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Opinion & Analysis

An Open Letter to Gear Heads

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Back when Tiger Woods was golf, I played a round with a very nice man who hit the ball about 160 yards with his driver, lost half a dozen golf balls and whose greatest pride in the game of golf was that he played the exact same clubs as Tiger Woods.

Because of my playing companion’s spending behavior, and many other golfers like him, club manufacturers invest millions of dollars on endorsement contracts and advertisements that feature famous golfers. By showing that that these professionals use their products, companies are trying to convince us to use them, too. But is this the best way to sell clubs… or the best way to buy them?

In 1996, looking to reproduce the business model it pioneered with Michael Jordan, Nike signed Tiger Woods to a $40 million endorsement contract and entered the golf market. Capitalizing on Tiger’s success, the company launched a golf ball in 2000 and golf clubs in 2002. Tiger went on to win eight major championships, 14 World Golf Championships and 50 PGA Tour events with Nike Golf clubs, and Nike Golf became synonymous with Tiger Woods.

Between 2002 and 2013, to further support its brand in golf, Nike signed dozens of other talented professional golfers to endorsement contracts. Its biggest signing came in 2013; the company pulled off what many saw as a coup in the golf equipment world by signing Rory McIlroy. Nike Golf now had the two best golfers on the planet under contract, and it seemed primed to become the leader in golf equipment sales. Not even four years later, however, Nike announced that it was exiting the golf club business.

What, if anything, can my playing companion and the rest of us learn from Nike’s history in the golf club business? Is it possible that selling and buying clubs based on celebrity endorsements is not the best way to do business? Based on the behavior of the other golf equipment manufacturers, the answer seems to be a resounding “no.” Club companies still sign golfers to endorsement contracts, of course, but they are marketing their clubs more and more on technological improvements and using launch monitor data to support their claims.

But what technological details should we care about? Does it matter that pros hit the ball farther with a new club or that it was designed in the same wind tunnel as a jet?

The only thing that really matters for golfers is to compare the shots they hit with their current clubs to the shots they hit with new clubs, and the best way to do that is by testing clubs on launch monitor. So the next time you’re interested in new gear, make sure to put the endorsement contracts and advertising aside. Go do some launch monitor testing with your current clubs to see if new ones offer a tangible benefit.

Lyndon Wilson, a club fitting expert and owner of Studio360, is a 14-year veteran of club fitting. He now works with everyone from average golfers to elite players, including the No. 2-ranked golfer in the Rolex Rankings Ariya Jutanugran and dozens of other PGA and LPGA tour players. He calls fitting “crucial” to the process of buying new equipment.

“A proper fit can increase both accuracy and distance, which is only going to make golf more fun,” he says.

There are currently a lot of buzzwords when it comes to golf equipment fitting, and they have a lot of golfers confused. That’s why it’s important to resist the urge to try and fit yourself; it’s really hard for average golfers to know exactly what they need to play their best.

Bill Holbrook, a representative of Cobra-Puma Golf and a 2015 National Sales Associate of the year, says many golfers focus too much on lowering the spin rate of their shots. He says it stems from the strides golf equipment manufactures have made in creating lower-spinning clubs in recent years and their intensity in marketing them.

“For people with speed, [lowering spin] has been a huge help,” Holbrook says. “But for a lot of players, it’s not. These players need to be fit to ensure they have the right variables to maximize distance, which often means more loft and a softer-tip shaft.”

A good starting point in a fitting is looking at the three major keys to ball flight: ball speed, launch angle and spin rate. It’s also a good idea to look at the axis tilt of the golf ball, as straighter-flying shots tend lead to more birdies than crooked ones. And of course, you’ll want to keep an eye on the balance of carry distance and roll out.

To make sure your launch monitor data is accurate, you’ll also want to do your testing on a top-notch launch monitor (the best fitters almost always use either FlightScope, Foresight or Trackman). If the data demonstrates that one club performs significantly better than another, that’s a compelling argument to purchase a new club. This goes for your wedges and putter, too!

For quite a long time on the PGA Tour, a top-10 money winner used game improvement irons designed for higher-handicap golfers. His friends may have looked at him funny, but those were the clubs that work best for him. Most golfers won’t ever make a living playing the game, but we all enjoy golf more when we play better. That likely means you’re not going to be playing same clubs as Tiger, Rory or any other Tour player.

Happy Testing!

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Brendan is the owner of Golf Placement Services, a boutique business which aims to apply his background in golf and higher education to help educate players, their families and coaches about the process! Website - www.golfplacementservices.com Insta - golf.placement.sevices Twitter @BMRGolf

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Barry Evans

    Mar 18, 2017 at 10:06 am

    What is more important:
    The clubfitter or the clubfitter company?

  2. Kourt

    Mar 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I’d have to agree completely. I take money every week from guys playing blades even when my game is off because my minor misses are still close. And I know I could play blades and still win, but the off center hit performance of game improvement irons is just too good to play without. Now I agree that no iron looks at sweet as a classic blade and if u want the looks more than performance then more power to ya. But The people claiming that blades are better to play are absolutely nuts. If a blade truly offered more “precision” than a cavity back club then why are those same people playing blades also playing drivers at 460 cc? If “precision” came from a harder to hit club they should be hitting old persimmon wood clubs that aren’t as forgiving, yet they choose to use a maximum game improvement club in a 460cc driver and probably use a spider high moi putter too Haha.

  3. JThunder

    Mar 10, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Yes, fitting is extremely important to get the most out of your game.

    It’s extremely unlikely a high percentage of less-than-avid golfers will ever get properly fit for their clubs.

    It’s extremely unlikely that anyone who frequents Golfwrx is unaware of the importance of fitting, or of the unimportance of playing the same clubs as your hero.

    In the US, and many other parts of the world, our hero worship of and obsession with celebrities and athletes is far out of control. I would ever-so-humbly suggest that buying Tiger-spec clubs is among the utmost benign symptoms of this disease. (I take greater issue with their funneling hundreds of millions to millionaire players while their worldwide employees work in sweatshops and their first-world employees get laid off, for example).

    Telling also that here again we see celebrity worship held so high over the value of educators.

  4. JThunder

    Mar 10, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    “whose greatest pride in the game of golf was that he played the exact same clubs as Tiger Woods” –

    so, the author clearly states this was the man’s “greatest pride”, and then he explains how wrong and misguided the guy is.

    Is he playing golf? Is he having fun? Will he come back?

    And you’re suggesting “growing the game” by taking that away from him?

    No wonder things are in the state they’re in.

  5. Murdock

    Mar 10, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    What I don’t get, is that the pro’s always say “get fit” for your clubs. But, if you’re whole heartedly working on your game to improve, your “fit” might change in the matter of days or weeks, depending on swing changes. Of course, your body characteristics (i.e. height and arm length) won’t change, but your swing plane, impact position and club path among other factors certainly will! So, then at what point do you Mr. Golf Fitter, recommend we get fit? When we have the money, or when we’ve ironed out the issues with our swings?

  6. ahw74

    Mar 10, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I was a huge Nike Golf guy, it suited my eye and worked for me, that being said I really feel like the difference between the major brands in the GI area is like the difference between a Camry and an Accord. I also think if you can’t break 100 you shouldn’t be in blades.

    • JThunder

      Mar 10, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      People played “blades” (or musclebacks) for the first 500 years of the game, and apparently enjoyed it enough for the game to survive. If a 30 hdcp wants to play MBs, then they should – it’s their money and their leisure activity. The mistake so many people make in their judgement of other peoples’ decisions (apart from their need to judge other peoples’ decisions) is to judge others’ behaviors based on their own value systems. Not everyone determines their enjoyment of golf based primarily or only on their score. If they did, it seems likely that far fewer people would play the game, given the average golfer’s score and the fractional percent who are scratch or better.

      Playing MBs might drive some percentage of people away from the game, if they had no other option. Likewise, playing offset shovels would drive some people away too. Options exist for a reason, and others’ reasons may differ from your own.

  7. golfraven

    Mar 9, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    I went to a golf show recently and was looking around. Went to Ping stand and asked the dude to show me the i200s and iblade – told him I game older i-series and was looking to uprade. He pulled 2 clubs out of the bag and I started hitting without any warm up. He called the numbers and balls were flying 15-20 yards short what I am used to with my clubs. Looked at the shaft and those were stiffer what I usually game. Anyway once I was warmed up he handed me a G model with a graphite shaft in regular and told me to hit. Of course those shots were going much further and within a meter dispersion. Was not bothered to give me the right shaft with the other models. That was my worst experience when “testing” clubs and little to say I will not buy Pings again. I have a judgement level of my abilities and when a rep is a d… and treats me like a beginner I take offense.

  8. Nath

    Mar 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Your like the guy at a retail store that tried to fit me into srixon z355 irons with nippon 950 reg shafts std length and lie, said i should never to look at what the pros have, its not for me, blah blah. He even said i have the 120s and they are not for you. Lol he knew me for all of 5 mins. i went ahead with my own plan trusting my own instinct z745 nippon modus 103 x 2*flat + 1/2, these things are dangerous. and have shave half a dozen strokes. Never hit more greens. Good job at helping people out bud

  9. Skip

    Mar 8, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    LOL getting fit on a “FlightScope, Foresight or Trackman” hardly ensures accuracy.

  10. Sam

    Mar 8, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    IMO i think fitting is just a money grab from the PGA pro side. I got fit into Project X from a fitting session based on outdoor Trackman numbers, but i liked golf less and less after playing with those. Went back to my S300s, nothing is optimal anymore but love the feel.

    Also most of the high cappers would see the same results using “GI” or “players” clubs, a scoop or fat shot is still a scoop or fat shot with either.

  11. TR1PTIK

    Mar 8, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    The #1 reason Nike’s advertising model didn’t equate to a larger share of the marketplace is simple. To be like “Mike” I only had to spend a couple hundred bucks (if that) for a pair of shoes – maybe more if I wanted the jersey. To be like Tiger, I’d have to pay at least 10 times that amount. To top it off, I still wouldn’t have his one off clubs – glued hosel driver and fairway woods, specialized putters and irons. If I’m going to spend that much on golf clubs they had better be the best available for my game or I’m not buying.

  12. helloooo

    Mar 8, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Mr Ryan,
    Regarding the man with TW clubs.. It’s like you are saying a guy shouldn’t buy a pair of Jordan sneakers because he’s not even good at dribbling..
    For Nike’s effort to sell more clubs by signing huge endorsement deals with TW and RM, your view seems to neglect the fact that that effort is what brings money into the sport and grows it.
    Without support of freely buying whatever you want to buy, (be it for improving your game or making a weekend golfer feel a bit more tied to the “now-ness” of the game by purchasing the latest.) the industry will get even smaller.
    It’ll turn in the direction towards something like the sport, Curling. Expensive to play, expensive equipments, with no market.

    • HUH?

      Mar 9, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Hello helloooo,

      I didn’t read anywhere where the man said you couldn’t buy whatever equipment you want unless you were capable of actually playing the game well. I think the only point he was trying to make was that matching equipment to fit the way we swing the club is a good idea. The “golf industry” is a lot of things ranging from stuffed animals and pointless trinkets to playing lessons, lawn mowers and sprinkler heads. Just because you buy golf clubs that fit your swing doesn’t mean that the entire golf industry is going to suffer – just like wearing a hundred percent polyester polo with an unfortunately large logo emblazoned on it is going to help enrich it.

    • Brian

      Mar 9, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      Sneakers and golf clubs are a lousy analogy. A pair of Jordan’s or a pair of Adidas won’t make a lick of difference to your hoops game. Trying to play Mizuno MP4s vs. Ping G-Max? Huuuge difference.

  13. Sam

    Mar 8, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I would agree that having your clubs fit properly to your swing to help you play your best, but I would think that a lot of average golfers do not want to spend that money (fee) on the fitting, as they would rather put that money towards new equipment.

    Also, getting out and playing a round of golf is supposed to be fun and who are we to judge what a person plays (with) or buys? To your opening paragraph about the “very nice man who hit the ball about 160 yards with his driver, lost half a dozen golf balls and whose greatest pride in the game of golf was that he played the exact same clubs as Tiger Woods”, if this made him happy to have spent his hard earned money on those exact clubs that Tiger Woods played, then that’s up to him. He’s not only helping the golf industry by making these purchases, but also getting out there and playing. Losing all of those golf balls, also helps the golf industry because he would have to constantly keep buying new golf balls.

    I would understand if he’s holding up the pace of play and something should be said, but again, with his equipment purchase, we are all free to buy and use what we feel is best for us. Since 90% (or more) of the average shouldn’t play MBs, why do retailers still carry them? They should be special order only. But they are there to entice us to strive to be that better player or just be dumb and buy them, yet to trade them in a couple of weeks later. The golf industry is a business and they want the consumer to buy the newest and greatest thing, that’s their goal and they don’t really care about if we actually enjoy the game or are improving…..they want our money!!

  14. Tim Metcalf

    Mar 8, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Odd that the article was displayed under a banner that included WITB. WRX like most most golf centric outlets promote the the what’s in the bag.

  15. Progolfer

    Mar 8, 2017 at 10:23 am

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE!! Skill– not equipment– is what matters! Chalk it up to society… Most people would rather look good than be good.

  16. Nick

    Mar 8, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Do you guys even proof read your articles?

    • Chopper

      Mar 8, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      I was wondering the same thing. “The only way thing that really matters for golfers…So the next you’re interested in new gear…” And talk about comma overload!

  17. Tourgrinder

    Mar 8, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I’d like to add one thing Mr. Ryan forgot, but a suggestion Mr. Ryan would probably agree is worthwhile. In addition to testing on a top-quality launch monitor, a session of equal or even greater value to the everyday golfer would be to go out on a grass range — (you know, similar to conditions where you actually play golf!) — and hit a variety of shots with both your new or prospective clubs as well as your current clubs. Compare the trajectories, the distances, the relative ability of hitting fades and hooks (if that’s part of your game). Maybe I have too much gray hair, but no matter what the technology is and what it says inside, hitting off a turf mat indoors only provides so much feel and so much feedback. Good golfers also rely on non-technical feedback that ends up translating to confidence. Go outside…on grass…in some winds…and hit all kinds of shots, including knock-downs, tight lies, deep rough, etc. If your retailer doesn’t allow it or won’t allow it, find merchants and pro clubfitters that work just that way. I realize it’s mostly a dying art due to the conveniences of the indoor technologies, but ask yourself — just what is the game we’re trying to address here?

  18. Greg V

    Mar 8, 2017 at 9:19 am

    I assume that it is OK for me, with my 93 mph driver swing, to play what the ladies on the LPGA tour play. And I am not ashamed of that.

  19. Tom54

    Mar 8, 2017 at 9:11 am

    In the club I play at I notice that the better players gravitate towards the better clubs. I used to be a scratch golfer in my younger days days and always appreciated how good pro models of clubs looked and performed. Now that I’m 40 years older and have a higher hdcp I’m still going to always play nice stuff. I’m always joking with my friends that my game isn’t as good as it once was but I sure have nice clubs

  20. PineStreetGolf

    Mar 8, 2017 at 9:10 am

    I like telling other people to have fun too.

    Fitting is important, and the last half of the article was good I guess. The first half was condescending and arrogant. If I have fun using a pros clubs I’ll use a pros clubs. There was no need for the bashing of people who do that as somehow being dupes. He probably liked his clubs and who are you to tell him what to do?

  21. Uhit

    Mar 8, 2017 at 8:21 am

    A few thoughts:

    1. you need a really good fitter
    2. you need a swing during the fitting, that is really representative
    3. whilst trying different things, your swing can change / improve
    4. tinkering on your own, may be a substantial part of your hobby
    5. a good fitting to bad habits may not be the best idea…
    6. never underestimate the psychological effect of new gear
    7. sometimes a new grip on your clubs may cause wonders!
    8. don´t forget that the fitting has to fit to the balls you use…
    9. a pleasant look and a good feel contribute to a joyful golfing experience

  22. Mark

    Mar 8, 2017 at 7:42 am

    “testing clubs on launch monitor. So the next you’re interested” and “either FlightScope, Foresight or Trackman”. Poor editing has spoiled a good read. Editor, hang your head in shame.

    • ooffa

      Mar 8, 2017 at 8:58 am

      As long as you knew what the author was trying to say then the writing was fine. Take the grammar police show elsewhere and CTFD.

      • DrRob1963

        Mar 8, 2017 at 9:38 am

        CTFD? Is that the new Controlled Trajectory Forged Driver from PXG??? Giggle!

        • LD

          Mar 8, 2017 at 12:16 pm

          I’ve already pre-ordered one with a TXXXX Blueboard. Can’t wait to hit it!

      • loofa

        Mar 8, 2017 at 10:57 am

        So I guess professional publications should fire their editors and just let writers go crazy since we’ll simply figure out what the author is trying to say? Solid response bro.

      • Mark

        Mar 9, 2017 at 11:59 pm

        The intelligent amongst us like to read what has been well written. Further, my comment was not about grammar.

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Opinion & Analysis

A Letter from the Editor: Big changes are happening at GolfWRX

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For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Andrew Tursky. I recently went from the right-hand-man of former GolfWRX Editor-in-Chief Zak Kozuchowski, to running the show here at GolfWRX as the Editor-in-Chief myself. In my new role, I’m going to help GolfWRX fulfill its fullest potential as the best golf website in existence, and that means making a number of immediate changes, all of which I’ll highlight below.

First, a look back. Over a decade ago, GolfWRX started as a small community golf forum for golfers to discuss golf equipment, courses, instruction, rules, bargains, and everything else golf related. The forums continue to grow everyday, and they’re stronger than ever with over 250,000 members who are the most knowledgable and passionate golfers on the planet. They also helped us determine the Best Driver of 2018. Additionally, sometime around 2011, Kozuchowski took GolfWRX.com from simply a community golf forum to a golf media powerhouse by adding a front page section of the website, equipped with ultra-professional editorial. He built a team of Featured Writers — consisting of some of the biggest names in the golf industry — to help produce content that readers love and need. Since 2013, I’ve been helping Zak run the site by writing/producing original content myself, and working with the Featured Writer team. Currently averaging over 1.8 million unique readers per month, GolfWRX has been doing just fine. But I believe so strongly in the GolfWRX brand that I don’t want to settle for “just fine.” I believe we have more to offer, and I want every golfer in the world to garner entertainment or knowledge from our website.

As such, and building upon the foundation that is GolfWRX.com and the forums, I’ve been empowered by the “powers that be” at GolfWRX — you know, the guys who cut paychecks — to grow and shape the best golf website on the Internet.

So what does that mean going forward? Well, that’s what I wanted to discuss.

Here at GolfWRX, we’ve always been great at telling stories through the written word and images, and we will continue to do so with our Featured Writers team and legion of golf writers who love and know the game of golf. But after taking over the editorial direction of the website, I also wanted to help give GolfWRX a voice and a face. There are so many amazing people in the world of golf, and I wanted to provide platforms for us to help them tell their stories… to provide our readers the chance to see how golf clubs are made, how courses are designed, why professionals play certain equipment, and so much more. I wanted to bring readers where they’ve never been and hear from the people they’ve never heard from. Here at GolfWRX, we have the opportunity to speak with amazing people and play golf at amazing courses, and it’s about time the GolfWRX readers got to enjoy those experiences with us.

Therefore, we’re implementing our own original video and radio initiatives.

On the video-end of the spectrum, GolfWRX has recently hired Johnny Wunder full-time to the GolfWRX Staff. He’s a Hollywood producer (check out his new film Josie, starring Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones, that was recently in select theaters across the country!) and is also the new Director of Original Content at GolfWRX. If you’ve enjoyed the Bob Parsons interview, Paige interview, PXG Gen2 Editor’s Journal, or how PXG irons get built, you have Mr. Wunder to thank. Also coming soon are experiences with Mike Taylor at Artisan Golf, David Edel, Bert Lamar of Iliac Golf, the Criquet Golf team in Austin, a short game series with Gabe Hjertstedt, a new fashion series and much more. We’re extremely excited to bring our own original content to the world, and help highlight the people in golf who we think deserve a platform. See the things you’ve never seen, go places you’ve never gone, and meet people you’ve never met; that’s what we want to do with our new GolfWRX original video content. We truly hope you enjoy it, and learn a lot from the content we produce.

We’ve also started three great podcasts — the “19th Hole with host Michael Williams,” “Two Guys Talkin’ Golf,” and “Gear Dive” — with plans to expand in the very near future. Check all of them out here on SoundCloud, or here on iTunes.

The 19th Hole is hosted by Michael Williams, who was the PGA Mediaperson of the Year in 2014 and is a longtime titan in both golf media and radio in general; he has produced and hosted shows on CBS Radio, Fox Sports Radio and Voice of America. Michael is a true professional, knowledgeable golfer, and knows how to conduct one heck of an interview. So far on the show, his guests have included Greg Norman, Bob Vokey, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Scott Van Pelt, Byron Scott, Michael Breed, Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Nantz, Roger Cleveland, Mike Taylor, and many more.

Two Guys Talkin’ Golf (TG2), is hosted by equipment expert Brian Knudson and myself, a former Division I golfer and GolfWRX Editor. Together, we discuss all things golf, but mostly focus on golf equipment… and the occasional hot take. TG2 welcomes guests on the show as well, ranging from GolfWRX forum members to club builders to Tour professionals to caddies. If you’re hungry for more equipment knowledge and high-level golf conversation, TG2 is your type of podcast.

The third, and all-new podcast, is called “Gear Dive,” hosted by Johnny Wunder. What you can expect is a weekly podcast where Wunder interviews anyone who’s anyone “in the know” of golf equipment… and he’s going deep. To give you an idea, his first guest was legendary clubmaker Larry Bobka who made Tiger Woods’ old Titleist irons.

Also, as I discussed before, GolfWRX is great with telling stories via the written word. To make sure we continue to do so, we’ve hired Ben Alberstadt who’s been writing for GolfWRX for over 5 years now. He was previously a freelance journalist who worked with a variety of media and news outlets, and he now wears the GolfWRX hat full time. I cannot be more excited to have him aboard the ship because he’s a true, hard-working journalist and he’s great at telling a story in his own unique style. If you’ve read any of his stuff, you know what I mean.

And as for me, I promise to continue providing GolfWRX readers with the content they want and need to read/hear/see on a daily basis. It’s my duty to help our readers be the most knowledgable golfers and golf buyers, and be entertained while learning more about the sport we all love. I simply love GolfWRX and our readers/listeners/viewers, and I want you to have the best website of all time to visit every day… a website to be part of and proud of.

What do I ask from you GolfWRX readers? Your feedback! If we write a bad story, tell us why you think it’s bad. If we publish a video you like, tell us why in the comments or on social media. If you love the new podcast, tell us that you loved it and support by subscribing. (If you want all of our podcasts transcribed, we’re working on it!) We want to have the best website in the world, and we want to provide information to golfers in the way they want to consume it. We care deeply about your opinion. GolfWRX began as a forum community, and we will always be a community. Personally, I was a GolfWRX reader myself before ever writing for the site. So was Alberstadt and Williams and Knudson and Wunder. We love golf and we love GolfWRX. We want to see it thrive, and you, the readers, are a huge part of that success.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this letter, and I hope you continue to be a GolfWRX reader and participant. And if you do, make sure to tell your golfing buddies how much you love the site… in real life or on social media. The more we grow, the better stories and podcasts and videos we can create. I love and appreciate the opportunity to be your GolfWRX Editor, and I won’t let you down!

 

Hit em between the tree line,

Andrew Tursky

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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Just as in 2017, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans will once again provide a change in format for the players this week. Players will team up once more at TPC Louisiana for a combination of Best Ball (Rounds 1 and 3) and Alternate Shot (Rounds 2 and 4). Unfortunately, the change in format means that there is no DraftKings this week.

The course is long at over 7,400 yards, but it’s also very generous off the tee. TPC Louisiana offers the opportunity to go low, and players took advantage last year despite the inclement weather conditions. It took a Monday playoff to separate them, but eventually Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt pipped Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown by making birdie on the fourth playoff hole to take the title after both teams had posted 27-under par in regulation.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson 7/1
  • Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay 12/1
  • Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley 14/1
  • Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar 14/1
  • Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer 14/1
  • Jon Rahm/Wesley Bryan 16/1
  • Rafa Cabrera Bello/Sergio Garcia 22/1

For the first time, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar (14/1) will team up for this event. Last year, Watson played alongside J.B Holmes. The two performed well, finishing in a tie for fifth place. TPC Louisiana has been a course that has suited Watson’s game over the years, his prodigious length being a significant factor. Along with his T-5 in 2017, Watson has a victory and three other top-20 finishes at the course when the event was an individual stroke-play tournament.

While Watson can be feast or famine at times, Kuchar is Mr. Consistent. He hasn’t missed a cut in over a year, and he has been a top-10 machine over the past few years on the PGA Tour. Despite this, Kuchar hasn’t been able to convert many of his top-10 finishes into wins, but playing alongside Watson this week — who has already notched two victories in 2018 — may help his cause. Over their last 24 rounds, Watson ranks third for Strokes Gained-Off the Tee and eighth in Strokes Gained Total. Over the same period, Kuchar has been predictably consistent, ranking in the top third in the field in every major Strokes Gained category. It’s an intriguing partnership, with Watson’s explosiveness combined with Kuchar’s consistency, and it’s a cocktail that should prove to be a formidable force at TPC Louisiana.

Two men with the hot hand coming into this event are fellow Americans, Jimmy Walker and Sean O’Hair (25/1). Last week at the Valero Texas Open both men excelled, posting the highest finishes of their year thus far. Walker finished solo 4th, while O’Hair grabbed a T-2. It’s the pairs first time playing TPC Louisiana together, but Walker has some good course form to lean on. Back in 2012 and 2013, he posted back-to-back top-20 finishes, which shows that TPC Louisiana is a course that fits his game. Accuracy off the tee has never been Walker’s strength, but the generous fairways may be one of the reasons that he has performed well at this course.

O’Hair has been in good form as of late. The Texan has three top-15 finishes in his last six events, and last week he recorded his highest Strokes Gained Total at an event in years. Walker also seems to have turned a corner with his game. Along with his excellent performance last week, he managed a top-20 finish at the Masters, and his Strokes Gained-Total at the Valero was his highest since his 2016 PGA Championship victory. With both men coming off their best performances in a long time, they should be confident. The duo looks to be a decent value to mount a challenge this week.

Last year’s runners-up Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown (40/1) are hard to ignore at their price this week. Brown has struggled mightily for form in 2018, missing six cuts out of 11 events played so far this year, but the prospect of playing alongside Kisner may be the boost that Brown’s 2018 is needing.

Kisner’s form has been strong as of late. He backed up his runner-up finish at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play with a T-28 at Augusta before grabbing a T-7 at the RBC Heritage. At Harbour Town, Kisner’s iron play was especially sharp, with his Strokes Gained-Approaching the Greens total being the highest since the Memorial last year. Despite Brown’s slump, in a highly tricky format to predict, the pair showed enough chemistry last year and an ability to excel in the format, which is enough for me to consider their price a little undervalued this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar 14/1
  • Jimmy Walker/Sean O’Hair 25/1
  • Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown 40/1
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Gear Dive: Legendary club builder Larry Bobka speaks on Tiger’s old Titleist irons

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Legendary club builder Larry Bobka joins us in the first episode of our new podcast called “Gear Dive,” hosted by Johnny Wunder, GolfWRX’s Director of Original Content. Gear Dive is a deep look into the world of golf equipment, and Wunder will be interviewing the craftsman, the reps and the players behind the tools that make up the bags of the best golfers in the world.

Bobka, our first guest, is a former Tour rep and club builder involved in some of the most important clubs of the past 25 years. From his days at Wilson Golf working with legends such as Payne Stewart, Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer, he transitioned into the Golden Age of Titleist/Acushnet building clubs for Tiger Woods, Davis Love, David Duval and Brad Faxon. He currently runs Argolf where he builds and fits handmade putters for Tour players and amateurs alike. He’s one of the Godfather’s of modern golf equipment.

Skip to 45:30 for the discussion about Tiger’s Titleist irons.

Check out our podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

What do you think of the new podcast? Leave your feedback in the comments below!

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