Dozens of nominations from across the golf industry have been trimmed to three finalists in each category in the 28th Annual ING Industry Honors awards program. The ING Industry Honors program is conducted by the non-profit International Network Of Golf to recognize outstanding achievement in the golf business.
Winners in the eight categories are decided by a vote of the ING membership and will be announced at Industry Honors Presentation Press Conference at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. The program will take place on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 12:30 pm in Room 312A. Holly Geoghegan of Golf Marketing Services is the Committee Chair for the ING Industry Honors.
The International Network Of Golf is a non-profit, media-based networking organization whose mission is to enhance and promote communication and education in golf. Membership is open to anyone in the golf industry, related industries and media. “ING is where media and the golf industry connect.”
Sub-committees in each category reviewed nominations, and by private vote trimmed the entries to the top three in each category. All nominees will be recognized at the presentation.
For more information regarding ING, call 407-404-474-0531 or visit www.inggof.com.
ING INDUSTRY HONORS FINAL BALLOT 2021
Joe Assell, Founder & CEO, GOLFTEC – Beginning in 1995, in the basement of Cherry Hills Country Club, PGA Professional Joe Assell took a concept and built it into the industry leader in golf instruction and club fitting. Since then, GOLFTEC’s mission has remained the same – to help people play better golf. Today, GOLFTEC has 900+ certified Coaches teaching over 12 million lessons in 6 countries and more than 220 Training Centers. The GOLFTEC experience is designed for golfers to work with an expert Coach on a customized game improvement plan. GOLFTEC’s cutting edge training systems, including OptiMotion, provide instant and data-driven feedback. With a digital library of more than 14 million golf swings, GOLFTEC owns more raw information about the biomechanics of a golf swing than any company in the world.
Alex Miceli, Journalist/Media Entrepreneur – Miceli, a journalist and radio/TV personality who has been involved in golf for 26 years, was the founder of Morning Read, which was acquired by Buffalo Groupe in May 2019. Miceli continues to contribute writing, podcasts and videos to the new Morning Read on SI.com. In 2000, he started GolfWire selling it nine years later to Turnstile Publishing, owners of GolfWeek. In 1993, Miceli founded Golf.com, which he sold in 1999 to Quokka Sports. One year later, he founded Golf Press Association, an independent golf news service that provides golf content to news agencies, newspapers, magazines and websites. He served as the GPA’s publisher and chief executive officer.
Mike Whan, CEO, USGA – Whan became CEO of the USGA in July of 2021 after an 11-year stint as commissioner of the LPGA. As CEO, Whan leads the USGA team’s work to champion the game of golf by conducting global championships, delivering golfer engagement programs, broadening accessibility and driving sustainability. Under his leadership, the LPGA experienced unprecedented growth, with significant increases in the number of tournaments, purses and television coverage. He also oversaw the expansion of the LPGA to include both the Symetra Tour and Ladies European Tour, as well as a nearly 50 percent increase in membership of LPGA Professionals, the association’s teaching division. Whan’s focus on making the game more accessible for girls led to a significant expansion of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program.
Jay Golden, PGA Member – Award winning writer Jaime Diaz wrote “Jay Golden; Golf’s True Renaissance Man” which can be seen on the “Golf Digest” website. Diaz describes Golden’s talents and how he blends them with golf. That is the essence of how Jay Golden contributed in the growth of the game for the past 50 years. Here are some of his accomplishments: NFPGA 2020 Player Development Award –
Hundreds of clinics, speeches, artwork (Vincent Van Golf), TV appearances, articles, cartoons, videos, etc.; On-line: 1,000 videos over 15 million views worldwide; Author: Wrote three coloring books “Kids and Golf.” Testimonials by Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson; Authored ”Kathy Whitworth’s Little Book of Golf Wisdom”; Minorities: Introduced golf in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY; Disabilities: Performed and raised funds for: Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Tee Up For Life, etc.
Me and My Golf – This is the No. 1 subscribed golf instruction YouTube channel in the world. Andy Proudman and Piers Ward have developed a groundbreaking method of online golf coaching providing a variety of video content for golfers that reaches more than 180 countries. Me and My Golf’s social channels feature core instructional training tips and drills, as well as entertainment focused golf challenges, course Vlogs and trick shots. Piers and Andy have spent more than 15 years helping golfers, delivering 35,000+ lessons. Me and My Golf offers the most comprehensive golf coaching platform on the web with structured coaching plans covering every part of the game for the modern golfer.
Sea Island College Prep Program – This year-round training program is for players who want to train on a quarterly basis at the Sea Island Golf Performance Center without moving away from their homes. They have access to an elite instructional team, including monthly online remote coaching sessions in between quarterly visits. Players visit Sea Island four times per year to work with the staff on all areas of their development with a focus on their core deficiencies. There is an initial visit and three check-in visits that follow during the year. Each visit is a two-day training session that is directly related to statistical weaknesses, focus points based off Sea Island’s Key Indicators of Success, and previous evaluations. The Player Development Program coaching staff sets a structured developmental plan to reach specific goals over a period of time.
Coral Creek GC – “Nature’s Masterpiece”
Omni Homestead Resort – “You Paused. Now Play.”
Paiute – “Real. Pure. Golf.”
Carl’s Golf Land– “No More Excuses”
LPGA – “This Is For Every Girl”
TaylorMade Golf – “Check”
Product Ingenuity – Equipment – Emerging Companies
Arc Align Putter – This heel and toe weighted mallet-style putter features a patent pending DYNAMIC ARC that is etched onto the top of the head for a stroke guidance system. Follow the ARC and the putter face will remain square to the arc throughout the stroke. Golfers can now use a visual putting arc in real time. The Arc Align has a grooved, variable depth face, a hollow sole, adjustable weights in the back of the head and alignment markings on the top of the head that make it super easy to align and stroke in a conventional arcing manner. The face grooves are the Arcroll patent pending “20 Grip Design” which allows only 20 percent of the face to touch the ball, providing enhanced grip on the ball and delivers instant forward roll.
Clear Golf Balls – Clear Golf incorporates a proprietary core comprised of butadiene rubber and Tungsten, a substance with such high density that it’s often applied by the military in penetrating projectiles. This translates to greater ball speed and longer distance. The Tour Black and Tour Green mantle layers are produced with Ionomer and high performance resin. Tour Green features an additional blend of tungsten powder. Two highly neutralized inner mantle layers act as the ball’s control valve, designed to optimize speed and reduce dispersion to smoothly channel energy to the core. The Clear ball is manufactured with a cast thermoset Urethane process, which enhances spin while providing a softer feel to provide a winning combination of distance, spin, control and feel. Clear’s thinner cover offers greater interaction with the core of the ball.
High Heat 257+’s Turf Glider Sole – This novel technology includes a centerline, contoured bulge near the face of the High Heat 257+ fairway woods and hybrids. It is unlike any other sole technology because it corrects the effect of a golfer’s swing flaw before the clubface strikes the ball. As a result, when a golfer hits behind the ball, the Turf Glider Sole will slide the clubface to the ball instead of digging. It works similarly on “thin” shots, raising the rear of the head to create more solid contact. Also, unlike clubs with rails on the sole, the Turf Glider does not bounce on hardpan surfaces. The technology works from every type lie – fairway, rough or bunker. Media and teaching pros have called the Turf Glider Sole technology “magical” for amateur golfers.
Product Ingenuity – Equipment – Market Leaders
Callaway Epic Driver Series– Callaway has designed the new Epic series of drivers with speed top of mind. First, the new Jailbreak A.I. Speed Frame enhances horizontal and torsional stability to increase ball speeds across the entire face. Second, A.I.-designed Flash Face optimizes the Jailbreak Speed Frame for different player deliveries. The A.I. treatment features counterintuitive thickness patterns that required computer simulations to identify. The three club heads try to address the needs of different player types: The Max is the most forgiving and is designed to have the highest launch. The Max LS launches the ball lower with less spin. Both have a sliding rear weight: The Max has more room in the heel for a draw bias, and the Max LS is easier to adjust for a fade.
Cleveland Full Face Wedges – This line addresses the majority of the golf population, those who play game-improvement irons. The line emphasizes forgiveness, shape, sole and even the shaft while retaining the tour-grabby grooves it’s known for. This second generation brings even more help, removing weight from the back cavity, hosel and heel. This moves the sweet spot toward the toe where average golfers tend to hit it, so even less-than-perfect shots feel pretty good. A gel insert behind the face helps soften vibration to deliver a more solid feel at impact. There are even larger, high-loft options in which the grooves stretch all the way across the face. The Full Face Wedge line provides confidence for those short lofted shots around the green.
Tour Edge Exotics 721 Hybrid – Without the necessary space to reposition what designers call “discretionary mass,” it’s a challenge to make a hybrid fast and forgiving. But Tour Edge’s Exotics line is known for doing more with less, and the C721 utilizes several new technologies to maximize performance. A carbon-composite panel covers the entire crown, saving weight that is shifted to the rear for better forgiveness on off-center hits. The new lightweight steel in the face is anther weight saver. Tour Edge addressed ball speed by creating a variable-thickness face that features 41 interwoven diamond shapes of seven different depths, called “mini-trampolines” by the designers. The purpose is to get the face flexing not just for your center strikes but for those shots you don’t flush.
Product Ingenuity – Soft Goods/Accessories
SQAIRZ Golf Shoes – SQAIRZ is a breakthrough in golf footwear design and the first game improvement golf shoe. Your connection to the ground (golf shoes) facilitates hip rotation, swing speed, balance/stability, and accuracy. SQAIRZ’s unique design broke the mold of traditional shoes to provide better balance/stability and ground reaction force, resulting in increased swing speed and more consistent accuracy. SQAIRZ allows pressure to get to the trail heel portion of the foot faster during the backswing, generating more acceleration to the lead side quicker and creating a much greater “brake effect”, generating more vertical power on the lead side prior to impact providing impressive distance gains. Golfers will improve their performance with the proven scientific benefits of Sqairz.
Sun Mountain Eco-Lite is a golf bag made from recycled plastic bottles, turning trash into treasure. Approximately 25 20-ounce bottles go into the fabric used in each bag. Beyond being made from recycled plastic, Eco-Lite bags include many of the most popular features offered on Sun Mountain’s other top-selling bags. It features a 9”, 4-way top with Sun Mountain’s proprietary easy-on, easy-off E-Z Lite Dual Strap System. The stand bag offers five pockets, including a velour-lined valuables pocket. It is available in five different colors and weighs less than four pounds.
Towel Tag utilizes “Pull-Thru Technology” to create an entirely new generation of functional bag tags. Towel Tag is designed to temporarily secure your golf towel without the use of grommets or hooks. Each tag is manufactured using two separate compounds to create a functional bag tag with exceptional durability. They are ideal for temporary storage of golf towels, head covers, rain gear, outdoor and layered clothing. Towel Tag uses the latest printing technology to create a customized Towel Tag suited for every golfer, team, organization, or golf event. “I decided to combine the simple features of the traditional bag tag and an accessible towel holder,” said Craig Holub, Founder of Towel Tag, “and then we figured out a way to personalize it and make it unique for the golfer and unlike anything else currently available on the market.”
Product Ingenuity – Technology
Blue Tees Golf is different from traditional brands. They design, manufacture and build top-level golf laser rangefinders but at a fraction of the cost. They utilize their own industrial design expertise, cutting out complex operations. Savings are passed on to the consumer. According to Golf Channel’s Jason Scott Deegan, “Blue Tees Golf is $50 to $150 cheaper than similar models on the market. If this were a blind taste test, users wouldn’t have known the difference.” The company offers a wide variety of tech-drive range finder models with specific price points and styles. Blue Tees Golf is the fastest growing golf rangefinder brand in the industry and has become the second selling brand at PGA TOUR Superstores, Dicks Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy and at over 700 green grass locations.
NBC Sports Next’s Round-Up technology, first promoted as part of the new partnership between GolfNow and Youth on Course in 2020, has showcased using the power of technology for good within the golf industry. It is creating more access and helping to grow the game – and demonstrating the teamwork between GolfNow and its users. The concept behind the round-up technology allows anyone booking tee times on GolfNow the opportunity to “round up” the total cost of the reservation to an even-dollar figure, donating the additional funds to a designated charitable cause. In just nine months – with an average contribution of only $0.36 – more than $1 million was generated and donated to Youth on Course to help the non-profit create more access to golf for young people.
SwingU – Founded in 2012, this golf-specific tech company has developed three digital platforms and grown its user base to over 6 million registered users over the past decade. SwingU is the most user-friendly GPS and scorecard app providing the most current course maps and game improvement app for the everyday golfer. SwingU Versus provides stroke gained analysis with drills to improve your game based on your stats during the round. With over 600 videos in its library, SwingU provides instructional tips from the top teachers such as Gary Gilchrist, Stan Utley, Jim McLean, Mark Blackburn and more. SwingU Academies provides a customizable app for individual instructors empowering them to provide one-on-one digital instruction from anywhere in the country.
Product Ingenuity – Training Products
Bottle Tee – Good golfers consistently drive it long off the tee due to their ability to repeat the “in and up” swing plane time after time. Their downswing comes from the inside, and when the clubhead strikes the ball it is on an upward path. The Bottle Tee, produced by Green Keepers Inc., is a new training aid that naturally teaches that in and up swing. It is easy as sticking a tee into the ground and letting your natural instincts take over. The Bottle Tee places the ball up so high, your brain and body naturally and automatically adjust to swing from the inside out and on the upswing, producing longer and more piercing, draw-shaped drives. Just keep swinging and eventually this swing will become a natural move.
Eyeline Speed Trap – The Speed Trap 2.0 is a swing path trainer providing instant feedback if your swing is too far out-to-in or in-to-out. Additionally, the Speed Trap helps with your low-point control by letting you know if you are hitting behind the ball. The training starts with the baseplate, which has a channel cut out from the front-center. If your swing is behind the ball at impact or too far to the heel or toe side, the club will strike the baseplate. Next, slanted rods are attached to the baseplate with Velcro. If the swing path is too far offline, the club will strike one of the rods. The Speed Trap 2.0 doesn’t force you into a single “correct” path. The rods can be placed into different positions or widths to allow for various swings.
The Putting Arc – This product is one of the most widely used training aids among professional golfers and teachers. It is based on ancient match formulas combined with space age computer design and CNC manufacturing. Over 2,000 professional wins with all types of putters and every size pro golfer are proof of the accuracy of the math. The first known pro win by a Putting Arc user was by Graeme McDowell in the 2002 Scandinavian Masters. And in 2021 there have been numerous wins on the PGA and LPGA Tours, showing that Putting Arc still works today.