Butch Harmon’s new golf instruction DVDs: Not an end-all, but a pretty fair guide

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One of the keys to Butch Harmon’s tremendous success as a teacher is that he’s always been able to tailor his teaching methods individually to his immensely talented students. And he’s learned from them as well.

Unfortunately, Harmon can’t give you feedback, but his instruction and tips can provide a solid foundation for anyone trying to learn the game or get better. After all, Harmon knows his stuff, thanks to a lifetime of experience around the very best in the game.

This comprehensive golf instructional two-DVD set, titled “Butch Harmon About Golf presented by Titleist,” features 57 chapters containing more than 250 specific tips, totaling more than four hours of consecutive years. He covers everything from setup to full swing to short game, then addresses faults and cures. There’s really no stone unturned in this instructional set.

I have worked with some of the greatest players in golf, and I am proud of the success they have had while working with me. However, I created this DVD for the thousands of golfers that I will never have a chance to try and help,” Harmon said. “This is my legacy to the high school golfer trying to make the team, the golfer trying to win his Saturday Nassau, or the lady golfer taking up the game.”

Butch Harmon About Golf presented by Titleist: The breakdown

As you might expect from an instructional DVD package that costs $79.95, production quality is very high. While there isn’t a lot of flash, the camera work combined with audio is well done; Harmon’s instruction is communicated clearly.

The two DVDs are broken down into six sections, and it’s very well organized. Need a refresher on bunker play? Just go to Section 5 on the first DVD and Harmon has it covered. Need help with putting? Check out Section 6 on DVD 2 and so forth.

There’s also a section that covers all the players Harmon has worked with, and the list is impressive. There was Tiger Woods, of course, as well as Greg Norman, but it also includes Natalie Gulbis, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Fred Couples, Nick Watney, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.

He also talks about observing elite players on the range and practice greens, picking their brains about how they hit certain shots. For example, he shares a pitching tip from Angel Cabrera that makes a lot of sense.

There’s also a section on choosing the right equipment, fitness and kids, women and seniors.

One of the best features of this package is the 18-page companion booklet, sort of a Cliff Notes version of the series that you can put in your golf bag. It’s great for review or for finding a particular section to review.

Butch Harmon About Golf presented by Titleist: The verdict

Supposedly Norman learned to play golf by reading Jack Nicklaus’ “Golf My Way.” Larry Nelson picked up the game in his early 20s by following Ben Hogan’s “Five Fundamentals.” Those are the exceptions — most people need supervised instruction because, quite frankly, we can’t see ourselves. And even if we could, most of us really don’t know what we’re doing.

The bottom line is that live lessons from a good teacher are always better.

But if you’re going to learn to play or improve your game on your own, Harmon’s About Golf is about as good as it gets. Harmon comes from golf’s first family of instruction. His father, Claude, was the 1948 Masters champion, and his brothers are also nationally renowned teachers. Since his early experience with Norman, Harmon has worked with more than 100 PGA, LPGA, and European Tour players, including 21 major winners.

courtesy of Mike Bailey (worldgolf.com)

 

Coming Soon! – Titleist 915 D4 Driver

Coming Soon! – Titleist 915 D4 Driver

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Written By: Tony Covey

We’ve got a fresh entry on the USGA’s Conforming Drivers list from Titleist. Considering Titleist has been fairly consistent with it’s one-two punch of D2 and D3, the emergence of a third 915 model will likely come a bit of a surprise to some, but remember, we told you Titleist would have 3 drivers for 2015.

The Details

While Titleist is still fairly tight-lipped about the new offering, here’s what we’ve learned so far.

  • Weight closer to face than D3 and D2.
  • Deeper face than D3.
  • Because of the deeper face, it is 450cc, 10cc more than the D3.
  • Looks very similar to the D3 but with more curvature across the crown for a slightly rounder look.
  • Reduces spin by approximately 300RPM (compared to D3).
  • Lower MOI than D2 and D3, but offers similar to higher MOI compared to competitive low spin product.
  • It will be available through Titleist’s yet to be announced MOTO program.  MOTO stands for “Made Only To Order”, which basically means you can’t just go to Golfsmith at grab a D4 off-the-rack.
  • The D4 will be released in May.

What Does that Mean?

What we’re talking about more closely fits the conventional definition of a better player’s driver. The most intriguing piece of this is that bit about the weight being closer to face. The rest of the tech (Active Recoil Channel, Radial Speed Face) will almost certainly carry over from the D2 and D3. Nevertheless, the D4 is a potentially interesting change of pace for Titleist, who, despite its reputation of being a brand for better players has continuously churned out some of the most forgiving drivers in all of golf.

Is it that Titleist really make clubs for better players, or is that it better players are better in part because they have the good sense to play more forgiving drivers?

From a comparative design philosophy perspective, Titleist is much closer to PING than it is TaylorMade. How far Titleist has swung to the other side with the D4 remains to be seen, but I suspect the D4 won’t prove to be dramatically different. Titleist is a company that thrives on subtle and systematic changes not total revolution.

Also worth a mention, the D5 model that Adam Scott has been testing is apparently dead for now. The feeling inside of Titleist is that if one of the best golfers in the world struggles to control it, it’s probably not right for the average golfer. No doubt some of the hardcore forum guys will be inconsolable for the next little while.

Why Wait So Long?

It’s reasonable to assume that, in general, the D4 will be well-received, however, there will no doubt be some who’ll be frustrated (probably annoyed) that Titleist chose not to release the D4 alongside the D2 and D3. It’s not that consumers don’t appreciate having options, but as a general rule we prefer that all of them be on the table at the time of purchase.

Unfortunately that’s not how the golf industry operates.

More To Come

Sources are telling us that as equipment sales continue to grow, Titleist will offer more of these specialty releases down the road. If you think about it, it’s not a huge leap from the Vokey Wedge Works model, and that’s worked out pretty for Titleist.

The Titleist 915 D4 Driver (available in 8.5°, 9.5°, and 10.5°) is slated for a May release (assuming things go as expected on tour), and while we haven’t been given specific pricing information, I expect the D4, which will offer the same stock shaft selection as the D2 and D3, will be priced comparably to the other 915 models. I’d wager you’re looking at $449 plus the cost of whatever shaft upgrade you need to make the numbers right.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Titleist: Buy or Sell?

Titleist: Buy or Sell?

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It looks like one of golf’s few remaining privately held companies is about to cross over to the dark side.

As was reported by Reuters yesterday, Acushnet (parent company to both Titleist and FootJoy) has hired Solebury Capital to advise on a potential IPO estimated to be worth something in the neighborhood of 1.8 billion dollars.

In It For the Short Haul

When Fila acquired Acushnet many casual observers assumed it was the latest incarnation of the adidas play. You know…big apparel brand buys an established company in order to get its foot in the golf industry’s door. adidas, PUMA…toss in frequent Under Armour rumors and the ubiquitous Nike, and the trends reveal that apparel brands are steadily becoming the golf equipment industry’s overlords.

Fila certainly seemed to fit that model.

As it turns out, however; while Fila likely owns the largest individual chunk of Acushnet, it was never in alone. Whether it was simply a matter of capital on hand, or to minimize individual risk, Fila has partners. Several other private equity firms own pieces of Titleist’s parent company. That little detail alone suggests that Fila likely never had any designs on being a serious player in the golf equipment industry. For Fila and friends, Acushnet was an investment property, and now, it appears, it’s time to cash out.

What Becomes of Titleist?

Fair or not, some of what has led to the current state of industry is being blamed on the very nature of publicly traded companies. As we’ve heard it told, the constant need to appease shareholders though unsustainable growth, and exponential increases in year over year returns, is the reason why companies like adidas (TaylorMade) and Callaway have accelerated releases, made rapid discount cycles the norm, and in the process, devalued their brands (and the consumer’s eBay resale value).

Some believe the equipment industry’s struggles can be traced directly to the need to answer to shareholders.

Like PING, Titleist’s privately held status is, in the eyes of some, one of the primary reasons why the company has been able to not only sustain, but steadily grow profits, without resorting to one year (or less) release cycles. Being privately held is one of the reasons why Titleist is able to be Titleist. Worth mentioning, having its logo on the ProV1 doesn’t hurt either.

With Acushnet prepping for an IPO, and given what we’ve seen from adidas and Callaway – brands that have done anything and everything to satisfy investors – many are already starting to wonder if a move to the publicly traded world will fundamentally change what it means to be Titleist. Its competitors have clearly felt pressured to do whatever it takes to grow profits; at times to the detriment of the larger industry and the consumer.

Can Acushnet avoid the same trap?

Buy or Sell Titleist?

It’s easy to argue against investing in any golf company right now. For most, profits are down. The game is in decline. Governing bodies are doing nearly everything they can to stifle innovation, and as senior golfers shuffle off this mortal coil, millenials are largely disinterested in filling the gap. When you’ve got an iPhone and a lacrosse stick, what do you need with golf? American golf (and the geography matters) is a game that has not yet found its new bottom.

On the flip-side, Acushnet may be the safest gambit in golf…maybe the only safe gambit. The company’s management has proven it knows how to run a golf company. The brand brings to the table consistent (though not meteoric) growth, reliable profitability, and with the ProV1, what must certainly be the single most valuable asset in all of golf. Toss in the steady – and at times industry leading – performance of the FootJoy brand, and even with the overall golf market in a downturn, Acushnet should get plenty of looks.

Buy or Sell?

As an investor, would you put your money behind the Acushnet brand?

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Leaked: Titleist 915 – All the Details

Leaked: Titleist 915 – All the Details

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Titleist’s 915 Series metalwoods are coming. You’ve seen the pictures. You’ve heard a few things about ARC (the slot), and you’ve probably made some reasonable guesses about what the Titleist story will eventually be.

Wouldn’t it be great to have some actual information? We’ve got your back.

Whatever you think about Titleist, I can tell you one thing with reasonable certainty. Much like PING, the company doesn’t trade in bullshit.

They don’t oversell innovation – steady progress is fine. And while that has perhaps caused us to question their innovative fortitude more than we probably should, even we’ll concede that the next thing is always measurably better than what came before it.

Will that be the case with the 915 series?

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Titleist staffer Ben Crane showed off his 915 toys on Twitter earlier this week.

Everything we know so far suggests that not only will the upcoming clubs be everything Titleist fans have come to expect from the brand, we could be looking at a legitimate performance break-through.

It’s good stuff.

If you’re not already a Titleist guy, it’s the kind of thing that might cause you to think about joining #TeamTitleist.

Here’s everything you want to know.

Same Slot, Different Company?

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Before we get into specific details of the various products and models themselves, lets briefly cover the Active Response Channel, or as most would call it, the slot.

As is the case just about any time one company does something we think we’ve seen before, there will be plenty of discussion around who Titleist stole the idea from (and who that company stole the idea from before that).

Stop it. Stop it now.

Here’s the deal, Titleist isn’t going to get sued. There are some pretty substantial differences between their channel and the slots we’ve seen in clubs from other manufacturers.

Most noticeable (to even the “they stole it from Adams who stole it from Nike” guy) is that Titleist’s Active Response Channel is significantly deeper than those found on other slotted models.

The Active Response Channel is also positioned closer to the face than other’s companies implementations.

Finally, and pay attention because we’re going to come back to this…unlike competitor models where a slot was implemented to improve ball speed, Titleist’s Active Response Channel is primarily designed to lower spin; most significantly in the driver.

If ball speed happens to increase as well, so be it.

915 D2 and D3 Drivers

As with previous Titleist Driver releases, the D2 will offer a 460cc head while the D3 will be slightly smaller (the 913 was 445cc, so I expect that will be the case this time around as well).

In terms of MOI/Forgivness, the D2 will be in the ballpark of PING’s G25/G30. The D3 will offer among the highest, if not the highest MOI of any sub-460cc driver on the market.

Whether or not it carries over into the marketing remains to be seen, but what we’re talking about are a pair of exceptionally forgiving designs from a company that’s not generally (and probably unfairly so) associated with forgiveness in the driver category.

Apparently some inside of Titleist believe that the additional MOI is substantial enough to entice some D2 players into a new D3 setup.

A D4 or D5 Too?

As you may have seen, a couple of additional D-series models (D4 and D5) are also on the USGA’s Conforming Clubs list. Both models are smaller still. The D4 is a 400cc model designed specifically for Adam Scott, so the probability is that the D5 is the one most likely to eventually make it to retail.

Over the Limit

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Photo Credit: Cool Clubs Australia

While it’s a common element to most driver design stories, early iterations of the 915 series drivers exceeded USGA limits for COR/CT.

As most do when that occurs, Titleist thickened the center of the face, but also thinned out lower stress areas towards the perimeter. The result should be improved ball speed on off-center hits. Our source tells us that the driver is particularly hot on high, slightly toe-biased strikes.

The 915 SureFit hosel is compatible with both the 913 and 910. The alignment aid has been updated as well.

The key takeaway from a design perspective is that Active Response Channel lowers spin while still allowing Titleist to actually increase MOI.

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Photo Credit: Cool Clubs Australia

While I’m sure Titleist won’t phrase it this way, think SLDR spin reduction with G25 forgiveness.

We haven’t been able to confirm stock shafts with 100% certainty, but given past offerings, the Next-Generation Mitsubishi Diamana +PLUS series is possible if not probable. It has also been suggested that a version of Aldila’s Rogue shaft will be among the offerings.

No word as to whether or not Titleist will be offering its own version of the Loft Up message. I’m guessing…NO.

915 F/Fd Fairways

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As they have done in the past, Titleist will offer two distinct variations of their 915 fairway wood. The lower spin Fd has a noticeably smaller footprint than the larger, more forgiving F model.

Both models have what would generally be regarded as a forward CG placement.

Like the 915 driver the fairways feature an updated alignment aid. The fairway version of the SureFit hosel is compatible with the 913, but will not work with the 910 version.

915 H/Hd hybrids

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With their upcoming hybrids, Titleist will be drawing distinctions between sweepers (guys who sweep the ball with their hybrids), and diggers (those of us who hit down on them).

The standard H model is designed for the sweeper, while the smaller/deeper Hd has a bit more offset and is designed for guys with a steeper angle of attack.

The new hybrids will launch lower than the previous model and the shape has been updated. There’s a little less bulk on the toe. We’re told it’s not totally unlike some Adams models.

As with the fairways, the weight is located forward on both models.

There is no alignment aid on the hybrids. Adapters are also compatible with the 913, but not the 910.

Miscellaneous Notes

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SureFit hosels have been updated with white coloring to make it easier to read the various settings.

Unlike previous years where Titleist has launched drivers in the fall and fairways/hybrids in the following spring, the entire lineup will hit store shelves this November.

Finally, while we have no additional details, a new utility iron (presumably a 915u or 916u) will be released sometime next year.

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Photo Credit: Cool Clubs Australia

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

SPY PICS! – Titleist 915 Driver

SPY PICS! – Titleist 915 Driver

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That’s right. As expected, the new Titleist 915 Drivers will have a slot…or at least an Active Recoil Channel. Perhaps there’s a subtle distinction between the two that Titleist will explain at a later date.

While we still think the John Deere is the best bet for when Titleist will start officially spreading pics of their 915 drivers, the new models made their appearance on the range at the Quicken Loans National, and the two models (D2 & D3) were added to the USGA’s Conforming Clubs list on Monday.

This is definitely happening.

What To Expect

Thanks to Titleist’s unwavering consistency, we can make a few educated inferences about the new models.

The D2 is likely to be 460cc. It’s not a huge leap to assume it will feature a low and rear CG placement, and will almost certainly offer well above-average MOI because of it. Hardcore Titleist players might find it hard to believe, but Titleist already offers some of the most forgiving drivers in golf. I don’t expect that will change with the 915 series.

The D3 should follow in the mold of previous Titleist drivers, and that means a smaller (445cc is the best guess) head. Generally it’s a design decision that offers comparatively lower launch and lower spin, and Titleist will almost certainly promote it as offering more workability as well (good luck proving that on a Trackman).

While it may not fit with the perceptions of who Titleist makes clubs for, my expectation is that the D3 model will also be among the most forgiving of the Pro/Tour model crowd.

While others (you know who they are) talk about low/forward CG placement, my guess is Titleist will continue to use vague terms like Performance and Quality, while perhaps making mention of  CG placement relative to the neutral axis. Closer is generally better, and this is one area in which Titleist has generally been ahead of the design curve. 

Basically, Titleist is going to be Titleist, and that’s probably just fine.

What About the Slot

As suggested by the Patents and Trademarks we posted last week the new drivers will features Titleist’s new Active Recoil Channel (ARC). We can go ahead a queue the outrage right now.

Titleist stole the idea from TaylorMade/Adams/Nike/My Cousin Billy.

Until somebody files (and wins) a patent infringement suit, it’s not worth talking about.

Next.

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*Photo via Twitter by Golfweek’s David Dusek (@Golfweek_Dusek)

Performance Implications of ARC

What we found during our 2013 Most Wanted Driver Test was that the average ball speeds produced by the 913 series were slightly slower than that of the other leading drivers on the market. My best guess is that ARC is specifically designed to improve on that, and, if that proves to be the case, combined with the unexpectedly high MOI, Titleist could have something that could move the needle for an exceptionally broad audience.

I’m at least intrigued.

Loft Down

Worth a mention, while TaylorMade is pushing low/forward CG and the loft up message, Titleist apparently won’t be following along. As was the case last time around, the D3 will be available in lofts as low as 7.5° while the D2 tops out at 12°. Don’t expect Titleist to release a 16° driver any time soon.

Of course, this…all of this (other than the loft thing) is all just the MyGolfSpy guy speculating. Nobody will know for sure until Titleist decides it’s time to talk. My guess is that full details won’t emerge until September, with an expected (by me anyway) retail date of early-mid November.

Retail price is $449, but that’s also just a guess.

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Is this The Titleist 915 Driver?

Is this The Titleist 915 Driver?

Post image for Is this The Titleist 915 Driver?

Titliest Bringing ART to the Next Driver

Assuming Titleist stays true to its playbook, the world will get its first look at what can reasonably assume will be called the 915 driver at the John Deere Classic in approximately 3 weeks.

As is very often the case with Titleist, the actual details of the upcoming release (or even the existence of an upcoming release) are well protected, but when you pair an interesting patent application with a recently filed (and apparently related) Trademark (credit to Dave Dawsey at Golf-Patents.com for tracking it down), a clearer picture of what could prove to be the next Titleist driver begins to emerge.

That Trademark is for ART, which is fairly safe to assume refers to Active Recoil Technology, because well, that  was covered by a previously filed Titleist Trademark.

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Looking at The Patent, and reading through the details, it would appear that all of this ART-work is about optimizing face flex (within the confines of USGA rules) to increase ball speed, particularly on below center strikes.

The drawings suggest that ART is a bit like Compression Channel meets Speed Slot meets Standing Wave. And while we won’t know until we see what this possible 915 actually looks like, it’s reasonable to assume that Titleist will need to mask the technology a bit in order to stay true to their brand identity.

Basically, we might know it’s there, but I’d be shocked if we’ll be able to see any of this art-related stuff at address.

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Has Titleist Fallen Behind?

While the survey’s we’ve conducted suggest that the Titleist brand remains strong (in no small part to a consistent use of Quality and Performance in any and all branding), there are some…and I supposed I’d count myself among them, that believe that Titleist needs to evolve if they hope to remain competitive with their golf club business.

In one form or another, we basically hear this:

If Titleist doesn’t ___________, they’re screwed.

What do you think? Has Titleist actually fallen behind? Are two year release cycles still viable in a marketplace where even mostly-traditional PING makes sure they have at least 1 new driver on the shelf every season?

Titleist isn’t one to make boastful performance claims. Even the use of the ART acronym could be considered bold by Titleist standards, but even without adopting a more…let’s call it a TaylorMade-like approach, many still believe they’re clubs, particularly their drivers perform as well or better than anyone else’s.

Even if ART stays hidden, it certainly suggests that Titleist isn’t opposed to taking a stab at innovation.

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And yet, despite continuing, steady, and predictable success, many also believe Titleist needs to change. They must adapted to an evolved marketplace in order to survive (or at least sell a lot of something other than a golf ball).

So we ask you, what do you want to see in a 915 series driver? What does Titleist need to do differently? Where do they need to improve?

And for you Titleist loyalists… you guys who believe the promise of quality and performance. What doesn’t Titleist need to do differently? What must remain unchanged in both terms of design and marketing for you to remain loyal to the brand?

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Titleist Brand Survey – The Results

Titleist Brand Survey – The Results

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You Had Your Say

Last week we asked you to provide your feedback on Titleist as a brand. I think it’s reasonable to assume that we all (myself included) have a tendency to believe that the majority of people see things the way we do, so we thought it was important to learn what you really think.

These brand surveys (this is the first) will provide all of us with a better understanding of how the larger community of golfers views the various golf companies and the their products.

Putting It All Out There

It’s probably fair to say that from my perspective as golf media guy, Titleist hasn’t always been the easiest to work with. They’re not as progressive as some, tighter with product than others, and haven’t always been the best communicators.

Equally as fair a statement is that over the last year or so things have changed (from my perspective, I’d call it improved). Titleist has been more responsive, and far easier to work with. From my narrow media perspective, they have progressed.

From the consumer perspective they’ve stepped up their Social Media efforts, hired some interesting new talent (James Patrick Harrington), and have continued to do what they do best; make quality equipment that always remains true the Titleist tradition, and seemingly never fails to appeal to a certain segment of the golfing population.

My Pre-Conceived Notions

You can bet that every time we publish one of these surveys, we do so with our own expectations of how the results will shake out. Some of the responses we got were basically exactly what I expected. That said, I’d be lying if I told you that some of my perceptions of how others see Titleist have proven to be almost total misconceptions…at least compared to how the majority of you view the company.

The data we share comes directly from our survey results. It’s what you told us. We’re about to show you what your fellow golfers think about the Titleist brand, and because that’s just the kind of thing we do, we’re going to draw our own conclusions about what it means in terms of the outlook for Titleist.

Here’s What You Told Us

1 - titliest postive differentiation-c

The answers to this question were largely as we expected. We had a reasonable belief that most of you associate the Titleist brand with things like quality and performance. In fact a full 38% of you chose Quality as the single most positive differentiator for the Titleist brand.

If there’s a negative in all of this it’s that less than 1% of you chose innovation. Of course, the results could simply mean that when you think Titleist you think of quality before innovation, but not necessarily to the exclusion of it.

That Other line…those who wrote in chose positive terms like “tradition“, “reputation“, and “history“, while those who chose to express a less positive opinion of the brand chose words like “boring“, “arrogance“, “elitism“, and “nothing“.

2 - Titleist Word Association

As with the first question, the top tier results aren’t particularly surprising, and most certainly have to be viewed as a positive for the brand.

68.49% of you chose listed Professional, while another 61.83% selected Quality among your choices.

Once again, the lack of perceived Innovation (less than 12% of you made that association) could be viewed as a negative.

In happier news, negative words like Uninspired, Stale, Irrelevant, and Junk were largely ignored by our survey takers.

3 -Titliest in the bag-b

These results could be cause for concern at Titleist. Despite the fact that the majority of you quite clearly hold the brand in high regard (Quality, Professional, etc.), less than 50% of you have so much as a single Titleist club in your bag.

The clubs that you do carry (Wedges – 35.38%, and Putter – 24.29%) are perhaps more associated with their designers (Vokey and Cameron) than the company itself. They are more driven by the individual than the brand.

The driver number (22.95%) is probably comfortable, but it goes without saying that Titleist would prefer everything be higher.

4 - Titleist 3 year perception

Here’s the real positive. Less than 13% of your opinions towards Titleist have changed for the negative in the last 3 years. Better news for Titleist yet, while a slight majority (51.31%) have maintained consistent opinions, those of you whose opinions have changed for the positive (35.88%) greatly outnumber those sliding towards the negative.

5 - Titleist Believe to Be True

Another real positive for Titleist. The majority of you believe their products are manufactured to tight tolerances, and you believe that as a brand they honor the traditions of the game.

The potential cause for concern here is the fact that so many of you (48.88%) believe that Titleist products target a narrow range of golfers. While Titleist has certainly built a reputation as a brand for the elite player, ultimately that perception could be hurting their bottom line.

Is the belief that their products aren’t for everyone (middle to high handicap golfers) the reason why less than 50% of you actually carry Titleist products?

6 - Titleist Industry Place- b

There’s nothing here not to like if you’re Titleist (again). A majority of our survey takers (51.54%) view Titleist as a leader, while a healthy percentage of you (42.31%) believe Titleist is unconcerned about what others in the industry are doing.

In my opinion, unconcerned is probably the most accurate. If I’m Titleist, what I really love is that only 6.14% view me as a follower.

7 - Titliest equipment comparison

We asked you to compare Titleist’s equipment to its competitor’s, and frankly the results are a little puzzling. In every category, you told us that Titleist clubs are better than the competition’s. In fact, if we aggregate Far Superior and Slightly Better, we get this:

  • Metalwoods – 71.41% better to superior
  • Irons – 81.21% better to superior
  • Wedges 91.36% better to superior
  • Putter – 84.01% better to superior
  • Balls – 95.75% better to superior

Once again, I ask: If the majority of you think very highly of Titleist products, why don’t you have more of them in your bag?

The ball number is astounding. 62.52% of you believe the Titleist ball (presumably the Pro V1) is Far Superior to everything else on the market. When we isolate the younger demographic (30 years and younger), that number actually climbs to almost 70%.

Let me point something out: 60% of you believe that Titleist makes a Far Superior golf ball, yet only 14.72% of you associated the Titleist brand with the word “Marketing“.

Guys…that’s a huge disconnect from reality on both ends. Even if we all believe that Titleist makes the best ball in golf, the leap to Far Superior is a huge one, and there’s no way you get otherwise intelligent golfers to make it without being heavily invested in marketing that proposition.

8 - Titleist Category Compare

Green is good on this slide, and for Titleist there is plenty of it. Only for value did the negatives outpace the positives – and that’s reasonable given Titleist’s above average price point and their tendency to maintain it.

There are always less expensive options.

Once again, innovation raises a red flag. While the majority of you do rank Titleist above average for innovation, 31.44% of view Titleist as below average for innovation while another 8.72% believe Titleist is significantly behind on the innovation front.

9 - Titleist Health Check-b

More good news for Titleist. While Stagnant (36.15%) isn’t ideal, having a a majority (48.88%) believe you’re moving forward is definitely a positive. Toss in another 9.1% percent for improving rapidly, and it’s basically all good.

10 - Titleist vs competition-b

73.8% of you believe Titleist products are above average. Another 19.66% told us that Titleist makes the best products in all of golf.

So here we go again…93.46% of you have, to one degree or another, a warm and fuzzy feeling towards Titleist products, but less than half of you have so much as a single Titleist club in the bag.

Do you have a greater affinity for the golf ball? Where is the disconnect?

Titleist Social Media

There’s no denying that it’s a new world. Social Media is almost certainly here to stay, and it’s most certainly become a part of nearly every golf company’s Social Media strategy. Some are absolutely killing it, some are being killed by it, but almost everybody is trying.

So how is Titleist doing with Social Media, and to what degree is their Social Media influencing your decisions at the register?

Here’s what you told us.

11 - Titleist Do You Follow

I see these results as generally negative for Titleist. Yes…55.08% of golfers who follow other golf companies on Social Media follow Titleist.

55% is a solid number. Of course, it also means that 44.92% of golfers who follow other golf companies on Social Media are not following Titleist.

44.92% is a huge number too, and one Titleist must certainly want to see decrease.

12 - Titleist why no follow

Why aren’t more golfers following Titleist? It turns out, most of them (38.76%) didn’t know Titleist was on Social Media. That’s bad. If golfers are finding your competitors, and not finding you, it’s really bad.

Other big numbers 22.62% (not relevant) and 20.28% (not a fan of Titleist) are to be expected.

13 - Titleist Social Media Engagement

As a guy who follows every golf company on the planet (or so it seems), my personal evaluation is that Titleist is significantly less engaged than its competitors. Only 8.43% agree with me, so that’s a plus for Titleist, I suppose.

To me, engagement is all about interaction, and Titleist simply doesn’t do it.

Quite frankly, for those of you who find Titleist much more engaged (10.37%) than others, I’d suggest you’re following the wrong others.

The bulk of you (32.08%) find Titleist to be slightly more engaged, while 28.38% find Titleist slightly less engaging.

14 - Titleist Social Media brand influence

The results of these question and the one that follows beg for two additional questions:

Is Titleist simply not doing Social Media well? Or..Is Social Media just a giant waste of everybody’s time?

A staggering 75.73% of you said that Social Media had no influence over how you perceive the Titleist brand.

On a more positive note, 17.44% report that Titleist’s Social Media efforts have improved your perceptions of the brand, while less than 3% feel the efforts have diminished perceptions.

15 - Titleist Social media buying influence-b

Here’s your headline: 80.37% of Titleist follows say Social Media effort has not influenced their purchasing decision.

Now it’s possible you have been influenced and you just don’t realize it. Failing that, please refer to the two questions under the previous chart and get back to me.

Once again, a few of you (16.65%) report that Titleist’s Social Media efforts have made you more likely to buy Titleist products, but seriously…80.37% no impact.

It makes one wonder…

16 - Titliest Social Media Effectiveness - b

Once again, I just don’t see it, but I’m in the minority (albeit only a slight minority). I can give you a handful of mid to large sized golf companies who I think are doing a better job at Social Media than Titleist.

Quite frankly, I think below average is a fair evaluation.

I’m also inclined to believe that No Opinion isn’t good for business ever. Indifference is almost never good for business.

On a more positive note 29.18% of you believe Titleist’s efforts are above average, while another 2.44% of you might actually believe Titleist Social Media is the best in golf.

Beyond the Frontline Data

You want to know the most astonishing thing about these survey results?

In a word, consistency.

I presumed that as we sorted the data by age and handicap we’d see a fundamental shift. Older more accomplished golfers would account for the positive feedback, while younger and/or higher handicap players would have a slightly more negative view of the brand.

That’s not reality. While the bars may shift by a few percentage points here or there, the general sentiment towards the brand remains constant. Golfers of all ages and ability levels associate the same words, with almost identical frequency – and those words are overwhelmingly positive.

The one interesting shift is that while older golfers, and the majority of you as a whole, see Titleist primarily as an industry leader, the younger demographic largely views them as unconcerned about the rest of the industry.

Either way, it’s a plus for Titleist.

There is no age range, income level, or handicap group that views Titleist as a follower.

The Takeaway

What we don’t know is how you view Titleist compared to other brands. We’ll learn a whole lot more as we release more brand surveys.

For now, it’s hard to look at the results and conclude anything other than this:

A substantive  majority of golfers hold the Titleist brand in high regard and generally view it favorably versus its competitors.

What do you make of what your fellow golfers told us about Titleist? We want to know what you think about the results. What makes sense, and what completely blows your mind?

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Tell Us What You Think – Titleist Brand Survey

Tell Us What You Think – Titleist Brand Survey

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Brands are not just what they say they are. Brands are what consumers say they are. – Ari Jacoby, CEO Solve Media

Your Opinion Matters

We know that golf companies have some pretty lofty ideas about themselves. And while we also know that some of you have some pretty interesting (that’s a nice way of saying insane) ideas about some of the golf companies, it’s absolutely clear to us that very often there’s a strong disconnect between how brands view themselves, and how you, the consumer, view those same brands.

With that in mind, we think it’s going to prove exceptionally interesting to learn exactly how our readers perceive the biggest names in golf, how you think each brand compares to the competition, and because this is the world we live in, how you think each brand is doing doing with Social Media.

Once we’ve gathered the data, we’re going to share some of the more compelling results with you, and with any golf company who stops by to read.

While there will be more surveys to come, we’ve decided to start with Titleist. Why Titleist? No particular reason…seriously. Why not Titleist?

You have to start somewhere, right?

There’s Something In it For You. . . One Of You, Anyway

mgs-stitch

One survey taker (you have to complete the survey) will be randomly selected to receive a MyGolfSpy Prize Package containing, among other things, a really cool MyGolfSpy Headcover from Stitch Golf (pictured above).

The survey is only 21 (short) questions long, and the first handful is all about you. That’s not so bad right?

Take the Survey

Check Back Soon

As I said, we’re going to be publishing the results of these surveys. Be sure to check back soon to find out what other MyGolfSpy readers truly think about the biggest names in golf.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Titleist 913 “Dot” Driver Hits USGA Conforming List

Titleist 913 “Dot” Driver Hits USGA Conforming List

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Early last week I posted a flurry of newly approved drivers in the mygolfspy forum. I left one off the list because I thought it could turn out to be something very interesting…article worthy even.

It seems that Titleist recently had what’s being called the dot version of their 913 D2 driver added to the USGA Conforming List.

A new Titleist Driver more than a year ahead of the next scheduled release? This could be huge.

As you probably remember, the last time a major OEM ‘Tour-only prototype’ made an unexpected appearance on the conforming list, the TaylorMade SLDR was born.

Should we expect something similar from Titleist?

Probably not…maybe even definitely not.

I know there are plenty of you who get plenty excited at the first sniff of a new Titleist driver, but this is one you’re probably going to have to wait a while for…maybe forever.

Titleist Borrowing from TaylorMade?

A couple weeks back we got word that Jason Dufner had been testing out a new Titleist driver. The story that made its way to my desk was that Dufner was absolutely blowing up Trackman with the prototype head.

Ball Speed up. Smash Factor up too.

The preliminary info was that Dufner’s prototype featured a more forwardly placed center of gravity.

Sound familiar?

Higher Launch, Higher Spin

I’ll be the first to admit it…I was as jacked as an AP1 Pitching Wedge (sorry…couldn’t resist) with the idea that I might have just been handed a story about a competitor borrowing an idea from TaylorMade. I mean, let’s be honest…usually the storylines feature TaylorMade in the role of borrower.

It’s good to switch it up from time to time.

As it turns out, Jason Dufner is one of those guys who actually needs more spin (as a high spin type myself, I’m continually baffled when I encounter those types of guys). The original never-approved prototype, while it did feature a more forward CG, was never conceived to be a low spinning monster. The goal was actually to increase spin.

That original Trackman killer was a 10.5° D3. Dufner subsequently tested a modified (internally weighted) version of the 913 D2 that also never found its way to the USGA.

The USGA conforming dot version is the first of the prototypes sourced from entirely new parts. It’s a 9.5° model (.5° more than Dufner’s current driver, and closer in spec to his previous 910).

While it appears the dot version has been created for Jason Dufner, I’m told the as of late last week, the new parts hadn’t yet found their way to him.

Retail Implications

As I said, the story we’re hearing is that this dot version isn’t coming to retail, but Titleist will no doubt be looking closely at how the modified design performs. There’s no reason to think it couldn’t be a precursor to the 915 (assuming current naming conventions and release cycles hold).

The one potential ripple for Titleist is that they’ve historically avoided the whole “tour issue” thing. They’ve maintained that what their tour players put in play is exactly the same as what you buy at retail.

Having a dot version out on tour and not retail represents a change of sorts in the stated policy. For 99% of golfers it’s a non-issue (most probably will never hear about it), and the implications would be much greater should Titleist decide to ship a mid-cycle release out to retail.

Go Get Fit

More than anything the creation of the 913 dot head illustrates the lengths to which a golf company will go to get their guys 100% dialed in. Think about it; Jason Dufner just won a major. To do that you’ve got to be nearly perfect, and yet Titleist is still plugging away and trying to help Duf make his game that much better.

It’s pretty incredible…and yet most of you reading this are still buying off the rack.

You’re no Jason Dufner (unless you’re Jason Dufner), but seriously, even if Titleist won’t engineer a driver specifically for you, why in the world would you not get fit?

It doesn’t make sense.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Titleist Makes Strong Statement with 714 Series Irons

Titleist Makes Strong Statement with 714 Series Irons

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Written By: Tony Covey

714s Arrive Right on Time

In case you missed it, Titleist (often perceived as one of the last bastions of all that it true, and pure, and right within the golf equipment world) has formerly announced the impending release of their 714 series of irons.

This isn’t exactly a surprise.

For those who even loosely follow the brand, the 714 series comes as anything but a shock. While others have accelerated product releases, Titleist has remained resolute in its commitment to the 2 year release cycle, and well, it’s been 2 years since the release of the 712 series.

And yeah…they did kinda release some pics a couple months back, so that was also a pretty solid clue that something new was coming.

Releasing Clubs the Titleist Way

Sticking to the old ways is good business if you can get away with it. Titleist fans love the predictability, consistency, and almost total lack of hyperbole that is the signature of the Titleist equipment business.

When you have the ProV1 you can be whoever you want to be with your golf clubs.

While others flood the market with equal parts gear and hype, Titleist does their thing – and part of that thing is playing to the identity they’ve built as the no nonsense brand for serious golfers.

In case you haven’t heard; Titleist is for the best golfers in the world, and those who believe in the traditions of the game.

Let’s just put it out there right now; in nearly every respect, as far as big golf companies go, Titleist is generally regarded as the anti-TaylorMade.

Two Models for the Traditionalists

The 2 least significant of the 4 models in the 714 series are the updated versions of the CB and MB irons.

Now please don’t take my suggestion that the MBs and CBs are insignificant as a dig at Titleist. It’s not. It’s a nod to the reality that when it comes to truly traditional designs (by modern standards) – forgings no less – aimed at the better player, there really isn’t a whole lot you can do from a performance perspective.

It’s a wheel that’s next to impossible to reinvent.

To Titleist’s credit, they’re not claiming they’ve done otherwise. In both cases we’re talking about subtle refinements that aren’t going to ruin the good thing they’ve got going with the MB and CB lines.

Highlights for both models include:

  • Pre-worn leading edge to promote less digging
  • Smooth Sole width progressions for enhanced ground interaction
  • CB model features a wider sole with increased front-to-back camber for better playability
  • Both designs feature less visible offset, and a slightly straighter leading edge

As you would expect from Titleist, the CB and MB designs which target the better player, remain relatively true to the established tradition; allowing for the fact that almost everybody’s traditional is slowly getting strong and longer. Shaft length and lofts in both sets are identical to the models that came before them.

While I must confess that the traditional CB has never been my thing, at least they look the part. The MBs…oh man…they are every bit what you’d want them to be; simple, elegant, gorgeous.

A Dying Breed

It’s doubtful that true blades, and even true player’s cavityback will ever disappear completely, but they are being produced in dwindling numbers each year. For those who flock to these type of designs, the 714 CB and 714 MB will no doubt be two of very few designs to entice he golfer who fancies himself a premier ball-striker.

For the rest of us there’s the 714 AP Series.

A Different Side of Titleist

While the CBs and MBs remain true to the perceptions of Titleist, it’s conceivable that the release of the 714 AP1 and AP2 could change how some loyalists view the brand.

The AP2 is a particularly curiosity – at least as far as Titleist irons go. Like the CBs and MBs, Titleist has anchored their 5 iron length for both the AP1 and AP2 and 38”, however; while some seemed to overlook Titleist’s participation in the scourge that is loft-jacking last time around, one look at the 44° pitching wedge in the AP2s, and any argument that Titleist doesn’t play the same distance game as TaylorMade, Callaway and others goes out the window.

You want tradition in a game-improvement iron? Don’t expect to get it from Titleist.

In fact, as a tacit admission that 44° for a pitching wedge borders on the extreme, Titleist is offering a 2nd gap wedge.

Let me spell it out for you.

Because the stock Gap Wedge only gets you to 48°, with the AP2s, Titleist is offering a 2nd, 52° Gap Wedge.

We’ve long joked about how all this so-called loft-jacking would eventually necessitate a 2nd gap wedge to fill the gap between your jacked-up gap wedge and your not-so-jacked-up sand wedge. We just never imagined Titleist…traditional Titleist would be among the first to actually offer it.

Much Ado About Nothing

What I’ve found is that the guys who take issue with “jacked-up” lofts generally point to Titleist as the example of a…rather the company that’s doing it (whatever it happens to be) right. While a 44° pitching wedge from anyone else might fan the flames a little bit, this is a much bigger deal because we’re talking about Titleist.

Some Titleist die-hards might view that wedge as a stain on the white coast.

The notion of extreme lofts runs absolutely contrary to how the most devoted Titleist fans view the brand. The game is changing, and Titleist, it would seem, is changing too.

In reality, it’s not a big deal. If you’re getting beat on distance, especially in the GI category where distance is almost everything, you’d be foolish not to make changes in order to compete.

Ask any golfer who is playing better with a distance iron in his bag how he feels about loft jacking, and I can all but promise you his response is going to be “I don’t give a shit”.

Quite frankly, I love that Titleist finally appears serious about creating a true game-improvement, distance iron.

Kudos, boys.

It’s About More than Loft

With the AP2s the Titleist story isn’t dissimilar from that of its competitors. Unfortunately, while it’s a story that’s inconsequential to many (I don’t care as long as it goes far), it’s also one that the anti-distance iron factions have conveniently chosen to ignore.

If you take a 7 iron and put a longer shaft in it, and make the loft strong, you have a 6 iron, right?

Yes. Well no, actually. What you have is a club that produces the distance of a 6-iron, but because of what Titleist calls a progressive CG, provides the same trajectory as a 7 iron.

That’s a hugely important and often overlooked detail of recent distance iron design. As you might suspect, it’s an integral piece of both the AP1 and AP2 designs. It’s the reason why Titleist can offer more distance without sacrificing playability.

Forgiveness and. . .

With the 714 AP1 and AP2 Titleist has emphasized forgiveness. According to the company, both the AP1 and AP2 are the most-forgiving irons in the industry relative to head size. Titleist was able to maintain forgiveness at comparatively compact head sizes through the use of high-density tungsten, which allowed Titleist to move more discretionary weight than would be possible with all steel construction.

In the 3-7 irons of the AP2 irons, for example, the tungsten weight accounts for roughly 20% of the total head weight.

Workability

I’ll save my rant about how workability is the one of the last great myths in the golf industry for another day. For now, let’s just say I don’t believe in it.

If workability means that long irons launch high, while short irons produce a lower, more penetrating ball flight, then ok, I’ll buy that.

But in the more conventional context workability is functionally the opposite of forgiveness, so while it might be possible to create an iron that one perceives as both highly workable and highly forgiving, the reality of physics say otherwise – at least for golfers who hit the ball in the center of the face.

What I think workability means to Titleist is that the head sizes of the AP1 and AP2 are smaller than some others in their class, but as long as you’re hitting the ball in the center of the face, then it doesn’t much matter.

If you’re missing the center of the face (and who does that on purpose?), then yes, because of the impact of the gear effect, smaller heads mean more movement, but are also inherently less forgiving.

Ultimately what Titleist has tried to do is create an iron that (mostly) looks the part of a better players club, but offers the forgiveness and distance of a modern game-improvement iron.

It’s no easy task. I would suggest to you that it’s basically the holy grail of iron design.

It’s too early to say whether or not Titleist has actually succeeded, but they’ve clearly made a solid effort here.

Other Enhancements

Like the MB and CB irons, the AP1 and AP2 feature a pre-worn leading edge, and improved hosel blending to minimize the appearance of offset.

The width of the topline on the AP1 has been reduced slightly and a new support bar has been added to the AP1 long irons to tune vibration and improve feel.

Further cementing the AP1’s place as true game-improvement iron, Titleist has swapped out their stock Dynamic Gold shafts for the 95gram XP model. Lighter shafts have becoming commonplace across nearly every game-improvement offering, so it’s reasonable that Titleist would follow suit.

Dynamic Gold remains the stock offering for the rest of the lineup.

The 714 Series in a Nutshell

As with 90% of what we see these days, the whole of the 714 series is evolutionary, not revolutionary. It doesn’t matter if your Titleist or TaylorMade, eventually you have to put new product on the shelves because, over time, everything gets stale, and nobody is going to pay top dollar for a 3 year old golf club…not with the shiny stuff from last week sitting next to them.

While I’ll reserve final judgment on performance until we can test the 714 series for ourselves, I will admit that I like what I see. I mean…what’s not to like about the MBs from a cosmetic perspective?

The technological designs…the AP1, the AP2, they’re appropriately modernized, and if you ignore that stronger lofts, they’re true to Titleist’s understated, but highly functional design principles.

My guess is that if you despised the 712 series, unless you’re taken in by the promise of improved feel, the 714 series isn’t going to sway you. If you were on the fence, however; subtle improvements, particularly in the AP1 and AP2 models could very well give you all the motivation you need to put a set of 714s in your bag.

Titleist guys…well…you’ve probably already pre-ordered, and honestly, there’s probably nothing wrong with that either.

Pricing and Availability

The 714 Series irons will be available at retail beginning November 9th.

Retail price for the CB and MB irons is $125 per club (steel) and $150 per club (graphite).

Retail price is $100/$125 for the AP1 and $137.50/$160 for the AP2.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Titleist – Hires James Patrick (The Scotty Cameron of Wedges)

Titleist – Hires James Patrick (The Scotty Cameron of Wedges)

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Written By: Tony Covey

Last night, James Patrick Harrington of James Patrick (JP) Golf posted the following statement on his website:

“I’m joining Titleist Acushnet to further advance my passion and creativity in the world of wedges. Titleist is providing the resources needed to continue to explore the unending pursuit of creating the world’s finest wedges.

This is the next step in the journey of my life’s work. This opportunity would not have been possible without the support of you… Team JP. Thank you for helping to build the foundation of the JP brand.

I look forward to what the future brings and picking up where we left off… Stay tuned.”

Most MyGolfSpy readers are already well aware of JP’s work (featured here…and here), and will be no doubt excited to see what comes of his arrangement with Titleist.

While nobody is saying much of anything right now with respect to how JP fits into the big picture at Titleist, here’s what we’re being told:

  • For now, Bob Vokey remains the man at Titleist.
  • The Vokey SM5 series is about to hit the tour, and Da Voke is already working on what will someday become the 6th generation of the Spin Milled Wedge.
  • There are no immediate plans for a JP line of Titleist wedges (zero reason to deviate from what works right now).

Drafting Your Next Quarterback

The reality is that Mr. Vokey isn’t going to be around forever. He’s 74 years old, and it’s reasonable to assume that at some point in the not to distant future he might want to step away from the daily grind (horrible pun not intended).

If you’re looking for an analogy, this is the Green Bay Packers drafting Aaron Rodgers. Brett Favre still had some game left in him, but The Pack knew they would eventually need a replacement, so when the opportunity presented itself, they took the best guy on the board. Look how that worked out.

That’s exactly what Titleist is doing now. By bringing JP into the fold before they absolutely have to, they’re all but assuring the continued success, if not the dominance of their wedge line.

As of right now, we don’t have the details of JP’s initial role at Titleist, but given his extensive portfolio, his reputation, and the fact that Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein flew to Minnesota to meet with James personally, it’s a pretty safe assumption that Titleist plans on leveraging JP’s undeniable talent to the fullest extent possible.

Some day in the not too distant future, JP will be the man at Titleist’s Wedge Works.

Once again…for those looking for a frame of reference, JP to Titleist looks a whole lot like Scotty Cameron to Titleist.

The Scotty Cameron of Wedges

It’s all but a given that at the most basic level Harrington was brought on to be the next Bob Vokey, but the Harrington hiring creates a unique opportunity for Titleist to further expand their wedge offerings.

The Vokey line already includes a production line, as well as limited release, and custom putters available through Wedge Works. That’s admittedly a fairly robust lineup, but here’s the thing; while Mr. Vokey’s wedges are generally regarded as among the best in the game, the functional performance they offer lacks any real sex appeal.

For some people…they guys who pay $300+ for a single wedge, that matters.

If you look at what distinguish the Cameron brand from the multitude of CNC milled putters on the market today, it’s the polish. Scotty makes putters sexy like few others. JP does that and more with wedges.

If Titleist gives JP enough room to be JP (and they’d be foolish not too), I expect you’ll eventually see a brand and a business model that almost exactly mirrors the Cameron brand. While that could mean premium prices for JP’s finer creations (is a $3000 wedge out of the question?), the newly formed relationship looks like a huge win for both Titleist and JP…and it doesn’t look too bad for the rest of us either.

Like the rest of you, I’m anxious to see what the end game looks like.

While the thought of JP wearing Titleist’s signature white blazer at next year’s PGA show is admittedly strange, we wish him nothing but success in his new role. He’s worked his whole life for this opportunity, and we’re sure he’s going to make the most of it.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)