5 Things for January 2023

They’re not the only things on my mind but here are five I need to knock off the list:

Off to the PGA Show

As has been my habit for almost 25 years, I’ll be attending the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando next week. It’s my first time back since 2020 (thanks to COVID and travel restrictions) and I’m quite looking forward to it.

The Show is intended for golf professionals to mix and mingle with suppliers, make deals and escape the harsh cold winters at home for a few warm days in sunny Florida. And play golf. As a media member, I register with the Show and allow my name to be shared with exhibitors and presumably added to mailing lists. Since before Christmas, my inbox each morning has been full of press releases and stories about new equipment. They cover everything from conventional clubs and balls to weird gizmos and gadgets that manufacturers and their PR teams hope will catch my interest. Those that know I’ll be at the Show usually add an invitation to visit their booth in Orlando and speak personally to an owner, inventor or celebrity brand ambassador. Some even offer samples like Costco does with strange BBQ sauces or a NEW sausage stuffed with crab and cabbage. They all want appointments.

The PGA Show covers a massive amount of space in the Orange County Convention Center, and it can easily take 15-20 minutes just to walk from one end to the other. That’s if you don’t stop to look or talk. One Show a few years back, I decided to make appointments. Invariably I would finish a meeting with one exhibitor, then have to practically jog to my next. I passed a lot of booths that looked interesting. After a couple of days, I was exhausted and realized I was missing a lot. So now I just meander up and down the aisles armed with a list of the ones I need to see and available for the rest. Stay tuned! There will be lots to tell.

New golf equipment is very expensive

One of the things I noticed as club manufacturers bombarded me with their latest releases is the cost of new equipment. Drivers at $900, fairways and hybrids at $400-$500 each, sets of irons from $1600 and up. Then you add wedges, a putter and a golf bag and you’re pushing $5,000. Crazy!

Who needs a $900 driver? Probably the guy who bought the $800 driver last year and found that it didn’t work. Or at least it didn’t work any better than the $700 driver he bought the year before. But this year will be different because the manufacturer has added carbon fibre, geometric weighting, aerodynamic design, sound tamping, frequency matched shafts and a grip so soft, you’ll hardly know you’re holding it. The face is so big that mis-hits will be a thing of the past and it will give you an extra 10 yards. How can you resist?

It’s not your grandfather’s game anymore

Modern technology has changed everything. From the cars we drive to the clothes we wear to the gadgets we use, nothing is remotely close to the way it used to be even 20 years ago, let alone 50 or 100. Apart from a few Luddites that resist adapting, we’ve all benefitted from this evolution.

But accepting change isn’t always easy. When it comes to golf, I’m very much a traditionalist and some things just don’t sit well with me. I like to walk, don’t use electronic gadgets and prefer the peace and quiet of a beautiful setting. Which means that I really do mind that you want to play your music.

One thing that worries me even more is that many people are saying they play golf when they’ve never ventured onto a real golf course in their life. Their “golf” consist of driving ranges, electronic golf, TopGolf, simulator golf, and various other forms of entertainment, many of which don’t even require a real golf club or ball.

Hey kid, do you want to play golf?

Sure. My place or yours? I just added Pebble Beach to my course list.

No, I was thinking we’d go to my club and play 18 holes.

You mean I have to walk?

LIV Golf vs the DP World Tour

Plenty of stories recently about former DP World Tour players that jumped to LIV Golf. Poults is angry that the DP Tour didn’t wish Sergio Happy Birthday; Lee Westwood laments that he can play in a DP Tour event but they don’t want him in the pro am; Henrik Stenson is still friends with everybody, even though they stripped him of the Ryder Cup captaincy: and everybody is speculating on the upcoming hearing in February that will decide whether to uphold Commissioner Keith Pelley’s ban on LIV Golfers or disallow it, thereby letting those players back into the fold, where they can earn World Ranking Points and participate in the Ryder Cup.

I happen to think Keith Pelley made one of the worst bargains ever by aligning his DP World Tour with the PGA Tour. Sure, the Tour got some cash – the Americans love to throw cash around – and a couple of third-tier co-sanctioned events. But they had to match those co-sanctioned events by giving up the Irish Open and Scottish Open and agreeing that the Top 10 DP World Tour players would gain PGA Tour status for the following year. What kind of business gives up its best performers every year to the competition?

Pelley’s salvation may be losing the hearing in February. He’d be forced to eat crow and welcome the LIV Golfers back. They represent the very best Europeans from the past 20 years – multiple event winners, major winners, Ryder Cup stars and fan favourites. The DP World Tour would immediately be stronger. And perhaps have some new financial backing with LIV Golf.

It would be really interesting if some of those LIV Golfers finished in the Top 10 and earned those PGA memberships. Hey Jay Monahan, I’m ba-a-ack!

I’m not really a goals guy

If you missed it last week, I strongly recommend that you read Tim O’Connor’s excellent piece called “I’m not really a goals guys”. You can read it HERE.

I’m not really a goals guy either. I’m a list guy. I’ve discussed this with my buddies and apparently it’s pretty common. It’s not an indictable offense but wives everywhere know how it works and would welcome its criminalization. It goes like this:

You have something you want or something that needs doing, so you make a note and add a reminder to whatever task keeper you use. Eventually, you form a list. When your wife says, “When are you going to fix the screen door?” you can confidently point to your book or phone and say, “It’s on the list.”

Some people actually do complete the things on their lists. Bully for them. Others are content with just making the list, as though the mere writing down of the item is the same as completing it. I have some magnificent lists. I have fewer accomplishments.

When it comes to golf, my lists include the usual things like getting more exercise, eating better, stretching more, practicing more (or at all), playing better, playing more, reading more self-help books, getting a coach and so on – all in the hope of hitting the ball farther, scoring better or fixing some nasty flaw in my swing. Most years I just go play and take whatever I get.

This year, I’m determined to play smarter. I’m not sure how yet but it’s on the list.

Peter Mumford
Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. He's played over 500 different courses in 21 countries and met some fascinating people along the way. He's also a long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

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