Sep 08, 2016 | 06:08 am

Tiger’s Back

Usually we think of spring as the season of reawakening, but this year it will be the autumn that sees a much awaited return. Tiger Woods announced yesterday that he is targeting three fall events for his return to professional golf. On his website, Tiger said that he “hopes” to play in the Safeway Open (which used to be known as the Open), in Napa, Calif., October 13-16, which, given the wraparound season, is actually the first event of the PGA Tour’s 2016-7 campaign. Noting that he “still has work to do,” Tiger wrote, “my hope is to have my game ready to go.” If so, it also will go to the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open, November 3-6 in Belek, Turkey, and the PGA Tour’s Hero World Challenge, December 1-4 in the Bahamas, where he is the host and the benefitting charity is his Tiger Woods Foundation. Furthermore, he will play in the Tiger Woods Invitational, October 10-11 on the Monterey Peninsula. How has he been spending his downtime? It was recently reported that Tiger went to parent’s day at daughter Sam’s school, while on his website Woods said that he has been working on golf-course design, the upcoming 20th anniversary of his foundation, and a book about the 1997 Masters. He finished by writing, “I want to thank all the fans for their kindness and concern. I've been a pro about 20 years, and their support has never waned."

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Sep 07, 2016 | 08:17 am

Brand Awareness

With the equipment industry in a bit of a turmoil due to slumping sales and the exit of Nike from the hard goods side, Golf Datatech, the market research and consulting firm, has just completed a timely study called The Brand Identity in Golf (BIIG) Study, the first comprehensive report ever conducted on the major brands in the golf industry. In producing the study, the firm enlisted 2,100 die-hard golfers in the U.S. for their perceptions and attitudes about golf’s top 19 brands, encompassing all equipment and apparel product categories. The research compares consumer perceptions to category retail market shares as measured by Golf Datatech’s monthly sell thru data.
"This study is a first-of-its-kind, and we expect the results will surprise many across all sectors of the golf industry,” said Golf Datatech’s John Krzynowek. "Through the years brands have moved up and down the food chain, some driven by innovation and technology, others by success on the professional tours, and some by product breakthroughs or creative marketing programs, but there’s never been a project like this one, investigating attitudes and perceptions of the top brands, and what are the market share implications of how these brands are perceived."
The 2016 BIIG Report serves to answer a number of questions while revealing critical insights & perceptions that impact the entire golf industry, including:
    •    Which new brands are gaining traction? 
    •    Are established brands becoming dated? 
    •    What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of the leading golf brands? 
Krzynowek adds, “A brand is a real asset, and successful brands extend well beyond simple product features and benefits. The BIIG study drills down into the essence of golf’s big brands and explores their impact on driving sales and market share.”

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Sep 06, 2016 | 08:47 am

Hazeltine is Ready

With three weeks to go to the Ryder Cup, host site Hazeltine National is rounding into final shape. The course that Dave Hill labeled a cow pasture when it hosted the 1969 U.S. Open has seen major renovations over the last half century, notably prior to both the 1991 U.S. Open and 2002 PGA Championship when Rees Jones updated the layout his father designed in 1961. The Hazeltine that hosts the Ryder Cup will measure 7,674 yards from the back tees—more than 500 yards longer than in ‘69—but U.S. Captain Davis Love III has said he’ll likely set it up shorter than that, moving the tees up on par fives to encourage birdies that will stir up the home crowd. The biggest change, however, will be in the routing: To give the thousands of on-site spectators better viewing opportunities, holes 5-9 will be flip-flopped with holes 14-18. Thus the course’s signature hole, the par-four 16th, will play as number seven. Love will announce his first three captain’s picks on Monday, and the home team will get its first look at the course next week during the break between the BMW Championship and Tour Championship. The final captain’s pick will be announced Sunday, September 25, on the eve of Ryder Cup week. 

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Sep 05, 2016 | 06:21 am

Pinehurst Opens The Deuce

It’s hard to believe there was anything missing from the Pinehurst Resort in the sand hills of central North Carolina, but one of the country’s best known golf destinations has just opened a new bar and restaurant next to one of the game’s iconic locales. Called The Deuce, it opens onto the veranda overlooking the final green of Donald Ross’s Course No. 2, which hosted both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in 2014. “You are literally a ball-toss from the 18th green…” says Tom Pashley, the resort’s president. “When the windows are open, you can hear the sounds of the game, whether it’s a roar for a made putt or the groans for one that just lipped out.” The restaurant—adorned with vintage photographs and memorabilia—serves lunch every day and appetizers throughout the afternoon and evening. (Word is, try the Loaded Tater Tots and Lobster Mac’n’Cheese Croquettes.) And there’s an assortment of specialty cocktails and local craft beers, including Pinehurst Pale Ale—which we’re betting will be paid for by the losers and enjoyed by the winners.

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