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Wishon: “What shaft flex should I use?”

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Let’s start our discussion by making one thing clear. There’s a lot to fitting the flex and bend profile of shafts — enough to write a whole book.

In asking me to write about the fitting of each of the key specs of golf clubs, GolfWRX in essence gives me a “1-pound bag” each week to offer information about each fitting spec. Covering everything about shaft flex and bend profile would be like trying to put 100 pounds of stuff into that 1-pound bag!

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For those who are really into knowing as much as possible about flex and bend profile fitting in shafts, I recommend you read the three-part series I wrote for GolfWRX some time ago.

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For those who may not be that familiar with fitting for FLEX and for BEND PROFILE, fitting for the flex is a matter of finding a shaft with the correct swing speed rating for the golfer’s clubhead speed AND transition/tempo, while fitting the bend profile involves matching the tip stiffness design of the shaft to the golfer’s point of release.

Of all the points that an experienced club fitter has to evaluate to do a good job in the fitting of flex and bend profile, the most important one is to have accurate shaft bend profile measurement and swing speed rating data on the largest possible population of shaft models and flexes. This is because there are no standards for the flex of a shaft in the golf industry. Each golf company and shaft company is free to decide how stiff any of their letter flex codes on their shafts are to be. As such, the R flex from one company can be of the same stiffness as the S flex from another company or the A flex from a third.

Without access to a large data base of actual stiffness and swing speed rating measurements for shafts to be able to clearly know and compare the stiffness design of shafts, fitting for flex and bend profile is a matter of time consuming and frustrating trial and error. Period.

The following bend profile data graph is simply offered as an example of the type of shaft stiffness measurement data required to take shaft flex/bend profile fitting from a trial-and-error process to one of clear, succinct organization. This example graph will also prove the point about the confusion in flex due to a lack of standards in the industry.

Each of the five shafts in this graph are labeled and sold as S-flex shafts. The stiffness measurements represent a range of three full flexes, or stated another way, represent a swing speed rating difference of more than 30 mph.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 10.01.53 AM

With such data, the flex and bend profile fitting analysis follows these procedures:

1. Accurately measure the average clubhead speed of the golfer with a driver and a 5- or 6-iron.

2. Observe the golfer’s downswing transition and tempo and evaluate it as either:

A) Smooth/gradual/passive with little sense of acceleration.

B) Average, with some sense of force and acceleration from the transition through the downswing.

C) Forceful and aggressive, as if the golfer cannot wait to pour on the coals to accelerate the club to impact.

In simple terms, the club fitter is observing whether the golfer is more of a swinger (A), a definite hitter (C) or somewhere in between (B) with his downswing transition and tempo.

3. Observe the golfer’s point of release (i.e. the point at which the golfer begins to unhinge the wrist-cock angle on the downswing as either (1) early, (2) midway, (3) later, or (4) very late. Another way to evaluate this is to reference the point of starting the release to the hour numbers on a clock while facing the golfer.  

  • (1) Early: 11 to 9:30
  • (2) Midway: 9:30 to 8:30
  • (3 Later: 8:30 to 7:30
  • (4) Very Late: 7:30 to 6:30

4. Choose shafts of the correct weight (see my story on shaft weight/total weight), which have a swing speed rating that matches to the golfer’s clubhead speed and an adjustment for their transition and tempo evaluation with a tip stiffness design that matches the golfer’s point of release.

We will use an example of a golfer with a 100 mph driver clubhead speed. The up or down adjustment in the swing speed rating and tip stiffness recommendation is the same for all other clubhead speeds.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 10.00.30 AM

The above procedures are done to give the club fitter A STARTING POINT for shaft flex and bend profile fitting. Suitable candidate shafts are chosen by the club fitter from which the test club hitting process begins.

Again, because the best club fitters are superb multi-taskers during the test club sessions for flex and bend profile, the club fitter is also testing for shaft weight, swing weight and continually asking the golfer for feedback with each change of head weight or shaft.

Without question, the matter of ADVANCED PLAYER SHAFT FLEX/BEND PROFILE FITTING must also include an evaluation of the golfer’s preference for feel elements and shot shape/performance related to the flex/bend profile. Experienced club fitters will ask the golfer to provide the names of shafts the golfer has used, along with the golfer’s feedback of too high, too low, good flight, too stiff feeling, too flexible feeling, just right feeling, etc.

With this information, the club fitter will access his database of shaft stiffness measurements to study as many of the golfer’s previous shafts and compare the stiffness measurements. Through this process, the club fitter will be able to know what the actual stiffness measurements are for each shaft model feedback opinion from the golfer. From this the club fitter will have a very clear picture of what the stiffness measurements need to be to best satisfy the golfer’s feel and shot shape preferences.

Again, with the right database of shaft stiffness measurements, the process of flex and bend profile fitting becomes a very organized, very orderly, and very accurate process. Without such information, shaft flex and bend profile fitting will forever be a matter of trial and error.

Related

Tom Wishon

  1. What length should your clubs be?
  2. What lofts should your clubs be?
  3. Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
  4. The best way to fit lie angle
  5. How to choose the right club head design
  6. Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
  7. Getting the right size grip, time after time
  8. What shaft weight should you play?
  9. What swing weight should your clubs be?
  10. What shaft flex should I use?

This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.

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Tom Wishon is a 40-year veteran of the golf equipment industry specializing in club head design, shaft performance analysis and club fitting research and development. He has been responsible for more than 50 different club head design firsts in his design career, including the first adjustable hosel device, as well as the first 0.830 COR fairway woods, hybrids and irons. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: February 2014 Tom served as a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory Panel, and has written several books on golf equipment including "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and "The Search for the Perfect Driver," which were selected as back-to-back winners of the 2006 and 2007 Golf Book of the Year by the International Network of Golf (ING), the largest organization of golf industry media professionals in the USA. He continues to teach and share his wealth of knowledge in custom club fitting through his latest book, "Common Sense Clubfitting: The Wishon Method," written for golf professionals and club makers to learn the latest techniques in accurate custom club fitting. Tom currently heads his own company, Tom Wishon Golf Technology, which specializes in the design of original, high-end custom golf equipment designs and club fitting research for independent custom club makers worldwide Click here to visit his site, wishongolf.com

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Jim M.

    Mar 24, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Hello Tom,
    I’m curious if you have any thoughts or opinions on the accuracy/validity of the Golfworks “MPF Shaft Ratings”? Up to this point it’s the only shaft rating guide that I’ve used, and have found it to be better than going about shaft purchases blind, but not something I’d use and bet the house on.
    Since I’m just up in Boulder, maybe we can discuss the fascinating World of Shafts in person someday. Thanks for your articles, really enjoy hearing your perspective!

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 24, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      Jim M
      Sorry, but I don’t think very much of the Golfworks MPF shaft ratings. If you take a look at the clubhead speed ranges that they advise, you will see that every R flex is rated for the same 77-92mph driver speed, every S for the same 93-107 swing speed and so on. In doing this they are showing they are not aware of the fact that there is no standard for letter flex as I showed in that bend profile graph in the article. Also, having a 14-15mph swing speed range within the same flex is too large. While there are some areas for which I hold high regard for Golfworks, this is not one of them and the information is not very good for helping golfers find the best shaft for their swing characteristics. That graph you see in the article comes from my Bend Profile software program in which we now have something like 3,000 different shafts in the data base. Many of the clubmakers use this as their guide for empirically comparing the full length stiffness design of shafts so they know much more precisely how one shaft compares to the other. We certainly do not have all the shafts in the data base because this is a monumental task to try to get samples of as many shafts as we can. We certainly cannot buy them all. So we ask the shaft makers to submit samples of their shafts for us to measure and put into the data base. And as happens, some of the shaft makers choose not to participate for whatever reasons. But as it stands now, this software program is the most extensive data base of shaft relative stiffness measurements for clubmakers or golfers to have to be able to make better empirical comparisons.

      • Jim M.

        Mar 25, 2015 at 11:39 am

        Thanks for the reply Tom. I was under the impression Golfworks had a bit more sophisticated analysis at play, but as you point out, my impression was false.
        I’ve had a couple “clunker” purchases recently, and things are making a lot more sense why now!

  2. Devon

    Mar 18, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Hi Tom:

    Thanks again so much for posting. Incredibly valuable knowledge. It seems from reading your posts, I have been misunderstanding the role of shaft flex (and it seems I would not be alone!). I have always thought the main consideration in choosing a shaft is the trade-off between distance and accuracy. Want more distance, get a flexible shaft that will bend more and load the club head more like a sling shot catapult. Want more accuracy, get a stiffer shaft that won’t bend and twist as much, and thus provide a more consistently square face at impact. If you have a fast club head speed like I do (115+ for driver), but a miss will put you three fairways over, get the stiffest shaft you can find. When I read your posts, however, I don’t see any mention of stiffness impacting accuracy (hitting it straight). I see mention of stiffness affecting two main areas: 1) trajectory, spin rate, and launch angle (for harder swinging, late releasing folks, which I think I would also be); and 2) an individual preference for the feel of the club either loading or not loading.

    Have I been wrong all these years in thinking the main consideration in choosing stiffness is the trade-off of distance and accuracy?

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 20, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      Devon:
      Thanks for asking your question so I could have the chance to answer because this is a very good question since it has been said over the years that stiffer means more accurate and flexible means more distance. This concept has its roots from way back, long before serious research was done to find out precisely what the stiffness design of a shaft really does for golfers with different swing characteristics.

      It fooled Karsten because those who remember Ping clubs from the 70s and 80s recall that he always used one very stiff flex in all the clubs Ping made back then, from this belief that going very stiff was better because it offered better accuracy. But once he and his engineers discovered the real performance contribution of flex and bend profile, Ping did move away from this original very stiff philosophy to make their clubs with different flexes to better match to the clubhead speeds of golfers.

      Where this stiffer is more accurate and flexible is more distance belief came about was from way back when really good players would use different flex shafts – not from regular golfer testing with different stiffnesses. When a high clubhead speed player with a later release uses a MUCH more flexible shaft, the forward bending of the shaft coming into impact not only increases the dynamic loft to result in a higher launch/more spin/higher flight, but a greater amount of forward bending also causes the face to close a little bit too. So these higher speed, late release players would see that they had a tendency to draw or even hook the ball a little more when using a much more flexible shaft. Changing to a stiffer shaft reduced the amount of forward bend on the shaft at impact, which in turn lowered launch/spin/trajectory AND reduced the tendency of the forward bend to close the face. So from this came the belief that stiffer was more accurate.

      Not so with avg to regular players because without a higher speed AND later release, the shaft cannot come to impact in a forward bend position to bring about any real change in launch/spin/trajectory or any change in the face angle position.

      The concept that more flexible meant more distance came from the fact that when a higher speed, later release player used a more flexible shaft, often times the higher launch resulted in more carry distance, particularly if the player was using too little loft on the driver for his speed and his angle of attack. But here again, this does not work for early to midway release players because the shaft can’t be in a forward bend position at impact with an early to early-midway release and only gets to that point as the release gets a little later and later in the downswing.

      So to a small extent, going stiffer can have a small effect on accuracy, but typically only if the player were using a shaft that was too flexible for his speed and downswing force/tempo. Thing is, it is NEVER a good thing to play with a shaft that is stiffer than what your speed and downswing force dictates because that has the effect of making impact feel more dead/boardy and also can affect the golfer’s swing timing, tempo, and release in an adverse manner.

      Final point – ACCURACY is far, far more a product of getting the right fit for your length, the shaft weight, the headweight, the face angle. The shaft flex is a distant and only slight contributor to that.

  3. James

    Mar 18, 2015 at 12:40 am

    you could write a book…and that book would be called “Bullsh*t”…..unless you are a low single digit handicap player it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans what kind of shaft you are using. whether its a stiff or extra stiff or you pay $1000.00 for some after market shaft or use a made for shaft or some proprietary shaft. your swing just isn’t going to be consistent enough to see and difference. and they guys whos swings are consistant enough? its really just fine tuning…and I mean FINE tuning…

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 18, 2015 at 10:41 am

      JAMES
      I have said many times in my books and articles that golfers have to have a higher clubhead speed and mainly a later release before differences in the shafts’ stiffness design will begin to show an effect on changing the launch angle, trajectory and spin of the shot. So if you assume that only low single digit handicappers have a higher speed with late release, then you’re right – at least from a launch angle, trajectory and spin standpoint of performance related to different shaft stiffness designs.

      On the other hand, the stiffness design also can have a very big effect on swing tempo/timing/rhythm and on solidness of impact feel. And these elements of indirect performance from the shaft’s stiffness design can most definitely be perceived by high single digit, middle digit and even some higher handicappers depending on how much golf they have played.

      Pretty much most golfers who have played a lot can notice when a shot feels dead or lively when the ball leaves the face. When a shaft is too stiff for a golfer, the feeling of impact in the center of the face becomes more “dead” or “boardy”. And while that won’t affect actual ball speeds or shot characteristics, it most certainly can affect the golfer’s sense of feel to the point that he begins making worse swings and becomes more inconsistent as he fights with this sense of dead impact feel from the shaft being too stiff. This most certainly is an element related to stiffness design that more than just low single digit players can perceive.

      Yes, no question, and as I have said before, for the golfers with avg to slower speeds who also have an early to early-midway release, the elements of length, loft, lie, face angle, shaft weight, total weight, swingweight, head design, set makeup and grip size will for sure contribute much more to game improvement than will the stiffness design of the shaft. But even so, this matter of getting the right flex for avg golfers so their sense of timing/rhythm is a little better, and very much so the feeling of impact is more solid are important elements related to the stiffness design that have to be observed for these less skilled players.

      • Justin

        Apr 8, 2015 at 12:37 am

        Hi Tom,

        I’ve been into clubfitting for a few years now, and am a firm believer in the Common Sense Clubfitting system you developed. My question about this thread, with the importance of flex for less-skilled players, is: how would it matter?

        What I mean is, when an early unhinging of the wrist angle happens, doesn’t all of that flex go out the window (so to speak)? Am I correct in believing the shaft flexes and returns to straight well before the clubhead gets to the ball? If so, would the flex really have that much of an effect on “feel”?

        Thanks for all you do,
        Justin

  4. Dennis

    Mar 15, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Seems hard to believe you can discuss shaft flex without mentioning splining and whether the shafts were spline for maximum or minimum flex.

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      Dennis
      Like I said in the opening paragraph, one could easily write a book about all the elements related to shafts, shaft flex, bend profile and the fitting thereof. Shaft spine alignment can be important to SOME players depending on their swing characteristics, but by no means is it a critical element for ALL golfers. With the limited space I have for each piece, I have to award a priority to covering information that will be pertinent to the largest segment of golfers and spine alignment/orientation does not fit that priority. FYI so I don’t leave this too much in the dark, I’ll leave you with two basics about it – 1) far fewer shafts today exhibit asymmetry properties for which a spine/asymmetry check and realignment is necessary, 2) shaft spine alignment/orientation becomes more important as the clubhead speed gets higher, as the downswing move becomes more aggressive and as the release becomes later and later in the downswing.

  5. Charles

    Mar 13, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I’ve read a lot of articles from club fitters about shaft flex and there are folks saying “You should play the softest shaft you can control”, while other guys say “You should play the stiffest shaft you can get the ball airborne”. I really would like to know your opinion about that. Let’s say that when you are fitting someone you see by the numbers that there are two shafts that match the player’s swing, but one is stiffer than the other, what would be your recommendation? Thanks

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 13, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      CHARLES
      Depends on the golfer’s swing characteristics. The higher the clubhead speed, the more forceful the transition and tempo and the later the release, the more it would be better to err on the side of being a little bit too stiff than too flexible. But the lower the speed, the more passive the downswing force and the earlier the release, the better it would be to err on the side of being a little too flexible than too stiff.

      Reason is that higher speed, more forceful transition/tempo and later release are all swing characteristics that make the shaft bend more in the swing. So as the player has the ability to bend the shaft more in the swing, the better it would be to err on the side of being a little too stiff. However, fitting the shaft flex/bp always should involve asking the player if he has a preference for the bending feel of the shaft based on experience in the game. if so, then you really have to keep this in mind when making final decisions for the flex/bp. So if the player has preferred shafts that are stiffer than what his swing characteristics might otherwise dictate in a fitting analysis, then you have to err on the side of being a little more stiff. And vice versa too.

  6. Marty

    Mar 13, 2015 at 12:20 am

  7. RP Jacobs II

    Mar 12, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Great article Tom!!

    Stay well my Friend 🙂

    Golfingly Yours,
    Richard

  8. Sean

    Mar 12, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I have three different flexes in my bag: light, regular, and stiff. Works for me.

    • marty

      Mar 14, 2015 at 4:20 am

      I thought I was the only weirdo who does this. Hahahahah

  9. Chris C

    Mar 12, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I seem to recall that Mr.Wishon has previously suggested that, for those who release the club early, shaft flex is not a significant factor in fitting. I believe that he noted that all of Ping’s early irons came with stiff flex shafts. If I have recollected correctly, Mr. Wishon might actually concur with Mr. Crossfield’s assessment. At least with regards to early releasers.

  10. gunmetal

    Mar 12, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Tom,

    Have you checked out Mark crossfield’s YouTube series on ‘shaft flex does it matter’? Really interesting on how miniscule the differences in performance are even from x to L let alone S to R.

    • David

      Mar 12, 2015 at 6:25 am

      Please don’t tell me you’d believe Mark Crossfield over Tom Wishon. Shaft flex obviously matters, Mark and his friends are all low players, try testing on mid-high handicappers and he’d see a noticeable difference.

      • Rich

        Mar 12, 2015 at 8:42 pm

        I think Mark Crossfield’s video makes sense. He has the data to back it up as well. Yes they are low markers but there are a lot of guys out there that swing at the same speed as MC (roughly 150 ball speed with a driver) so it would seem quite relevant to me.

      • Marty

        Mar 13, 2015 at 12:02 am

        Actually I believe Tom himself has stated that shaft flex matters very little with an early release swing and matters mostly on late to very late release swing. With early release swings, the club has already released and returned back to straight before impact therefore negating the flex

    • Mat

      Mar 12, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      I’m just shaking my head over that comment…

    • Tom Wishon

      Mar 13, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Gunmetal
      There are two possible ways that the shaft can have an effect on performance. 1) as clubhead speed gets higher AND with it, as the release gets later, the shaft will show an effect on the launch angle, trajectory and spin. But the other side of this is also the fact that as clubhead speed gets slower AND with it, the release happens earlier, the shaft cannot have any real effect on LA, Traj and spin. This is because the early release causes the shaft to go into its forward bending action too soon before impact so by the time the head gets to the ball, the shaft has rebounded back to straight and thus can’t affect LA, Traj and spin. Add to this the fact that slower speed means any potential change in the LA and spin are far less evident.

      2) the other way the flex/bend profile can affect performance is when a golfer happens to have a very distinct sense of FEEL for the bending action of the shaft, when the flex/BP is dead on right in the wheelhouse of the golfer’s sense of feel, this means his timing for his release is as good as it can be, which in turn means he will reach his absolute highest clubhead speed as well as best timing and rhythm in the swing.

      But not all golfers have a definite sense of feel for the bending action of the shaft. Some do, many don’t. And this is something that while usually more in the realm of better players, it is still possible to find a less skilled but experienced player who does have a real sense of feel for the shaft. In such cases even though the less skilled player may not have the speed or release to make the shaft elicit much effect on the LA, traj and spin, if he does have a very refined sense of feel for the shaft, this means getting him into the right flex/bp helps with his swing tempo, timing and rhythm.

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Courses

Brough Creek National: The backyard course you wish you’d built

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted a golf course in your backyard.

Of course you have.

Now leave your hand raised if you actually rolled up your sleeves and made it happen.

Among the very few people left with their hands in the air are Ben Hotaling, Zach Brough, Evan Bissell, and Mark Robinson, the driving force behind Brough Creek National. That’s right. These guys are building a golf course in their backyard. From scratch.

The true beginnings of golf aren’t well-documented, but one thing’s for sure: people were playing golf at least 400 years before the first working internal combustion engine. Long before golf course architecture was a multi-million dollar investment before the first dime of revenue trickled in, courses were laid down largely by hand using the natural movement of the land. In that same spirit, Ben happened to notice that there was one particular shot in their backyard that reminded him of the Road Hole at St. Andrews, as it plays over their barn and to a green situated right in front of the road to the property.

Ben ultimately convinced his roommate Zach, whose family has owned the land for some time, that they should clear some trees and put in a makeshift green for their Road Hole. That was in 2015 and, while that’s technically the genesis of Brough Creek National, it was in 2018 when they started sharing their ideas in No Laying Up’s online forum section that things escalated rather quickly. Bouncing ideas off their fellow compatriots revealed great natural setups for a Biarritz/punch bowl combination, a Redan, and more. Before they knew it, they had a 630-yard, 7-hole golf course criss-crossing through the three-acre property in Kansas City, KS.

Road Hole green at Brough Creek National

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Brough Creek National is that it has operated solely off of donations, which started with a weed eater here and a can of herbicide there and has since grown to a recent GoFundMe campaign of $15,000. These donations have allowed them to purchase grass seed and other vital equipment to see the project through. The community aspect of Brough Creek National is so important to what they’re trying to achieve that anyone who provides their name and address on the website is sent a free new membership packet (I happen to be member #209). Included are some stickers, a ballmark, and a welcome letter that states (among other things),

“We are proud to have you as a lifetime national member at our exclusive, member-owned (and maintained) club…The vision of Brough Creek National is to have a place for community golf modeled around fun for members and guests from all golfing backgrounds…Your dues will be assessed at the rate of $0.00 annually.”

Ben further emphasizes the importance of the community aspect by saying:

“I think Brough Creek stands for community. It’s like-minded individuals coming together and supporting something they’re proud of. It’s a smart, intriguing golf course, but it’s ultimately about making friends and that’s what matters. The quality of the golf course is almost inconsequential because the real purpose is to assemble this brotherhood of people who are passionate about the game of golf. We think it’s done in a way that sheds the elitist stigma that golf has often struggled with and we’re almost mocking that in a playful way.”

“I’m not going to tell anyone they have to experience the game a certain way, but we try to go above and beyond to be approachable and welcoming because we think that’s more important than status. Golf’s not a money-making business. It’s just not. So, why don’t we just take that out of it, come together as a community, and create something we can all be proud of?”

If we’re all having an honest moment, not even Ben and Zach know exactly how this project is going to evolve, but one thing’s for sure: an emphasis on maximizing fun for the highest number of the golfing community is never a bad place to start. Those who believe par and total yardage are irrelevant in determining the amount of fun available to them should be in for a treat. To watch the project unfold, check out www.someguysbackyard.com and follow @someguysbackyrd on Twitter and @someguysbackyard on Instagram.

Below is an overview of the course, narrated by Ben Hotaling

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Opinion & Analysis

Brooks Koepka’s coach, Claude Harmon III, on BK’s PGA Championship victory, working with the game’s best, and more

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Coming fresh off the celebration of Brooks Koepka’s fourth major win, Koepka’s long-time coach, Claude Harmon III chatted with Johnny Wunder as he was just about to hop on a plane back to The Floridian.

Here are the highlights of their conversation.

JW: Claude how you doin’?

CH3: Uh, I’m hungover!

JW: Brooks is walking off the 18th green after another major triumph. What is the first thing you guys said to each other?

CH3: Well, obviously there was a lot of emotion in that moment, but he told me it was the happiest he has ever been on the golf course, and after everything he’s done, that’s a big statement.

For him to put in all the hard work and to fight as hard as he did on a golf course that completely changed on the last day and come out on top makes me extremely grateful to be a part of the team that supports that. I believe he will find out more about himself from getting through the final nine holes than he would if he would have had a parade coming in and won by seven.

JW: That’s a great point. It seems like he is more apt to win even more majors based on that back nine than he would have otherwise.

CH3: I don’t think if you were watching it on TV you could have any appreciation for just how difficult it was. What DJ did yesterday was impossible and having that up ahead applies even more pressure to a leader. Ricky Elliott and BK are looking at the scoreboard and seeing DJ and 3 under and having no idea how that’s even possible. It was that tough.

JW: I think Brooks stubbornness is part of his true greatness. Would you agree?

CH3: His perspective constantly was “I’m still in the lead and someone is going to have to catch me and this golf course is extremely difficult.” Even after all the bogeys on the back side, he still controlled the lead and kept that mantra. The crowd yelling “DJ! DJ!” actually didn’t piss him off, it woke him up and made him want to hit a good drive and show the crowd he was still leading.

JW: How did yesterday compare to Shinnecock? 

CH3: At Shinnecock it was an interesting situation because Fleetwood…posted before BK was even off and in that case, Brooks said it was like playing against a ghost. No matter what he does, Tommy isn’t going to make any more mistakes or change in any way. That’s a tough scenario when you are staring at a number that won’t move for 5 1/2 hours.

JW: What do Brooks and DJ have that people can learn from.

CH3: It’s funny because we hear these cliches in sports psychology all the time, but I believe those two are the living embodiment of ONE SHOT AT A TIME. They don’t look back. Ever.

JW: Speaking on DJ. I’m watching the back nine and thinking to myself this guy is playing out of his mind, it was literally a battle of the best.

CH3: We talk about it all the time in golf, what we always want is the two best players in the world going toe to toe. We had that yesterday and I hope as time goes by we can look at this final round as a battle we will be talking about for a long time. Best players in the world on a tough but fair golf course with the ultimate prize on the line. In situations like this when there is this kind of pressure and these stakes you can look at the leaderboard and see the cream rising to the top. Rory, DJ, Jordan all with good rounds on a really tough day.

JW: You met Brooks in 2013, he showed up in his mom’s beat up Explorer and don’t know him at all. What was your first impression?

CH3: I was introduced to him by Pete Uihlein, his old roommate, and at first glance, he had raw talent and a ton of speed, but no plan. At the time he was hitting a draw and was uncomfortable with that. He told me his current coach wanted him to hit draws, and I said well that’s your fault, not your coach’s. It’s the player’s responsibility to manage himself and the information he’s comfortable with. When we worked on him getting into a fade, he started to click and he turned to me and said “it can’t be this easy.” My reply was “it has to be this easy!” At that level, under the gun, it better be easy. [Golf is] tough enough already.

JW: What were his career goals early on?

CH3: Even then, he wanted to be an elite player who won multiple majors. I was coaching Ernie Els at the time who had just won his fourth major and Brooks was on the Challenge Tour. He was committed to getting there but needed guidance, someone with a plan that wasn’t just his golf swing. Obviously, it worked out.

JW: What would you say is the Harmon secret to getting the best players in the world to peak as often as you guys do?

CH3: My dad told me: “What you don’t say is just as important as what you do say.” At the Masters this year Brooks, in practice, was really struggling. Look, it’s Masters week and I’m not going to go in there and start putting thoughts in his head. At that point, if this is a shuttle launch, we are in the cockpit and there is no turning back. My dad always had his guys have a go-to shot that they “knew” they could hit. Brooks calls it his “fairway finder” which is a squeeze off fade with a driver. I told him to hit a couple of those knowing it might spur some confidence. After a few absolutely flushed missiles, his confidence went up and he turned to me and said…”fairway finder all day.” The rest is history.

JW: You coach DJ, Brooks, Jimmy Walker and Rickie. Describe each in one word

JW: DJ
CH3: Natural

JW: Brooks
CH3: Tough MF

JW: Rickie
CH3: Genuine

JW: Jimmy
CH3: Soulful

JW: Thanks old friend
CH3: Talk soon, thanks man.

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On Spec: Swing weight is overrated

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A deep dive into one of the most talked about but truly misunderstood aspects of club building: swing weight. What it really means, and why it isn’t the end all be all for a set of clubs.

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

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