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GolfWRX Morning 9: Spieth Spiething again? | Should golfers wear helmets? | Bryson & the flagstick

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

November 2, 2018

Good Friday morning, golf fans. On this day in 1947, the United States won the first post-WWII Ryder Cup at Portland Golf Club, 11-1. Ben Hogan captained the American squad, Henry Cotton the British. Interestingly, Hogan, 35, played in one match; Cotton, 40, in four.
1. Spieth Shining at Shriners
Maybe the other Spieths helped him sort things out?
PGATour.com’s Ben Everill…”While Peter Uihlein (-8) leads the Shriners after round 1, Jordan Spieth’s 5-under start and strong putting performance garnered plenty of attention.”
  • “Jordan Spieth was much maligned for his efforts on the green last season where he ranked 136th on the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting.
  • “It was a critical component in the 25-year-old’s fall to 31st in the FedExCup – the first time in his career he failed to make the TOUR Championship.”
  • “Through the morning wave he gained almost three strokes on the field to rank second in Strokes Gained: Putting.”
Another good sign…”On Thursday he was 14 of 14 inside 10 feet…”Really solid inside of ten feet today, even with somewhat trickier ones as the wind picked up coming in,” he said.”
2. Nerd out? No thanks
Credit to Geoff Shackelford for spotting this line in Jordan Spieth’s post-round press conference and offerring-what I think to be-a strong and accurate take. That said, I’m not sure Ben Hogan or Tiger Woods would have gone in depth about the nuances of what they were working on.
  • “Q. Will you nerd out a bit on us on those things you were trying to do?……JORDAN SPIETH: I can’t, you know, because that’s a competitive advantage for myself.”
  • Shackelford writes…”Last I heard, golf is an individual sport where the competition is not reading your offensive schemes and making adjustments to your chip shots. Furthermore, if you hit a ball in the rough, your playing partners cannot capitalize on knowing what you worked on this off-season to hit a better recovery shot, can they? Really?”
  • “I can’t think of a single thing he could have said that would have aided the competition. Such insights are probably only interesting to family, friends and fans. If PGA Tour players no longer feel free to talk about how they are moving their ball back an inch in the stance, or “revealing” that their play from 100-120 yards was an off-season focus, press conferences will be getting very short! And very awkward.”
3. Bryson and the pin
Speaking of nerding out...
Our Gianni Magliocco…”Bryson DeChambeau is well known for being a nonconformist in the golfing world, and the 25-year-old lived up to that status once more when he announced that he plans on leaving the pin in when he putts in 2019 as doing so will be permitted under the Rules of Golf. Speaking at a photo shootwith Golf.com, DeChambeau stated that his strategy would depend on the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick (naturally).”
“‘It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick. In U.S. Opens, I’ll take it out, and every other Tour event, when it’s fiberglass, I’ll leave it in and bounce that ball against the flagstick if I need to.”
Also on the DeChambeauian front: Check out the video of our Q&A with L’Artiste about his…paintbrushes.
4. Rory junior clubs
TaylorMade and company staffer Rory McIlroy have joined forces to develop two sets of junior golf clubs. The 4-Plus set, not surprisingly, is for players 4 and up, and the 8-Plus set, is for, well, you get the idea.
  • Marketed as “Rory Junior Golf Sets,” a driver, fairway woods, rescue, irons, wedges and a putter are all included. The 4-Plus set has five clubs, while the 8-Plus has two additional irons.
  • According to TaylorMade, the sets utilize technologies from other company products with lengths, lofts, and shaft flexes optimized for juniors (example: easy-to-launch 16-degree driver).
Full piece, including set specs, photos.
5. Recommendation: Golfers should wear helmets
Well, here we are. An expert opinion that golfers ought to wear helmets. You can’t argue with the statistics and the relative danger, but…really?
  • From the folks at GolfPunk…”How do you fancy the idea of being asked to wear a crash helmet to play golf?…That’s what is being proposed in a bid to reduce golfing-related injuries, a health & safety expert has revealed. Chris Hall, of Protecting.co.uk, a health and safety and employment agency, said that thousands of pounds are paid out each year in claims for head injuries from misjudged golf balls.”
  • “Statistics suggest between 16 – 41% of amateur golfers are injured each year with the potential for working days lost to golfing injuries high enough to prompt businesses into lobbying for improved safety measures.”
  • “A number of insurance companies and private businesses are wanting to reduce the financial burden of golfing injuries and are pushing for greater protection for players. Golf had an injury rate of 1.8 per 1,000 while rugby’s injury rate was 1.5 per 1,000. Mr Hall, spokesman for Protecting.co.uk, said golf needed to follow the safety measures introduced by other sports.”
Ergo: Wear a helmet.
6. Deep dive into what was eating Jordan Spieth in 2018
Kyle Porter at CBS Sports puts on his investigative garb. A bit of his breakdown…”Spieth also noted this week that it’s actually the rest of his game that he’s been pouring time into. He felt that even though the stats showed a marked decline in putting, it was his iron play and driving that got worse as the year went on, whereas his short game got better.”
  • “I think if you look at the trend, say second half of the season on, my short game started to get better but the long game progressively fell,” Spieth said.
  • “‘I knew I had more work to continue on the short game, but needed to address a bit of the long game as well. To be honest, my rookie season I think was my best statistical driving season. I think I ranked in the top 15 in strokes gained off the tee. I hit it five yards further now, yet have not sniffed a top 15 in that category. That’s a goal.'”
  • “It’s a worthy goal. The best drivers (and best ball-strikers) on the PGA Tour are traditionally among the highest earners and win the most tournaments. Spieth won’t be doing any of that, though, if the putting doesn’t get at least a little bit better.”
7. Trump Doonberg to get a big upgrade
Peter Flanagan at Bloomberg with the news that the Trump Organization is plowing some serious cash into Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg.
  • “The Trump family is making a move at its golf resort in the west coast village of Doonbeg. TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd, the company that controls the operation, is seeking permission to build a ballroom and “leisure facility building” including a restaurant, as well as 53 homes for short-term tourist accommodation, according to a planning notice published on the local authority’s website.”
  • “The plans would cost about 40 million euros ($45.6 million) over three to four years, Joe Russell, General Manager at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Doonbeg, said in a phone interview.”
  • “The application comes almost two years after the resort published plans to build sea defenses around the property. That plan is currently before the national planning board. The defenses remain a “key issue” to protect the hotel and golf course, Russell said.”
8. Ogio brand refresh
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Just over a year ago, Callaway Golf acquired Ogio International, Inc., for $75.5 million. Plenty in the golf space wondered what the folks in Carlsbad would do with the company. Well, we no longer have to wonder. Today, the golf bag (and luggage, backpacks, and apparel) manufacturer unveiled a global brand refresh. New products, website, and logo are all components of the change.”
  • “Speaking on the news of the brand refresh, Harry Arnett (Ogio President and Callaway SVP of global marketing) said.”
  • “Innovation is the driving force of everything we do. Change is obviously critical for any brand, especially one that has been around for 30 years like we have. The products we are launching represent the very best in design, quality, and performance. It’s an exciting step forward for our company and we know current fans and potential new fans of OGIO will love the new direction.”
  • Along with the refresh, Ogio also announced the release of two new golf bags, which you can see in the full piece.
9. Hmm…
Golf.com’s steward of the game’s blackletter, Rules Guy fielded the following query.
  • “I’m a player who can’t wait to see the ball go in (or miss) the hole when putting, so I tend to look up too early. To cure this habit, I wrote “Don’t look” up on top of the putterhead as a reminder. A buddy hinted that I may be violating a rule. Am I?”-ROMY DIONISIUS, TEMPE, ARIZ.
  • “In a word, no … assuming that you’re using, say, a Sharpie. Engraving is also legal. You could run into issues that might render the club nonconforming by taping or otherwise fastening instructions to old Billy Baroo. So, please, no Post-It notes or dry-erase boards.”
Sorry, Romy. I guess this means the passages from Dave Pelz’ Putting Bible I have written on the sole of my Craz-E Mallet…

 

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  1. Little Debbie

    Nov 2, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Chris Hall of Protecting.co.uk needs to understand the ole “Its better to keep your yapper shut and make people wonder if you are stupid rather than open it and PROVE you are” motto

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Paul Casey IS testing Honma irons (but he IS NOT a Honma staffer)

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paul-casey-honma-iron-pc

It turns out, Paul Casey is not the second PGA Tour staffer (after Justin Rose) to sign with Honma.

Two weeks ago, the Englishman sent the golf equipment world was sent into a frenzy when a photo of him with an apparent Honma iron in play at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Casey took to Instagram to confirm that he did in fact have a Honma 3-iron in play. However, well, here it is from the horse’s mouth…

“Still testing these beauties. Contrary to reports I started the season with almost the exact same setup that I used during the latter half of last year. Including the Ryder Cup. The only change being a new @honmagolf 3 iron that was photographed in play at Kapalua”

“These beauties” would seem to include a full set of Rose Proto-esque irons (with “PC” stamping instead of “Rose Proto”). It seems the 3-iron was Honma’s TW-U Forged utility iron.

With respect to his setup from last season, Casey played a combo set of Mizuno MP-25 irons (3) and MP-5 irons (4-PW). TaylorMade woods, Vokey Wedges, and a Scotty Cameron putter rounded out his set, which you can see here.

Casey has been without a full bag deal since his 2016 Nike deal (although he was under contract to play TaylorMade woods in 2017).

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Morning 9: Kuchar’s “Not a story” still a story | LPGA commish pushing for pay parity | Grassy shoe

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

January 15, 2019

Good Tuesday morning, golf fans.
1. Further thoughts on Kuchar, caddie payola
Whether Kuchar stiffed El Toucan or not, the story is far from dead…especially in light of at least one additional pro suggesting Kuch has a reputation for…thriftiness.
  • Here’s a bit from Geoff Shackelford, who quotes a Joel Beall piece and offers his own perspective.
  • “Does this constitute a story? That’s the question GolfDigest.com’s Joel Beall asks and does a nice job answering after a fellow golf pro called out what he saw as Matt Kuchar’s substandard pay to a caddie last fall.
  • “(Beall writes…) Kuchar’s case, however, felt different, for it wasn’t a tip as it was wages owed. The optics alone-a veteran with $46 million in career earnings low-balling a man who makes less than $46,000 a year-were damning. That Gillis’ previous blast of Ben Crane over an unpaid bet to Daniel Berger proved accurate wasn’t helping, nor was Australian pro Cameron Percy’s reply of, “It’s not out of character if true.”
  • “The irony in this escapade like other recent episodes cited by Beall: this was started and fueled by one of Kuchar’s peers, not a media outlet. …As players have increasingly shunned media for social media to break news or tell their story, it’s fascinating how many examples we’ve already seen of players calling out fellow players on social media in ways more harsh and reputation-damaging than a traditional media outlet would dare.”

Full piece (including a link to Beall’s article)

2. Oda overcomes
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine writes…”John Oda overcame a double bogey Monday to maintain his lead at the Web.com Tour’s season opener.”
  • “The UNLV product offset his double on the par-4 fifth hole with six birdies as part of a second-round, 4-under 68. At 13 under, Oda leads the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay by two shots over Marty Dou, who carded a second-round 66.”
  • “For the second straight day, play was suspended because of darkness. Three groups will have to finish their second rounds Tuesday morning…”
3. Glass half full/half empty
A Reuters report identifies two things: the LPGA Tour will feature its largest collective purse ever this year, and that pursue is nowhere near what PGA Tour players will play for.
“The LPGA season kicks off on Thursday for a season that will comprise 34 events and distribute some $70 million in prize money, a record amount for the circuit although it is still barely one-fifth on offer on the PGA Tour.”
  • “The discrepancy roughly parallels the difference in television ratings in the United States between the tours, according to LPGA commissioner Mike Whan, with the women mainly shown on the smaller audience Golf Channel while the men’s circuit is broadcast on free-to-air network television.”
  • “The difference in purses is the difference in total viewership,” Whan told Reuters in a television interview ahead of the Tournament of Champions season opener that will be held in Florida.
  • “There is a real business reason. It’s based on real data. I understand it. I was a sponsor before a commissioner.
  • “It doesn’t mean I like it, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Seven or eight years ago it wouldn’t have been one fifth. We’re up 80 percent in purses since 2010.”
4. Hosung Choi to make PGA Tour debut?
Our Gianni Magliocco writes…”Hosung Choi, a two-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour and internet sensation, is set to make his first PGA Tour appearance of his career after being handed an invitation to compete at next month’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, according to multiple Korean media outlets.”
5. Spieth the victim?
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell argues that the real-time stats, day trader mentality, and abundance of scrutiny have combined for a hyperfocus on the putting stroke of one Jordan Spieth. And it’s hard to believe this is doing him any favors.
  • “Is former Tiger coach Hank Haney’s opinion that there’s a yip in Spieth’s putting stroke a short-term liability, or a long-term one? Are Spieth’s back-to-back MCs a trend or an anomaly?”
  • “Coach Sean Foley said Woods was subject to daily referendums when he worked with him.”
  • “Tiger isn’t alone anymore as the subject of intense inspection on web sites, in reader commentaries, Twitter and podcasts. The growing volume of opinion may well be good for the game, nurturing — or inflaming — interest like never before, but it comes at a price for players struggling to reverse a trend. There’s more pressure to produce results than ever before, and to produce them more quickly, before negative opinion becomes tsunamic.”
  • “Fans are more invested in players, with so many more opportunities to follow them online. The PGA Tour’s live streaming allows fans to isolate their viewing of their favorites through an entire round. That’s only going to grow.”
6. What we learned at the Sony
Looking back at the tournament that was, our Ronald Montesano has some observations.
  • “Shorter and Strategic will always have a place on tour…Courses like Waialae (restored by Doak and team) and Harbor Town offer less-than-long hitters an opportunity to showcase their talents. Remember last fall’s Ryder Cup? Team Europe neutralized the length advantage of the USA at Le Golf National, and rolled to victory. Great courses from a bygone era will charm  competitors and fans alike, and the essence of proper golf course architecture will never fade from fashion.”
  • “Ryder Cup snubs lead to resurgence…Last week, we discussed the Xander Schauffele snub by USA Ryder Cup team captains. This week, the veteran most expected to make the team (Kuchar) won a second time since that international competition. Nothing sparks the competitive fires like being told that you aren’t good enough. Kuchar’s multiple international caps weren’t enough to secure a spot in France, but he is playing like he wants Tiger Woods (2019 President’s Cup captain) to know that he plans to return to Team USA pronto. We think that the fans support his cause.”
7. Valentino Dixon to exhibit in NYC
Rightly, Golf Digest’s Max Adler with the story...”…you might say Dixon’s true arrival into the professional art scene occurs this week. January 17-20, doors open to the 27th Outsider Art Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York. Alongside 67 exhibitors representing 37 cities from 7 countries, will hang the golf landscapes whose creation subsisted the soul of an innocent artist locked inside a cell.
  • “To have my drawings showcased in New York City, the art capital of the world, it’s a dream come true,” Dixon says. “I feel like this is redemption for my teachers at the Buffalo Performing Arts High School. For so long I had let them down.”
8. Two holes-in-one in four holes?
Tony Korologos at Hooked on Golf...”So what are the odds of getting two aces in one round? How about two aces on the front nine? This past weekend at the Coral Canyon Amateur tournament in St. George, Utah, Kirk Siddens did just that…”
  • “The odds of two golfers in a group making an ace on the same hole is 26 million to 1. The odds of making back to back aces are around 50 million to 1. So somewhere in there lies the odds of one golfer getting a hole in one in four holes, or two consecutive par 3’s. I say let’s call it 37.75 million to 1.”
9. Air Max 1 golf shoe: grass edition
Golf Digest’s Brittany Romano…”Sneaker News leaked Nike’s newest golf shoe drop that has everyone talking. The star design features a green grass shoe with what appears to be a turf-like covering. The “grass” is complemented by a thick white midsole and throwback rubber outsole. The shoe is a remix of the iconic Air Max 1 sneaker that became popular in 1987 as the first shoe to feature visible air pockets in the midsole.”
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19th Hole

I wasn’t ready for the 2019 Rules of Golf

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We weren’t ready. We thought we were, but we weren’t.

For the last year, the USGA reminded us that in 2019 Rules of Golf were coming, but we didn’t listen. We heard the flag stick could remain in and we heard that you could take a penalty drop from knee-height.

But we didn’t listen.

I bet none of you have even practiced using your putter to flatten the entire green between your ball and the cup. You can do that now.

I’m also sure that you and I will continue to hover our club in all hazards, er, penalty areas. Yeah, we’re calling it a penalty area now.

The USGA went to the extreme depths of changing words all to simplify the game for you.

I don’t think the USGA listened either.

The rule changes were intended to speed up play and simplify golf for amateurs. Seems like a good idea. In turn, they may have bamboozled the PGA Tour while confusing the only amateurs who kind-of, sort-of knew the rules.

The pros didn’t need a new rule book, the amateurs just needed a simple one.

Us “locals” as the USGA refers to amateurs, do have one extremely fluid perk. When hitting a ball OB, or following a lost ball, you can drop with a two-stroke penalty instead of walking back to the tee. This of course, is dependent on your course, head professional, tournament conditions, and other factors including and not limited to what phase the moon is in.

If that’s somewhat confusing, read up, ask about your local rules, and buy a few extra sleeves. Reason being, in 2019, the limit on searching for a golf ball has been cut from five to three minutes.

2019-rules-of-golf

But wait, there’s good news.

Thanks to the USGA, if you accidentally move your ball as you frantically high-step through fescue, it’s no longer a penalty! What an exciting 180 seconds that will be!

If you somehow don’t find your golf ball in the hazard penalty area, the USGA tried to help us out, which they did, yet regrettably took away a more iconic portrait on the golf course.

The rigid, stoic stance and forceful drop of a ball at shoulder-height.

And we let it happen.

Now, we’ll watch a defeated man deliberately bend to his knees and gingerly drop his ball…Which, by the way, appears to be a convenient way for cheaters to “take a drop” that ideally doubles as “identifying my first ball”.

Don’t even get me started on the back issues this could flare up.

We heard in late 2018 that Bryson DeChambeau would use the flagstick when the odds were in his favor. He even laid it out simply for us.

“It depends on the COR, the coefficient of restitution of the flagstick.”

Simple.

We didn’t listen Bryson, we didn’t believe. We also have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

But hey, as Bryson would say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. Yeah, he’d clearly never say that, but here’s to hoping!

We heard he would do it, but we didn’t believe it. We had to see to believe. What we saw was DeChambeau first in strokes gained putting in the very first round he was allowed to do it.

Obviously, this trend will continue for DeChambeau, and others may join in, because what is golf if not a constant chase for a marginally better opportunity at success.

Watch your back, because those others that may join in could be closer than you think. You may turn around to find a fellow member asking for the flag on their next 12-footer.

It should be a fun year of commentary and confusion at your local club and on the PGA tour. Professionals will have constant questions for rules officials, and commentators will consistently question Bryson’s methods.

There is one real question I hope is answered this April.

What will we do when Bryson banks in a downhill putt at No. 2 of Augusta?

Will we be ready? Will Augusta?

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19th Hole

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