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Opinion & Analysis

“On This Father’s Day, I Want to Say Thank You”



Dear Dad, 

On this Father’s Day, I want to say thank you. Thank you for always being supportive and teaching me to work with my hands and solve problems on the go, just like you did as a welder and millwright for more than 30 years. It was about 21 years ago today when I first got the call from some hockey friends to come to the golf course and play. I had never picked up a club at that point, and I didn’t even know if I had clubs. Somewhere in our garage, there was a set of zinc cast Northwesterns in a bag with some Top Flites just waiting to be used. If I remember correctly, you bought them at a flea market years before. I don’t remember much from that first round of golf except I had a lot of trouble in a sand trap on the second hole that eventually left me feeling embarrassed before I picked up and putted out on the green. 

It was about 20 years ago today that you yelled down to me in the basement (I was most likely playing Nintendo 64). You brought me out into the garage and with a Black and Decker Workmate, some Varsol, and two-sided tape, and you showed me how to re-grip a golf club. Little did you know at the time, but that simple lesson set me on a path that would lead me to a career building golf clubs for PGA Tour players, famous athletes, celebrities, renowned businessmen, and everyday golfers just like you. I was only 18 when you and Mom sent me to what would be the first of two trips to Austin, Texas, to the Golfsmith Club-Building School. I not only learned from great teachers on how to be better at something I was passionate about, but I also made friends that I still keep in contact with.

We have played countless rounds of golf together in all seasons and weather condition, yet and I still remember the time when I was just starting out and you hit the flagstick on a long par-3 with what I think was a 5 wood. You were so excited! It was one of the first seasons I was playing, and at the time I thought, “Of course. You’re my Dad and good at everything, so this must be a pretty common occurrence.” Little did I realize that as a 20-handicap, hitting a flagstick was a pretty big deal. The funny part of that story is I have no recollection if you made the putt. 

Thank you for the early morning, summer drop-offs at the course on your way to work before the sun even came up (Mom did it, too). You guys loaded me up with bottles of water, granola bars and $5 for a burger, fries and pop after the first 18 of the day. Then there were the short fall days in high school, when three times per week you would pick up me and my best friend with our clubs and shoes already in the van so we could all get to the course and get in 18 holes before sunset.

Thank you for the connections I’ve made over the years in the golf industry, which I was only able to enter because of the support of you and Mom. For that, I always felt it was my obligation to do everything I could to take you to some of the best golf courses our country has to offer. Not just because I wanted to play them, but because I wanted to share each experience with you. Since our lives run on different schedules now, it’s not always as easy as it used to be to play golf together, but I cherish it every single time.

Last year, the most memorable round was the 18 holes in 90 minute at the public executive course in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. It also included non-golfer Mom, my wife (Dana, an avid golfer and 18-handicap), and you (now a 15-handicap!). In that round, the longest holes were 100 yards, the greens were tiny, we teed off from mats, and we played with two less-than-desirable rental clubs: a short-iron and a putter. Coincidentally, the short iron I selected from the messy rack was a Northwestern Conquest 9 iron that was a lot like the first set I ever played with.


We missed putts we shouldn’t have, but you chipped in twice. Mom somehow managed to make two completely legit pars, and Dana made some huge putts including one for birdie. That was the most memorable round of golf I had all year, and I have no idea what I shot.

So as Dana and I are about to welcome our newest addition to our family — a yet-to-be named baby girl — I only hope I can offer her the same level of love, support and happiness in life in whatever she chooses to pursue. If I come anywhere close to offering her the passion and desire you gave me to pursue my dream, I’ll be doing an incredible job.

Thank you, Dad. 



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Ryan Barath is a club fitter and master club builder who has more than 15 years experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour professionals. He studied business and marketing at the Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf located in Toronto. He now works independently from his home shop in Hamilton and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers, including True Temper. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf and share his passion for club building, wedge grinding, & craft beer.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bob Parsons

    Jun 18, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Does it have a sweet spot the size of Texas?

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Gary Player joins our 19th Hole podcast, talks past and future of golf



Hall-of-Famer and career Grand Slam winner Gary Player joins host Michael Williams for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament and Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri. Player talks about the past and future of the game, including his take on everything from reigning in the golf ball and golf courses, to advocating for more testing for performance enhancing drugs on the Tour. Steve Friedlander of Big Cedar Lodge also appears.

Listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Let’s Retire Old Man Par: A Modest Proposal



In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay entitled “A modest proposal,” in which he suggested that the Irish eat their own children. As might be expected, the piece drew a great deal of discussion and controversy. He was of course not serious, but simply attempting to make a point. As you will read this piece contains “A Modest Proposal” as well, but it is not intended to be satirical. I am for the record dead serious.

The golf industry is wringing its hands, trying to find a way to bring new players into the game, while at the same time keeping those that are in the game from leaving. They have initiated any number of programs designed for this purpose. How successful have they been? I would venture that they have barely moved the needle.

Barriers to the game

What we do know is that today there are three major barriers that confront the industry. They are first, the time required to play the game; second the costs associated with playing the game; and third the difficulty of the game.

There are among those adults that start the game, three distinct different groups:

  1. Those who would like to start playing golf but for any number of reasons decided not to take up the game.
  2. Those who once played more frequently but have reduced the number of rounds that they play.
  3. Those who started to play the game but then after a short period decided to leave it.

Those who leave the game

Those in the golf industry, the hand-wringers, have developed any number of programs to bring new players to the game. I would ask the question, “What is the point, when almost an equal number of players that start playing the game each year, decide to give it up within a span of a few months.

Does it make any sense to continue to put water into a bucket when there is a hole in the bottom? Of course not, but that is effectively what is being done. The first question to be ask, why do these new players quit the playing after a short time? In my opinion, the number No. 1 reason is the method of scoring being used.

Were an exit poll to be conducted asking these people why they quit playing, I seriously doubt they would answer truthfully. Who would want to admit that they were discouraged by their inability to succeed at any endeavor? The two answers that would be given the most often would be 1) that golf is too expensive to play; or 2) that they simply didn’t have time.  In this case both answers serve to preserve the individual’s dignity. And who could blame them?

The concept of par

Why did these individuals find the game difficult? The short answer is that while golf is a hard game to learn, there  is a more compelling reason.  I would venture, that the underlying reason they quit the game is that it ceased to be fun because of how they viewed their performance. And for one central reason… the concept of par. The idea that an amateur golfer, especially a beginner, should measure their level of success against an imaginary set of numbers that represents what an expert player would score on each hole is on the surface ridiculous.

You might imagine a beginning player scoring an eight on a par-four hole after hitting six good shots and then two putting for an eight. In the context of their ability, they should be ecstatic — but of course they are not (because as their playing partner reminds them) they were four-over par on that hole. The time has come for Old Man Par to retire. And retire permanently. He is killing the game.

Perceived failure

In another scenario, the beginning player scores sixty for nine holes, which is an excellent score given the short amount of time they might have spent playing the game. And yet their nine-hole score was 24-over par. How would that make you feel? Would you be encouraged or discouraged? You might imagine yourself back in school and regardless of the amount of work that you put into a given class you always receive an “F.” At some point, would you give up?

Why should every golfer be judged by the same standard when there is such inequality in their ability? The equivalent would be placing a high school freshman in a graduate-level college course, expecting that they could perform at the same level as the other graduate students. The disparity in knowledge, based on age and experience, is precisely the reason why there are different grades in school. The same disparity exists among golfers. In this case, the difference being the ability to perform on the golf course as opposed to the classroom.

What about the second group of players that now plays less than they did in the past? Could it be that they are no longer having fun playing the game?And then there is the third group, those that consider playing the game but abandon it for another sport. Could it be that they are intimidated by the scoring system, knowing that as a beginner par is an absolute impossibility?

Old man par 

The legendary Bobby Jones was the first to coin, perhaps with the help of his friend O.B. Keillor, the phrase “Old Man Par.” Jones was, of course, the greatest amateur to have ever played the game. He won the Grand Slam in 1930, retiring then at the age of 28.

The time has come to retire “Old Man Par” and devise a new system for measuring a golfer’s progress in the game. I know that those in the USGA. would reject the concept immediately for fear of, and here is a $10 word used primarily by attorneys, “bifurcate” the game. What that word essentially means in this context in having more than one standard. The USGA is responsible for preserving the nature of the game, but at the same time it should be equally concerned with preserving the future of the game.

Personal par

What I would suggest is a system based on the principle of what might be termed “personal par.” This was essentially the system that was used to groom a young Tiger Woods. As a young child, he was not capable of reaching the longer holes in regulation, making par a virtual impossibility. Consequently, his coach wisely devised a system in which par was adjusted upward based on his ability at a given point in time. This served to keep the young child feeling good about his performance and subsequent progress.

This is the type of system that needs to be devised for the health of the game. The system would begin at a nine-hole level using a par of thirty-six as a basis. The actual numbers are not as important as the basic concept. There would be within the nine-hole and the eighteen-hole groups five different levels as follows with assigned par for each hole and eighteen holes roughly equal with the player’s ability.

As players improved, they would graduate from one level to another based on their total score. The handicap system would work in similar fashion as it does now with a single modification. The strokes give from one player to another would depend on the level in which they fall and the par assigned to that level.

The personal par handicap system would not be as exacting as it is presently used, but it would be sufficient to allow players to be reasonable competitive without any significant sacrifice. There would then be two scoring systems then, allowing players to choose which one they wanted to use. Or a recommendation might be given that until they reach a given scoring threshold that they use the personal par scoring system.

There would, of course, be the usual concern with something new being injected into the system, but the proposed change would be no greater than when the system of equitable scoring was introduced or when courses were first assigned a course rating number.

A few years ago, when life-long teacher and educator Dr. Gary Wiren was inducted into the Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame, he wanted to pass along a single piece of advice to those teachers in the room. “Gentleman,” he started and then paused for emphasis. “We must find a way to make the game more fun for our students.”

I’m in full agreement with Dr. Wiren. The question is, “What is the best way to accomplish that goal?” I believe that that the first step in that direction is to change the scoring system so that golfers experience more satisfaction and accomplishment. That is what makes learning fun.

And so, I would have you consider “The Modest Proposal” that I have put forward. And rather than attempting to find reasons why a revised scoring system couldn’t never work, for the benefit of the game, look for the same number of reason why it could work. The time has come for Old Man Par, as we know him, to retire. He has served us well, but he has become an anarchism. He is as obsolete as the horse and buggy. Let’s hand him his gold watch and let him enjoy his golden years in peace.

And at the same time, let’s welcome the “new kid on the block” who will pave the way for the next generation of golfers pioneering a scoring system that promises to make the game more “fun.”

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TG2: What’s the most annoying breach of golf etiquette?



What’s the one breach of golf etiquette that gets under your skin more than anything else? Equipment expert Brian Knudson and GolfWRX Editor Andrew Tursky discuss what drives them crazy. Also, Knudson talks about his first round with new irons and a new shaft in his driver.

Follow @tg2wrx on Instagram to enter the Bettinardi inovai 5.0 center-shaft putter giveaway.

Listen to the full podcast below on SoundCloud, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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19th Hole