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Playoffs for the FedExCup: Thank you Mr. Finchem

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Dear Mr. Finchem,

Haven’t seen you or heard from you for a while. Hope you are enjoying your Labor Day weekend as much as I am.

Look, I know that you and I have had our ups and downs. I wanted you to stand up to Tiger Woods and find a way to get him to support the tour that has supported him by playing more than a baker’s dozen tournaments each year. I wanted you to protect the integrity of the game by instituting mandatory testing for performance enhancing drugs. I begged you to take the moral high ground with regard to the admission of women at Augusta. No response on any of these small requests.

Yes, we have had our disagreements.

But the key to any relationship is being able to admit when you’re wrong. And when it comes to the FedExCup playoffs, I was wrong. For years, I made fun of your attempt to create playoff atmosphere in an individual sport. You pointed to the success of NASCAR and the success of their playoff, “Chase for the (fill-in sponsor name) Cup,” and you cobbled together a similar system. I had a lot of fun at your expense for a long time, but I wasn’t the only one.

With its combination of points and elimination rounds, the system was harder to understand than the PA system in the New York subway. And while the system produced winners like Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh and gave them a $10 million tax liability that they didn’t need, the whole process lacked gravitas. It seemed utterly commercial and unworthy of the word playoff.

But this year it has been different. A combination of factors have conspired to create a situation where the best players in the world are participating in every event and are playing their best. The venues have been superb and the play has been stellar.

Last week we witnessed the resurrection of Nick Watney’s season and Sergio Garcia’s career at Bethpage. And this week? Well Mr. Finchem, this week produced an event that couldn’t have been better if it had been held with a major title at stake. I mean, the back nine on Sunday kinda looked like a group of race cars heading for a finish line.

The top 10 included winner and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, the once and future king Tiger Woods, 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen and Dustin Johnson, who is two goofy rounds away from being a multiple major winner. What we got on Sunday was something that recent majors haven’t been able produce; a leaderboard dominated by the best players in the world.

Woods, who perfected the modern air game, had a ringside seat to watch the current practitioners of the game take it to the next level. Woods is no longer the longest guy in every field that he plays; in fact, he is just getting used to the fact that the days are over where he was playing at par-68 when everyone else was playing the same course at par-72. But with four straight rounds in the 60s and a third place finish at 18-under par on a challenging TPC Boston track, Woods is honing his sword in preparation for a return to the throne.

But McIlroy was a sight to behold, Mr. Finchem. The boy wonder is now becoming the Man of Steel. He has virtually no weaknesses in his game, and in a week like this one where he is first in driving distance and first in putting it would be hard to imagine how he could lose. And he does it with a Gaelic charm that is irresistible to men and women, young and old. He is only limited by his ambition, and you have given him four tournaments in a row that he definitely wants to win.

Mr. Finchem, I want to put the past behind us. The FedExCup is a rip-roaring, four-star, cancel-the-tee-time-so-you-can-stay-home-to-watch success. And you did it, Mr. Finchem. I’m not just happy for you; I’m happy for us. Call me. We should have lunch.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Brody

    Sep 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Great article, Michael!

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: A discussion of swingweight (Part 1: History)

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Image via Golfworks

For the twenty-five plus years, I’ve been in the equipment business, one of the most commonly-asked-about subjects is that of swingweight. It mostly comes up when a golfer is requesting over-length clubs or is contemplating changing to graphite shafts. So, I’m going to direct a discussion of this topic. Please chime in to let me know your thoughts and input.

The concept of swingweight was developed by custom clubmaker Kenneth Smith about 60 years ago. He was trying to figure out how to “match” clubs, and settled on balance point as a way to do so. His swingweight scale had a “hook” to hold the grip end of the club, and a fulcrum 14 inches from the butt. He created an arbitrary scale of measure that consisted of letters A-F, each letter divided into ten segments, i.e. D1, D2, D3, etc. When he measured the clubs of the day, he found most of them to be in the D2 range, so that became recognized as the “standard” for men’s woods and irons.

The golf club industry quickly adopted this method of “matching” clubs…well, because they had no other way! Because the longer the shaft, the heavier the head feels, clubheads increase in weight as the shaft gets shorter, so that the swingweight will stay the same. The theory then, and now, is that if the swingweight is the same, the clubs will feel essentially the same in the golfer’s hands.

But let’s look at what has happened since Kenneth Smith invented the swingweight scale.

  • Shafts have gotten longer by at least an inch. In the 1940s, a “standard” driver was only 42-43” long – now most are 45” if not more.
  • Shafts have gotten much lighter. Those old steel shafts weighed 150 grams or more, compared to modern graphite driver shafts in the 55-75 gram range.
  • Golfers have gotten stronger while clubs have gotten much lighter overall, but swingweights have always adhered to that D2 “standard.”

You must understand two very important factors about swingweight.

First, a “point” of swingweight–such as D2 to D3–is NOT a unit of measure like an ounce or gram. It takes much less weight to shift a driver one point, for example, than it does a wedge, because the shaft length is such an influence on this measure. Generally, the weight of a single dollar bill is a swingweight point on a driver—not much, huh?

And secondly, the overall weight of the club is at least as important as swingweight. Jack Nicklaus was noted for playing a driver in his prime that was 13.25 oz in overall weight–very heavy even for that time (most are about 10.5 oz now!), while his swingweight was only C9, considered very light. S

Swingweight by itself is a rather worthless piece of information!

So, that should get this discussion going. I’ll give you a few days to toss out your questions and comments on this subject, and then I’ll begin to address my own theories on swingweight for YOUR clubs.

Sound off, readers!

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Podcasts

TG2: Review of the new ShotScope V3 GPS & shot tracking watch, Vessel VLX Stand Bag!

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I get the new ShotScope V3 GPS and shot tracking watch on my wrist for a few rounds and love the data. ShotScope V3 offers accurate GPS distances while seamlessly tracking your club data.

Vessel Bag’s new VLX stand bag is a high end, lightweight, luxury bag for golfers who love to walk. Walking with the VLX was actually more comfortable than my pushcart!

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

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How to never miss another putt

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Learn how your own anatomy is designed to roll the golf ball in the direction you want to start the putt without any interference or assistance on your behalf.

All you need is a system of predictions that will help you confirm that your putting stroke is pointed in the right direction. This is how you become a witness to gravity sinking the putt for you. This will become clear after you listen to the podcast and give this a try at a golf course near you!

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

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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