The announcement by the USGA and R&A to introduce a Modal Local Rule (MLR), which would limit the maximum length of golf balls for elite tournaments, has found more opponents than supporters in the professional sector. TaylorMade has now surveyed almost 45,000 everyday golfers from over 100 countries on their opinion of the possible split between professional and amateur golf – and the opinion picture is quite clear.
81 per cent of respondents said they were against the proposed rule change and the division it would create between the professionals and amateurs and believed it would not be good for the game of golf. 77 per cent of respondents to the TaylorMade survey also believe that there is no need to restrict the hitting distances of the pros at all.
Will golf ball changes divide pros and amateurs?
While the R&A and USGA officials are interested in regulating only the stroke lengths for professionals, as they would otherwise “become a significant problem for the next generation” thanks to ever-improving training and equipment possibilities, as USGA boss Mike Whan points out, many people, however, fear a drifting apart of professionals and amateurs if they play different balls. Almost half (48 percent) of the respondents affirmed that it was extremely important for them to be able to play the same equipment as the pros, and only 17 percent did not attach any importance to this.
The context of this survey on the part of the equipment manufacturer Taylormade is also that the majority of the respondents are good and experienced players who have a great interest in professional golf. 87 percent of the participants stated a handicap of under 20, 33 percent even a handicap of under 10. Almost three quarters of the respondents (73 percent) played golf for more than ten years, more than half (51 percent) for more than 20 years.
However, almost four-fifths of the participants (79 per cent) said they mainly play golf for recreation and only one-fifth play competitive golf. Accordingly, 85 per cent of participants believe that the Modal Local Rule (if it is actually introduced) would have no impact on their own playing behaviour. Some consider the rule proposal “fair”, ” needed” and “good”. However, the overwhelming opinion in the survey is that the proposed change to golf balls is “stupid”, “unnecessary”, “ridiculous”, “wrong” and “confusing”.
TaylorMade to provide feedback to USGA and R&A
“The goal of our survey was to give golfers the opportunity to voice their opinion on this proposed ruling as we absorb the MLR and its potential effects on the everyday golfer,” David Abeles, TaylorMade CEO, said. “The overwhelming amount of responses show the passion, knowledge and care for the game our audience possesses. Each response and data point is being reviewed as we will utilize this feedback in our preparation to provide a response to the USGA and R&A.”
Motocaddy, the world’s biggest-selling powered trolley brand, has introduced the game’s first remote-controlled electric trolley with touchscreen GPS, to offer golfers the ‘ultimate caddie’ experience by blending responsive control with performance enhancing features.
The revolutionary M7 GPS – part of the award-wining, compact-folding M-Series range – features a fully integrated, super-fast GPS system with accurate green visuals; front, middle and back distances; plus hazard information across more than 40,000 pre-loaded courses worldwide.
A bunch of new features
In another ground-breaking move, owners of the new M7 GPS qualify for a free 12-month trial of the exclusive cellular-powered Motocaddy Performance Plan. The no-obligation upgrade allows golfers to unlock a selection of stunning hi-tech game management features. These include access to full-hole mapping with the ability to move the target for ultimate shot planning; a detailed dynamic Green View showing the shape of the green and greenside hazards with drag and drop pin positions; score and statistic tracking; performance analysis through the free Motocaddy GPS App; real-time course updates to ensure access to the latest mapping; and notifications of software updates with ‘on-the-go’ downloads.
It also incorporates all the benefits of the award-winning M7 REMOTE, including rechargeable handset, removable anti-tip rear wheel and the brand’s cutting-edge Downhill Control technology. “The new M7 GPS delivers the ultimate caddie experience to give users an edge,” said Motocaddy Marketing Director, Oliver Churcher. “It offers everything a golfer needs to transport their clubs around the course effortlessly, whilst providing pinpoint yardages and GPS mapping through its super-responsive touchscreen.
“The revolutionary electric trolley GPS technology pioneered by Motocaddy in 2017 has advanced a great deal in recent years. Today, our cellular-powered Performance Plan combines with the most responsive remote-control technology on the market to take the trolley experience to an exciting new level,” he added.
The M7 GPS includes a super responsive, crystal-clear 3.5” LCD touchscreen display usable in all weather conditions, even whilst wearing a glove. Other features include a clock and round timer, an indication of the par and handicap of each hole, shot distance measurement, automatic hole advancement, score tracking and a battery indicator.
When connected to the free Motocaddy GPS app, golfers can also receive a wide range of optional smartphone notifications direct to the screen – alerting them to a call, text message, email or range of app alerts, including WhatsApp and Facebook. A preview of message alerts can also be read on-screen.
A smartphone can be securely placed in a golf bag pocket and charged using the trolley’s patented USB charging port. In addition to the cellular and Bluetooth® capabilities, other connectivity features include super-fast Over‐the‐Air course and system updates via the built-in WiFi connection.
The pocket-sized remote-control handset can move the trolley forward, left, right and in reverse, plus pause and resume. It can also switch instantly from remote to manual control mode and back again if the user wants to control it from the handle like a regular trolley via the speed button. In addition to including automatic Downhill Control technology, there is an emergency stop and a handset lock function. The LCD touchscreen also includes an additional battery meter indicating the capacity of the handset. Equipped with a wider wheel-base than standard M-Series models, the M7 GPS also boasts all terrain tyres for impressive handling across the course. Like all Motocaddy M-Series trolleys, it also folds down easily to a compact size for easy storage and transportation.
Powered by a next generation High Power 28.8V system, the M7 GPS has nine speed settings with speed indicator, plus a super-lightweight waterproof Lithium battery (IP66 water and dust rating) that can be charged without being removed. It also features Motocaddy’s exclusive EASILOCKTM bag-to-trolley connection system that removes the need for a lower bag strap.
The new M7 GPS electric trolley is available with ULTRA Lithium battery at an RRP of €1,799.
For more information about Motocaddy trolleys, plus other Motocaddy products including bags, batteries, rangefinders and accessories, please visit www.motocaddygolf.com or follow @MotocaddyGolf.
The beginning of the year means that numerous new club series from the various manufacturers come onto the market. From beginner models to clubs suitable for the professional level, everything from putters to irons to drivers are included. To help you keep track of this amount of products, here’s a summary of five of the new models that hit the market in 2023.
The TaylorMade Stealth 2 HD Driver
The TaylorMade Stealth 2 HD Driver is a new driver model that aims to provide maximum support to golfers. It features a high amount of carbon compared to other materials and is covered with a polyurethane layer called “nanotexture”. This protects the carbon and provides normal spin values. It also has a “Thru-Slot Speed Pocket”, which ensures that deep hits on the face suffer little loss of length. The HD version comes standard on the draw and has weight in the heel and back of the head to prevent slice and provide plenty of forgiveness. The women’s version comes with an even lighter head. Overall, the Stealth 2 HD Driver is designed to make playing off the tee easier by allowing minimal length loss on off-center hits and minimal slice probability.
9°, 10,5° and 12° (RH and LH)
yes 10,5° and 12° (only RH)
The Cobra Aerojet Max Driver
Part of the eponymous Aerojet Series, the new Cobra Aerojet Max Driver features an aerodynamic design that allows for increased clubhead speed and ball speed, according to Cobra Golf. The new PWR Bridge Weighting allows for a floating weighting technology with an internal bridge structure. The trajectory is stable and high with a low draw tendency due to the placement of the 12g weight in the back and the 3g weight in the heel. The draw tendency can be increased by swapping the weights. The driver is also available for ladies – in a black satin finish with a shiny carbon crown and sole.
9°, 10,5° and 12° (RH and LH)
yes 10,5° and 12° (RH and LH)
The Callaway Paradym X Driver
The Callaway Paradym X Driver is a beginner golf club that contributes to high forgiveness and length through its innovative use of Forged Carbon material. The 360° carbon chassis has saved weight and can be used for more forgiveness and length. The Paradym X Driver is the most forgiving model in the series and is particularly suited to players who prefer or require a draw bias. An external 5g weight in the back of the club increases ball launch and reduces spin for increased carry distance.
9°, 10,5° and 12° (RH and LH)
yes 10,5° and 12° (RH and LH)
The Ping G430 Max Driver
The new Ping G430 Max Driver is part of the new G430 Series and promises more distance while being more forgiving. It is the most fault-tolerant model in the series. All three driver models are equipped with new technologies designed to deliver higher ball speeds, such as the VFT (Variable Face Thickness) face design and the portmanteau of spin and consistency “spinsistency” (for consistent spin). The G430 Max’s flexibility allows it to be used for all levels of play and is particularly highlighted by its combination of distance and forgiveness. Additionally, a custom option is available for players with low swing speeds who can use lighter weights, shafts and grips to create more ball speed.
9°, 10,5° and 12° (only RH)
The Srixon ZX5 Driver
The Srixon ZX5 Driver is a powerful and customizable driver suitable for golfers of all skill levels. Thanks to the new Rebound Frame technology, the driver has better power transfer at impact and optimized face technology for more distance off the tee. The adjustable hosel makes it easy to adjust loft, while loft options range from 9.5 to 10.5 degrees. It features a sturdy titanium head and weight at the rear of the sole to provide more stability in the swing. With a larger footprint and flattened shape, the driver supports higher swing speeds and straighter tee shots.
Sunday is payday on the PGA Tour. The Players Championship has always been one of the highest-paying tournaments of the season, but in 2023 a new prize money record was set. 25 million dollars were distributed among the players, with winner Scottie Scheffler alone pocketing 4.5 million dollars. Fünf Spieler verdienten siebenstellig, auch das ein Novum auf der Tour.
Die deutschsprachigen Spieler Matthias Schwab (T54), Stephan Jäger (T44) und Sepp Straka (T65) schafften alle knapp den Cut. Auch wenn es am Wochenende nicht mehr allzu weit nach vorn ging, bleiben auch für sie noch ordentliche Preisgelder bei der Players Championship 2023 übrig.
Taylor Montgomery is playing his first season on the PGA Tour and doing a good job. Already four top ten results this season and so far best prospects to keep his tour card. At the Players Championship, the 28-year-old was on the verge of collecting the biggest cheque of his career so far. At ten under par, he was in the top five with four holes to go. With four pars, he would have finished third and, like Tom Hoge and Viktor Hovland, would have collected 1.475 million US dollars in prize money.
Bogey, double-bogey, triple-bogey
But no Players Championship is complete without drama on the 17th! The legendary island green finally ruined the day for the American. But the misfortune already began on the 15th hole, where Montgomery still managed to get away with a bogey after a weak bunker shot. On the 16th – the par-5 is one of the easiest holes on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass – the next bad news: a double bogey. Now his stroke gains were used up and he was back at even par for the final day. But the real fiasco was yet to come.
The legendary 17, the island green, one of the most iconic and famous holes in the world of golf, cost Montgomery another four strokes. First, he sank his tee shot into the water on the short par-3, which is particularly nerve-racking but always unpredictable because of the wind, which is difficult to assess. Then, after the drop, the second attempt was also too long and landed in the water. Visibly shaken, the man from Las Vegas rushed down the leaderboard. At least he managed a halfway conciliatory finish with a par on the 18th. Hopefully he will spend the 75,000 US dollars in prize money for 44th place on something that will make him forget the disaster.
There were ten holes-in-one on the 17 hole before the Players Championship 2023 and number 11 was not long in coming. Hayden Buckley, who started on hole 10 in the second flight, sets the bar high and holes the ball in one shot. The ball lands some distance to the right of the flag and then picks up speed toward the hole. In the process, Buckley hit the perfect line for the main prize. After two birdies and a bogey on his round up to that point, the ace puts him near the top in what is still very early in the tournament.
Hole in One at Hole 17 at the Players Championship 2023
The most famous hole at the Players Championship is certainly the 17th, but Aaron Wise will not soon forget the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass. After a thoroughly solid round, the last hole of his round turned out to be a real mammoth task. Especially with the tee shot he had his problems three times. And that, although he set a record on hole 13.
Second-highest score on 18 at the Players Championship
Aaron Wise, born in Cape Town, experienced a real debacle on his final tee shot at the Players Championship 2023. On hole 18, the 26-year-old started with two over par – a sextuple bogey almost provided the worst score on this hole. His tee shots landed in the water three times in a row – and almost at the exact same spot. The fourth tee shot, which was already his seventh shot due to the penalty strokes, he then played it safe. Very safe to be exact. In the end, his ball did not land on the right side of the fairway, but in the pine needles off the course. At least his ball was playable from there, though, unlike his three tee shots in the water.
As a result, he needed three more shots before his ball disappeared into the hole. In the end, Wise finished the final hole with ten strokes and slipped to second-to-last place on the leaderboard (T141). Wise received words of support afterwards from his flight partner Jason Day, who is familiar with such situations. “He didn’t want to completely blow it, which he eventually did with his fourth tee shot,” Day said. “He just kept hitting the same shot over and over again, unfortunately. We’ve all been at that point where we’ve made those shots, whether it was two, three or four in a row.” Asked if he had any advice for his teammate, Day was sure: “Oh, no…. You should just stay out of the player’s way. Especially if you’re on his team. Just leave him alone for a little bit, because he’s probably pretty irritated right now.”
Not a record, but a record nonetheless
After all, it wasn’t the worst score ever recorded on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass. Back in 2017, Anirban Lahiri conceded ten strokes on the final hole of the course in Ponte Vedra Beach. However, the highest score was recorded by Australian Andre Stolz in 2005. Eleven strokes remains the (negative) record to this day.
But Aaron Wise had already set another record, and a positive one at that. On hole 13, he hit his tee shot onto the green, where his ball came to rest about 20 meters from the flag. The subsequent putt, however, he holed confidently and thus set the record for the longest putt on 13 for over 19 years. It was a day of mixed emotions for Aaron Wise, but in the end it was probably the anger on the 18th hole that prevailed.
Arccos – the pioneer of big data and Artificial Intelligence for golf – has today unveiled a new Arccos for Apple Watch app update highlighted by UX enhancements that provides golfers with the ability to start an Arccos Caddie round on the world’s #1 selling smart watch without ever touching their iPhone.
A completely re-developed caddie app
The preferred shot-tracking hardware for almost 20% of Arccos members, Apple Watch also allows Arccos Caddie members to view A.I. Rangefinder distances, receive personalized club recommendations, add penalty strokes, see shot history and holes scores, and make any necessary edits.
“From a product standpoint, we have completely re-developed the Arccos Caddie app for Apple Watch architecture from the ground up,” said Dave LeDonne, Arccos’ Vice President of Product. “With well over half a million rounds played by Arccos members on Apple Watch last year alone, this redesign makes the experience dramatically better,” he added.
Additional app functionality includes the ability for players to mark the hole locations on the green with a simple click of a button on the watch device when standing directly next to the pin. This provides more accurate short game and putting insights along with highlighting areas for player improvement via the powerful Strokes Gained analytics insights.
More than 650 million shots for Arccos members
To access the new experience – which is optimized for Apple Watch Series 5 and newer – members simply open the Arccos Caddie app for Apple Watch, confirm the course and tees being played and press start round. The app then syncs with the smart sensors in the grip of each club to pinpoint exactly when and where a shot has been played.
Arccos members have now recorded more than 650 million shots during 13.5 million rounds in 162 countries worldwide. The largest on-course dataset in golf has collected over 700 billion separate data points to power Arccos’ industry-leading Strokes Gained engine that allows a player to select their personal handicap goal, then provides personalized analysis for every game aspect and each club in the bag.
Golf’s first Artificial Intelligence platform, Arccos automatically tracks your shots while delivering in-round insights and personalized Strokes Gained analytics for every game facet and each club in your bag. The system is highlighted by an A.I.-powered rangefinder, smart club distances and caddie advice for every golf hole on earth. These innovations helped new Arccos members who played at least 10 rounds lower their handicap by an average of 5.71 strokes in their first year of membership.
Golf course architect Ron Kirby in an interview about his jobs on the golf course, his style as a designer, the influence of well-known architects, sustainability and the redesign of Apes Hill in Barbados.
Ron Kirby: “Get any job you can on a golf course”
What made you decide to get into golf design?
Ron Kirby: My career began with a talent I had for sketching when I was a teenager, just north of Boston. If you had the means, you could get to the Museum of Fine Arts for free art lessons on Saturday mornings. My brother and I would ride the subway to get my art lesson, so I knew how to sketch and handle a brush. Later I won a caddie scholarship, and I went to greenkeeper school.
When it snowed in the winters, I went to Florida – where my dad had a club pro job – and I realised that the movie stars in golf were the course designers. There was a centrefold in Sports Illustrated with two architects who were the flavour of the month: Robert Trent Jones and Dick Wilson. They were superstars.
Define Ron Kirby’s style…
Ron Kirby: I’m just looking for fun, different holes to build. I look for a chance to make the short holes more exciting and I always want to make something that’s fair for the player. Because I was a greenkeeper, I want to build things that can be maintained, kept neat and manicured.
Tell us about the people you’ve worked with over the years. Who were the most influential and why?
Ron Kirby: Trent Jones was a visionary. He could take any piece of ground and he would get the best layout – he knew how to put the holes in the right position for the wind, the sun direction, and his routings were very good. Another thing I learned from working with Trent Jones is that he didn’t do it all. He did the layouts, but he had a team of people working for him. You need good staff. And I had a lot of good staff.
I’ve also worked with Jack Nicklaus, who would always get the best sites and the best budgets. Nicklaus was a finishing school in golf design because of his strategy. He knew what a golf ball could and couldn’t do.
What advice would you give other designers from what you’ve learned?
Ron Kirby: Respect the ground. Try and make your golf course fit. It’s a lot of fun being a golf course designer, but you’ve got to be patient to get the right assignments. I’m proud that I got a chance to put my two cents in. The best thing to do is get any job you can on a golf course – even pulling the carts out. I grew up on a golf course, and I’ve never worked anywhere else.
Apes Hill Barbados: Stunning views and fun holes
You have just completed work at Apes Hill in Barbados – what hole there most reflects your style?
Ron Kirby: The second, for sure. It was a par three; now we’ve got a two-way hole. We extended the green and moved the tees back. It was almost an unplayable par three: into the wind, uphill… nobody would love this hole, so you’d play two holes and already you didn’t like the course. We turned it into a really fun, friendly par four. You have a chance to get out of there smiling. I didn’t have to go too far to find a hole I would love.
How did you bring to Apes Hill what you learnt from designing Old Head?
Ron Kirby: Old Head is basically an island connected with a little isthmus at the gate. But you have almost 360° of cliffs, so you try to get as close to the cliffs as you could to use those features. When I saw Apes Hill, you’ve got some super vistas. You can look at two oceans in some places! So, I said, “all we’ve got to do here is make sure that players can take in the vistas”.
What is your message to everyone who is about to experience Apes Hill?
Ron Kirby: Well, if I could meet every one of them, I hope they would buy me a beer and say I did a good job. I want people to enjoy their game and want to come back again.
Over the years, what’s changed with sustainability and what have we done here at Apes Hill?
Ron Kirby: Sustainability means don’t build anything that you can’t maintain. Number one was the bunkers – we couldn’t maintain those, so we’ve eliminated two thirds of the bunkers. That’s cut back on the maintenance of the bunkers, the sand and erosion, and of course the irrigation. Zoysia grass is tolerant to drought, so we don’t have to keep pumping water on to keep it green and alive, it will maintain itself. We’ve taken away around 1,000 sprinklers, reducing irrigation by a third. Supply here is from a huge lake, which collects the mountain rainfall instead of letting it run off into the sea, millions of gallons. There will also be a par 3 for kids and families.
Tell us a bit about that…
Ron Kirby: We’ve taken inspiration from some of the world’s most famous par-three holes. It’s great for the kids and the families to go out and have fun, but a lot of golfers will say, ‘I’ve never played the Postage Stamp, I’ve never been to Royal Troon”, so they can come here and try it. We also built a 19th hole similar to the famous 17 th hole at TPC Sawgrass, where it’s so dynamic because it’s an island green. You’re either on the green or in the water.
Was it a priority to make the holes diverse enough that people of different skill levels could play?
Ron Kirby: Yes. We only needed four tees per hole, but we put them in spaces where they could cover all types, of players, from guys who can hit it pure to the average guys and then the poor players like me. We have friendly tees for the ladies, challenge tees for the better ladies’ players. It’s fun for everyone. Pick your poison and see where you want to tee it up from.
How do you feel about the finished product?
Ron Kirby: What we’ve done here is the result of a lot of hard work and it wasn’t an easy job. The weather was hitting us hard with storms, Covid delayed us… but I’m proud to be part of it. I can sit back and say this is one of mine. I can say that about maybe 150 golf courses, but this is a special one.
The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass is the most important tournament on the PGA Tour. Accordingly, the US Tour pays out the most prize money at the so-called “flagship tournament” in Florida. This year, the prize money is – once again – at a record level and significantly higher than the financial contributions of the majors. The Players Championship 2023 awards prize money of 25 million US dollars.
Players Championship prize money: PGA Tour draws level with LIV
This increases the purse by five million compared to the previous year, when Cameron Smith took home 3.6 million US dollars. In 2022, the prize money had already risen from 15 to 20 million. The PGA Tour saw itself forced to distribute significantly more prize money in the face of threatening competition from LIV Golf. The Players is one of the new Designated Events, which are endowed with an average of 20 million US dollars. As the flagship event, however, the “fifth major” stands out once again and draws level with the competition.
The tournaments of the LIV Golf League are also worth 25 million dollars each. One fifth of the prize money is intended for the team ranking of the Saudi League, the rest is paid to all 48 players in the individual ranking. At TPC Sawgrass, however, as usual only the 65 best and tied players who make the cut after two rounds will receive a share of the opulent prize money (see table below).
Fifth place earns seven figures
The winner of the Players Championship 2023 will walk away from Ponte Vedra Beach with a massive 4.5 million US dollars, while the runner-up will receive even more prize money (2.75 million) than, for example, Scottie Scheffler earned at the US Masters 2022. Even the fifth-placed player can be happy about more than one million US dollars.
By comparison, the major tournaments awarded significantly less prize money than the Players Championship or the new Designated Events in addition to the prestigious trophies last year. The US Masters 2022 offered 15 million US dollars, as did the PGA Championship 2022. The US Open 2022 gave the players a total of 17.5 million, the British Open 14 million US dollars. The prize money of the majors is typically only announced shortly before the respective tournaments. This year, the pots are likely to be bigger as well.
Prize money breakdown of the Players Championship 2023