Vancouver

Vancouver has seen a lot these past 18 months or so, and could arguably be called the greatest sports city in Canada right now.

February 12, 2010 saw the beginning of the 21st Winter Olympiad, where Canada won the most gold medals ever. June, 2011 saw the hometown Canucks make a wild run to the Stanley Cup, only to lose in Game 7 at home. Then July 21-24 some of the world’s best golfers descended on Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club for the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Yes, it certainly has been quite the ride for the city of Vancouver of late and it was top of mind when thinking about a vacation destination for the final week of July.

Somehow, while visiting for five days, not a single drop of rain fell and the two rounds of golf played were unaffected.

Teased by the pros on Sunday while watching the final round of the RBC in person and enjoying the incredible scenery at Shaughnessy, the excitement was building if this was what was to be expected playing golf on the West Coast.

Everything just seems different there, but in the best of ways. InOntario, one does not see signs that say: “Be bear aware” causing someone be wary of walking into the extremely thick brush to try to retrieve a lost ball – which happened more than once on this trip.

The lushness of the greens and the crispness of the air provided a golfing atmosphere unlike any I had experienced before. The views of pristine water, coupled with cloud-covered mountain tops and sky-high trees of all kinds gave both courses unique layouts which punished errant shots but thoroughly rewarded the fairways-and-greens player.

For most of the trip I caught myself saying, to no one in particular, ‘wow’ as I became overcome by not only the scenery, but of the eerie calm which seems to take over the land in rural Vancouver. A stark contrast to some of the layouts that I’ve been accustomed to playing.

Teeing off early in the morning both days allowed for the two courses to be at their most gorgeous – the sun rising over the tree tops, the misty dew rising off the freshly cut greens, and the light breeze coming up and down each fairway just encouraged you to breathe deep and take it all in.

Seymour Golf and Country Club

Seymour, located only 30 minutes from downtownVancouver, is a semi-private facility open to the public on Mondays and Fridays. The approximately 60-year-old club is immaculately groomed and is an eloquent challenge for golfers of all kinds.

Located at the base of a mountain range inVancouver’s north shore – glimpses of Deep Cove are rare but beautiful sights on the back-9 – the golf course features narrows fairways and slick greens which only add to the challenge. Each green seemingly elevated just slightly which will encourage shot-making and skill at every turn.

Seymour Golf & CC - No.11

With a constant stream of people lining up around the first hole to tee off, the public certainly can not get enough of Seymourand somehow, the marshal and course facilitators kept things moving smoothly. Despite the seemingly never-ending line up of golfers, we did not experience a delay throughout the day – other than our own, invoked by a desire to enjoy the scenery.

As mentioned, the quick greens and tight fairways will test every part of your game, but each hole is so pristine that you feel encouraged to make good shots, as if you’re on a first date with the course and you’re hoping to impress it.

With the courses’ unique location, the wind whipped up and down through most of the day, causing club selection to usually go back-and-forth before finally settling on an appropriate one.

The whistling wind, along with elevation on nearly each fairway and green will definitely give low-handicap golfers a test, however, even the high-handicap player will enjoy the challenge that Seymour provides.

The 6,300 yard layout is at it’s best early on the back nine. The 11th, a 164 yard downhill par-3 is, on paper, a welcome hole after the very challenging 10th. However, one must be right on with their distance off the tee, otherwise they will get punished by either the creek running through the middle of the hole, or the small pond to the right of the green. The pin positions are usually, I’m told, tucked near that creek as if to taunt golfers to try to go for the flag.

Aim left and hope for a par, but also enjoy the stroll down the elevated tee box with a view of Deep Cove and the mountain range off in the distance.

Swan-E-Set Bay Resort & Country Club

For now, one could say that Swan-E-Set is best known as the host club for Happy Gilmore’s triumph over Shooter McGavin (Happy Gilmore was shot mostly at Swan-E-Set, along with another Vancouver-area golf course, Furry Creek), but for Vancouver area golfers, they know that the course is much more than just a Hollywood destination.

About an hour from downtown Vancouver, Swan-E-Set is located in the small rural town of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia where fresh berries grow in fields as far as the eye can see and the cathedral-like clubhouse stands out from miles away.

The Swan-E-Set Bay Resort features two courses, the ‘Resort’ course and the ‘Links’ course. Only getting a chance to play the ‘Resort’ course, the ‘Links’ has already been penciled in for a return trip.

Designed by Lee Trevino, both championship courses feed back into the massive 65,000 square foot clubhouse which truly remains the jewel of the resort. Trevino dug through the pristine and quiet Pitt River Valleyto provide golfers with views of some costal mountains along with natural streams, lakes, and forests which act as homes to much wildlife.

The peaceful surroundings of Swan-E-Set provide you with a very quiet golfing experience, the setting too pristine and calm to allow for any anger or frustration to surface. The only outside noise one will hear is the hovering of a helicopter or small plane across the farm-fields adjacent to the course (chalk the helicopter noise up to something you “don’t hear while playing golf in Ontario”).

Swan-E-Set Bay Resort - no.1

The course couldn’t get off to a better start with hole no.1. A long, 611 yard par-5 greets the golfers with trouble right and trouble left. Your best bet is to keep it down the left side of the fairway, in order to have a good line for a lay-up on the second shot around a slight dogleg. The green is guarded by bunkers to the left and a pond to the right and, as usual withVancouvergreens, one will have to contend with slight undulations.

Swan-E-Set is flat by comparison to other courses in the region, but remains in good shape. The sheer number of rounds that are played each year contribute to the few patches of the layout which could stand to be improved – but as a semi-private course that is always open to the public and resort guests, this is expected.

A friend who calls Vancouver home, mentioned that he played golf during the Olympics last year, and to me, it was odd to see that some courses have ‘Winter’ tee-times and prices. One can only assume that if a course is getting played 11, 12 months a year it will certainly go through some wear-and-tear.

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Travelling there I packed my clubs in an OGIO straight jacket travel bag, my first time ever going on a plane with my children (err… golf clubs). Despite feeling slightly tentative at the softness of the bag, it provided my clubs with excellent protection there and back. The wheels on the bottom were smooth and the overall weight of the bag balanced out nicely with my normal travel bag. I was able to fit my set of clubs inside, along with two pairs of shoes, and, without question, I could have fit in more. I did feel the need to wrap my clubs in a towel and then put them into the bag for added protection but I’m not sure if it would have needed it.  As the old adage goes though: better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re not bringing your clubs with you, not to worry, as both aforementioned courses have a selection of rental clubs for use. A small mention of being from the GTA gave a friend (who didn’t bring his clubs) the premium set for the basic price at Seymour, and at Swan-E-Set, the pro shop attendant brought out a shiny new bag full of the 2011 line-up of Taylormade clubs making me think that perhaps I should have left my clubs at home, too.

Vancouver continues to grow as a bustling metropolis inCanada, and hosting the Olympics certainly helped that. I was lucky enough to spend five days inNorth Vancouverwith a friend, but any of the hotels in the downtown core will allow for relatively simple drives to the multitude of golf courses in the region. The weather was also a welcome change from the mid-30 degree temperatures I’d been experiencing in Toronto, which made everything – from golfing to sightseeing – all that more memorable.

The Little Golf Course That Could

Originally posted May 26th/2011 –  http://www.flagstick.com/editorsdesk/?p=1845

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This past weekend I took my girlfriend golfing for the first time. It was… many things: interesting for sure, bug-infested, a little wet, but a lot of fun.

Outfitted in a turquoise polo shirt (“Because it’s the colour of Tiffany’s!”) a matching FootJoy glove, and a Titleist hat (“I like this Adam Scott guy”), she was ready to hit the links.

And I knew the perfect course.

Located in Clarendon,Ontario(approximate population: 1000, off Highway 7 near Sharbot Lake), there is a 1,100-yard track called Canadian Shield Executive Golf Club.

Dug out of theforestofTumblehome Lodge(formally called “Tumblehome Lodge Golf Club”) this little piece of golfing heaven is the one place in the world that has arguably seen every level of the game played on it.

There are nine holes, each of them a par-3 ranging from 73 yards to 120. The course record is even-par, 27. There is no dress code. There are no tee boxes. The greens are longer than most fairways.

But there are memories.

I played my first-ever round of golf here, at the age of 11. After a summer of batting around a wiffle ball with my grandad’s oldWilson8-iron, I was finally ready to play.

I took my borrowed set of women’s clubs (persimmon driver and everything) and off my grandad and I went.

Somehow, we made it around the little layout unscathed.

Twice.

Not only did I have my grandad get a cart, but I made him play 18. He didn’t complain and I still proudly hang that scorecard in my bedroom – the best ‘100’ I ever shot.

I studied that scorecard for months, just itching to get back out there and try again. I labeled each hole with what club I should to hit off the tee and analyzed where I should be hitting the ball on the little illustrated drawings of each hole.

We would always return to Canadian Shield each summer, and despite how good I got at the game, going back there to play was just as fun each time. .

The course has had its share of ups and downs; the land was even put up for auction in 2007. Thankfully, someone bought it and kept it as-is, save for the previously mentioned name change.

The course no longer has an official website, and when you read about it on the “Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington Community Resources Database” it’s described as being “located in the middle of the woods.”

Seems pretty accurate actually – I tried checking-in on Foursquare to the course this weekend and it didn’t show up on the “places nearby,” but, “Middle Of Nowhere” did.

It’s always hard to return ‘up country’ and find how cheap a round of golf is, especially being a city boy through and through (born and raised in the heart ofToronto). Canadian Shield Executive is no different.

Maybe the $15 price tag for nine holes seems a little steep at first glance, but how about the $25 to “play all day?” It was a new special added this year.

Would I have done it, had I the time?

Of course I would.

My girlfriend and I were the only ones on the course that Sunday, but only in the physical sense.

As we walked the same route I had walked every summer for the past 11 years, we were accompanied by all of those old memories of mine.

It’s one of those places where despite the bugs, the remote location, and the Astroturf tee-boxes there is still something that makes you want to come back again.

I’m already looking forward to it.

Fifth Major?

Originally posted May 16th/2011 – http://theforewordblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/fifth-major-a-guest-blog/

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For the fourth straight week, the PGA TOUR went into a playoff late Sunday. The sun was setting but the golf was just heating up, as David Toms and K.J. Choi returned to the island green of the TPC Sawgrass’ world famous 17th hole to decide a winner of the 2011 Players Championship.

Choi took it with a par on the first extra hole, but the quality of the other golfers chasing him and Toms should not be overlooked.

Featured on the leaderboard was the best golfer in the world right now, Luke Donald, young American stars Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney, and wily veterans Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.

The Players is contested on the same pristine course each year, admired for it’s difficult water hazards and closing stretch of holes that, since it’s a public course, haunt everyone from tour pros to high-handicappers.

It’s an iconic stop on tour with a huge purse and a world-class field.

Sounds like a major championship, doesn’t it?

But let’s be serious, it’s not.

There are four major championships in golf. It’s always been that way, and it always will be.

Shot-making, pressure, weather (both good and bad), and tradition are combined into spectacles of the game of golf that fans can enjoy four times a year: in April, June, July, and August.

The Masters: time stands still, and each year everything stays the same, yet changes. The men of the game keep it their way, and they do it well. (They should go easy on Rickie Fowler and his backwards hat, but that’s for another post…)

The U.S.Open: the ultimate open championship. Anyone with a 1.4 handicap or lower (and $150 in their pocket for the entry fee) can enter and try to take on the beastly layouts the USGA has in store each year.

The British Open: the oldest championship in golf played on layouts where the game itself was invented. The only time this year that men will wake up early to watch something happen inBritain(unless their wife/girlfriend/mother/daughter got them up for that other British event…)

The PGA Championship: long regarded as the ‘little brother’ to the other Majors, the tournament has given us some of the most thrilling finishes in golf. Some won by the game’s best, others, won by the most exciting of underdogs.

One week earlier than the Players, there’s a tournament played inNorth Carolinaon a course that one day may host a major, and continually gets rave reviews from the pros.

But it’s not a major.

One week later than the Players inEnglandis the European Tour’s flagship event that has had some of the greatest European winners of all time hoist its trophy, played on a Ryder Cup-worthy course.

But it’s not a major.

Then, sandwiched between the two, is the Players championship itself which, as mentioned, boasts the richest purse on tour along with a great field.

But it’s not a major.

The Players may remain as the crown jewel of the PGA TOUR and since it’s inception in the early 1970s has always drawn comparisons to the ‘Big Four.’ But, many of the game’s best don’t even make the trek toFloridato play.

There aren’t any other tournaments that are more or less deserving of the title “Golf’s Fifth Major” because, well, that title shouldn’t exist, despite how golf writers like to allude to it as such.

The Players is a great tournament indeed, but a great tournament only it will stay.

Dear Tiger – Come Back Soon?

Originally Posted April 17th/2011 – http://www.flagstick.com/editorsdesk/?p=1756

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After sitting through approximately six hours of Masters television coverage on Sunday, along with refreshing my Twitter stream every chance I had, I feel as though suffering through a Masters hangover that’s lasted until now is justified.

We had drama, we had intrigue, and we had suspense. We had shot-making, heart-breaking, life-changing.

And then, we had a winner.

Charl Schwartzel?

No disrespect to the man. It’s not like you can go around Augusta National like you had an actual hangover and win the green jacket. Schwartzel chipped-in from 100 feet on no.1 to make birdie. Then he stroked a wedge from 120 yards out for an eagle on no. 2.

Game on.

He made four straight birdies to end his round and ripped the green jacket from the clutches of seven men who held the lead at some point that Sunday faster than Shooter McGavin did to Happy Gilmore.

Globally, golf is at its strongest point ever. For the first time in the history of the game, since they were defined as such, there is not a single American who holds one of golf’s major titles. Two of the last three major champions have been South Africans, both products of Ernie Els’ elite school which trains potential South African golfers for greatness.

Kids of all walks of life are now taking up the game. It’s more accessible than ever thanks to some programs implemented around the world. But there was one man who was able to take golf and cross-generationally, monumentally, and inspirationally bring it to the masses.

Tiger Woods was right there on Sunday. He was almost back.

Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with updates as he took the lead at 4:00 pm. The last time he co-lead a major, I don’t even think Twitter was popular.

He did almost everything he needed to do to win, including shooting his lowest final round ever at The Masters (67) and pulled a whole group of non-believers back to the edge of their collective couches. He made golf interesting again for even the casual fan for a few glorious hours.

Tiger has never won a major coming from even one stroke behind, let alone seven. But before you know it, he’s shot a front-nine 31 and has fist-pumped and swore his way back into our hearts.

Earlier, I mentioned that golf was at its best, globally. But culturally? We need Tiger back. Out of the past 10 major champions, only one (Phil Mickelson) has gone on to win a tournament again. The past 10 major champions have also all been different.

No dominance.

No streaks.

A lot of question marks.

Take Schwartzel for example. To borrow a line from the legendary Rick Reilly – “[…] Who knows if we’ll ever see HIM again. He seems like a work in progress. Even his first name is unfinished.”

For every Tiger Woods, there is another Louis Oosthuizen. For every Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, and Jack Nicklaus there is a Paul Lawrie, Shaun Micheel, and Michael Campbell.

Look no further than television ratings and now, social media monitors. The world loves to see someone dominate, even if this past week was just a tease.

The days of Arnie’s Army and Jack’s Pack (I just made that one up, but it has a nice ring to it) were the first glory years of golf.

Then we had the first real taste of international success with Seve and José and Sir Nick and Bernhard and Norman and Price.

Then a skinny, half-African-American, half-Asian 21-year-old trumped The Masters field by 12 strokes in 1997.

“Hello, world” indeed.

Give me Tiger Woods beating the field by 15 against a Lucas Glover/Ricky Barnes playoff any day. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that.

Schwartzel can keep his jacket. But for the rest of us, we’ll keep those Sunday moments where, for just a little while, we could believe in dominance once more.

Callaway Diablo Octane Tour – Review

Originally Posted April 16th/2011    – http://www.flagstick.com/teeshots/?tag=driver

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I’ve always been a sucker for new equipment. With all the brands and variety and technology these days, who wouldn’t be?

So when the Callaway Diablo Octane Tour driver was delivered to my house to test, my Dad commented that my new girlfriend had shown up.

Much to the chagrin of my actual girlfriend, but that’s beside the point.

The Octane Tour is the second generation of the Diablo franchise launched in 2009. The Diablo line of clubs rebranded the ‘Big Bertha’ from the sweet and innocent clubs of yore into a cutting edge, fiery line-up of drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids with the most bad-ass spokesperson Callaway could find:

Rocco Mediate.

Upon first look of the Octane Tour, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Callaway moved away from the previous crown design. Having worked in a golf store at the time of the launch, I heard enough people comment on the odd shape, and the Octane Tour moves back into a more classic pear.

The face and corresponding sweet spot is also larger than the previous generation. Two years ago the face and sweet spot seemed elongated, but this one has larger hitting area and it was evident after hitting just a few balls.

With snow continuing to fall through many parts of the country, I was only able to hit balls at an indoor range to give this a test. I’ll have to see how it performs outside and in course conditions. But even by comparing to the previous week when I was hitting my current driver, my drives were jumping off this face and it had a great feel at impact.

The head is a classic black, and it’s appreciative to see that this club definitely doesn’t need any gimmicks like movable weights or drastic colour contrasts. It doesn’t even have a logo or mark on the top of the crown to allow golfers to line up their ball, an indication of a true ‘tour’ club. It lets its performance and cleanliness do all the talking.

From the lack of markings, to the clean design, to the 450cc clubhead which allows for more workability off the tee, this club lives very much up to it’s ‘tour’ title.

The Octane Tour comes fully-loaded with everything the better player would be looking for in a driver.

A slightly open face angle coupled with the True Temper Project X 7.0 Graphite shaft got me a little nervous at address at first, but after hitting a few balls I felt more comfortable with this than my current driver. I’m used to seeing a stock shaft with a closed head when I look down at the ball, so this was a welcome change.

For low-handicappers who are still fighting a little slice, I’d recommend staying away from this club, but it has a classic look and feel that all better players can appreciate.

The crown is made with a Forged Composite material that Callaway, in partner with their Lamborghini engineers, claim is lighter and stronger than titanium. And the results were evident after just a couple of swings.

Callaway says that, in testing against its predecessor, the aforementioned Diablo Edge, the new Octane Tour hit eight yards further on average, a direct result of superior distribution of clubhead mass. Not only that, it continues to use the Hyperbolic Face Technology which Callaway has been using in each of its drivers since 2008.

I won’t bore you with the technical specs of it, but in the simplest terms: this driver make ball go far.

Look to the Titliest 910 D3 as its closest competitor. With nearly identical face shapes and sizes low-handicappers should have similar expectations if comparing these two clubs. But the tipping point for some may be the price point – the Callaway Diablo Octane Tour retails for less than the 910 D3 but without adjustable face technology.

The biggest problem that this club has is its grip. If it is supposed to be a ‘Tour’ club, which for the most part, it is, it needs to have a full ‘Tour’ package. Do not put the standard Callaway grip on this club.

The brand partnership with Phil Mickelson is huge for Callaway, they should look to leverage that and throw on a black and white New Decade Multicompound or something comparable as stock option.

Golfers at this level would be happy to spend the extra $20 to receive a full package ‘tour’ club, as most would be getting this re-gripped regardless.

For players who are already low-handicappers, or for players looking to move to that level, this club gives them a lightweight head and a very large sweet spot without any gimmicks. A very solid addition with a classic look to the Callaway family.

SPECS

Callaway Diablo Octane Tour – 9.5o

Project X 7.0 X-Stiff Shaft

45.5 inches

Game On – Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 Hits Shelves

Originally Posted – March 28th/2011 – http://www.flagstick.com/teeshots/?p=3152

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The state of video games these days can be summed up by the incomparable country twang of Brad Paisley, in his song Welcome to the Future.

A line from the song says – “I’d have given anything/to have my own Pac-Man game at home/I used to have to get a ride down to the arcade/now I’ve got in on my phone.”

I managed to skip the video arcade generation, but one of the first memories I have of playing a video game was on my parent’s old Windows 95-run computer in our basement.

Links LS 98 featuring Arnold Palmer kept me entertained for many an hour taking me away to the famous golf links of Kapalua and Latrobe, long before Tiger Woods paired up with EA Sports.

IGN GameSpy called Links LS 1998 “the sequel to one of the greatest golf titles of 1997 […] Even though the courses are the same, the enhancements make the playing experience new once more. New to Links LS 1998 is what Access calls ‘look ahead rendering,’ which calculates your ball’s final resting position and begins to load the correct scenery into memory as the ball is in flight.”

Ah yes. To borrow another classic music quote, the times they are a-changing.

On March 29, EA Sports will release another version of their wildly successful golf video game franchise: Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12The Masters and this time the game will include a feature that no one thought would ever occur.

Players will be able to tee it up on the famous and exclusive links of Augusta National Golf Club, virtually strolling the hallowed grounds down Magnolia Lane, serenaded by the soothing baritone of Jim Nantz.

The game has featured many of the world’s most famous courses before, including St. Andrews, TPC Sawgrass, Pebble Beach, and Bethpage Black, just to name a few.

Other games have tried to top the success of EA Sports but the TW franchise continues to have a stranglehold on the market, even without having Augusta on its famed list of places-to-play.

No longer.

In an announcement made in early January, Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne said that as a result from the partnership with EA Sports, 100 per cent of Augusta National’s proceeds will be contributed to the newly created Masters Tournament Foundation, which is designed to annually invest in development programs for the game of golf worldwide.

It was an attempt to foster an appreciation in the history and traditions of The Masters which led to Augusta’s partnership with EA Sports three years ago. Just as EA approached Tiger to be the face of their franchise beginning in 1999, Augusta has done the same here, in order to capitalize on “one of the popular entertainment choices of kids today.”

With all due respect to Mr. Payne, the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 will not only keep the younger generation entertained, but people of all ages who are finally able to get as close to Augusta National as most ever will in their entire life.

Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, said in a statement that “for more than a decade, the Masters tournament has been the most requested and coveted feature for (the franchise) among our fans.”

Not only do players get the hallmark gameplay of the Tiger Woods franchise, this year’s edition features a collection of Masters-specific challenges including ‘Masters Moments’ (playing through historic moments as players measure up against some of golf’s legends) or ‘Tiger at the Masters’ (reliving each of Tiger’s four wins at the Masters by attempting to equal or beat his scores in each round of the tournament).

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 retails for $59.99 and is available at video game retailers everywhere for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii beginning March 29.

Who wins in the Puma/Cobra Golf Deal

Originally Posted April 1st/2010 – http://www.flagstick.com/editorsdesk/?p=782#comments

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Acushnet Company, which is the golf arm of Fortune Brands, Inc. announced March 10 that they signed an agreement to sell the Cobra Golf brand in it’s entirety to Puma.

On the outside, this may appear like just another cost-cutting mechanism by a major corporation who is struggling in tough economic times, as Acushnet is the proud parent of two of the biggest brands in golf already – Titleist and FootJoy.  And maybe it is, as later during the day of the announcement Fortune Brand’s President and CEO Bruce Carbonari addressed a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer Conference in New York and made a brief mention of the deal.  He pointed to Cobra Golf as a slow growth portion of their golf business and referred to their other leading consumer brands as what they wanted to focus on. Thus the sale to Puma made sense to them.

Puma is a brand more known for its clothing and slowly but surely is getting into golf by sponsoring some of the most up-and-coming youngsters on Tour. Cobra also has on their staff some of the most cutting-edge style guys out there including Camilo Villegas.

Questions have already been asked of the pros, as many who are on staff with Cobra are also FootJoy faithful, not to mention what seems like a million touring professionals who play Pro V1’s. The public has been met with Tweets, Facebook status updates, and official website statements clarifying what they all will be playing moving forward.

But what about the rest of us?

We’ve already seen the benefits of corporate synergy in golf, as Taylormade and Adidas have blossomed as partners in the golf world  the past few years. We’ve also seen one company “Just Do It” all: clothes, balls, clubs… but they had You-Know-Who as it’s main product pusher.

Arguably this is the first time that two very opposite companies, one from clothing and one from hard goods, but both from the youthful edge of their industries, will team up.

Perhaps this may be a turning point for the Cobra hard goods brand to try to re-connect with the youth of today, because Puma certainly has that market on lock.

They’ve created bright, form-fitting wardrobes for all of the young tour pros that they sponsor and it hasn’t taken long for that style to reach young golfers everywhere.

You’re unable to walk through a clubhouse these days without seeing a bright pink shirt on a 21-year-old male, proudly standing beside members of a women’s league with shirts of the same colour.

By contrast, Cobra still makes clubs with senior flex.

That’s not to say Cobra isn’t successful, no, they have had a long-standing relationship with many golfers from top professionals to the weekend hackers.  Their sales of nearly $150 million annually would make them a top ten golf equipment manufacturer by themselves.

But Cobra will have to get used to targeting the ‘kids these days’ and get more into that niche market that Puma is used to targeting. Whether “Pumbra” will be able to translate their clothing successes into hard goods will still be a stretch, but it’s clear that the rivalry between Adidas/Taylormade, Nike, and Puma will reach new heights.

The official acquisition of Cobra by Puma is expected to occur in early summer of 2010, and only then will we be able to see any sort of brand synergy.

Who knows what this will do for the golf industry.  Perhaps Callaway and Ping will feel out of the loop because they don’t have a hip clothing partner and look to find one as well?

We will have to wait and see, but this may reignite the passionate brand rivalries of the early 1990’s when golf grew to unprecedented heights.

One thing IS for sure: it’s a great time to be a consumer.

Some new stuff

Been a while since  I’ve been able to toss anything up on the Blog. But that’s not to say I haven’t been writing.

Since my last post I was thrilled to have connected once again with my friend Scott Macleod, the managing editor of Flagstick Golf Magazine. A regional publication in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. They’ve been really building up their online presence in the past few years as well and I’ll be adding my thoughts on occasion.

Look for mostly club reviews to come up, but I’ll also be posting a few pieces on the world of golf. I’ll also include the posts in their original format here, along with links to the Flagstick pages.

Enjoy…