Titleist introduces new Scotty Cameron Champions Choice Putters
Scotty Cameron Champions Choice Putters (Photos provided by Titleist)
FAIRHAVEN, Mass. – Inspired by the putters he has made for major winners and champions on the worldwide professional golf tours, Scotty Cameron has re-imagined one of his most iconic designs to create three new models called Champions Choice. Crafted in a limited run to be released this summer, the new putters bring the sleek, tour-proven shapes of the Special Select family of putters together with an integrated Teryllium insert and Scotty Cameron’s revered “Button Back” setup, as well as unique graphics and accessories celebrating the history of winning with Scotty Cameron putters.
In select Titleist golf shops worldwide beginning Friday, August 6, the new Champions Choice putters will be offered in three models: Newport Button Back, Newport 2 Button Back (also available in left-handed) and Flowback 5.5 Button Back. Each putter features a solid milled 303 stainless steel body with a soft Teryllium inlay fused together with the iconic button head machine screws and modern vibration dampening technology.
The ticket ballot for The 150th Open has opened today, giving golf fans around the world the opportunity to secure a ticket for the historic Championship.
The 150th Open, taking place from 10-17 July 2022 in St Andrews, is set to be a true celebration of golf and the long history of golf’s original championship, as well as the many great champions who have lifted the iconic Claret Jug.
With record-breaking levels of demand anticipated for the milestone Championship at the Home of Golf, the ballot was introduced to provide the fairest way for golf fans of all generations to obtain tickets.
The ticket ballot will run until Monday, 4 October and give fans plenty of time to register their interest in tickets. A balance of allocations will ensure fans from near and far will be able to attend the celebrations in St Andrews next summer. Fans will find out the results of the ticket ballot by the end of November 2021.
The ticket ballot is available exclusively to members of The One Club, the free-to-join membership programme. Members who have already registered their interest for the ballot can now apply for tickets. Fans can still sign up at any time via www.TheOpen.com and apply for tickets.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are looking forward to a very special occasion in golf next year with The 150th Open being played at the birthplace of the game in St Andrews. We will be celebrating one of the most prestigious and renowned events in the sporting calendar and will be welcoming some of its greatest champions past and present.
Ticket prices for The 150th Open will be £95 for an adult on Championship Days and will range from £20 to £50 on practice days. The R&A is fully committed to encouraging more children and young people to attend The Open and free tickets will be available to children through the successful and long-running Kids go Free programme, while half-price youth tickets are available for 16-24 year-olds. In order to give as many people as possible the chance to attend the Championship, weekly tickets are being discontinued.
Hospitality for the Championship has been on sale since last year, with 90% of packages already sold. The remaining Origins Hospitality, incorporating a range of fully inclusive experiences, is available to purchase now and is the only way fans can guarantee their place at the Championship. Visit www.TheOpen.com/hospitality2022 for further information.
Last month, The R&A launched the new 150th commemorative brand which will be displayed across a campaign of content and activations that will run throughout the next year until the conclusion of next year’s Championship at St Andrews.
The focus of the campaign is the remarkable journey of The Open and its enduring impact on players, fans and the sport of golf itself since it was first staged back in 1860, emphasising the campaign’s central message that ‘everything has led to this’ as we count down to what promises to be a truly unforgettable occasion.
For more information on The 150th Open or to sign up to The One Club and enter the ticket ballot, visit www.TheOpen.com.
Titleist has been an iconic brand in golf for decades now but with its 2021 line-up it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
The brand – whose national fitting headquarters is located at Eagles Nest Golf Club, just north of Toronto – is the official equipment sponsor of not only the national team program, but also of the National Amateur Championships and the NextGen programs.
“Trust is earned over time and really, at the heart of it, is performance. Our mission is to help golfers perform better,” says Brett Porath, the director of Club Fitting for Titleist. “That’s all through the design process, the fitting process… just trying to see how we can help a golfer hit it longer, hit it straighter, and score lower.
Titleist’s line-up of gear – from drivers through to golf balls – have all been engineered and tested to get the best out of the people who decide to put them in play. New for 2021 is a rock-solid line of gear that, from tee to green, gives golfers an opportunity to feel better with their games.
Not only that, but there are some special additions to Titleist’s off-course luggage line that, when we’re able to travel again, will make a welcome inclusion to anyone’s closet.
Here’s everything you need to know about Titleist’s gear for 2021 👇
THE NO.1 BALL IN GOLF
You really can’t start talking about Titleist without mentioning it’s golf-ball line first – it’s been the top ball in golf for a number of years for a reason, specifically the Pro V1 and Pro V1x.
The changes made to the 2021 Pro V1 and Pro V1x, per Frederick Waddell, the senior manager of golf ball management for Titleist, are worth being excited about. There is a new dimple pattern, softer cover technology, new casing-layer material, and a re-formulated core.
“All of these things are working in concert to deliver longer distance, more short-game spin and control and softer feel for every golfer,” says Waddell. “Long distance off the tee, everyone wants that. And (the balls) deliver that. But with control into and around the green, too.”
While Titleist as a handful of other balls in their line suited for players of all levels – and conscious of all budgets – and even in some fun colours there is a “specific reason” for each to exist, Waddell says.
“We know for some golfers… we know they’re not going to spend a certain amount of money or they are looking for something very specific for an attributes standpoint, so we have other models,” says Waddell.
No matter the ball a golfer selects, getting fit for the right one is something that’s not often thought about – but definitely worth taking the time to do according to Michael Rich, the senior manager of golf ball fitting.
Rich suggests that no matter where a golfer lands with their fitting, once they’ve found a golf ball that works for them then playing it consistently is key. A golf ball is the only thing that every single golfer is going to use for every single shot of every single shot and having that dialed in is going to help you play better.
“By eliminating that variable from your game it’s going to help you be more confident and shoot lower scores,” says Rich. “No one wants to put a good swing on the ball and not get the result they think they deserve.
TAKE IT LONG WITH TSI
Although golfers mostly associate Titleist with golf balls, its line of clubs has not-so-quietly become some of the most played on major Tours around the world – and trusted by more weekend golfers, too.
Josh Talge, the vice president of marketing for Titleist golf clubs, admits that his team as a lot to live up to when it comes to reputation thanks to the golf-ball team, but it’s a great challenge for him.
The team has been built over the last decade and now boasts over 70 people – many of them with PhD’s or advanced degrees in mathematics. Titleist leans into that next-level knowledge to make the best clubs it can.
For 2021, the big story for Titleist is with its line of woods, the TSi. TS, the previous line, was a huge step forward for the brand a few years ago and the team was even more inspired than ever to drop something even better.
“It’s faster through the air, longer off the tee, and straighter down the fairway,” says Talge. “It’s kind of those three things that any golfer would be looking for.”
From weekend warriors to Tour players, the first thing they’ve all done is take the drive and put it down on the ground. Their first thought, Talge says, is, ‘man, this looks good’ and then they start hitting it, Talge says, and all they can say is, ‘wow.’
The new TSi line of drivers boasts ATI 425 Aerospace Titanium – a material the team found coming off the de-classified list in the U.S. It was coming out of projects that NASA and the U.S. military were working on, including on the Mars Rover. That special material allows for the new driver (which no other company is using) to be more stable and has allowed Titleist to max out speed and distance.
As far as options go, there are four in the TSi line – all appropriately numbered as such. There’s a different shape for each and a little bit different performance benefits, Talge says, but the key is to get fit and see which driver is right for you.
“We believe so deeply in fitting,” says Talge, “and that’s how you’re going to maximize your performance.”
GET FIT, GET BETTER
Whether it’s getting fit for one of those new TSi drivers or a golf ball, Titleist believes that golfers can get even better when they’ve got the right equipment dialed into their needs.
The brand is coming up on 100 years, nearly, in the golf space and even though they are using some space-age materials in their clubs, they do go back to the basics when it comes to kicking off a fitting session.
Porath, who has been one of the leads in the club-fitting department at Titleist for a number of years, says it’s a common misconception that golfers aren’t good enough to have a fitting.
He says that is “absolutely not true.”
“If you’re starting out the fitting is not going to be as detailed – we won’t try to dial in spin to 100 RPMs – but that’s not the point,” says Porath. “It’s about getting clubs that increase the likelihood of hitting great shots more often and ingraining good habits in your game.”
There are a good number of options for golfers when they start to lean into Titleist’s line of clubs (and golf balls) but there is a reason for that, Porath explains. The focus is laser-like on performance, and sometimes that means giving golfers a wide selection of tools to maximize success.
“If we were trying to come out with the simplest, easiest-to-sell line it probably wouldn’t be as broad as it is. But take wedges, if you want to help people score better then you’re going to have different bounces, different grinds, and different options,” says Porath. “There’s an example of our focus on performance. It manifests itself in the products we come out with.”
With your new golf clubs and balls, you’ve got to carry them somewhere, right?
Luckily Titleist also has a fresh line of golf bags for this year – the new model is called the Players 4 Plus – with four key enhancements.
And don’t think they’re skimping on the details.
Sean Slater, the senior product manager for Titleist golf gear says they’ve spent a good chunk of time making sure the zippers (yes, the zippers) and pockets are performing their best.
“You think about a pocket in its simplest form: it’s a zipper and a pouch that closes. But we get into the weeds on the length of the zipper, the curve of the zipper, the location of the zipper, and where it starts and stops,” says Slater. “There is a ton that goes into it.”
Just like golfers trusting Titleist for the performance of its clubs and balls, the same can be true for its bags. Slater says durability is not something they’ve ever been willing to compromise – even when Titleist entered the ultra-lightweight space in 2020 with the Titleist Ultra Light stand bag.
And when travel is OK again, don’t ignore Titleist’s new line of professional travel gear – it’s a high-end luggage assort geared to the dedicated golfer is keen to show they are a Titleist brand loyalist off the course.
With everything Titleist has on offer from clubs, balls, and gear, it’s easy to see why so many Canadians are trusting Titleist to help them look and play their best.
They are two of the biggest names in golf equipment helping golfers save strokes around the greens for decades – and they both happen to work for Titleist.
Scotty Cameron and Canadian Golf Hall of Famer Bob Vokey have once again reimagined what it means to design and produce scoring clubs that are chalk full of modern technology and look darn good, too.
As Canadian golf season continues in the western part of the country and inches ever-closer in parts of the east, it’s worth a reminder that nearly 65 percent of all golf shots are struck from 100 yards and in.
The question remains, then – when was the last time you got fit for a putter? Or wedges? Or contacted your PGA of Canada pro to have a lesson that was just focused on your short game?
These are just some questions that both Vokey and Cameron can help answer with their new line of gear for 2021.
Whether you’re looking for a putter that is Tour-proven and trusted by the best players in the world or a set of wedges that are both aesthetically pleasing and built to help you get the ball closer to the hole, Titleist is there to help you around the greens.
Here’s everything you need to know about Scotty Cameron and Vokey Wedges for 2021.
Roll The Rock
Building on the momentum from the Scotty Cameron Phantom X line in 2020 comes four new models of Phantom X putters for 2021. The four Phantom X putters for this year are all mallet-style and boast a precision-milled 303 stainless steel face and a body that is fused with aircraft grade aluminum. That helps with the perimeter weighting – which helps give golfers more forgiveness and stability (and hopefully help make more putts).
“Scotty, to a lot of people, is known for these beautiful blade putters that he’s refined and dialed-in – in a classic Newport 2 shape – to perfection. That’s what a lot of people think of Scotty Cameron putters, but the ‘X’ stands for ‘experimental,’ says Mike Bradley, the director of marketing for Scotty Cameron Putters.
The four putters in the Phantom X line for 2021 include the 5, the 5.5, the 11, and the 11.5. Based on the feedback from some of the best players in the world, the models have light grey and muted black alignment aids and have three options for shafts – either low-bend, mid-bend, or small-slant necks. The Phantom X mallets in 2021 give golfers a choice: either a blade-like feel or face-balanced (straight back, straight through) performance.
Across the Scotty Cameron line any putter that has a ‘.5’ at the end of the number sequence means Cameron has introduced something in the shaft to encourage toe flip.
“If players want a blade-like feel, an arching kind of feel then the lower bends/neck are the way to go for. What’s made them popular is PGA Tour guys coming in in recent years saying, ‘hey I like the benefits of a mallet’ but they maybe want to maintain a blade feel,” says Bradley. “So it’s really the best of both worlds.”
By now you are likely aware of Scotty Cameron putters (seeing as a certain 15-time major champion has trusted Scotty Cameron and his magical craftmanship for nearly his entire game-changing career) but what is it that really makes them so good?
According to Bradley, it’s the details that Cameron himself has such a keen eye for.
“All these little refinements that add up to performance and just the craftsmanship. He’s taken decades working with the best players in the world and not cutting any corners on the manufacturing of the products,” says Bradley.
“Putters are extremely personal, and I think there’s a reason why Scotty’s putters stay in people’s bags for as long as they do. It’s not only the craftsmanship but also the attention he puts into those minute details.”
Wedge It Close
There’s a reason why Bob Vokey is one of the most well-respected club builders in the game – and a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
“We have an awesome team,” says Vokey Wedges Marketing Director Corey Gerrard, “but it starts with Bob.”
Indeed, for golfers looking to knock it closer and improve their touch around the greens, Vokey has become a synonymous name with green-side success.
New for 2020 and expanded for 2021 is the Vokey SM8. It’s been Tour-tested and trusted and is now available in another finish in 2021, Slate Blue (good for a player who is looking for something a little darker, finish-wise, but find the Jet Black finish too dark).
There are six grinds in the SM8 line-up with grooves that are more durable and maximized for spin and shot control and a centre of gravity that has produced an improved club feel.
“As you get closer to the green we have more options than ever,” says Gerrard. “(The team) is listening to what Tour players need – not just what they want, but what they need.
With the increased variety in wedge offerings from Vokey, Gerrard says there is no substitute in getting absolutely dialed, just like you would with any other clubs in your set.
Gerrard calls getting fit for wedges “a no-brainer” and not only that, he says, but you’ll have fun doing it.
There’s just nothing that feels like a Vokey wedge around the green, and when you get a club that looks and feels great, it inspires confidence on those tricky scoring shots. “They perform. They perform for everyone,” says Gerrard about the main reason why golfers are trusting Vokey wedges. “There is trust around the brand, but when the product performs… that’s the main reason why players keep playing these wedges.”
Team Canada along with activating on site at Golf Canada’s National and Amateur Championships. For this year, here’s a breakdown of some of the key products that FootJoy has to offer. With more Canadians playing more golf than ever in 2020, FootJoy is providing gear to help make every day playable. Be sure to contact your local PGA of Canada professional for fitting and availability, or head to FootJoy’s website to learn more.
The first thing golfers will notice about the FootJoy Premiere Series is that it’s an old-school cool vibe about it. But once you look under the hood and understand all the modern technology that goes into the newest shoe line from FootJoy, you can’t help but be wowed.
“It was a really fun project to work on,” says Keith Duffy, a senior product manager at FootJoy. “I’m confident we have the best design and development team in footwear but everyone upped their game a bit. When we started to look back at old catalogues and the footwear we used to release… it’s such a competitive advantage for us, that we have that history. We first started making golf shoes in 1910, and there’s just so much to lean back on.”
Designed and developed in collaboration with many PGA Tour players, the Premiere Series boasts three new upper designs. The Tarlow Collection has a cap toe design, The Packard Collection has a calfskin croc print accent in the saddle area, and The Flint Collection features embossed detailing on the saddle area but is clean otherwise. The shoes are 12 percent lighter than the ones they are replacing in the FootJoy line and boast the new Versatrax+ outsole to help deliver maximum traction. They are available, for both men and women, on March 1st.
“In talking to consumers, and that includes PGA Tour players, members at clubs, or daily-fee players, when they think back on the FootJoy brand, especially those who have been playing golf for a while, everyone always brings up the Classics!” says Duffy.
From modern traditional to modern-modern, the other new golf shoe option for 2021 from FootJoy is the Hyperflex. Featuring a new BOA fit system called WRAPID, it ensures a dialed-in, precision fit with a reduction in pressure on the top of the foot. It boasts a new foam blend in the cushioning and multiple flex grooves in the outsole to move naturally with your foot. It’s not just a good walking shoe, but it helps to maximize the ground force interaction through every swing.
“There’s a better connection to the show (with the WRAPID system) and it holds your foot down and closer to the outsole than any other in the footwear category,” says Duffy. “And since the shoe is connected to the ground, it gives you a better connection to the ground as well.”
The only piece of equipment golfers use for every shot, other than the ball, is their footwear. That’s why you see such strong effort put forth by FootJoy every year.
“So many players think of footwear as an extension of their equipment, or as equipment period, and so do we,” says Duffy. “We take it very seriously.”
APPAREL AND OUTERWEAR
Golfers in Canada took the course in record numbers in 2020 partially because many didn’t know if they might have had the game taken away from them, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Golf was played in all kinds of weather a year ago, and FootJoy has produced a solid line of apparel built for all conditions in 2021. There are four key performance outerwear jackets for 2021, all under the Hydroseries line.
“Everything we’re designing and developing at FootJoy is done so with the golfer in mind,” says Chad Crocker, the product manager of FootJoy apparel. “A lot of apparel companies can adapt from their other main focus, whether that’s running or outdoors or basketball or football. They make great products, but they adapt them to golf. Whereas FootJoy, we start with golf and that’s it. It’s focused on that.”
The HydroTour is designed to withstand the most extreme weather conditions and boasts a new technology called DrySeal – a double collar system that keeps rain out.
“We challenged our designer. ‘That’s just the way it is’ was not acceptable to us,” says Crocker of the ongoing issue with water dripping down the back of a golfer’s neck. “We had to figure out a way to stop that from happening.”
The two-layered collar features a cinch cord on the inside that seals off the elements. It’s also a soft multi-directional stretch fabric (so it’s not too loud or noisy) that has fewer seams. The other pieces FootJoy is releasing include the DryJoys Select LS (the lightest, most waterproof garment FootJoy as ever produced), the HydroKnit (feels like a mid-layer, protects like a rain jacket), and the HydroLite (a 100 percent waterproof piece that also comes in a short-sleeve version).
“The resistance to wearing rain jackets for a long time while playing golf came from the resistance the jacket presented throughout the swing,” says Crocker. “But as we design these garments, it’s imperative there is a full range of motion without any sacrifices.”
For 2021, FootJoy has developed one new glove called the Hyperflx. That new addition compliments two others, making FootJoy the most-worn glove in the game. The Hyperflx boasts superior feel, ultimate breathability, and soft comfort. It was built, according to Zabkar, with athlete construction in mind.
“We wanted to use best-in-class materials to help a golfer with their game. We’re utilizing premium cabretta leather for ultimate breathability, Tour-proven, soft and supple leather, and unmatched softness,” says Zabkar. “It’s the perfect glove for everybody.”
Zabkar says FootJoy quantifies success by showing how many PGA Tour golfers are deciding to wear the product. They’re the ones, he says, week after week trying to make money and are trusting FootJoy gloves to help them notch great results.
The other gloves in FootJoy’s line include the StaSof (which has been the No.1 leather glove in golf since 1983. The current version was released in 2018 and FootJoy leaned on decades of product innovation and testing), and the Pure Touch (“A gift to yourself,” Zabkar says. As it’s the ultimate in soft feel). No matter the product, however, the most important thing to do with gloves – like with shoes or clubs – is to get fit. Zabkar says over 60 percent of all golfers are wearing a glove that is too big for their hand. If you’re wearing a glove that is too big, he says, it’s going to cause early wear and tear.
“Gloves, says Zabkar, “are a key and essential piece of equipment for all golfers.”
Foresight has become the go-to launch monitor for the world's best golfers
FORESIGHT AND GOLF CANADA Hardy says Foresight’s partnership with Golf Canada is a perfect fit. The company’s goal, first and foremost, is to reflect the fact that it’s a performance solution. The country’s top coaches and its top amateur players are using the Foresight product to get better.
“They’ve been great partners in moving our business forward and we enjoy the fact our product moves their coaching and their programs forward as well,” says Hardy.
Look no further than Women’s National Team Coach Tristan Mullally’s own garage for an example of where Foresight can help work meet play. Mullally, a long-time leader with Golf Canada, is also pretty handy. He built most of the system where a Foresight unit is installed himself, turning part of his garage into a little room where he could do online coaching with the team, have fun with his family, and post videos to social media.
“It’s just allowing him to do a lot of great stuff,” says Hardy. “It was a fun set up. It was great to work with him and we always are able to have fun and work at the same time.”
FORESIGHT AT HOME
Even if you’re not one of the top golfers in the country you’re still able to take advantage of everything that Foresight has to offer for in-home or at-course solutions. Last year Foresight launched its GC Hawk product, which is a ceiling-mounted device. That’s been a huge success in Canada, Hardy says, thanks in part because it allows golfers who are both left and right-handed to switch off easily. Previous models of the product forced golfers who were of opposite hands to pivot the device before hitting a shot. But that is no longer. Foresight’s product is superior because it helps measure the launch window before a shot is struck – of both the ball and the club independently of one another. The data provided by Foresight allows golfers to analyze their true club delivery and helps to see their true ball-flight measurements without the effects of wind or weather.
“It’s a perfect snapshot into the launch window,” says Hardy.
But while you may sometimes get overwhelmed by numbers, Hardy says that the company’s big objective is still for people to have fun.
With the GC Hawk, Foresight has added the ability to provide data on a ton of different sports including baseball and soccer. It will also be adding hockey soon, meaning there will be a lot more in the multi-sport realm for the GC Hawk. It has also released a new software model called the FSX Pro, which is a coaching platform.
The cool thing about the FSX Pro software suite is that a lot of it has been developed with input from Canadians including coaches Liam Mucklow and Ralph Bauer, short-game guru Gareth Raflewski, and club expert Ian Fraser.
“We have a really strong, Canadian component for anything that Foresight is developing which is pretty awesome,” says Hardy. “I can’t think of a lot of other companies that include Canadian talent. We’ve got some smart guys and it’s great that Foresight gives them a microphone.”
Part of the FSX software suite also allows golfers to play simulator golf on some of the world’s top courses. Glen Abbey, the iconic RBC Canadian Open venue, was the most recent Canadian track added to the system. Fellow ClubLink course Rattlesnake Point will be added soon along with Westmount Golf and Country Club in Kitchener, Ont. There will be upwards of 14 Canadian golf courses says Hardy including (“hopefully,” he says) a few mountain courses in Alberta and B.C., plus the potential for Cabot, too.
“There’s definitely some exciting stuff on the course-play side of things,” says Hardy.
Not only that, but the new E6 software from Foresight links up launch monitors to allow people with a Foresight product to play against someone with a totally different launch monitor. It’s been popular during COVID-19, Hardy says, and has opened the company’s eyes to the kind of demand there could be while there is so much uncertainty in the world right now.
“It was a feature in the old world of course, but now you’ve got 1000’s of people around the world who want to participate in a simulator,” says Hardy. “So we’re looking forward to a new and improved version of that to open up tournaments, leagues, local events and things that would allow people to participate in in groups.”
While the Foresight technology is trusted by Golf Canada’s coaches and its national team players, it remains the top choice for those keen Canadians who are hopeful to take swings (and track their data) 12 months per year.
“It’s probably never been more important to make something like this happen,” says Hardy of in-home installations. “In some ways its harder because most simulator companies are sold out for months in advance, but we’ve grown a bunch. Our bandwidth is probably 10x was it was two years ago.
“And our product is great because there is not a lot of space restrictions – that’s one of the reasons why we do great in the residential space because not everyone has the right space for a traditional simulator so being able to make solutions in single garage bays, small rooms in a basement where you don’t have 11-foot ceilings… it’s a great advantage of our product and sets us apart from the competitors. It can be a net, a laptop computer, a lot of different ways to create that experience in your house.”
No matter where you are, Foresight is there for you and your game
The United States Golf Association names Mike Whan its new Chief Executive
Mike Whan (Getty Images)
LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. (Feb. 17, 2021) – The USGA announced today that Mike Whan will join the organization this summer as CEO, and will become the eighth top executive in USGA history. Last month, Whan announced his intention to step down as LPGA Commissioner in 2021, after his organization completes a search for the next Commissioner. His transition follows an impressive 11 years at the helm of the LPGA, during which the organization experienced historic growth in virtually every aspect of the business. As USGA CEO, Whan will be responsible for leading all aspects of the association’s operations, including its core functions, essential programs, and human and financial resources. He will also represent the USGA on a variety of national and international boards.
“Mike Whan is a proven, successful and transformative leader, not only in the golf industry but throughout his entire career,” said USGA President Stu Francis, who oversaw the CEO search process. “He has shown a unique ability to understand how the environment is changing in global golf and how to quickly and thoughtfully adapt an organization to meet those changes. Importantly, Mike is already a trusted peer for so many key stakeholders in the industry, and his existing relationships will not only help the USGA, but will also help advance the game.”
Whan started his career at the Procter & Gamble Company in 1987, where he rose to Director of Marketing for Oral Care before leaving to pursue a passion for sports. Whan’s sports business career began at Wilson Sporting Goods as a Vice President and General Manager in the golf division. He joined the TaylorMade Golf Company as Vice President of Marketing in 1995 and later served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Executive Vice President/General Manager for Taylormade-adidas Golf. In 2002, Whan became the President and CEO of Mission Hockey, a hockey equipment company.
Since joining the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 2010, Whan increased the number of tournaments on the LPGA Tour’s schedule to 34 from 24, increased purses from $41.4 million to $76.5 million, and grew television hours from 125 hours per season, to over 500 hours. Under his leadership, the LPGA became a truly global business – with players, tournaments, sponsors and fans coming from all over the world. Currently, the LPGA Tour is televised in over 170 countries each week. Whan’s leadership resulted in the expansion of the LPGA to now include both the Symetra Tour, the recently announced joint venture with the Ladies European Tour, as well as a nearly 50% increase in LPGA’s teaching division. Whan’s focus on growing the game for junior girls has led to a significant expansion of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program, which had 5,000 members when he joined the organization to 90,000 girls now engaged in the program.
“As someone who grew up loving this game, I have always had huge respect for the USGA and its role in leading our sport,” said Whan. “The game has given me so much throughout my life, both personally and professionally. I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m truly excited about this role, as it gives me the opportunity to not only give back to the game, but to also work hard to leave it stronger.”
Current USGA CEO Mike Davis, who joined the USGA in 1990 and became the Association’s seventh executive director in 2011 and first CEO in 2016, will depart later this year to team with Tom Fazio II in a new course design venture, Fazio & Davis Golf Design.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mike Whan for many years and I view him as a trusted, strategic leader who has a proven track record of building collaborative partnerships,” said Davis. “I know the USGA will be in great hands, and I look forward to partnering with Mike to ensure a smooth and successful transition for the USGA.”
Levelwear has you covered both on and off the golf course
Fairly early on in the pandemic there was an evident need for facemasks, says Saunders, so Levelwear started by creating masks by reengineering existing garments, like some of its t-shirts. The demand continued to grow so Levelwear used its sourcing channels to product high-quality face coverings and began to sell them, says Saunders, and created an initiative.
It donated roughly 40,000 facemasks, all-told, and raised more than $200,000 for various charities, organizations, and small businesses.
“Talk about a sense of pride,” says Saunders. “That was a whole other level. “We had this realization that doing some of the little things… you can have a bigger cause.”
With some early success with the NHL and its Toronto bubble, Levelwear has become the Official Face Covering of the league – no small feat for the Toronto-based business, which still considers itself medium sized.
“There’s that sense of pride again for us, and another opportunity. All coaches, players, all training staff, all in-arena and not on ice are to be wearing the product. We’re seeing a lot of exposure and recognition,” says Saunders of the teams rocking its Guard 3 face covering.
Even with the impressive business pivot through 2020, Levelwear is going to shine even brighter on the golf course in 2021 thanks to some renewed commitments to quality. There are two distinct style approaches for men and women in 2021, but both are rooted in a couple of key philosophies – modern athletic and premium leisure.
“We are now able to make better quality products and better fitting products,” says Saunders.
“You’ll notice Levelwear, who has always been strong in the pullover category, has made marked improvements in its polos. There is more attention to detail – cleaner collars with stays, extra button details, and laser-fusing instead of stitching. It’s an elevated polo,” Saunders says. “That same effort for men’s polos will be reflected in women’s golf stuff as well. You’ll see a lot of impressive prints, modern colour selects, and closet-staple pieces that will enhance any golfer’s wardrobe.”
Some of Canada’s top male golfers are all Levelwear ambassadors, including Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Michael Gligic, and Taylor Pendrith. On the LPGA Tour Levelwear counts Sandra Gal, up-and-coming star Kristen Gillman, and last year’s U.S. Women’s Open runner-up Amy Olson as ambassadors.
At home – where most of us are spending most of our time these days – you’ll see Levelwear has continued to lean into developing its fabulous athleisure lines for both men and women even further. People are choosing comfort over everything, and Levelwear has a nice offering that compliments its golf-specific gear for both men and women.
“Traditionally a lot of people have just thought about ‘casuals’ as t-shirts and sweatshirts, but we’ve taken a more sportswear approach to this kind of product category. We’ve elevated product. It’s stuff you’ll feel comfortable in if you go out. It doesn’t feel like you’re sloppy, it feels like you’re well-prepared,” says Saunders of the Levelwear line that actually started, conceptually, three years ago.
“We were starting to see it on the professional athlete side… now for the everyday person, it’s trickled down to them.”
For women, Saunders says the Verve by Levelwear line is hitting a fever pitch in terms of popularity. It’s a transitional line – think going to the gym, home from the gym, and working from home – with more prints, premium fabrics, and attention to detail.
While Levelwear has golfers covered both on the course and off – whether you hit them like Corey Conners and Sandra Gal or just a weekend warrior – it’s also trying to ride a ton of momentum from 2019, when it made a hearty impression on some of the biggest golf events in the world. Levelwear has partnered with 17 PGA Tour events, and assuming fans will start to return to courses in the near future, Levelwear will be in the retail experiences of the championship management division of the PGA Tour. It took on a sponsorship of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, too, and it has a brand-new, state-of-the-art mobile marketing trailer. Look for that trailer hitting member-guest events and clubs between the Ottawa-to-Windsor corridor in Ontario. It will likely be deployed as a pop-up shop on wheels and Saunders, like tournament organizers, are aiming to have it set up at the RBC Canadian Open, too. Its partnership with Golf Canada, the RBC Canadian Open, and CP Women’s Open, Saunders says, has also been an idyllic one.
Levelwear and Golf Canada has just renewed a multi-year extension of its original partnership agreement, and Saunders says despite 2020’s challenges, the teams have been able to use the extra time to really hone-in on productive ideas for Canadian golfers.
“Golf Canada is in such an incredible position and they’ve just got everything in order from the quality of field to the quality of champions to the addition of concerts and spectator increases… they have everything you would want in a successful event,” says Saunders of both the national professional championships and the amateur events that Golf Canada puts on. “They just seem to be riding this rocket ship, and it’s fun to be along for the ride.”
The R&A and USGA announce golf equipment research topics and proposed equipment standards changes
The R&A and the USGA have re-engaged with the golf industry on the Distance Insights project, which aims to help achieve a more sustainable long-term future for golf.
The governing bodies are issuing specific Areas of Interest to help mitigate continuing distance increases and three proposed changes to the Equipment Rules to ensure their effectiveness in relation to distance limits. The delivery of research topics related to hitting distances and golf’s sustainability was delayed in 2020 to allow the golf industry to focus on the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Areas of Interest notice, sent yesterday to golf equipment manufacturers, follows the conclusions of the Distance Insights Report delivered last February. It is the first step of the established Equipment Rulemaking Procedures, which give the opportunity for golf’s stakeholders to provide research and perspectives on topics that might lead to equipment rules changes.
In addition, three proposals related to equipment standards were also sent to the manufacturers yesterday and have been published – two to modernize equipment testing protocols and the other to consider the adoption of a Model Local Rule that would provide flexibility for committees, if they so choose, to limit the maximum length for clubs other than putters from 48 to 46 inches. Notice and comment periods have begun immediately to invite feedback on each of the three proposals from golf industry stakeholders. Research Topics/Areas of Interest Download Here (Research due by 2 November 2021)
The Areas of Interest notice addresses two specific Areas of Interest:
The potential use of a Local Rule that would specify the use of clubs and/or balls intended to result in shorter hitting distances. This would enable committees conducting competitions to stipulate whether such equipment should be used. It could be available at all levels of play and would also allow golfers playing outside of competition to choose for themselves.
A review of the overall conformance specifications for both clubs and balls, including specifications that both directly and indirectly affect hitting distances. This review would consider whether any existing specifications should be adjusted or any new specifications created to help mitigate continuing distance increases. It would not consider revising the overall specifications to produce substantial reductions in hitting distances at all levels of the sport. A list of club and ball specifications to be reviewed can be found in the official notice.
Stakeholders are invited to participate in the process by sharing any data or perspectives they might have on these topics by 2 November 2021. The topics are purely areas for research. No solutions or decisions are being proposed at this stage. Any proposals for Rule changes that might result from this research will be communicated in accordance with the Equipment Rulemaking Procedures.
Proposed Equipment Standards changes
Download Here The R&A and the USGA are addressing the effectiveness of current equipment testing processes, protocols and standards with respect to distance limits. As a result, the governing bodies are seeking comment from equipment manufacturers on three proposed Equipment Standards changes, as follows:
Proposal 1: Club length – reduction to 46 inches available as Model Local Rule (MLR) (Original proposal delivered in 2016 and paused in 2017 due to the Distance Insights project). Comment period ends on 4 March 2021.
Proposal 2: Update on testing method for golf balls. Comment period ends on 2 August 2021.
Proposal 3: Change to testing tolerance – Characteristic Time. Comment period ends on 2 August 2021.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are now able to progress with the work on this critical topic and are beginning the next phase as expeditiously as possible. The research topics and the proposed changes we have announced will be the focus of our attention in the coming months and we look forward to gaining insights from the golf industry and fully understanding their perspectives on these key areas. We remain fully committed to conducting this hugely important exercise for the sport thoroughly, efficiently and collaboratively.”
Mike Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the USGA, said, “The research conducted through Distance Insights clearly shows that hitting distances have consistently increased through time and, if left unchecked, could threaten the long-term future of our game at every level and every golf course on which it is played. This is the first forward step in a journey and a responsibility the USGA and The R&A share with the worldwide golf community, to ensure that golf continues to thrive for the next hundred years and beyond.”
Updates Since February 2020
During the pause in distance-related research caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, The R&A and the USGA completed their regular review of equipment testing processes, protocols and standards to ensure their effectiveness in relation to distance limits.
The proposals detailed above are the outcome of this regular review of equipment testing processes, protocols and standards to ensure their effectiveness. As such, these proposals were not conceived and are not intended to be solutions to the distance issues identified in the Distance Insights Report. All notices related to golf equipment follow the Equipment Rulemaking Procedures adopted in 2011 by The R&A, the USGA and golf equipment manufacturers, which provide an open process of dialogue for all involved. The procedures can be reviewed here.
The Distance Insights Report released last year highlighted the impact of long-term hitting distance increases on some of golf’s essential elements, including changing the strategic challenge of the game, altering the variety of skills needed to be successful and risking courses becoming less challenging or obsolete. Further, the report states that the overall trend of golf courses becoming longer has adverse consequences that ultimately affect golfers at all levels of the game. The governing bodies are working with the key stakeholders in golf to address these issues in a way that brings the game together and which ensures it continues to thrive for many years to come. Work is also currently being conducted to develop industry-wide recommendations and best management practices on course design, set-up and course conditions related to distance for all golf courses and golfers, as detailed among next steps in the Distance Insights conclusions document delivered last year.
The USGA is currently conducting field testing and research, with outcomes to be delivered throughout 2021. For more information visit www.RandA.org and www.usga.org.