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Opinion & Analysis

Ho, ho, no: My ho’in days fade to black

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By Sean Foster-Nolan

GolfWRX Contributor

We’ve all been there. Some of us, maybe most of us are still there. We buy, sell, buy, sell, buy, sell new equipment. Incessantly — with abandon.

Obsessively. We can’t help ourselves. We swear that’s it. No more. Yeah, right. Yet, and yet. We continue to do it. Why? Oh, we have all kind of reasons. Good, irrational reasons. I have to have the latest stuff. I can’t help myself. Uh-oh.

Do you find yourself getting your latest purchase(s) delivered at work? Finding places around the house to squirrel your clubs so your wife doesn’t find them? Buying clubs, and before you even receive them, already getting ready to sell them because you want to buy something else? Do you buy things on impulse? Do you visit the BST forum regularly? Do you have these long cardboard boxes scattered all over your garage, breeding like Tribbles.

Of course you do.  You have entered … no, not the Twilight Zone … but the Buy, Sell, Trade, Gotta Have It Zone. How many times have you said to yourself, “This is it!”? Lots. Do you want to stop? Sometimes, “Yes!” Sometimes, “Hell no!” Anyway, I decided to stop ho’in (cue for laughter). Yes, really. Scoff if you want.

What Led Me To This Point

My garage and the Tribbles. Well, not Tribbles really but dozens of golf club boxes, neatly stacked liked brown legos. It kind of just hit me. They were always there before, mocking me. It was a few weeks ago while rummaging around that I overheard them speaking.

“Hey Callaway, there he is,” said TaylorMade.

“Yeah, who’s coming next I wonder,” responded Callaway.

“I don’t know,” said Ping. “The gang’s all here.”

“Maybe another BSTer?” asked Adams.

This went on for a while. I pretended not to listen. Eavesdropping is impolite. Walking back to the house I realized I was contemplating another major purchase, site unseen, without even having hit them. How many times have I done that in the past? Too many.

I emptied the shopping cart on my computer. Sat back, and sighed. Getting up I went back out to the garage, loaded up the Tribbles and dropped them off at the recycling center. I then drove to the nearest golf shop and started hitting irons. Over a period of a few weeks I hit and kept hitting different brands. But, I also kept shopping around on the computer. Hey, I couldn’t help myself. I came so close to buying a set of Callaway Tour Authentic X-Protos. Over a period of three days it took everything I had not to buy them. Whew.

“Alright, I’m going to make one more purchase, but I’m going to do it right this time.”

What Makes Me Think I Can Stick to It

Yes, I’ve been fit before, many times. But what made this fitting different is I decided to go for a much more thorough one. I opted for a Ping nFlight. A good two hours where the “i’s” were dotted and “t’s” were crossed: length, lie angle, launch angle, spin rate, shafts, wedge grind, grip size, proper gapping, the whole shebang.

What an eye opener. My previously fit irons? Not a very good fit it turns out. Wrong shafts. Wrong grip size. Wrong lie angle. Previous driver? Wrong shaft. Face too closed. Wedges? Now a bit flatter with a nice “T” grind. I now will have a hybrid that doesn’t hook, and two fairway woods perfect for my needs.

The fitter even recommended a premium ball and a mid-range ball for me. Nice. I learned a lot about my clubs (sometimes it is the equipment … I discovered why I was hooking it so much…the shaft and lie angle of my current clubs had a lot to do with it). Given that fitting it’s in the best interest of my game to keep this new set of clubs. I learned not only how important it is to get fit for a set of clubs, but how important it is to get properly fit for a set of clubs. I know, sounds obvious right?

So, if I’m tempted to buy another set of clubs, or another driver, I know I’ll be asking myself a number of questions: will they have the right shaft? what about the lie angle? how about the length? how about the grip size? what would the spin rate, launch angle be? For every new set of clubs I’d buy in the future, I’d have to go through another two hour fitting. Yes, it was a great experience, but I don’t want to go through it on a semi-regular basis, e.g., every couple of months. Sure, I could make a pretty good guess on what I’d need, but I’d always have some doubts. Every OEM clubs specs are a little bit different.

What the Future Holds?

Good question. I’d used to buy and sell clubs like a lot of people change socks. But you guys know the drill. Most of you pretty much do the same thing. I’ll still follow the latest and greatest, but I think I’ll be able to contain any impulses. Am I fooling myself? I hope not. I think not. No.

The gear’s on order. It’s time to focus on my swing.

What I Was Fit For

After trying a number of clubs and shafts, this is what it all came down to in the end:

Ping i20 10.5º Ping TFC 707D

Ping G20 16.5º 21º Ping TFC 169F

Ping i20 23º Ping TFC 707H

Ping i20 5-PW Ping CFS

Ping i20 50º 54º 58º CFS

Ping Anser Milled #1

5-UW +1-inch, Yellow Dot

54º 58º +1-inch, Blue Dot, “T” Grind

Mid-Sized Grips

Anser Milled #1: 35.5 inches, Blue Dot, 4º loft, AVS Mid-Size Grip, Slight Arc

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-Release Equipment” forum


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On Spec

On Spec: Dr. Paul Wood, Ping Golf’s VP of Engineering

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Host Ryan Barath talks all things design and innovation with VP of Engineering at Ping Golf, Dr. Paul Wood.

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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19th Hole

GolfWRXers Vote: Best U.S. Open venue showdown – Quarter-finals

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@neilhartmantv

There were no major shocks in round one of our GolfWRXers vote for best U.S. Open venue, but five-time host Olympic Club was a casualty, losing out to Pinehurst in what was our most competitive match-up. The west coast venue was defeated by a margin of 63% to 37%, in a round which saw the majority of match-ups prove comfortable for the heavy hitters. 

Here is a look at how WRXers voted during round one.

Game 1: Pebble Beach (90%) vs Torrey Pines South (10%)

Game 2: Winged Foot (81%) vs Oakland Hills (19%)

Game 3: Baltusrol (73%) vs Chambers Bay (27%)

Game 4: Pinehurst Resort No.2 (63%) vs Olympic Club (37%)

Game 5: Oakmont (74%) vs Bethpage Black (26%)

Game 6: Southern Hills (76%) vs Olympia Fields (24%)

Game 7: Merion (90%) vs Erin Hills (10%)

Game 8: Shinnecock (86%) vs Congressional (14%)

Now we’re onto the quarter-finals, with some tasty match-ups. We’ll leave voting open for 48 hours. At that time, we’ll determine the winners and lock in our semi-finalists.

Get voting!

*Years hosted, winners and avg. winning score from 1950 onwards*

QF 1

Pebble Beach

  • Years Hosted: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
  • Winners: Nicklaus (+2), Watson (-6), Kite (-3), Woods (-12), McDowell (E), Woodland (-13)
  • Avg. winning score: -5.33

Winged Foot GC

  • Years Hosted: 1959, 1974, 1984, 2006
  • Winners: Casper (+2), Irwin (+7), Zoeller (-7), Ogilvy (+5)
  • Avg. winning score: +1.75

QF 1

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QF 2

Baltusrol GC

  • Years Hosted: 1954, 1967, 1980, 1993
  • Winners: Furgol (+4), Nicklaus (-5), Nicklaus (-8), Janzen (-8)
  • Avg. winning score: -4.25

Pinehurst Resort (No 2.)

  • Years Hosted: 1995, 2005, 2014
  • Winners: Stewart (-1), Campbell (E), Kaymer (-9)
  • Avg. winning score: -3.33

QF2

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QF 3

Oakmont CC

  • Years Hosted: 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016
  • Winners: Hogan (-5), Nicklaus (-1), Miller (-5), Nelson (-4), Els (-5), Cabrera (+5), Johnson (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -2.71

Southern Hils CC

  • Years Hosted: 1958, 1977, 2001
  • Winners: Bolt (+3), Green (-2), Goosen (-4)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

QF 3

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QF 4

Merion GC

  • Years Hosted: 1950, 1971, 1981, 2013
  • Winners: Hogan (+7), Trevino (E), Graham (-7), Rose (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: (+0.25)

Shinnecock Hills GC

  • Years Hosted: 1986, 1995, 2004, 2018
  • Winners: Floyd (-1), Pavin (E), Goosen (-4), Koepka (+1)
  • Avg. winning score: -1

QF 4

View Results

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Opinion & Analysis

Clark: A teacher’s take on Brandel Chamblee’s comments

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Because I’m writing to a knowledgeable audience who follows the game closely, I’m sure the current Brandel Chamblee interview and ensuing controversy needs no introduction, so let’s get right to it.

Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player, now plays a role as a TV personality. He has built a “brand” around that role. The Golf Channel seems to relish the idea of Brandel as the “loose cannon” of the crew (not unlike Johnny Miller on NBC) saying exactly what he thinks with seeming impunity from his superiors.

I do not know the gentleman personally, but on-air, he seems like an intelligent, articulate golf professional, very much on top of his subject matter, which is mostly the PGA Tour. He was also a very capable player (anyone who played and won on the PGA Tour is/was a great player). But remember, nowadays he is not being judged by what scores he shoots, but by how many viewers/readers his show and his book have (ratings). Bold statements sell, humdrum ones do not.

For example, saying that a teacher’s idiocy was exposed is a bold controversial statement that will sell, but is at best only partly true and entirely craven. If the accuser is not willing to name the accused, he is being unfair and self-serving. However, I think it’s dangerous to throw the baby out with the bathwater here; Brandel is a student of the game and I like a lot of what he says and thinks.

His overriding message in that interview is that golf over the last “30-40 years” has been poorly taught. He says the teachers have been too concerned with aesthetics, not paying enough attention to function. There is some truth in that, but Brandel is painting with a very broad brush here. Many, myself included, eschewed method teaching years ago for just that reason. Method teachers are bound to help some and not others. Maybe the “X swing” one player finds very useful, another cannot use it all.

Brandel was asked specifically about Matthew Wolff’s unique swing: Lifting the left heel, crossing the line at the top, etc. He answered, “of course he can play because that’s how he plays.” The problem would be if someone tried to change that because it “looked odd.” Any teacher worth his weight in salt would not change a swing simply because it looked odd if it was repeating good impact. I learned from the great John Jacobs that it matters not what the swing looks like if it is producing great impact.

Now, if he is objecting exclusively to those method teachers who felt a certain pattern of motions was the one true way to get to solid impact, I agree with him 100 percent. Buy many teach on an individual, ball flight and impact basis and did not generalize a method. So to say “golf instruction over the last 30-40 years” has been this or that is far too broad a description and unfair.

He goes on to say that the “Top Teacher” lists are “ridiculous.” I agree, mostly. While I have been honored by the PGA and a few golf publications as a “top teacher,” I have never understood how or why. NOT ONE person who awarded me those honors ever saw me give one lesson! Nor have they have ever tracked one player I coached.  I once had a 19 handicap come to me and two seasons later he won the club championship-championship flight! By that I mean with that student I had great success. But no one knew of that progress who gave me an award.

On the award form, I was asked about the best, or most well-known students I had taught. In the golf journals, a “this-is-the-teacher-who-can-help-you” message is the epitome of misdirection. Writing articles, appearing on TV, giving YouTube video tips, etc. is not the measure of a teacher. On the list of recognized names, I’m sure there are great teachers, but wouldn’t you like to see them teach as opposed to hearing them speak? I’m assuming the “ridiculous” ones Brandel refers to are those teaching a philosophy or theory of movement and trying to get everyone to do just that.

When it comes to his criticism of TrackMan, I disagree. TrackMan does much more than help “dial in yardage.” Video cannot measure impact, true path, face-to-path relationship, centeredness of contact, club speed, ball speed, plane etc. Comparing video with radar is unfair because the two systems serve different functions. And if real help is better ball flight, which of course only results from better impact, then we need both a video of the overall motion and a measure of impact.

Now the specific example he cites of Jordan Spieth’s struggles being something that can be corrected in “two seconds” is hyperbolic at least! Nothing can be corrected that quickly simply because the player has likely fallen into that swing flaw over time, and it will take time to correct it. My take on Jordan’s struggles is a bit different, but he is a GREAT player who will find his way back.

Brandel accuses Cameron McCormick (his teacher) of telling him to change his swing.  Do we know that to be true, or did Jordan just fall into a habit and Cameron is not seeing the change? I agree there is a problem; his stats prove that, but before we pick a culprit, let’s get the whole story. Again back to the sensationalism which sells! (Briefly, I believe Jordan’s grip is and has always been a problem but his putter and confidence overcame it. An active body and “quiet” hands is the motion one might expect of a player with a strong grip-for obvious reason…but again just my two teacher cents)

Anyway, “bitch-slapped” got him in hot water for other reasons obviously, and he did apologize over his choice of words, and to be clear he did not condemn the PGA as a whole. But because I have disagreements with his reasoning here does not mean Brandel is not a bright articulate golf professional, I just hope he looks before he leaps the next time, and realizes none of us are always right.

Some of my regular readers will recall I “laid down my pen” a few years ago, but it occurred to me, I would be doing many teachers a disservice if I did not offer these thoughts on this particular topic!

 

 

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