I love golf. I love writing about golf. I love playing golf. I watch slow motion golf swings on the internet. I love the golf channel. I love following my favorite players on the leaderboards. One thing that is losing its appeal to me is watching golf. Maybe golf will be better to watch during the Masters tournament, if I obtain a 3D television, but I doubt it. With the exception of Chris Berman during last years U.S. Open, the announcers never mattered much to me.
What I started to notice was the growing amount of television air time being devoted to putting. Every golfer has heard the phrase “drive for show, putt for dough,” but unless the putt goes in the hole from 300 feet and breaks 13 ways, I begin to lose interest in the broadcast. Admit it — when was the last time you searched you-tube to view someone draining a 4-foot putt? Yeah, that’s what I thought. My goal isn’t to eliminate putting from television broadcasts, just limit them. Putts that give someone the lead or ties them for the lead should be shown, as well as those on the final green by those in contention. That would be tolerable.
What would I prefer golf television broadcasts to consist of? After my last paragraph, the safe answer is probably everything except mundane putts. I would like to see slow motion golf swing replays of golfers hitting driver. Take time to illustrate how the golfer hit a draw or a fade and how can I incorporate that into my game. To go a step further, give side by side golfer comparisons of both players hitting a draw or fade.
The game isn’t just about the big stick, so I would like them to show more approach shots. Broadcasters can illustrate the differences in a golfer’s ball position or swing when they use a fairway wood or iron when compared to their driver. I believe the vast majority of us enjoy seeing approach shots that end up within a few feet of the flagstick. The shot can land a mile from the flagstick and still be shown on television if it has enough spin to back up at least six feet.
I think golf shots that go extremely out of bounds or into water must be televised and replayed 10 times per broadcast. The average golfer that loses four balls per round should get reminded that the professionals hit bad shots too. Television broadcasts should also include both good and bad fairway and greenside bunker shots. Bonus points get awarded if the shot is replayed in super slow motion.
Finally, I would be interested in hearing more of the course management aspect of the golfer’s round and how we, the viewers, can apply the thoughts to properly navigate golf courses. Sure the goal is to bomb it off the tee, then stick an eight iron within four inches and tap in for birdie. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out like that for the weekend golfer. Take a moment to discuss what the course designer was doing with the hole. The slope of the fairway isn’t always obvious on television — and yes, I’m viewing it in high definition. Hopefully the announcers can go into more detail about — why — the players are hitting golf balls to a certain landing area.
Broadcasters may need to insert a golf instructor in the booth to discuss swing details during golf tournaments. That shouldn’t be a problem since plenty of them travel with or meet professionals at tournaments to fine tune things on the range. Consider it a way to promote their swing thoughts and sell their instructional products and training aids. Overall, the golf tournament may become more of an instructional aid to the weekend golfer, which would attract more viewers — especially if the household names aren’t playing.
Currently, golf tournaments aren’t must see television for me. If we can all pick up instructional suggestions that would improve our golf game, every tournament may get viewed and recorded on the DVR.
You can follow GameDayDog on Twitter @GameDayDog
An open letter to golf
I know it has been some time since we last spoke, but I need you to know I miss you, and I can’t wait to see you again.
It was just a few months ago I walked crowded isles, stood shoulder to shoulder, and talked endlessly with likeminded individuals about you and your promising future in 2020 at the PGA Show. At that time, the biggest concern in my life was whether I had packed the perfect dress-to-casual pant ratio and enough polos to get through the mayhem of six days in Orlando. Oh, how the times have changed.
On a professional level, what started with the LPGA Tour a few weeks prior progressed quickly at The Players Championship, when you ground to a complete halt within days. As much as it was a tough decision, it was the right decision, and I admire the judgment made by your leaders. Soon after, outside of the professional ranks followed suit and courses everywhere began shutting doors and asked golfers to keep away.
This is the right decision. For now and for the foreseeable future, as much as I don’t like it, I understand how important it is we let experienced health medical professionals make choices and craft policies for the wellbeing of people everywhere. Although, judging by the indoor short game trickery I have witnessed over the last 10 days, handicaps could be dropping when you finally return.
As a game, you are over 200 years old. You have survived pandemics, wars, depression, drought, and everything else that has been thrown at you. Much like the human spirit, you will continue on thanks to the stories and experiences others passed down and enjoyed.
I know you will survive because I also plan on surviving. As long as there are people willing to tend to your grounds and maintain your existence, I will also exist ready to take on your challenge.
When you are able to return in full, I will be here.
Ryan Barath (on behalf of golfers everywhere)
The Wedge Guy: Improving your short iron and wedge impact
One of my most appreciated aspects of this nearly 40 years in the golf equipment industry is the practically endless stream of “ah ha” moments that I have experienced. One that I want to share with you today will–I hope–give you a similar “ah ha moment” and help you improve your ball striking with your high lofted short irons and wedges.
As I was growing up, we always heard the phrase, “thin to win” anytime we hit an iron shot a little on the skinny side (not a complete skull, mind you). When you caught that short iron or wedge shot a bit thin, it seemed you always got added distance, a lower trajectory and plenty of spin. It was in a testing session back in the early 2000s when this observation met with some prior learning, hence the “ah ha moment” for me.
I was in Fredericksburg, Virginia, testing some wedge prototypes with a fitter there who was one of the first to have a TrackMan to measure shot data. I had hit about two dozen full pitching wedges for him to get a base of data for me to work from. The average distance was 114 yards, with my typical higher ball flight than I like, generating an average of about 7,000 rpms of spin. What I noticed, however, was those few shots that I hit thin were launching noticeably lower, flying further and had considerably more spin. Hmmm.
So, I then started to intentionally try to pick the ball off the turf, my swing thought being to actually try to almost “blade” the shot. As I began to somewhat “perfect” this, I saw trajectories come down to where I’d really like them, distance increased to 118-120 and spin rates actually increased to about 8,000 rpms! I was taking no divot, or just brushing the grass after impact, but producing outstanding spin. On my very best couple of swings, distance with my pitching wedge was 120-122 with almost 10,000 rpms of spin! And a great trajectory.
So, I began to put two and two together, drawing on the lessons about gear effect that I had learned back in the 1980s when working with Joe Powell in the marketing of his awesome persimmon drivers. You all know that gear effect is what makes a heel hit curve/fade back toward the centerline, and a heel hit curves/draws back as well. The “ah ha” moment was realizing that this gear effect also worked vertically, so shots hit that low on the face “had no choice” but to fly lower, and take on more spin.
I had always noticed that tour players’ and better amateurs’ face wear pattern was much lower on the face than that of recreational golfers I had observed, so this helped explain the quality of ball flight and spin these elite players get with their wedges and short irons.
I share this with you because I know we all often misinterpret the snippets of advice we get from friends and other instructional content that is out there. To me, one of the most damaging is “hit down on the ball”. That is a relative truth, of course, but in my observation it has too many golfers attacking the ball with their short irons and wedges with a very steep angle of attack and gouging huge divots. The facts are that if the club is moving only slightly downward at impact, you will get the spin you want, and if the clubhead is moving on a rather shallow path, you will get a more direct blow to the back of the ball, better trajectory, more distance and improved spin. Besides, shallow divots are easier on the hands and joints.
If this is interesting to you, I suggest you go to the range and actually try to blade some wedge shots until you somewhat groove this shallower path through impact and a lower impact point on your clubface. As you learn to do this, you will be able to zero in on the proper impact that produces a very shallow divot, and a great looking shot.
[TIP: If you will focus on the front edge of the ball – the side closest to the target – it will help you achieve this kind of impact.]
It will take some time, but I believe this little “experiment” will give the same kind of “ah ha moment” it gave me.
On Spec: Interview with Trevor Immelman, 2008 Masters champion
In this episode, host Ryan speaks with Trevor Immelman about his career, what it was like growing up around the game as a competitive amateur in South Africa, and what it’s like being a Masters champion.
Topics also include his experiences working with the design team at Nike Golf as well as his current “What’s in the Bag” which includes equipment from Titleist and the process he went through to get it dialed in.
Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below.
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