as well as ultralight and game-improvement models (the Altitude series) most specifically designed for seniors. As it was explained to us, Cleveland’s new target market for all things not wedge is The Villages.

Outside of Florida’s friendly hometown, Cleveland, it appears, is all but exiting the larger iron and metalwoods markets.

Allow me to reiterate. If what closely connected sources are telling us is accurate (and we think it it is) Cleveland Golf will no longer produce drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, or irons for the full market. Instead, it will focus its efforts on wedges, and a niche segments of the metalwoods and irons market.

No doubt some of you are saddened by that news.

Rumors Swirling for Years

Over the last several years, there isn’t another golf company on the planet that’s been the subject of more rumors than Cleveland Golf. Here’s just a quick sample of what’s come up this year alone:

  • Under Armour wants into the club market. It’s buying Cleveland.
  • Go Daddy founder, Bob Parsons, he’s buying Cleveland too.
  • Nobody is buying Cleveland because the company is going out of business.
  • Callaway Golf is buying Cleveland just so Roger Cleveland can put his name on a wedge again.

I totally made-up that last one, but those first ones, and a few others continue to circulate.

The reality as we understand it today is that Cleveland Golf isn’t going away. It’s not even being sold. Sources I’ve spoken with tell me that Cleveland’s parent company – Japan’s Sumitomo Rubber Industries (the SRI in SRI Sports and SRIxon) actually likes being in the golf business. SRI wants to stay in the golf business.

Srixon Matters

On this side of the world Srixon is certainly better known for its golf balls than its clubs, but elsewhere in the world, Japan to be totally specific, Srixon is the #1 selling hard goods company in the market. Basically Srixon kills it over there, which is pretty damn impressive considering that Japan has the second largest golf market on the planet. The US and Japanese markets combined (according to Golf Datatech) make up 70% of the total worldwide market for golf.

Basically, Japan matters…a lot. Srixon is big in Japan. Therefore Srixon matters.

I just got 5 points on a 4th grade logic test.

Why Is This Happening?

Like just about everything else in the golf business, change is necessitated by the bottom line. Whatever you may think about Cleveland, the brand and its products, the fact is that the company’s market share in the iron and metalwoods categories has steadily declined over the last several seasons. We know there are plenty of you out there who love your Cleveland clubs (the Launcher driver comes up quite a bit), but one could make a reasonably compelling argument that Cleveland has failed to generate any real excitement since the Hi-Bore came out.

In that lies the problem.




According to the most recent Golf Datatech reports, Cleveland’s share of the metalwoods market has dropped to 1%. That means that 99 of every 100 dollars spent on woods goes to someone else. The iron business isn’t doing much better. That same report shows Cleveland with a 1.67% share of the market.

Obviously, that’s not where Cleveland once was, and it’s certainly not where it wants to be.

Wedges? Well, as you might imagine given the company’s position as one of the iconic wedge makers in the game, Cleveland does significantly better there. The recent report has them at 21% of the market (trailing only Vokey at ~40%).


The bottom line is that wedges are the last true bright spot in the Cleveland club lineup (and even there, Cleveland is down 7% from last season), so it makes sense for SRI to do whatever it can to focus the Cleveland brand on what’s still working.

The upside for Cleveland fans is that the company apparently has plans to substantially expand its wedge lineup. In addition to the multiple loft and bounce options currently available, Cleveland will finally offer multiple different grinds as well.

Can Srixon Make It In the USA?

Once upon a time Srixon golf balls were little more than a curiosity with a funny name. Over time the brand has grown to a point of respectability within the US Market, although (in the interest of painting a complete picture), the brand currently ranks only #6 on Datatech’s golf ball market share report. The point is that while many US-based golfers might be familiar with the name, it would be a stretch to say that we’ve completely embraced it.

That said, Srixon’s percentage of the ball market is higher than Cleveland’s in both the the iron and metalwoods market (combined), and the brand does have a strong overseas presence, which, if leveraged correctly could have some impact on our market.

The bigger issue is distribution. As it stands now, other than the ball shelf, it’s difficult to find Srixon products anywhere. As big box shops like Dick’s downsize the golf business while other seek to eliminate outstanding inventory, getting shop managers to buy into a largely unknown brand that doesn’t currently even register in Datatech’s numbers won’t be easy. Srixon is currently included in other.

Srixon makes clubs? That will be asked, and asked often.

It’s more difficult for a new brand to make inroads into golf, and while Srixon isn’t exactly new, its less of a known commodity than Bridgestone, who will also be making a big push in 2015. Quite frankly, I don’t

But Wait, There’s More

As you might imagine, the realignment will have some implications on tour as well. While we fully expect current Cleveland staffers to keep their Cleveland gear in their bag as long as they so desire, as soon as each is ready, the Tour guys will bag Srixon woods and irons. Srixon name will eventually be the primary branding for all things tour related (other than wedges). We also expect SRI Sports will launch a marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of the brand’s usage on tour.

You’re likely going to hear a lot more about Srixon.

As an interesting aside to all of this, SRI Sports will look to expand the footprint of the lesser known XXIO brand (SRI’s premium offering). Although US distribution is currently limited to less than 2 dozen accounts nationwide, the brand has generated roughly one million in sales this year. This, despite wholesale pricing for irons and woods that’s roughly double the street price for the average club.

And So It Continues

We’ve talked several times about the ongoing consolidation of the golf industry, and so here’s your latest example. Once one of the most iconic brands in the golf business, Cleveland’s days as a full line manufacturer appear to be over. Srixon will step in to fill the void while attempting a serious run at the US Market.

Given the changes, it’s not unrealistic to think that we’re on the verge of losing another of golf’s formerly great brands. The pink elephant in the room, however, is the slow demise of Adam’s Golf. The shifting of operations to TaylorMade’s Carlsbad headquarters has many predicting that it won’t be long before Adams simply ceases to exist. If those doom and gloom predictions become reality it could conceivably open the door for Cleveland to gain a foothold in those areas where the Adams brand performs well (seniors and game-improvement).

You could make a serious argument that the demise of Adams represents Cleveland’s best chance for survival.

The impending changes are perhaps sad. They’re perhaps frustrating, and some will argue that the modern business of golf made it impossible for Cleveland to compete. Ultimately, like everything else, it is what it is.

Stay Tuned

Unfortunately, we don’t believe the industry is done realigning and downsizing. There’s almost certainly more yet to come.



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Ignoring The Consumer? – Callaway Releases Another New Driver Tue, 26 Aug 2014 01:36:58 +0000 mygolfspy Post image for Ignoring The Consumer? – Callaway Releases Another New Driver

Written By: GolfSpy X

Since the inception of MyGolfSpy there are few articles that have invoked as much passion and anger towards golf companies as the one we published about Dick’s Sporting Goods firing over 500 employees. Obviously this finale to what had been building for years touched a vagus like nerve with golfers around the world.  Golf companies who had flooded a channel to the point a Three Gorges Dam like structure couldn’t even hold the force back.  It had sprung an un-repairable leak. This time no piece of gum was going to be able to patch the hole they had created.  The equipment bubble had burst.

Actually it detonated…right in their face.

They Refused To Listen To You

The astonishing part isn’t actually that it burst…no…the more astonishing part is that consumers (aka: you) had been telling them it would for years, they simply didn’t want to listen.  What started off as a few unhappy golfers, turned into many, which turned in to the majority. Which reached a point of diminishing returns (faster product life cycles) for the golf companies involved and they didn’t re-calibrate fast enough.  Or in my opinion never wanted or planned to for that matter.  This is because up until the exact day of the Dick’s debacle no plans were made by these companies to go in even the slightest of different directions.  It was still full-speed ahead by all involved.  And yes, they knew Dick’s was going to be doing this prior to it happening.

Now though, you’re hearing a much different message, a new song, an entirely new branding message from almost all the major golf equipment manufacturers (All but one). A once completely selfish branding message built around caring little about you and your game and one which only seems to care about putting their latest and greatest and soon to be marked down product in your bag is evolving in to branding words like, “Love”, “Your Game”,”Passion”, “Fun” and “Share”.  Funny how that happens.

Power To The Player

One thing that is different about MyGolfSpy is we allow anyone and everyone to voice their opinion. Now, that obviously opens the floodgates for some not so constructive commentary, but more importantly it allows the consumers to have a voice of more than 1.  What in the past might only allow for an upset golf consumer to be heard by just a couple neighbors now can be heard by over 1/2 million other golfers.  And, basically that adds up to a lot more neighbors.  Engaging the consumer and allowing all this commentary we feel also allows MGS to have our finger on the pulse more than any other media outlet in golf.  Other media outlets and golf equipment manufacturers who do their best to shut down reader comments, moderate opinions, etc, all for the simple reason that you don’t want to hear what consumers really think will only lead you in one direction.  A greedy one.  One without checks and balances.  One that will more than likely get wildly out of control if it was already heading in that direction.  And this one was.  Why?  Because it was based on one thing: Making More Money.  Yes, making money and profit is what business is almost all about.  But if you make it about customer service and taking care of your customer, caring about their every want and need and satisfying those desires with the products you put in their hands…well…making more money will still be the end result.

What Does This Have To Do With Callaway Golf?

So, what does this have to do with Callaway Golf?  Well…if you are in that majority we just spoke about and one of those hundreds of thousands of golfers who have been telling the golf companies to “STOP, the madness!”, “We don’t need a new club released every couple months.” or “Enough is enough!”.  Well, you might want to step away from your computer.  Yeah, do it now.  No, seriously.  Step away.


Yes, this is another new driver from the company who just released another new driver just a couple weeks ago.  It is also what looks like to be a newly planned version of the Big Bertha Alpha, which if you just purchased the original (the one that was also just another new driver not too long ago) you might not be too happy about.  Amongst all the news of late and the absolute consensus that consumers have had enough, Callaway seems to be of the opinion that the flood has receded (by the way, it won’t for about 2-3 more years), and that consumers are demanding more new equipment from Callaway.

The Callaway Business Model (AKA: Taylormade  Business Model)

The other growing consensus we hear amongst consumers seems to be that they feel Callaway has directly ripped off and are copying & pasting the once popular but now infamous business model of their largest competitor Taylormade Golf.

Well if you are amongst that growing consensus of golfers who feel like you have seen this all before…well…you might want to close your ears now.  Once again, we’re serious.  Earmuff time.

When Harry Arnett (which previously worked at Taylormade) first took over Callaway Golf he told us in an interview, during many calls and texts about how he and Callaway planned to become the “#1 Company in Golf” again.  I will give one of the many exact quotes below, but in a nutshell he told us so many times that if you planned to take over the current leader (Taylormade) you absolutely 100% could never just copy their existing business model (playbook) to do so.  There were also a lot of new catch phrases and marketing jargon in all our conversations.  Things like “sphere of influence”, “BOOM!”, “ZooCrew”, “PirateShip” and who could forget “The 5-Year War”.   All of this jargon had people believing that things actually were going to be different at the new Callaway Golf.  But over time the opinion from consumers seem to quickly have seen through the smoke and mirrors and realized that what was supposed to be NEW! has just turned out to be the same old and tired message they and others have been forcing down your throats for decades.

Harry Arnett quote from our own Tony Covey interview, “If Callaway takes someone else’s strategy and tries to do that , we would get annihilated .  Not only would we be annihilated but whose gonna wanna do that at our company.  To say we’re gonna take somebody’s playbook.  Let’s do things our way, the Callaway way, and then do that.  We’re not gonna out market using their way of marketing.”  If you want to hear it word for word it’s between the 3:00-4:20ish mark.

Callaway Golf’s New Strategy (Release Even More Clubs)

In defense of Harry Arnett, he has told us to watch out for their new plan and the new catch phrase of the week, which is: “Re-Calibration”.  Be on the look out for that one, we think you might start to hear it a lot.  Anyways, from what we hear not only are they going to ignore all of you and the message you have given them so loud and clear but they are actually going to release even MORE product then they did in the past.  TAKE THAT CONSUMER!

Sounds like their grand plan now is to produce more clubs than ever before, just produce less of each release.  Well that does make sense, since your past releases didn’t sell out or sell through. It is pretty simple (Supply vs Demand).  And they are thinking that if they just produce less of everything and sell out  of each release there will still be just as much demand for their new driver releases at the current incredibly quick and outdated life cycle model.  We wish them luck with their new scheme, but what we are hearing from consumers and what they should be listening to seems to be saying every thing but.

So you tell us…

1. Do you think there is enough demand for this new driver from Callaway if they release it?

2. Do you think that Callaway should start producing even more product releases?

3. Do you think this new scheme will work?

4. Did you purchase an original Alpha driver?  If so, what are your thoughts about this possible release?


A few more hours have passed since I have written this post, but I got news another new Callaway driver has just been released.  Enough demand for this one too?

Callaway Big Bertha Beta Driver



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INFOGRAPHIC – Drivers Released Since 2010 Mon, 25 Aug 2014 08:09:36 +0000 Tony Covey Post image for INFOGRAPHIC – Drivers Released Since 2010

How Many Drivers Has Each Golf Company Actually Released?

We hear the noise every time a new driver is released.

Great…another new driver from _____________. Wait 6 weeks and they’ll be another (and this one will be $100 cheaper).

It’s true. Some companies release a lot of drivers. Other companies release a lot less.

Who actually releases how many? Now that’s an interesting question.

One of our readers who works in golf retail took it upon himself to count up all of the releases from the major manufacturers since 2010. We’ve added to the list as we’ve found omissions, but we’ve arrived at numbers that we believe are solid.

Of course, what should or should not count as a distinct driver offering is open for debate. We certainly didn’t count absolutely everything, so our numbers may not line-up with yours.

In the interest of full transparency, here’s how we arrived at our count.

  • Drivers available in multiple colors were considered to be the same model, unless a new color option was added after the original release. In real world terms; under our accounting Cobra’s Amp Cell lineup is one club, TaylorMade’s R1 and R1 Black are two.
  • If only the shaft is different, we don’t count it separately. TaylorMade’s SLDR and SLDR TP are counted as 1 club.
  • True Limited Edition releases (numbered) weren’t counted either. Cobra gets the biggest break here as we didn’t count things like the Limited Edition Orange AMP, or the Master’s Edition BiO Cell. It also means we left Long Tom and the Ferrari driver off the list.
  • Non-US Releases (Callaway Legacy, for example) weren’t counted.
  • Direct to consumer custom programs (Callaway U-Design, Cobra Design Lab) weren’t counted.
  • Bonded hosel releases (RBZ, RBZ 2) of otherwise adjustable clubs were counted.
  • I-Mix versions of Callaway’s FT-IZ and RAZR Hawk weren’t counted as they were not widely available.
  • Pro/Tour versions where the head itself differs between the two were counted separately.

If we had counted ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, totals for Cobra, TaylorMade, and Callaway would be significantly higher, PING would be +1, and Nike and Titleist would be exactly what they are.

(Click Infographic to Enlarge)

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Win a Set of Cleveland Golf Tour Rack Wedges Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:45:44 +0000 GolfSpy_Zinger [Read More & Enter to Win]]]> Post image for Win a Set of Cleveland Golf Tour Rack Wedges

You may have noticed that there’s an evolution of sorts taking place at Cleveland Golf. It wasn’t all that long ago that the company launched the MY CUSTOM WEDGE program which, to a reasonable extent, allows you to design your own custom Cleveland Wedge.

Earlier this year it launched the Pelz Corner video tips series, and the company is currently hosting short game clinics at golf courses all over the country.

Let’s call the effort what it is – Cleveland is refocusing its attention on the short game.

Win Tour Rack No. 38 Wedge Set #1 of 150 – Details Below

The latest endeavor under that larger initiative is the soft launch of what Cleveland is calling its Tour Rack Wedges. It’s actually pretty interesting; for all of its success in the wedge business, Cleveland has kept the script pretty simple. The company has traditionally offered plenty of loft and bounce options with nearly every release, but hasn’t really offered much variety in the grind.

While Cleveland competitors like Vokey and Callaway have embraced the idea that different players have different needs when it comes to the way the club head interacts with the turf, Cleveland has focused on bounce, and nearly bounce alone as the distinguishing performance feature. That’s about to change, and it starts at the Cleveland Tour Rack.


Cleveland Golf Tour Rack Wedges

Cleveland is taking a very interesting approach with the new Tour Rack. While different offerings will almost certainly pop up throughout the season, they’ll be extremely limited (less than 300 of each piece), and that means they won’t last long. The wedge designs, grinds, and finishes come from the tour-proven and prototype designs found in the bags of Cleveland’s tour staff.

What’s most interesting, and to me anyway, exciting is that Cleveland won’t be making any huge advertising push around the Tour Rack program. You won’t even find details on its website. Releases will not only be limited, they’ll be unscheduled – at least for the first several releases.

Instead, Cleveland will distribute the wedges through select retailers and I’m certain they’re going to sell fast. If you’re not in-the-know, you probably won’t be able to get you hands on them.

For a list of retailers call 1-800-999-6263, or contact


The No. 38 (1/150) Wedge  Giveaway

The first wedges in the Cleveland Tour Rack Series (the No. 38) were announced late last month. I’m guessing you like what you see. Better still, MyGolfSpy is giving you the chance to win a set (56° and 60°) of No. 38 Cleveland Tour Rack Wedges. And, oh by the way, the wedges we’ll send the winner are stamped 1/150.

Cleveland Tour Rack-3


1. If you haven’t do so already, subscribe to the MyGolfSpy Newsletter. Hey look, here’s the form:

2. Leave a comment describing what you would like to see incorporated into the design of future Tour Rack offerings from Cleveland Golf.

It’s just that easy.

Contest Rules

1. You must be a current subscriber of the MyGolfSpy Newsletter
2. Contest ends Friday, September 29th at 8:00PM Eastern Time. Entries posted after that time will be disregarded
3. Winner will be chosen at random from qualified entries.
4. Must be a resident of planet earth.

Cleveland Tour Rack-1

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Win A Tour Edge Exotics E8 Driver Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:00:43 +0000 Tony Covey [READ MORE]]]> Post image for Win A Tour Edge Exotics E8 Driver

Earlier this week at the PGA Fashion and Demo Experience in Las Vegas, Tour Edge formally introduced its new Exotics E8 Driver family.

We know there are more than a few Tour Edge fans among you, so I’m basically certain you guys are going to be interested in this upcoming release.

“The new E8 drivers deliver distance-dominating speed with adjustability options that allow players to fine tune power and control, and will bring Exotics to the forefront of the driver category. At the core of E8 driver’s technology is the center of gravity location and its ability to increase ball speed for legendary Exotics length.”


Like the XCG7 Series, the E8 is adjustable from 8.5 to 12 degrees in 1/2 degree increments. As was the case last time around, the new driver is available in a 460cc standard model and a 440cc Beta model. Both feature a forward CG placement, with slight differences in vertical placement in order to optimize ball flight for the target player.

Weight Adjustable Too

New in this release are replaceable sole weights. The driver comes standard with a 7-gram sole weight, but an optional ($49.99) weight kit includes additional weights in 5, 10, and 12 grams. The weights allow you to add or remove weight form the head to help dial in your preferred swing weight and feel. Weights can be purchased individually for $19.99.

The new Exotics drivers are available with Fujikura Pro Series and Pro Tour, Aldila Rogue Silver and Black, and the Mitsubishi Bassara E-Series.

Suggested retail begins at $299.99 with prices dependent on shaft selection.

tour edge x8 face

Win It Before You Can Buy It

We continue to be impressed by the performance of Tour Edge’s offerings, and we think you will be too. That’s exactly why we’re giving you this chance to win a Tour Edge Exotics E8 Driver before you can own it.

This is your chance to discover…or perhaps re-discover what we already know; Tour Edge makes a pretty damn good driver, and there’s no reason to think the Exotics E8 will be any different.

How To Enter

We need to help us spread the word about this MyGolfSpy contest via Facebook, Twitter, or both. Accordingly, there are two ways you can enter:

1. Retweet the following (there’s a button for that…it’s the 2 arrows in a square shape):

And/Or 2. Visit our Facebook Page and Share the related post to Enter. 3. If you haven’t done so already, subscribe to the MyGolfSpy Newsletter. We’ve provided a form to make it easy for you.

Every retweet is a separate entry, so we encourage you to enter ONCE Per Day for the duration of the contest.
That’s it.

Contest Rules

1. You must be a current subscriber of the MyGolfSpy Newsletter
2. Contest ends Friday, September 29th at 8:00PM Eastern Time. Entries posted after that time will be disregarded
3. Limit one Facebook and one Twitter entry per person per day.
4. Winner will be chosen at random from qualified entries.
5. Must be a resident of USA.

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Nike Launches Vapor Series Irons Mon, 18 Aug 2014 16:15:23 +0000 Tony Covey [READ MORE]]]> Post image for Nike Launches Vapor Series Irons

LIVE! Coverage Located At Bottom Of Post

Last night at a highly-scripted event held at Liberty National Golf Club, Nike Golf, with the help of Jimmy Fallon, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy unveiled their new line of Vapor Series irons.

The actual presentation was unusually brief and light on any actual technical details (that’s what today is all about). Instead the crowd watched the 3 special guests crack jokes while Fallon and McIlroy took turns hitting to illuminated greens in the distance.

Fallon’s presence was interesting. He certainly ramped up the entertainment value of the evening. If he’s one-and-one with Nike so be it (it was fun), but if the company has larger plans for him, his influence could actually help Nike reach new golfers.


The Vapor Lineup

By now most of you have seen the #MMProto irons that Nike launched in extremely limited quantities a few weeks ago. Those, now known as the Vapor Pro, are part of the new lineup, albeit with one not-so-subtle tweak. The Pro, along with the other two new irons (Pro Combo and Vapor Speed), feature bright neon accents. FYI, Nike calls the color Volt, and I suspect it’s not going to resonate – at least not in any positive way – with purists, and those of you who are already a bit Nike Golf averse.

This will not come as a surprise to anyone at Nike Golf.

Based on names along, I’m sure you can figure our where the Vapor Speed and Vapor Pro Combos fit in the Nike lineup. And yes…I’m vigorously shaking my head at the use of Speed. Fast/Speed, Speed/Fast…what else do you guys have?

This is a New Nike

One of the takeaways from the business side is that this is a new Nike Golf. There’s a new marketing team in place, the company is more focused on zeroing in on its target demographic (if you’re grumbling about Volt accents, it’s not you), and perhaps most noteworthy, the golf division is becoming more integrated with Big Nike. What that means is that if Nike releases a bright neon signature shoe, the branding (including the color) is going to bleed its way into the Nike Golf product line.

What I saw last night was certainly non-traditional, absolutely polarizing, and totally Nike.

Let’s talk about what’s going on in real world terms. Nike has taken the name, and some of the coloring from it’s Hypervenom Soccer Boot and built an iron lineup around it (technical details not withstanding).

It’s no longer about Tiger and Victory Red. It’s about golf being part of the larger Nike identity.

Initial Impressions

The media had a chance to hit the new product (mostly in the dark) last night. My personal feeling is that Nike should have left the Volt off of the Pro. Blade guys favor clean designs, and the Vapor Pro isn’t that. Color aside, it’s a nice-enough looking blade that feels like it should when you hit it in the middle of the face. Miss it…well, it’s blade.

Nike has always done their Pro Combo set well, and the Vapor series is no different. In terms of demographics, they fill the sweet spot in the low to middle handicap range well, and while you’re not going to miss the volt accents, it’s by no means over the top.

The game-improvement iron (Vapor Speed) is where Nike has clearly made the biggest improvement. It’s a demographic that’s likely to be more receptive to Nike branding anyway, and finally Nike can say they have a visually compelling offering. It’s frighteningly easy to hit. It doesn’t matter where on the face you strike the ball, the line and trajectory remain constant. It’s not going to hurt Nike that the product is much easier on the eyes (even with a giant volt swoosh) than previous Nike GI irons.

Details to Follow

We’ll be onsite today and will update the live thread with more details from this morning’s technical presentations. We’ll no doubt hear about things like polymer packings, hollow cavities, and all those sorts of things that golf companies like to talk about.

The story is only beginning.

For now, what I can say is that Nike, a company know for taking bold steps, has taken its boldest leap to date, and arguably there’s no coming back from here. For better or worse, golfers will remember the day the Swoosh turned volt (even if they call it neon).

It’s aggressive. It’s risky, and while I’m inclined to tell you that neon (whatever you want to call it) can’t work in golf, I’m also certain that once upon a time people said the same thing about soccer, basketball, running, and the countless other sports where nearly everything Nike does works.

Live Coverage

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MGS Labs: Counterbalanced Putters (vs) Standard Putters Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:00:26 +0000 Dave Wolfe [READ MORE]]]> Post image for MGS Labs: Counterbalanced Putters (vs) Standard Putters

By Dave Wolfe

What is a Counterbalanced Putter & Do They Offer You An Advantage?

Let’s find out!

But first let’s quickly talk about what a counterbalance putter is and why they’re gaining in popularity.  In counterbalanced putter designs, the weighting, and often the total length, differs from a conventional putter. Counterbalanced putter heads are heavier, in some cases by 50 grams or more. To compensate for the extra weight, even more weight is placed above the golfer’s hands. This is accomplished by extending the shaft length, adding more weight to the end of the shaft itself, or both.


This counterbalance technology  increases the putters’s overall MOI (moment of inertia), which in theory, they tell us, will make our putting strokes more stable.

Although counterbalancing isn’t new, manufacturers have promoted its benefits as an alternative to anchoring, which as you know the USGA has banned (the new rule goes into effect in 2016).  Forward-thinking putter manufactures have quickly come up with alternatives for those who currently anchor. Counterbalancing is, to date, the most popular of those alternatives.

Counterbalancing is more stable alternative to standard putter. You will make more putts. You will lower your scores.

At least that’s what we’ve been told…

But Is Counterbalancing The Answer?

While there has been a lot of talk, and type, about counterbalancing being the anchoring answer, any data supporting such a claim has been conspicuously absent. At MyGolfSpy, we are all about data. If counterbalanced putters do offer advantages on the course, those advantages should be quantifiable through objective testing.


For this test we used three identical Bettinardi Golf putters.  The only difference between the models tested was the fact that one was standard and one was counterbalanced.  The models tested were the BB1, the BB32, and the BB55. Using the scoring results from these putters allows us to compare standard and counterbalanced versions of the same putters, from the same manufacturer, and, most importantly, in the hands of the same testers.

If the counterbalanced putters do, in fact, provide an advantage, then we should see that advantage demonstrated in the Number of Putts Made and Accuracy data.

DATA: Number of Putts Made


When we compile the makes from the three models, we see that the differences between the make percentage for the counterbalanced vs. non-counterbalanced is inconclusive. While there may potentially be a made putt advantage with the BB1-CB (see Individual Putter Data), the data as a while does not support any assertions that golfer will automatically sink more putts by switching to a counterbalanced putter.

When we look at the individual putters, the only counterbalanced model that suggests an even slight, Number of Putts Made advantage is the BB1-CB.

The BB1-CB’s make percentages were higher for two of the recorded distances. However, since the scores for the BB1-CB are only marginally better, we can’t definitively say that the counterbalanced version of the BB1 gives a golfer the ability to make more putts than he or she would with the standard version. The data only suggests that there may be something there.

The other models produced very inconclusive data. The BB32 and BB55 pairs tied at one distance for makes, while splitting wins at the other two distances. No definitive counterbalanced advantage was observed for either mallet in this category.

DATA: Accuracy at 5’, 10’, and 20’


When we compile and average the accuracy values for the three models, we see that the counterbalanced putters were no more accurate as a group than the standard putters. The  per-putt differences between the standard and the counterbalanced models would not not be noticeable for the average golfer out on the course.

This data suggests that there is no practical accuracy advantage to gaming counterbalanced putters.


The BB1-CB had a slight putts made advantage over the standard BB1, but the overall accuracy values show that the standard version of the BB1 was more accurate at two of the three distances. The standard version of the BB32 also proved more accurate at 10’ and 20’, after scoring significantly lower than the BB32-CB at 5’.

In contrast, testers put up more accurate scores at 10’ and 20’ with the BB55-CB than they did the standard version. This data supports would seem to support the idea that counterbalancing could make the putter more accurate from distance than its non-counterbalanced equivalent.

So are counterbalanced putters the anchoring answer?


Our data suggests that using a counterbalanced putter will not magically make any golfer a better putter. For out test group, neither Putts Made nor overall Accuracy improved to any significant degree as a result of switching to a counterbalanced model.

The counterbalanced putters may not be the miracle stick for all golfers, but it is still possible that counterbalanced putters will be the answer for some golfers when the anchoring ban goes into effect. There is a subset of golfers, both amateur and professional, who believe that they cannot putt effectively with a standard putter. It’s the reason why they went to the anchored putter in the first place. For these golfers, the counterbalanced putter could prove to be an effectively matched tool, providing smoothness and stability that would otherwise be lost with the loss of anchoring.



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Callaway’s Apex Muscleback is Neither Bertha Fast nor Bertha Long Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:35:53 +0000 Tony Covey [READ MORE]]]> Post image for Callaway’s Apex Muscleback is Neither Bertha Fast nor Bertha Long

Written By: Tony Covey

“The Apex Muscleback Irons are classically crafted, Tour inspired blades with playability in our most premium forged design, and if you’re an elite player, they need to be in your bag.”

Very quietly (by current Callaway standards anyway) Callaway has begun the process of letting the world know about their new 2014 Apex Muscleback. For now the Twitterverse is nearly mute, but give the boys time, I’m sure we’ll have a hashtag or two before the introductory period is over.


Is it the Right Time?

We know the industry is in a bad place right now, but that doesn’t mean the global release machine is going to (nor should it) come to a halt. Mizuno is moving forward. Titleist is moving forward. Callaway and Nike are moving forward too.

Given my rumored hatred for all things Callaway (you guys kill me), I’m sure some of you are expecting that I’ve come here today to bury the Apex MB, not to praise it.

So what the hell, let’s get on with it.

The language deficit continues. Shame on Callaway for playing on a series of predictable cliches that are omnipresent in the marketing of blade designs.

  • The new irons are Tour Inspired
  • They offer playability
  • They are most premium (premium is arguably an absolute)
  • And apparently unlike most irons which are manufactured, the Apex MBs are crafted…and classically so.

Yes, I am nitpicking, but if I come right out and tell you that I can’t find any real fault with what Callaway is doing here, the “how much did Callaway pay you crowd” will bury me too.

I’m trying to find some balance – My own personal Zen of Callaway if you will.


Passing the Sniff Test

In reality, Apex Muscleback has the markings of a very solid release from Callaway. If we consider the new iron within the context of everything that is going wrong in the golf equipment industry right now, the Apex MB more than passes the sniff test.

By my recollection, the last true blade in the Callaway lineup (RAZR X MB) was released in early 2011. My personal feeling is that 3 years is an appropriate amount of time between releases, so there’s not a rational complaint to be made here about Callaway flooding the market in this particular category.

There is clear differentiation between the new Apex MB and everything else in the current lineup. It’s a blade, the only blade. There’s no reasonable chance of confusing the consumer, or overwhelming him with an overabundance of overly-similar products.

The marketing…at least the early marketing…is largely BS free. The Apex MB isn’t #BerthaFast or #BerthaLong it’s not Bertha anything (probably because it’s not a Bertha), and it’s not 3, 5, 7, or 17 yards longer than Callaway’s previous blade (apparently) or any of the other Callaway irons you may have purchased 3 months ago.

It’s a true player’s blade, and Callaway is treating that with the seriousness it commands.


Yes, I nitpicked a few cliches and I don’t love High Performance Grooves, but everything has to have a clever name, and in fairness, Callaway has to say something to entice us. If they wrote it 100% as reality it would read more like this:

“The tour inspired Apex MB would look great in any golf bag, however, the majority of you have absolutely no business playing such an inherently unforgiving design, and frankly, you’d be better off with the standard Apex or even X2 Hot. A healthy percentage of our Tour Pros will likely play something more forgiving, and let’s face it, you…you’re no Phil Mickelson.”

Even I’ll admit that if the goal is to actually sell irons, Callaway wrote it better.


Aesthetically the Apex MB is everything you’d expect from a true muscleback, and more specifically a Callaway muscleback. While the company has gradually transitioned away from the X-everything nomenclature of recent years, elements of the X-shaped back design remain.

Cosmetically that means the new irons will look nice alongside any Mack Daddy 2 (or X Forged Jaws CC) wedges you might have, or the new Apex Utility. It also means the Apex MB may not appeal to the purists who are absolute in their belief of what a blade should look like.

Worth a mention, while the X design fits well within the construct of that previous X-based marketing, the design was functional as it related to the placement of mass and the center of gravity. I’m guessing that’s still true today. At some point maybe the Callaway guys will stand in front of a coffee maker and discuss it in more detail.


From what we can tell, the rest looks pretty straightforward. Compact heads, thin toplines, minimal offset…you know the drill. What we don’t yet know (and chances are a set won’t be showing up on my doorstep) is whether Callaway has gone the progressive route and shaped the long irons a bit differently than the short.

I don’t believe they have, and here’s hoping that’s true. It’s a true muscleback afterall. There’s no need to get fancy.



The most hardcore of traditionalists will lament the fact that the pitching wedge is only 47° and that the 5-iron is an ungodly long 38″. By modern standards, however; I’d say the specs are on point. This is as close to traditional as you’re going to find. It’s time to move on fellas, the good ol’ days of niblicks and mashies are over.

At D1, the swingweight is perhaps a bit on the light side, but I’m sure Callaway’s custom department can help you with that. And while they’re at it, if you ask nicely, they can probably build off a 37.75″ 5-iron if you prefer.


Like the other 2 sets in the Callaway Apex series, the Apex MB will hit the street for the higher-than-average prices of $1099 (retail 9/12/2014). $1100 (I rounded for effect) is a lot of money, but we’re entering a new golf economy, and while the consumer is going to grumble, $1100 means both Callaway and your retailer can maintain healthy margins.

Those sonsofbitches.


Also officially announced is the Callaway Apex Utility Iron which popped up just before The Open Championship. Street price for the Utility (available in 18°, 21°, and 24°) is $229.99.

Final Thoughts

Who doesn’t love a good blade?

I believe a true, clean muscleback should be a part of every manufacturer’s lineup. It’s the most-niche of any iron offering, but it’s the best opportunity any manufacturers has to showcase their aesthetic capabilities while creating a product that makes statement about the brand.

With Apex MB Callaway has created an iron that respectfully carries on the heritage of the Apex line while remaining true to the new identity the company has forged for itself.

Callaway’s Apex Muscleback is a statement iron; one that would look strong in any golf bag (even if you’re no Phil Mickelson).

irons-2014-apex-mb____2 irons-2014-apex-mb____3 irons-2014-apex-mb____4 irons-2014-apex-mb____5
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adidas Cuts 15% of Golf Workforce, Closes Adams Golf HQ in Plano, TX Wed, 13 Aug 2014 01:12:46 +0000 Tony Covey [READ MORE]]]> Post image for adidas Cuts 15% of Golf Workforce, Closes Adams Golf HQ in Plano, TX

Written By: Tony Covey

Earlier this evening we received confirmation that The adidas Group (parent company for TaylorMade-adidas, Ashworth, and Adams Golf) has decided to close Adams Golf headquarters in Plano, Texas and to consolidate business operations at TaylorMade Headquarters in Carlsbad, California. Additionally,15% of the golf division’s global workforce, including what I’m told is a majority of Adams Golf employees, has been laid off.

A company spokesperson declined to comment on specifics, but confidential sources are telling us that the cuts include a high-ranking member of TaylorMade’s golf ball R&D Team.

Here is the official statement from TaylorMade-adidas Golf:

“We recently announced that a reorganization of our company was being planned.  This restructuring includes the consolidation of our Adams Golf business currently located in Plano, TX to our global headquarters in Carlsbad, CA.  We are also realigning our workforce at TaylorMade to better meet the needs of our business and ultimately, our consumers.  This includes investing in new areas to strengthen our brands and strategically approach our future to reinforce our leadership in the industry.”

I know. It’s not particularly informative.

For those tracking TaylorMade’s financial situation, the moves come as little surprise. Profits are off significantly from last year, Dick’s Sporting Goods golf business basically imploded under the weight of excessive TaylorMade and inventory, and as a result the parent company is forecasting further declines in its golf business for the remainder of 2014. The Q2 report was a disaster. There really weren’t any better options.

Profitability Challenges

“We also have decided to take strategic measures to tackle our profitability challenges at TaylorMade-adidas Golf and in Russia/CIS.” – Herbert Hainer, adidas Group CEO

At best the disintegration of Dick’s Golf Business was bad PR for TaylorMade, and worse still it has caused serious damage to the company’s bottom line and likely its reputation. One of their marquee athletes (Dustin Johnson) is taking a leave of absence from the game under apparently dubious circumstances, and for the coup de grâce, just last week adidas released it Q2 2014 which rather explicitly cast TaylorMade-adidas Golf division in the role of 10-ton financial boat anchor.

These are not happy times at TaylorMade.


Just the Facts

It’s been suggested to me that when it comes to the financial reporting of the golf industry it’s best to either hire an expert, or stick to the absolute letter of the facts.

That’s probably sound advice.

Granted, I did manage to get through a 2-day Finance for Managers course at a previous job (next up, Spelling for Writers), but realistically that no more qualifies me for the task at hand than staying at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

So in the interest of not letting opinion creep into a realm of absolute fact, for the next few paragraphs we’ll stick to the bullet points from the adidas quarterly report (download HERE). That said, one probably doesn’t need to be a top-tier Wall Street analyst to realize that when the letter from the CEO to shareholders begins “It is with disappointment that…” what comes next ain’t gonna be good.

Mainly As A Result of Double-Digit Sales Declines. . .

While there were some unquestionable bright spots in that previous mentioned adidas financial report – things like a strong World Cup, a new sponsorship deal with Manchester United, and solid growth at Reebok-CCM Hockey – nearly every bit of good news was tempered by bad news from the golf division. The refrain mainly as a result of sales declines (sometimes double-digit sales declines) at TaylorMade-adidas Golf is found numerous times in the report.

I encourage you to read it in its entirety, but in the interest of avoiding TL;DRs, here are some of the unfortunate facts gleaned from the adidas Group financial report:

  • TaylorMade-adidas Golf sales were down 18% in Q2, and 27% year-to-date
  • That amounts to a €236 million (~$315 million US) decline from the first six months of 2014
  • Currently-neutral sales in North America were down 20%, mainly due to double-digit decreases at TaylorMade-adidas Golf
  • The gross margin of TaylorMade-adidas Golf negatively impacted the group’s gross margin by 40 basis points.
  • Given the challenges with TaylorMade-adidas Golf, the adidas Group expects a double-digit decline in other businesses compared to our previous projection of a stable performance. (Note: Other Business is the internal division in which adidas places TaylorMade-adidas Golf )


Simply put, TaylorMade is having a really bad year, and its parent company (The adidas Group) doesn’t think it’s going to get better anytime in the immediate future.

How Did We Get Here?

By now most of you are well aware of what happened to get us (and TaylorMade to this point). The industry was forced to weather it’s second consecutive brutal winter (the adidas report mentions the late start to the season in the Northeast). As you know from our story on the Dick’s debacle, there’s more inventory in the retail channel than anyone can reasonably hope to sell in a timely fashion. There are some numbers (although not everybody agrees) that suggest consumers are buying less equipment, but nobody is arguing that the bulk of what they’re buying isn’t heavily discounted. TaylorMade’s profit margins are down.

If you want to, you can throw in something about the decline of the American middle class and a general lack of consumer confidence too. The bottom line is that the golf industry is hurting right now, and TaylorMade’s wounds are as deep as anybody’s.

By the adidas Group’s own admission (it was discussed during the earnings call), it was slow in responding to the downturn in the market. The retail channel was already flooded, but TaylorMade kept on releasing new gear while refusing to discount their flagship lines.

The company recently reversed course on its promise not to discount SLDR (now as low as $369) until the next big thing was ready. The disappointing YTD results mandated the change in policy, but most would agree that it waited too long to have any meaningful impact on the market.

What’s TaylorMade Going to Do About It?

The question is actually what is adidas going to do about it?


In actuality, a few things have already been done. While big changes (like the closure of Adams HQ, and substantial layoffs) are expected as a result of the less than stellar financial results for the year to date, the reality is that things at TaylorMade-adidas Golf have been in a perpetual state of flux since the end of the first quarter.

In April, TaylorMade’s longtime CEO, Mark King was appointed to the position of President of adidas Group North America. Ben Sharpe moved over from his position of Executive Vice President of adidas Golf and Ashworth to takeover for King. Coincidentally or not,  Bob Maggiore, TaylorMade’s Cheif Marketing Officer, and the man widely credited with creating the aggressive marketing strategy that helped TaylorMade ascend to the top of the golf industry, also left the company.

That’s barely the beginning. The adidas Group plans to take an aggressive approach to restoring the expected levels of profitability for shareholders.

How will they do that?

Here’s what adidas Group CEO Herbet Hainer had to say about what’s going to happen next.

“At TaylorMade-adidas Golf, given the inventory that is still in the market, we will carefully look at new launching introduction timings. In addition we will begin restructuring program at TaylorMade-adidas Golf to align the organizations overhead to match lower expectations for the golf industry’s development. Combined I expect these measures will impact second half operating profit by €50 million to €60 million. As the dominant market leader, we take these initiatives now to secure our lead, and to be the first mover in reinvigorating the market. Our innovation pipeline is full and we are set to go, whenever we feel the market is ready.” – Herbert Hainer, adidas Group CEO

In layman’s terms, some serious shit is about to go down…and I suppose it just did.

Inventory Reduction: Mr. Hainer suggested that as the market leader TaylorMade has a responsibility to the market itself. At a minimum the Group sees a need to help “clean the market“. What that likely means is another round of deep discounts for consumers. adidas has effectively written of the golf business for the rest of 2014, so there’s absolutely no reason not to undertake a major effort to unclog the channel. Arguably this is good news for the golf industry.

Additional TaylorMade Product is 2014 is Unlikely: You can’t rationally argue that the channel is flooded and then funnel more gear into the marketplace. PING has new product. Callaway has new product. Titliest has new product on the way too. Rather than fight for whatever premium dollars are left to be grabbed, it appears TaylorMade will do the responsible thing and hold off any significant product launches until 2015 – even with both SLDR Driver and SpeedBlade due for a refresh this fall. Instead of hyping new gear, the focus will be on clearing the shelves of existing product (see above).

Come 2015, TaylorMade will be ready to go (see that bit about the innovation pipeline).

Restructuring: It’s an ugly word that can mean a variety of things, none of them are good, and nobody does it when business is booming. The Group’s goal is to come up with €50 million to €60 million worth of operating profit by the end of the year. For those too lazy to do the conversion, we’re talking about somewhere between $65 and $80 Million USD worth of expenses that adidas wants off TMaG’s books.

Where is all that money going to come from? It’s murky, but we can make a few educated guesses.

No new product means reductions in related manufacturing, shipping, and advertising costs. There’s a savings there, but nothing that gets you close to $80 million bucks. Multiple sources speculated that the bulk of savings would need to come from salary reductions.

Today that speculation has become reality as the company reduced the size of its golf division’s workforce by 15%. We don’t have an exact headcount, but we estimate the number of employees let go is between 200 and 250.

It’s stomach churning. Worse still, we’re being told that very few high salary positions were cut, so another round of layoffs isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

The Shutdown Of Adams Golf

One way to reduce cost is to eliminate duplicate positions. When the balance sheet looks good it’s less of an issue to have redundancies in areas like HR, finance, and IT. When the balance sheet doesn’t look good, positions perceived as redundant are often among the very first to be eliminated. That appears to be, in part, what’s happening at…or perhaps to Adams Golf.

In the interest of avoiding any confusion; the Adams Golf brand hasn’t been eliminated. The company’s headquarters in Plano, TX will be shuttered (metaphorically…maybe literally), but some members of the current Adams staff are expected to relocate to Carlsbad to manage the brand from TaylorMade headquarters.

Since Adams falls under the TaylorMade umbrella it’s hard to know exactly what their numbers look like. Sources are telling me that Adams is currently running $10-15 Million in the red. When TaylorMade purchased Adams over two years ago, many believed the shutdown of the Plano location was a foregone conclusion anyway. With adidas looking to reshape a leaner and meaner golf division with a reinvigorated emphasis on profitability, maintaining the Texas location makes zero practical sense.

The closure of the Adams facility in HQ is unfortunate, but it’s just the latest example of the consolidation taking place within the golf industry.

Unfortunately, There’s Likely More To Come

This is likely only the beginning of what is shaping up to be major changes at the current #1 company in golf. We’ll provide additional details as soon as they emerge.

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