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Letter from TaylorMade CEO about "Continuously Misinformed" MyGolfSpy


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First a little background. Several weeks ago, we posted a tweet asking if TaylorMade had been sold, saying sources told us it had been, and asking whether we thought it this will ultimately be good for the company.

 

Quite frankly, our wording was sloppy. Although our intent was not to be unequivocal in our statement that TaylorMade had in fact been sold (only that there were rumors), the language should have clearer and we should have included a question mark after the word "Sold" in the accompanying graphic. Basically we screwed up, and nobody needed to tell us as much.

 

In trying to own our mistake, we removed the tweet, posted an explanation, and reached out to TaylorMade with Adam (GolfSpyX) going so far as to personally reach out to TaylorMade CEO David Abeles, so he could take full responsibility for the post.

 

It took a few days, but Adams call was ultimately returned by someone a little further down the chain of command, and things were basically all good....at least for a couple of weeks.

 

In the time between our tweet and when we were able to speak with someone at TaylorMade Mr. Abeles sent out an email to the entire TaylorMade staff.

 

It took some time (over a month) to get our hands on the email, but in light of the recent financial reports we wanted to share the email with you.

 

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Well, I'll just add this to my ever-growing list of reasons why I'll never spend another dime on anything related to TaylorMade or Adidas.

 

Regardless of when the email was actually sent out, his thoughts of MGS as being "continuously misinformed" are enough for me.

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Somewhat at odds with the tepid vibe coming from the adidas annual report.  Not the time for senior TM management to be making any major personal real estate purchases in greater Carlsbad, I'd say...

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I can understand their frustration, especially with the parent company probably sending flack down to them.

 

 

I'm sure they have reached their boiling point with regards to TMAG bashing on forums/ golf sites- deriding product release cycles or marketing campaigns. Regardless, how did they not see the backlash coming???

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Well, I have to totally agree with the bold assertion that they're "turning heads around the world."  But in kind of a "Hey, there's Johnny Manziel in a nightclub" kind of way...

 

Also, given the financial reports we've seen, I have to question where the bullish attitude is coming from... My guess is part arrogance, optimism and good old "head in the sand" approach

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I think the apology post of GolfSpy T should have been put up on the blog, tweeted, and retweeted as a reply in th TM account. It can only lead to better relationships and credibility.

 

Keeping the acknowledgment of the mistake small does not promote responsible blogging.

 

Too many people, myself included, can get away with so much online because accountability is basically non existent in the blogging world.

 

On a side note as a CEO I would fire anyone who gave a company email out into outside hands. It was obviously an email to keep employee moral up.

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I'm not a TM basher or lover. meh. However, I do like the way their drivers have performed for me. Now, I just purchased another new TM driver. The 2015 model R15. I've only hit it a few times on the range late yesterday evening with promising results. I think after I've had more time working with it - getting it dialed-in... it will find a permanent place in my bag replacing my SLDR. Which I still love and rely on. 

My Sun Mountain bag currently includes:   TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png 771CSI 5i - PW and TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png PFC Micro Tour-c 52°, 56°, 60 wedges

                                                                               :755178188_TourEdge: EXS 10.5*, TWGTLogo2.png.06c802075f4d211691d88895b3f34b75.png 929-HS FW4 16.5* 

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In the end TMag has to worry about itself and what it's doing.  Think stroke play, not match play.

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I think the apology post of GolfSpy T should have been put up on the blog, tweeted, and retweeted as a reply in th TM account. It can only lead to better relationships and credibility.

 

Keeping the acknowledgment of the mistake small does not promote responsible blogging.

 

Too many people, myself included, can get away with so much online because accountability is basically non existent in the blogging world.

 

On a side note as a CEO I would fire anyone who gave a company email out into outside hands. It was obviously an email to keep employee moral up.

 

Screw it...I'm going to say more than I had planned:

 

We actually did acknowledge our mistake in a blog post the next day (adidas names new CEO), which was more than we needed to do considering that we never posted the rumor to the site. We posted a retraction on twitter and on Facebook...the spots where the post was made.

 

I think the continuously misinformed piece dates back to a story we posted about Callaway overtaking TaylorMade in market share. Despite having the correct information in my notes I erroneously used the word "Driver" instead of "metalwood". 

 

Totally my mistake...we think the conversations we had internally prior to publication resulted in some words getting rearranged in my brain. Honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.

 

Here's the thing, and this speaks volumes about TaylorMade's current operational style - it was an EASY correction. One phone call, one email, a text message, smoke signals, snail mail...anything. 2 minutes or less...problem solved, mea culpa, correction published.

 

It's not like TaylorMade doesn't know how to get a hold of us. Instead, we found out months later that TaylorMade complained to Golf Datatech (the company that provides the market share info - and who incidentally, we have no direct relationship with). This is also what TaylorMade does...it doesn't complain or even communicate directly, it goes around problems. We only found out about it after a TaylorMade competitor told us the guys at Datatech wanted to talk to us. 

 

Again...one of numerous recent examples where basic communication skills could have cleared up a simple misunderstanding.

 

I should also mention that TaylorMade believes that sale rumors (including information from reliable sources) should be off limits for publication. Basically stick to how great M2 is, that's plenty.  At least one TMaG employee has suggested that our readers probably don't care about that stuff anyway. I think the post on the financials, in addition to refuting any notion that adidas support has never been stronger stuff, also speaks to the interest level you all have in business side of the equipment industry.

 

It's unfortunate, when Mark King was CEO we (TaylorMade and MGS) butted heads on several occasions. This happens with nearly every company we deal with...it's a result of coverage style - which as most of you know, goes well-beyond simply repeating the facts as supplied by the companies who created them. The industry as a whole still hasn't adjusted. We cover topics nobody else will even touch...and when they do, it's only with white glove service.

 

That said, BECAUSE of the people at TaylorMade at the time, and the importance they placed on open communication, we were able to make it work. TaylorMade's people were completely comfortable making a calls. I'd frequently get a call to let me know that 'an executive wasn't happy with something you wrote', sometimes there'd be screaming and yelling...sometimes about what they believe I got wrong...sometimes angry about what they wish I hadn't got right. Sometimes I'd yell back, and when everyone had said his  peace, we moved on...business...and that's the keyword here, this is BUSINESS, as usual, no hard feelings.

 

Though Ben Sharpe's tenure as CEO was brief, it's fair to say that the relationship continued as it previously had. Sometimes contentious, but always professional...no hard feelings.

 

Sufficed to say, things are different these days. New leadership, new PR team, and now a near total lack of communication. I think it's exceptionally telling that we had to make a call to the CEO to even start a conversation. In the old days, the PR team was able to handle nearly everything, and on one occasion Mark King called me personally. So I think it's more telling still that the return call to the owner of MyGolfSpy would be delegated. 

 

Contrast that with a few other situations...most of you know we had some contentious times with Callaway over the last couple of years...but what you didn't see was that behind the scenes, there was open and near constant communication as we looked for ways to resolve the situation. It took more than a year, but we're back on solid footing, and arguably the relationship is stronger for it. Probably worth noting; while the Callaway situation is a bit more complicated, complications began with a change in Callaway leadership...similar story here.

 

Titleist doesn't work with us either. That's philosophical as much as anything, but again, we have open communication with them. Phone calls, emails...they get returned.

 

It's a difficult time for TaylorMade, look no further than the financial report, but the degree of skin-thinning that's taken place at the company over the last year is just sad. Worse still since there are still some really good people who work there.

 

We've been at this for 7 years now. We are who we've always been. There's more I could say, but it's probably best that I don't.

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Not that I am particularly well-informed but I have heard that the the projected market price reported by the financial company hired to float the spin off of TM from Adidas was a good deal below what Adidas had expected/targeted.  This, according to what I heard, prompted Adidas to give TM more time to right the ship and forced some of the announced TM changes (market cycles, etc). 

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Wow sounds to me as if companies really don't like it when you call them out on their info. I know these companies put out positive info to improve sales but I with they would be more honest. Not every club released is better then the previous model. Sometimes it might be a new material or design idea but the fact is there isnt much more they can do to improve the driver performance.

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I wouldn't beat yourself up about any financial rumours surrounding any company - simply because unless you're a major stock holder you probably have nothing to worry about. And even if you were, what bearing does that have for a discussion on a golf forum?

It think perhaps you are somewhat more upset about being called "misinformed" than you are about Tmag's financial status and frankly, you probably deserved it. Nobody likes being wrong or being called out, so perhaps it's much better to communicate hard facts rather than spin and rumour in the style of tabloid journalism - it certainly doesn't attract any interest on my part. 

Hopefully, we won't go down the route of second guessing the future of another golf brand (all quiet on the Hogan front btw) because speculation on that level does not make for a very stimulating golf forum - and you're better than that. Stick to writing stuff worth reading.

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I wouldn't beat yourself up about any financial rumours surrounding any company - simply because unless you're a major stock holder you probably have nothing to worry about. And even if you were, what bearing does that have for a discussion on a golf forum?

 

It think perhaps you are somewhat more upset about being called "misinformed" than you are about Tmag's financial status and frankly, you probably deserved it. Nobody likes being wrong or being called out, so perhaps it's much better to communicate hard facts rather than spin and rumour in the style of tabloid journalism - it certainly doesn't attract any interest on my part. 

 

Hopefully, we won't go down the route of second guessing the future of another golf brand (all quiet on the Hogan front btw) because speculation on that level does not make for a very stimulating golf forum - and you're better than that. Stick to writing stuff worth reading.

 

 

Regarding financial rumors and their bearing on golf...golf forum, and presumably golf forums...the financial stuff drives EVERYTHING. Why did TaylorMade rapidly release R1, SLDR, JetSpeed, SLDR S....because of the financials. Why was M1 and fall release? Because TMaG needed to try and salvage Q4.

Why are they scaling back now, shifting release cycles...cost-cutting driven by the financials. All of that stuff plays a substantial role in what comes to market, and when it comes to market. That makes it relevant for a site focused on golf equipment to discuss.

 

Why is Titleist re-organizing, shifting things around. Was it not significant when Adams was sold? All of this ultimately effects the golfer.

 

More interestingly...there is speculation in most every other industry...tech, auto, oil and gas, ...whose buying whom, who's merging...it's openly speculated about in places like the Wall Street Journal, and blogs similar to MGS in other spaces. It is relevant to what we do, and it's definitely fair game.

 

As for being called misinformed...I'm the rare breed that doesn't mind being corrected when warranted. I've never learned anything by being right. I believe we should own our mistakes...it's what I teach my daughter. So if I get something wrong, not only do I not mind hearing about it, I ask to hear about it. I literally tell all of my contacts...If you think I got something wrong, reach out to discuss. If it's a factual error, I'll make it right - every time. If it's a difference of opinion, we can talk about it. 

 

What must be understood is that 'misinformed' is more often than not, a matter of opinion. Was I misinformed when I said TaylorMade has lost its mojo (the company thinks, so...evidence - and everyone else in the industry - says otherwise). It's that sort of thing. The list goes on and on with every company we cover. Misinformed is very often code for "I don't like and don't agree with what you wrote". If misinformed actually meant 'factually inaccurate' things would be much easier.

 

I don't care for the tabloid journalism label because it implies we're reckless and we don't do our homework. Both of those are completely false. 

 

So that said:

 

What's truly amusing about that internal email is that short of the fact that TaylorMade had not been sold, basically everything in that email is either factually inaccurate or, as kindly as I can put this, open to an entirely different interpretation:

 

Full disclosure, I don't know to what if any degree an internal communication program has been established. Of course, if it were business as usual, would you need such a plan?

 

"adidas group has never been more supportive of our business" - Never? How about when the metalwood share was over 50%. I'd also suggest (and I have a story about this coming soon), that statements by adidas along with other activities that indicate adidas is absolutely considering selling off TaylorMade. Does that sound like support (above and beyond supporting a sale). Also, would statements from the adidas Group CEO regarding a potential sale not put anything we say on the subject of a sale well beyond the point of reckless speculation?

 

"remarkable progress as a company" - see the financial report

 

"we are driving the global marketplace and turning heads" - Year over year metalwood share (January '15/January '16) is stagnant, year over year iron share is down 3 percentage points, and TaylorMade isn't among the actual leaders in any other hard goods category. Also...financial report. This is driving the marketplace?

 

Remind me again who's misinformed?

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Hearing something loosely similar from a very good source. Story coming soon.

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Speculation can equate to misinformation. Maybe GolfSpy underestimates the ripples it causes but if GolfSpy is being cited, communicated to, and is the subject of internal emails then it can create ripples and actually create the results of it's own speculation.

 

I guess that is a testament to the power of blogging. The edginess off the blog is what gives GS it's uniqueness but that is a double edged sword.

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Regarding financial rumors and their bearing on golf...golf forum, and presumably golf forums...the financial stuff drives EVERYTHING. Why did TaylorMade rapidly release R1, SLDR, JetSpeed, SLDR S....because of the financials. Why was M1 and fall release? Because TMaG needed to try and salvage Q4.

Why are they scaling back now, shifting release cycles...cost-cutting driven by the financials. All of that stuff plays a substantial role in what comes to market, and when it comes to market. That makes it relevant for a site focused on golf equipment to discuss.

 

Why is Titleist re-organizing, shifting things around. Was it not significant when Adams was sold? All of this ultimately effects the golfer.

 

More interestingly...there is speculation in most every other industry...tech, auto, oil and gas, ...whose buying whom, who's merging...it's openly speculated about in places like the Wall Street Journal, and blogs similar to MGS in other spaces. It is relevant to what we do, and it's definitely fair game.

 

As for being called misinformed...I'm the rare breed that doesn't mind being corrected when warranted. I've never learned anything by being right. I believe we should own our mistakes...it's what I teach my daughter. So if I get something wrong, not only do I not mind hearing about it, I ask to hear about it. I literally tell all of my contacts...If you think I got something wrong, reach out to discuss. If it's a factual error, I'll make it right - every time. If it's a difference of opinion, we can talk about it. 

 

What must be understood is that 'misinformed' is more often than not, a matter of opinion. Was I misinformed when I said TaylorMade has lost its mojo (the company thinks, so...evidence - and everyone else in the industry - says otherwise). It's that sort of thing. The list goes on and on with every company we cover. Misinformed is very often code for "I don't like and don't agree with what you wrote". If misinformed actually meant 'factually inaccurate' things would be much easier.

 

I don't care for the tabloid journalism label because it implies we're reckless and we don't do our homework. Both of those are completely false. 

 

So that said:

 

What's truly amusing about that internal email is that short of the fact that TaylorMade had not been sold, basically everything in that email is either factually inaccurate or, as kindly as I can put this, open to an entirely different interpretation:

 

Full disclosure, I don't know to what if any degree an internal communication program has been established. Of course, if it were business as usual, would you need such a plan?

 

"adidas group has never been more supportive of our business" - Never? How about when the metalwood share was over 50%. I'd also suggest (and I have a story about this coming soon), that statements by adidas along with other activities that indicate adidas is absolutely considering selling off TaylorMade. Does that sound like support (above and beyond supporting a sale). Also, would statements from the adidas Group CEO regarding a potential sale not put anything we say on the subject of a sale well beyond the point of reckless speculation?

 

"remarkable progress as a company" - see the financial report

 

"we are driving the global marketplace and turning heads" - Year over year metalwood share (January '15/January '16) is stagnant, year over year iron share is down 3 percentage points, and TaylorMade isn't among the actual leaders in any other hard goods category. Also...financial report. This is driving the marketplace?

 

Remind me again who's misinformed?

 

 

I think you're missing the point. 

Nobody really cares about the business side of golf brands because at some time or other they have all been on top and they are all destined to fall. What difference that makes to average joe is anyone's guess, but if you think for one minute that is worthy of the kind of coverage you're giving it, then it's no wonder it's coming across to the casual observer that you're right and TM is completely wrong and will thank you in the long run for saving their business. Or maybe, you just sound like a your suffering from a massive of case of sour grapes. Get over yourself. You are indeed misinformed if you think this is a thread that has any legs. 

For the record, I have no interest financially or otherwise in any golf brand or business and have no loyalty to any OEM either. Like anyone gives a s**t anyway - see what I mean?

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I think you're missing the point.

Nobody really cares about the business side of golf brands because at some time or other they have all been on top and they are all destined to fall. What difference that makes to average joe is anyone's guess, but if you think for one minute that is worthy of the kind of coverage you're giving it, then it's no wonder it's coming across to the casual observer that you're right and TM is completely wrong and will thank you in the long run for saving their business. Or maybe, you just sound like a your suffering from a massive of case of sour grapes. Get over yourself. You are indeed misinformed if you think this is a thread that has any legs.

For the record, I have no interest financially or otherwise in any golf brand or business and have no loyalty to any OEM either. Like anyone gives a s**t anyway - see what I mean?

Maybe it's just me, but I give s***. I'm no golf expert but I do care about the way companies do business. Turns out that it's a pretty big factor when it comes down to where and when I'll spend my money.

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I think you're missing the point. 

Nobody really cares about the business side of golf brands because at some time or other they have all been on top and they are all destined to fall. What difference that makes to average joe is anyone's guess, but if you think for one minute that is worthy of the kind of coverage you're giving it, then it's no wonder it's coming across to the casual observer that you're right and TM is completely wrong and will thank you in the long run for saving their business. Or maybe, you just sound like a your suffering from a massive of case of sour grapes. Get over yourself. You are indeed misinformed if you think this is a thread that has any legs. 

For the record, I have no interest financially or otherwise in any golf brand or business and have no loyalty to any OEM either. Like anyone gives a s**t anyway - see what I mean?

 

I hear you, but I think this is a clear case where the opinion of one isn't the opinion of all. You're not interested. That's fine, but it's a huge leap from that to "nobody really cares about the business side of golf brands".  Ask retailers (and we have hundreds of readers in retail) how the business side impacts their lives.

 

Our hope is that everything we publish will be of interest to some, but the expectation is, whatever of the topic, it's not going to be of interest to all. That's true of any magazine, website, etc..

 

Take a look at the comments, interaction, etc. on the financial stories we publish. Clearly these are topics of great interest to a healthy percentage of our readers.

 

We will publish all things golf equipment from companies big and small. Some times we'll venture out to the tour, the state of the game, that sort of thing. We'll put it all out there in front of everyone. If a particular story, or subject matter falls outside your (or anyone else's) area of interest...move along. Something different is always in the pipeline.

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TaylorMade's arc as a golf company reminds me of my own arc as an academic student.

 

I peaked a little too early--in the fifth grade, as a matter of fact.

 

TaylorMade, similarly, is still trying to match the innovative brilliance of the original "Pittsburgh Persimmon" line--and from my perspective, failing badly.

 

 

 

 

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I hear you, but I think this is a clear case where the opinion of one isn't the opinion of all. You're not interested. That's fine, but it's a huge leap from that to "nobody really cares about the business side of golf brands".  Ask retailers (and we have hundreds of readers in retail) how the business side impacts their lives.

 

Our hope is that everything we publish will be of interest to some, but the expectation is, whatever of the topic, it's not going to be of interest to all. That's true of any magazine, website, etc..

 

Take a look at the comments, interaction, etc. on the financial stories we publish. Clearly these are topics of great interest to a healthy percentage of our readers.

 

We will publish all things golf equipment from companies big and small. Some times we'll venture out to the tour, the state of the game, that sort of thing. We'll put it all out there in front of everyone. If a particular story, or subject matter falls outside your (or anyone else's) area of interest...move along. Something different is always in the pipeline.

 

I see. 

I guess the next topic will be the authenticity of the moon landings or perhaps the sexuality of Tom Cruise - equally as compelling but at the same time they also share the same amount of interaction on direct level on your part - i.e. none.

Get back to us when you next sit on a TM board meeting.

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