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Teddy Roosevelt could play a big part in Jordan Spieth’s future success

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In the world of revisionist golf history, we might eventually say Jordan Spieth arrived on the PGA Tour a winner and a steely closer and never faltered. Yes, when Spieth finally hangs up his Spieth Ones (or Spieth 20s, as the case may be), with double-digit major victories and a full plate of other accolades, they’ll talk about his strong family, his relationship with caddie Michael Greller, etc.

However, as Spieth just told reporters ahead of the Tournament of Champions, he wasn’t ready for life in a fishbowl after his breakout 2015 effort.

“I wasn’t prepared for the other way, personally, to be able to handle the stress that it put on me for a lot of the rest of the year that inhibited some success and inhibited confidence in my own game and my ability, which it shouldn’t have.”

Further, when we look back at Spieth’s career a couple of decades from now, an unlikely fellow might deserve a measure of credit for contributing to the Texan’s success: Teddy Roosevelt.

Consider this from Spieth:

“The Open Championship just did wonders for me individually, not only my view of myself but my view on being the man in the arena…I’m the one that’s out there, that’s putting it on the line every single week; I’m going to fail and learn, I’m going to succeed, but I’m the one in the arena.”

If this language sounds odd, it’s because it’s not his. Rather, it’s Roosevelt’s from a 1910 speech. Damon Goddard, Spieth’s trainer, introduced him to the quote last year.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Yeah. Every rabbit-eared professional athlete or public figure ought to go ahead and print that passage out. Make a poster. Make a laminated card for your wallet. Do whatever you have to do to remember it. Jordan Spieth certainly will, much to his benefit, for the remainder of his career.

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19th Hole

GolfWRX members weigh in on the best swings on the PGA Tour

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Who has the best swing on the PGA Tour? On the one hand, the answer is Dustin Johnson, as he’s the No. 1 player in the world, right? Of course, golf fans banter about the “best” swing on the PGA Tour over beers in the grill room, they’re usually talking about technical soundness and aesthetics more than results.

It’s in this vein that GolfWRX members schley started a thread asking the forum faithful for their picks for the three best swings on Tour. For his part, shcley says Ernie Els, Adam Scott, and Louis Oosthuizen.

GatorMD says: Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Louis Oosthuizen

SASSpeeder says: Louis Oosthuizen, Luke List, Ernie Els

Bladehunter says: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson

Oz dee cee says: Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen

Bye says: Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas

What do you think of these responses, GolfWRX members? Just a sample from the first 20 or so, obviously, and there are plenty more perspectives in the thread.

Who are your top three, GolfWRXers?

 

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19th Hole

Study: Amateur golfers are actually hitting it shorter than they were 3 years ago

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While the USGA’s distance report found a “concerning” increase in driving distances at the professional level, a new report from Arccos Golf — Mike Stachura of Golf Digest got the exclusive on its study —  identifies a very different trend at the amateur level. The golf GPS and statistics-tracking app found that the average golfer’s average drive decreased from 220.6 yards in 2015 to 217.1 yards in 2018.

Before we go crazy, however, it’s worth pointing out that we’re only four months into 2018 and the golf season hasn’t even started in much of the country. Thus, it probably makes more sense to look at the average golfers’ average drives from 2017, which measured 220.0 yards — a difference of a little more than half of a yard since 2015, rather than more than three yards, as the 2018 number suggests.

Again, maybe the trend for 2018 will continue, but it seems inappropriate to draw far reaching conclusions based on the “220.6” number.

Nevertheless, if we assume Arccos’ data is representative and statistically significant, then it would be, at the very least, a bold check in the “yes” column for bifurcation/not limiting the golf ball at the amateur level.

However (again, assuming data derived from Arccos users is representative of all golfers), the findings beget another question: Why are amateurs, equipped with the latest and greatest technologies that Iron Byron and his robotic colleagues are crushing past previous years’ models, stagnant in the distance department?

Stachura points to a Club Champion study showing that an average increase of 11 yards after fitting, that the drivers of 2018 go an average of six yards farther than the drivers of 2012.

Nick Clearwater, Director of Instruction for Golftec, strikes a similar tone

“It’s likely that many golfers used in the data are still using five-plus-year-old drivers as well and most don’t get fit for their equipment to benefit from the advancements. The average golfer uses too much spin loft with all of their clubs, so increases in tech still show minimal improvement in the quality of the shot. The shots still start to the right, spin too much and are mishit.”

This may be true, but for distances to decrease, golfers would have to be hitting new equipment that’s ill-suited for them, not merely sticking with the same drivers they were hitting in 2015.

Those with skeptical inclinations toward the benefits of new equipment, particularly $400 drivers, will assuredly have a field day with this data, and OEMs will be keen to emphasize the importance of fitting. They’ll also be quick to point out we have no idea what drivers the Arccos sample set is/was playing.

If, again, we assume the data to be accurate and representative, the USGA would look foolish if they advise a rollback of the golf ball for amateurs.

The amateur golfers in question will want to visit a qualified fitter or take part in a demo day with a buffet of options before shelling out for a new big stick, which is the advice we give in conjunction with Gear Trials (and the same reccomendation we’ve offered for years).

What do you think about this data, GolfWRX members?

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19th Hole

Meet Faaaabel the goat: unofficial mascot of the Valero Texas Open

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The Valero Texas Open this week has a new unofficial mascot. And really, let’s just make this official. Two ½-month-old pygmy goat mix  named Faaaabel is the official mascot of the Valero Texas Open. You heard it here first.

While there’s nothing funny about Faaaabel’s range of very important duties, she arrived at the VTO as part of a practical joke. Per Roxanna Scott of USA Today, Ted Kneale, the senior manager of operations for the Valero Texas Open, and Mark Mellgren, a tournament volunteer, wanted to wind PGA Tour rules official Brad Fabel up.

Naturally, they bought a goat on Craigslist, named it after him, and brought it to the tournament. Yes, this is a real thing that actually happened.

No word on how Fabel feels about Faaaabel, but everyone else rightly loves this miniature domestic goat.

“I’m kind of surprised at how fast this took off,” Kneale said. “We had her for about a week out here leading up to the event. Some of our staff knew about her and she was friendly with the staff. Before we knew it, people just started asking about the goat. We heard you had a goat, and it snowballed. I think she enjoys all the attention.”

This good girl does some very important jobs and has quickly become a vital part of the tournament operation. Obviously, she has a Twitter account as well.

Reportedly, Faaaabel is considering branching out into acting. As you can see from this PGA Tour video, she’s a natural on screen.

How do you feel about animals as tournament mascots, GolfWRX members? Should, say, Tripod formally be awarded Zurich Classic mascot duties?

 

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