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Fake News and Golf Instruction: Caution in the Age of Click Bait

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Lose 20 pounds in two weeks. Hit it like Rory.

Cure your insomnia once and for all. Work it like DJ.

Learn to speak Spanish in one week. Never slice, hook, shank, top, hit fat, pull, or push again. 

As one who makes his living teaching a game that is very difficult (and borders on impossible at times), it never ceases to amaze me that I continue to see articles titled the likes of above. Does anyone really think that reading an article is really going to help them hit their driver like Rory… or get up and down every time… or work the ball like a tour pro… or stop a slice or hook forever? Really?

I can assure you these things are not likely to happen… at least not to the degree they are billed. Over the last 35 years on the lesson tee, I’ve seen golfers of all stripes struggle mightily to make small swing changes. Rarely does anyone make significant improvements overnight, let alone after reading one article. Golf swings change glacially. In a two-year span, I helped a student go from an 18-handicap to an 8. There was even one who went from 14 to a scratch over a period of time, but he was also a former professional athlete. What’s important to remember is that these progressions happened over years. They’re also rare.

Readers must consider that the author of any given article probably never saw you swing. So to adopt a “this-is-for-everybody” approach is misleading in my view of learning golf. It seems there is almost nothing that every great golfer does except hit it solid. The idea that there is a magic move that will change it all is anathema to my experience.

Once you know WHAT to do in the golf swing,  you have to learn HOW to do it. I suggest you find someone to guide you through that process, but that is an individual choice. Remember all that your mentor/coach/teacher can do is tell you what… not how. The how part is in the dirt, and it comes out of the dirt s-l-o-w-l-y.

“So if articles don’t help golfers improve, then why do you write them,” you might be thinking. I try to steer clear of titles that are designed to get more readers; I certainly don’t need more students. (The only good thing about getting a little older is one wants less, not more.) Many of you have told me that my shared insights have helped your games in some small ways. That has been the aim all along.

My teaching style is what I call “”if THIS, then THAT.” I try to relate what I’ve seen work for a variety of swing problems. If it helps, great! If something someone else suggested helps, great! Remember that improvement is not all-or-nothing. Every little change helps a lot. If you’re steep and you get less steep, great! If you’re outside-in, and you get less so, great! Sure, maybe you’re not inside yet, but you are on your way. You know what to work on. A lot of students seem to think that if they are not doing something totally right, they’re not improving. That’s a huge misconception.

Golfers will only get better by admitting they have a swing issue and seeking some ways to improve it. While I’m certain some fortunate few have made great strides quickly, the masses plod progressively and hopefully along. I have never claimed to work magic or reveal some secret method that is going to make golfers think about giving up the day job. Golf is a hard game, and we have to improve at it by grinding it out a little at a time.

It’s the journey, not the destination that offers the most joy… and how pleasant the journey can be when you don’t expect to get flat abs overnight… or add 30 yards to your drives.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. RBImGuy

    Feb 11, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Took me 6 hours to change and build a new golf swing after 30 years.
    student built new in 3 weeks, hit longer than he ever did.
    He tried usual modern swing lessons for 5 years! and become depressed how badly he hit it.
    He is happy now

    Some people can do magic, I am one of them

    • RBimGuy

      Feb 11, 2018 at 7:59 pm

      Of course my new WIMB game improvement clubs helped a lot too:
      Cobra F7+ Driver 10.5 Aldila Rogue 125 Silver TS 44.5″
      F6 Baffler 4w stock Matrix Stiff
      Cobra Fly Z 3 hyb. 20* Aldila Rogue 85H R flex
      Cobra Forged TEC 4i Aldila Rogue 85H R Flex
      Cobra Forged TEC 5-PW CTL R flex
      MD2 Tour 52* and 58* CTL R flex
      PM Grind MD3 64* black CTL R flex
      Scotty Studio Stainless Newport 2

  2. Gorden

    Feb 10, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    It is simple, take a sand wedge and a ball, now bounce the ball as many times in a row in the air off the wedge…if you can do it 20 or more times without missing…take golf lessons you have the hand eye coordination to make use of a “Real” golf swing. If like 95% of us and getting the ball to bounce even 4 times without missing you will play better with a “Bandage” swing that will get you on or close to the green and give you a chance to get even better scores. I know several guys in our 60’s that could never get below a 16 no matter how many lessons we took…about 5 years ago one of our group garbed a CD course that taught a single plane swing (Moe Norman type) almost all of us messed around with some of these ideas and we all somehow found a way to keep the ball off the tee in front of us and at least hit other shots towards if not on greens..so we all have a fighting chance to shoot 79…

    • Bruno

      Feb 11, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      So what you are saying is that an up-down clubhead motion makes for a great circular golf swing? Whoda thunk …. 😮

  3. George

    Feb 10, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Isnt this article click bait?

  4. Bruno

    Feb 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Dennis, you forgot this click bait golf fake news/lies:
    “Buy a new set of golf clubs and hit the ball even further and straighter!”
    What is amazing is that desperate incompetent men actually want to believe such misleading nonsense.

    • Dennis Clark

      Feb 11, 2018 at 8:11 am

      Well its not unlike technology period…Everything seems obsolete in 6 months, huh? The problem seems to stem from the consumer mentality on which we are all reared. In golf, the OMs used to re-tool every 5 years, now it seems every five months. Just be discerning, some of it real, just not ALL of it. Thx

      • Bruno

        Feb 11, 2018 at 1:04 pm

        It’s not true “technology”; much of it is a redux of previous club designs.
        As for the “adjustable” drivers with the promise of dialing out your slice and converting it to a draw, well that’s an outright scam. It may work for tour pros who jam all the weights closer to the face to reduce spin, but it does nothing for the mass of golfers who can’t hit on the sweet spot and must depend on dubious back-weighted gear effect. It’s an expensive delusional toy, nothing more.
        The new craze for hollow irons filled with elastomer gunk and flex faces is suspect. Don’t you wonder how so many OMs simultaneously revealed this stupid expensive design? Hmmmm…. 😉

      • Bruno

        Feb 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm

        Much of the “technology” is a redux of old club designs.
        The “adjustable” drivers with the promise of dialing out your slice and converting it to a draw is an outright scam. It works for tour pros who jam all the weights closer to the face to reduce spin. Golfers who can’t hit on the sweet spot must depend on back-weighted gear effect.
        The new craze for elastomer filled hollow irons and flex faces is suspect. Don’t you wonder how so many OMs suddenly revealed this expensive design?
        P-790s are fake forged and fake news too.

  5. Acemandrake

    Feb 9, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Excellent, blunt, plainly spoken article about a subject most golfers would rather ignore.

    “Golf swings change glacially.” Some more glacially than others ?

    I’ve been playing for over 50 years and really began to enjoy the game when I decided to stop chasing tips. It only leads to frustration and confusion.

    “It’s the journey, not the destination that offers the most joy”…YES

    Enjoy the journey, have fun, and keep hope alive.

    “Knowing why you play” would be good advice for those striving for enlightenment ?

    • steve

      Feb 9, 2018 at 11:08 pm

      Some only “play” so they can buy the newest golf clubs and discuss why they “love” their brand new toys. Their game is irrelevant. They are known as “gearheads” and they inhabit this website to load up on the latest golf club gossip.

  6. Dennis

    Feb 9, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    The reader has to be discerning. Does the suggestion apply to YOUR swing issue. That is the KEY. A one size fits all approach to swing corrections is misleading in most cases.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      But Dennis, 99% (my guess) of all golfers never take a golf lesson from a qualified instructor like you. They just blunder into the game with a trial and error and error and error approach while depending on something they read or saw on a youtube video. Also they depend on golf store sales people providing them with game improvement clubs. The masses of golfers are not “discerning”; they are “desperate”.
      Have you ever told a student they bought the wrong flex golf shafts for their slow swing speed? Have you ever told a golfer to lose 50 pounds of belly fat before attempting a golf swing? Have you ever told somebody they shouldn’t attempt a golf swing for their safety?
      Great article permitted by the fine folks at WRX!

      • Dennis Clark

        Mar 2, 2018 at 9:05 pm

        Sorry OB, missed this a while back…lose 50 lbs would help a lot not just with golf. ???? I did have guy recently who I switched sides. He was a natural lefty playing righty, and couldn’t hit a ball to save his life. EVERY shot was a ground ball. He bought new lefty clubs and is dong great! Broke 100 with a week.

    • steve

      Feb 9, 2018 at 11:03 pm

      He who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.
      He who teaches himself a golf swing is a clown on the golf course.
      You can’t teach yourself a golf swing because you can’t feel what is happening in real time. It’s trial by error and error and error until the errors create a bad swing that is embedded in the brain and neuro-muscular system.
      Trying to consciously think yourself out of your swing problems with a golf tip is impossible. Anybody who claims instant success is lying… either to you or himself. Gullible golfers mislead THEMSELVES !!

      • Ian B

        Feb 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm

        With so much slow motion video technology available you certainly can analyse your swing. You can even send it off to be analysed and corrections sought.
        I’ve had numerous lessons with different instructors and still do the same things as that’s what my muscle memory has ingrained. I’ve had to change swing through injury but it takes time, and application and that’s what people won’t put in. As soon as I don’t focus old habits (and pains) return.

        • steve

          Feb 12, 2018 at 3:00 pm

          Trying to change your swing from the swinging club back into your body and mind is futile because that’s not how ingrained body patterns are changed.
          If you suffer pain when attempting to swing you either need significant swing compensation or complete physical reconditioning. If it’s an arthritic hip joint or chronic knee injury pain you should seek medical advice and even consider hanging up your golf shoes. Chronic pain will only get worse with time and aggravation.
          When professional athletes want to make a fundamental change to their sport movements they first recondition their body with basic conditioning not related to their sport. They hit the gym and rebuild their body. Then they start sport-specific training before they attempt to introduce the changes. You know what that means; no quickie band-aid solutions. Leadbetter and Faldo took 2 years to rebuild his golf swing and then Faldo started winning big time. Now, scientifically, the rebuild would only take 1 year… except for Tiger who is still messing around with swing tips and types from ignorant instructors. Heed Dennis’ advice.

  7. OB

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Congratulation, Dennis, for telling it like it is.
    Everybody wants to know but few are willing to pay the price of doing.
    Golf is being sold as a “fun” game, but in truth it is a near impossible challenge.
    Most everybody assumes that if they “know” they can “do”. They believe they can “think” their way through a golf swing because they are successful people.
    They come off the course and complain they can’t “think” about all the golf tips.
    Most playing golf are non-athletic types who have a sedentary job in an office, and they believe/hope that the golfing exercise will help them lose weight or strengthen their back muscles. They are deluding themselves.
    Most golfers want to believe there is “power” built into their golf clubs since they are hitting their new clubs farther without trying harder. They live in a purple golf haze.
    Most avoid lessons because they fear being exposed as non-athletic non-golfers.
    Who seeks lessons for their incompetence? Women and athletes in other sports. They know.
    Most seek lessons to be exposed to knowledge straight from their famous teacher and somehow they can band-aid their incompetence without extensive training and much practice. A great social experience too.
    Golf is an over-hyped, over-promoted, over-built, over-sold, over-promised, over-easy, over-populated, over-run, over-aged, over-crowded, over-the-top/counter/hill game for gullible men.
    I play/perform golf occasionally. 😮

  8. Dennis

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Authors note: this is not an article 2 cast aspersions at any site or teacher, it is a word of caution to be careful what you try to incorporate into your own pattern and be realistic about Expectations.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Aaah, Expectations! For most, golf is a game of delusional fun and social participation. Full of yuks.
      According to PGA statistics 95% of the 50 million golfers worldwide cannot break 100, honestly. Only 5% or 2.5 million can play in the 90s and less. Let’s reasonably assume that 80% of the 2.5 million cannot break 90. That means only 200,000 golfers play in the 80s and less! This is a reasonable assessment of golfers worldwide.
      The mass of incompetent golfers are desperate and their only recourse is to buy the newest set of game-improvement clubs. They just don’t have the “time” to train and practice; they need an instant fix to their inconsistent golfswing. That’s how they live their entire lives… it’s normal humanity.

  9. shing

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:31 pm

    MeandMygolf is the worst.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Perhaps you mean “Golf My Way” books… by Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Toski, and a slew of others.
      Hey… golf was exploding in the 1970s and novice golfers were hitting the wall and needed help desperately. It’s still a mystery requiring highly scientific instrumentation to customize your swing, clubs, ball, shoes, shorts, cap, glove, tee, rangefiner, … 😮

  10. the dude

    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    nice article DC!….I akin the infomercials products (like the ones that line Hank “the bank” Haneys pockets)….to the diet/exercise craze for the last 200 years (or so). It amazes me how gullible people are…… where commitment takes a back seat to ….”AND IF YOU ACT NOW…..”

    whats the ol’ phrase?? there’s a sucker born every minute……(that phrase was made when the world population was < 1 billion people). I wonder what it is now with TV and social media 🙂

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      “Golfers are gullible.” — Harvey Penick – Little Red Book, page 72.

  11. George

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:24 am

    99% of golf instruction is garbage clickbait.

    • OB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      No, it’s not “garbage”… but it’s mostly not applicable to those on these WRX fora. Gearhead eye-candy rules here.

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Opinion & Analysis

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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Opinion & Analysis

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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TG2: What is this new Callaway iron? A deep investigation…

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Photos of a new Callaway iron popped up in the GolfWRX Forums, and equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky discuss what exactly the new iron could be; new Apex pros, new Legacy irons, or maybe even a new X Forged? Also, the guys discuss Phil’s U.S. Open antics and apology, DJ’s driver shaft change, new Srixon drivers and utility irons, and a new Raw iron offering from Wilson. Enjoy the golf equipment packed show!

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

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