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GolfWRX Interview – Tom Wishon Part 1

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GolfWRX is proud to present an interview with Tom Wishon

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GolfWRX: It is my great pleasure to introduce Tom Wishon with us here today. Tom we appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to talk to us.

Tom Wishon: Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity to be able to discuss some of these points because there is a whole lot of confusion out there in the industry with regard to equipment and what is right and what is wrong for various golfers.

GolfWRX: Definitely, I think that’s a mild understatement as a lot of people are very confused these days so we are looking forward to your answers about it. Before we get started can you give us a little background about yourself and your time in the golf industry?

Tom Wishon: Yeah, I’m getting to be a little bit long in the tooth these days seeing as how I’m 57 now. I started out right after I got out of college. I joined the PGA program and became a member of the PGA while working as an Assistant Pro because basically in those days back in the early 70’s I made the grand salary of $300 as an Assistant Pro and the golf course I first worked at didn’t have a full driving range. So to supplement my income I got really hooked into club repair and that’s what really got me going and back in those days it was all reshafting and refinishing wooden woods and all that. From there I really got fascinated about making my own clubs so I built and made all my own routers and boring machines and on a very limited basis made a small line of woods I sold. Just really from that it spring boarded into being fascinated why some things work for some golfers and why some didn’t. Whenever I tried calling people from shaft companies and golf club companies and no one would answer my questions. So it got really frustrating so that started what’s become a life long quest to figure out how golf clubs work and then how they work for different people from that standpoint. From going on from starting as an Assistant Pro, I went to work as Vice President for The GolfWorks from 1980-1986 and got the opportunity to take over as President of Dynacraft Golf Products from 1986-1993. Then the guys at Golfsmith wanted to upgrade everything so I was Vice President at Golfsmith and in charge of the component division for the from 1993 to late 2001. Then I decided finally, probably a little too late, I decided to do my own thing. So Mary Ellen and I decided to start Wishon Golf. We opened the doors in February 2003 here in Durango, Colorado and that’s what we’re trying to do now. To really take custom clubfitting and increase its awareness among as many golfers as we can.

GolfWRX: Now throughout all the things you’ve done, what’s been the most rewarding part of your career?

Tom Wishon: When I look back on it I really enjoyed writing as a form of educating. All the writing I would do when I primarily started working at GolfWorks through my years at Dynacraft and my years at Golfsmith, most of that was books which were done to educate the clubmakers – make them a lot more aware of what goes on when clubhead meets ball and make them more aware about clubfitting. As a result of all the research I’ve done on an ongoing basis throughout the years to try to figure out what works for some golfers and why. That’s been a lot of fun, but I would say most recently here in 2005 when I finally got the opportunity to write a book for regular golfers. That was a big thing for me. I had tried to push that and get permission for that when I was with Golfsmith and they didn’t want that done. So I had to wait until I got to do it with my own company. The reaction of golfers that have read one of the two “Search” books, or the “12 Myths” or the one that just came out last week, “The Right Sticks” book. Getting e-mails and phone calls from golfers who are thrilled to learn this information. And have their eyes opened finally to realize what they had been looking at through the years was nothing more than a standard size, one size fits all to be bought off the rack. To learn about how custom fitting could help them and in a lot of cases to hear from many of the after they went through the custom fitting process and how thrilled they were and glad I put the book out and how it opened their eyes. That’s been very, very rewarding to me to be able to reflect on that because in a very small we we’ve had a little bit of an impact on the industry there. No one had ever come along and done anything to create any demand for custom fitting. Although what’s come from the “Search” books is a trickle, it does make me realize, if there’s some way we could get this information to a million golfers we could really change the industry. Because the information in the books is good, it’s not self-promoting in any way it is just this is what works, this is what you need if you’re this type of golfer. People are ready for this type of information. I know the reaction from the readers has been really fantastic because a little more than a month after the first “Search” book came out we got a steady stream of calls from regular golfers who bought the book, read it, the light bulb went off over their heads and they were calling in to see if we could help them find a good clubmaker in their area. Then we started to hear from clubmakers who would call up to order products and they would happen to say, hey by the way I’m ordering these for a fitting for a guy who just walked in from out of nowhere with your book in his hand. So granted it’s just a trickle, but if there was some way we could really get this message out and get more and more golfers to read some of this information, they’re ready for it. They want to find a little bit different way to do things from the standpoint of their equipment so they have more confidence their money was well spent.

GolfWRX: Definitely, I know I’m one of the many readers of your book and it was without a doubt one of the most eye-opening experiences about golf equipment and I’d like to give you a little plug for the new book which is called, “The Right Sticks: Equipment Myths That Could Wreck Your Golf Game.”

Tom Wishon: It’s funny how quickly things change in the industry and since 2005 when I did the first “Search” book to now there have been a few things which have changed. So there’s a little bit of new information but by and large the publisher likes what I do, the bookstores like what I do because it sells. So for them it’s all about money. For me it’s more about the chance to educate. The books are basically like a broken record. They keep talking about why custom fitting is better than standard off the rack and they give examples in specific parts of each person’s bag with that. But it’s important because this is the only way I have to get this message out. This is a good opportunity with the “Right Sticks” book because the buyers of Barnes and Noble and Borders contacted our publisher and they asked me to write a specific book in a specific format. The internet is huge today and the bookstores are scared of it because people get a lot of their instant information today from the web. Not as many people are sitting down to read 300 or 400 page books as there used to be. So they wanted me to do a book that would be short, covering different topics, no topic covered in more than 3-5 pages so people could get this kind of instant information that they’re getting off the internet. I agreed to do the book and supposedly book stores are going to be promoting this book a little more. So for me it’s all about how many golfers can I get this message to because if I get this message into the minds of the majority of golfers are going to listen to it and say, “Hey that makes sense, that makes total sense. This is what I need to do next time I go look for golf clubs.”

GolfWRX: What about your career has been the most frustrating part?

Tom Wishon: No question, the roadblocks that have been put up to the “Search” books. I have been on the Golf Digest technical panel since 1994. I have a really close relationship with all the technical writers for all the Golf Digest magazines. When the first “Search” book came out they put it in there and the whole thing. From that I had an opportunity, we did a little booklet called, “12 Myths That Could Wreck Your Golf Game.” The reason we did that was so clubmakers could have something that was very cheap and inexpensive to give away to golfers. The “Search” book was 300 pages and was too expensive for clubmakers to give away at $20 a pop. We created this “12 Myths” booklet which had key excerpts from the “Search” book and we were selling it to the clubmakers at 75 cents a tour cost so they could give it away. The more “12 Myths” booklets they would give away the more fittings they could potentially see. The guy who was the head of the Golf Digest website at the time, this was back in 2006. He was a guy I had known, he had been a journeyman writer for them. I gave him a copy of “12 Myths” and he got back to me and said this is great stuff, can you put this on audio, read these, and we’ll put them on our website. I said sure thing and did. I sent them our files, and kept looking on their website and didn’t see it. Then sent him an e-mail and never heard back. Many weeks later I got an e-mail from the guy form his home e-mail address not his Golf Digest e-mail address. Long story short, the audio files had gone up on their website for part of one day. Two phone calls came in from two of the very large companies which said if you keep these up you won’t see any more advertising money form us. This guy got reprimanded big time for putting the “12 Myths” up on the website by the high-ups of the magazine. Long story short, it caused him to get really frustrated and seven or eight months later he quit after 15 years with the magazine because he was so disappointed that good information like this got shut down from going to the golfers simply because two companies who buy millions and millions of dollars of ads from GolfDigest and GolfWorld said get rid of this or you can kiss our ad dollars goodbye. So, it told me that some people out in the industry don’t want this information to be known. Since that time in bringing out the other books I’ve maybe had one or two other blurbs in the major magazines about my books. The other ones just ignore it because they’re afraid. Off the record they tell me, “We can’t put your stuff up Tom because it’s going to upset too many people who control too much revenue for our magazine.” I’ve got to say that’s the number one most frustrating thing we’ve experienced – here’s some really good information to help golfers make better buying decisions and there are a whole bunch of people who don’t want that information to be heard.
GolfWRX: That’s really unfortunate, but part of what we can do here is get you a little more exposure about it so we’re excited to hear what you have to say. Can you talk a little about some of the influences you’ve had in your career and some of the people who have influenced you?

Tom Wishon: Most definitely one of the things that got me switched on about digging into learning how things work is when I got my first copy of “Search for the Perfect Swing” by A.J. Cochran and John Stobbs who wrote the book in 1968. That really began the – I’ve got to say “Search for the Perfect Swing” was the trigger that made the golf industry look at engineering their designs instead of just putting out another club that had a different color face insert, or different shaped sole plate, or different color stain on the head. I lived, ate, and breathed with that book, that was something that really triggered that. It was definitely a giant influence in that. The other thing was that I didn’t come out of college with a formal degree in engineering, science, or physics background. Everything I learned about that I learned on the way. So I’ve always learned there are a lot of people out there who have knowledge who if I can turn it in the right direction they can help me learn a lot more too. So there have been a lot of people in my career who I have been able to consult with and who have mentored me. It wasn’t that they knew everything about golf per say but they knew the science and between me and them being able to adapt the science in the right direction, that opened a lot of the doors for really looking at a lot of the stuff we now know and bringing it up and verifying it through a very scientific means. That has been a huge help to me over my life because I realized I don’t know everything and I need to go out and get some help to be able to dig in the right area to be able to come up with the right answers.

GolfWRX: How has golf equipment changed in the last ten years? Are clubs really becoming that much more forgiving? Because even though we’re seeing new changes to clubs and radical designs, we’re not seeing the average handicap drop by much.

Tom Wishon: The biggest reason – and let me put it this way, science really began in golf clubs in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It basically started when Karsten Solheim and a handful of other people recognized that investment casting was a good way to make clubheads. That opened the door for being able to change centers of gravity in clubheads, it opened the door for being able to make cavity backs to get more perimeter weighting for more off-center hit forgiveness and that really triggered the advent of real engineering science in the golf industry. If you say over the past 10 years, 10 years happens to be 1998 which is the year the USGA enacted the rule which put a limit on coefficient of restitution on clubfaces. That began this whole thing of, and I’m sorry if people don’t agree with me, is the USGA’s paranoia. It has really had an effect. First came the COR rule, then came the rule limiting the size of heads to 460cc’s and various dimensional requirements, then you had the limit on the length of the club, then you had the limit on moment of inertia and now you’re looking on various rules that potentially could change the score line configuration. Really and truly, when you look at these five different rule changes as they’ve come about there was no scientific testing done by the USGA to find out what the effects of higher COR were. They got paranoid, they looked at all the drivers that were submitted, they said here is the highest one we’ve seen so far, and we’re sticking the limit right there. They never tested to find out what the effect is if we let the limit go up to .86 or .88. Not one scientific test done to determine what would be the effect of a 500 or 600cc driver head on the game. There wasn’t a test done to determine the effect of a 50-inch driver when they set the limit at 48 inches. There was no test done to determine what would a higher and higher and higher moment of inertia do. Then finally in doing this proposal for the rule change they’re looking at for score lines then they finally decided to go do a major, major test to determine the effects. Then they found that the score line configuration system only affects the really good ball striker with really good swing fundamentals and has no effect on the average guy. Yet they’re pushing these rules through because they’re paranoid about what’s going on at the elite level of the game with Tour players. So that’s been a big one, that really has put some limits on the industry. It changed the landscape a bit over the past ten years. I think the other thing that has changed is we’re at a point where there are five golf club companies who control nearly 80% of the premium golf club business out there. So that means that these five companies if you add their total sales up comprise $4 billion worth of golf sales every year. So when you get to the point where you have five companies averaging $700 million a year in sales, that means in order to make their numbers, every single year they’ve got to sell 300 -400,000 drivers, 300 -400,000 fairway woods, 200-250,00 sets of irons. So that means when these companies come out and they market on the basis of a new technology they saturate the market with that technology in one year. So one year goes by, they can’t get two full years of their required forecast sales out of one new technology any more. You go back to the 80’s and 90’s even and companies could get two or three years out of a brand new technology. So here you have a situation with all the marketing that crows about a brand new technology coming out each year, it changes the next year. I think what it does do at least some golfers out there, it puts the golfers in a situation where they say, “Wait a minute you’re changing your mind already? You’re telling me there’s something out there that’s better than the year before and it’s only one year later?” The golfers go out and buy these things and the majority don’t improve to the level they think they should based on the ads or marketing they read about it. So I think you’re getting into a situation now where a lot of golfers are beginning to adopt a little bit of a mindset where a lot of golfers say fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you. I think that’s starting to affect the frequency of buying new equipment among new golfers. That began four or five years ago. Certainly this year we’re in a little bit different situation because of the recession, price of gas, daily expenses are going up for all of us, price of real estate is going down. Certainly, there is no question that is slowing down sales in the golf industry. But this whole thing of things beginning to flatten out a little bit, companies not growing quite as fast as they have before, that began four or five years ago when the product life cycle began to get shorter and shorter and companies began bringing out things every year and touting them as being great. Those are big things that have happened over the last ten years that have had a real impact on the golf equipment industry.

GolfWRX: Now you touched on writing the book, "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club" and like you said it has been a big change in terms of how stuff is marketed and how people look at custom clubfitting.

Tom Wishon: Of course I go way back and I have been reading golf magazines all my life. But as I got to be more and more involved in the golf industry and as I became more and more knowledgeable about golf clubs, reading some of the ads or statements about golf clubs really got to be frustrating to me. I said, "Gee man I know a lot about golf clubs and I know this is not completely true, what I am hearing." But what about all those millions of golfers who don’t know quite as much as I do who aren’t being influenced by this. I said someday I’ve got to be given the chance to write about golf clubs for consumer golfers so they can learn more of the truth of what’s going on. As I said, I was at Golfsmith I begged them to let me do that book and they wouldn’t allow me to do that because they were building a giant retail division that was making most of its money selling OEM clubs. I knew the information I would want to write about to educate golfers probably would fly in the face of that business model. But the impetus was strictly the fact that I knew people who really don’t know or have the opportunity to know as much about golf clubs as I do from my work, I really felt they needed to know some of these truths so they could make a lot better informed buying decision about their golf clubs and from that potentially be able to play a little bit better and enjoy the game a little bit more.

GolfWRX: I know your book has potentially helped a lot of people do that. Another book you mentioned was your "12 Myths." Is there one mistake you see most golfers making with their equipment?

Tom Wishon: The biggest mistake, and it’s not fault of their own, please I’m not faulting golfers for this because they can only ask about the things they know about and there has been no marketing on the basis of how professional clubfitting could potentially benefit a wide range of golfers, the biggest thing is the fact that we still sit here and fight a lot – the myth that perpetuates that custom fitting is only for good players. I just noticed Frank Thomas, who was the Technical Director for the USGA for 26 years or so and now he has been on his own for the last several years doing consulting. He has just written a book and in that book he states, "Standard clubs are fine for all golfers until you get to a point where you shoot in the mid-70’s." Well that’s garbage. Frank doesn’t know fitting. He’s never worked in it. He’s never done the research to see what the effects are of a shorter length, higher loft, proper face angle, proper total weight, proper shaft can do for an 18 handicap golfer compared to what he can buy off the rack standard as advised by some nine dollar an hour guy who doesn’t really know more about golf clubs than he does. So that is probably the biggest one most people still cling to the myth that I’m not good enough to be custom fit and that’s only for good players. It’s the exact opposite. I’ve almost coined a new phrase over the last few years here as I’ve watched all this, "A golfers level of improvement and score improvement is inversely proportional to their handicap when they get custom fit." IN other words if we go out and fit a 2, 3, 4, or 5 handicapper and it’s pretty rare that from the fitting they actually lower their score. It can happen if we include wedge and putter fitting because those clubs affect the score more directly than any other clubs in the bag. But when you look at 14, 18, 23 handicappers, these are golfers who regularly get the ball airborne most of the time, they generally make the same mistakes in their swing most of the time. Sure a lot of people still hook and slice with this, but if you look at shot patterns, you do one more than the other. All of these people have been playing with clubs that are standard off the rack. Woods are too long, most of the irons are too low lofted, they’ve got the wrong set makeup, they definitely don’t have their total weight and swing weight matched for their size, strength, athletic ability, and swing. You can just go down the list with all the different ways to change things to help offset some of the mistakes average players make. It happens all the day long. For years since I’ve worked in this side of the industry, I wish I had kept track. It would be a gigantic number of e-mails, letters and phone calls from clubmakers who would relay their experience of taking some average golfer, completely refitting him, out he goes, and he’s about five or shots better. He only loses one ball a day instead of three. Things like that which are forms of measurable improvement for golfers. So it does happen. That’s been the biggest myth we fight, is just the sheer education of who can benefit and by how much from professional custom fitting.

GolfWRX: Another hot button issue is the Tour versus retail debate. We were wondering if we could get your take on exactly what the differences are?

Tom Wishon: Having had a little bit of experience in my past creating original club head design or original custom fit designs for a handful of tour players, there are some that can play with the stock head that’s made to be shafted up in standard form and sold off the rack. In my experience Bruce Lietzke was one of those. We could take a head I had created, that was a low offset players shape profile moderate cavity back. He didn’t need any variations on the heads. He just needed his shaft, his length, his total weight, his swing weight, etc. that sort of thing. Then you run into people like Scott Verplank and Payne Stewart who had to have something made from scratch. Different grind here, different swoop from the toe, different topline, different look for the bottom of the hosel, different leading edge look, on and on and on where each one had to be hand ground and custom made until they would look at it and say, "Okay, now put it together with my specs, my shaft, and everything like that." I also remember back when I was at Golfsmith back in 1998 when we bought Lynx out of bankruptcy and then the trucks came in and unloaded all the junk and all the assets and stuff from having bought Lynx. When I was going through all the boxes and boxes of stuff from the R&D side I would see molds specially made for the Lynx players, heads that had been specially made for players that had been on the Lynx staff over the years. Outside, they looked like what was being sold that particular year off the rack, but when you looked at it, you said, "No, that’s a different type of clubhead that this guy insisted they make just for him." There are some cases out there where the Tour players insist on something that is very different form what the head would be that is built to the standard form to be sold off the rack. Probably more of that I would say in my experience than players who would just take the standard head and have it built with their shaft and to their specs out there. So those differences do exist but they only exist for that particular player. It’s not like saying, gee I love this suit Bono was wearing at a charity event. I’ve got to go buy that exact suit in Bono’s size. Well it doesn’t fit you like that. It’s the same thing to go out there and buy something that is a Tour issue, maybe it isn’t what you need and it won’t do you any favors in that. But if it makes your ego feel good, I guess maybe you spent your money and got some pleasure from it. It’s really the only reason Tour players ever have special models made for them – it is because they and only they wanted these changes on something they and only they would play in competition. That doesn’t mean it’s right for a guy who wants to wave it in front of his playing partners and say, "I’ve got the same head Ernie Els played with in competition."

GolfWRX: Another thing I remember reading is your advocacy of shorter than stock lengths. Why is it we are seeing more OEMs go to longer driver lengths which are approaching 46 inches stock and stronger lofts which are based off 44 degree pitching wedges?

Tom Wishon: Most of my focus on the length thing falls in the driver and wood area a little bit more than it does in the iron area although there is a definite history for this. If you go back to the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s era, going into that era or the 50’s and 60’s and before, if you wanted to be a golf company you had to make everything yourself. There were no subcontract factories out there to make your heads for you. You had to make your heads. You could buy the shafts from True Temper and the grips from Golf Pride, but you had to make your own stuff. Now when investment casting hit the industry, that all changed. A couple of the big golf club companies tried to open up their own foundries and they found it wasn’t very cost effective unless they could do a whole lot more than just make their own heads. So what evolved then was a series of subcontract factories, investment casting factories. Once that happened, you didn’t have to really be all that knowledgeable manufacturing wise to get into the golf club business. When you went in this era when investment casting took over, the number of golf club companies between the mid-60’s and mid-70’s, almost tripled. So now all of a sudden you have this intense competition so to try and get themselves above the rest of the competition two things happened, some companies started making their lofts lower because they knew people would go out and if they hit this year’s five iron ten yards further than last year’s five iron they would think, hey that’s a better golf club. People didn’t know what the loft numbers were on the five iron or six iron or any of their club heads. So lower lofts, shrinking loft disease as I call it in my book began from the move to investment casting and the sheer competition that came because of it. Longer lengths was the other one because most of these companies whenever they go out and create a brand new model. In the old days, a lot of testing was simply gather around a whole bunch of good golfers, give them a golf club, and get their feedback. Good golfers with good swing fundamentals will get a higher club head speed from a longer length shaft. So somebody got the bright idea, hey drivers have been 43 inches long forever. Let’s make our driver 44 inches, people will hit it farther and they’ll love us. That began this whole thing with length also. So once the first companies began to increase length and decrease loft, every company had to do it. You could not get away with it because at least in the area of loft that was a definite. If you start making a five iron at 28 degrees instead of 33, virtually every golfer is going to hit that further when they make solid contact. The other side of the coin, the longer length driver, that was something most companies didn’t understand because they weren’t doing any kind of research into fitting. It’s really only the golfer with the inside-out path or the square path and late wrist cock release who are going to get a higher clubhead speed from a longer length shaft. I’ve done this test twice in my career where take different length drivers with golfers of all different levels of abilities and that’s what we learned from it – those golfers who swing a little over to top to a lot over the top and those golfers who release their wrist cock a little early to a lot early – they don’t see higher clubhead speeds with longer length shafts. How many are there like that? A whole lot more with poor swing fundamentals than there are good swing fundamentals out there. So that’s why I camp on driver length and wood length. All those standard lengths being 45-46 inches for a man’s driver with every single company out there, it’s really hurting the majority of golfers who buy those things off the rack. That’s why we get so many positive reports from clubmakers when they take these over the top, outside-in, or early(ish) release players, get them into something that’s 43-44 inches and see that they actually hit the center more often and they hit it straighter with that. Yet nobody questions this because it’s a big, big company, they make tons of money, they’ve got tons of players on Tour playing this stuff, how can they be wrong? Well, 46 inch drivers don’t work for the majority of golfers and that’s why I camp on that as a big one because if you do get that change and you are a golfer who is a little over the top to a lot over the top or a little early to a lot early release, you will definitely hit the tee ball better with a shorter length driver.

GolfWRX: Now kind of on a side note to that, what would happen if all the irons in a set had the same length of shaft?

Tom Wishon: That’s an interesting  one. I’ve followed that and there have been discussions on forums about that sort of thing. It’s possible, most definitely because when you look at your set of irons and ask what is it that makes that 10 or 12 yard difference between each of my irons? 80-85% of it is the loft change. Only 10-15% of it comes from the length difference. Actually with an awful lot of golfers, let me give you an example you can pick any two irons in the set, say a 7 and 8 iron. Keep those at those actual loft differences but make both clubs the same length. You’ll pretty much hit those clubs the same length within a yard or two when they were a half inch difference from them. Now change those lengths by an inch or more and then that length comes in with an awful lot of golfers out there with that. So in theory it’s possible to go out and build a set of irons so they’re all the same length. But you get your distance difference strictly between the lofts. Now you might have to some cases tweak the loft increments than the typical 3-4 degrees to ensure that but it can be done. There is an example in the history of equipment for a company having done that. We got back to the mid-90’s or 96, or 97 I think it was when Tommy Armour Golf brought out a model called the EQL. That model sold standard off the rack, all the woods were the same length as a five wood. All the irons were the same length as the six iron. In addition to talking about consistency there, we now know later that by making all the clubs the same length you’re also making the moment of inertia the same, but they didn’t tout that back in those days. Long story short, six months later, Armour basically was out of business. The reasons were two fold. Number one there were enough golfers who noticed they couldn’t hit the five wood as far as they used to hit their old driver and that hurt them because nobody wants to lose that much distance off the tee or at least those who do lose the distance and don’t like it are very vocal about it. Then you have this situation where golfers who were playing a set of irons that were all the same length as a six iron were starting to have problems with their 9, PW, those clubs down there – they hit them too far. Or they felt they didn’t have the finesse feel to be able to knock it down into a half shot or three quarter shot so they were losing shots around the greens and they were not patient enough to work with that long length on the short irons and get used to it. Armour went bankrupt as a result of that one product line introduction. So I can say single length irons – sure. If a golfer is very inconsistent with the irons that might be worth an experiment there. But along with that you might have to be very patient with the situations that can come along with the 8, 9, PW to be able to control those shots when you need to hit a less than full swing shot.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jack Demyan

    Jan 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Interesting article and makes much sense. I’m 68 yrs old with a 4 index. I’ve had the same thoughts about the value (or lack thereof) of purchasing clubs at a “rack store” for some time and have been doing alot of research on Tom Wishon since talking with Rick @ TnT Golf here in Augusta. I met Rick while contemplating changing shafts in a set of irons and he got me hooked on doing the “right thing” with custome clubs. I am currently set-up for a fitting with Rick next Monday and feel confident in the results I will receive. Hopefully, I can find this web stie again and let you know how everything worked out and also let you know how much I am enjoying my new custom fit. I’m looking forward to seeing some improvement but realize that the results may not be world changing. At the very least I am hoping to enjoy the game more with clubs built just for me.

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the Honda Classic

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,125 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Louis Oosthuizen and more.

Last year, Keith Mitchell canned a 15-footer on the 72nd hole, outlasting Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka.

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General galleries

Special galleries

Vijay Singh using custom Mizuno MP-20 irons with lofts modified enough they had to stamp new numbers. Link to his full WITB

Camilo Villegas with old-school Air Jordans

Close up of Tommy Fleetwood’s putting grip

Luke Donald with a new putting training aid

LA Golf has a couple of new shafts

Brooks Kopeka with his pink and white Nike Air Zoom Infinity Tour shoes

Odyssey Stroke Lab Ten with new sightlines.  Link to galleries and discussion

Kevin Streelman is a huge Chicago Cubs fan, so he went to a spring training game and had the players sign his staff bag (to be fair, he probably took just the panel and not the whole bag)

Jim Furyk has gone back to his standard length putter and cross-handed after trying the arm-lock style for a while.

Kyle Stanley’s coach is taking a worm’s-eye view of Kyle’s alignment and stroke.

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Morning 9: Koepka talks golf | Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu | Tour caddies and hot seats

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1. Koepka talks golf
Adam Woodard at Golfweek…The former World No. 1 – who now sits third behind Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm – opened up in great detail in a profile in GQ about what he would change about the game of golf, a sport that he truly loves despite some outside perception.
  • “One thing I’d change is maybe the stuffiness,” said Koepka, who’s never viewed himself as just a golfer. “Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn’t always have to be that way. That’s part of the problem.”
  • ...”Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You’re not allowed in here unless you’re a member – or unless the member’s here.’…
  • …”I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game,” said Koepka. “I don’t love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn’t enjoyable.”

Full piece.

2. Fajitas and sushi
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was a part of my entire childhood, and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have steak and chicken fajitas, and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it.”
  • “Woods also said he’s considering serving milkshakes for desert like he did during the 1998 dinner.”
  • “That was one of the most great memories to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ’98,” he said.”

Full piece.

3. Why a tour caddie is always on the hot seat 
The Undercover Tour Caddie writeth again…“I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times-and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum…”
  • “The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons.”
  • “There have been callous splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith-faith that his 9 was the wrong club.”

Full piece.

4. The best part of Tiger’s Masters win…
Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski…”Last April at Augusta National Golf Club, behind the 18th green, after tapping in for a one-stroke victory and fifth Masters triumph, there were hugs all around, none sweeter than those from his daughter and son.”
  • “I think what made it so special is that they saw me fail the year before at the British Open. I had gotten the lead there and made bogey, double, and ended up losing to Francesco,” Woods said. “To have them experience what it feels like to be part of a major championship and watch their dad fail and not get it done, and now to be a part of it when I did get it done, I think it’s two memories that they will never forget. And the embraces and the hugs and the excitement, because they know how I felt and what it felt like when I lost at Carnoustie … to have the complete flip with them in less than a year, it was very fresh in their minds.”
  • “It’s a long and rambling thought, and totally justified in the context of all the emotion woven into the two experiences. Some things are just difficult to express cogently, and the struggle with doing so only underscores their impact.”
5. Dream of Coul is dead
Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”Coul Links was supposed to be Scotland’s next great links golf course. Envisioned to be built by Coore-Crenshaw on a protected wildlife site in Embo on dunes near Dornoch, those hopes took a serious blow on Feb. 21, when the Scottish government denied planning permission for a project spearheaded by golf course developer Mike Keiser.”
  • “I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.”
  • “In its decision notice, Scottish Ministers determined that the proposed development would adversely affect the local environment, stating in their findings that the “likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal.”
6. Koepka: Great round of golf with Trump
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…“In a profile in GQ, Koepka…talked about a recent round with President Trump…Koepka, his father, younger brother Chase and President Trump “had a blast” at Trump’s course in West Palm Beach.”
  • “It was nice to have my family there, my dad, my brother. Anytime it’s with a president, it’s pretty cool,” said Koepka. “I don’t care what your political beliefs are, it’s the President of the United States. It’s an honor that he even wanted to play with me.”
  • “I respect the office, I don’t care who it is,” added Koepka. “Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It’s a respect thing.”

Full piece.

7. Tiger on lengthening Augusta National 
Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport…”Augusta National has been at the forefront of trying to keep it competitive, keep it fair, keep it fun, and they’ve been at the forefront of lengthening the golf course,” Woods said. “Granted, they have the property and they can do virtually whatever they want. They have complete autonomy. It’s kind of nice.
  • “But also they’ve been at the forefront of trying to keep it exciting as the game has evolved. We have gotten longer, equipment changed, but they’ve been trying to keep it so the winning score is right around the 12- to 18-under-par mark, and they have.”
8. Inside the Bear Trap
Golf Channel Digital team…“Here’s a look at some of the notable Bear Trap stats according to the PGA Tour (all figures since 2007, when the tournament moved to PGA National):”
  • “Among non-majors, the Bear Trap ranks as the third-toughest three-hole stretch on Tour at 0.644 over par on average. It’s behind only Nos. 16-18 at Quail Hollow (+0.873) and Nos. 8-10 at Pebble Beach (+0.673).”
  • “The Honda Classic field is a combined 3,629 over par across the Bear Trap and 4,934 over par across the other 15 holes at PGA National.”
  • “543 different players have played at least one competitive round at the Honda since 2007, with 76 percent (415) of them hitting at least one ball in the water on the Bear Trap.”

Full piece.

9. San Diego muni renovations (including Torrey)
Jason Lusk of Golfweek…“San Diego’s city council has allotted $15 million for upgrades and renovations to the city’s three municipally operated golf facilities including Torrey Pines’ South Course, site of the 2021 U.S. Open, according to a report Tuesday by the San Diego Union-Tribune.”
  • “…The $15 million approved Monday by the city council also will include contract work at San Diego’s other municipally operated golf facilities at Balboa Park and Mission Bay, the Union-Tribune reported. The courses will remain open during the jobs that include installing new irrigation systems and drainage, replacing and repairing cart paths, renovating bunkers and tree work.”

 

*featured image via Augusta National/the Masters

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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