Ann Arbor Golf Course Superintendent Recognized For Environmental Leadership

Ann Arbor Golf Course Superintendent Recognized For Environmental Leadership
Scott Spooner, Maintenance Superintendent for Ann Arbor’s Leslie Park Golf Course was selected as a merit winner in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America / Golf Digest Environmental Leaders…

Golf Blogger

TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball is LETHAL-IER

TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball is LETHAL-IER

Post image for TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball is LETHAL-IER

The latest in a recent run of poorly kept secrets has been revealed. Today TaylorMade officially (it doesn’t count unless it’s official) announced their new Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X Golf Balls.

Sorry guys, the LETHAL’s run is over.  I know…I was right there with you. I mean who here wasn’t desperately hoping for the 2014 LETHAL-IER, or perhaps something even more regal like SUPER DEATH NINJA (TP of course).

The absolute fact of the matter is that TaylorMade knows LETHAL was a stupid name. Really…they really do know it. When I discussed the subject with Josh Talge, TaylorMade’s VP of Metalwoods and Golf Balls, he suggested that in addition to the ridiculous name, packaging the balls to look like a Metallica album perhaps wasn’t the shrewdest marketing move either.

Keep in mind, Josh came from Old Spice. When the guy whose former company brought us “I’m the man your man wants to smell like” and “I’m on a horse” willingly concedes that aspects of the previous product were a little too over the top, you might have gone just a little too far.

While LETHAL was a really good ball that sold pretty well, it turns out that the heavy metal crowd isn’t one of golf’s key demographics.

Exit LETHAL. Enter Tour Preferred.

Like LETHAL Tour Preferred is a serious golf ball (actually it’s 2 golf balls), for serious golfers (and anybody else willing to spend $45 per dozen). Unlike LETHAL it has a name that isn’t going to chase anybody away before they actuall hit it, and packaging that’s a whole lot less Enter Sandman.

TourPreferredBox

Enough About the Name What About the Ball?

As you might expect given the Tour Preferred’s position as TaylorMade’s latest and greatest, TaylorMade is claiming that the Tour Preferred franchise is the best performing ball the company has released to date.

Who would have guessed.

As you might imagine, there are a few key features of the new balls that TaylorMade would like you know about, so I’ll just copy and paste them right here:

  • REACT™ Core for greater ball speed on all shots for increased distance.
  • Spin Mantle™ designed to deliver precise and consistent spin rates on given shots throughout the bag.
  • Low-Drag Performance Aerodynamics (LDP™) A 322-dimple pattern designed to minimize distance loss on low spin shots and also maintain a penetrating ball flight into the wind.
“Golf ball innovation doesn’t just happen overnight. Rather, it is a series of ongoing conversation with our Tour players. These conversations have led to the introduction of breakthrough technologies including low drag aerodynamics for ultimate wind resistance, a five-layer construction for superior control throughout the club set and now our softest and most durable cover.” – Dean Snell, Vice President of Golf Ball R&D, TaylorMade Golf

The other featured technology found in the Tour Preferred balls is what TaylorMade is calling Soft Tech™. Soft Tech™, is marketing speak, or maybe marketing double-speak for a cover material that TaylorMade claims is softer and more durable than anything they’ve ever produced.

The end result is a ball that lasts longer while providing softer feel around the green.

The Cover Really is Thinner…and Softer

Keep in mind, when it comes to thinks like cover thickness, improvements are generally measured in micrometers, but when TaylorMade’s Lindsay Main (TaylorMade’s Product Manager for Golf Balls) pulled samples of LETHAL’s cover and Tour Preferred’s cover out of her purse for me to compare, the differences were substantial.

Tour Preferred’s cover is significantly and noticeably thinner, and again, that’s no small thing considering the scale we’re talking about. Tour Preferred is, as TaylorMade suggests, actually noticeably softer as well, which absolutely did make me question the durability of the new ball.

Main assured me that the new material, despite the softer feel, is absolutely more durable. I haven’t spent enough time with the new balls to confirm, but I will say that I experienced the occasional shearing problem with the LETHAL.

Also…the woman carries golf ball parts around her purse. Did you catch that? That’s kinda hot, right?

Tour Preferred X ProfileTour Preferred Profile

We’re Number 2!

One of the more interesting aspects of the TaylorMade Tour Preferred Press Release is the right-out-of-the-gate mention that they are The #2 Golf Ball Brand on the PGA Tour.

Generally speaking, “we’re 2nd best” isn’t the best way to advertise your product, but in this case, I think it actually makes sense. Titleist is #1. Everybody knows Titleist is #1, and you know what, if everybody is willing to be total honest about the situation, they’ll tell you that Titleist is going to stay #1 for the next little while.

Probably worth a mention as well, TaylorMade is not the #2 brand at retail, so I’m guessing the thinking is your basic pyramid of influence stuff. If it is on Tour, it often is with the consumer too. Right now there’s not a clear #2 as far as market share is concerned, and before you can make any kind of serious run at Titleist, you have to be the most dominant #2. And so…hey…we’re number 2we’re number 2.

If you can’t beat ‘em (and nobody can right now), join ‘em.

To that end, TaylorMade has moved away ridiculous names (LETHAL, RocketBallz), colors (TP Red, TP Black), and even softness designators (S, not S) in favor of the regular vs. X approach of Titleist and one or two others.

If you’re trying to paint yourself as a viable alternative to the leader, you’ve got to make it easy for the consumer to understand which of yours compares to which of theirs. When I play Titleist, I play the ProV1 X, so it probably makes sense for me to take a look at the Tour Preferred X.

That was easy, right?

The two new balls are nearly as similar as they are different. Performance off the tee and around the green should be comparable. You can expect even more greenside spin than LETHAL. Performance differences will be more apparent on mid-to-long iron shots. In those situations, Tour Preferred will spin more and launch a little higher.

Comparatively, on those shots, Tour Preferred X will spin a bit less and provide a more penetrating ball flight. TaylorMade estimates that roughly 80% of its Tour Pros will settle into the Tour Preferred X.

TaylorMade isn’t making any noise whatsoever about the number of layers in each of the new balls. It’s not good for anyone if golfers approach the new lineup with a 5 layers is better than 4 approach. Like most anything else in golf it’s about finding what fits you best. That might be the 5 layer Tour Preferred X, it might not.

There is no best, only what’s best for you.

TourPreferredXBox

Hands On With TaylorMade Tour Preferred

I’ve only played a fairly miserable 18 with the new golf balls. What I can tell you based on my poor performance is that that Tour Preferred is that it’s really good off the tee and it doesn’t’ float. I’ll spend some more time with it once my game crawls out of the dumpster behind Arby’s.

It’s early yet, but TaylorMade can already claim 3 Professional wins with the Tour Preferred X. Sergio Garcia has won twice (Thailand Golf Championship and Qatar Masters), and Jessica Korda just won the Pure Silk Classic with the same ball.

Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X will be available at retail on March 1st at $45.99 per dozen. For more information, please visit www.taylormadegolf.com

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

TaylorMade’s Mark King Wants You To Help Hack Golf

TaylorMade’s Mark King Wants You To Help Hack Golf

Post image for TaylorMade’s Mark King Wants You To Help Hack Golf

Written By: Tony Covey

Last Tuesday night on the eve of the start of 2014 PGA Show (indoor edition), I gave up a perfectly good dinner with the nice people at Nike Golf to sit through a 2 hour (if you count the Q&A session that followed) presentation led by TaylorMade Golf CEO, Mark King, to kick off what he hopes will prove to be a new industry-wide initiative called Hack Golf.

I thought I’d finally be getting eyes on the long-rumored non-conforming lineup of clubs from TaylorMade. Instead, King was joined by National Golf Foundation CEO, Joe Beditz, PGA of America President, Ted Bishop, and “influential business thinker”, Gary Hamel, to talk about the latest attempt at saving the game of golf.

Basically I traded a real steak for some nebulous details, a collection of entertaining one-liners, and a whole lot of doom and gloom from Beditz and Bishop about the decline and inevitable death of the game of golf. A Sarah McLachlan soundtrack and a neglected Schnauzer would have complemented the festivities perfectly.

coexist

This isn’t the first time I’ve chosen a TaylorMade event and left wishing I could take a mulligan (ask me about the George Thorogood debacle of 2012 some time).

King did an excellent job of tapping into what it is about golf that makes us love the game, but as I’ll explain in a bit more detail below, I was less than enthused by presentations from Joe Beditz and Ted Bishop. Gary Hamel was a different story.

Hamel’s presentation, equal parts good business sense and motivational speaking, really brought home the larger point of Hack Golf. Basically, guys within the industry have mismanaged the game, and bungled every opportunity to stimulate growth within the game (my words, not Hamel’s). We need different people doing different things. The establishment’s status quo ain’t getting it done.

“Traditional and Innovation CAN Coexist” – Gary Hamel

And while I might be tempted to make a joke about living in a van down by the river, with his assertion that Traditional and Innovation CAN coexist, Hamel was the one guy in the bunch that convinced me that maybe something can (and should) be done to improve the state of the game.

Given TaylorMade’s involvement (and investment), and Mark King’s role in launching this whole Hack Golf thing, you might be surprised to learn is that King seems to believe that kicking establishment guys (like King himself) to the curb, and bringing in fresh ideas from outside the industry is really the only way this Hack Golf thing is going to work.

I’m certain he’s at least right about that.

What is Mark King’s Motivation?

I’ve never met TaylorMade CEO Mark King. I can tell you that his team is fiercely loyal, and anything viewed as a personal attack on Mark King, is pretty much taken personally by all.

That tells me something about the man.

I’ve been to 4 PGA Shows, and have visited TaylorMade headquarters 3 times, and yet I’ve never been closer to him than I was last Tuesday night.

While my front row seat put me close enough to read the label on the Coors Light bottle Mr. King kept at arm’s reach during the Q&A session that followed (and no doubt by the end could have used another), my reasonable proximity hardly put me close enough to read Mr. King’s mind.

future

I tend to size people up pretty quickly. Give me one minute of your time and I’ll decide whether or not I like you. One more and I decide whether or not I trust you. Anything longer and I’m overthinking it.

With that in mind, I would say that there are a solid handful of big time golf execs who I’ve been around long enough to have a sense of what makes them tick, but Mark King isn’t one of them.

I don’t know Mark King, and 99% of you trying to figure out what this Hack Golf thing is all about don’t know him either.

As a result, the discussions we’ve had around Mr. King’s real motivation for throwing company money (5 million of it) and resources behind the new TaylorMade-led Hack Golf initiative, are wholly speculative, but that doesn’t mean we’re clueless.

The easy cynical response (and it’s the prevailing one within the industry right now) is that Hack Golf is just another TaylorMade money grab. It’s absolutely possible, even likely, that is the case, but I’m working off another theory.

Mark King has been at TaylorMade for 30-some-odd years. He’s conquered giants (Callaway), taken his company to the top, and dominated the category (metalwoods) that TaylorMade sees as its birthright in ways never thought possible. At the peak of the RocketBallz craze, TaylorMade controlled 52% of the metalwoods market. That is absolutely the top of the mountain.

It’s not unreasonable to think he’s almost done. Hack Golf is his Bill Gate moment; his legacy. It’s his chance to do something to leave the game better than he found it.

I’d take the long odds that there’s real sincerity in his Hack Golf initiative. It is For the Love of Golf. Unfortunately, I also believe that the motives of others involved in the project are anything but altruistic.

So What Exactly Is Hack Golf?

(Taken from www.hackgolf.org)

“Hack Golf is a pioneering initiative aimed at making golf more fun for everyone. The premise: we need to re-invigorate the golf experience to ensure the game continues to thrive in the 21st century.
Designed as an open innovation and collaborative platform, Hack Golf brings together passionate golfers, interested non-golfers, and industry leaders—indeed, anyone with ideas and approaches to increase the fun factor in golf.“

hackgolf-hamel

There’s plenty of additional information on the Hack Golf website, but the Cliff Notes version is that Hack Golf seeks to crowd source the future of the game golf. It starts with a question like, What would golf look like if we reinvented it with an eye towards the realities of the world we live in today?

While I’m not sure I’m completely buying analogies to Open Source software projects like Linux or Apache, skill level of the participants aside, I get the point. Hack Golf seeks to use the larger community (and even those outside the community) to advance, and perhaps even fundamentally change the game of golf.

Basically Hack Golf aims to solicit input from golfers and non-golfers with the goal of developing new and exciting ways to play the game of golf. Maybe that means non-conforming equipment. Maybe it’s different formats, bigger holes, etc. Maybe it’s something that hasn’t been dreamed of yet.

The driving force for the initiative is that golf participation is dwindling and if we (the golf community and those just curious about golf) don’t do something to reverse the tides of decline (subtext: A mission at which the USGA continues to fail miserably), the game we know and love will eventually cease to exist.

Once sufficient feedback has been received, the bodies behind Hack Golf (ostensibly TaylorMade at this point) will experiment with those ideas and hopefully find a few things that can actually help grow the game.

Now is probably a good time to mention the importance of semantics. TaylorMade is investing five million dollars of company money, and Mr. King claims they do so without any expectation of a return on their investment. The Hack Golf-driven ideas that eventually get implemented will be called experiments. Even at TaylorMade, it’s probably ok if Hack Golf experiments fail, but business initiatives, even those without expected returns, probably can’t.

Everything That’s Wrong With Hack Golf

Ok…everything is probably too broad. Given more time, I’m sure I could find even more reasons why I think Hack Golf, without some pretty quick changes, is going to fail, but here’s a few to get us started.

beditz-no-fun

“Hack Golf” is a Polarizing Name that brings a negative connotation to what should be a positive movement

I came from the computer industry. I get the whole hack thing. To grow the game we need to tear down barriers – strip the code if you will – and rebuild it from the ground up.

Hacking, in the right context, is a good thing.

For any project of this magnitude in any other industry Hack probably works, but in golf…man, there’s such a stigma attached to hackers and hacking. The self-proclaimed serious golfer crowd isn’t going to want any part of it, and if Hack Golf is going to work, it needs to be all-inclusive, both in practice and in name.

TaylorMade’s name on the initiative Limits Wide-Spread Industry Participation

During his presentation, Mark King suggested he wants Hack Golf to be all inclusive. He’s optimistic that Callaway, Titleist, and every other golf company will join the initiative. That’s never going to happen, and I suspect Mr. King knew as much going into this thing.

Shortly after the official launch of Hack Golf, I spoke with executives at several golf companies. Sufficed to say, TaylorMade will be going it alone. Other golf companies have their own grow-the-game initiatives, and it’s fair to say there is more than a little skepticism about what the actual motivation for Hack Golf is.

The overwhelming sense within the industry is that that Hack Golf is merely an elaborate plan for TaylorMade to sell a different kind of golf club, and I can assure you there’s nobody else in the golf industry that’s overly interested in helping TaylorMade move more product.

One highly placed official was actually excited about TaylorMade’s involvement; suggesting it was a sign the company is further distancing itself from enthusiasts and influencers (the core golfer if you will). Some would call that jumping the shark.

Another higher-up type declined to say much at all, telling me it would be inappropriate to comment on another company’s marketing initiatives.

You want the industry’s temperature on Hack Golf…there it is.

It’s very difficult to reshape an industry when that industry as a whole is dubious of your motivation.

beditz-image-problem

For Some, Money is a Painfully Obvious Motivating Factor

More so than any other piece of the Hack Golf presentation, an over-emphasis of the financial aspects of the decline of the game by Joe Beditz, CEO of the National Golf Foundation, and Ted Bishop, President of the PGA of America led me to question not only their individual motivations, but whether or not the need for growth actually exists.

If we’re going to bring new golfers to the game, shouldn’t it be for the experience of golf itself; the camaraderie, the integrity of the game, and whatever fun comes from a good walk spoiled?

Sure, I get that there is a need to be more inclusive and I’m sure we can find new ways to play golf or something loosely based on it, but Mr. Beditz, and Mr. Bishop spent far too much time talking about the number of rounds lost, and the millions of dollars that are no longer flowing into the pockets of the membership of the PGA of America.

What I took away from their presentations is that Hack Golf isn’t about turning the tides on the decline of game itself; it’s about the reversing the decline in revenue the game generates for the service providers. I can respect Ted Bishop’s obligation to speak for, and protect the interests of his constituency, but little in his comments suggested a motive for growth beyond money’s sake.

The vibe was one of  if we can get them to play golf (or something like it) it will mean more money for us.

“There is a place in golf right now for anything that makes the game more enjoyable for people to play it” – Ted Bishop

We should be talking about how awesome the game of golf is, how it brings generations together competitively or not, and how we go about continuing to share this most amazing game with generations to come.

Instead 2 guys talked more than they should have about how the money doesn’t flow like it did in the good old days.

If one of the hindrances to growth is the perceptions that golf is a sport dominated by rich white men hell bent on protecting their own interests, Bishop and Beditz did very little to convey otherwise.

Golf is no different than any other industry. Bubbles burst, businesses decline, and new things take their place. The motivation for revitalizing anything should never be the need for a segment of the population to regain lost income. In any environment the best will survive and thrive; the rest will just need to find something else to do.

The game of golf offers no exception. Even here, entitlement only goes so far.

bishop

Grass Roots Movements Need to Start at the bottom

You know..at the roots…of the grass. I’m pretty sure that’s why they’re called grass roots movements.

By the letter it’s basically impossible for organizations at the top (TaylorMade, PGA of America) to start a grass roots movement. It just doesn’t make any damn sense.

While the stated goal is to be all-inclusive, Hack Golf in its infancy isn’t a for golfers by golfers (and non-golfers) movement. It’s a movement by TaylorMade with the support of the PGA of America.

Who is it for?

Cynics will say it’s for TaylorMade. What a great way to create a new (that’s code for non-conforming) revenue stream.

What I witnessed suggests it’s for the financial benefit of those struggling in the golf industry.

But for golfers?

I’m far from convinced. I’m told it’s ok to be skeptical right now, and I most definitely am.

Golf Is Just Like Skiing?

During Tuesday night’s presentation, it was suggested that parallels can be drawn between golf and what happened with skiing and snowboarding. The story as told was that snowboarding saved skiing.

It’s preposterous to think that if not for snowboarding mountains would have shut down en masse and everyone would have stopped skiing. The analogy also plays fast and loose with the realities of that particular situation.

In the beginning, snowboarders weren’t exactly welcome on most slopes. There was genuine animosity between skiers and snowboarders. Snowboarders were outsiders; the hackers of the snow world.

The skiing industry didn’t invent snowboarding as an alternative revenue stream – they fought it every step of the way. Eventually ski operators figured out that there was plenty of money to be made, but snowboarding as sport came from the fringes of skiing (not from the center of the skiing industry). Snowboarding was real rebellion, not some contrived, premeditated alternative revenue stream.

There’s a reason why the biggest names in skiing aren’t the biggest names in snowboarding.

This is exactly what golf needs; true grassroots movements that can bring our fringe elements, whatever those are, into the mainstream. As with snowboarding, it needs to happen organically, not under the careful supervision of TaylorMade.

Golf’s Problems have Very Little to Do with Golf

“We have a cancer in our participation numbers…golfers aren’t having fun” – Joe Beditz

All of this Hack Golf stuff suggests that much of what’s wrong with golf (if anything actually is wrong with golf) is internal to the game itself. If you look at the ideas pouring into the Hack Golf website you’ll find plenty of the same comfy old hat.

Golf is elitist.

Golf takes too long.

Golf is too expensive.

All true to an extent, I suppose. Let’s assume something can be done to speed up play. I think there is. That’s the low hanging fruit.

The rest?

You think you can shift the mindset of the elitist golfer to be more welcoming of those coming out to the course to “Hack Golf”?

How many of you would actually welcome Foot Golf on your home course? I might be able to get on board with a secondary, 15” cup, but a soccer ball?

Fuck off.

While I can see how kicking a ball on a golf course might create a secondary revenue stream for the course owners, I don’t believe it’s going to actually grow the game of golf itself.

Here’s what I think golf’s biggest problem is: People just have other shit to do with their time.

What’s different now than it was during the golf boom?

Everything.

We have stadium seating in movie theatres (and in stadiums), traveling sports teams for our kids (soccer, baseball, hockey, and even lacrosse), high definition televisions, Xboxes, and the freaking Internet on our phones.

In the good ol’ days of the golf biz, phones had cords and the internet didn’t exist…and neither did lacrosse in any measurable capacity (those were the days).

Why spend $50 on greens fees when for 99 cents one can spend the next month tossing cartoon birds at cartoon blocks? I’ll take high score over double-bogey any day.

It wasn’t too long ago that that alternative to golf was a trip to the mall for some Orange Julius. Today a slew of real, actual alternatives exist.

Hack anything you want. You can’t change that.

Seriously, the bottom line is that golf has more competition than ever before, and much of what it’s up against is infinitely more family friendly and a hell of a lot less frustrating.

“If I wanted four hours of ritual humiliation I would have hired a dominatrix…and it would have been cheaper”. – Gary Hamel

At my house, Sunday is family day. Golf is not a family activity (not when you have a 3 year old). And here’s the shame of it, when she is older, my daughter’s passions will be things like gymnastics, and skating, and soccer, or some other activity that’s much more family (and toddler) friendly right now.

Golf’s window often closes before it ever opens.

If Hack Golf has a shot at making any real difference, I think it’s through making the game more accessible and desirable to families as a whole.

That’s my 2 cents.

beditz-numbers

I’m Not Convinced We Actually Need to Grow Golf

Does golf need saving? Does the game actually need to grow?

Once again, it’s basically preposterous to think that because participation is on the decline, one day golf will cease to exist. The expression is that water finds its own level, and despite the ebb and flow of the last 2 decades, I don’t believe golf has found its plateau yet, but I’m certain there is one.

What is so horribly wrong with flat?

Oh I know…stagnation is bad too. It’s bad for golf companies who want to sell more products. It’s bad for the PGA of America whose members over-developed and over-reached when times were good. It’s most definitely bad for retailers struggling with declining margins and declining revenues, but is Hack Golf about saving the industry or is it about the golfer and the game?

Why not let golf be what it is. Let those of us who enjoy it do our thing, while those who don’t do theirs.

When I put some real thought into it I reached the conclusion that as golfers, there’s very little benefit for us in growing the game.

Sure…as somebody in the golf business, more golfers theoretically means more traffic to my website, and more revenue as a result, but as a golfer…

Growth comes with the threat of harder to get tee times, even slower play, and even greater frustration. Call me an elitist, but I don’t want guys kicking soccer balls or throwing Frisbees around the course while I’m trying to play real golf.

I know…that makes me part of the problem, and I’m basically good with that, because I know I’m far from alone, and I think there good ways to solve this problem that still involve using clubs and something very similar to the modern golf ball.

Do you think places like Pebble Beach, or even your local goat pasture is going to cut prices because of increased demand? Do you think Titleist is going to lower their prices on drivers because they’re selling too many of them?

While non-conforming clubs could benefit the golfer and grow the game, they won’t exist until somebody is sure they can make real money on them.

It’s simple supply and demand, and when supply exceeds demand, as is the case with the golf industry today, it’s actually the consumer (the golfer) who benefits.

Saving golf, growing golf…as much as anything, it’s about tipping the scales back in the industry’s favor. Sign me up for that…who’s with me?

As long as there’s enough foot traffic to keep the courses I want to play in business (and there is), I’m not going to concern myself too much with those who flew too close to the sun and are paying the consequences for it.

The golf bubble burst a while ago, and maybe the simple solution to all of our so-called problems is to accept it and move on.

The question we should be asking right now isn’t How can we grow golf?, it’s Why do we need to grow golf?

Bring me an answer completely devoid of financial motivation and I’ll get on board, but for now, I’m not feeling any pressing need to help Hack Golf.

Could Hack Golf Work?

for the love of golf

Despite my rants, I actually like Hack Golf…as a concept. I’d like to see it succeed, but if it’s going to work, TaylorMade, and the PGA of America and anybody else with a potential revenue stake in the outcome needs to stay as far away from it as possible.

Go away. Right now.

You gave us the platform, now step away and let the golfers (and non-golfers) run with it.

This isn’t about you, it can’t be. It has to be about us and the game.

The most genuine moment in Tuesday night’s event came during the Q&A Session when another member of the media asked Mark King what the first three rules of Hack Golf should be.

His response was very telling:

I don’t know…our thoughts are irrelevant”. – Mark King on the first 3 rules of Hack Golf

It’s not Mr. King’s question to answer, it’s yours. It’s going to take us a while to figure this thing out, so while Hack Golf ramps up, allow me to (not-so) humbly submit my first 3 rules of Hack Golf…3 rules I think should be prominently displayed at every golf course in the country.

Respect the course, move at a reasonable pace, and enjoy golf  – however you choose to play it.

Everything else is inconsequential.

What are your first 3 rules of Hack Golf?

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Bellum Winmore 707 Putter – REVIEW

Bellum Winmore 707 Putter – REVIEW

Post image for Bellum Winmore 707 Putter – REVIEW

Win a Custom Bellum Winmore Putter

Check the box at the end of the article for instructions detailing how you can win your own customized Bellum Winmore putter!

 

Brass Balls

At the most recent running of the annual PGA Merchandise Show companies rolled out the products that they believe golfers will want/need in the coming season. How many products? Let’s just anger my 7th grade English teacher and use the descriptor a lot. There are new clubs, carts, rangefinders, shoes, ball markers, training aids, and a myriad of other competitors for the golf dollars. The companies making the products are as diverse as the products themselves, ranging from the huge OEM to the dude in the garage, yet they all share one common character: courage.

Reverend, you’ve got balls as big as church bells.
-Dragnet, 1987

For some reason, I always incorrectly associate that quote with Clint Eastwood’s preacher in Pale Rider. Regardless, it was the first thing that came to mind when thinking about getting involved in the golf marketplace.

Bringing a new product to market is risky. You are betting the year’s bottom line on how well the product is embraced by the buying public. For a small company, this is a life and death equation, they essentially get one shot to make an impact, or fiscally die. Even large companies though can take a significant hit if the new product flops. Google “New Coke” if you are not old enough to remember that debacle.

From My Cold, Dead Hand

Given the competitive nature of the golf market, a company must believe strongly in their product to brave the risk of entering the golf fray. Some golf products seem riskier to launch than others.  Maybe my view is askew, but I think that entering the putter business is the riskiest of all.

Why the riskiest? First, there are lots of putters out there. A trip to your local shop will yield putters of all shapes, sizes, and prices. Second, putters can be an emotional purchase. Subjective terms like looks and feel can get in the way or making the purchase based on performance. Third, and maybe most significantly, putters show a low bag turnover rate. Nobody I know is still gaming their 20-year-old driver, but I’ve seen more than one putter that has been in a bag since the 80’s. I use a new putter each time I play, but the rational golfer tends to stick with a putter longer than any other club.

Bellum Winmore-09

Bellum Winmore: Willing to Take the Risk

Enter Bellum Winmore, a small (i.e. two guys) company out of New York that has dove into the putter pool. Bellum Winmore has decided that they can bring a putter to the market that will separate them from the other competitors. Is it a different color? Nope. Does it have a unique alignment system? Nope. Unique insert polymer? Nope.

Instead of edging into the market with a unique “gimmick”, Bellum Winmore is making a putter that is 100% milled. I feel that the milled putter market is the most dangerous of all because that puts you directly up against Mr. Cameron and Mr. Bettinardi, as well as the other established small shop makers like Byron Morgan and Machine. It’s like choosing to be a heavyweight fighter when Mike Tyson was in his prime. Risky.

So today we are going to take a closer look at Bellum Winmore, and their new model 707 and see if we can’t shed a little more light on their story and their putter.

Bellum Winmore-18

Bellum Winmore: The Name & Mission

I had Tim, one of the owners of Bellum Winmore answer a couple of questions so that we could all learn a little more about them and their putter. Let’s get the obvious two out of the way first:

Tell me the meaning behind the Bellum Winmore name.

Originally the name was going to be Bellum, which is Latin for war. War on its own just seemed kind of negative with overtones of extreme personal danger. So we added a simple word smash and Bellum Winmore was born. Winning more is a concept I think we can all get next to. A tip of the hat to Charlie Sheen

What separates Bellum Winmore putters from off the rack putters? From other small-shop putters?

Bellum Winmore was formed on two immutable concepts: performance and quality. Zac and I have complimentary skill sets in manufacturing that ensure a sustained commitment to these guiding elements and a promise to consistently make our precision putters available at the lowest price possible. To our knowledge we also offer the largest selection of grip weights of any manufacturer, large or small. This gives our customers the ability to really tune their putters from a swing-weight perspective. Our emblem is pretty cool too

Bellum Winmore: The 707 Putter

Now that we have an idea about where they are coming from as a company, let’s take a look at the putter.

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Specifications: Bellum Winmore 707

  • Material: 100% Milled 303 Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 350g
  • Toe Hang: about 4:00
  • Length Tested: 34?
  • Finish: Satin
  • Grip:  Bellum Winmore logoed PURE Grip
  • Ball for Testing: Wilson Staff 2014 FG Tour

Looks

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My thoughts on the looks of the Bellum Winmore 707 are best captured with the word clean. The edges are sharp and precise, as is the milling throughout the entire head. If you are looking for handmade character, you won’t find much in the 707. Instead, you will find precision milling, with seemingly very tight tolerances.

The specific visual features that stand out to me are the neck, with it’s short over hosel rather than plumbers neck design. The between-the-bumpers valley is also a little narrower than a typical Anser-style putter, leading into a cavity-free transition from the back through the face.

Personally, as one who aims primarily by squaring the face to target, I really like the thick, flat top line of the putter. I also find the sloping geometries from the cavity to the bumpers visually pleasing. Aesthetics are, of course, subjective.  From my perspective though, the Bellum Winmore 707 is a great looking putter.

 

Feel

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303 Stainless Steel with a thick face equals softer than I expected. No sweet mush of carbon, but no expected crisp pop of stainless either. It’s not as crazy soft as the 304 stainless that STX uses, but the 707’s softness is worth noting.

I was actually surprised a bit when I went back to check the head weight on the 707. It feels a bit stouter than the advertised 350g. I don’t have the exact swing weight of the tested putter, but more than one tester commented on how it felt “head heavy”. Bellum Winmore has a way to address this feel/play system though: customizable grip counterweights. I’ll let them tell you the significance of these weights.

Swingweight, simply stated, seeks to quantify the golfer’s perception of a club’s headweight as it travels through space. A club’s swingweight is calculated by defining the balance point of the club based on the fulcrum point on a swingweight scale. Measurements are denoted on a graduated alpha-numeric scale ranging from A0 through F10, each letter having ten equally measured increments.

A club measuring on the low end of the swingweight scale (A0) will feel lighter than one measuring on the high end (F10). That said, two clubs having identical headweights may have distinctly different swingweights. This is because swingweight is a reflection of the weight distribution of the entire club. A club feels heavier during the swing as the balance point nears the head, and lighter as it nears the grip.

Feel in golf is never so important as it is in putting, and Bellum Winmore believes that golfers should be able to tune their putters to suit their own personal strength and stroke characteristics. That is why every Bellum Winmore Milled Putter is available with back weighting from 10g to 100g.

With putters, as in life, it’s important to find proper balance.

Adjusting the feel is part of the Bellum Winmore process. That’s a plus.

 

Alignment

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Line or no line. You have the choice. As a no-line guy, that’s a huge option. Every custom putter I have ever ordered has been line-less, which is probably why only-with-lines production putters don’t last long in my bag. Bellum Winmore gives you the option. It’s as easy as using a drop down menu on their ordering page. Can you imagine what it would take for you to get a putter from another big company without a line? Ask your buddy how much he paid for that line-less Newport 2.

As I mentioned before, I also appreciated the presence of the thick top line when it came to lining up the putt. The position of the cavity also ties in nicely for alignment. The short neck seems to get itself out of the way so you can really see the relationship between the ball and the face.

 

Accuracy

Here is the real measuring stick of the Bellum Winmore: accuracy. No putter is going to make it in the market if it misses the hole with tiresome regularity. Here is how our testers faired with the 707.

BW-707-score

I think that an 84 is a solid score from a first-time offering, from a brand new company. Our testers were a little shaky at 5’, commenting about both the lack of line and head-heavy feel. Once they had taken a few more putts, accuracy jumped dramatically. Another interesting thing was that more than one tester mentioned how nice the putter would feel with a bit more grip weight. This was unprompted by me. I didn’t mention Bellum Winmore’s weights at all. Looks like the Bellum Winmore guys really understand their product.

 

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Fit For Stroke

Don’t change your stroke. Change your putter.

The (FIT FOR STROKE™) concept was developed by PING, yet another genius fitting system they have developed for golfers. It works hand-in-hand with the iPING Putter App which is highly suggest everyone getting (IT’S FREE!). You might be surprised to find out that the stroke you think you have isn’t the stroke you actually have.

This addition to the MGS reviews will allow you to become a more consistent putter by matching you with models that better fit your stroke type. They will be broken down into three categories: (1) Straight – for face balance putters (2) Slight Arc – for mid toe hang putters (3) Strong Arc – for toe down putters

“Results from hundreds of player and robot tests at PING offer overwhelming scientific support for the effectiveness of fitting for stroke. In recent years more diagnostic tools and testing equipment have become available, and the results prove that a golfer’s consistency improves when their putter balance matches their stroke type. It was interesting to observe that golfers putt more consistently with stroke-appropriate models, but they also show a personal preference for these models, too. Prior to putting with them, golfers are drawn to models that fit their eye, even before they fit their stroke.” says PING.

The Bellum Winmore 707 is a: Slight Arc

 

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Ordering a Bellum Winmore

I started this article talking about risk in the golf market, from a company’s perspective. A consumer ordering a product from a new company is also a risky venture. Let’s see what Tim has to say about ordering and the future of Bellum Winmore.

What is the process for ordering a Bellum Winmore putter?

Bellumwinmore.com is a fully functional commerce website where putters can be spec’d out and purchased via credit card or Paypal. Additionally we are working toward making our putters available at select pro shops along the east and west coasts.

What can a golfer expect when he or she games a Bellum Winmore putter?

Gaming a Bellum Winmore putter means you can expect the same pleasing feel at impact from model to model. In addition, our customers can rest assured that their sightline is in line with the COG.

Can you give us a glimpse of things to come at Bellum Winmore?

We have a cache of production ready designs that we’re extremely excited about. Right now it looks like 2014 will yield three releases in addition to the 707. We have plans to increase our grip and head cover offerings as well.

 

The Bellum Winmore Secret Weapon: $229

If you are stepping into the ring with Scotty Tyson, you had better have something special. The fact that the Bellum Winmore 707 is a solid putter is an excellent start, but there are lots of excellent putters in the market. Let’s think about that line-less Newport 2 I mentioned before. How much would it cost to get one? Likely thousands, if you could even find one on the secondary tour market. At Bellum Winmore, you can get a 707 with or without a line for $229.

Now settle down. I am not saying that the 707 is the same as a Circle T NP2. I can’t make that claim, because I don’t own that Cameron. I could never afford a Circle T NP2, and that’s the point. The 707 can be customized, and had by anyone for $229. That’s a niche in the milled putter market. I can’t think of another company out there offering fully milled, customizable putters at that price. And remember, it’s a nice putter.

Bellum Winmore-10

 

It’s Still Risky for Bellum Winmore, But Looks Promising

Bellum Winmore has dove into the putter pool, and shows signs that they will be able to swim rather than sink. I applaud their bravery, and belief that they are producing a putter that will not only hold its own in the putter corral, but also blaze the trail for the new models that follow. Hopefully consumers will match their bravery, risking the $229 to order a putter that is customized to his or her preference. Honestly, the consumer gets the better risk position. I’ve played the 707 and talked to Tim at Bellum Winmore. If I wanted one of these putters, I’d PayPal that $229 with feelings of excitement and expectation, not anxiety and trepidation. In this case, the company and the consumer should both Win More.

 

Win A Bellum Winmore Putter

Do you want to win a Bellum Winmore 707 of your design? Just do the following three simple things:

Head to the Bellum Winmore website (HERE) and then leave a comment below about the Bellum Winmore  707. (Mandatory for entry)

Follow @bellumwinmore on Twitter (Bonus Entry)

One lucky winner will be chosen at random on or around February 7th. GOOD LUCK!

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CONTEST: WIN MYGOLFSPY’S MOST WANTED DRIVER AND MORE

CONTEST: WIN MYGOLFSPY’S MOST WANTED DRIVER AND MORE

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We are currently deep into our investigation to find the Most Wanted Driver in golf, but are having trouble pinning down a prime suspect. So we are calling on you, our “man on the street”, to help make the world aware of the largest  mandriverhunt ever in golf. 

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Click on, save and then PRINT OUT the “Most Wanted” poster above in the article. Then put up that poster anywhere and everywhere possible, preferably in high traffic areas. We’re talking on the golf course, train stations, coffee shops or at a bus stop. But’s who’s gonna step it up with the coolest idea? Think BIG! Hell why not Tiger Woods front door even. C’mon it’s time to think outside the box here people. Then take a picture or video of you posting it or already posted and report back to us.

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*Failure to adhere to rules such as adding hash tags or multiple entries via one social media will result in disqualification

THE PRIZES

1st Place:

The 2014 “Most Wanted” Driver + REWARD MONEY (EDITORS CREATIVE CHOICE FOR WINNER)

2nd Place:

The 2014 “Most Wanted” Driver (RANDOMLY SELECTED WINNER)

 

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Good luck Agents

 

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