Disk’s Sporting Goods Fires 500 PGA Pros; I’m Still Not Convinced There’s A Golf “Crisis”

Dick’s Sporting Goods has fired some 500 PGA Professionals, citing slow sales on golf products in their stores.

Hunting sales were similarly down, but there’s no word on whether they laid off 500 good ol’ boys.

There are a couple of interesting lines in the ESPN article:

the economy, the downturn in participation, the decline of Tiger Woods and too many products flooding the market cut into Dick’s bottom line so much that the company seems to be giving up on winning the golf equipment business.

Forget the economy, the downturn and Tiger, though. It’s likely really about the flood of products. That turns up later in the article:

As TaylorMade’s largest retailer, Dick’s was hit hard after it bought all four models of the driver TaylorMade released last year. The glut of merchandise forced Dick’s to sell at under the suggested retail price.

“We are selling drivers in our stores this spring for $99 that were approximately $299 20 months ago,” Dick’s CEO Ed Stack said after announcing earnings on May 20.

The whole story is being sold as more evidence of an existential “crisis” in golf.  I think, however, that it is a crisis only for manufacturers and retailers who need to produce ever improving sales numbers to please stockholders.

Suppose that TaylorMade were to declare bankruptcy tomorrow. Would that prevent people from playing the game? Would it prevent weekenders from continuing to play with the clubs they already own? Would anyone miss the four-times-a-year product “upgrades?”

I played golf yesterday with a friend who wielded Ping Zing irons from 1991. Yes. That’s the last time be bought clubs. He plays local courses that cost a buck a hole. And in that, he is simultaneously the golf manufacturer and retailer’s problem and the game’s salvation. He doesn’t need or want the latest, or a high end course to enjoy the game.



July 25, 2014 |  Category:
Posted By The Original Golf Blogger

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Camo Golf Balls

Camouflage Golf Ball

Ridiculous Golf Item of the Week

July 25, 2014 |  Category: Ridiculous Golf Item Of The Week
Posted By The Original Golf Blogger

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Gorilla Gold Golf Grip Enhancer Review

Gorilla Gold Non-Toxic Grip Enhancer

Grade: A+
Teacher’s Comments: It’s found a permanent place in my bag.

The first time I used the Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer, I shot my lowest score of the summer on a very difficult course. As is the nature of golf, I haven’t exactly duplicated that performance, but I do feel as though the Gorilla Gold has had a positive effect on my game.

Gorilla Gold is a cheese-cloth like material impregnated with beeswax. Rubbing the cloth on your grips (hands, gloves) transfers the material, increasing the tackiness significantly. It’s just this side of sticky, enhancing the grip without feeling gross.

The Gorilla Gold’s obvious use is to keep the club from slipping when your hands are wet from sweat or precipitation. I found, however, that it has benefits even on a cool, dry day. Playing bare handed with a Gorilla Gold coating on my grips (that transfers quickly to the hands), I feel as though I can grasp the club much more lightly than usual, with no feeling of a loss of control. A lighter grip means less tension, and less tension results in longer, straighter shots.

The product literature says that the tacky effect last for several hours, but I found it works best for me if I run the cloth through my hands every other hole or so.

An interesting side effect: the beeswax kept my hands from drying out. my hands have skin issues and keep a tube of lotion near me at all times—including in my bag for application a couple of times a round. This stuff is nearly as effective, without the negative slipperiness.

One thing I feared that hasn’t materialized: sand sticking to my hands. I play out of my share of bunkers, and thought the Gorilla Gold would give me a sandpaper coating. It just hasn’t happened. The key may be that it’s tacky, but not sticky. Of course, I haven’t dipped my tacked-up hands in the trap as an experiment, either.

I’ve had the Gorilla Gold for a month now, and keeping it in a ziplock has kept it from drying out. I think, however, that the average golfer probably would go through a couple of these a season. At around $5 a package, though, that’s not much of an expense for the benefits you could reap.

Recommended. Highly.

July 24, 2014 |  Category: Accessories
Posted By The Original Golf Blogger

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Golf World Goes All Digital

Golf World, which has been in print since 1947, will stop printing next week. They will instead go to an all digital publication with fifty issues a year, rather than the current thirty one print issues.

Sounds like the beginning of the end to me.

The Ann Arbor News, our local paper, went all digital in 2009, with similar promises—new strategic vision; same product but delivered differently; instant updates; increased functionality. Ann Arbor dot Com quickly became completely irrelevant and unread. By 2013, it had disappeared completely and was subsumed into another site, MLive. Based on the proliferation of ads on MLive, I’d guess that they’re making money, but no one I know takes that site seriously.  Just the opposite, in fact. Their poorly written, badly edited stories are a running joke with my set.  (There is a twice-weekly “Ann Arbor dot Com” print edition, but as with MLive, it is mostly treated as a joke).

I can’t help but fearing a similar future for Golf Digest.


July 23, 2014 |  Category: Media
Posted By The Original Golf Blogger

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Pilgrim’s Run Golf Course Review


Pilgrim’s Run Golf Course
Pierson / Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grade: A
Teacher’s Comments: A Michigan must-play.

Pilgrim’s Run Golf Course is a challenging and beautiful course that ranks among the best I have played.

Much about the course is unusual, beginning with its design.

The course was built by Robert and Judy Van Kampen, who founded the investment banking firm Van Kampen Merrit. According to story, the Van Kampens randomly chose six of their firm’s employees—none of whom was a golf architect—to design three holes each for the course. Golf Architects Kris Schumacker and Mike DeVries were hired to oversee the project.

That is a strange way to lay out a course, but it works. The holes feel natural, and flow well. I only learned of this unusual design process after the fact, and had no idea that it was not the work of a single talented architect.

I found the entire course challenging, but eminently fair. And fun. The views are generally spectacular and each hole isolated from the rest. I’d love to play the course three or four more times.


One byproduct of its unusual design is that Pilgrims Run is a par 73. It has just three par three holes. From the back tees, Pilgrim’s Run stretches to 7,093 yards. It plays to a 74.3/138 from the tips. The blues measure 6,471 and play to a 70/9/128. From the whites it plays to 5,737 abd is a 67.4/122.

Also unusual: Each of the holes on the course is named for a passage in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress: Pleasant Arbor, Difficulty, Slough of Despond, Deception, Sleepy Temptation, Vainglory, Bottomless Pit, Error Hill, House Beautiful, Wicket Gate, Giant Despair, By-Path Meadows, Dark Valley, Straight Way, High Mountain, Valley of Humility, Narrow Way and Entice.

Very interesting, indeed.


It turns out that Robert Van Kampen was—like many in Western Michigan—a religious conservative (West Michigan is a center of the Dutch Reformed Church). He authored three books on “eschatology,” the theology of the end times. Van Kampen also owned one of the largest collections of bibles in private hands. You can read more about Van Kampen in his New York Times obituary.

Also interesting, but perhaps not surprising: no alcohol is allowed on the course. I saw no notices to that effect when I visited, but it has been noted in further reading that I’ve done on Pilgrim’s Run.

Conditions on the day I played Pilgrim’s Run were excellent. The course is neat and well cared-for. A couple of the greens were showing the signs of damage from the past winter, but as that was a once-in-a-century spell, I think that likely the exception.

The aura of quality begins with the spacious and gorgeous clubhouse. Tee times are spaced ten minutes apart. You get a bucket of complementary balls to warm up on the huge range (which is very conveniently located near the first tee). A neat brick building serves as the starter’s perch.


My favorite hole at Pilgrim’s Run is also the one that gets the most press: the 358 yard par 4 eighteenth (above). The hole is a dogleg right that wraps around a lake, and entices players to try to cut over the water to the green. Risk-Reward at its finest. There’s plenty of space on the left, so conservative players can avoid the lake entirely with two mid length shots. But driver-wedge over the lake is so terribly tempting. It is aptly named “entice.”

Another that I really liked was the par four fifth, Sleepy Temptation (top). Measuring 393 from the blues, it starts on an elevated tee, doglegs left and then rises uphill again to the green.

Truth be told, though, I liked every hole at Pilgrim’s Run but for one: the par four third—Slough of Despond. That 388 yard par four ran past a swamp and through overhanging trees. It was tight, and somewhat messy, and not at all in character with the rest of the course.

The greens are worth of special note. They are tricky and often were multi-tiered. It is important to know the pin placements and choose your clubs accordingly. Talk to the starter before setting out. My starter was incredibly friendly, and gave me all sorts of tips on conditions, holes and general play. He also recommended a couple of other courses in the area.

Pilgrim’s Run was a terrific experience and one that I recommend if you’re in the Grand Rapids area. Pilgrim’s Run is in Pierson, which is located about thirty minutes northeast of Grand Rapids.


July 23, 2014 |  Category: Michigan Golf
Posted By The Original Golf Blogger

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Golf Shoe Closeouts At GolfSmith

Golfsmith has a wide variety of shoes at closeout prices.

There’s Footjoy, Ecco, Nike and Adidas in a wide variety of styles.

July 23, 2014 |  Category: ApparelShoes
Posted By The Original Golf Blogger

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Maw Grip Review

Maw Grip photo MawGrip-2096_zps27e24094.jpg

Maw Grip
Grade A
Teacher’s Comments: Neatly solves a real problem.

Here’s the scenario: Having just missed the green, you pull two clubs from your bag—a seven iron for chipping and your putter—and walk to the green. Dropping your putter to the ground, you chip the ball up to three feet.

Then you pick up the putter to discover that the grip is soaking wet from the morning dew. Since you left your towel at the cart, there’s nothing to do but wipe the water off on your pants—or your shirt.

I don’t have that problem, because I walk nearly every round and I can push my cart right up to the edge of the green. Cart golfers will recognize the issue, though.

I’ve seen a lot of solutions for this problem, but the Maw Grip is probably the best.

The Maw Grip consists of a thin cell neoprene tube, closed on one end, and with a rubber gasket on the other (see photo, below). Before heading to the green, you just unclip the Maw Grip from your bag and slide it over your club’s grip. The Maw Grip stays in place, and your grip remains dry.

Maw Grip photo MawGrip-2098_zps28db9ab5.jpg

It is an elegant solution.



July 22, 2014 |  Category: Gadgets
Posted By The Original Golf Blogger

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