by Steve Elling

If ever there were a time in which stand-ins, volunteers and outsiders should be used for crucial technical support during live tournament fare produced by Golf Channel, this might be the week.

The European Tour event in Abu Dhabi features a far more newsworthy field than its PGA Tour counterpart in the California desert, and the production crew in the Middle East isn’t on strike.


Plenty of blame for distance gains

There are many theories being offered regarding the distance that PGA Tour players achieve during tournaments. It’s the ball. It’s the course conditions. It’s the workout routines of the players. 

The fans have a hand in it, as well. They want to see birdies, eagles and 300-yard drives.



Number of amateurs in each foursome at the CareerBuilder Challenge, the first of five consecutive events on the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing, which begins today on three courses at La Quinta, Calif. For the first three rounds, pros and amateurs will rotate among PGA West’s Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament courses and at nearby La Quinta Country Club. The cut will be made after 54 holes, and the final round will be held at the Stadium Course. Phil Mickelson, a two-time winner in the desert (2002 and ’04), will be looking for his first victory since the 2013 British Open as he makes his first start of 2018.


Announced: By the LPGA, that the tour will play its previously announced Los Angeles event at Wilshire Country Club. The Hugel-JTBC Open, the LPGA’s first tournament in L.A. since 2005, will be played April 19-22. The LPGA will make four stops in California in March-April. Wilshire has played host to tournaments on the PGA, Champions and LPGA tours. 



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Kizzire on top 

Patton Kizzire's playoff victory in Hawaii, the ballistic-missile scare, a preview of the CareerBuilders Challenge and a quick look at Rory McIlroy's return to competition in Abu Dhabi. In Groove Up with Vertical Groove Golf, it's all about the new Vertical Groove 3-wood. In the Feature Interview with Morning Read's Alex Miceli, Bob Bubka and Alex discuss the new tax implications in 2018, with a little Tiger Woods talk for good measure.


The PGA Forum Stage will be the site for a full schedule of speakers and other programming at the PGA Merchandise Show next week at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Presentations will begin Wednesday with the keynote program 100th PGA Championship Celebration and run throughout the show for industry leaders and PGA professionals, ending Friday, Jan. 26.


Underwear For Men will display its new men’s trunk underwear style as part of the company’s exhibit next week at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. UFM’s new 3-inch trunk style will be featured in the New Product Zone at the Orange County Convention Center.


Nick Bradley has joined Reynolds Lake Oconee as director of the Reynolds Kingdom of Golf, the Greensboro, Ga., resort announced. Bradley, a native Briton, served as a strategic consultant for Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup team and has instructed Kevin Chappell, Brad Faxon, Paul McGinley and Justin Rose during a 25-year-plus career.


Ecco will exhibit its new Biom Hybrid 3 shoe at the PGA Merchandise Show next week in Orlando, Fla., the company announced. The shoe will be displayed with Ecco’s spring/summer collection.


Apparel maker Peter Millar has acquired G/Fore, a sportswear and accessories brand, the companies announced. Peter Millar and G/Fore had collaborated on a co-branded golf shoe that was introduced at last year’s PGA Merchandise Show.


Bridgestone Golf recorded its most successful year, setting records in 2017 in total sales, advertising reach and number of golf units shipped in a year, the company announced. A significant increase in sales at off-course retailers helped drive the growth, the company said.


Wallaroo Hat Co. will exhibit its headwear at next week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., the company announced. The hats are priced at less than $75 and feature a UPF rating of 50-plus.


Buffalo.Agency has been selected by Eyeking to provide public relations and marketing support for Under Armour Eyewear. The launch of the UA Tuned lens technology will be part of the focus this year.


Karrie Webb, a seven-time major champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member, will appear with Nippon Shaft at next week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. Webb will conduct an exhibition on Tuesday during Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Center and then appear Wednesday at Nippon Shaft’s booth at the Orange County Convention Center.


Chris Carson, the golf course superintendent at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield, N.J., has been recognized by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America with its 2017 Leo Feser Award. The annual honor goes to the author of the best superintendent-written article in the GCSAA’s Golf Course Managementmagazine. Carson wrote “8 essential budgeting principles for superintendents” in the October 2016 issue.


Operation Support Military Golf has partnered with three leading golf organizations to support the non-profit’s mission of enhancing service members’ morale, welfare and recreation via golf at bases worldwide. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, American Society of Golf Course Architects and Golf Course Builders Association of America will be working with OSMG to help further work at 145 military-base golf facilities worldwide.


Women’s Golf Day and its supporters will be hosting a second annual media conference Jan. 25 in conjunction with the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. A panel of industry experts that includes Annika Sorenstam, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, will discuss the future of women’s golf. Women’s Golf Day is set for June 5.


Boot Ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, reported surging real estate sales in 2017, sparked by the release of new property, a preferred builder program and the completion of new amenities. The private-club community reported 64 sales last year totaling $41 million. Unit volume was up 23 percent from 2016, and dollar volume rose 64 percent.


Lamkin will introduce three new grip lines at the PGA Merchandise Show next week in Orlando, Fla., the company announced. The TS1, Comfort Plus and Sonar grips will be available in early April.


January 15-19
Women’s amateur: Ione D. Jones/Doherty Championship
Coral Ridge CC, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
January 18-20
Champions: Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
Hualalai GC, Kaupulehu, Hawaii
January 18-21
European Tour: Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) GC
PGA Tour: CareerBuilder Challenge
Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif.
January 20-23
Men’s amateur: Latin America Amateur
Prince of Wales CC, Santiago, Chile
January 21-24 Tour: Bahamas Great Abaco Classic
Abaco Club, Great Abaco, Bahamas
January 23
Industry: PGA Show Demo Day
Orange County National Golf Center, Winter Garden, Fla.
January 24-26
Industry: PGA Merchandise Show
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.
January 25-28
PGA Tour: Farmers Insurance Open
Torrey Pines GC (South), La Jolla, Calif.
European Tour: Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Emirates GC, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
LPGA: Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic
Paradise Island, Bahamas
January 26-28
Men’s amateur: Jones Cup
Ocean Forest GC, Sea Island, Ga.

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