Where Will You Be 5 Years From Now?
What the future hold for equipment
Labels: Shoes, Iron Play, Shafts, Grips, Iron Grips, Fitting, Buyers Guide, Equipment, Balls, Wedges, Irons, Woods, Clubs, Putting, Drivers, Blades, Hybrids, Fairway Woods
2. In what ways would you like to see club development evolve over the next five years?
TaylorMade: I'd like to see more energy and resources go into equipment to help people learn how to play the game.
Cleveland Golf/Srixon: The USGA has us pretty well cornered in the woods market. They finally caught up to advancements. As a result, what you can do to a driver head is somewhat limited, which is putting focus on other components, with lighter and stronger shafts, lighter grips and cosmetic elements. I wish the USGA would back off some of the restrictions. There's only so many things that can advance in golf, and golf is an evolution of the participation in the sport. The reality is that guys don't shoot any better scores today, but they have more ease in playing the game. They like to hit the ball a long way. I think the USGA overreacted with the groove ruling and unnecessarily boxed in manufacturers in wood-head advancements that allow golfers to enjoy the game more. And when you have a game with shrinking participation, you need to look for ways to make the game more enjoyable. Their focus was on top-of-the-pyramid players, like Tour pros, and there aren't that many of them. Those players will shoot great, no matter what you give them to play. They worry about some areas that, in the big picture, are not for the best health of the game. They don't worry about participation, but probably say they do. Or they have a disconnect between participation and responsibility in growing the game, and equipment advancement.
Adams Golf: To truly unlock the potential of today's technology, we need an even greater focus on custom fitting, both by manufacturers and retailers. We need to work closer together than ever. We recently launched a web application called HITfit, which provides guidance on how to integrate hybrids into an iron set. This is a good example of how to create a simple solution that pays dividends for the consumers, retailers and manufacturers.
Nike Golf: Golfers are more discerning than ever and will educate themselves on new product purchases, and they should. There's always new opportunities for equipment advancements, and Nike Golf will never stop innovating.
It's in our DNA.
Cobra PUMA Golf: We'd like to see more advancements in technology.
Callaway Golf: We'll continue to push the technology that enables better performance and greater enjoyment of the game by more people—that's what we do. Adjustability is a step toward making a club that's better able to suit the particular preferences of an individual golfer, but there's more we can do along these lines. We're working on some really exciting stuff.
3. If you could change one thing about the way the USGA regulates equipment development in the future, what would it be?
TaylorMade: That they would completely relax any and all "plain in shape" restrictions.
Cleveland Golf/Srixon: I'd like to see the USGA back off some of their positioning because they do have a cornered market: You can't post a handicap or play in club tournaments if you don't play by their rules. I think we all need to help. We don't want the game to continue deteriorating. In Japan, the market has significantly shrunk. There are other factors there, but the point is that it shrunk, and the game here can shrink. When the big baby-boomer population moves through in the next decade, what's left? It's kind of an alarming situation to the health of golf. Part of the solution is to make the game more enjoyable. What's happened is that the USGA got behind the curve, and now they've gotten ahead of it again, which is fine. But golf courses have lengthened out. I can hit the ball at age 56 as far as I could when I was 25. But now the courses stretch out to 7,500 yards, and I need to hit the ball farther. Or I can step up to the short tees, but most guys don't want to do that because it's an ego thing. I think they're applying the wrong medicine on a perceived problem that really doesn't matter. Let the Tour do what it wants to do. If they're worried about how far the players hit it, let them deal with it.
Adams Golf: I'm probably the odd guy out, but I think the USGA is doing a great job. An interesting discussion for the future would be the potential for bifurcation related to different equipment rules for elite competition vs. regular play. I do understand there are pros and cons by going in that direction.
Nike Golf: The USGA is currently working with the manufacturers to create more transparency and guidelines around rule making. We applaud the new efforts at the USGA and look forward to a more transparent relationship as we move forward.
Cobra PUMA Golf: Continued dialogue with the manufacturers about the processes to evaluate rule changes and data-driven decisions about rule changes.
Steve McCracken, Callaway Golf senior executive vice president, chief administrative officer: We think that any change to the Rules of Golf is a serious matter, and that those Rules should only be changed to address a serious, identifiable problem. If the problem is that professionals hit the ball too far or spin the ball too much from the rough, then the solution should be aimed at those golfers and those competitions through the use of Conditions of Competition. General changes to the Rules should only be made when the problem being fixed is one that's shared by all golfers, not just a few.
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