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Swanson: The Green Jacket would be Spieth’s if he knew anything about iron design

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Warning: Swanson, the author of this story, does not exist… except in his writing. His character is completely imagined, but that doesn’t mean his opinions aren’t real. 

Recently, I shared with the GolfWRX community my golden nuggets for selecting the 14 clubs in your bag, as to abide by the USGA maximum club rule. Some of you were astoundingly unappreciative. I’ve been getting hate mail and negative comments since it’s been published.

Therefore, I’d like to use the first half of this story to address the responses, which are utterly appalling. The second half of this week’s article will be dedicated to an equipment tip for Jordan Spieth to improve his game and avoid any future meltdowns.

Responding to the Hate

1)Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.06.51 PM

Swanson: “Duffer,” you sound like quite the stick. But think about this: If I couldn’t hit a 1-iron better than Hogan (he actually hit it too low), would you care what I had to say? Golfers always complain that the best teachers can’t play a lick or hit it out of their shadow. Consider me your saving grace. How’s this: I’ll play each of the top-100 teachers in match play, and we’ll see who knows more about golf.

2)Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.06.18 PM

Swanson: Loser? I remember the last time I needed a 2-iron to reach a par 5. It was around when Bush was in office… Bush Sr. If you want to play for big prize money, you can find me at my country club every week with a locker full of cash and a tee time.

3)Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.04.30 PM

Swanson: 17 handicap, yes. When I play the entire round with a putter.

4)Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.54.36 PM

Swanson: Stab at Ian Poulter? Uh no, he’s a family friend. My father sold Poults his first Ferrari back in ’92 before my father bought Ferrari (the company).

5)

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.54.13 PM

Swanson: Funny story. I’m good buddies with the character on which Spaulding Smails is based. He’s a “good egg,” as they say. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m named after the driver of the boat in Caddyshack, since my father loves boats and yachts.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 3.39.23 PM

“Move over Swanson, I’m driving!” Just never gets old!

6)

Screen-Shot-2016-03-30-at-1.53.33-PM

Swanson: They’re handmade by the Dalai Lama’s right-hand man, and I have his cell number if you’re serious. Message me and I’ll get you a price estimate.

7) 

Screen-Shot-2016-03-30-at-1.53.20-PM

Swanson: The last part of the last sentence was spot on.

An equipment tip for Jordan Spieth

I actually feel bad for Jordan. He probably thinks he choked The Masters away. I mean he did, but it wasn’t his fault. I went through literally the same exact thing, so I know what happened.

You see, I’ve also hit a tee shot into the water on No. 12 at Augusta National (I also used the drop zone and got up and down for bogey, but that’s not the point). I got fit for new irons the week before I played Augusta for the first time. Admittedly, I wasn’t the stellar ball striker I am now, so the fitter put me into a set of game-improvement style irons. You know, thick top line, cavity back, thin face… the whole works. They were basically garbage cans, but who was I to question the fitter, right?

So I get to Augusta National with a bag full of shovels, and I struggled a bit on the front nine and made the turn in a few under par. The par 5s are basically par 4s, and the par 4s are basically par-3.5’s, so nothing special. I just wasn’t catching the new irons flush, and didn’t have the precision I had with my forged blades.

Nos. 10 and 11 aren’t nearly as difficult as the pros claim, so I cruise through those with easy pars. But then I get to the 12th.

AugustaSwanson

The pin was all the way on the right, similar to where it is on Sunday for the Masters. The hole was playing 154 yards and the wind was swirling. I decided to try and take the wind out of play, and went with a low-slinging draw with my 9 iron. It’s a shot I’d hit a million times with my forged blades, but the ball floated out to the right and never drew back to the pin.

I knew immediately it was the club’s fault. The forgiveness of the irons kept the ball from drawing back to the pin.

I went onto birdie 5 of the last 6 holes (I missed 3-foot eagle putts on Nos. 13 and 15 because I was flustered), and would have had the course record (which is only 63) if it wasn’t for my irons.

But I learned my lesson. That was the last day I ever played an iron with even an ounce of “technology” in it. In fact, after the round I took a NetJets home to get my forged blade irons, and played the course again the next day. I couldn’t get it going with the putter and shot 66… but I made a hole-in-one on No. 12.

They say there’s only been three holes-in-one on that hole, but there’s actually been four. When I told the committee at Augusta National I made a hole-in-one there with a low-squeezer 9 iron, they didn’t believe me, and no one was there to attest. They no longer allow me on the premises because of the dispute, but if you jump into the pond in front of the green, you’ll find a set of game-improvement irons.

And that’s where Jordan Spieth’s irons should be, too. If he wants to win any more majors, he needs to ditch those irons with all that forgiveness and switch to blades. It’s no wonder he hit the worst tee shot I’ve ever seen there, he had zero ball control.

Please email (longballswanson@gmail.com) or tweet me (@longballswan1) with questions you’d like me to answer for a new segment called “Yo, Swanson!” I’ll answer anything you want since I know pretty much everything about everything golf-related, and I can help you avoid you’re own major meltdown.

Longball Swanson, out.

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Swanson doesn't exist, except in his writing. He doesn't play for score any more, as he's too busy working on his spin rates. For tournament purposes, he has a 2 handicap on file from high school golf, registered at his home club, which is only reachable by private watercraft.

59 Comments

59 Comments

  1. Frank McChrystal

    Aug 29, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Tongue in cheek, maybe. If you have hands of stone and think the AP2 is a players club then this article is twisted and has your brain shutting down.

  2. Jeff*

    May 11, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    He shoulda been using the AP2 wedge came with his set, but he wanted to look like a gamer. In front of all the press, and it cost him a Masters. Hard lesson. We could a told him.

  3. The loop

    Apr 28, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Hilarious that so many don’t realize this is satire, tongue-in-cheek! I never knew so many live each day with their underwear so tightly knotted!

  4. cody

    Apr 22, 2016 at 11:10 am

    i think these articles are funny

  5. Andrew

    Apr 18, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    please stop doing these stupid articles. he is a terrible fictional character and a waste of space on the site.

    • Tyler

      Apr 20, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Dude lighten up. It’s an entertaining article that makes us laugh because we see pieces of ourselves in it.

  6. RG

    Apr 18, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I use GI irons….when I play left handed. I’m a natural righty so I often play lefty which gives me a chance to use my putter. The last time I played the ‘Ol Girl (That’s what Arnie, Jack and I call Augusta) I shot 31 going out ( That’s what Arnie, Jack and I call the front 9) playing lefty. I got bored draining putts so I switched righty coming in ( That’s what Arnie, Jack and I call the back 9). I birdied 12( SW to 6’) and as I was walking off the green I decided to take a dip in Rae’s creek.It was really hot that day so I just stripped down and jumped in.You know they have a rule against that?! Ridiculous!! Well whatever, that place is totally overrated anyhow. I mean they don’t even have carts for Christ sake!
    O and Swanson, about that locker full of cash…..

  7. AllBOdoesisgolf

    Apr 18, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    sometimes writers should stick to content instead of comedy.

  8. Bogeypro

    Apr 18, 2016 at 8:53 am

    It might have been better if it was actually funny.

  9. Other Paul

    Apr 18, 2016 at 1:27 am

    I was out playing today and was having the round of my life. And then things went sideways. All i got from people with me was that i had pulled a spieth. And when anyone 3 putt or worse it was an Els.

  10. Dtrain

    Apr 17, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    The last 3 times I played Augusta I took my SGI irons and just hammered a PW over the back bunker and because if the super high traj the wind brought it back to the green. Went birdie/par/bird. If it wasn’t for the fact my caddie called a penalty on me for accidentally anchoring my eagle putt on 18 I would have shot 61 for the course record.

    You live and you learn I guess but if anyone know Jordan’s email address PM it to me I think I could offer him some good advice.

    • RG

      Apr 19, 2016 at 2:16 am

      Yeah, I go long every time I hit PW there to. I’m telling ya the shot there is 3/4 little half thinny punch cut SW.

  11. Tyler

    Apr 17, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Have we even considered his iron shafts? I mean he’s ONLY playing a PX 6.0. How the heck does he control such a wet noodle of a shaft? I mean if the shaft is the engine of the club then Spieth is running a single overhead cam V6 when every other tour pros (and myself of course; gaming PX 9.0 currently) are running fully blown V8s!

    • Dtrain

      Apr 17, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      Actually it’s just the thingy that connects the head to the grip.

  12. Mark

    Apr 17, 2016 at 3:09 am

    Several northern English words can be used to review this article. Cack. Drivel. Tripe. Shyte.

    • Alex T

      Apr 17, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      You forgot twaddle and bollocks. It’s also those, too.

  13. The Real Swanson

    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:39 am

    This isn’t even that funny, so I shanked it 10 times.

  14. DB

    Apr 16, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Swanson for President! Wouldn’t mind he and “The Trump” having a friendly 9 holes against each other. Love the articles, Please keep them coming!!!!

  15. Roger Daltry

    Apr 16, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Funny. However, totally agree with the cavity/blades argument. I’m way better with blades, period, and yes, been through the whole change/change back process. Too bad many more don’t realize blades force you to be better as you are more connected with your tool.

  16. Alanp

    Apr 16, 2016 at 7:50 am

    I read this in bed while the wife was sleeping. I woke her up from laughing.

    • :-ppp

      Apr 16, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Enjoy talking to yourself and laughing at your inner jokes, do ya, Schizo Smizzle?

  17. Nathan

    Apr 16, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Hmm,
    How did you describe the responses to your first article?
    You said utterly appauling, I find them a reflection to the article written, and from this perspective I would have to agree.

  18. michael johnson

    Apr 16, 2016 at 6:09 am

    this is me feeding the troll

  19. NikkoAZ

    Apr 16, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Other than the fact that almost everything you just stated is complete bs????????I do agree all players on Tour should not be gaming in their bag “game improvement” irons. I mean a club is a club it is a certain length, loft and lie and is what it is.But the level that professionals play at you need to have complete control of your shape and trajectory. Jordan Speith did not loose cause he’s playing AP2’s, it was the Indian and not the arrow. Plus if anything his miss would be left due to the offset of a more forgiving iron. But to give you my opinion, play with whatever you are confident with whenever you pull that club out of the bag, for me I do play blades and don’t plan on switching because when I pick what shot and club I’m going to hit I know what it’s going to do. So play with clubs that you know how the ball is going to react and most importantly have fun.

  20. DW

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    You’re growing on me, Swanson. Not like a fungus but rather more pleasantly. Good stuff.

  21. Johny Thunder

    Apr 15, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    The guy who wrote this is obviously insane.

    By the way, what the h*** happened to Stephen Colbert? He was my hero, but he almost seems a bit liberal these days…

    • DW

      Apr 15, 2016 at 11:34 pm

      He’s always been liberal. Never more than when he did the Colbert Report.

    • Bernie Sanders

      Apr 16, 2016 at 10:18 am

      That was the funniest thing I have read in weeks Jonny.
      If for some strange reason you were serious, then you are living proof of what I’ve thought of conservatives guys all along and may I humbly recommend that next time you vote for a someone for president – try to choose one that has an IQ above room temperature.

  22. Philip

    Apr 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Great! Now where is the satire article from someone of the opposite point of view? Shovels or bust!

  23. Marc

    Apr 15, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Loved it , went well with my Bacardi and Coke sitting in my lazy boy watching a little heritage classic.

  24. Joe D

    Apr 15, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Almost peed my shorts. Hilarious stuff. Love it. Its sad that some here actually believe this.

  25. Bob Pegram

    Apr 15, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    This was funny and obviously satire. However, I agree with the comments on extreme game improvement irons though. With blades when you feel you are making a mistake, you can sometimes correct it with a roll of the wrists. Doesn’t work with game improvement irons.
    On par 3s into the wind I purposely hit the ball low on the face with one more club to reduce spin and shot height. Can’t do that with game improvement clubs.

  26. talljohn777

    Apr 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Sorry, but nobody plays Augusta by themselves. They play with a member and a caddie. So, the fictitious hole in one would have been witnessed. Also, the pond in front of the green is a creek.

    • RG

      Apr 19, 2016 at 2:30 am

      Show’s what you know. It’s a pond Mon-Fri. They only turn on the creek sat-sun and during the tournament.

  27. Steve

    Apr 15, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Crap like this is why I don’t visit the site as often as I used to.

    Painfully dumb.

  28. kingfish

    Apr 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I am just stumbling upon this article… is it meant for any bit of seriousness or is this just a big joke? I am being serious in my question also because I have never read this guys stuff before.

    • Jack Nash

      Apr 15, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Maybe it’s a late April Fools. Spieths rinsing the balls on 12 had everything to do with his swing and not his irons. He’s already got a Green Jacket with those irons.

      • Zak Kozuchowski

        Apr 15, 2016 at 4:45 pm

        Just to clarify, we added this note to the top of the story:

        “Warning: Swanson, the author of this story, does not exist… except in his writing. His character is completely imagined, but that doesn’t mean his opinions aren’t real.”

  29. Timbleking

    Apr 15, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Swan, you’re my writing hero. We want more!! Keep it up!

  30. Chadio

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Yo, Swanson! I think you were the single playing in front of my group at Augusta when you hit that sweet low draw in to 12 for an Ace. I’ll attest for you if you have any trouble with those old codgers. I’m playing Miura…..what is your favorite blade?

  31. Imanoff

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    So, Spieth will leave Titleist, because their iron materials is not good enough at his level. And PXG has actually designed a special blade for him, including a -iron, made with damascus and carbon shaft. This time, however, his irons will be single length. And it will be hard-stepped three times, so that he will not floated out the ball to the right again. At the end of the day, he will win another green jacket. Not only that, he will win the blue one, the red one, even the black one as well.

    Well played, Swanson. Well played.

  32. Kevin

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    You all need to calm down a little bit. This is a joke to poke fun at your typical Golf WRX member. I am one just as much as the next guy, learn how to have a laugh.

  33. Rev G

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    This article is ridiculous, everyone knows that Jordan Spieth lost the Masters because he’s wearing unproven Under Armour shoes. If he was wearing Foot-Joy or Adidas he’d have won by ten strokes. By five if he was wearing Mark Ecco. Probably could have got into a playoff wearing Sketchers or Nike. But Under Armour, come on, they put him at way too big of a disadvantage. He’s been very lucky to win anything with their proto-type shoes, but now that they’re retail, forget it. I’m going to post to this article again after I figure out how many strokes Spieth lost by playing the new Super Stroke club grips.

    • RG

      Apr 19, 2016 at 2:43 am

      The real problem with UA shoes is the lace tension. They have changed the hole configuration and gone with a new grommet but it is not quite work with the 2mm lace (and as we all know how bad UA’s lace tech lags behind other OEM’s) this in turn can cause slip through the tarsal and meta tarsal and we all know what that can lead to….sod laying. Although UA has been a leader in moisture wicking apparel(and we know how important that is) they are definitely behind in their lace, grommet and grommet patterning.How very insightful of you Rev G. (and no we are not related).

  34. Mike Bond

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    This is stupid. Jordan was blocking himself ALL day. Everything was going right because his swing was off, nothing do with his clubs

  35. Erock

    Apr 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Was waiting for him to say Spieth needed more upright lies.

  36. Mike Honcho

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:45 am

    GEEZ-US!, they let this bizzaro world, Herbert Warren Wind Mark Twain rip-off write another article after we Cleveland VAS shanked the last article. Just admitting that you’re friends with the real-life Spaulding Smails sums it up. You may be a good stick, but as a writer you couldn’t break 120 if all the holes were down wind and the greens were running at 7. Al Czervik sez, “Does this article come with a bowl of soup?”.

  37. cgasucks

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Please tell me that this is a parody article…this article was meant to joke around..

  38. McLovin

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

    hemingway has NOTHING on you…..gave it 2 thumbs up

  39. Jason

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I love the Onion…Greagreat work.

    My blog is better, but I can’t help it…I am a narcissist.

  40. joel

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

    The picture made me laugh. My vote is more of this.

  41. Nucj

    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Hilarious. Big fan of these satirical articles and its needed here. Too many people jump at the chance in the comments on this site to make their egos feel big. Too much negativity.

    Keep it up GolfWRX!

  42. BRS

    Apr 15, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Best writer on Golfwrx, period.

  43. Scott

    Apr 15, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Absolutely. Hilarious.

  44. Ferb

    Apr 15, 2016 at 10:25 am

    this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

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Opinion & Analysis

Inside the ropes with the fittest on Tour

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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…

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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 GolfWRX.com 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 GolfWRX.com 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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Instruction

Confessions of a hacker: Chipping yips and equipment fixes

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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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