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The Declining State of Golf

Feb. 12, 2014     By     Comments (22)

Thrash TalkGolf, like any leisure activity, is very closely tied with the ups and downs of the economy. The economy in its current state appears to be making headway in the right direction; golf on the other hand has continued its decline. Mostly it is a decline of participation, more directly it is not attracting as many new golfers as it is losing. For us golfers, this is going to be a bad thing. More and more courses are going to be forced to close because they just do not get enough play to remain open.

When I think about how we got here, we must first remember that golf has gone through ups and downs in the past. This is certainly not the first decline. Likely it will not be the last and golf will grow again soon. But we should analyze why we have had this recent decline.

Five Predictions for 2014

Jan. 30, 2014     By     Comments (2)

Trap Five Logo2014 is going to be an interesting year. We've got Rory McIlroy trying to recapture his pre-2013 form; Phil Mickelson giving the career grand slam another go at Pinehurst; Jordan Spieth and a number a young players looking to make the leap; and of course Tiger Woods six years removed from his last major championship win.

Let's get to it.

New Balls from Callaway, Putters from Odyssey

Jan. 29, 2014     By     Comments (1)

Bag DropWhile Titelist may be the Number One Ball in Golf, there are plenty of other manufactures that make quality tour level balls, and in many people's opinion, Callaway has had one of those balls for quite a while. The Tour i/iz balls were very popular as were its most recent successors, the HEX Black Tour and HEX Chrome and Chrome +. With Those balls, Callaway gave golfers of differing abilities balls that would fit their game well. This year, the company is updating its ball offerings and is heading a slightly different way. Following the model that has be popularized by Bridgestone over the last few years, Callaway's new tour level balls will come in a few different models, with each one optimized for a particular swing speed. In addition to the new premium balls, the company is also debuting its softest ball to date with the new SuperSoft ball.

Alongside the new balls are new flat sticks from the companies putter division, Odyssey. For those wanting to make a move to an Odyssey putter but not wanting to give up a milled face, there are the new Metal-X Milled putters. In addition to the new putter line, Odyssey has added to both the Versa and White Hot Pro family of putters with the Jailbird and the Hacok.

Is Rory McIlroy Distracted or Just Struggling?

Jan. 15, 2014     By     Comments (6)

Thrash TalkAs a golf fan we have been trained to expect prolonged greatness. Tiger Woods hit the scene in 1997 and basically dominated golf until 2010. Jack Nicklaus before him was great for even longer. Greg Norman, Arnie before him, Hogan, Nelson, and so on. But for every golfer like those I mentioned there has been a golfer who flew onto the scene and disappeared almost as quickly as they appeared. I worry that Rory may be falling into the second category.

I am sure you are thinking that I am making this prediction too early in Rory's career. You are probably right, he may again win majors, and maybe even get the number one player title once Tiger starts to lose his edge, but my theory is that he will never dominate. For me it is a combination of things that lead me to this conclusion.

Thrash Talk Predictions for 2014

Jan. 1, 2014     By     Comments (4)

Thrash TalkI can freely admit that I am pretty bad when it comes to making predictions. Still, being bad does not stop me from making new ones. Why? Because it is fun to try to predict the future. I am probably as accurate as most of the political talking heads on Fox News or MSNBC. Even though officially the 2014 season has already started, I think it is okay to post the predictions now.

But before I go into my predictions for 2014… let's see how my predictions from last season panned out. I first predicted that Tiger would win the Masters. Yes, I was wrong, but barring a flagstick on the fifteenth hole Tiger probably would have come through for me. That flagstick did not stop him from winning five times during the season, but it caused me to be wrong about my prediction. I also said that he was only going to win two times, and he easily surpassed that.

How EA Sports Can Revive the PGA Tour Video Games Sans Tiger

Dec. 3, 2013     By     Comments (7)

Trap Five LogoAccording to a statement released by EA Sports recently, the video game giant and golfer Tiger Woods have severed ties.

According to who you believe, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video games already appeared to be on the rocks, and the '15 edition (to be released in 2014) will be either delayed until at least April or not sent to market at all.

Neither option would be all that unheard-of; EA has monkeyed with the release dates for the Tiger Woods games before. The games were released in the fall every year between 2003 and 2007, until moving towards the late summer for the 2008 version and earlier in the summer for 2010. In 2012 EA cut a deal to include Augusta National in the game, and worked hard to push it out before The Masters.

EA is also no stranger to cutting off a game entirely. They dropped the MVP Baseball series after 2007 (mostly because rival 2K Sports signed an exclusivity deal with MLB in response to EA's similar deal with the NFL), and have yet to pick the series back up even after the 2K/MLB deal expired. After their NBA Live 10 game received (justifiably) terrible reviews, they cancelled its follow-up, NBA Elite 11, at the last minute, and haven't released a basketball game since despite relatively weak releases from 2K (though NBA Live 14 is set to come back later this year).

It remains to be seen what exactly the ramifications of the Tiger/EA separation are. I suppose it's possible that Tiger remains in the game as a playable character, though his days on the cover are surely gone.

The games remain different year-over-year, but the yearly releases have become frustrating. Excess players, expensive extra courses, and rotating single player modes have made the games stale, and while the extra space of Blu-Rays and larger on-board stock hard drives should help them, EA needs to make some deep changes. Here are a few things I think could get the PGA Tour video game series off and running again.

An Open Letter to Tiger Woods

Nov. 2, 2013     By     Comments (16)

Thrash TalkDear Tiger,

First off, let me start by saying congratulations on a fantastic 2013 PGA Tour season. Five wins including the Players Championship and two World Golf Championships is one heck of a season. Yes, you may have missed out on adding a major which I am sure was a little disappointing, but you put yourself in position. That means a win at a major is certainly on the horizon.

I know that the season ended on a bit of sour note with that blowhard Brandel Chamblee essentially calling you a cheater for a few rules issues. His article was terrible, and didn't make much sense. He compares your season to himself cheating on a test. His teacher caught him and gave him a F. The only way that analogy makes any sense is if you had won a tournament because of these rules issues. Yes, you won the Players, but not because of any drop. At the other places you didn't win anyway, so I am having trouble making the connection. Suffice to say, the article was bad.

Titleist Introduces the New 714 AP1 and AP2 Irons

Sep. 25, 2013     By     Comments (4)

Bag DropWhile it seems that certain companies (and one in particular) continue to pump out new clubs promising the latest and greatest in golf technology, Titleist golf has taken a somewhat different approach. Every other year, the company reveals a new set of irons and in the years in between we get the new drivers and woods. This year is an iron year for Titleist and with it brings the introduction of the new 714 series of irons. As with the past handful of iron releases from Titleist, this group is comprised of updates to the four existing sets; the MB, CB, AP1, and AP2.

2013 Majors Recap

Aug. 23, 2013     By     Comments (0)

Thrash TalkIn 1997, Tiger Woods first hit the scene he declared that he was planning to eclipse the eighteen majors won by Jack Nicklaus. This sent a message to everyone that the majors were now the most important tournaments and would get extra focus.

Of course, the concept of majors was decided long before Tiger hit the scene but it was Tiger to put the focus of every golfer on winning them and how important they would become. In 2013, we got three first-time winners of majors in Adam Scott, Justin Rose, and Jason Dufner. Each of them had to endure quite a road to reaching this tall mountain. The fourth winner, Phil Mickelson, won a major, certainly not his first, but one that most of us thought he would never win - the British Open.

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