Thursday, February 25, 2010

PGA Tour can learn from John Daly's social skills

Although the PGA Tour "communicates" with its fans through online giants Twitter and Facebook, people who follow don't usually receive much of a personal response. Two-way conversation is crucial to opening the doors of social media.

Twitter logo
With social networking still in its infancy, the potential for growth within these two vastly contrasting formats is enormous, providing that the PGA Tour is willing to adapt its style to meet the demands of both.

Executive producer of PGA TOUR.com Scott Gutterman feels that by extending reach to Twitter and Facebook, fans will experience a "direct connection" that they crave but admits that "their audience numbers are not as high as the Tour would ultimately like." Guttman understands that "two-way communication of social media doesn’t happen overnight."

ESPN sports analyst and former NBA star Jalen Rose believes that "interaction" is the key to more fans and followers.

"The PGA needs to talk with the fans who are posting on their wall. They need to interact with people talking about golf on Twitter, and even have golfers give live lessons on Ustream! It’s time for the PGA to build a culture where golfers and golf fans come to the PGA’s social media accounts when they want to talk or find out more about the sport."

Various internet studies comparing Twitter and Facebook mention that, although many users have profiles in both communities with some interconnectedness, some celebrities grow a much larger fan base due to the scope and ease of communication through one social medium over the other.

Coincidentally, social media trends indicate that although most Fortune 100 companies have some type of social media presence, Twitter is becoming more popular.

For now, the PGA Tour seems to have a better connection with its Facebook group probably because this social media option is more like its current website.

Facebook logo
The allure of Facebook is long-term community-driven status with the ability to apply pictures, information and a "face" to the Tour while Twitter followers appear to be more chatty and unreserved, wanting information in more immediate, quick bursts. Youtube.com is almost an offshoot of the PGATour.com website so, even though there were 4.4 million uploads as well as over 128,000 visits to the site to date, it can hardly be considered "social" media.

Taking into consideration that the PGA Tour has more than double the number of Facebook fans (45,000) over Twitter followers (about 21,000) and that the PGA of America maintains that there are 27 million golfers in the USA, the Tour should be asking what can be done to grow their visibility on both platforms as well as internationally as golf is a worldwide sport.

One way to reach fans en masse and in person? How about on-course during an event: go to where the fans are and seek them out. Although cell phones are considered a "no-no" at events, perhaps the PGA Tour could set up special tents with Twitter on net books close enough to the action where fans could post tweets in exchange for giveaways. The winner gets tickets to a future event or an 'inside the ropes' activity. Sign up as a "follower" and see your name on one of the big boards around the golf course!

Six events are set up for the West Coast Swing alone, which puts into play two Arizona golf courses and four more in California. Followers could be increased by reaching out on-course as opposed to solely through internet strategies.

The list of "fan-friendly" PGA Tour golfers can perhaps also use their power of persuasion by adding the @PGATour link occasionally during a tweet. The connection between professional golfers and the Tour would benefit because the PGA Tour has the more statistical analysis while the golfer could add 'pizzazz'.

John Daly, one of the most vibrant "tweeters" in the world of social media, (@PGA_JohnDaly), currently has over 44,000 fans on Twitter, more than double the number of followers than @PGATour yet falls short on the number of Facebook followers with slightly more than 14,000 fans.

John DalyDaly keeps in touch and keeps it "real" and so he appeals more to Twitter fans. When someone asks a question (and he's available) they can expect a response from JD.

John involves the fans with regularity from mounting a Twitter campaign as the Golf Channel's next "Haney project" to offering autographed copies of his new CD. Now that's the way to market yourself!

Of course Daly's eclectic lifestyle makes many fans want to keep track of his larger-than-life status but maybe the PGA Tour should take a tip from JD when it comes to Twitter because communication and putting a face to the tour really helps in adding value to the brand.

Adding fan base may as simple as having a a few surprise celebrity "tweeters" on @PGATour or following a few of the hot golf bloggers to stir things up a little (like @golf4beginners for instance?)

Other PGA and LPGA Tour golfers are enjoying celebrity status on Twitter rather than on Facebook and finding it easier to jot down a quick note while practicing or even just after winning an event.

Ian Poulter, @Ianjamespoulter (7,004 Facebook/ 977,239 Twitter fans) just won his first event ever in the US, a match-play event and, at 2:01am after the event tweeted, "Evening friends, What a day, just sitting on my bed in palm springs, doing cobra commercial tomorrow. 6.45 start, so happy after winning." You can't get much closer to your golf hero than that!

Michelle WieMichelle Wie, @theMichelleWie (2,716 Facebook/14,984 Twitter) told her fans what she was doing on Valentines Day: "spending valentines day writing a paper and listening to Metallica in my hotel room. haha so ideal...not. :)" Who would have thought Michelle Wie to like Metallica!

Stewart Cink (2173 Facebook, 1,226,058 twitter) asked fans about some of their favorite songs: "Just listening to David Bowie's "Space Oddity" on the way to practice. One of few songs I like that include a countdown. Your favorites?"


All of the examples above have both Facebook pages and Twitter accounts but less time is needed for a 140 character update than the investment of time required with Facebook.

With the ability to have tweets directly imported to Facebook, MySpace and other social websites, fans still feel connected but the connection originated with Twitter. Facebook also looks and feels like any other website, with the ability to put up a "wall" separating the fans from personal connection.

That being said, both social media platforms are tools for communication, each with its own unique functionality. Whereas Twitter has become more of a quick way to meet friends and network, Facebook prides itself on a deeper level connection.

Both forms of social media are necessary in order for the PGA Tour to grow on an international level. If only the Tour could find a way to "humanize" itself and add a bit of the celebrity mix which people seem to gravitate towards, it would marry both its online business concern with a more approachable presence.

Written by Stacy Solomon
http://golf-for-beginners.blogspot.com
http://www.twitter.com/golf4beginners
Stacy Solomon on Facebook



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Monday, February 22, 2010

Kodak Challenge Visits Wild Hole at TPC Scottsdale

For the second consecutive year the Kodak Challenge, a first-of-its-kind competition for PGA TOUR players and fans, visits the wild par-3, 162-yard 16th hole of TPC Scottsdale at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on February 25-28 in Scottsdale, AZ. The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the 6th of 30 tournaments to participate in the $1 million Kodak Challenge competition.

The Kodak Challenge was created to celebrate the beautiful holes and memorable moments in golf. Golfers must play at least 18 of 30 Kodak Challenge holes throughout the season to qualify. The golfer with the best Kodak Challenge score relative to par at the end of the season will win the Kodak Challenge trophy and $1 million. An Advisory Board of leading golf experts selected the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale as one of 30 holes that make up the Kodak Challenge.

Scottsdale resident, Kevin Streelman claimed the first Kodak Challenge title and the winner-take-all $1 million prize at the PGA TOUR’s final event of the 2009 season, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Matt Kuchar, Brenden Pappas and Tim Clark are currently in a three-way tie for first at 4-under-par on the Kodak Challenge. Kuchar and 2009 Kodak Challenge champ, Streelman are in the field this week at TPC Scottsdale.


Kodak Fan Photo Zone
The Kodak Fan Photo Zone, located at the south end of the driving range, between the #10 and #16 greens, allows fans to have their picture taken at Hole #16 – a live shot during tournament play when cameras are not typically allowed. Fans can pick up a free copy of their photo at the Kodak Fan Photo Zone throughout the entire tournament. While visiting the Kodak Fan Photo Zone, fans can also learn about Kodak’s latest products and how they can even be used for their golf game.


About Kodak Challenge hole #16 at TPC Scottsdale
The par-3, 162-yard 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is among the most celebrated holes on the PGA TOUR. The enthusiasm of the fans in seating that surrounds the entire hole gives this short par-3 a "stadium" atmosphere and creates one of the most exciting settings in professional sports.

"We’re thrilled to have the Kodak Challenge visit #16 at TPC Scottsdale, one of the most unique and exciting holes in golf.  Hole #16 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the perfect example of what the Kodak Challenge is all about for players and fans," commented Steve Powell, Director of Development for the Kodak Challenge.

Kodak and PGA TOUR Release 2010 Kodak Challenge Schedule
The 2010 Kodak Challenge schedule includes 21 of the original 30 holes, with two tournaments joining the Kodak Challenge: No. 15 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC, site of the Quail Hollow Championship; and No. 14 at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH, home of the Memorial Tournament presented by Morgan Stanley.

Kodak's marketing partnership with the TOUR includes the designation as Official Imaging Provider of the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour, including cameras, printers and scanners. For more on the Kodak Challenge visit pgatour.com/kodakchallenge

Fans can also follow the Kodak Challenge at facebook.com/kodakchallenge, twitter.com/kodakchallenge, and 1000words.kodak.com/kodakchallenge.

About Kodak
As the world’s foremost imaging innovator, Kodak helps consumers, businesses, and creative professionals unleash the power of pictures and printing to enrich their lives.

To learn more, visit http://www.kodak.com and follow our blogs and more at http://www.kodak.com/go/followus.

More than 75 million people worldwide manage, share and create photo gifts online at KODAK Gallery – join today at www.kodakgallery.com.

About the PGA TOUR
The PGA TOUR is a tax-exempt membership organization of professional golfers. Its primary purpose is to expand the PGA TOUR domestically and internationally so as to substantially increase player financial benefits while maintaining our commitment to growth in charity and integrity to the game.

In 2010, the three Tours are competing in 102 events for more than $350 million in prize money. Tournaments will be held in 10 countries outside the U.S. and in 35 states. In addition to providing competitive opportunities for its membership, TOUR events also generate significant funds for local charities. In fact, the three Tours have surpassed the $1 billion mark in overall charitable contributions.  The PGA TOUR’s web site address is www.pgatour.com and the company is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.


Golf Channel coverage starts Thursday at 4PM EST.  You can also follow the action at www.pgatour.com/kodakchallenge.0




 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

PrideSports Debuts Evolution in Golf Tees

PTS Evolution Golf Tees
PrideSports, the world’s leading producer of wooden alternative golf tees and probably the number one golf tee on Tour, today further enhanced the Company’s leadership in the alternative tee market with the debut of PTS Evolution™ golf tees. The newest member of PrideSports’ Professional Tee System™ (PTS) family, the PTS Evolution™, is an environmentally-friendly, plastic performance golf tee engineered with a special low-resistance head design that creates less friction between the golf ball and tee, delivering enhanced aerodynamics for longer drives.

The launch of PTS Evolution™ comes on the heels of PrideSports’ 2009 introduction of PTS Offset™, the most advanced alternative golf tee allowed by the USGA and the first to feature an offset angle to increase ball visibility and contact with the club at its maximum speed and optimum trajectory, resulting in longer drives.

“PTS has become the standard in wooden golf tees, and players from the PGA TOUR, as well as amateur golfers, utilize this system to match their tee lengths with the club head sizes,” said John Hohman, Vice President of Marketing, PrideSports. “With PTS Evolution and PTS Offset, we now have the two most innovative, high performance alternative tees in golf, and we have further enhanced the leadership position of the PTS family.”

PrideSports’ Professional Tee System™ (PTS) was created based on golfer demand, at both the professional and amateur levels, for a system to identify the golf tee lengths that worked best for today’s diverse oversize and hybrid golf club models. A proprietary, color-coding system that makes it easy to identify each of the four tee sizes, PTS offers four distinct tee models: ProLength, ProLength-PLUS, ProLength-MAX and Shortee.

Available in the PTS ProLength (2¾”) and ProLength Plus (3¼”) models, the PTS Evolution™ tees are made of recycled/re-ground plastic, and are designed to last longer while providing less waste. They are also among a select group of eco-friendly golf tees that are sold in both plain unprinted bulk quantities, as well as with custom-imprinting options. The new tees will be available in spring 2010, and will be sold at retailers around the country. Suggested Retail Price for the PTS Evolution™ tees will be $7.99.

About PrideSports

PrideSports was formed in January 2003 following Pride Manufacturing Company’s purchase of Softspikes, Inc., and its sister company Trisport, Ltd. of England. This acquisition essentially formed the world’s premier golf accessories company, as Pride and Softspikes are the world’s leading golf tee and golf cleat lines, respectively. Today, PrideSports is the world leader in the design and manufacture of cleats, spikes and receptacles for the entire golf footwear industry.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mom forgives Tiger Woods; does it really matter what his fans think?

An understandably weepy Tiger Woods humbled himself before family and friends today to apologize for his indiscretions. Did you feel sorry for him?

I felt bad for his mom, watching her downward-cast eyes glowering noticeably away from Tiger's gaze as he spoke directly to her, espousing the importance of his Buddist upbringing and his wandering eye. Was her forgiving hug at the end of the speech out of pity or comfort?

I felt even sadder for Elin and the kids who smartly chose to avoid the circus which Woods decided was an important step towards his recovery. Tiger probably should never have even mentioned the wife and partner who stood by his side during his indiscretions as it sullied her name. Why re-hash the vision of her swinging a golf club at him?

Still, today's self-imposed "intervention" was a step that Tiger Woods felt he needed towards recovery. The public is always ready to forgive, but will we ever forget? Most of the world is guilty of their own sins and would like forgiveness when the time calls for it.

Remember Marv Alpert's sex crime or the time Charles Barkley threw a bar patron threw a window? These two in particular re-invented themselves but there are a bevy more to choose from.

Will this kill the Tiger Woods spirit of competition? Will he be able to return with the same fervor to attack records of the great Jack Nicklaus? Only time will tell.


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Send your golf questions and comments to golfforbeginners@aol.com.

Just in case you missed the Tiger Woods Press Conference, you can watch it here: Tiger Woods Press Conference Video Link


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Weather and Tear Resistant Golf Bags

Datrek, a Division of Dynamic Brands and a golf industry leader in golf bags, debuted its 2010 line of innovative cart and stand bags, highlighted by the Assault, Raptor and Sabre models. Marking Datrek’s first new product introduction since being acquired by Dynamic Brands, the 2010 collection combines cutting edge features with fashion forward designs that have become synonymous with the storied brand.

The 2010 collection includes a diverse selection of cart and stand bags that accommodate the needs of all golfers, whether walking the course and carrying, using a push cart or riding in a cart.

Datrek Golf Cart and Stand Bags

“The Datrek brand has had a long history of innovation and success. We are excited to introduce a collection of cart and stand bags that combine style with functionality, and serve to complement our existing portfolio of innovative golf bag offerings,” said Craig Ramsbottom, President, Dynamic Brands.

The abundance of design features offers golfers the ultimate in functionality, style and convenience.

Headlining the 2010 line is the Assault, an extreme performance cart bag that features a 10” top with 14 individual full-length dividers, as well as two external putter wells with noise reducing rubberized grips. Equipped with nine pockets that provide ample storage options, the Assault is outfitted with two crush resistant fleece lined accessories/valuable pockets, an oversized front ball pocket designed for embroidery, a quick grab magnetic ball pocket, and an easy access built-in insulated cooler pocket for added convenience.

The mid-sized Raptor cart bag features a 10” top with 14 individual full-length dividers and an external putter well with noise reducing rubberized grip. Perfect for keeping a golfer’s favorite drink cold, the Raptor has an easy access insulated cooler pocket and offers ample storage space including eight pockets, a dual apparel pocket with an interior mesh organizer and a fleece lined accessories/valuables pocket.

The lightweight Sabre stand bag, weighing in at less than 6 lbs., is perfect for the avid golfer who enjoys walking or riding. Offering a variety of user-friendly benefits, the bag includes a 10” top with eight individual full-length dividers, nine pockets for ample storage space, a scorecard holder sleeve and an easily accessible insulated water bottle holder and ball pocket. In addition, the Sabre is designed for added comfort while carrying, with a rubberized lift assist handle, a stylized hip pad and an ergonomic molded carry handle.

All golf bags in the collection are constructed with 420D weather and tear resistant polyester. Additional bags in the 2010 line include an assortment of cart and stand bags. The cart bag collection includes the Avenger; Fury and Falcon, while additional stand bags in the collection include the Spitfire and Osprey.

The Assault cart bag is offered in Black, Red, Copper and Hunter Green and has an MSRP of $179.95. The Raptor cart bag is offered in five color schemes including Black, Yellow, Royal Blue, Orange and Hunter Green and has an SRP of $149.95. The Sabre stand bag is offered in a variety of color combinations including Black/Black/Silver, Royal Blue/Black/Silver, Graphite/Black/Silver, Hunter Green/Black/Silver and Red/Black/Silver and has an SRP of $149.95. The Datrek collection will be available at golf shops nationwide in June 2010.

About Datrek

Datrek is owned by Dynamic Brands, the parent company for a portfolio of premium brand name companies that are all committed to the development of innovative, quality products and outstanding customer service in the golf and juvenile industries.

Golf products offered through the company’s Bag Boy®, Slotline®, AMF® Golf, Burton®, Datrek®, Devant®, Sir Christopher Hatton® and Miller Golf® brands include walking carts, golf bags, travel bags, golf clubs, high MOI putters, custom image dyed and embroidered golf towels, bag tags and other golf accessories.

Baby Jogger™ is the original inventor and manufacturer of 3-wheel joggers and all-terrain strollers while Advance Mobility™ manufactures all-terrain push chairs for children and adults with physical disabilities. Protect-A-Bub® produces pediatric recommended sunshades and all-weather comfort juvenile products. Dynamic Brands’ products are marketed in more than 50 countries worldwide. For more information about Dynamic Brands, visit http://www.dynamicbrands.com.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Lorena Ochoa LPGA golfer talks marriage, motherhood and Twitter?

Lorena OchoaMIKE SCANLAN: Lorena, we’d like to start with some LPGA business. In the past three weeks, we’ve announced three title sponsors: Sybase, Hana Bank and, just today, Kia.  Talk about the excitement of new partners being interested in the LPGA.

LORENA OCHOA: Hello Mike, hello everyone.  For sure that is great news.  Not only me, but all of the players believe that the LPGA is going in the right direction.  It’s nice to find out that we have new sponsors.  It helps a lot.  I’m excited to have more options to play tournaments.  It’s very special.  Thank you to the sponsors.  I’m looking forward to those tournaments.

Q. I just wanted to ask you, I know this is going to sound like a very strange question for someone who's coming off winning Player of the Year last year, but based on only three wins after such a big year in 2008, do you feel like it was sort of a little bit of a down season for you?
LORENA OCHOA:  I didn't understand the last part of the question.

Q.  Do you feel like it was sort of a down season even though you won Player of the Year and had so many strong finishes after winning so many times in 2008?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, no, I would never consider it a down season, what happened in 2009.  The opposite, I always try to look everything and learn as much as I can.  It was really tough in different ways, in my personal life, also a lot of things happened for me outside the golf course.  So with all of that and being able to maintain my title and stay at the No. 1 player in the world, it means a lot.  When it's tougher and when you achieve something, it feels a lot better.  So I'm really happy the way I finished, and I'm excited to start 2010.

Q.  I guess a couple quick ones.  One of them is going to be a fun one.  The first one, if you could comment a little bit about your thoughts on the whole groove situation with the new rulings coming in, and of course on the PGA side Phil Mickelson making some waves there with his decision to play some wedges from Ping that do conform but don't conform according to other people and loopholes.  Have you been doing anything to work with that?  What are your thoughts on it?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I think just like everybody else, I got my new clubs early, first week of January, and I've been practicing with them since that time.  I feel very comfortable.  I think you can notice maybe a very small change.  To me the ball just maybe comes out a little bit higher and a little bit harder to get a lot of spin.  But not much of a difference.  I'm happy.  I'm confident that I have the right equipment for me.  Ping has always been working extremely hard for us, and I'm ready to go.  I think the change is for all of the players, so you just need to be patient and go with the change.

Q.  When will we see Lorena Ochoa on Twitter Tweeting regularly?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, never.  I'm not that type of person for sure.

Q.  Can you talk about any concerns you might have as far as the schedule whereas you guys can play two weeks in a row and then have three off, play a tournament, then have three weeks off, and then you also have in the middle of the summer I think it's five major tournaments in six weeks.  Can you just talk about any concerns you might have of staying sharp or conserving energy as you get into the middle of the summer?  Just talk about the schedule, please.
LORENA OCHOA:  Yes.  Well, I'm really happy.  To me it looks good.  That's the way it is, and I just think we need to try to work around.  I think as much time for me as I can spend at home is great news.  Now that I'm married, everything is good for me, and it's just nice to be home.  And at the same time I get to practice, have a lot more practice time with my coach here in Mexico.  So I don't mind at all having a few weeks off.
    You are correct about the summer.  You need to be careful and be at the top of your game to play good five weeks, because probably those five weeks are going to mark the rest of the year.

Q.  Do you have any idea how many you will play this year?
LORENA OCHOA:  About the same.  I think I have my schedule right now at 23 ‑‑ 22, 23, so we'll see.  There will be maybe one more or one less, but just around that number.

Q.  And then the last question, I've talked to other players, and they say one of the great things about the fact that there are so few tournaments is the fact that every tournament is going to be loaded with the best players.  Do you feel that, and what are your thoughts on the fact that most every top player is going to play most every event?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I think this has been happening for the last couple years.  I think it's very amazing how we have every tournament the top players, and I like that.  I think the better the competition gets, the more exciting for the media, for us, for all the fans that come and watch us play, so I like that.  Hopefully we just come together and be there every week to have a great tournament to be successful.

Q.  Congratulations on the marriage. I wanted to ask you a little bit about that. How did the ceremony go? Were there a lot of people there? Did any other Tour players attend? And what's it like being a mom? I know your family just got a lot bigger.
LORENA OCHOA: Yes. Well, thank you. It is a change. Right now I'm enjoying the moment. The ceremony, it was beautiful. It was in Guadalajara close to home. It was a small ceremony. We decided not to have very many people from the outside, so we didn't have any LPGA professionals. It was just some relatives and very, very close friends.

Right now I'm living in Mexico City. We moved up here.  Andres has been here for many years, so I'm living in Mexico City, and everything is going very well.  I'm excited.  Family is the most important thing, so I'm trying to learn and to do my best.

Q.  How old are Andres' kids, and to ask you the million‑dollar Annika question, do you think you'll be having a child of your own sometime soon?
LORENA OCHOA:  Andres' kids are ‑‑ the oldest one is turning 14 this Sunday, and then 12 is a girl, and then 7 is a girl.  They are at a fun age.  We go and play sometimes golf, sometimes tennis.  We like to spend some time together.
    Having kids of my own, I think I still want to wait a little bit.  I'm going to keep playing for a few years, and then after that we'll make a decision.

Q.  With all the off‑season activity going on in your life, do you have any concerns about being able to focus on golf when it's time to focus on golf, whether it's practicing or whether it's competing?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, no concerns.  I think it's been very clear, Andres has been with me for a few years, and he knows how is my life.  We've been pretty good about not spending too long or too much time without seeing each other, so he's going to try to travel as much as he can.  The practicing is going well.  I'm taking the time I need to and being there 100 percent.  So everything is going well.
    I think if you are happy, it's a lot easier to play good golf, so I'm trying to go that way.

Q.  You have a new commissioner now.  I know Mike has had a chance to get to know some of the players last fall and into the start of this year.  What are your impressions of the new commissioner?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I think we can see so far that we're making some improvements and some changes.  I had the opportunity to meet him in Houston just very briefly; I wanted to say thank you.  For us it's very important to support him, just to tell him that he has my support and as much as we can do to help, we are willing to do.  We're going to work together.

Q.  With everything that happened during the off‑season, your new family structure and everything, can you tell us and give us some specifics about how you've prepared during the off‑season for the upcoming LPGA Tour season?
LORENA OCHOA:  It's not that ‑‑ I always like to talk about the way do things.  Now I'm in Mexico City.  I've been taking the time like I always do to practice six, seven hours and go to the gym a couple hours every day.  My coach is traveling here to watch me play and help me a little bit with technique like we always do.  So I'm prepared.  That's all I can say.  I'm excited.  We all can't wait to start playing and make the trip.  I'm going to fly out on Sunday and be there to start the year.

Q.  2009 was kind of a breakthrough year for a couple of players, maybe not breakthrough but you saw up close ‑‑ rather the rivalry you have now with Jiyai Shin and Michelle Wie winning your tournament.  The emergence of those players and maybe a couple others, does that inspire you in the off‑season to make sure that you are sharp for the following year?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well I think yes, for sure I know that the competition is getting tougher and tougher.  But at the same time I never pay too much attention to other players.  I always try to focus on my game and to see where are the things that I can improve and work on.  This has been the case this year, just trying to improve on my short game and my putting.  Believe me, I have enough motivation.  I want to stay at the top and practice very hard every day to be up there.

Q.  You'll been coming down to Thailand and Singapore in the next few weeks.  How important is it to set down a marker when you arrive and play really, really well?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, of course it will be important, but I'm going to do it just like I always do, just be prepared and try to get a good practice round to see the golf course and give 100 percent every day.  I don't like to think too much ahead, just kind of one day at a time and put myself in a good position for the weekend.  I think it should be fun for all of us to see each other and get the Tour started.

Q.  When you do come down, you'll be with Michelle Wie who will be making her first visit to Thailand and Singapore.  Chances are the press are going to go a bit crazy over her.  Do you think that will take off some of the pressure from you, or do you think it's a bit unfair for everyone focusing so much on Michelle Wie?
LORENA OCHOA:  Either way, it is something that is out of my hands.  I'd be happy to be there and help the media and be nice with all the fans.  But if Michelle takes a lot of attention, that's good, too.  I think what is important is to be there on Thursday and try to make as many birdies as you can.

Q.  I saw on the schedule on your website that the tournament in northwest Arkansas is one of the few you have not decided not to play in, and I was kind of just wondering if that was a final decision, and if it is, why you decided you're not playing there.
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I have a number of tournaments that I would like to play, and they go very well with my schedule going back and forth from the States from Mexico City to be here at home.  It is not a final decision.  I'm going to add maybe one or two more tournaments at the end of the year later on when the weeks go on.  So I will consider that and maybe have different news later in the year.

Q.  I have two questions for you.  I just wanted to follow up regarding Michael Whan.  You mentioned there had been some improvements and changes that you've seen from him.  I know he's only been in the commissioner's office for over a month, but is there anything specific you've noticed that he's done, whether it's reaching out to certain players or anything else that he's done that's kind of had a nice impression on you and maybe some other players besides the addition of the tournaments for the 2010 season thus far?
LORENA OCHOA:  From what I can see, he's trying to learn as much as he can, interviewing different players and getting as much information as he can before making any big moves.  I think that's very important at least to the players to see what we need and what is best for us.  So I think that's a great way to start.
    And having the new sponsorships and having more tournaments, you know, I think a lot of those things are a clear mark that he's working in the right direction.  Hopefully those relationships become very strong and we continue to have better tournaments in the next few years.

    Q.  My next question is you've had so much success in Southern California dating all the way back to the Junior World Golf Championships and you've won at Bighorn, obviously won the Kraft Nabisco.  How excited are you that there's another tournament on the schedule for 2010 down at La Costa?
    LORENA OCHOA:  Yeah, I'm very excited.  We're going to have plans with my family and relatives that are excited to come and watch me play.  There are so many Mexicans in San Diego that I think it will be nice to have a lot of support during that week.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'll be there for the tournament and supporting the new event.

Q.  Did you say you have relatives in San Diego or just coming up from Mexico?
LORENA OCHOA:  Coming up from Mexico.

Q.  I'm not sure if this question has been asked because I just joined a while ago.  What are your thoughts on the whole issue with the whole controversy with Tiger Woods?  What was your first reaction when you first heard the news?  And do you think it will affect him?  Do you think he'll still be able to go out and win some more majors?  And the other question is your thoughts on coming back to Singapore?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, about Tiger Woods, I really don't have much to say.  I think for all of us, it was a big surprise, disappointment in many ways.  But hopefully he's taking care of his problems and hopefully he'll be back soon.  I have nothing else to say.
    I'm excited to go to Singapore, of course.  It's a beautiful place.  I've won there before, and I'm looking forward to having a great year.

Q.  You have been a source of great pride and good news for Mexicans, especially here in the U.S. where all the news coming from Mexico usually is bad news.  What are your thoughts about the situation that our country is living in right now with crime and drugs, et cetera?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I think for sure I would like to see the country in a better position with the politics and especially the security, to be better not only in Mexico City but in different parts of the country.  But at the same time, there's not much I can do.  I'm trying to play my sport and to do the best I can to keep as many Mexicans as I can happy, so hopefully we continue that and hopefully I see the support like I always have seen through the years and enjoy every tournament.

Q.  Second, do you see more Mexican golfers coming up following in your steps in golf?
LORENA OCHOA:  Yes, for sure.  Especially here in Mexico, before used to be only three, four girls playing.  Now in every Cup there's more than 30 or 40 or 50 girls playing.  It's very interesting and very special to see those kids playing, and I believe that we could have more professionals in the future.

Q.  Can you mention some names?
LORENA OCHOA:  It's hard to mention names.  Right now what we have is two professionals that have the best opportunity to be on the LPGA is Tanya Dergal and Sophia Sheridan.  They are really close to being on the LPGA.  Hopefully they continue trying and working hard, and we'll see them maybe in the next year.

Q.  Have you ever played at La Costa, which is the site of the LPGA Classic?  And if you have, what are your thoughts on that course?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, I've never played there.  It will be the first time for me.

Q.  But you probably have some strong memories of playing in San Diego all those years you played at the Junior World.  When you look back on that time, does anything really stick out, all those years you played at the Junior World in San Diego?
LORENA OCHOA:  Yes, for sure, those were some of my best memories.  That's why I'm here today.  I remember those tournaments very well, winning and being there with all the players and my parents.  They used to come every year to watch me play.  That's what gave me the motivation to keep playing and to really make me love the game.
    You know, those are great memories.  I always keep them on the top of my list, and I'm excited to go back and be in the area.

Q.  I didn't see your schedule, but I'm just wondering if Canada is on it.  And number two, you've been coming up here for years; I'm just wondering if you have seen that tournament grow considerably since you first started coming up here.
LORENA OCHOA:  Yes, I will be playing for sure.  It's a tournament that I love to go.  I think CN has done a wonderful job just getting more fans and putting a top tournament together.  I think we all agree with that.  It's just wonderful to see the volunteers and the sponsors and the community to get involved and help.  I have nothing to say but good things.  It's been a great experience.  We'll be there later in the summer.

Q.  Have you ever played in Winnipeg?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, never.  I'm excited.


You can find a link to the audio from today’s conference call here -- http://www.conferenceplayback.com/stream/35761154/SCAN0210.mp3


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Photo Credit: © 2011 US Womens Open

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Golf in Portugal: Lisbon and Algarve destinations

Golf Travel in Portugal
by Stacy Solomon

Fly PortugalPicture yourself visiting picturesque villages many which have not changed in several centuries, basking on inviting beaches and playing golf on some of the best courses in Europe and chances are you will be traveling to Portugal.

With only a seven hour flight time from New York, a golf vacation in Portugal is not a world away, as I originally thought!

Destinations in Algarve and Madiera were long considered to be the 'creme de la creme' of Portuguese golf excursions and now the Lisbon coastal region is being added as an intriguing option.

Lisbon, the legendary capital and largest city on Portugal, may be both sophisticated and cosmopolitan but golf in the surrounding area is considered tranquil and a great value. Most importantly, it has the three components of what I consider to be a winning vacation; beach, a casino and nightlife while at the same time retaining its charm. Fishing villages line the coast, culture surrounds the visiting tourist and golf courses amid fine resorts are growing in number.

A five-star golf and beach resort situated on the Silver Coast in Obidos which delivers all of the above is Praia d'el Rey. Uncrowded beach, temperate climate and a famous golf course within the hotel - with additional courses to try in the region - make this fantasy golf vacation a reality.

Praia Del Rey

Considered to be one of the top twenty golf courses in Europe by Golf World Magazine and ranked number one in Portugal by the the Peugeot Golf Guide, Praia del Rey Golf Club is challenging yet also a fun experience. It has hosted a number of professional events and comes complete with driving range and golf academy.

With a total of twelve highly rated golf courses in Lisbon, another playing option is located in Estoril at the Penha Longa Golf Club. Travel there in the beginning of April and watch some of the greatest golfers on the European Tour courageously try to win on the Atlantic, one of the top courses in Europe. Play the nine-hole Monastery course as well which is considered "less demanding" than it's acclaimed Robert Trent Jones counterpart.


Penha Longa


The Penha Longa, a Ritz Carlton Resort, has its own monastery, spa, mountain views and is considered luxurious by Portuguese and foreign dignitaries.

For those travelers who want to visit a new and stunning resort with a grand golf course designed by Donald Steele (whose portfolio includes Ailsa), the Westin Campo Real Golf Resort and Spa will provide a five star experience.

Quinta da MarinhaAnother brand new golf course with five-star luxury compound is the Quinta da Marinha, situated in natural surroundings about nineteen miles west of central Lisbon. In 2007 the entire location won the award of Best Established Golfing Destination Europe by the IAGTO with the golf course being host to numerous professional events.

Speaking of European Tour events, Portugal will host a total of three tournaments for the 2010 season: the Estoril Open de Portugal at Penha Longa G.C., the Madeira Islands Open (just after the Masters) concluding with the Portugal Masters at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura.

Although Lisbon was my initial inspiration for considering a vacation of golf in Portugal, Algarve's coastline situated on the extreme south side intrigued me as well. With temperate clime, the location is ideal for water sports activities, beach relaxation and, of course,  golf!

Fabulous scenery, warm sunny days, luxurious resorts with pristine golf courses and interesting cultural flavor will invite even the most discerning tourist to visit Portugal. The only question might be how many golf courses will you play during your stay?

Monday, February 01, 2010

Softspikes Enters The Golf Grip Market

After 15 years of innovating and dominating the golf cleat and tee market, Softspikes®, claiming to be the number one cleat on the PGA TOUR, recently enhanced its position as the game’s premier accessory brand by entering the golf grip market and debuting BLACK WIDOW® Grips.  Branded alongside the game’s all-time best selling cleat model, BLACK WIDOW® Grips are born off SoftspikesSoftSpikes Golf Grips’ heritage for advanced technology and developing products that offer best-in-class traction and feel.
 
The new BLACK WIDOW® Grips line, which was created to meet the demands of players at all levels, offers five distinct models, each one complete with bold colors and excellent performance features to improve any golfer’s game:

·         Tour SilkTour Silk features a Softspikes inspired horizontal “S” traction pattern embedded in a specialized rubber compound for the ultimate performance.  Available in black or white and round or ribbed models.

·         Widow Maker Widow Maker features a multi-compound hybrid feel and a two-color design that features a corded top for traction in all conditions and a firm responsive bottom for performance and feedback.  Available in round and ribbed models with black/white and black/red color patterns.  In the future, it will also be available in a putter grip model.

·         Signature Signature features a firm two-compound composition that delivers enhanced feel in the finger tip contact points, as well as Web Traction Technology on the backside for greater control,  resulting in an unmatched combination of an aggressive design, superior feel and performance.  Available in round and ribbed models with black/white, black/red and white/black color patterns.  A junior model with a black/white color pattern is also available, as well as a putter grip model.

·         FusionFusion features a firm and highly textured surface for enhanced feel and control.  The two-compound, multi-color material controls vibration and delivers two distinct feels plus Web Traction Technology for greater control.  Available in black round and ribbed models.

·         EdgeEdge features a soft performance wrap design with a high tack feel.  The Web Traction Technology design pattern provides greater grip confidence and control.  Available in black round, ribbed and oversized models. 

In addition to their unique performance characteristics, all of the models in the BLACK WIDOW® Grips line feature distinctive markings, including either black widow spider icons, and/or stylish spider web designs. 

"After extensive research and testing of our new designs, and based on our track record of success in the golf cleat, tee and overall accessory market, we felt the time was right to enter the grip market and position the new Black Widow line to compete alongside the game’s best brand names," said John Hohman, Vice President of Marketing, Softspikes.  "Building off the advanced technology and design that have made our Softspikes cleats the world’s best selling brand, Black Widow Grips not only offer superior performance and feel, but offer a unique and stylish change from what is on the market today."

BLACK WIDOW® Grips, available in spring 2010, will be sold at golf and sporting goods retail shops nationwide.  Suggested retail price for the BLACK WIDOW® Grips will vary from $3.99 to $9.39 depending on the type of grip.