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Opinion & Analysis

Starting a wedge business? I can help with that



Let’s say you have temporarily abandoned your plan to introduce a full set of woods and irons, but your passion to be in the golf equipment business still burns. In desperation, you contact me to help with your wedge business and pay my upfront fee of a dozen low compression golf balls (you know, the ones designed for swing speeds that are barely moving). With the mutual understanding that you are definitely going forward, I take a few days and devise a plan.

Since you told me the golf balls had to wait a few weeks while your credit card balance dropped, it’s fair to say that unless a benefactor appears this will be a shoestring effort and I should advise accordingly. In the old days, I used statistical analysis on the cause and effect of ball flight. I determined that golf clubs are used in separate and distinct environments — namely ball on tee, ball on ground (including rough), ball in sand and ball on green. This may sound simplistic, but this type of analysis wasn’t the norm when I started on my own 27 years ago (or 40 years ago when I was hanging out with Dave Pelz). For example, fairway woods used to look like mini drivers and were not designed with a “ball on fairway” mentality save increased lofts.

First a bit of good news. Every currently significant golf club company (except Nike) had one club that got market attention and grew from there.

  • Adams and the Tight Lies
  • Callaway and the Big Bertha
  • Cleveland and its wedges
  • Cobra and the Baffler
  • Ping and the Anser putter
  • TaylorMade and metal woods
  • Titleist and the Bulls Eye putter

With a bit of a stretch, I could also point to Mizuno and irons and also Wilson Staff and irons, but Wilson is not a major player today. I include this bit of trivia to show that starting with one product doesn’t restrict a company from future growth.

The point is that if you become significant with a wedge it could open the door to other products, but first things first. As I said, we have ball on ground, ball in rough and ball in sand as three completely different design environments for wedges. Given our cost effective approach, ball on ground and ball in rough doesn’t fit. It’s not that you can’t make a great wedge; it’s the issue of marketing. There are dozens of wedge companies out there and they all have good designs and strong marketing stories. You are just starting and need the best chance of getting a clear message to the hearts and minds of millions of golfers.

In the literature you sent me, you had a design for a nice looking wedge and its appeal is the use of a soft metal which, in turn, produces a great feel and sense of control at impact. I don’t mean to belittle your effort but what you have done applies to maybe 5 percent of golfers — some of whom are given wedges as a promotional effort. Further, there is no significant relationship between soft metals and feel.

If you want to store this away, differences in feel for more than 98 percent of the golfing population are actually the brain reacting to sound. Put earplugs in, go to the range and test for yourself. The other 1+ percent are tour professionals, and I gained great respect for their sense of feel and never tried the sound blocking experiment with them. Ping has certainly been successful with golfers of every level, and I remember back when their clubs were supposed to be “too hard.” Turns out, they were very good!

So, with all this background my advice is to concentrate on one club (actually two, as you’ll see), the sand wedge.

We will call the sand wedge the “Beauty” — actually the “Beauty-1” and “Beauty-2.” If that name causes nausea, it’s your nickel. Finding a name for a golf club that isn’t being used or isn’t registered in some attorney’s office is a major project. You would never know unless you become successful. I picked “Beauty” because it’s so off the wall there is a chance that no one uses it, but I strongly advise you spend the money and get that name (or your name) verified.

The design of a sand wedge is all about dynamic bounce, which is the relationship between the bounce angle, sole width, face loft and type of sand. I’ll let you do the final design, but I suggest you research underslung head designs. Having the hosel somewhat removed addresses the shank, the bane of the average golfer.

  • Beauty-1 has a very wide sole with some bounce for soft, fluffy sand.
  • Beauty-2 is slightly narrower, but it still has a wide sole and essentially no bounce for hard-packed sand.

You said you have access to a machine shop where you can get samples made and you can test in different sands.

This is NOT a project for good players — this wedge is for those who approach sand traps with trepidation hoping to get out in one swing. Why? It’s simple: by far the biggest market. Your website should be technically accurate and enjoyable while showing both wedges’ designs and the types of sand that work best for each. It will explain “dynamic bounce” in detail, which will help you get to the heart of the average golfer and sell product. I will review the site when finished as part of my dozen balls payment. If I might intrude on your design, take a long look at the concept of “underslung.” It will certainly be a different look and maybe provide the claim of being shankless.

As for shafts, let’s go with one flex (stiff) and one type (steel). Why? Cost, and steel works fine. The challenge will be a controlled inventory after you fully test the machined heads to verify your concept. “Make them in China” is the easy answer, but you will need some leads on trustworthy suppliers and you will pay for tooling, initial samples and an agreement on an initial order. Make it as small as possible to save money, but small can easily be 1000 heads, a minor production run. I think I can dig up a couple of Asian sources when the time comes.

Setup your website and try to get some wedges in the hands of known instructors with an arrangement resulting in you getting quotes. Set a competitive price and sell direct over the net. I’ve just given you enough to do that. I’ll long run out of balls before you have more questions.

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.



  1. Andy W

    Dec 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Love your “breakout” club listing as I call it. Same list I have, but did not know the Bullseye putter was “it” for Titliest.

    Just sent to your email my job application to Taylormade who needs to grab me and my breakout putter I have developed “overnight” for 10 years. Well, it would have been overnight if could have avoided a 10-year battle with the USGA, which finally gave approval last year. LOL, we do this because it is fun and it’s our passion, right?

    Read your WOW book three times, every word, once out-loud to my wife.

    Asuume you now have some stock in TMag/Addidus, right?

    Thanks, and you are an inspiration.

  2. Roger in raining NZ

    Dec 13, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Barney, love the pairings to Fame!
    Cally Big Bertha, Adams Tight Lies,Cleveland 588
    And i have renewed confidence in my Ping S58 made from Hard Non Soft Cast Metal !! A priceless comment, Thanks!!
    You Beauty!

  3. Straightdriver235

    Dec 11, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Here’s my idea, forget the wedges, we have too many of them, and only a few are decent. As a Marxist/critical/meritocratic golfer I desire to upset the status quo. I’m an older guy who walks for the health and enjoyment. I don’t think I am anywhere near alone on that. There is a market for what I am about to describe, a market that could take off. Frankly, 14 clubs might suit your company and the present state of the golf industry which wants to sell a lot of clubs, but after giving it quite a bit of analysis I believe less would be more. I believe sets need to be made smaller, requiring more skill, and bigger gaps between irons; also making the game more healthy and returning it to the intent that it be a walking game. I have an ultralite bag and carry only 5 balls, etc. but 14 clubs is way too heavy for this 54 year old frame to lug… it was always too heavy even though I was once young and strapping… as I have said before, elsewhere, this is more meritocratic–the ability of young players to carry their own clubs and play well is vastly underrated in the development of excellent players and future stars. Altering the degrees of existing irons is not sufficient as it messes with standard bounces. Instead of having a standard set with Lob/SW-58*, Gap-52*, PW-46*, 9 iron-42*, 8 iron-38*, 7 iron-34*, 6 iron-30*, 5 iron-26*, 4 iron-23*, hybrid-21*, hybrid-18*, 3 wood-14*, driver-9*, putter=14 clubs. You can see way to many WITBs where there are one or two clubs in the top players bag with almost no difference between the distances they hit. Simultaneously we need to advocate to reduce the club limit for tournament play, but even if that doesn’t work there are enough people who would like this. Someone, myself, needs to start manufacturing something along these lines–engineered for serious players… SW-55.5; Gap-50.5; PW/9 iron-45*; 9/8 iron-40*; 8/7 iron-35*; 6 iron-30*; 5/4 iron-24.5*; hyrbrid 19.5*; Driver/3 wood–13* with fairly large head, but no large that it can’t be hit off the ground, with the putter that gets you 10 clubs…. I’m seeing an alternate version with slightly wider spacing for 9 clubs. It is amazingly fun to carry your own bag with 9 or 10 clubs, and not so fun for 14. The cost of clubs goes down, people start walking, carrying their own clubs, their kids can caddy for them, instead of being surrounded by obese, arrogant, costly and slow we can have healthy, meritocratic, affordable and quick.

    Play would be a lot faster due to less need for deliberation, golfers would develop more skill in the ability to work the ball, hit partial shots.

    To brag about my system… I do this already, but am not satisfied with the grinds on the clubs…. however, my game has improved from a 4.5 to a 2.3 handicap. I strengthened the PW, and 9 iron one degree, the 8 iron two degrees, dropped the 7 entirely, weakened the 6 one degree, kept the 5 the same, and strengthened the 4 iron one degree. Tonight I had my second hole in one hitting a six iron where the shot would have normally called for a 7. Presently no company makes a small headed driver in the 420 CC range that is very square, and has a higher loft. When they sell the higher loft driver they always want a hook face on it and put a regular shaft in it because they assume you must not be very good if you are playing a high lofted driver… the interchangeable heads are an option.

    What’s my point? This could work… the game is messed up as it is, and the business model, starting with homes around the course, golf carts, over-manicured greens, courses that emphasize freakish distance have made the game not palatable.

    • BOB KNOX

      Dec 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      I have to say a lot of what you write in your article makes sense.
      I’m 68 (closer to 69) and I used to walk all the time until my knees and respiratory condition
      won’t let me walk and carry any more.
      But I like the concept of stronger lofts and less clubs, also which would enable the player to go
      to go to a lighter “Sunday” bag as it used to be called to help the player in reducing the load on the back.
      Good article, and very interesting. Good concept.

    • Stephen Finley

      Feb 26, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Yeah, that’s good. Really.

  4. riehlg

    Dec 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I really think you should get the paperclip from the old MS Office to be saying the title of the article for the picture at the top. “Starting a wedge business? I can help with that!”

  5. Jonny B

    Dec 4, 2014 at 9:02 am

    There are a lot of fringe companies in the golf equipment industry that seem to be concentrating on doing one thing – a driver, wedge, ball, etc. Look at Krank, Bombtech, Kick X, etc. I’ve never tried any of their products though.

    Remember the Warrior hybrid club that the company was giving away for free with all those commercials? I wonder what happened to them. Just goes to show that even “free” products can’t generate enough buzz to make a successful equipment company. It’s a tough industry with some major barriers to entry.

    • Jonny B

      Dec 4, 2014 at 9:05 am

      As far as wedges go, there is SCOR, Hopkins, and now even Cleveland looks to be moving away from irons and woods and concentrating only on wedges.

      I love the point made about how “feel” is really only a product of sound. I’m going to try the ear plugs experiment at the range next time. I can see that being that case with drivers/woods, but I’m pretty sure that there’s more too it than sound, because I know I have hit some harsh feeling irons.

      • Justin

        Dec 16, 2014 at 7:05 pm

        Try it. You’ll be surprised. I got the idea from Ralph Maltby’s “11 Steps” fitting manual. Totally killed the “forged/carbon steel is softer than cast/stainless steel” myth for me.

    • Sully

      Dec 4, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Jonny B,

      Thanks for throwing us in the mix. (BombTech). A fringe company is where I want to be. Because through our performance products and direct to consumer approach you have heard of us somehow, but the average Joe hasn’t and that’s the point. I could spend millions and sponsor pros in order to get exposure to golfers and non-golfers, but the industry has changed. Just like the craft brew industry. Yes beer…

      Small companies with high quality ingredients or materials – aka our 2 piece production process can survive (and dual cavity design)….Well..Only if you product that performs…and you still will face challenges. I am very fortunate to have had so much success but it is because of our story, expensive production process and press we have received (Entrepreneur Magazine, PGA Tour Radio, Golf Digest…etc.)

      I am always looking to learn from our customers and potential customers so if you have any additional insight or just want to talk. Call me (802) 448-2094.

      I could say more, but I can’t give away all of our secrets.

      Barney – Check your email…

      – Sully

      “Pull the pin!”

  6. Jafar

    Dec 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Great article.

    Where can you have prototypes made?

    I’d like to design a wedge or even a putter, even if it’s just for my own amusement.

    • Barney Adams

      Dec 3, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      Ask the guys at Dog Leg Right or Tom Wishon. Remember you are embarking on an expensive hobby

    • Mike

      Dec 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      I’m not in the golf industry so don’t know about specific issues but I would offer a couple of ideas. There is an internet-based e-machine shop that hobbyists use for example to get obscure car parts made. They even have a web page about putters:

      Also you could look to a 3D printing company to get your part printed directly in steel. One that I’ve heard of is 3D Systems but there are others. I would guess that you’re looking at a bill around $2500 to print a wedge or putter and there’s no bulk discount with 3D printing so it’s not currently an option for mass-production.

  7. ptjn1201

    Dec 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Finally, somebody understands that the packed sand many of us face at our local muni needs low to no bounce. Now I hope more people start listening to you

  8. golfiend

    Dec 3, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Wedges tend to be replaced quicker than other clubs in the bag. Wedges can also be specialized for different courses and condition. I’m certainly not the only one that play different wedges for different courses. Generally speaking, a low bounce gap wedge and a high bounce sand wedge is adequate for many people including myself when I’m going to an unknown course. Then there is the material. Unless you’re vokey and can make cast wedges like they do and have the marketing power behind it, forged wedges tend to be favored by the enthusiast. But like the restaurant business, it’s not worth the risk. Still I agree that among the clubs we use, it is the entry point with the lowest, albeit still high, barrier.

    • golfiend

      Dec 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      I’m sure you’re going to write something about the putter because there are many types and people can go through many putters as well … like I have.

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the ropes with the fittest on Tour



Before the world hit pause, I had the awesome opportunity to go out to Torrey Pines and the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open and spend the week with former champ Scott Stallings.

The link was fitness, and this was my opportunity to go and learn from the best about all aspects of performance.

That’s how I got to know Scott a couple of years ago—a similar path to improved health and fitness directly, and indirectly, linked to golf performance.

So, what does a week on tour really look like from the player’s perspective?

Pretty busy.

I flew in late Monday evening, and Tuesday at 8 AM, it was time to meet up with Scott—in the gym of course. Scott, Adam his trainer, and a couple of players were already fired up and ready to go.

A one-hour session of dumbbells, med balls, kettlebells, and sleds finished with a “vanity pump” session that was more than enough to get a serious sweat going in the California hills.

After freshening up with a solid post-workout breakfast, it’s time to hit the course. As a past winner, Scott knew all about Torrey As a newbie from England, I can tell you that place is as good as you think it is!

Scott joined workout partners Trey Mullinax and Scott Brown, as well as Sepp Straka, to go play the North Course. At this point, it was clear the players were feeling out their games as much as they are the course—a couple of challenges here and a few extra chip shots there, the mood is pretty laid back as the players do their thing.

Off the course, and it’s time to refuel again. This kind of schedule is asking a lot of the body. Then you guessed it, it’s back to the gym. This time it’s a lighter focus to let the body wind down and only around 40 minutes long. Then its time to loosen up, get a massage, and the day is largely done.

In the current age of performance tracking and performance data, sleep and recovery are almost as important as anything else going on here. Scott is at the forefront here as well, being one of the first to use the extremely popular Whoop Bands to track a whole bunch of physical data. Keeping yourself in the green can be a pretty big deal if you want to feel and perform your best!

Wednesday is pro-am day, and with 36 holes at Torrey, everyone is in. An early tee time means no specific gym work in the morning, rather a quick functional mobility session before heading to the range—increasing the heart rate, moving the body and basically waking up all of the movements patterns needed for the body to hit the range to start getting dialed in.

After the “steadily paced” round, Scott fuels up ready to hit the gym with a different workout partner. A certain curly-haired Irishman got in touch with Scott to set up an early season workout to gauge performance, maybe learn a few things, and for sure do some work!

Fitness on tour is a continuing revolution, with almost all players now understanding the huge benefits of increased physical performance for their games but also for their health. The benefits of increased speed, fitness, and overall performance, when you’re playing at the highest level seems fairly straightforward. But players also have to consider their schedules, travel, work demands and a bunch more stressors that affect mental, physical, and hormonal function.

Having earned his reputation through an accelerated journey from poor health to fitness junkie, Scott is more than happy to spend time with other pros talking all things, health, fitness, and performance.

This is how the game will continue to move forwards and also how it will feed down into all levels of golf. There is a clear spectrum emerging within this for the golf world: using golf as a motivating factor to get in better shape and overall health all the way up to using specific fitness work to further golf performance.

Basically you gotta be doing something!

Anyway, fresh from an all out sweat session, it’s head down and prep for a Thursday morning tee time—same deal, physical therapy, good nutrition, and as much rest as possible.

With a 9:10 AM tee time Thursday morning, the preparations are much like that for the pro-am and the body is ready and warm headed to the tee.

Then, it’s go time. Stepping onto the first tee in competition and everything changes. This was one of the most noticeable and impressive things watching Scott and all the other players in this incredible field.

There is a visible, almost palpable, change in demeanor, and it’s all-out competition mode.

This is a part of the mental toughness and preparation learned through years of hard work and the desire to do what is needed. This, in my opinion, is where all golfers can take so much from the best in the game—just compete and grind to get the best score possible whatever the circumstance. Don’t over-think technique, don’t overreact, just play each shot as best as you possibly can and count them up at the end.

Scott is also playing the first round on the brutal, but incredible, South Course in tough conditions and posts up a 1-under 71 to sit nicely on the leaderboard after day one. This was a mentally and physically challenging day with high temperatures, a tough course and an incredible field. On course nutrition, and even more so, hydration, are on point and the hours of work in the gym all stack up for optimal performance.

After a good day’s work, more food, and just enough rest, we hit the gym for my last workout at Torrey: 30 minutes of hard effort including rowing, stepper, med balls, and squats—there really is no holding back.

Training is always individual and even more so at this level. Training hard after a five-plus hour round of golf is no easy workload, but it depends on the body. If you are consistently putting in the work, it feels best to keep the body operating at that level. If you’re not doing all that much and decide to do this mid-tournament, it is not likely to end well!

And that’s what it is all about: finding how you can be your best in all areas! For a Tour pro, it’s probably not as easy as you might think. Balancing performance with all the factors listed above, the grueling (normal) season schedule and the time taken to be at this level requires huge commitment and consistency on so many levels. Scott has shown this better than anyone with his newfound commitment to health, fitness, and all things performance.

I took off back to the UK Friday, and Scott went on to play the weekend finishing in the top 50. Each of the four competitive days required the same level of physical commitment, and every day Scott was in there getting the work done.

Gaining this direct insight into the week of a PGA Tour pro gave me a new appreciation for the time and work required as well as an even greater foundation to help to continue and develop the relationship between health, fitness, and golf at all levels.

It comes down to attitude and effort. Rent is due on both.

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Opinion & Analysis

So you wanna work in golf media…



I get this question all the time: “So, how does someone get a job in golf media?”

Hmm…I could give you a bunch of tips, ideas, resume suggestions, etc. I’m not going to. All I know is how I got here. It’s a story of passion, initiative, blind luck, God, and desperation.

I feel like in the telling of how I got here you will see a path but not the only path.

My story—condensed into the point golf gear took over my life.

It’s 1993, and I’m a sophomore in high school at John F. Kennedy Memorial in Burien, Washington. I was a baseball player my whole life, and for whatever reason that summer, I decided it wasn’t for me anymore, and I wanted to go scrub clubs, pick balls and have the occasional lung dart with my buddies at the local country club. At that time, golf was something to me just shy of an afterthought. I had played the occasional short 9 as a kid, went to a camp or two, but in all honesty, it was just another game.

Fast forward to my first week working at Rainier G&CC—the second assistant was a guy named Mike Montegomery (DOG at Glendale CC now), and he took me to the range to help pick balls and hit some into the net. After about 30 mins of pounding balls, I was hooked. Hook, line, and sinker.

I’m an obsessive person by nature, so when I get into something, it becomes a bit scary—I want to know everything. That’s when the equipment junkie revealed himself, and it all started with a trip to the dentist and an issue of Golf Digest.

This one…

Golf Digest, February issue, 1993

This magazine started the whole thing. No, it wasn’t the fact that Phil Mickelson graced the cover, it was the advertisements. The color codes of Ping, the black and gold of Cobra, Titleist Tour Balata, Founders Club, and on and on. Everything looked just so damn awesome. I wanted to try, see, touch and feel everything I could. And I did. From that point, until even today, golf and golf gear dominate a good chunk of my thoughts every day.

Lesson #1: To do this job well….you have to obsessed.

Now we are in 2005. I’m working in Irvine, California, for LendingTree slanging equity loans to the A paper client,s and in the search engine, I type David Duval golf clubs…

Before I go further it must be acknowledged that my good friend Nico Bollini and I used to spend HOURS on Getty images and at the local Wajamaya scouring pictures of players bags in Golf Classic magazine and any close-ups Getty would catch. Instead of going to parties and chasing girls as normal people do, we were trying to see what shaft Ray Floyd had in his Bridgestone J’s driver.

Back to DD. I type in “David Duval golf clubs,” and I land on this weird forum thing called BombSquad Golf. It was a site that not only talked gear in-depth like Nico and I did, but they had some dude taking pics at tour events. It was golf porn. I was in. Eventually, BSG became nothing, and Richard Audi and took over. That story is very well told, so I won’t go into it.

That fueled my golf junkie for a long time. It wasn’t until 2012 and the urging from my then-girlfriend that I began writing for WRX. Since I was on the site so much and had so many opinions, she jokingly said, “You should write for them,” to which I replied, “I should.”

This is where luck comes in. I found the contact info at the bottom of the site and ended emailing Zak, the editor at the time.

“Hi Zak,

My name is John Wunder and I am extremely excited and interested in writing for Golfwrx! I have been a member of this site for over 6 years now and I have always admired the professionalism and in-depth coverage that your site provides. I am what they would call in the golfing streets a “Junky”. Tour news, college news, equipment trends, companies, in the bag info, history, etc. You name it, I know it. I’m a lifer and the only thing I have left to do to get my fix is either learn how to putt and play the mini-tours or start writing. Unfortunately, even the belly putter was of no use to me so writing it is! As writing goes my experience is limited with the exception of the occasional Facebook comment but my knowledge of the game and its culture is undeniable.  I’m dying to be apart of this thing and if I had not been scrolling to the bottom of the page I would not have noticed the link to you. Maybe it’s a sign from the Golfing Gods, you never know. Any information you can give would be much appreciated.  I Look forward to hearing from you.”

Lesson #2: You won’t know what’s possible until you ask.

Eventually, Zak gave me a shot and from 2012 to 2018 I wrote roughly 30-40 articles for WRX. For fun, for free, for the love of the game. I wrote opinion pieces, did some video articles, reviews, tournament recaps, etc. Every time they asked, I said HELL YES. Why not? Golf content is what I think about all day anyway. It requires no real study or extra work to execute. It’s something I can just sit down and do, sometimes quickly.

Now we find ourselves in 2018. It’s late January. My son Seve had just been born and my main source of income at the time (film/tv) was slow and unpredictable. I had two months of savings left, no consistent income coming in to speak of, and with two kids and my girl that I am supporting. Things got scary. Desperate is a better word. In that desperation, a decision was made. I wanted to finally do the thing I’ve always wanted to do. Work in the golf business.

I sat down and mapped out my plan…

Lesson #3: Don’t be afraid of desperation. God can be found there.

But how? What can I bring to the table?

Remember obsession? Remember the power of asking?

I knew my knowledge of the tour and golf equipment was abnormal, to say the least. It still is. I knew that I had a Rolodex to choke a horse, and I had the email of someone at WRX that I could plead my case to. The editor at the time, Andrew Tursky. My email to him was very similar to my email to Zak. I plainly told what I wanted to do, why they needed me, and left it at that.

The term the squeaky wheel gets the grease is so true in my case—every job I have ever chased, there were two things I made sure were in place…

  1. I knew my passion equaled my knowledge
  2. I was willing to hear NO multiple times until the right YES came along.

Lesson #4: Know where you want to go (and tell people).

That email turned into a face-to-face with the GolfWRX brass, to a “yes we will hire you,” to getting a job doing what I love.

The job I was hired for has mutated into something way different. Every person at does multiple jobs—there is really no definitive titles or boxes we fit in. It’s a passionate, nimble crew and to a person, everyone is a golf junkie degenerate, including the owner, Rich. That was the deciding factor of going down this path. Yes, I wanted the job, but after meeting Richard Audi and discovering he was just as crazy as I am, I knew I had to work for that man.

The moral of the story is this: Golf media is not a box anymore. You don’t need a degree in journalism or your doctorate in Bill Shakespeare.  It’s the time of the hustler. So, if you have something to say, say it, something to show, show it, and most importantly if you want to get in, ASK. ASK. ASK. Someone will say yes eventually and when they do, what you do with that YES is up to you.

Hope this gives you a hint that like anything else, there is not one door, there are multiple. Knock, scream, kick, and do it with some fire.

Lesson #5: ANYTHING is possible if you want it bad enough



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Confessions of a hacker: Chipping yips and equipment fixes



There’s a saying in golf that, paraphrasing here, it’s the person holding the weapon, not the weapon. Basically, if you hit a bad shot, it’s almost certain that it was your fault, not the fault of the golf club. It has a better design than your swing. And while that truism is often correct, it ain’t necessarily so.

For example, if I were to try to hit one of those long drive drivers, I’d probably mis-hit it so badly that the ball might not be findable. That stick is way too long, stiff, and heavy for me. Similarly, if I were to use one of those senior flex drivers, I’d probably hit it badly, because it would be too floppy for my swing. It’s clear that there are arrows that this Indian can’t shoot well. Maybe a pro could adapt to whatever club you put in his hand, but there’s no reason he would accept less than a perfect fit. And there’s little reason why any amateur ought to accept less than a good fit.

I was never a competitive athlete, although I’m a competitive person. My path led a different direction, and as my medical career reached its mature years, I was introduced to our wonderful and frustrating game.

Being one who hates playing poorly, I immediately sought instruction. After fifteen years, multiple instructors, a wallet full of videos, and a wall full of clubs, I am finally learning how to do one particularly vexing part of the game reasonable well. I can chip! But as you may have guessed, the largest part of this journey has to do with the arrow, not the Indian.

We may immediately dismiss the golf shaft as a significant issue since chipping generally involves a low-speed movement. And as long as the grip is a reasonable fit for the hands, it’s not a big deal either. The rubber meets the road at the clubhead.

Manufacturers have worked hard to get the best ball spin out of the grooves. Their shape is precisely milled, and then smaller grooves and roughness are added to the exact maximum allowed under the rules. Various weighting schemes have been tried, with some success in tailoring wedges to players. And some manufacturers market the “newest” designs to make it impossible to screw up wedge shots. And yet, nothing seemed to solve my yips.

So I went on a mission. I studied all sorts of chipping techniques. Some advocate placing the ball far back to strike a descending blow. Others place it near the center of the stance. The swing must have no wrist hinge. The swing must have a hinge that is held. It should be a short swing. It should be a long swing. The face should be square. The face should be open. There should be a “pop.” There should be no power added.

If you are confused, join my club. So I went on a different mission. I started looking at sole construction. Ever since Gene Sarazen popularized a sole with bounce for use in the sand, manufacturers have been creating massive numbers of “different” sand wedges. They have one thing in common. They are generally all built to 55 or 56-degrees of loft.

The basic design feature of the sand wedge is that the sole extends down and aft from the leading edge at some angle. This generally ranges from 6 to 18-degrees. Its purpose is to allow the wedge to dig into the sand, but not too far. As the club goes down into the sand, the “bounce” pushes it back up.


One problem with having a lot of bounce on the wedge is that it can’t be opened up to allow certain specialty shots or have a higher effective loft. When the player does that, the leading edge lifts, resulting in thin shots. So manufacturers do various things to make the wedge more versatile, typically by removing bounce in the heel area.

At my last count, I have eight 56-degree wedges in my collection. Each one was thought to be a solution to my yips. Yet, until I listened to an interview with Dave Edel, I had almost no real understanding of why I was laying sod over a lot of my chips. Since gardening did not reduce my scores, I had to find another solution.

My first step was to look at the effective loft of a wedge in various ball positions. (Pictures were shot with the butt of the club at the left hip, in a recommended forward lean position. Since the protractor is not exactly lined up with the face, the angles are approximate.)

I had no idea that there was so much forward lean with a simple chip. If I were to use the most extreme rearward position, I would have to have 21-degrees of bounce just to keep the leading edge from digging in at impact. If there were the slightest error in my swing, I would be auditioning for greenskeeper.

My appreciation for the pros who can chip from this position suddenly became immense. For an amateur like me, the complete lack of forgiveness in this technique suddenly removed it from my alleged repertoire.

My next step was to look at bounce. As I commented before, bounce on sand wedges ranges between 6 and 18-degrees. As the drawing above shows, that’s a simple angle measurement. If I were to chip from the forward position, a 6-degree bounce sand wedge would have an effective bounce of 1-degree. That’s only fractionally better than the impossible chip behind my right foot. So I went to my local PGA Superstore to look at wedges with my Maltby Triangle Gauge in hand.

As you can see from the photos, there is a wide variation in wedges. What’s most curious, however, is that this variation is between two designs that are within one degree of the same nominal bounce. Could it be that “bounce is not bounce is not bounce?” Or should I say that “12-degrees is not 12-degrees is not 12-degrees?” If one looks below the name on the gauge, a curious bit of text appears. “Measuring effective bounce on wedges.” Hmmm… What is “effective bounce?”

The Maltby Triangle Gauge allows you to measure three things: leading-edge height, sole tangent point, and leading-edge sharpness. The last is the most obvious. If I’m chipping at the hairy edge of an adequate bounce, a sharp leading edge will dig in more easily than a blunt one. So if I’m using that far back ball position, I’ll need the 1OutPlus for safety, since its leading edge is the bluntest of the blunt. Even in that position, its 11-degree bounce keeps the leading edge an eighth of an inch up.

Wait a minute! How can that be? In the back position, the wedge is at 35-degrees effective loft, and 11-degrees of bounce ought to be 10-degrees less than we need. The difference here is found in combining all three parameters measured by the gauge, and not just the angle of the bounce.

The 1OutPlus is a very wide sole wedge. Its tangent point is a massive 1.7″ back. The leading edge rises .36″ off the ground and is very blunt. In other words, it has every possible design feature to create safety in case the chip from back in the stance isn’t as perfect as it might be. Since a golf ball is 1.68″ in diameter, that’s still less than halfway up to the center of the ball. But if you play the ball forward, this may not be the wedge for you.

Here are the measurements for the eight sand wedges that happen to be in my garage. All are either 56-degrees from the factory or bent to 56-degrees.

A couple of things jump out from this table. The Callaway PM Grind at 13-degrees has a lower leading edge (.26 inches) than the 11-degree Bazooka 1OutPlus (.36 inches). How can a lower bounce have a higher leading edge? Simple geometry suggests that if you want a higher leading edge, you will need a higher bounce angle. But it gets worse. The Wishon WS (wide sole) at 6-degrees (55-degree wedge bent to 56-degrees) has a leading-edge height of .28 inches, higher than the Callaway which has over twice the nominal bounce angle!

One thing is missing from this simple discussion of angles.

If I place one line at 34-degrees above the horizontal (loft is measured from the vertical), and then extend another at some angle below horizontal, the height above ground where the two join depends on how long the lower line is. This means that an 18-degree bounce with a narrow “C” grind will raise the leading edge a little bit. A 6-degree bounce on a wide sole may raise it more because the end of the bounce on the first wedge is so close to the leading edge.


Let’s look at this in the picture. If the red line of the bounce is very short, it doesn’t get far below the black ground line. But if it goes further, it gets lower. This is the difference between narrow and wide soles.

This diagram describes the mathematical description of these relationships.

Our first task is to realize that the angle 0 in this diagram is the complement of the 56-degree loft of the wedge, or 90 – 56 = 34-degrees since loft is measured from vertical, not horizontal. But the angle 0 in the bounce equation is just that, the bounce value. These two angles will now allow us to calculate the theoretical values of various parts of the wedge, and then compare them to our real-world examples.

My PM Grind Callaway wedge has its 3rd groove, the supposed “perfect” impact point, 0.54 inches above the leading edge. This should put it 0.8 inches back from the leading edge, roughly matching the measured 0.82 inches. So far, so good. (I’m using the gauge correctly!)

The 13-degree bounce at 1.14″ calculates out to 0.284″ of leading-edge rise. I measured 0.26″, so Callaway seems to be doing the numbers properly, until I realize that the leading edge is already .45″ back, given a real tangent of .69″. Something is out of whack. Re-doing the math suggests that the real bounce is 20-degrees, 40 min. Hmmm…

Maybe that bounce angle measurement isn’t such a good number to look at. Without digging through all the different wedges (which would make you cross-eyed), we should go back to basics. What is it that we really need?

Most instructors will suggest that striking the ball on about the third groove will give the best results. It will put the ball close to the center of mass (sweet spot) of the wedge and give the best spin action. If my wedge is at an effective 45-degree angle (about my right big toe), it will strike the ball about half-way up to its equator. It will also be close to the third groove. But to make that strike with minimal risk of gardening, I have to enough protection to keep the edge out of the turf if I mis-hit the ball by a little bit. That can be determined by the leading edge height! The higher the edge, the more forgiveness there is on a mis-hit.

Now this is an incomplete answer. If the bounce is short, with a sharp back side, it will tend to dig into the turf a bit. It may not do it a lot, but it will have more resistance than a wider, smoother bounce. In the extreme case, the 1OutPlus will simply glide over the ground on anything less than a ridiculous angle.

The amount of leading-edge height you need will depend on your style. If you play the ball forward, you may not need much. But as you move the ball back, you’ll need to increase it. And if you are still inconsistent, a wider sole with a smooth contour will help you avoid episodes of extreme gardening. A blunt leading edge will also help. It may slow your club in the sand, but it will protect your chips.

There is no substitute for practice, but if you’re practicing chips from behind your right foot using a wedge with a sharp, low leading edge, you’re asking for frustration. If you’re chipping from a forward position with a blunt, wide sole wedge, you’ll be blading a lot of balls. So look at your chipping style and find a leading-edge height and profile that match your technique. Forget about the “high bounce” and “low bounce” wedges. That language doesn’t answer the right question.

Get a wedge that presents the club to the ball with the leading edge far enough off the ground to provide you with some forgiveness. Then knock ’em stiff!

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