Friday Canadian Open Barely-A-Live Blog

4:20 pm Update  Experiment Idea

Day with a great round, Grillo not doing much in the afternoon, but still many holes to go.  I should probably turn on the coverage to see how much airtime Grillo is getting, but I just can’t gin up the interest.  If Grillo and Day are in the hunt come Sunday, I’ll watch for sure.

Idea For An Experiment:  Get a low handicap player, say a 5-handicap or less.  Give him a mixed partial bag of clubs.  2,4,6,8 irons, SW, driver, putter.  Some with regular shafts, some with stiff.  A mixed bag of balls, too.  Have him play a round and see how he did.  Of course, if the player were a TaylorMade rep, or a custom club fitter, or worked at a PGA Tour Superstore, he’d fake a bad round.  However, my guess is that the player would have a decent round, maybe a couple strokes over his norm.

And it would still look like a round of golf.  I was about an 18 most of my playing days (an honest 18, playing ball down, no outlandish gimmes), but I never felt like I played a round of golf.  I never went, “Oh, man, I missed two greens in a row.”  I was more like a guy on a runaway horse, hoping I’d get enough lucky breaks to break 90.

There’s so much darn money in the golf gear industry, no one want to admit it’s the Indian, not the arrows.  I once bought a utility club and it came with a horrible duck hook.  I never had a hook, but I did with that club.  It was funny how consistently I hooked with it.  I had good players hit it on practice ranges, after hearing of my woes, and, to a man, they would drill the ball long and straight.  It had a regular shaft that seemed especially flexible to me, and many of them played stiffs.  Didn’t matter.  They hit it straight.  They might say, Yeah, it feels whippy, but they didn’t hook.

11:15 am Update:  What is the manufacturer’s actual cost to produce a golf ball, particularly, a Titleist Pro V1?  This article from My Golf Spy has some darn interesting information.

More and more, I think that standard golf equipment is something we need.  Thoughts:

  1. Put aside clubs for now and focus on balls.  Consumers are paying $60 for a product costing $8 to manufacture.  Want to bring down the cost of the game?  Gee, I have an idea.  (With a standard ball, there would be no need for further R&D.)
  2. Less profits for manufacturers means less advertising dollars.  Okay by me.  Also less endorsement money to multi-millionaire players.  I can live with that.
  3. Less advertising dollars for golf broadcasts.  Also okay by me.  It’s not going to lead to less live coverage or anything.  It’s becoming cheaper and cheaper to cover sports.  It’s so easy that Stephanie Wei lost her credentials for doing it!  And I’ve been watching live coverage of the running of the bulls from Pamplona every night on Esquire.  Golf coverage is not going to decrease.  (And if it did — and it won’t — would it even matter?  Golf is a participation sport first and foremost.)
  4. Would golf purses go down?  I don’t see why, and if they did, why would I care?  Hunter Mahan has made $30 million for winning a grand total of six tournaments.  That’s the perfect balance point?
  5. Players might lose endorsement money.  See prior answer.
  6. Golf equipment manufacturers would struggle.  Why do I care?  It’s called creative destruction.  See “Buggy Whip Manufacturers.”  Do I watch a game of football or baseball and concern myself with Wilson or Rawlings or Louisville Slugger?

Those are just off-the-cuff thoughts, but I think it’s time to move on standardizing equipment.

First off, thanks to everyone who has helped me in my search for PGA Tour yearly total purses.  I truly appreciate everyone’s effort.  Second, if you haven’t seen the two articles that came up in Thursday’s comment section, you might want to check them out: this classic one circa 2009, and this one just out from Business Insider.  The topic of both: the claim that “Tiger made golfers rich,” which is either, best case, highly overblown, or, worst case, totally bogus.

A Seriously Good Article:  I stumbled across several articles worth mentioning this afternoon, but this one is by far the most interesting.  It’s entitled, “In search of America’s next top black golfer,” but that’s only tangentially what it’s about.  The piece is written by a black guy (Ishmael Sistrunk) who plays a handful of rounds a year, and his view of the game is, in my opinion, perfect:

Golf isn’t a cheap sport, but a skilled miser can make a way. Indian Mounds Golf Course on the Ill side [he’s referring to the Illinois side of the St. Louis metro area] isn’t the prettiest course in town, but it’s just $15 for 18 holes with a cart. There are Par 3 courses like Tower Tee with comparable pricing. Many lament the cost of clubs, but there’s a magical place called Craigslist where secondhand club sets can be purchased for the price of a basketball or a baseball glove. Let’s face it, a beginning golfer will hit the same stray balls with a $50 set of clubs as with a $500 set.

That’s poetic is what that is.  I have nothing to add other than to say most of my golf has been played on courses that weren’t the prettiest in town!  (And looking back, I believe that’s where I had the most fun.)  Oh, and, Craigslist still being twenty-five years in the future, I once went with a friend to meet a man whose garage was filled with old clubs; there we put together a set consisting of a 4-iron, 6-iron, 8-iron, sand wedge, putter, and driver.  Skilled misers.

Even though the article is not long, Sistrunk made several other interesting points you don’t often hear discussed.  The corporate and media people who run around in circles trying to “grow the game” really need to give this guy a call.

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9 Responses to Friday Canadian Open Barely-A-Live Blog

  1. Ken says:

    Don’t know if it’s still true, but the Pittsburgh metro area in the late 20th century had more golf courses per capita than any other metro area except for Orange County, FL. They range from high end private clubs like Oakmont to public courses costing anywhere from $18 to $150 a round. Some of those cheap ones are older, obsolete courses, but they’re well maintained and good for beginners. But there’s many good options where you can play 18 with a cart on the weekend for $35 or less, weekdays even cheaper. The farther you get from the city, the cheaper it gets. If you can play on a weekday, 30-90 minutes from my house the rates get very low ($25 and even less) on a lot of courses that are first rate. Over the state line in small town Ohio or east near Arnie’s home in Latrobe there are many hidden gems.

    You don’t need expensive equipment, but even that is cheap to get. Clubs depreciate overnight. You can buy outstanding clubs used or find clearance sales at some sporting goods stores. Few players benefit from $47/dozen Titleists; love to know the margin on those. If you’re in the vast majority of players who aren’t backspinning their chips to a quick stops or pulling them back eith spin, skip the Pro V1s. Any cheap Wilson, Top Flite, or Slazenger will do. Those cheap balls are often super long too; check out a Top Flite D2, to name one.

    • lannyh says:

      There was another inexpensive brand I played when young: Found Balls. Back in the day of soft cover titleists, sometimes people (good golfers, I presume) would discard balls with just the tiniest of a cut; I’d play them, and the ones with bigger cuts, I’d use for “water balls.” And it wasn’t a matter of being completely destitute; it just wasn’t logical for me to use a new ball when there was a 50-50 chance it was going in the water.

      • Ken says:

        There’s a couple of companies that clean up and sell lost balls. They sell them by brand. Even then, the Titleists are $25 a dozen. At $47/dozen, I’d love to know the margin. The may be the best balls, but you can’t tell me that the material is that much more expensive than other balls.

      • lannyh says:

        I think that margin is the big reason we don’t have a standard ball. (A standard ball would seem to be the most obvious thing imaginable to me, and yet we don’t have one..)

      • lannyh says:

        I just found something! I’ll post it on today’s semi live blog.

      • Ken says:

        Thanks! $8 to produce a $47 dollar product. A tidy profit there, probably even after advertising.

        So much for Big Oil’s supposedly obscene profits. They can’t touch the profit margins of Big Golf, at least at Acushnet.

    • lannyh says:

      That golf ball information is not easy to find, is it? I just spent 30 minutes and I’m not even getting close. Also, my top google returns are often from…. titleist.com. I sense they don’t want people to know.

      • Kris says:

        I think some of the information you’re looking for is protected by trade secret laws, which is why it’s so difficult to find.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So very true ! Equipment and the promise of distance has made a sucker out of a lot of us. I’m still playing with vintage 1992 irons and have not seen any appreciable changes except the price tag. Still love em !

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