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Opinion & Analysis

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Ryder Cup



By now you know it’s Ryder Cup time and golf is sliding into its “Keeping up with the Kardashians” moment, as it does every two years. OMG what are they wearing? Who is paired with who? And, God forbid, a wardrobe malfunction or a presser coup-d’état against leadership happens. So much drama.

While there was never a moment I cared about the Kardashians, there was a time when Ryder Cup Fever had me losing my mind every other September. I was a flaky 19-year-old in 1991, and I caught none of the hoopla at Kiawah and the War by the Shore. I didn’t really get the golf-bug until I was away at college and Tiger Woods won his third U.S. Am in a row. By the time Justin Leonard sank “the putt” in Brookline I was full-blown, out-of-my mind Ryder Cup crazy.

The following years didn’t help much: you know the drill. Massive, lopsided losses. Our “favored” team getting thrashed by the likes of David Gilford or Victor Dubuisson or That Guy who wore the Sergio Costume & Putted Better than The Real Sergio Ever Could. Those guys were busy beating Phil, Tiger, David and Dustin and everyone else. This didn’t stop me; no, rather it emboldened me. I argued with Euros about how good we really were. I built a spreadsheet once, in a moment of futile sadness, that showed how superior our American team was. American wins, putting averages, strength of field stuff – all very neatly organized. We lost that year. By a lot.

I soldiered on.

I forgave Hal Sutton for pairing Tiger and Phil. Then I changed my mind. I was on-site all week at Valhalla in 2008, my dad and me. While I’m not positive, I’m pretty sure our Valhalla crew started the sarcastic call-back to the Euro chants of “Ole” by mocking them with “No way, no way, no way, no way – nooo waaayy, NOOO WAAAY” as Anthony Kim walked around high-fiving everything, even trees, flagsticks, random Euro fans, everything, the dude was awesome that year. Maybe we didn’t start it, but considering the bloodbaths in the years before, it sure felt like the first time ever. I bled with the rest of us the very next year when we gave the trophy right back. To this day I partly blame the gods of Sky and Rain for what happened at Celtic Manor. Seriously, who holds a Worldwide Sensational Tournament at the Bottom of the Ocean (some call it Wales) in September? But I was still all-in on Team USA.

I was a smack-talking fool in 2012 as we marched into singles Sunday, where, clearly, we always won anyway. (This was the salve that soothed me all those years, about how the Euros usually won some archaic format we never played like “four ball” or “foursomes” – but singles – that was the real test of who’s better). Then …we…lost… on Sunday. The Meltdown at Medinah sealed it. It broke me. I said foul things about our boys, our coaches, even the WAGS and the clothing choices and the fans. All of it. I was done. Not watching again, not caring, bah humbug.

This was my way for 23 months.

Then, well, you know…I’d watch again. See what happened. The Tom Watson hanging party is what happened. We lost (again), thus validating my abandonment of the event. Now listen, I get it; it would be easy to say I was spent/done/over on the Ryder Cup because we sucked at it. Which would be mostly true. But giving up gave me: perspective. I went into 2016 with a curiosity I hadn’t had in years. There was this Task Force, which, with perspective, is freaking hilarious. I assume at their secret HQ they considered capes at one point and I promise you Tiger has an invisible plane from his time spent with the SEALs. Was this going to work? Like, really work?

And then, holey moley, it worked. They won.

But what was I watching? What got me fired up?

I was thoroughly enjoying the spectacle of it all. It’s an exhibition. I know you’re all like “OK, Jack Nicklaus, I get it, blah blah.” But ole’ Jackie has got it right. It’s a blast to not care who wins it. I mean, c’mon that Rory-Reed match was flat-out fantastic. Then right behind it, That Guy who wore the Sergio Costume & Putted Better than The Real Sergio Ever Could was in a barn-burner with Phil. It was great to watch, fun to see what happened. I was glued to the set, but not once was I in a screaming mood. There wasn’t that lump in my throat watching a Euro line up an 80ft putt through a clown’s mouth, 2 bunkers and pure mud and worrying he’d actually make it. I just wanted to enjoy watching what happened – I was there for the exhibition of it all. Watching the best in the world, for Glory only, no money (not really anyway) throwing giant haymakers at each other. All for giggles, nothing else. Brilliant!

I’ll watch a lot of the show in France later this month; will I pull for Team USA? Of course I will. But I’m not too wound up to care what happens; there will be no screaming at the TV, no lumps in my throat. We are heavily favored, again, which if the last 30 years is right, means the Team Euro is gonna really enjoy this one. I won’t even care if Webb pops his tee ball up on the first tee again.

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A married father of 3 daughters (who cheer competitively, pray for me), Chris routinely takes his life in his hands by asking his wife to play golf all over Indiana. Deftly chiseling his handicap down from 18 to 8 in just 20 short years, his dedication to being a first-class golf nerd comes full circle as he documents the far reaches of his brain in printed word. He spends most days fiendishly plotting to replace Matt Ginella. If you're playing in the Indy area and a man wearing pink golf pants and chomping on a cigar is describing a golf bet so complicated only he can win it, tell my wife I'll be home in an hour.



  1. Greg V

    Sep 14, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Funny, I’m an American, but I like to pull for the Euros. All those years when the Texans won easily deserves payback.

    • Kevin

      Sep 14, 2018 at 4:56 pm

      Pulling for the Euros, your no American! You should be ashamed of yourself and I am ashamed for you.

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Opinion & Analysis

When the data says line is more important than speed in putting



In my recent article, Line vs. speed: What’s really more important in putting?, I pointed out that in my 30-plus years of studying putting performance, I’ve learned that there are two important skills to putting:

  1. Direction (line)
  2. Distance control (speed)

There’s no question that golfers need to possess both these skills, but contrary to popular belief, they are not equally important on all putts. Sometimes, speed should be the primary concern. In other situations, golfers should be focused almost entirely on line. To make this determination, we have to consider the distance range of a putt and a golfer’s putting skill.

In the above referenced article, I showed how important speed is in putting, as well as the distances from which golfers of each handicap level should become more focused on speed. As promised, I’m going to provide some tips on direction (LINE) for golfers of different handicap levels based on the data I’ve gathered over the years through my Strokes Gained analysis software, Shot by Shot.

When PGA Tour players focus on line 

On the PGA Tour, line is more critical than speed from distances inside 20 feet. Obviously, the closer a golfer is to the hole, the more important line becomes and the less need there is to focus on speed. Further, I have found that the six-to-10-foot range is a key distance for Tour players. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Six to 10 feet is one of the most frequently faced putt distances on the PGA Tour. It is the first putt distance on approximately one in every five greens.
  2. Smack in the middle of this range is eight feet, which is the distance from which the average PGA Tour player makes 50 percent of his putts.
  3. In my research, I have consistently found that one-putt success in the six-to-10-foot range separates good putters from the rest on the PGA Tour

What we should do

How does this analysis help the rest of us?  To answer that question, we must first know our one-putt distance.  Just as I showed the two-putt distance by handicap level here, I will now show the 50 percent make distance by handicap level. This is the distance from the hole where players at each handicap level make 50 percent of their putts.

My recommendation is for each of us to recognize exactly what our 50 percent distance is. Maybe you’re a 16 or 17 handicap and putting is one of your strengths. Your 50 percent make distance is six feet. Excellent!  From that distance and closer, you should focus on line and always give the ball a chance to go in the hole.  From distances of seven-plus feet, you should consider the circumstances (up or downhill, amount of break, etc.) and factor in the speed as appropriate. The goal is to make as many of these putts as possible, but more importantly, avoid those heart-breaking and costly three-putts.

For added perspective, I am including the percentage of one putts by distance for the PGA Tour and our average amateur 15-19 handicap. I’m able to offer this data from because it provides golfers with their “relative handicap” in the five critical parts of the game: (1) Driving, (2) Approach Shots, (3) Chip/Pitch Shots, (4) Sand Shots, and (5) Putting.

Line control practice: The star drill 

Looking for a way to practice choosing better lines on the putting green?  Here’s a great exercise known as the “star drill.” Start by selecting a part of your practice green with a slight slope.  Place five tees in the shape of a star on the slope with the top of the star on the top side of the slope.  This will provide an equal share of right to left and left to right breaks.

I recommend starting with a distance of three feet – usually about the length of a standard putter.  See how many you can make out of 10 putts, which is two trips around the star.  Here are a few more helpful tips.

  • Place a ball next to each of the five tees.
  • Use your full pre-shot routine for each attempt.
  • Stay at the three-foot distance until you can make nine of 10. Then, move to four feet, five feet, and six feet as you’re able to make eight from four feet, seven from five feet, and six from six feet.

This drill will give you confidence over these very important short putts. I do not recommend using it for any distance beyond six feet. It’s harder than you think to get there!


Exclusive for GolfWRX members: For a free, one-round trial of Shot by Shot, visit

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TG2: Snell Golf founder Dean Snell talks golf balls and his life in the golf industry



Snell Golf’s founder, Dean Snell, talks all about golf balls and his adventure through the industry. Dean fills us in on his transition from hockey player, to engineer, to golfer, and now business owner. He even tells you why he probably isn’t welcome back at a country club ever again.

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

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Opinion & Analysis

Could Dollar Driver Club change the way we think about owning equipment?



There’s something about golfers that draws the attention of, for lack of a better word, snake-oil salesmen. Whether it’s an as-seen-on-TV ad for a driver that promises pure distance and also fixes your power slice, or the subscription boxes that supposedly send hundreds of dollars worth of apparel for a fraction of the price, there always seems to be something out there that looks too good to be true.

Discerning golfers, who I would argue are more cynical than anything, understand that you get what you pay for. To get the newest driver that also works for your game, it may take a $150 club fitting, then a $400 head, and a shaft that can run anywhere from $100 up to $300-$400. After the fitting and buying process, you’ve made close to a thousand dollar investment in one golf club, and unless you’re playing money games with friends who have some deep pockets, it’s tough to say what the return on that investment actually is. When it’s all said and done, you have less than a year before that driver is considered old news by the standard of most manufacturers’ release schedules.

What makes a driver ‘good’ to most amateur golfers who take their game seriously is a cross section of performance, price, and hubris. As for that last metric, I think most people would be lying if they say it doesn’t feel good having the latest and greatest club in the bag. Being the envy of your group is fun, even if it only lasts until you snap hook your first drive out of bounds.

As prices of general release equipment have increased to nearly double what it was retailing at only 10 years ago, the ability to play the newest equipment is starting to become out of the question for many amateur golfers.

Enter Tyler Mycoskie, an avid, single digit handicap golfer (and the brother of Tom’s shoes founder, Blake Mycoskie). Tyler’s experience with purchasing golf equipment and his understanding of uniquely successful business models collided, which led him to start the Dollar Driver Club. With a name and logo that is a tongue in cheek allusion to the company that has shaken up the men’s skincare industry, the company seeks to offer a new way of thinking about purchasing golf equipment without completely reinventing the wheel of the model that has seen success in industries such as car leasing and purchasing razors.

The company does exactly what its name says. They offer the newest, top of the line driver and shaft combinations for lease at a cost of about a dollar per day.

The economics of the model seem too good to be true. When you purchase a driver, you are charged $30 plus $11 for shipping and it’s $30 per month from then on. You can upgrade your driver at no extra cost each year and your driver is eligible for upgrade or swap after 90 days of being a member. After a year, the total cost comes to $371 with shipping, which sounds a lot nicer than the $500 that it would cost to purchase, as an example, a Titleist TS3 with a Project X Evenflow T1100 today.

The major complaint most people would have is that you still don’t own the driver after that year, but as someone with a closet full of old golf clubs that diminish in value every day, which I have no realistic plans to sell, that doesn’t sound like a problem to me or my wife, who asks me almost weekly when I plan on thinning out my collection.

The model sounds like an obvious win for customers to me, and quite frankly, if you’re skeptical, then it’s probably just simply not for you. I contacted the team at the Dollar Driver Club to get some questions answered. Primarily, I want to know, what’s the catch?

I spoke with a Kevin Kirakossian, a Division I golfer who graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2013 and has spent virtually his entire young career working on the business side of golf, most recently with Nike Golf’s marketing team prior to joining Tyler at Dollar Driver Club. Here’s what he had to say about his company.

At risk to the detriment of our conversation, I have to find out first and foremost, what’s the catch?

K: There’s no catch. We’re all golfers and we want to offer a service that benefits all of our members. We got tired of the upfront cost of drivers. We’re trying to grow the game. Prior to us, there was no way to buy new golf clubs without paying full price. We take a lot of pride that players of all skill level, not just tour pros or people with the extra budget to drop that kind of money every year, can have access to the latest equipment.

With that question out of the way, I delved into the specifics of the brand and model, but I maintained a skeptical edge, keeping an ear out for anything that I could find that would seem too good to be true.

How closely do you keep an eye on manufacturers and their pricing? It would seem that your service is more enticing as prices increase in equipment.

K: The manufacturers are free to create their own pricing. We work closely with manufacturers and have a great relationship with them. As prices increase, it helps us, even if they decrease, I still think it’s a no-brainer to use our service, purely for the fact that new equipment comes out every year. You don’t have a high upfront cost. You’re not stuck with the same driver for a year. It gives you flexibility and freedom to play the newest driver. If a manufacturer wants to get into the same business, we have the advantage of offering all brands. We’re a premium subscription brand, so we’re willing to offer services that other retailers aren’t. We’ll do shaft swaps, we’ll send heads only, we have fast shipping and delivery times. We’re really a one-stop shop for all brands.

What measures do you take to offer the most up to date equipment?

K: We will always have the newest products on the actual launch date. We take pride in offering the equipment right away. A lot of times, our members will receive their clubs on release day. We order direct from the manufacturers and keep inventory. There’s no drop shipping. We prefer shipping ourselves and being able to add a personal package.

The service is uniquely personal. Their drivers come with a ball marker stamped with your initials as well as a stylish valuables pouch. They also provide a hand signed welcome letter and some stickers.

Who makes up the team at Dollar Driver Club?

K: We’re a small team. We started accepting members to our service in 2018 and it has grown exponentially. We have four or five guys here and it’s all hands on deck. We handle customer inquiries and sending drivers out. It’s a small business nature that we want to grow a lot bigger.

When discussing the company, you have to concede that the model doesn’t appeal to everyone, especially traditionalists. There are golfers who have absolutely no problem spending whatever retailers are charging for their newest wares. There are also golfers who have no problem playing equipment with grips that haven’t been changed in years, much less worrying about buying new equipment. I wanted to know exactly who they’re targeting.

Who is your target demographic?

K: We want all golfers. We want any golfer with any income, any skill level, to be able to play the newest equipment. We want to reshape the way people think about obtaining golf equipment. We’re starting with drivers, but we’re looking into expanding into putters, wedges, and other woods. We’ve heard manufacturers keep an eye on us. There are going to be people who just want to pay that upfront cost so they can own it, but those people may be looking at it on the surface and they don’t see the other benefits. We’re also a service that offers shaft swaps and easily send in your driver after 3 months if you don’t like it.

At this point, it didn’t seem like my quest to find any drawbacks to the service was going well. However, any good business identifies threats to their model and I was really only able to think of one. They do require a photo ID to start your account, but there’s no credit check required like you may see from other ‘buy now, pay later’ programs. That sounds ripe for schemers that we see all the time on websites like eBay and Craigslist.

When you’re sending out a $500 piece of equipment and only taking $41 up front, you’re assuming some risk. How much do you rely on the integrity of golfers who use your service to keep everything running smoothly?

K: We do rely on the integrity of the golf community. When we send out a driver, we believe it’s going into the hands of a golfer. By collecting the ID, we have measures on our end that we can use in the event that the driver goes missing or an account goes delinquent, but we’re always going to side with our members.

The conversation I had with Kevin really opened my eyes to the fact that Dollar Driver Club is exactly what the company says it is. They want to grow and become a staple means of obtaining golf equipment in the current and future market. Kevin was very transparent that the idea is simple, they’re just the ones actually executing it. He acknowledged the importance of social media and how they will harness the power of applications like Instagram to reach new audiences.

Kevin was also adamant that even if you prefer owning your own driver and don’t mind the upfront cost, the flexibility to customize your driver cheaply with a plethora of high-quality shafts is what really makes it worth trying out their service. If for whatever reason, you don’t like their service, you can cancel the subscription and return the driver after 90 days, which means that you can play the newest driver for three months at a cost of $90.

In my personal opinion, I think there’s a huge growth opportunity for a service like this. The idea of playing the newest equipment and being able to tinker with it pretty much at-will really speaks to me. If you’re willing to spend $15 a month on Netflix to re-watch The Office for the 12th time in a row or $35 a month for a Barkbox subscription for your dog, it may be worth doing something nice for your golf bag.

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19th Hole