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What Your Golf Bag Says About You

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There’s one thing that’s an absolute constant for golfers. While they change outfits, shoes, gloves, hats and golf balls between rounds (and maybe even golf clubs), rarely do you see golfers change their golf bags more than every other season… if that.

As such, the golf bag is possibly the most telling accessory for golfers. Looking at them, you can tell how often that person plays golf, whether they take carts or prefer to walk, and in some rare cases you can even tell their handicap.

If you don’t think you’re giving away information about your game with your golf bag, you’re wrong! See what your golf bag says about you below.

Staff Bag

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If you’re looking to induce eye rolls and general hatred toward yourself before even teeing it up, then trot out there with a staff bag… preferably with your name on it. In his bag, this guy has 50 pounds of Pro V1s, freshly spit-shined forged blade irons and no regard for caddies or cart boys.

Shoots around: 82, but it would have been lower if the greens were more consistent. Or you shoot 64 and take every dollar from your playing partners. Either/or.

Pull-Cart Bag

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You’re in phenomenal shape after walking and playing 18 holes almost every day for at least the past year (that includes playing through snow storms, hurricanes, heat waves and even Super Bowl Sunday).

You have a passion for the game unlike anyone else, and you aren’t afraid of what people think about your golfing addiction. You take the game very seriously and have contemplated trying to make it to the PGA Tour or Champions Tour (depending on your age).

Before you even finish 18 holes you ask your playing partners, “Anyone else up for another round?”

Shoots around: Par

Cart Bag (All-Black)

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You’re a simple man. You don’t do anything to stand out from the crowd, and you generally play golf every two weeks. Every time you play it’s usually with a business partner, and you’re more focused on making “the big sale” than improving your golf swing.

What people don’t know is that you’re wearing shoes that are more expensive than your playing partners entire set of clubs, and you’ve been playing golf since birth at your father’s country club.

Shoots around: 70… if you were keeping score.

Stand Bag with College Logo

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You’re a Division I stud… or at least you used to be. Walking into the pro shop you look like a normal guy, but on the range everyone is staring at you. They’re fascinated by your ridiculously high swing speed and 300-yard drives.

Shoots around: 75 (from the tips)… but it would have been lower if you didn’t stay out so late last night.

Sunday Bag

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You’re probably missing a few irons, but it doesn’t hurt your game because you’re constantly on the practice green working on lag putting. A common line: “Nothing better than a gorgeous day out on the course.”

Shoots around: 78, but with only 25 putts.

Cart Bag (Neon)

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You’re flashy. A little too flashy. You’re probably wearing shoes like these, and a flat brim hat. For some reason, you’re a huge Rickie Fowler fan, but you just picked up golf a few months ago.

On the first tee you explain that “you’re working on this new move,” and after the first shot you proclaim, “Wow, it usually it doesn’t slice that much.”

Shoots around: 99+, but you throw that scorecard away before anyone else can see it.

“Vintage” 1950s Bag

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You haven’t played golf in years. The only reason you’re out on the course is because you found a 7-year-old rain check and wanted to see if it still worked. After your approach shot to the first hole, you can be heard muttering, “Is my shaft supposed to be bent like this?”

Shoots around: 55 for 9 holes, but then you get another rain check. See you in 7 years!

Loudmouth Shagadelic Stand Bag

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You’re a huge John Daly fan who not only dresses like him, but  embraces Long John’s lifestyle. Every Saturday you call the pro shop to load your cart up with beer before you get to the course. By the fourth hole, you’re ready to go to Hooters and “keep this party goin!”

Shoots around: 97, but you broke 80 that one time… “remember?”

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Joe is studying business at the University of Georgia. He loves golf and occasionally writes for WRX when he's not studying, hanging out in downtown Athens, playing the university course, or managing his social media marketing agency, Samuel 17. With golf participation on decline, he recently discussed how golf courses can use social media to increase revenue.

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Peter

    Apr 15, 2017 at 3:29 am

    Interesting differences in culture. Here in Northern Europe I would say 70-80% use a pull cart and thus a typical cart bag. The color (or some of them) might give a hint if the bag belongs to a woman or man, but thats all. Then there is maybe 25% who use a stand bag because they carry. Again, the bag itself doesn’t tell too much. Then there is one or two who still have the ancient and ugly kinbag, which tells they’ve been golfing for tens of years. The only one having a staff bag is the pro, and thats the only thing the bag tells, but everyone knows that already…

    I’d say the clubs tells a lot more:
    – a half set = beginner
    – only latest models = wannabe golfer, knows all the tips but not in practice
    – worn forged irons, 1-2 new clubs = skilled active golfer
    – worn irons, no new clubs = has been serious golfer, now less active, retired
    – new and old clubs mixed = active golfer of any age
    – scotty cameron putter = wants to show social status, putting average >2

    I could go on with more specifics…

  2. Nath

    Apr 2, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Not bad work there joe

  3. BubbaJonesIzzaDick

    Apr 1, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    +1 Chopper.

  4. Tom

    Apr 1, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    I’m a former D2 player. I have my alma mater garb because I loved my career college day’s. I wear the team jersey, ball cap and have a banner in my front yard I go to sporting events yearly and am a booster. When I die I want my ashes spread over the campus from 5K feet. I don’t drink alcohol and I do enjoy talkin bout the good ol days at reunions. This hasbeen Love his country and served with pride after college. Married and settled in Seattle area. We raised two sons one a Marine and the other a fire fighter. I still have a full head of hair and all my teeth, walk the course(s) with my grandchild and wife of twenty eight years.

  5. Tom

    Apr 1, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    LOl over 500 shanks. pegged a lot of wrxer’s with the definitions.

  6. Jeffrey Purtell

    Apr 1, 2017 at 4:38 am

    What about my Callaway Razr staff bag (few years back now) that was priced at $400 reduced to $240. I had $150 in vouchers from winning Club champion and A grade Champion (2 different social clubs) so I only had to shell out $90 of my own money. Cant argue with that.

  7. aether

    Mar 31, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Judging books by their cover…sad that people get profiled by the type of golf bag they’re carrying, just plain silly.

    • Tom

      Apr 1, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      aww yes a predisposition society we are. Same thing with clothes, cars, homes , girlfriends etc…..

  8. Dave R

    Mar 31, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Good article hit the nail on the head for the loud mouth bag played with a dude that acted exactly the way you put it. Keep it up the college was right on also.

  9. golfraven

    Mar 31, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Interesting and kind of huts the nerve. I can see me in type 3 before I moved to type 2 (carry bag on cart – although I had a cart bag all in black before).

  10. DD 214

    Mar 31, 2017 at 10:16 am

    ….Obviously, you’ve never seen the looks on Caddies faces when knobs with CART BAGS decide to walk occasionally, or show up at a pro-am with one and want to walk with the pro. Own a carry/stand bag as well. If you fly a couple times a year – even a club glove can’t protect your stand bag from a good crunch, and you aren’t walking 95% of resort or ‘winter golf destination’ courses, so after seeing countless standbags and drivers / graphite shafts crushed or broken, take some professional advice and travel with a sturdy bag with an internal cylinder like a cart bag or traditional style ‘staff’ bag – with or without logos

    Certainly many survive the flight. You may have survived dozens. You may even get the Airline to cover the damage although most insist on a rigid travel case if they’re gonna pay (nice cases, lotsa luck trying to get one in a mid size rental car….

    Just think of the hassle arriving for a well planned 4 day 6 round sortie and your new favorite driver’s broken –

  11. Tyler

    Mar 30, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    I’ve been using a Titleist lightweight black stand bag for about 4 or 5 years now. It’s nice and faded , I love it.

    My guess it was made by Sun Mountain. I’ve thought about getting a new bag but just can’t bring myself to retire it yet. I can’t find another one anywhere. It’s a two way divider. Woods and putter on the top, irons on the bottom.

  12. 0101010

    Mar 30, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    that’s not a cart bag image #6… way to go!

  13. Chopper

    Mar 30, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    I hope that I am a nicer guy than you when I get to be your age.

  14. Tyson Rochambeau

    Mar 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Joe Burnett def has a staff bag with his name on it.

  15. Joe's Fan Club

    Mar 30, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Joe,

    Go to class and study hard so you dont have to blog the rest of your life. This doesn’t seem like a good fit.

    Your biggest fan,

    -Joe’s Fan Club

  16. Huh?

    Mar 30, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I have a question. Why is it currently deemed to be acceptable that the golfing consumer is all but forced to purchase shoes, bags, shirts and pants boldly emblazoned with those unfortunate manufacturer logos all over the place? What became of discretion in labeling? I think bold branding is perfectly fine for the working professional golfer – in fact, I think they would all look so much better out there on the course if their shirts had even bolder, flashier graphics like the ones that professional bowlers wear, but if you are the one actually paying for the stuff, shouldn’t there be an option to be able to opt out of being an unfortunate, willing sign-board carrier for Titleist or TaylorMade or YourFavoriteBrandNameHere? Think about it, when was the last time anyone asked you what “kind of” shoes or shirt or pants you are wearing simply because they liked the looks or style or functionality of them?

    • justinm

      Mar 30, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      Not to undermine your very well written and heavily pondered reply….. but there are a number of companies who offer bags with VERY few to no logos at all. Shoes can get wacky with colors but nearly every brand offers dozens of color-ways and options that even you would consider conservative (some even hide their logos on the bottom). Shirts occasionally have a large logo, but every apparel company on earth also offers shirts with single small logos and in plain colors. As far as pants go…… I don’t know any companies other than loudmouth that are hocking pants “boldly emblazoned with those unfortunate manufacturers logos”.. if you are angry with the quarter sized adidas logo on your buddy’s sleeve while he sits next to you in the cart, maybe you should re-sort your priorities.

      • Huh?

        Mar 31, 2017 at 1:13 pm

        Justin. My priority is to find the absolute best marketing strategy to get avid golfers to buy even more golf related products. And although I admit to having once pondered the deeply existential branding problem that faces all golfing amateurs when getting dressed to go play around of golf – which is : Do I look more ridiculous if all my logos match? Or do I look more ridiculous if they don’t? – I am wondering if the best answer would be to provide consumers the option of avoiding having to deal with that nagging existential doubt if at all possible. In all truth, it doesn’t bother or “anger” me (to use your words) to see various graphics and logos stuck on to my golfing buddies’ apparel. If they want to identify themselves as being the “branded” property of the Circle T Ranch (can you say : “moooo”) or if they just simply want to let everyone know that they just broke out of jail, I could really care less. But I always have to ask myself – ‘Do they actually want to identify themselves in that way? Or are they identifying themselves in that way simply because they can’t avoid it?’ And I think that was the point I was trying to make – I was just wanting to throw that out there since this article makes what I think is the flawed assumption that everyone who plays golf actually “identifies” with the branding and styling of their golf bag.

      • Grizz01

        Mar 31, 2017 at 9:20 pm

        Kinda agree with you. All that flash on a bag (to me) tell others to steal my bag. I never use the head covers that comes with the clubs. It just sreams steal me while he is in the bathroom or clubhouse.

        • Double Mocha Man

          Apr 1, 2017 at 8:05 pm

          Take your clubs with you when you have to tinkle. Seriously, I agree with you… I worry a bit when my clubs are out of my sight. And I replace the gaudy headcovers with simple one-size-fits-all headcovers… I do not want to advertise what is under that artificial leather.

          • Nomad Golfer

            Apr 21, 2017 at 11:32 pm

            Agree. Plain knitted covers and dull irons in a nondescript bag doesn’t give away any clues to the deadly weapons contained within, and take your bag with you to the toilet – better sure than sorry later.

  17. Jack

    Mar 30, 2017 at 2:39 am

    Those scores are too low lol. Basically if you see any of these bags they are shooting good scores except for the drunk John Daly fan. Time to get that loudmouth bag lol.

    • Jim

      Mar 31, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      Gotta tell ya, most of my – call ’em beer cart regulars, not drunks – JD fans are all in the 75-82 range, good gear (not necessarily the MOST current or expensive, but all good quality) and the bags – all over the place…stand, cart, staff….One of the better ‘sticks’ – with a $1200 driver – who does bomb it 8/11 times, has a 39.99 Dick’s house brand bag – because he actually honestly doesn’t give a crap about THAT….

      AND, (maybe not surprising) I played in a big-deal pro-am maybe 10yrs ago (?)…the second foursome waiting on our tee had a guy whose bag looked like it was 30 years old, dirty, torn and actually had safety pins on the cargo pocket. Clubs were all Ping – wood woods & Eye irons….
      I won’t write his name, but let’s just say his last gig was being in charge of the entire US monetary system….

      peeps are strange….

      as I understand it, the proshop at his club finally just gave him a new one….

  18. Ian

    Mar 30, 2017 at 2:12 am

    The BIG RED bag is so wrong, but I can’t stop looking at it.

  19. Mike Hollingsworth

    Mar 29, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Terrible article, and the author’s “start up” on his bio is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of.

  20. Teaj

    Mar 29, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    I kind of found it fun to read, why is everyone so serious or am I missing a joke.

  21. madeinguam81

    Mar 29, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    #9 Hybrid Stand/Cart Bag

    You ride 100% of the time but you also like the idea of walking, even though you NEVER will. No biggie, because remember that one time your old cart bag tipped over in the parking lot? Well, you will forever need a bag with a stand.

    Shoots around: Low 80s, but you should be penalized for not shutting up about how your bag is the “best of both worlds.”

  22. Sl

    Mar 29, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Get back in your cave, Joe. You shouldn’t be writing anything at all.

  23. Bob Parsons

    Mar 29, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    You forgot the PXG Bag! The guy with the ugly swing, expensive clubs, and lack of score keeping.

    • Jim

      Mar 31, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Dear Mr P, sorry to tell you the only guy I’ve yet to see with a PXG rig and an ugly swing is you! (we’ve sold about a hundred full sets if your clubs, and maybe 150 drivers – but sadly maybe only two dozen or so staff bags) In fact, several of our 10-18 hcp folks were so encouraged after their fitting/demo sessions and deciding to make the investment in your products, after reviewing their stats AND swings on High Speed video & 3D biometric analysis they agreed there were a couple of swing issues they could indeed improve upon, so they signed up for lesson packages with me as well – Thank You for helping inspire then. The Irons were built immediately – with slight ‘grow into’ shaft specs so we could work with the clubs over the winter…They agreed to wait til spring for a second Trackman & High Speed video fitting to compare the before and after stats as I was certain they’d change after the lessons. I’m happy to say all 8 guys and 1 lady were able to significantly increase both load on the shaft during transition, increase club head speed and all improved their release. All 9 people ended up with much better fitting shafts.

      Weather still sucking here, had our PGA Spring Meeting on
      LI this week but they were able to let carts on the course….

      SO, with all that monster improvement goin’ on, once they
      start playing and breaking old personal bests, I hope they’ll
      all come in and order customized PXG staff bags from us
      too!

      Thanks Mr P for making the best clubs for folks with pretty repetitive swings and a true love for the game, but still need very forging clubs – Hey, you know who we are – your number ONE account in N.East…Come by for a lesson so I can scrape some of the UGLY off your swing too 😉

      Regards…

  24. James

    Mar 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    #6 says Cart Bag, yet the picture is of a carry bag….

  25. Double Mocha Man

    Mar 29, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    I think you missed a few bags, but that’s okay. I’m the guy with the black (Titleist) bag that shoots in the mid to low 70’s. I like my bag to be neutral. I’d prefer to let my game scream (or not) than have my bag scream stuff.

    • Chopper

      Mar 30, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      I’m not always scratch, but when I am, I humble brag about it on golfwrx.

      • Double Mocha Man

        Mar 30, 2017 at 3:27 pm

        I wish I was scratch. Not there yet. And as for bragging about things on GolfWRX I do not hit 300 yard drives.

        • Everyone on golfwrx that reads the comments

          Mar 30, 2017 at 4:39 pm

          A lot of your posts got a lil brag to em

          • Double Mocha Man

            Mar 30, 2017 at 6:14 pm

            You must be one of those guys who easily drills your drives over 300 yards.

            • The Beau Show

              Mar 30, 2017 at 6:59 pm

              gotta have the last word, do ya brag boy?

      • Mocha man 4 pres

        Mar 30, 2017 at 3:37 pm

        Always look forward to mocha man’s classic comments.

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Opinion & Analysis

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

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New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

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Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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What is “feel” in putting… and how do you get it?

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You’re playing a course for the first time, so you arrive an hour early to warm-up. You make your way toward the practice green and you see a sign at the first tee that reads, “GREEN SPEED TODAY 11.”  That brings up two issues:

  1. How did they arrive at that number?
  2. How is that information valuable to me?

How did they arrive at that number?

They used what’s known as a stimpmeter — a device that’s used to measure the speed of a green. With a stimpmeter, the green’s surface is tested by rolling a ball down the 30-inch ramp that is tilted downward at a 20-degree angle. The number of feet the ball rolls after leaving the ramp is an indication of the green’s speed. The green-speed test is conducted on a flat surface. A total of three balls are rolled in three different directions. The three balls must then finish within eight inches of each other for the test to be valid.

For example, if the ball is rolled down the ramp and were to stop at 8 feet, the green would be running at an “8.” Were the ball to roll down the ramp and stop at 12 feet, the green would be running at a “12.”

Stimpmeter history

The stimpmeter was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., a Massachusetts State Amateur Champion and former Harvard Golf Team Captain. After attending the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he saw the need for a universal testing device after watching Gene Sarazen, who was at the top of his game, putt a ball off the green. He was of the opinion that the greens were unreasonably fast, but he had no way to prove it — thus the motivation for creating the invention.

The device is now used by superintendents to make sure all of their greens are rolling close to the same speed. This ensures that golfers are not guessing from one putt to another if a green is fast or slow based on the way it is maintained. The device is also used by tournament officials who want to make sure that green speed is not too severe.

Do Stimp readings matter for my game?

Not very much. That piece of abstract knowledge is of little value until you can translate it into your own personal feel for the speed of the putt. There is a method that will allow you to turn green speed into a legitimate feel, however, and you don’t even need a stimpmeter or a stimp reading to do it. I call it “Setting Your Own Stimpmeter.”

Before we get to how to do it, the first step is to determine if the putting green is the same speed as the greens on the course. The best source of information in this regard are the professionals working in the golf shop. They will be happy to share this information with you. You only need to ask. Assuming that the speed of the putting green is close to the speed of the greens on the course, you are ready to begin setting your own stimpmeter. This is done by inputting data into your neuromuscular system by rolling putts and visually observing the outcome.

Contrary to what most golfers believe, a golfer’s feel for distance is based in the eyes — not in the hands, which only records tactile information. It’s just like basketball. On the court, you look at the distance to the hoop and respond accordingly. While you would feel the ball in your hands, it doesn’t play a role in determining the proper distance to the hoop. Based on what you saw with your eyes, you would access the data that had been previously inputted through shooting practice.

Setting your own Stimpmeter

  1. Start by finding a location on the putting green that is flat and roughly 15 feet away from the fringe.
  2. Using five balls, start rolling putts one at a time toward the fringe. The objective is to roll them just hard enough for them to finish against the edge.
  3. You may be short of the fringe or long, but it is important that you do not judge the outcome— just observe, because the feel for distance is visually based.
  4. You should not try and judge the feel of the putt with your hands or any other part of your body. You can only process information in one sensory system at a time — that should be the eyes.
  5. You should continue to roll balls until you’ve reach the point that most of them are consistently finishing against the fringe. Once you can do that, you have successfully set you stimpmeter.

The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed. Want proof? Work through the steps I’ve outlined below. .

  1. After having loaded the data as described in the exercise above, pace off a 25-foot putt.
  2. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole as you would normally using your conscious mind to control the outcome.
  3. Mark the location of the five balls with a tee pushing them down until they are level with the surface of the green.
  4. Allow your eyes to work slowly from the ball to the hole while clearing your conscious mind of any thought.
  5. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole allowing your subconscious mind to control the outcome.
  6. Compare the proximity of the five putts that you just hit to those marked with a tee. What do you observe?

Did you have trouble clearing your mind of any conscious thought? Assuming that your conscious mind intruded at any point, the outcome would be negatively affected. You should then repeat the exercise but this time, emptying your mind of any thought. You will have mastered the technique when you are able to quiet your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to take over.

This technique will improve your proximity to the hole on longer putts. And you know what that means? Fewer three-putts!

Editor’s Note: Rod Lindenberg has authored a book entitled “The Three-Putt Solution”  that is now available through Amazon. 

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