Friday, April 20, 2012

TaylorMade Golf #Rocketballz 3-wood hits the fairway in style and function

After receiving and opening a holiday gift box from TaylorMade Golf at the end of 2011, I must admit that I was simultaneously sad and overjoyed: I was excited to see, feel and swing the TaylorMade #RocketBallz 3-wood which would not hit golf stores until February but dismayed that it was a right-handed golf club. Sadness turned to delight as I realized that this #RocketBallz 3-wood was going to make my husband very, very happy as it became HIS holiday gift!


After a long New York winter staring at the contents of the TaylorMade gift box with one opportunity to test the #RocketBallz 3-wood at a very cold (albeit heated) outdoor driving range (and with the inside of the box taunting him to "strap a Rocket to your Ball"), Barry finally got the opportunity to take his new golf club on a test drive. The same day we received by mail the latest Met Golfer Magazine which featured this particular 3-wood as one of their choices as a "worthy alternative to a driver."

"At 15-degrees and 200cc, this non-adjustable 3-wood is built to give you extra clout to the tune of 17 more yards on average. You may want to seriously replace your driver. A sole slot enhances playability, while a lightweight 50-gram shaft adds speed."

Maybe in the hands of Dustin Johnson, this TaylorMade #Rocketballz 3-wood performs like a driver, but what did an 18-handicapper think?

Rocketballz_3-woodHere is what Barry Solomon had to say...

"I finally had the opportunity to take my TaylorMade #RocketBallz 3-wood to the golf course.

I was 238 yards from the green after my drive on a par-5; the approach is one on which I always come up short and said, "Why not?" The golf ball exploded off of the club face and there I was, pin high! Our entire foursome looked in amazement. I gained confidence quickly and the RocketBallz 3-wood suddenly became the best club in my bag."

What did Barry like most about the TaylorMade RocketBallz 3-wood?

*I felt like I could do anything with it. It was easy to draw and fade.
*The way it feels in my hands.
*The sound it makes.
*Great new look...very distinctive and recognizable in my golf bag. It's bright and easy to see instead of another black/gray golf cover too.

Now that Barry has officially replaced his 3-wood with the new TaylorMade Rocketballz fairway wood, he is insisting on a new TaylorMade driver to add even more distance to his game and to complete the set. The saying goes, "drive for show" and with this new golf club in his bag, Barry's not just showing added distance, he also has added accuracy. TaylorMade Golf has Rocketballz for women in a left-handed club, so Barry is going to have to it's my turn to experience added distance!

What do you think of the new #Rocketballz by TaylorMade Golf?  Voice your opinion on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and friend us on Facebook.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Should the Golf World Learn Spanish?

Men’s professional golf in South and Central America is about to take a leap forward with the launch of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. With economic forecasts predicting that the region is going to be one of the most significant contributors to the growth in global trade, Tim Maitland looks at whether in the future the best investment the golf world can make is studying Spanish and Portuguese.

 For those in the golf industry who are still need to check their Mandarin phrase book before they can tell their一号木yi hao mu (driver) from their 推杆 tui gan (putter), the thought of learning a whole new language – or two given how Portuguese-speaking Brazil now boasts the world’s sixth largest economy – will be terrifying. It might be worth the effort.

 “Definitely! They definitely need to!” says Jhonattan Vegas, the 27-year-old Venezuelan whose remarkable 2011 rookie season on the PGA Tour has sparked one of the latest growth spurts in Latin America.

 “Obviously we’ve got great players, starting through the Argentineans, through Camilo Villegas and then me coming into the picture. I think it’s really growing; we’ve got a lot of kids with great potential coming up and I think they’re realising that it’s a dream that can come true, so I think it’s heading the right way.”

Almost everywhere one looks at the region there are reasons for optimism, but one can argue that they have been seen before and not amounted to as much as promised. It might have happened after Argentina’s Roberto De Vicenzo won the 1967 Open Championship and became the first Major winner from outside the traditional English-speaking golfing nations since Arnaud Massey of France in 1907. The game might have exploded at anytime from the 1950s through to the ‘80s when you could see players like Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Weiskopf, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin or Bernhard Langer winning anywhere from Panama through Argentina, Brazil, Mexico to Colombia.

The Olympics and Economics

The logic in suggesting that this time it’s different is two-fold. First, the return of golf to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 is opening doors for the game and, as we enter the four-year cycle post London 2012, opening the wallets of governments and national Olympic committees. Second, the economic predictions for the region are so positive it’s almost impossible to conceive of any reasons why golf won’t be along for the ride.

Earlier this year HSBC’s Global Connections Trade Forecast predicted that from 2012 to 2026 international businesses will increase global trade by 86 per cent to a total of US$53.8 trillion, but that trade growth in Latin America will be 30 per cent faster than for the rest of the world.

“If you take the emergence and development of golf in China as an example, it reappeared because Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei businesses started relocating their manufacturing bases to Southern China. From there came the investment in golf courses. It’s very hard to believe that, if the predictions for Latin America are proved correct, the growth in the economies and the influx of global business expertise won’t increase the demand for golf and that some of the investment flowing into the region won’t find its way into investment in golf” explains Giles Morgan, HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship, citing Brazil’s financial capital Sao Paulo and the 50-plus courses now in Sao Paulo State as an example.

Trade between Emerging Markets

It’s not just Brazil where growth can be anticipated. The same HSBC Global Connections Trade Forecast predicts that Peru and Panama will join Brazil in the top five Emerging Growth Importers between 2012 and 2016, and that Panama’s trade forecast will grow by almost 230 per cent in the next 14 years, fuelled by the scheduled completion of the widening of the Panama Canal and the development of shipping lanes to Singapore and between North and South America.

“What’s particularly intriguing for the golf world is where the new investment in golf in Latin America is going to come from. The reason the forecasts for trade growth are so high is because of the way trade between emerging markets is going to increase. China is going to overtake the USA as the world’s largest trading nation by 2016. It doesn’t take a huge feat of imagination to see the day when Chinese investors start putting their money into creating golf courses in the emerging markets they’re working in, because many of those investors are already engaged with golf in their own country,” explains Morgan.

Idols and Leaders

Unlike China, one of the main forces driving an increase in golf’s popularity in Latin America will be the performance of its stars. Whether it was Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa and her short but stellar career as the world’s undisputed number one woman golfer, Argentina’s Angel Cabrera winning the 2007 US Open and the 2009 Masters, Colombia’s Camilo Villegas heartthrob looks taking golf onto the front pages of his country’s newspapers for the first time, or Paraguay’s Julieta Granada snaffling the US$1 million prize at the ADT Championship in November 2006, much of golf’s progress into the public consciousness has been through the performances of a handful of the region’s successful pros.

“It’s very typical in our region; we’re very used to idols and leaders. That needed to happen in golf for the rest of the aspects to happen. I think all this starts with heroes,” explains Henrique Lavie, the Venezuelan former professional and current Commissioner of the Tour de las Americas, who will become Executive Director of the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

How quickly that can work in the region is illustrated both by Granada and Vegas. Granada reckons she would be recognised by around one out of every five people in the streets of Paraguay’s capital Asuncion; “They say ‘Are you the one that plays the little white ball in the hole?’ It’s very funny!” she says.

Vegas is credited with bringing about an even bigger shift in attitudes towards golf in his native Venezuela. His victory at the 2011 Bob Hope Classic witnessed a significant change in rhetoric from Hugo Chavez, the socialist President of the Republic of Venezuela.

In late 2010 Reuters reported that Chavez stating that "You, bourgeoisie, should offer your golf courses," to flood victims. Months later, following Vegas’ first victory on the PGA Tour, AP was reporting Chavez saying in a televised speech "I'm not an enemy of golf. I'm not an enemy of any sport."

“I didn’t change his mind, I just gave him a different perspective of what the game is really about,” Vegas explains.

“It’s gone from people thinking it’s a rich man’s sport to a game that everyone can play; which is huge, because I come from a family that is not really wealthy.”


For the women, the story in recent times has been slightly different. Granada, points out that part of the problem for women’s golf in Latin America is that those players who do make it to the top don’t stay for long. Two South Americans won on the LPGA in 2005 - Colombia’s Marisa and Chile’s first LPGA player Nicole Perrot –neither are still on the tour.

In that context, it’s easy to understand why last year’s win for another Colombian, Mariajo Uribe, at the limited-field, two-round unofficial HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup in Rio de Janeiro was greeted with what would otherwise seem to be near hysteria. Uribe herself predicted it would make “a huge impact on South American golf”, while Rachid Orra, at the time serving his spell as the President of the South American Golf Federation and who is still the leader of the Brazilian Golf Confederation declared “Symbolically, the same thing” as Vegas’ PGA victory.

The two-day 30-player US$720,000 tournament in Rio, which this year is known as the LPGA Brasil Cup presented by HSBC, remains the highest profile women’s golf event in the region.

The Olympic movement offers the more immediate hope that things will improve. The International Olympic Committee has driven women’s participation in the Olympics up from 23 per cent in 1984 to 43 per cent in Beijing four years ago. Couple that with the fact that investment from NOCs and governments is estimated to be worth around US$200 million a year worldwide to a sport like badminton; even a small slice of that for women’s golf would be more than it has ever seen before and could hardly fail to create significant change.

“I hope the money brings that access and people just get organised and get it done; the money helps, that’s a big part of it,” Granada states.

Horses Not Courses

If we are looking at the beginning of a golf boom in South America, it’s not a result of an explosion in the number of courses. Up-to-date statistics are hard to come by, the most reliable recent figures being from a KPMG Golf Benchmark Survey in 2008, which reported approximately 550 courses in South America with an estimated 130 under construction. Almost half of those courses were in Argentina.

Brazil has grown significantly. According to the Brazilian Golf Confederation the number of golfers has more than tripled since 2000 to 25,000 players is a drop in the ocean compared to the 10 million that, economically, they could be reaching.

“The size of golf in South America is pretty much what it was 10 years ago. The size of golf, the number of courses and the number of golfers is pretty much what it was at that time,” reveals Duncan Weir, the R and A’s Executive Director of Working for Golf.

“I think there has been a rise in the prominence and achievement levels of the top players rather than a dramatic rise in the participation levels and facilities. The leading amateurs are getting easier access to the American colleges and people like Villegas and Vegas are examples of that. They’re being spotted early by US college coaches.”

Crossing the Andes on a Unicycle

The problem is that uprooting and going to the USA at an early age is pretty much the only option, not an easy one considering that poverty, not wealth, has been behind many famous careers: Puerto Rican World Golf Hall of Fame member “Chi Chi” Rodriguez started golfing with a tin can and a stick. Paraguayan veteran Carlos Franco grew up in a dirt-floored, one-room home. Angel Cabrera lived under two brick walls and a tin roof. Andres Romero’s story is similar; a family of 10 with two bedrooms and no running water.

This is where the importance of the Tour de las Americas’ impending merger with the PGA Tour becomes apparent. In the last four months of this year the newly created PGA Tour Latinoamerica will stage 11 events, with the aim of expanding to 16 to 18 tournaments, each with a minimum purse of US$130,000. It’s not the increase in prize money – this year players were competing for a share of US$40,000 at Chile’s Abierto de Golf Los Lirios and for just US$10,000 more in Peru – but the structure. With success, a golfer can play his way into Nationwide Tour stops and the two PGA Tour events played in the region. Finishing at the top of the Order of Merit will bring Nationwide Tour status for the lucky few. Potentially, that increases the chances of a golfer who can’t find his way to the States growing and maturing far closer to home.

“It’s not because they will receive more money; they will spend much less money, so it’s easier. This is the importance of this circuit,” states Rachid Orra, the Brazilian Golf Confederation’s President.

“The majority of players don’t have the money to go to the States and start playing there, so it’s very difficult. If they can start their career in South America it makes thing much, much easier,” he adds.

Investment + Opportunity = Growth

Just how far and how rapidly golf in the region develops from here depends on an infinite number of factors. The main driver could be the future success of the kids currently emerging from college, the impact of the Olympics or from the other end of the scale the demand caused by increasing numbers of expatriate recreational golfers and growing upper-middle classes. What is clear is that there is plenty of scope.

“I think the potential is huge. It’s a continent of not that many golf courses in total. If you want to do a broad comparison there are currently about the same number of golf courses in Scotland, which has about 540, as there are in all of South America,” says the R&A’s Duncan Weir.

Together with the opportunities the other key ingredient needed is finance.

“The predictions at both ends of the scale are for unprecedented growth. There is going to be unprecedented investment in golf at a national level worldwide because of the Olympics in Rio. There is going to be unprecedented growth in trade and in economies in the Latin American region in the foreseeable future, which past experience indicates will result in an increase in demand for, and availability of, golf facilities. There’s investment and there’s opportunity; combine those two together and the end result is growth. Creo sucederá al final!” explains HSBC’s Giles Morgan finishing with the Spanish phrase meaning ‘I believe it will happen in the end’.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Now that Bubba Watson has won the Masters, what will he do for an encore?

Although millions of golf fans tuned in to The Masters tournament, it was most likely to see Phil Mickelson attempt to win his fourth green jacket. As Lefty's chances faded, another left-handed golfer stepped into the limelight to steal his thunder.

To many fans, Bubba Watson's victory in a sudden death playoff is now begging the question, "What will he do for an encore?"

Will Watson become a "folk hero" as David Letterman and the latest Sports Illustrated portrayed or will he fade away, as Devil Ball Golf queried, "with fourteen different winners in the last fourteen events and twelve of those being first-time winners, the odds are not good."

Speaking of majors, the U.S. Open being played at the Olympic Club will be a proving ground for Bubba Watson. The Lake Course will "create narrow chutes on several holes that might present a problem for Watson on his tee shots," mentioned golf writer Ron Kroichick.

Bubba Watson's goal is to have (at least) ten wins but as ESPN golf analyst Justin Ray stated, his next major may not come at the US Open. Although the 'other' Lefty may be "in the mix", "the past four Masters winners not only went winless on the world's two premier tours the rest of their green jacket seasons, but they combined for just twelve top-ten finishes the rest of the way."

I would like to think that Watson has a bright future in store as long as he can focus on golf and control his temper. Just closing your eyes and hitting it hard, as Bubba stated, doesn't win tournaments.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Mickelson Masters Golf Marketability over Tiger Woods

When it comes down to off-the-green marketability in the world of golf, who do you think has the "swinging power", Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods? This E-Poll market research study may surprise you!




If you thought that Tiger Woods was more commercially bankable than Phil Mickelson, you would be wrong! According to Nielsen and E-Poll’s N-Score, which measures endorsement potential, Lefty has almost double the strength in being "down-to-earth", in spite of the fact that people are more aware of Woods. Fans may be more knowledgeable of the Woods brand but only seventeen percent say they like Tiger. Looks like Woods needs to improve his public image...thought he was working on it?


Other likeable professional golfers as rated by N-Score include Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Ernie Els. Watson actually came in second, above Tiger, in the rankings and, in my opinion, it's easy to understand. Tom and Fred have a rich history playing Augusta with sixty-seven Masters Tournaments played between them and both have not had any real negative off-the-course media orther words, fans want to cheer these two guys to a win. Still, Woods did make it to third place so likeability alone is not enough.


Although Tiger Woods seems to be recovering from his personal issues with his first win last week in years at Bay Hill and a record of four Masters wins entering Augusta this week, he has not yet bounced back in the public eye.


Will a Masters victory be the turning point for Tiger Woods? “It will be interesting to see if another green jacket at the Masters this year can win back the favor of the public and corporate America," Nielsen Sports VP Stephen Master stated. 


What do you think? We'd like to know.

Voice your opinion on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and friend on Facebook.



Here is how Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research "N-Score" came up with their findings:

Using combined research expertise, the N-Score is an in-depth look at a sports figure’s overall endorsement potential, factoring in the attributes and demographic measures that align brands with endorsers. Each individual N-Score National survey is administered to 1,100 people within that panel via the Internet. The sample is representative of the general population based on gender, income, age, and education. Awareness, as noted in the Wire post above, is determined by showing half of the survey participants a picture of the athlete and half the athlete’s name. Appeal is the percentage of participants aware of the athlete who say that they like an athlete or like an athlete a lot.


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Posted via email from stacysolomon's posterous

Monday, April 02, 2012

THIS Tiger Woods won't win the Masters!


Tiger Woods at 2011 Masters Press Conference

Tiger Woods is back in contention and is listed on most golf sites to win the 2012 Masters, but he is also being shunned beacuse of inconsistent putting and long-term physical and emotional injuries. Although Woods is also a favorite on many a bookmaker's web site (some sites with odds as low as 4-1), not far behind is Rory McIlroy with Phil Mickelson galloping close behind. Is the new and improved Tiger Woods finally ready to win a major tournament? has Woods' odds at a respectable 5-1 with head odds maker Dave Johnson stating that Tiger's win this year at Bay Hill gave him a "mental edge" but that the only thing that could possibly defeat Tiger is, well...Tiger. Woods downplayed his recent victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitiational in spite of the fact that it was his first in over 900 days on Tour, noting that his win was not in a major championship; this statement in itself may reveal a weakened mental state. In my opinion, a PGA Tour win is a win and should be lauded and built upon for the next competition.


Mike Colbert, risk director for Cantor Gaming added Rory McIlroy's name to Woods' as contender for the coveted Green Jacket. "Of course it's a golf tournament and anyone could win, but two guys stand out," Colbert said. "The fact that Tiger Woods obviously hasn't been himself this year, but now is starting to come into his own, can't be ignored."


In stark contrast, golf portals like Bleacher Report are taking a different approach, telling bettors not to take a gamble on Tiger Woods when making a Masters pick because of his putting maladies, "ranking 67th across the PGA Tour with 1.768 across 2012."


Rory McIlroy, because of his big collapse in Augusta 2011 and a lack of accuracy should also be avoided for all of you Fantasy Golf aficionados. Probably the worst choice to lay your money on according to B/R is Adam Scott, yes even though Steve Williams will be by his side.


Other naysayers from Devil Ball Golf conclude that, even though Woods may have one or two good rounds in him he will not win this event, to ...

...sports "know-it-all" Sportige who believe that "more than two year's of injuries and simply playing bad doesn't disappear into thin air" may have to go head-to-head against ESPN Senior Golf Analyst Michael Collins whose position is simply, "How could you NOT make Tiger Woods the favorite to win the Masters?"


Who do I believe will win the Masters this year? Although I am not really a gambler (unless you consider my $2 Nassaus and occasional trotters picks at Empire Raceway in Yonkers, NY), I'll take Phil Mickelson as my pick but I'm certainly not saying that Tiger Woods can't win.


Many of my golf and social media friends call me "predictable" because I always root for Phil or Tiger but, the reason I'll keep both names at the top of my very short list is as Ovid stated,

"A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace." Woods and Mickelson are two golfers that take this saying seriously.


Voice your opinion on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and on Facebook.


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Posted via email from stacysolomon's posterous

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