Five Questions

Enquiring golf minds want to know.

Trap Five LogoWell, my golf game is officially a mess this week. My number one trick this spring is to only play decent golf on one nine and blow up on the other… as in 10 strokes or more over the other side. What the heck?

That is just the start of the questions I have about golf this week. Here are five questions that most people would consider more important than the state of my personal golf game.

Number Five: When Should We Expect the 460 with MWT?
Hot on the heels of the R9 driver introduction in March, TaylorMade has released the R9 460 and R9 460 TP. Two months is a pretty short product release cycle, but the introduction of a 460cc R9 model really wasn’t a surprise. When TaylorMade released the R9 at 420cc, a lot of people posited that a 460 would be along in short order.

What is surprising, at least to me, is that the R9 460 already represents a departure from the original R9 in more than size. It’s an interesting marketing move. Instead of killing sales of the “original” R9 (I can’t believe we already have to call it “the original”) with the introduction of an R9 460 with all of the R9 technology, TaylorMade has instead introduced a larger (and therefore, more forgiving) R9 with less technology – no Movable Weight Technology (MWT) – at a lower price point ($299 for the regular model and $399 for the TP vs. $399 and $499 for the original R9 models). Instead of the 75 yards of side-to-side adjustability promised by the R9, the R9 460 offers “just” 40 yards of lateral adjustment through the Flight Control Technology (FCT), aka the adjustable hosel gizmo. All of which means prices are probably not going to drop on the R9s quite as fast as some have predicted.

That will probably have to wait for the release of the next R9 model, whether that’s later this year or sometime in 2010. I suspect we will see a 460cc R9 with FCT and MWT by next spring at the latest. Who knows what they’re going to call it, though.

There’s a lot of complaining about TaylorMade releasing a new driver model every few months. This tactic does tend to drive down prices on relatively recently released models, but it must be working. They continue to sell a whole lot of drivers.

Number Four: Do you Tweet?
Or have you ever tweeted?

If you haven’t heard, Twitter is a social media phenomenon. With the possible exception of Facebook, it might just be the hottest social media phenomenon right now.

Why should golfers care? You can live a full and healthy life without Twitter, but it does provide some features that are helpful for keeping up with what’s happening in golf. I’m still fairly new to Twitter (you can find me at Promey if you are so inclined), but I have enjoyed the experience so far.

Twitter is in essence micro-blogging. It asks one very simple question: What are you doing? Users get 140 characters per tweet (or post) to tell us what they’re doing, or reading, or thinking. With so few characters to work with, you have to choose your words carefully… or at the very least, shorten those URLs (a lot of the posts on Twitter refer readers to additional material). In addition to putting up really short posts, you can subscribe to other users really short posts or even search for really short posts on any subject you are interested in. (I know, that sounds kind of lame, but it really is pretty cool once you get into it.)

Aside from being able to search on what anyone is saying about any given subject, the second coolest thing about Twitter is being able to follow posters that you are interested in. Some are famous, some aren’t. You can find a number of professional players on Twitter, like John Daly, seriously that John Daly, or Stewart Cink.

Number Three: What Constitutes Improving Your Lie?
Kenny PerryOne of the hottest topics on the Sand Trap Forum at the moment is a debate over a video of Kenny Perry possibly improving his lie during his playoff victory at the FBR Open.

At the beginning of the video, the ball is barely visible in the rough beside the green. Perry taps his wedge in the rough a few times behind the ball to either test the lie or for more nefarious reasons. Then he steps away to take a practice swing. For whatever reason, a lot more of the ball is visible at the end of the video than at the beginning.

Watch the video and put in your two cents over in the Tour Talk section of the Sand Trap forum.

Number Two: What’s the Second-Best Tour?
For the third time in two years, an amateur has won on the European Tour. Last weekend, Shane Lowry prevailed in the Irish Open in a playoff. Earlier this year, Danny Lee took the Johnny Walker Classic. Two years ago, Pablo Martin won the Portugal Open.

Lowry’s win was more than just a stirring win by the local guy (Lowry is Irish), it also raised questions about the depth of the field on the European Tour. It’s not like an amateur victory happens every day, at least not on the other pro tours.

The last amateur to win on the PGA Tour was Phil Mickelson, in 1991. And only Daniel Summerhays, who won in 2007, has won as an amateur on the Nationwide tour.

With the strong European Ryder Cup Teams of recent years, how can the European PGA Tour be a weak tour? Consider that since many of the top Euro players split time on the PGA Tour, there are actually many more “split field” events on the Euro Tour. I tend to think that it’s still the number two tour most weeks, despite the amateur wins.

Number One: Will We See Phil at Bethpage Black?
Phil MickelsonAmy Mickelson is one of the most visible Tour wives. Whether you’re a Phil fan or not, he and his wife are very good for the PGA Tour. Aside from providing a “near” rival for Tiger, Phil is, arguably, the second most important player to the Tour.

This week Phil announced that he is suspending his Tour season to support his wife Amy who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. While Phil doesn’t always make the right play on the course, he is right on with this decision. I can speak for all of us at the Sand Trap when I say, “We are all pulling for Amy and Phil in this! Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Here’s hoping that Amy is quickly on the mend.”

Photo Credits: © The Sand Trap .com. All rights reserved.

8 thoughts on “Five Questions”

  1. I really don’t understand what TM is trying to do…. They have recently released the R7 Limited, that if you ask me phisically does not look much different from the R9 460 model, and you can now pick one up at nearly $200 NEW!!!!

    So it makes me think about a few things:

    – If RnD is so Expensive, why are they willing to release a new model every few months, and lower the prices of the recent models. This would be a sin in the pharmacutical industry, though granted RnD cost are not comparable.

    – How much does it realy cost to make a new driver…the introduction price for new drivers ranges from $300 to $500, yet within 3 – 6 months they have dropped to $200 to ~ $300 respectively. And within a year you can find them new for $150… Something has to be said about the efficiency of this model…and clearly is defined on the great profit margins they play with.

    As far as frequent releases, bottom line, it does not bother me at all. I’ll buy based on my personal performace with each stick, but being a gadget person, I love to see new things in the market. It simply forces other comapnies to try to compete, even if the product does not come close to the TM, or better yet if exceeds TM’s performance….this rapid fire requires Cleaveland, Callaway, Titiliest, Ping, and others to take notice and try to put product out frequently.

    I’m looking forward to the next TM encarantion of the R7… the R11 with 150 yards of lateral movement…but then again, I can already do that by myself 🙂

  2. Why am I not surprised that Kenny Perry has yet again involved himself in some form of controversy. Eyes can deceive, but I must agree that this one looks less than honorable in it’s intent. Only Kenny Perry knows for sure and he’s sticking to his contention that he did nothing wrong.

    Don’t know about you George, but Kenny Perry is an enigma to me. You want to really like the guy, but geez does he give you reasons not to.

  3. European Tour? Big John is playing over there and scoring well, that should tell you enough that the competition isn’t as good as the states.

  4. Sure, DBake… If Daly shot 4 rounds in one tournament in the 60’s he’d be nowhere near the top of a PGA tour leaderboard…
    Sarcasm intended, by the way.

    How many amateurs play in regular tour events over in the states anyway? If there are fewer than on the European tour, maybe this is a cause for the absolutley ginormous (again, sarcasm intended.) ammount of amateurs winning on the European tour.

    By the way, top amateurs (the guys playing in tour events) who are thinking about a career in golf, should be thinking about doing well in tour events anyway, shouldn’t they? Seeing as they might fully expect o be professional within a year or two.

  5. DBake

    That’s a clever comment. Well done. You forget that Daly is a two-time Major winner? That was obviously luck. Lowry was -17 in atrocious weather as an amateur; however you wish to cut it, that’s very, very good. I don’t know about “DBake”; “Half-Bake” more like? 😉

    As for TM; now there’s a surprise. I’ll be interested to hear their comments on the upcoming interview with The Sand Trap.

    Twitter? Are you kidding? I don’t think so.

  6. Re: #1
    Answer: No, Phil will not be at Bethpage. He will be at his wife’s side, just as he’s stated, and just as he should be.

    However, just as you stated, Phil is a huge part of the PGA Tour and therefore he will be there via his previous popularity at the venue, in Breast Cancer awareness, fan support, and I’m sure the media will have Phil’s absence, and all related angles, as a major storyline throughout the week there. Wouldn’t be surprised if there were Phil & Amy signs in large quantity.

  7. European Tour? Big John is playing over there and scoring well, that should tell you enough that the competition isn’t as good as the states.

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