Brandel Chamblee won't let Tiger relish his improvement, calling him, "An injured, and put back together, 40 year old man".
Not even 24 hours after Tiger posted a video him swinging a club in an indoor simulator, Brandel Chamblee was quick to jump all over him.
In a conversation with Tripp Isenhour, Chamblee said that Tiger "looked like an injured, and put back together 40 year-old-man"
Jeez. He's just had back surgery for the second time. The guy can't even share his good news without being criticized.
"The BIG FOUR are nowhere near Tiger in his prime." Phil Mickleson speaks about the rise of the four and his long time nemesis Tiger Woods.
Hogan. Snead. Nelson. The great Triumvirate.
Arnie. Jack. Gary. The Big Three.
Players of this caliber, of this magnitude, have always had something that set them apart from their peers.
Tiger and Phil. The Dynamic Duo.
But the Millennials are here, and as Tiger and Phil are fighting the changing of the guard, so to speak, we usher in a new group of thoroughbreds.
And golf at the top has never looked so good.
Jordan. Rory. Jason. Rickie. The Big Four.
The new group being dubbed the heir apparent's to the one and only Mr. Woods. However, the other member of the dynamic duo has chimed in, in defense of the Tiger and all he's accomplished.
On Tuesday during Golf.com’s first edition of GOLF Live., Phil was asked;
Let’s talk about the current state of the Tour. Tiger, of course, is not playing right now. Can golf return to the level it was when Tiger was at his peak, when the two of you were going head to head? Can that happen without Tiger on the course?
"I don’t think anybody really knows. But we have a lot of great young players in the game. And if you look at the top four right now, with Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, those four guys are quality — quality people, too.
They represent the game well. They’re wonderful guys to be around. And they have remarkable games.
But there is nobody in the game of golf that I have seen that is remotely close to the level of performance Tiger was in his prime.
Mentally, short game, or ball striking, I don’t think anybody matches him in any of those areas. And Tiger put them all together in one to create a career that is mind-boggling.
So it’s difficult for me to see the game of golf returning to the level that it was at during his heyday without somebody like that. And as great as the young players are, the level that I’ve seen out of him, especially when you go back to 2000 at the U.S. Open and his performance when he held all four major championships at once, I think we’re decades away from anybody getting back to that level."
Thoughts?? Do you think these guys will ever reach Tiger's level?
LDRIC the robot aces the 16th at Scottsdale, beats tour pros and is now available for you to purchase.
Byron Nelson had such a repeatable swing that he was dubbed "Iron Byron" for his almost robotic ability to repeat. Years later, George Manning created a robot that replicated the golf legend's iconic swing, and is still used as a teaching aid today.
Enter LDRIC, which is an acronym for (Launch Directional Robot Intelligent Circuitry) but is not coincidentally the same as first name as the former world number one, and arguably the greatest player of all time - a certain, Mr Eldrick 'Tiger' Woods.
Last Spring, LDRIC competed in a skills competition against two professional golfers, Shingo Katayama of the Japan PGA Tour and Megumi Shimokawa from the JLPGA Tour. LDRIC won the event, capturing both the long drive competition and the closest to the pin contest.
LDRIC can communicate directly with players and an audience, can mimic any player’s swing, regardless of ability, and can pump out a swing speed of 130mph.
Gene Parente, founder of Golf Laboratories, says, "Not only does LDRIC play golf, it can duplicate any swing under highly repeatable conditions. We can simulate launch conditions, swing trajectory, landing angles."
Watch LDRIC ace the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale!
(Source credit - http://www.golfdigest.com/story/the-robot-that-aced-tpc-scottsdales-16th-hole-is-now-available-to-the-public)
It seems that anytime Golf Channel analyst, Brandel Chamblee says anything controversial, we are all over it. Though this time, he didn't say anything derogatory towards Rory, more that he was merely issuing a warning to the former world number one,..a suggestion if you will.
If you missed it, here's what happened:
(Original Story from Golfchannel.com)
Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee says that he has concerns that Rory McIlroy could follow Tiger Woods’ destructive path if he continues his “extensive weightlifting.”
In a NBC Sports conference call previewing the Florida swing, Chamblee said;
McIlroy, who has developed a sculpted physique in recent years, was featured on the cover of Men’s Health last spring and has appeared in numerous Nike commercials.
Swing coach Butch Harmon, who doesn't work with McIlroy, also expressed concern about McIlroy’s physique, saying last year that he could “almost hurt yourself in the gym if you get too bulky.”
The world No. 3 is in the field this week at the Northern Trust Open, his first PGA Tour start of 2016.
So what do you think? Is Brandel Chamblee over-stepping again, or does he actually have a point?
In my opinion, he does. Tiger is an example of how fitness is important in golf and can improve your game, however he is also an example of how too much size can limit flexibility. The trick is finding a balance. I would guess that Rory, and his team is keeping this in mind.
Though, Rory was quick to reply to Chamblee's comments via Twitter. Funny enough, the video of him squatting, which he tagged Golf Channel and Brandel Chamblee in, has since been removed from Rory's twitter feed.
Hmm. (But you can still see Rory McIlroy's tweet in reply to Brandel Chamblee here)
Visit the practice tee at any PGA tour event and you’ll see these funny little orange squares positioned behind many, (if not all) of the games top players.
Rory McIlroy uses one. Dustin Johnson uses one. Tiger Woods uses one. So do hundreds, if not thousands, of other touring professionals, teaching professionals and amateur golfers all around the world.
So does that mean you should use one?
Let’s first unpack all that Trackman is, and what it can do for you, and then we can answer this question.
So what is TRACKMAN?
Consider this definition taken from the fine people at Trackman; (via www.trackman.com)
“Our technology is based on the Doppler Radar Principle. It’s basically microwaves reflecting from the movement of a golf club head and the resulting ball flight. The change in frequency of these receiving waves is what makes it possible for us to track what happens at the very moment of impact between club and ball.”
Sounds kinda 'sciency' right?
The company’s mission statement, or purpose is, “TO UNLEASH TALENT.”
If we accept that we all have inherent talent, that even though we may never shoot 59, we, as humans, have the ability to perform the motion of swinging a golf club and launching a little white ball into an endless sky, then we accept that we all have some untapped talent that Trackman may be able to unleash.
Sure, some do it better than others, but we all have the basic talent to complete this task.
Though seemingly simple in nature, (the ball isn’t moving, it’s just sitting there. I should be able to hit it!) golfers know better. The truth is, the act of sending our little white friend into the sky, on its intended target line, with only enough force so that it travels the precise distance is incredibly complex and, let’s be honest - difficult.
Some, (including myself, who has played just about every mainstream sport at one time or another) would argue that golf is one of the most difficult sports to play. In no other sport are you asked to master so many different movements, each requiring an incredible amount of finesse, strength and timing. Add in the fact that you primarily compete against yourself and the course - and that no matter how well you play, you always know you, "left one out there" - this game we love can be so maddening, and then a second later, so…euphoric.
So the million dollar question is, how can we make the incredibly difficult task of hitting a golf ball at our intended target, a little less...difficult. And more specifically, how can Trackman help us in our never ending pursuit of a repeatable golf swing?
First, let’s look at what Trackman measures.
(*Source note* -this information is taken directly from the Trackman site www.trackman.com)
What it means:
Smash Factor relates to the amount of energy transferred from the club head to the golf ball. The higher the smash factor the better the energy transfer. A golfer would hope to achieve a smash factor near 1.50 on driver shots. That means for a 100 mph club speed the ball speed would be 150 mph. The higher the loft of the club, the lower the smash factor is expected to be. A PW should have a smash factor near 1.25.
Golfer A has a club speed of 100 mph and a smash factor of 1.40. Golfer A’s ball speed is 140 mph. Golfer B has a club speed of 100 mph and a smash factor of 1.50. Golfer B’s ball speed is 150 mph.
The 10 mph difference in ball speed between Golfer A and Golfer B equates to approximately 20 yards in distance between the two golfers even though they have the same club speed.
What it means:
Spin rate has a major influence on the height and distance of a shot. Spin rate is one of the least appreciated numbers, especially in windy conditions. A high spin rate is the enemy, particularly when hitting in to the wind. One way to reduce spin is to hit a lower lofted club. Practice taking one or two clubs more (5 iron instead of 7 iron) and swing easier.
What it means:
Launch angle is highly correlated to dynamic loft. Launch angle will always be a little less than dynamic loft, but will have a similar value. Along with ball speed, launch angle is a primary component to determining the height and distance of a shot. Every golfer should be fitted to achieve the optimal balance of launch angle and spin rate based on their club speed and ball speed.
What it means:
An important thing to know about carry is that the value is given for a landing area that is the same height as where the ball is hit from. Then the golfer can adjust for uphill and downhill shots on the course. This reason is why carry is sometimes referred to as “carry flat”. Using the club speed definition, we would expect the average male amateur to hit their driver as far as the average LPGA Tour player.
However, the actual difference is more than 20 yards. Ball speed, launch angle, and spin rate must be optimized to reach a golfer’s potential distance. LPGA Tour players are some of the best in the world at optimizing these numbers and getting the most out of their club speed.
This will help you control your ball flight and distance. More loft generally increases spin rate. All things being equal, more club speed will also increase spin rate.
What it means:
Ball speed is created by club speed and impact. Bad impact such as shots hit on the toe or heel will reduce the potential ball speed. “Glancing blows” created by hooks, slices, and hitting too much down on the ball can also reduce the potential ball speed.
Although a golfer’s club speed is key to potential distance, the ball speed that is created at impact is the biggest factor in how far the ball actually carries. Gaining 1 mph of ball speed can increase your driver distance by up to 2 yards.
What it means:
Club Speed determines a golfer’s potential distance. More club speed equals more potential distance. In fact, adding 1 mph of club speed can increase your distance by up to 3 yards with the driver.
What it means:
The golfer’s attack angle, how the shaft bends, how the golfer releases the club head, whether the club face is open or closed to the club path, and where the ball makes contact on the club face can all impact the dynamic loft.
Creating the proper dynamic loft for the golfer’s club speed is important to creating the optimal trajectory and maximizing carry.Too much dynamic loft can send the ball too high into the air and reduce the golfer’s distance. Too little dynamic loft can send the ball too low making the ball roll out excessively causing it difficult to judge distance.
What it means:
Shots hit off the ground should have a negative attack angle in order to create “ball first” contact. However, golfers with slower club speeds should be careful not to hit too much down (negative attack angle) with their irons.
This will affect the golfer’s potential distance. To maximize distance with your driver, hitting up on the ball (positive attack angle) is a must. The driver’s loft should be chosen so that it complements the golfer’s attack angle.
Having a positive attack angle does not guarantee maximum distance. The fit of the club is also an essential piece of the puzzle.
What it means:
Most golfers relate this number to hitting the ball “in-to-out” or “out-to-in”.
A positive value means the club is moving to the right of the target at impact (“in-to-out” for a right-handed golfer) and a negative value means it is moving to the left of the target (“out-to-in” for a right-handed golfer).
To hit a straight shot, the club path should be zero. The club path is part of what influences the curvature of the shot. It also is part of what determines the ball’s starting direction.
An “in-to-out” club path is necessary to hit a draw and an “out-to-in” club path is necessary to hit a fade. The optimal club path depends on the type of shot the golfer wants to play. A golfer may want to hit a 5 yard fade, straight shot, or 10 yard draw. Each of these shots has its own optimal club path.
What it means:
Most golfers refer to this as having an “open” or “closed” club face. A positive value means the club face is pointed to the right of the target at impact (“open” for a right-handed golfer) and a negative value means the club face is pointed to the left of the target (“closed” for a right-handed golfer).
Face angle is the most important number when determining the starting direction of the golf ball. The ball will launch very closely to the direction the club face (face angle) is pointed at impact.
To hit a straight shot, the face angle should be zero. The optimal face angle depends on the type of shot the golfer wants play. A golfer may want to hit a 5 yard fade, straight shot, or 10 yard draw. Each of these shots has its own optimal face angle.
Boy, that's a lot of numbers. What am I supposed to do with all of these?
Seek professional help.
I can't stress it enough. Using Trackman is only one piece of the puzzle. Understanding what your tendencies are (such as an open face, or an outside to inside path) is valuable information, but its true value in affecting your game is using that information to make changes to your swing. This is where working with a teaching professional who understands the data can really help maximize your potential.
Now that we know what Trackman can measure, how can this technology help us improve our golf game?
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am a number hog. I love to see the numbers. However, I do understand that for some people, this can be overwhelming and counter-productive. Some people may get bogged down by the sheer number of…well, numbers.
But what is beneficial, in my opinion, is to understand what you are doing, and how those tendencies affect the flight of your golf ball. If you understand that an inside swing path, with a club face that is closed to that path will result in a hook, you can learn to correct this before your next shot, and presumably, prevent yourself from making the same mistake.
LEARNING THE CHARACTERISTICS OF ‘YOUR’ SWING TO MAKE AUTHENTIC CHANGES.
In the movie, “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” actor Will Smith plays a caddie who helps a once great amateur golfer, played by Matt Damon, recover his golf game. In the movie Bagger (Smith) says to Junah (Damon);
“Well, you lost your swing. We got to go find it. Now, it's somewhere in the harmony of all that is, all that was, all that will be... Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing. Somethin' we was born with. Somethin' that's ours and ours alone. Somethin' that can't be taught to ya or learned. Somethin' that got to be remembered. Over time the world can, rob us of that swing. It gets buried inside us under all our wouldas and couldas and shouldas... Some folk even forget what their swing was like.”
I love this quote and I think it rings true for most of us. My 5 years old makes a swing - with a lightsaber no less - with no thought of face angle, swing path, dynamic lofts or anything else. He just swings his authentic swing.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, using the data captured by Trackman, you (and your teacher if you so desire) can see your tendencies - the common things you do on each and every swing - and find ways to help you use those same movements that are ingrained in your DNA to improve.
Fundamentals are the basis of any good swing, and I doubt anyone would argue this point, but instead of a teacher saying, 'this is the 'right' position on the backswing, this is the right position at the top", a teacher can now use the data to find ways to help each learner feel the right feels and make authentic changes.
Mark Elliott, teaching professional at the Sunningdale Golf and Country Club in London, Ontario, uses Trackman with all of his players.
"Golf is a feel game. Trackman is the finest tool a golfer can use to recognize, practice, and master the various 'feels' that are required to play better golf. Just as a bathroom scale is to weight, or an MRI is to medical assessments, the data is used to accurately assess a swing and determine a better pathway to success."
"The golfer need not concern herself with the numbers, but use them as a conduit to changing their weak links."
Every player I have worked with has found that Trackman makes the game infinitely simpler, NOT more complicated.
I urge everyone to consider ignoring the century-old "all you need are fundamentals" rubbish. Everyone needs a set of fundamentals, but everyone's fundamentals are not identical - this is why very few improve long-term. Trackman allows the golfer or coach to establish personal fundamentals in a much shorter period of time."
A Final Thought...
Whether you are a scratch player looking for consistency, or a 25 handicap, just looking for the fairway, Trackman can help you improve. By learning your tendencies and understanding how those tendencies relate to the ball flight you experience, you can begin to make changes that will help improve your game.
Visit trackman.com for more information and to find a professional in your area. To contact Mark Elliott, send an email to MElliott@sunningdalegolf.com.
Stay tuned for my follow up post: "How Trackman has helped straighten out my driver."
Here's to chasing down the elusive 59,
If you are anything like me, by the time January rolls around, you’re itching to play. With memories of towering drives and putts made to save par long erased from our concious, and with the prospect of three more months of snow keeping our beloved greens tucked in their winter hibernation, its enough to send us golf freak's to the cuckoo’s nest.
But we survive. We watch the Hyundai tournament of champions in glorious Hawaii, a place so beatiful, I’m not sure it really exisits. We hold our breath in anticipation of the Florida swing, the first real indication that the season is just around the corner.
And then there’s all the release of all the new merchandise for the next season. A quick look at the floorplan of the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando, and you quickly realize that there is no shortage of gizmos, and gadgets, clubs and equipment to further whet our appetite’s and make an already impossible wait seem even longer.
In September 2015, Taylormade released the newest foray into their long line of tour proven drivers, the M1. Retailing for $599 (In Canada), the M1 is built of multi-material construction and features an “ultra-thin, ultra-light and high-strength carbon composite crown,” that is supposed to “unlock breakthroughs in distance, playability, and feel for all golfers.” (taylormade.com)
But then, not even four months later, they launched another driver the M2.
Wait? Another driver? The coals haven’t even cooled from the M1, and already Taylormade has brought out a second. Why?Is the M2 better than the M1? Customers are once again asking Tylormade,
"Did I just spend $600 only to find out that four months later my driver is obsolete?"
No. No, you didn’t. Just breathe.
David Abeles, Ceo of Taylormade, spoke to Gary Willimans from Golf Channel’s Morning Drive and cleared up the confusion surrounding the dual drivers.
“What we also recognized in M1 is that we had a need beyond M1 to get a product out that would be slightly higher launching with a bit more spin for individuals with slightly lower ball speeds. And that’s exactly what M2 is for us. So that started with the driver.
He then went on to say;
"The M2 fairway wood, for those of your audience, your listeners and viewers that bought rocketballz, which redefined golf in 2012 from TaylorMade. We’re seeing conversion. Get out of Rocketballz, get right into M2. The M2 fairway really is the talk of fairway technology now with the show. It launches higher, it goes further.”
And let's face it, Taylormade couldn’t have dreamed of a better launch party for the M1.
“When we launched M1 it became the number one driver on the world wide tours the first week out. Jason, right in the middle of the FedEx cup switches the driver as did the rest of our players, as did the balance of the tour because the product simply worked better. It was much better …And it’s a personalized product so there’s adjustable technology. You can adjust the loft. You can adjust the spin rate, you can adjust the centre of gravity so you can get right to left bias.”
So are you in the market for a new Driver for 2016?
Here’s what Taylormade wants you to know about the M1 and M2 Drivers.
The premise of the M1 is to match each players unique swing and allow better players to create the shot they want, while giving everyone the shot they need.
Composed of Taylormade’s proprietary 7-layer Carbon Composite Crown that is precision-formed and built ultra-thin, ultra-lite and high strength to maximize weight savings. They were then able to build a weight-loaded sole and move overall clubhead weight (and, thus, the center-of-gravity) lower for a more efficient power transfer; giving golfers more ball speed.
The Carbon Composite Crown also gives golfers 25 grams of multi-directional adjustability, allowing them to personalize launch conditions – fit to their swing - and optimize ball-flight, trajectory and, ultimately, distance.
With the M1, Taylormade has expanded the settings to give golfers more options to personalize performance to fit their game. The new T-Track System consists of both a Front and back track with 25 grams of adjustable weight:
Front Track: One - 15 gram weights to provide multiple draw, neutral and fade settings
Back Track: One – 10 gram weight adjusts for multiple high, medium and low launch and spin settings
Personal Fit System
Three-step head adjustment system of loft sleeve, Front Track & Back Track - plus three featured stock shaft offerings - M1 gives golfers a tour-level fitting without the truck.
Loft Sleeve – A 4° (+/- 2°), 12-position, sleeve for the golfers preference of face angle, loft and lie. Available Lofts: 8.5º, 9.5º, 10.5 º, 12º
The M1 Driver comes in 2 head models - 460cc and 430cc, (though as of right now the 430 doesn't come in left) and 3 after-market stock shafts:
High Launch (Fujikura Pro 60)
Mid Launch (Mitsubishi KuraKage TiNi Silver 60)
Low Launch (Aldila Rogue Silver 70)
Looking for an M2 instead? Here’s the 411.
It’s hard to not jump on board when the slogan is, I AM DISTANCE AND FORGIVENESS.
Jeez. Sign me up for some of that.
The premise behind the M2 was to create a product that would provide exceptional distance and forgiveness at the same time. Typically, a product would deliver one benefit at the expense of the other, but Taylormade claims the M2 gives golfers the best of both worlds.
Built with the same multi-material construction as the M1 – the M2 features an ultra-light, ultra-thin and high-strength Carbon Composite Crown which Taylormade says is the key to combining distance and forgiveness for more golfers.
In order to make the M2 driver both long and forgiving, Taylormade focused on three key features that combine to produce maximum forgiveness and speed across the face; A high MOI, (moment of inertia) Inverted Cone Technology and a redesigned Speed Pocket.
The claim is that with the M2 driver, golfers don’t have to choose between Low CG (forgiveness) and Aerodynamics (speed) as they have in the past. The carbon crown lowers the CG without compromising aerodynamics.
Hot Trajectory – A low CG projection with a new Speed Pocket and exceptional aerodynamics generate a hot, high launch/low spin trajectory.
Adjustable Loft Sleeve
12 positions, 4° (+/- 2° degrees of loft) to dial in maximum performance by adjusting loft, lie and face angle.
Multiple Shaft Options
The stock Fujikura Pro 60 is one of several no-charge aftermarket shafts available. This insures ideal performance for all player types.
Whether or not you are a Taylormade fan, (which for the record, I generally am not), you have to admit, the new M family is pretty slick. A simple google search of reviews on either driver will show you loads of data to support the companies claim of more distance.
Jason Day certainly proved that at the PGA Championships.
It's February, and a balmy 14 degrees here in London, Ontario. I reckon even a lucky few are outdoors swinging the M1 as we speak.
It’s almost here fellow golfers, not long now.
To better golf,
A Day in the Life...
The single file line takes forever to get moving. When it’s finally our turn to climb aboard, One and Three join me in the small rectangular container. Blank white walls meet at crisp edges, and the corners fold neatly into each other. Nary a speck of dirt or cobweb to be found, it’s homey enough, yet lacking in even the slightest hint of personality. Functionality over beauty I suppose. The solitary window that stretches along one wall provides a distorted view of the landscape around us. Secured into our seats, the lid is lowered, and we're ready for transit. Four rectangle boxes, three travellers per, huddle together as the cover is fixed into place.
Perhaps it’s the steady rocking motion of the box, or maybe that we’re travelling in darkness, but I find it difficult to stay awake, and drift off to sleep.
When we stop moving, my eyes flutter open. The two guys on either side of me stare out the window, seemingly comatose.
“Do you guys know where we are?” I ask, but neither one even acknowledges me.
Humph. How Rude.
Luckily, the fleecy white clouds and fresh blue sky lighten our car, and my mood. I roll on one side, stretching my weary body. I’ve been in better shape, but the roundness I’m sporting suits me just fine. In my profession, less emphasis is placed on physical appearance, more on performance.
Although the more I travel, the greater the physical price my body pays. Retirement beckons me like the sun calls for the grass to deny its roots. Maybe this will be my last job. I think I’ve earned it.
With the sun this high in the sky, I’m lulled into a false sense of optimism. Foolishly, I think it might be a great day to explore the wilderness, to find a green and frolic upon it. The ominous shadow that blankets our window says otherwise. Blocking the blissful sun, my gut tells me something's wrong. The giant stomps, growls and snorts as it stalks our car, waiting for the right moment to pounce. The blank stares from my travel companions puzzle me.
“Uh guys? Do you not see this?” I whisper. My body tenses and I pray that it skips us altogether and moves on to another prey.
But it’s not to be.
Silence broken, the giant lifts our box in its monstrous hands and tips us on end. I tumble towards the guy with the huge ‘three’ on his shirt, and number ‘one’ crashes into me. The box rocks violently, and we bounce off of each other. Just as I steady myself, the entire back end of our transport blows open and we’re suspended in mid-air, staring at the ground below us.
Getting my first look at the giant beast’s expression, it’s one I’ve seen all too often. The spawn of anger and frustration, a creature in this state is unpredictable and desperate for redemption. This is never a good thing for someone in my vocation.
Number ‘One’, says nothing, but looks at me blankly. His dimpled cheeks and laissez-faire expression befuddle me. You know the saying, the lights are on but there’s no one… never mind. This guy’s lights are off. Maybe never even been turned on. Which is probably a good thing since he’s ripped from the container, dropping into the giant’s hand. I roll on one side, hoping to avoid the same fate.
“Three, help me!” I shout, but he ignores me completely.
My heart races as I frantically search for an exit. Three's mental state mirrors One's. Gonzo. How did I end up with the two stiffs?
“He’s going to come back you know, wake up, man!” I scream, but he’s unresponsive.
I hope it takes him next.
The box sealed shut, we’re shoved upside down into a dark cave. I’m lying on my back with three pressed against me. I swear, if I can somehow survive this, I’m getting out of this job. No more. My heart can’t take it.
I lay still. It’s all I can do to breathe. I try to shove Three off of me, but it’s no use. He’s too heavy and of course, I have no arms.
From outside the cave, the giant bellows and a stream of golden light slices through the darkness. In the seconds it takes my eyes to adjust to the light, I wish I’d kept them closed. The creature is back to take another victim.
“Take this guy!” I shout.
With a blatant disregard for our welfare, the creature grabs the box and shakes it once more. The compartment flies open and I’m met with its angry, beady eyes. The putrid smell of hot dog, barley and hops saturate the air.
Greasy fingers flip us upside down. Unable to stop myself, I fall; landing in its outstretched palm. Pinching me between its index finger and thumb, the monster places me on a wooden stake.
While the sun beats down, three more giants join the fray, witnesses to the impending sacrifice. They prod the beast into attacking, crying out for it to ‘murder’ me. How can they be so callous? What have I done to deserve this?
Surrounded, any thoughts of escape are extinguished. All of the sudden, everyone backs up, like they’re being called off by a bigger dog. Frantically, I search the greens and forests for the terror about to be unleashed upon my dimpled exterior. And then, I see it.
Long and narrow, with an oversized head, the metal monster creeps towards me. A slight breeze wobbles my perch, and I plead for it to knock me from the wooden stake that forbids my escape. The metal dog bares its teeth and growls, licking its chops. Its master holds it on a stiff leash, keeping it from devouring me whole. When it lunges at me excitedly, the master pulls it back in restraint. This continues two or three more times.
The mind numbing fear just about does me in. Blood drains from my face and my heart nearly stops. The wait is killing me. Just end it already!
When the creature obliges me and unleashes the beast I want to take it back.
The force at which the dog pulverizes me scrambles my brain and every other organ in my body. Flying through the air, my life flashes before me. So this is how it ends; a yard sale of my innards and outers strewn across God’s green earth. Time slows as I plummet towards the ground.
The tree tops close in and as I fall, I pray for a soft landing. The first branch is painful, and every other seems less so. Perhaps the damage I’m suffering on the way down dulls my pain receptors. Each tree, branch and leaf I hit slows my descent, and I come to rest in a pile of hearty vegetation. Looking up through the foliage, the sun is barely visible. My face is covered in thick black mud. The numbness I feel could mean my back is broken. Maybe I’m paralyzed. I try to move, but it’s useless.
The gentle sounds of the forest soothe me. The bird’s gossip, telling stories and singing songs. Insects and animals interact jovially. Maybe this won’t be so bad. I could think of worse ways to end my days. I heard number four was last seen at the bottom of a lake.
My resignation is cut short by heavy footsteps trudging through the forest. The giants aren’t finished yet. I will myself to move, but my body denies me. If only I could roll over, the log right next to me would provide cover. They’re closing in. Four giant beasts, scouring the forest floor.
And suddenly, I'm given hope. They’ve stopped too early. They’re looking in the wrong spot. Oh happy day! Could it be? The euphoric feeling is enough to make me shout out loud, but I refrain for I’m not out of the woods yet.
The giant bellows in anger and frustration as the other three leave him alone in the forest to contemplate everything that is wrong with his game. His allotted two minutes expired, the creature storms towards the fairway. He turns one last time, hoping, and praying that I might jump up and announce my position, but I deny him that joy.
Such is the life of a Titleist 2 golf ball.
Did you enjoy this story? Please share! Find more of my writing at www.crbillingsley.com
By: Chris Billingsley
"58 degrees of loft, 10 degrees of bounce with an ‘M’ sole grind."
No, I’m not inputting data for NASA’s next launch of the space shuttle. Athough sometimes it may seem that sending a man into space is easier than choosing the right set of wedges to round out your bag.
Wedges come in so many varieties that it's easy to get bogged down. Considering that there are at least twenty major golf club brands, each with an assortment of lofts, bounces and sole grinds, it's no wonder we have trouble finding the right mix.
So where does that leave the average consumer?
Confused. Frustrated. And with the wrong clubs in their bag.
So what’s say we try and simplify this, shall we?
CHOOSE YOUR BRAND / AESTHETICS
Golfers are some of the most loyal people around. When we find a brand we love, we are very resistant to trying anything else. However our brand bias can cause us to miss out on some really great innovations. There is no shortage of excellent wedges on the market these days.
Your number one task is to find the ones that sit they way you like, feel the way you like and give you a sense of confidence when they're in your hands. After all, these are your scoring clubs, and how you handle these clubs will have a significant impact on your score at the end of the day.
So make sure you love how they look. Here are some the hot lister's of 2016..
Once you've chosen your brand, start with the basics.
Identify your yardage gaps.
In order to know the correct loft for your wedges, you first need to know the degree increments between your current set of irons. For example, by googling ‘Mizuno MP-15 specs’ and clicking on ‘images’, I was able to easily find the data for my irons.
As you can see, from my 6 iron down to the pitching wedge, the lofts are evenly spaced at 4 degrees. So, in theory, my wedges should follow the pattern and continue to be spaced four degrees apart.
Pitching Wedge – 46 degrees, 6 degrees of bounce
Gap Wedge – 50 degrees, 8 degrees of bounce
Sand Wedge - 54 Wedge, 13 degrees of bounce
Lob Wedge - 58 degree, 10 degrees of bounce
It is also important to know how far you hit each club. This will ensure your gaps translate to actual yards on the course. Of course, this can be tricky to do before you buy them.
Titleist wedge designer, Bob Vokey recommends seeing a club fitter. (Most golf retailers now have ‘wedge fitting software.)
“Think of most amateur golfers. They only hit 6 - 8 greens in a round, if they are having a good day. So on the majority of holes, you are going to be using a wedge. And wedges are required to hit so many different shots - bunker shots, fairway shots, lob shots, little pitches. Wedges need to be versatile and every player is different. It’s never one size fits all for wedges. That’s why we have so many options. You should definitely be fit by an authorized Titleist fitter. It’s the only way to truly know which wedge works for you.”
While we could just end this discussion on this advice, and say “Go get fit,” the truth is, most people don’t have the time, money (some places do charge to get ‘fit’) or desire to go through a fitting, and just want to buy off the rack.
So for all of you, we will carry on!
It is important to remember; wedges can be bent up or down – usually within two degrees of standard. If you get to the course and find that for some reason your gaps are not even, you can always have the lofts adjusted to evenly space out your yardages.
Okay, so now I've got the right lofts, but what about bounce? What is bounce anyway?
‘Bounce’ is how much lower the trailing (back) edge of the sole is in relation to the leading (front) edge. A wedge is designed this way to reduce the drag from the sand when hitting behind a ball in a bunker.
Try hitting bunker shots with a pitching wedge or 9 iron. The leading edge will dig into the sand and get stuck. Now try the same shot with a sand wedge. You should see the difference right away. The wide sole of the club and lower trailing (back) edge slides through the sand easily.
So how much bounce do I need….and I have three wedges? Should I have the same bounce for all?
The answer to this question depends a lot on how you swing the club. Do you take divots regularly with your irons? If so, you are most likely a ‘DIGGER’. If you tend to take little or no divots, you'd be classified as a ‘SLIDER.’
Not sure which you are?
You are most likely a digger if you tend to hit the ball fat and feel like you stick the club in the ground a lot. Chances are you need a higher bounce and a wider sole. A wedge with a higher bounce will also benefit you if you tend to play a wet course with a soft, spongy base. Higher bounce and wider sole widths will also allow you to get out of bunkers that have a fine fluffy texture to them.”
Diggers would benefit from using a wedge with a wider bottom and more bounce.
You are most likely a slider if you tend to hit skull shots with your wedge off the fairway. Chances are you need less bounce. More than likely, the trailing edge of the wedge is making contact with the ground and causing the leading edge to strike the ball at or above its equator. If you play a course with hardpan or a course that is dry with a firm base, less bounce and a narrow sole will benefit you. Less bounce and a narrow sole will also help you play from bunkers with coarse sand and a shallow base.
Sliders would benefit from a wedge with less bounce and a narrower sole.
*Credit to Jason Coffin PGA Professional – The Oaks Course in Covington GA
One last point to consider before we ‘bounce’ to the next topic. With three wedges in your bag, should they all have the same bounce?
Consider this advice from short game guru, Dave Pelz,
“Even if you own a perfect wedge swing, it’s the bounce that ultimately determines how each club will react with the turf, sand, water—or whatever else your ball may be sitting in—through impact. The bounce on your wedges is just as important as the attack angle of your swing. The two combine to help you maintain speed through the ball or—gulp—dig into the ground and slow down.
For example, let’s say the ball is lying on hard, wet sand. If you try to hit this shot with a high-bounce sand wedge, you’re going to have a difficult time getting the ball out of the bunker. But if you know that your lob wedge has less bounce and that less bounce performs better from this type of lie, you’re in a much better position to save par. The opposite applies when you have to play a shot from soft sand. In this situation, more bounce will help the club glide instead of dig.”
The moral of the story is that having different lofts and bounces in your set of wedges will give you more versatility around the green. This will make it easier to hit a variety of shots with essentially the same swing.
Okay, but wait. What about Sole grind? What is it, and do I need some?
Think about your short game and the shots you struggle with. Do you have only one shot... a low runner? Can you hit a high chip that settles quickly? If not, maybe a sole grind is for you.
For an explaination, let’s go back to the expert, Mr. Vokey.
“The grind is the relief and contour that is ground into the sole of the wedge. A grind can provide shotmaking opportunities around the greens. For example, our M grind soles allow you to open the face of the wedge without the leading edge coming off the ground. We have all kinds of sole grinds, which we designate with a letter.”
“The S grind which came from my work with Steve Stricker, has been extremely popular on the 60.07 and 58.09 models. It just fits a lot of players. My favorite is probably the M grind, because that was the one that started it all.”
A five step process to getting the right clubs in your hands.
1. Know the course you play most often – What are the conditions? A hard and fast course will probably require you to use wedges with a narrower base and less bounce. A soft spongy course would necessitate using wedges with a wider sole and more bounce.
2. Digger? – more bounce, wider bottom.
Slider? – less bounce, narrower sole.
3. Sole Grinds? Do you struggle with hitting the high chip? Maybe a wider sole grind can help.
4. Know your gaps and follow the pattern. If your irons increase by 4 degrees, so should your wedges.
5. Test them out - Make sure your yardage gaps are even. Have them bent if necessary.
A CASE STUDY
A friend of mine desperately needs new wedges, but is unsure of what he should buy. Let’s put our newfound knowledge to the test and see if we can recommend wedges for him.
He is a very good player, carrying a handicap of approx. 3. His home course is soft and well-manicured, but the bunkers are not quite as lush. He is a DIGGER, and struggles with his chipping. His most common mistake is the ‘chili dip’ or fat chip. This mistake sometimes leads to skulls because he isn't confident with turf contact. However, he is able to hit flop shots very well and reverts to these when he is nervous, or lacking confidence in the shot.
Currently he plays PING i25 irons.
So, what do we do first?
Find the specs and look at the degree increments.
Interestingly, the PING i25 irons don't have equal degree spacing, and increase from 3 degrees (6 to 7), to 4 degrees (8-9 ) and then the 9 iron is 41 and the PW 46 (5 degree diff.)
So the player has some options here. He could do as PING suggests and go 50.13 (the .13 being the degree of bounce), 54.14 (the sand wedge should have the most bounce of your wedges) and 58.13.
And by all accounts, they’d be a good fit for him. Rarely is there hard pan or dry patches on his home course, so adding more bounce to his wedges will serve him well around the greens.
Although, I might recommend a few adjustments based on what we’ve learned and what I know about his game. He likes a flop shot, so a sole grind on his 58 degree wedge could help him easily hit his go-to shot. And since he's looking to buy Titleist Vokey’s, I’d suggest;
GAP – 50 degree, 12 degrees of bounce - F grind.
SAND – 54 degree, 14 degrees of bounce – F grind.
LOB – 58 degree with 11 degrees of bounce – K grind.
Do you agree?
I hope this helps you choose the right wedges for your game and shoot lower scores. If you enjoyed the article please share and like us on facebook and follow us on twitter @thirteenunder
To better golf,
P.S How’d you do buying your new wedges? Let us know! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!
“Wait. You mean I can get an M1 driver on ebay for $200?”
Well, let’s not get crazy.
But ebay can save you some of your hard earned dollars if you are willing to be patient. Of course, nothing is perfect and there are plenty of counterfeit clubs out there. However, with the many of the safe guards ebay has in place, you can feel confident in buying online, and in fact, you can even score some really good deals.
Having fallen in love with Mizuno irons from the get go, (My first set was the T-Zoid pro, though I really wanted the MP-33’s, but my game wasn’t ready for blades.) I’m always interested in their latest and greatest.
So when it was time to upgrade, and I had saved enough pennies, I decided to get myself fit for a combo set of MP 58-68’s.
And I did.
AND THEY WERE SPECTACULAR.
I used them so much that over time, the faces wore and I needed to replace the PW through to 7 iron. Not wanting to lay out full price, I hopped on ebay and began to search.
It didn’t take long before I found an almost new looking full set of MP-68’s (3-PW). What was even better, was that they were located in Canada, so I would save on the import duties. (Aside from the fact that clubs listed in Canada usually get less hits than the US counterparts.) I won the auction at $225.00 plus 45.00 for shipping and scored myself an almost brand new set of Mp68’s with Dynamic gold S300 shafts.
COST: $295.00 SAVINGS OVER NEW: $946.87 (based on MSRP of $1099)
A QUICK NOTE ON SPOTTING FAKES.
Once the item is received, I visually inspect them for authenticity. Obviously, I am not expert but some of the tell-tale signs of a fake are; upside down logo’s (yes, this happened), larger or smaller logo’s, flaws in the paint. While these don’t necessarily mean they are forgeries, they should at the very least warrant further investigation. I always like to place a call to the manufacture to confirm the serial numbers as well. Mizuno is always happy to run serial numbers, though keep in mind, this also does not guarantee a clubs authenticity.
Above: These are the MP-68's I bought...almost two years later
The clubs have served me well, but this year I wanted to upgrade to the new MP-15’s to try and eek out another one or two more greens in regulation. (See my review of the MP-15’s here.)
I had been eyeing them at the local Golf store. Retailing for $1099CDN plus taxes, this was just not in the budget for this year.
**As a side note, It needs to be said that Mizuno is currently offering free upgraded shafts and grips on all of their irons – A significant savings over, say, the Titelist AP2’s which retail for $1599CDN. Then, if you wanted to move to a project X or any other shaft and grip you’re going to pay for the upgrade. As a huge fan of Mizuno, I’m not sure the AP2’s are worth almost $1000 more than the MP-15, but I’ll leave that to you to decide.
So off to eBay I went. And in a few short days, I had placed my max bid at 325.00 USD for a set of MP-15 irons with Project X 6.0 shafts. They were rated 9/10, and judging by the pictures, looked amazing.
In the last minute, I was outbid. With only 3o seconds left, I quickly increased my bid to 330USD, and wouldn’t you know it – I won. So even with the terrible exchange rate, shipping and duty, I saved almost 50% off the price of new.
COST: $630.00. SAVINGS: $611.87
These are the exact irons I bought.
When they arrived, I was blown away. They are indistinguishable from new. A quick call to Mizuno confirmed the serial numbers and I couldn’t have been happier with my purchase.
SO WHAT IF I BELIEVE THEY ARE FAKE?
As unfortunate as it is, it does happen.
A few years back, I bought a Taylormade R9 driver off an ebay seller. He had a decent reputation (Hint: always make sure you read the reviews and feedback of the seller before you bid or buy it now.)
When the driver arrived, I knew right away something wasn’t right. The club felt good, and even looked good. Call it a spidey-sense or an inherent golf sense, but something was just…off.
I compared it to pictures of the actual R9 from the Taylormade site, and there were subtle differences. For example, the R9 logo on the club head was much bigger than the original. The graphics were slightly off (the white lines were wider than they were on the orginal.) and the shaft seemed to be put in carelessly (the hosel seemed to be goopy, for lack of a better word.)
I immediately ran up to the golf store and had one of the managers compare it to the ones on the rack. In his opinion, it was a forgery – a very good one, but a forgery nonetheless.
SO WHAT RECOURSE DID I HAVE?
The first step is to always contact the seller to see if a mutual agreement can be reached. I emailed the seller, explained that I was not happy with the club, that I believed it was a fake, and that I would like a full refund including the shipping and return costs.
Three emails went unanswered.
At this point I contacted ebay, and launched a formal complaint. A customer service rep replied quickly, saying they would be in touch with the seller and would get back to me.
About a week later, the customer service rep emailed me saying that the seller refused to honor the return. So she asked me to provide a letter from an “expert” (which meant someone in the industry) stating the he/she believed the item was a forgery, and to list the reasons.
I complied it, and in the weeks following I had a credit in my Paypal account for the full amount paid, including shipping.
SO, THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED? ALWAYS USE PAYPAL WHEN YOU BUY FROM EBAY.
Because I paid using paypal, ebay was able to actually go into his paypal account and withdraw the funds. That’s right. Accrding to this CS rep, they can withdraw funds from your paypal account if your are found to be in direct violation of their terms of service.
So, what happened to the club?
According to eBay policies, it had to be destroyed. I had to send pictures of the club in pieces and dispose of it.
SO, WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
In my opinion, there is money to be saved by buying from eBay. But you have to be smart about it. Here are my takeaways for scoring yourself a deal on eBay, while keeping yourself protected.
IF THERE’S A PROBLEM:
Hope you found this information useful.
What are your experiences with ebay?
Comments are always welcome, and be sure to like and share. It’s what keeps me writing!
Until next time,