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Aug 05, 2016 | 05:27 am

What Happens to the Nike Pros?

News broke in the last two days that Nike will no longer be manufacturing golf balls, clubs, and bags. That news sparks a number of different questions ranging from livelihood of Nike Golf employees, to who will sweep up Nike Golf’s share of the market (7-8% of the club and ball market). Casual golfers likely won’t be affected by the news, but most are curious about one thing: What will the Nike PGA Tour players do now? 

Nearly all Nike pros had full coverage deals, meaning the players were 100% Nike from their hat to their balls and shoes. With Nike remaining in the shoe and clothing segment of the game, many players will simply look for a new club and ball sponsor. While that may be easy in theory, equipment changes at that level of the game take serious time, and they certainly don’t happen mid-season. That isn’t to mention the possibility of Nike establishing a partnership with another club company for its corporate sponsorships. Our call? We don’t think a corportate partnership is likely. Instead, look to see the likes of PXG and Callaway sweep players up at the end of this season. Even if they’re still wearing their Nike gear, the swoosh won't be in the bag.

What do you think about the Nike news? Did Nike simply make an inferior product from the beginning or are there larger implications? Let us know in the comments below!

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Aug 04, 2016 | 06:31 am

Travelers Championship Remembers Bruce Edwards By Fighting ALS

When the PGA Tour says it raises big money for local charities, it isn’t kidding: In 2015, Tour events gave more than $160 million to hundreds of charities, large and small. But each tournament has its own unique stories, one of which is being told this week at the Travelers Championship, held outside Hartford, Connecticut.

Among the charities that will benefit are a number devoted to fighting and researching ALS—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”—which attacks nerve cells until sufferers lose the ability to control muscle movement. Tom Watson’s long-time caddie Bruce Edwards (shown above) died of ALS back in 2004, and this year the Travelers is hosting a benefit dinner for the Bruce Edwards Foundation on Friday, August 5, which will feature Watson, award-winning sportswriter John Feinstein (author of a book about Watson and Edwards), and Travelers Executive Chairman Jay F. Fishman, who also has ALS.

Asked about the event, Feinstein said, “After Bruce’s death, I went to Watson with the idea of starting an annual golf tournament in Bruce's name to raise money for ALS research. We've been able to put together a group of golfers, basketball coaches, and media types every year and have raised a little more than $5 million for The Bruce Edwards Foundation.

“A year ago, I got a call from Andy Bessette at Travelers. Apparently, after being diagnosed, Fishman began doing a lot of research on ALS and read about our foundation and the fact that we donate all our money to the Robert Packard Center at Johns Hopkins because the guy who runs the place, Dr. Jeff Rothstein, is the scientist who Watson (who has also done exhaustive research on the disease) believes is going to find the cure. Fishman wanted to hold a dinner during the Hartford event—appropriate, of course, since Bruce first caddied in the old Greater Hartford Open—to raise money for ALS research.

“Bessette said their goal was to sell 100 tables at $10,000 a pop for a dinner and funnel the money through our foundation to Packard. He asked if I would come and speak and if I could get Tom to come, too. Tom and I agreed that he would if they sold 50 tables to clear $250,000 with room to spare. Amazingly, at last count they’ve sold 115 tables, which means it’s a dinner for over 1,000 people that should net close to $1 million.

“They get all the credit. Tom and I are just there to try to make the evening worthwhile enough that people will come back next year.”

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Aug 03, 2016 | 08:30 am

River Restoration

TPC River Highlands has hosted the Travelers Championship—Connecticut's largest sporting event—since 1984 when it was known as the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open, but this week will be a little different. That's because the course underwent a multi-million dollar renovation that began last fall to improve the infrastructure and playability of the golf course. The primary focus of the project was the renovation and repositioning of the bunkers, while several greens and tee boxes were also modified. The Tour, along with original architect Bobby Weed, implemented the project over the majority of the off-season in order to minimize disruption of play. Agronomic and architectural enhancements include:

  • Rebuilding, repositioning, and restyling all bunkers and incorporating new drainage and sand for improved playability
  • Minor surface modifications to the green on Nos. 10, 13, 15, and 16, plus the total rebuild of the 17th green, all of which will provide an increased number of pin positions
  • Leveling of select tournament tee boxes, including a new tee complex at 15
  • Improved routing and repair of the cart paths
  • Stabilization of lake bank edges to avoid further erosion and improve aesthetics
  • Supplementation and enhancement of drainage throughout the golf course
"We’re extremely pleased with the results of the enhancement project," said David Corrado, General Manager at TPC River Highlands. “The feedback from the members and their guests has been extremely positive. The golf course has a fresh, clean look to it, and while changes in some areas are quite significant, the integrity and strategic nature of the golf course was maintained in a way that the course is enjoyable and a challenge for all skill levels."
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Bubba Watson

Aug 02, 2016 | 09:51 am

Ryder/Olympic Irony

The PGA Championship results have produced a reshuffling of the names at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup team qualifying race. Jimmy Walker’s victory launched him from 29th place to 4th while Brooks Koepka, finishing in the top four, moved into fifth place on the list of eight automatic qualifiers. With four weeks to go, the top eight are Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Walker, Koepka, Zach Johnson, J.B. Holmes, and Brandt Snedeker. Captain Davis Love will make three of his picks the week of August 29 with a fourth pick coming at the conclusion of the Fedex Cup playoffs on September 25, the Sunday before Ryder Cup week. So who should the four be? A strong case could be made for players 9-12 on the current points list—Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, and Rickie Fowler—not just because of their point totals but because they will be the four U.S. representatives at the Olympic Games. By going to Rio, they will take themselves out of the points competition for one crucial week, when the John Deere Classic will be played and other players will be allowed to earn points and jump up the list. There’s something not only ironic but wrong in that—by representing their nation, these four have no choice but to imperil their chances of representing their nation. 

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