Mark King says USGA will be irrelevant in 10 years
TaylorMade CEO says anchoring ban shows just how out of touch governing bodies are with golfing community
Published on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 10:07AM EST Last updated on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 09:13AM EST
While there’s still a month or so left before the USGA and R&A make a final decision on the anchored putting stroke ban, the head of one of golf’s leading manufacturers says its time to chart a new course - one without the governing bodies.
At the just concluded PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, TaylorMade CEO Mark King says the anchoring ban makes no sense to him and shows just how out of touch the governing bodies are with the golfing community.
“If I were running the PGA of America I would write my own set of rules. I’d do it with the PGA Tour. The industry needs to come together without the USGA. Leave them out,” King told Rick Young of Score Golf. “Here’s a prediction: the USGA within 10 years will be a nonentity, they will be a non-factor in golf because they are choosing to be on the outside and no one is signing up for what they represent,” he explained. “The industry is going to move away from them and pass them. They’re obsolete. I hate to say that but that’s their behaviour.”
“If (PGA commissioner Tim) Finchem goes ahead and leaves the long putter in, it’s just the start. The USGA is going over the edge.”
PGA players got a chance to address the issue first hand with USGA boss Mike Davis last week. While very little was said by those who attended the meeting, commissioner Finchem indicated it was possible the PGA could go its own way on this issue.
“Our objective is to follow the rules and keep the rules together,” said Finchem. “Having said that, the whole question of bifurcation is always out there to be discussed. ...Personally, I think in some situations bifurcation is okay. I'm not so sure bifurcation is important in this particular case, but we're not at a point yet where I am opining on what we think we should do.”
Finchem went on to indicate that the governing bodies were largely to blame for the heated debate that’s going on right now.
“If the governing bodies had said in 1965, like they did after Sam Sneed came out and putted croquet style and a week later they changed the rule or whatever it was, if they had said, you know, this isn't consistent with historically the way you swing a club, so we're not going to allow it, nobody would have blinked an eye. Nobody would have been affected, except for maybe two players,” he explained. “But 40 years later, and the amount of play there is with that method, amateur and professional, it does affect a lot of people. So it's a very different kind of issue, and it stirs a lot of strong feelings. So consequently, it's a difficult situation.”
Of course, King’s motivation may be self-serving. He’s in the business of making and selling equipment. According to recent figures, TaylorMade’s sales of long and belly putters accounted for 12 to 15 percent of the company’s putter sales in 2012. After the USGA and R&A proposal to ban the anchored stroke was announced, those figures fell to about 3-percent, Frank Firman, TaylorMade’s product line manager for putters and wedges, tells the New York Times.
King says they’ll continue to make long putters, regardless of what the governing bodies say.
"If we don't continue to take steps to make the game more inviting, more welcoming and more enjoyable, in five years our participation numbers may be half what they are today," said King. "To preserve the future of the game, we need to create an environment where people are welcome and enjoy the game."
“Consumers only want what’s new and exciting. They don’t want last year, they want new, innovative cool stuff and if we’re going to stop that or limit that we’re going to kill the industry not just equipment but the playing of the game. “
TV RULES: Should Adam Hadwin or Brad Fritsch or any of the other golfers scheduled to play in Monday’s qualifying event for the Waste Management Open in Phoenix miss their tee time, they have Tiger Woods to thank.
Normally, when there is a Monday finish at a PGA Tour event, play typically resumes in the morning so that players can get out to the next tournament as quick as possible. However, with Tiger looking like he’s on his way to an easy victory, CBS wanted to maximize the number of eyeballs it would get and so final round play won’t begin until 2 pm EST - that’s 11 am PST.
Officials with the Phoenix Monday qualifier had said they would give players at Torrey Pines later tee times in the hopes they can make it to Phoenix in time. Hadwin, who Monday qualified to get into the Farmers Insurance Open, had a 1:45 pm MST tee time in Phoenix. Even though he has just three holes to play in San Diego, the late morning start rules him out.
(UPDATE: Hadwin withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open Monday morning. At 12 over par for the round there was likely nothing to be gained by playing the final three holes except that he passes up on a cheque in the neighborhood of $10,000 with no guarantee he'll even qualify for the Phoenix event)
Brad Fritsch also has no shot at making his 1:54 pm tee time for the Phoenix qualifier as he has 13 holes to finish today. However, unlikely Hadwin, his best bet to make it into the Phoenix event is to finish in the top-10 which would guarantee him an invite to the next PGA tournament. He was sitting alone in fourth when play resumed Monday.
On a positive note for Hadwin - he managed to contribute $2,000 to his alma mater, Louisville, for posting the second lowest score in the third round, which was dubbed “University Day”. Tournament sponsor Farmers Insurance will make the donation on behalf of Hadwin after he shot 69 - along with five others - in Sunday’s third round. Aaron Baddeley had the low round of the day, a 68, but since he turned pro at age 19 and never attended university, it was decided to give the $15,000 donation to the Golf Coaches Association of America.
IT’S GETTING CROWDED HERE: EA Sports has unveiled the European box cover for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 and just like the North American version of the game, Woods will have some company on the cover.
Seve Ballesteros and Rory McIlroy - who has a budding bromance with Tiger - will join Woods on the box cover when the game is released in Europe at the end of March. It’s the third time in the franchise history that McIlroy will be on the cover along with Woods and EA says the Ulsterman will sport Nike apparel in the new game to reflect his recent big money signing with the swoosh.
It’s the fourth year in a row, Tiger won’t be the only golfer featured on the cover of his own self-titled video game. And it’s the first time in the franchise’s history that three golfers have appeared on the cover together.
Woods will also share the cover with Arnold Palmer for the North American version of the game, while Bobby Jones and Bubba Watson appear on the cover of a global version of "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14: The Masters Historic Edition."
DODGING THE TAXMAN: Following last week’s blunder by Phil Mickelson when he openly complained about having to pay more taxes if he chooses to stay in California, Associated Press columnist Tim Dahlberg came up with these suggestions for Mickelson to try and avoid the taxman.
- WIN LESS: What good is winning when you have to pay so much of your earnings to the government? Sure, it goes against Mickelson’s competitive instincts, but there’s a good living to be made in the middle of the pack on the PGA Tour, where almost everyone is a millionaire. This week’s winning payout at Torrey Pines is $1,080,000, but why deal with the anguish of giving so much of it away? Luckily Mickelson has already taken an important step in that direction by winning only two times since capturing the Masters three years ago.
- THINK SILVER: Back in the days when the Tournament of Champions was held in Las Vegas and people still had silver dollars, the winner was paid every year with a wheelbarrow full of the coins. It might take a dump truck to hold enough silver dollars for today’s huge purses, but imagine the fun Mickelson could have when the IRS comes by to take its share.
- SMALLER PLANE: Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were always plane guys, and so is Mickelson. He saved enough to buy a jet of his own that seats 14, allowing him to do things like play in the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles and still be home in San Diego every night to tuck the kids in bed. But the Gulfstream 5 is a bit pricey at a reported $60 million, and it sucks up the gas. Maybe Mickelson could downsize to a used Cessna instead, or share a jet with Tiger. If all else fails, Southwest Airlines has a ton of flights out of San Diego every day, and his golf bag can fly free.
- GIVE IT UP: Golf memberships are expensive, and Mickelson surely has more than one. But he’s always seemed like a man of the people, so why not play golf at the local muni? The downside is six-hour rounds and greens with ruts in them as deep as the divots Mickelson takes with his 64-degree wedge. Still, it’s a deal at 25 bucks or so a round, plus a few more for a pull cart.
MINOR LEAGUE: Who needs the Padres when you can have the Quakes? Sure, Mickelson’s plans to own part of the San Diego Padres fell apart when his personal financial crisis hit, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of baseball altogether. Less than 100 miles up I-15 from his San Diego home are the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a minor league team that would be a perfect fit for Lefty, who once had a pitching tryout of sorts with the Toledo Mud Hens. Mickelson could trim player payroll by taking the mound himself every fifth day.
- NO GIVEAWAYS: Mickelson has a habit of finding some cute kid every few holes and handing them a barely used ball. That’s not only a waste of a perfectly good ball, but can get expensive. From now on just flash that goofy smile, give the kids a thumbs up, and move on to the next hole.
- FIRE SALE: Mickelson has had his house outside of San Diego in Rancho Santa Fe on the market now for a year for $7.1 million. That’s probably a fair price for a 9,500 square-foot complex perched on a hillside with a big putting green and swimming pool, but maybe it’s time to start doing a little bargaining to free up some extra cash. The good news is interest rates are so low some lucky buyer can get a mortgage on the place for only $31,795 a month.
- GET A NEW CPA: Mickelson’s claim that he will be paying up to 62 per cent of his income in taxes this year bears some scrutiny, even with higher federal and state rates for the wealthy. Consider that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney — whose net worth is estimated at $250 million — paid an average of 20.2 per cent of his income the past 20 years in taxes, and you have to wonder about the math. Maybe Mickelson needs to take his money out of Five Guys and buy H&R Block instead.
- Tweet from Texas Gov. Rick Perry after Phil Mickelson said he was considering drastic changes in light of his tax situation in California
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report