Posted: January 24, 2013
The clubhouse at Doha GC - home of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
It was an early start to the week and the tournament in Qatar as the first round was played Wednesday.
But the early start didn't seem to phase Titleist ambassador Ricardo Santos, who set the first round pace with a sterling 7-under round of 65 to lead by two shots at the end of day 1.
And the 2012 European Tour Rookie of the Year kept up the under par golf with a second round of 70 to share the lead at 9-under.
With fellow Titleist ambassador George Coetzee and Titleist golf ball loyalists Michael Campbell, Felipe Aguilar and Gary Lockerbie just one shot back, it looks like an interesting final two rounds.
At the end of round two 18 of the top 20 and ties are either Titleist brand ambassadors or golf ball loyalists.
A prime focus for the Titleist team this week has been the continued seeding of the new 2013 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls to Titleist golf ball loyalists.
At the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Titleist was the overwhelming ball of choice with 78 players in the field of 126 (62%), compared to 21 for the nearest competitor.
Of those Titleist golf ball players, 31 placed their trust in the new 2013 Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf balls - 25% of the field in only the second week of full availability.
To view this week's slideshow, just click on the image above.
Posted: January 21, 2013
“One of the undisputed pleasures of golf lies in the comforting knowledge that all golfers around the world play the same game. Imagine the chaos that would exist if there were, as some have suggested, different Rules for professional and amateur golf or each country had its own unique code of Rules. It is the uniformity and worldwide acceptance of the Rules that allow us to compare our rounds to those of the top players and to appreciate a tournament played on the other side of the world.”
- David Fay and Michael BonallackFrom the foreword to The Rules of the Green: A History of the Rules of Golf
The case for unification is rooted in the game’s history. In his seminal work, The Rules of the Green: A History of the Rules of Golf, Kenneth Chapman observed that since the first written code of rules appeared in 1744, the Rules of Golf evolved through periods of adaptation, consolidation, divergence, and eventually unification. This march to unification, where the game is played by one set of rules, has been an inexorable one with interruptions only occurring when opposing parties had a political or economic agenda.
There are two fundamental forces driving this progression to unification. The first is the essence of the game; the emotional allure that compels golfers to play and experience the same course or shot as one of the game’s greats, even if just to aspire. The second impetus is the dysfunction and instability caused by multiple sets of rules. Prior history of multiple sets of rules created widespread confusion and prompted the need for clarification and unification. The fact remains that the game’s growth, and its globalisation, are inextricably linked to the idea that golfers – of all skill levels – play the same game.
For its first 100 years, the Rules of Golf provided political and economic stability as most of the newly formed golf clubs adopted the Rules of 1744. The Industrial Revolution helped facilitate golf’s first growth era. International commerce flourished and transportation improved. Golf’s first major competition, The Open Championship, was established, and for 20-plus years, contested according to the rules of the host club.
In 1895, the United States Golf Association (USGA) was formed. The USGA decided their competitions would be played according to the Rules of Golf, as adopted by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, while reserving the interpretation and decision making prerogative. C. B. Macdonald, winner of the 1895 U.S. Amateur Championship and first chair of the USGA special committee to “interpret the Rules of Golf,” highlighted the difference between American and British golfers in his letter to Horace Hutchinson:
“We find in America that it is necessary to have the rules more clearly defined, as people (Americans) are more inclined to play more by the letter than the spirit.” (Golf, February 12, 1897)
These differences between ruling bodies became exercises in bifurcation as separate rules applied to medal and match play, centre shafted putters, steel shafts, the stymie and the number of allowable clubs.
When the great “balloon ball” experiment failed in 1931, it culminated in the R&A and the USGA having separate sets of golf ball rule specifications for the next 50 years.
The tension from this experience led to the first major collaborative decision on the road to uniformity – the adoption of the 14-club rule in 1938.
Post World War II, a meeting between representatives from the game’s major golf organisations resulted in the joint R&A-USGA Code of 1952. This marked an unprecedented and historic decision to unify the Rules of Golf. Clearly, the growth of the game for the next 30 years, its globalisation and commercialisation, went hand in hand with this unification.
In 2002, the R&A and the USGA accelerated the march toward unification with the landmark issuance of a Joint Statement of Principles where they announced,
“The R&A and the USGA continue to believe that the retention of a single set of rules for all players of the game, irrespective of ability, is one of the game’s greatest strengths.”
For 250 years, there has been documented progress toward uniformity and worldwide acceptance of the Rules. Yet there are new voices advocating for “Bifurcation,” arguing that the game should reverse direction for political and economic reasons.
The three most common arguments advanced by bifurcation protagonists are:
1. “Today’s professional game does not mirror today’s amateur game.”
While some lament that PGA Tour players aren’t playing the same game as amateurs, this is more a commentary on the skill of the professional golfer than amateurs’ desire to play a different game. Part of the fabric of the game is the relationship between the game’s best players and all golfers who play. Today’s amateur golfers maintain the same appetite to emulate the swings of of the world’s greatest players and play America’s greatest courses as ranked by Golf Digest.
2. “Golf participation has matured and the adoption of different sets of rules will allow the game to renew its participation growth."
1990 to 2000 was the most innovative decade in the game’s history, yet during this period, golf participation in the U.S. and Europe flatlined. Golf is a game of the middle class, and golf has a demographic issue. In the Western world, today’s middle class is the same size as in the early 1990s.
3. “Golfers just want to have fun. They do not play by the rules today and the formalisation of multiple sets of rules is just sanctioning what is already reality.”
If golfers don’t play by the one set of rules that exist today, why are two sets of rules required? If the argument is that golfers don’t play by the rules and bifurcation will help grow the game, then how will two sets of rules contribute to additional participation? The logic is flawed.
In a passage entitled “Rambling Thoughts” (Scotland’s Gift: Golf), C. B. Macdonald, America’s first rules expert, observed that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews never attempted to mandate that its rules be forced upon those who played. They simply stated:
“We are going to play the game as it was handed down to us by our forefathers. We will tell you how it was handed down and we will provide you with our interpretation of the rules and endeavor to convey to you all the spirit of the game, but do as you like, much as we desire to see you play the game that has been played for some many centuries in Scotland.”
Today, more than 250 years after the first Rules of Golf were codified, the game is played by 55 million golfers in over 150 different countries. A final C. B. Macdonald quote reinforces why globalisation requires unification. It is prescient given that it was written in 1927:
“Golf is a world encircling game. One of its charms is that no matter where you go, whether America, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe or Scotland, the game is the same, with only such rules as are necessary to govern the local situation.”
History remains a wise and thoughtful teacher.
It was a three-win week for Titleist golf ball loyalists around the world's professional tours, including two wins for the new 2013 Titleist Prototype golf ball.
At the Humana Challenge on the PGA Tour, Brian Gay trusted the new Titleist Pro V1x Prototype golf ball to victory in an all-Titleist Pro V1x playoff with Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth - with Titleist ambassador Scott Stallings (new Titleist 2013 Pro V1x Prototype) and Pro V1x loyalist James Hahn tying for fourth place.
The new Titleist Pro V1x recorded a further win at the Victorian PGA Championship on the Australian PGA Tour, when Titleist golf ball loyalist David McKenzie recorded his first career title with a 13-under total of 275.
And completing the trio of wins was Pro V1 loyalist Jamie Donaldson, who captured the first leg of the European Tour's Desert Swing at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for his second European Tour title.
EUROPEAN: The 37-year old Welshman closed out his final round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with a 4-under round of 68 for a 14-under total of 274 and victory by one shot.
Donaldson, who had recorded his first European Tour win at last year's Irish Open, said after his victory, "I played the pro-am on Wednesday and thought the course was too difficult and I had no chance.
"I thought if I could get a decent finish I would be chuffed. To be holding this trophy is just mad."
Titleist ambassador and European Tour Rookie of the Year, Ricardo Santos, recorded a fourth place finish relying on the new 2013 Pro V1x prototype golf ball and a new Titleist 913D2 (8.5) driver for his success. In addition to the new driver, which he put in play for the first time, Santos carried a Titleist 913Fd (13.5) fairway metal, 910H (17.0) hybrid, two new 712U prototype utility irons (3,4), MB irons (5-P) and Vokey Design SM4 sand (56) and lob (60) wedges.
Santos was joined in the top nine finishers and ties by fellow Titleist ambassadors Jason Dufner, George Coetzee, Anders Hansen and Jbe Kruger. Dufner, who closed with a 4-under par 68, put a new Scotty Cameron Select GoLo S5 putter in the bag this week. Dufner previewed some of the new Cameron Tour models on the practice putting green on Monday and immediately gravitated to the S5. After practicing with it, Dufner said he felt it was easier to make a consistent stroke and achieve a consistent center strike with the new center-shafted putter and put it into competitive play on Thursday.
Other top finishers included Titleist golf ball loyalists David Howell (Pro V1x) and Joost Luiten (New 2013 Pro V1 prototype), who finished tied with one other in 6th place.
Titleist was the overwhelming ball of choice at the AbuDhabi HSBC Golf Championship with 75 players (60% of the field), nearly four times the nearest competitor with 19.
PGA TOUR: When the three-way playoff got underway at the Humana Challenge, the winner was still in doubt - the winning ball, however, was not, as all three players featuring were Titleist golf ball loyalists.
And with a birdie on the second extra hole, Brian Gay became the first player to win with the new 2013 Pro V1x prototype golf ball on the PGA TOUR.
With Pro V1x loyalist David Lingmerth eliminated on the first extra hole, Gay emerged victorious over fellow Pro V1x loyalist Charles Howell III when he slotted a five and a half foot birdie putt on the par 4 10th hole.
In addition to becoming the first player on the PGA TOUR to win with the new 2013 Pro V1x golf ball, Gay is the seventh across the worldwide professional tours since seeding began, joining Luke Donald (Pro V1x/Dunlop Phoenix), Adam Scott (Pro V1/Australian Masters), Hiroyuki Fujita (Pro V1/Japan Series JT Cup), Angel Cabrera (107 Visa Open de Argentina), Louis Oosthuizen (Pro V1x/Volvo Golf Champions) and David McKenzie (Pro V1x), who had won the Victorian PGA Championship earlier in the day, in the new prototype victory circle.
Titleist was the overwhelmingly most played golf ball, with 106 (68%) of the 156 players in the field relying upon the #1 ball in golf - more than six times the nearest competitor with 16. A total of 62 players in the field this week have already transitioned into the new 2013 Pro V1 (11) or Pro V1x (51) prototype golf balls. Titleist was also the top choice in the iron (42/27%), sand, lob and approach wedge (160/43%) and putter (57/37%) categories.
AUSTRALIAN: Despite getting off to a tough start with a bogey on the first, Titleist ball loyalist David McKenzie’s game came together when it counted to claim the first PGA Tour of Australasia tournament of the year and the first of his career - trusting the new 2013 Pro V1x Prototype ball for a two-shot win.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Stephen Dartnell (Pro V1, 913D2 driver, 913F fairway metal, 913H hybrid, MB irons, Vokey Design wedges, Scotty Cameron putter) secured solo third place, another three shots back from second place, as eight of the top 10 finishers played Titleist golf balls for their success.
Titleist was the overwhelming most played ball at the event with 98 players (74%), nearly four times the nearest competitor with 25.