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Opinion & Analysis

Singer: The coolest names in golf

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Frys.com Open - Final Round

This is important.

Well, maybe not really. I suppose you could argue there are more important things going on in the world of golf. WGC events, major championships, Tiger’s health, the FedEx Cup, a guy in Alberta getting socked in the face… and that’s all in the past month! But GolfWRX has other writers to cover those things. This is my story, so I’m going to talk about what has come to interest me in the last week: the coolest names in golf.

Why is a cool name important? Well, it’s easier to cheer for a guy with a cool name. Who is your favorite sprinter? Usain Bolt? Justin Gatlin? Both of them have cool names. Would you want Usain Smith to win the 100-meter dash? I suppose maybe if you were from his country, or Usain himself. But it’s a lot cooler to cheer for a fast guy with the last name “Bolt.”

Other sports are full of cool-named players to cheer for. If you knew nothing about football and were told the New Orleans Saints had two quarterbacks, one named Drew Brees and another named Luke McCown, who would you think was the better QB? That’s right, you’d say Drew Brees. Same question, Andrew Luck or Matt Hasselbeck? C’mon, not even close. And did you have any doubt that a guy named Colin Kaepernick would eventually take over for a guy named Alex Smith?

Fans gravitate toward cool names because they are fun for us to say, and fun for announcers to say (I swear pronouncing Camilo Villegas in a debonair manner became somewhat of a contest between golf analysts when he was winning tournaments). And frankly if you’ve made it this far in the article without clicking the “back” button to check out WITB threads, you probably don’t need more convincing.

That’s why I’ve created a list of the five golfers with the coolest names, which will be ranked based on the following three categories:

  1. How cool their names sound.
  2. Nickname potential.
  3. Nantz-a-bility (how many puns Jim Nantz would have at his disposal if the player won the Masters).

Disclaimer: Tiger Woods will not be on the list. Yes, he has a cool nickname… ferocious even. And yes, his last name is also the same as a type of club used by all golfers. But Tiger has been written about enough. I want to talk about some other guys. Fair enough?

OK, let’s do this thing. In descending order:

No. 5: Justin Rose

Justin Rose coolest names

From Pete Rose to Derrick Rose, the last name “Rose” has captured the public’s attention in professional sports.

Maybe part of the reason is that “Rose” is so easy to say. It just kind of rolls off the tongue. In fact, Justin Rose might have the easiest name to say in all of golf. You can get out in a couple of seconds, even with a mouth full of peanut butter.

While it’s low on nickname potential, there’s plenty for Jim Nantz to work with: obvious parallels to roses blooming (“This Rose bloomed in April”), which lends itself to enough puns to cover about 10 Masters victories in itself. But there’s also the double entendre about rising to the occasion.

No. 4 Jonas Blixt

Jonas Blixt coolest names

If you type “Blixt” into google, Jonas Blixt is 9 of the first 10 results that pop up. Not only is it a cool-sounding name, but it’s also unique. I mean, I’ve read it over a few times in my head and it sounds cooler each time. I wish my last name was Blixt!

Blixt sounds like something you did last night.

“Me and the friends went out and man we got Blixt!”

Plus, the Nantz-a-bility is pretty high. There’s lot to work, like “He Blixt the competition!” I want to see him win the Masters now just because I’m convinced that’s what Nantz would say.

His nickname potential is moderate as well, because of the obvious Jonas Brothers parallel. If he were my friend, would I jokingly refer to him as “Love Bug?” Maybe.

No. 3: Hunter Mahan

hunter mahan coolest names

When you heard the name Mahan, you probably were pretty sure it was spelled M-a-y-h-a-n. That is key, because having an exaggerated pronunciation in some form is always fun. It seems that broadcasters guys go out of their way now to dwell on the “May” portion of his name… Hunter MayyyyyHan (note: there’s actually no “Y” in the proper spelling).

Mahan is a different sounding name, and combined with the first name Hunter it’s a classic. Examples: Pin Hunter, Flag Hunter, “He hunted down the competition,” etc.

Hunter is a great sporting name, and Mahan lends itself to high levels of Nantz-a-bility. You could work with “Mahan MAY-BE” in some way. While his last name doesn’t have much nickname potential, his first name is essentially a nickname in itself. Big points for that.

No. 2: Sang-Moon Bae

Sang Moon Bae sounds like a place you’d go on your honeymoon, or where vampires might flock in a Twilight movie (Sang means blood in french by the way).

There’s Nantz-a-bility with every one of the three parts of his name. “Sang, a song of victory,” or something about a full moon that I’m sure could be worked in.

“Keeping competitors at Bae” is fun, too: It’s almost unfair. There’s more possible puns in his name than in an entire Robert Frost poem.

No. 1: Jhonattan Vegas

jhonattan-vegas-nwide-2010_t640

Jhonny Vegas just had to be No. 1.

When a golfer comes out of nowhere to win a PGA Tour event during a down part of the season and his name is “Johnny Vegas,” I start to get suspicious that there are larger marketing plans at work. Maybe there was a meeting at PGA Tour headquarters where someone said:

“Look, early season and late season tournaments are killing us. Do you know what would be fantastic? If we had some guy with a catchy name win a few events, and we could play off that a bit. Like if his name was ‘Joe Cool’ or something. People would go for that, right?”

And then someone else in the room said:

“Remember in the Bond movie, ‘Die Another Day,’ where the guy got DNA transplant surgery and became someone else? What if we took, like, Henrik Stenson or something and made him a guy named Johnny Vegas and he won a few silly season tournaments?”

Couldn’t this have happened? Have you seen Henrik Stenson and Jhonattan Vegas in the same room? Didn’t Stenson have a couple of poor seasons the past few years? And since he’s re-emerged, where is Vegas? Think about it for a second.”

I mean, a guy named Johnny Vegas comes out of nowhere, hits huge bombs off the tee and briefly leads the FedEx Cup (2011) at a point in the season where the Tour struggles for viewers? Too good to be true. His name is so cool that it made me write all of the above gibberish, and the fact that it seemed plausible enough to you is proof of how good of a name Mr. Vegas has.

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

17 Comments

17 Comments

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  2. Mark

    Sep 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Not that they anyone would ever have heard of them but my favorite golf name belongs to two brothers who used to be members at my club.

    George and John…..
    MULLIGAN

    No joke. Best golf names ever.

  3. mick

    Sep 11, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Pornanong Phatlum?

  4. Ken

    Sep 11, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Then there’s the obvious … Paula Creamer! I’ll leave it there.

  5. Tom

    Sep 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Kiradech Aphibarnrat. My new fave.

  6. Phil

    Sep 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Johnny Vegas is also that much funnier if you are British, as most people know Johnny Vegas to be squeaky voiced, overweight northern comedian!

  7. Sebastien

    Sep 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Dude, don’t even listen, that list was brilliant. You left out the obvious, and it was well written. Good laugh man

  8. Kris

    Sep 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Sorry, but Dickie Pride is the best name in golf. Might be the best name anywhere.

  9. CS

    Sep 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    How did Thorbjørn Olesen not make it? You have to include the thunder bear in any list of cool golf names.

    • Jeff Singer

      Sep 9, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      I don’t have a keyboard that can put the line through the O. That is key. None of my local electronic stores sell Danish keyboards. Though there are stores that sell Danishes. After eating several danishes, i decided to omit Olesen

  10. B MAC

    Sep 9, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Let’s gets serious I’m not a big fan of this guy but TIGER WOODS!

  11. Jack

    Sep 9, 2013 at 12:57 am

    I thought Seung Yul Nol was the funniest.

  12. Jason

    Sep 9, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Ummm. How about Maximillion Keifer on the Euro tour?

    • Jeff Singer

      Sep 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      Hardest omission was Jeev Milkha Singh, there’s lots to work with there. Though that is also a solid name.

  13. Steff

    Sep 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Blixt means lighning bolt in Swedish! So his name is even cooler in Swedish!

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Opinion & Analysis

The differences between good and bad club fitters—and they’re not what you think

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Club fitting is still a highly debated topic, with many golfers continuing to believe they’re just not good enough to be fit. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s a topic for another day.

Once you have decided to invest in your game and equipment, however, the next step is figuring out where to get fit, and working with a fitter.  You see, unlike professionals in other industries, club fitting “certification” is still a little like the wild west. While there are certification courses and lesson modules from OEMs on how to fit their specific equipment, from company to company, there is still some slight variance in philosophy.

Then there are agnostic fitting facilities that work with a curated equipment matrix from a number of manufacturers. Some have multiple locations all over the country and others might only have a few smaller centralized locations in a particular city. In some cases, you might even be able to find single-person operations.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? This is the million-dollar question for golfers looking to get fit. Unless you have experience going through a fitting before or have a base knowledge about fitting, it can feel like an intimidating process. This guide is built to help you ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things to make sure you are getting the most out of your fitting.

The signs of a great fitter

  • Launch monitor experience: Having some type of launch monitor certification isn’t a requirement but being able to properly understand the interpret parameters is! A good fitter should be able to explain the parameters they are using to help get the right clubs and understand how to tweak specs to help you get optimized. The exact labeling may vary depending on the type of launch monitor but they all mostly provide the same information….Here is an example of what a fitter should be looking for in an iron fitting: “The most important parameter in an iron fitting” 
  • Communication skills: Being able to explain why and how changes are being made is a telltale sign your fitter is knowledgeable—it should feel like you are learning something along the way. Remember, communication is a two-way street so also being a good listener is another sign your working with a good fitter.
  • Transparency: This involves things like talking about price, budgets, any brand preferences from the start. This prevents getting handed something out of your price range and wasting swings during your fit.
  • A focus on better: Whether it be hitting it further and straighter with your driver or hitting more greens, the fitting should be goal-orientated. This means looking at all kinds of variables to make sure what you are getting is actually better than your current clubs. Having a driver you hit 10 yards farther isn’t helpful if you don’t know where it’s going….A great fitter that knows their stuff should quickly be able to narrow down potential options to 4-5 and then work towards optimizing from there.
  • Honesty and respect: These are so obvious, I shouldn’t even have to put it on the list. I want to see these traits from anybody in a sales position when working with customers that are looking to them for knowledge and information…If you as the golfer is only seeing marginal gains from a new product or an upgrade option, you should be told that and given the proper information to make an informed decision. The great fitters, and I’ve worked with a lot of them, will be quick to tell a golfer, “I don’t think we’re going to beat (X) club today, maybe we should look at another part of your bag where you struggle.” This kind of interaction builds trust and in the end results in happy golfers and respected fitters.

The signs of a bad fitter

  • Pushing an agenda: This can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether it be a particular affinity towards certain brands of clubs or even shafts. If you talk to players that have all been to the same fitter and their swings and skill levels vary yet the clubs or brands of shafts they end up with (from a brand agnostic facility) seem to be eerily similar it might be time to ask questions.
  • Poor communications: As you are going through the fitting process and warming up you should feel like you’re being interviewed as a way to collect data and help solve problems in your game. This process helps create a baseline of information for your fitter. If you are not experiencing that, or your fitter isn’t explaining or answering your questions directly, then there is a serious communication problem, or it could show lack of knowledge depth when it comes to their ability.
  • Lack of transparency: If you feel like you’re not getting answers to straightforward questions or a fitter tells you “not to worry about it” then that is a big no-no from me.
    Side note: It is my opinion that golfers should pay for fittings, and in a way consider it a knowledge-gathering session. Of course, the end goal for the golfer is to find newer better fitting clubs, and for the fitter to sell you them (let’s be real here), but you should never feel the information is not being shared openly.
  • Pressure sales tactics: It exists in every industry, I get it, but if you pay for your fitting you are paying for information, use it to your advantage. You shouldn’t feel pressured to buy, and it’s always OK to seek out a knowledgeable second opinion (knowledgeable being a very key word in that sentence!).  If you are getting the hard sell or any combination of the traits above, there is a good chance you’re not working with the right fitter for you.

Final thoughts

Great fitters with great reputations and proper knowledge have long lists, even waiting lists, of golfers waiting to see them. The biggest sign of a great fitter is a long list of repeat customers.

Golf is a game that can be played for an entire lifetime, and just like with teachers and swing coaches, the good ones are in it for the long haul to help you play better and build a rapport—not just sell you the latest and greatest (although we all like new toys—myself included) because they can make a few bucks.

Trust your gut, and ask questions!

 

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Podcasts

TG2: TaylorMade P7MB & P7MC Review | Oban CT-115 & CT-125 Steel Shafts

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Took the new TaylorMade P-7MB and P-7MC irons out on the course and the range. The new P-7MB and P-7MC are really solid forged irons for the skilled iron players. Great soft feel on both, MB flies really low, and the MC is more mid/low launch. Oban’s CT 115 & 125 steel shafts are some of the most consistent out there. Stout but smooth feel with no harsh vibration at impact.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Improve your transition for better wedge play

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In my opinion, one of the most misunderstood areas of the golf swing is the transition from backswing to downswing, but I don’t read much on this in the golf publications. So, here’s my take on the subject.

Whether it’s a short putt, chip or pitch, half wedge, full iron or driver swing, there is a point where the club’s motion in the backswing has to come to a complete stop–even if for just a nano-second–and reverse direction into the forward swing. What makes this even more difficult is that it is not just the club that is stopping and reversing direction, but on all but putts, the entire body from the feet up through the body core, shoulders, arms and hands.

In my observation, most golfers have a transition that is much too quick and jerky, as they are apparently in a hurry to generate clubhead speed into the downswing and through impact. But, just as you (hopefully) begin your backswing with a slow take-away from the ball, a proper start to the downswing is also a slower move, starting from this complete stop and building to maximum clubhead speed just past impact. If you will work on your transition, your ball striking and distance will improve, as will your accuracy on your short shots and putts. Let’s start there.

In your wedge play, your primary objective is to apply just the exact amount of force to propel the ball the desired distance. In order to do that, it makes sense to move the club slower, as that allows more precision. I like to think of the pendulum on a grandfather clock as a great guide to tempo and transition. As the weight goes back and forth, it comes to a complete stop at each end, and achieves maximum speed at the exact bottom of the arc. If you put that picture in your head when you chip and putt, you will develop a tempo that encourages a smooth transition at the end of the backswing.

The idea is to achieve a gradual acceleration from the end of the backswing to the point of impact, but for most golfers, this type of swing is likely much slower than yours is currently. I encourage you to not be in a hurry to force this acceleration, as that causes a quick jab with the hands, because the shoulder rotation and slight body rotation cannot move that quickly from its end-of-backswing rotation.

Here’s a drill to help you picture this kind of swing pace. Drawing on that grandfather clock visual, hold your wedge at the very end of the grip with two fingers, and get it moving like the clock pendulum–back and through. Watch the tempo and transition for a few moments, and then try to mimic that with your short or half swing tempo. No faster, no slower. You can even change how far you pull the club up to start this motion to see what happens to the pendulum tempo on longer swings.

An even better exercise is to have a friend hold a club in this manner right in front of you while you are practicing your chipping or pitching swing and try to “shadow” that motion with your swings. You will likely find that your transition is much too fast and jerky to give you the results you are after.

If you will practice this, I can practically guarantee your short-range transition will become really solid and repeatable. From there, it’s just a matter of extending the length of the swing to mid-range pitches, full short irons, mid-irons, fairway woods, and driver–all while feeling for that gradual transition that makes for great timing, sequencing, and tempo.

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