Golf season is over.
Take a deep pre-shot routine breath and commit to the truth.
However, maybe, just maybe, that’s not a bad thing. Stick with me here.
Like a grueling 18-holes, your season was filled with ups, downs, and nowhere near enough up-and-downs.
You peaked at one point, sure, with visions of grandeur briefly realized. Perhaps you even made it to the top of Mt. GHIN, screenshotting the site you never expected to see. Yet, we all slide down that mountain eventually, and it sure is embarrassing and expensive to ski downhill on a pair of Vokeys.
For many, that summit wasn’t even reached as work, family or the fear of new heights took precedent. Instead of climbing that mountain you spent days dreadfully staring into blue-bird skies, jealous of those on the green slopes.
However, I ask you this. What is worse? Knowing full well you cannot golf because a sierra of snow has you barred inside? Or, knowing you could golf, but prior obligations are holding you back?
Now, I know what you are thinking. I’m on Instagram all day, feeding through influencers at lush southern courses, I could be playing there!
First, no you can’t, that is why they are an influencer and we are us.
Second, as I’m writing this, some poor slouch in Florida just cold shanked one. An absolute hosel rocket. A shank so jarring they’ll wonder if frostbite might feel better than a numbingly thinned muscleback.
Let this sink in. You hit hundreds of terrible shots this year. Just awful, awful shots. Shots so horrid the wonderful world of fly fishing became appealing.
Yet, for the next 4 months, you will not hit one single, bad, shot. Not one! Every shot will be in your mind, cutting towards the flagstick and zipping back to gimmie range. Consciously tearing up your home course is effortless as you maneuver the ball both ways. The greens are rolling at a smooth 10, and you can’t miss. Painful memories on the golf course melt away, day-by-day, similar to that personal best slipping away on 17.
Remember that slouch in Florida? He is going to play tomorrow, and he is going to hit terrible shots again. He probably even came down with the shanks. Meanwhile, we’re only at risk of coming down with pneumonia.
In the frigid winter, you have an ability to fix everything that went wrong this year and emphasize what went right. Like finishing a round of 18, you are hitting a reset button, learning from your mistakes and learning to love golf all over again.
That guy in Florida? He is stuck in an infinite loop where instead of heading to the bar after 18 to forgive and forget, he’s transported back to one teebox, with multiplying swing thoughts and bad habits the size of Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s vape cloud.
Playing golf, for anyone, can be exhausting. It requires an immense amount of concentration, confidence and notwithstanding, excitement. At moments in the 2019 golf year we all hit golf exhaustion and lost that excitement.
These next four months are your personal 19th hole. Order a cold tasty beverage from the bar, self-deprecate your game, and remind your buddies how close you are to figuring out the tee-ball, without fear of actually hitting one.
Soon enough, your winter blues will turn into summer dues, so I’ve made a quick list to remind you how to enjoy these months.
Get in shape
We can get shredded. Gains. You, me, Bryson DeChambeau. Like the mental exhaustion, the physical exhaustion is real and can take a toll. The winter months are the best time to determine where you lack physically, and getting a head start on the year. Or, you could “heal” and watch a lot of football. Either way.
No better time (re)build that swing. Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day. Start building that foundation in November and you’ll own a first-class plane come April. I seem to recall historians are more fascinated by the fall of Rome however, than the creation. I guess that makes sense.
Get new equipment
Perhaps hitting the gym or hitting balls into a net aren’t your thing. In that case, new clubs are the only remedy for 2020. Even if you don’t purchase, there’s no better way to spend a winter afternoon than wandering around your local shop. If new clubs don’t strike your fancy, perhaps a fancy new look will. Look good, feel good, play good, eventually.
Plan a trip
Sitting on the couch on a blustery day, watching professionals in a tropical location will inspire the most homebody of us. Start a group chat, find the adventurous ones and scour ever destination possible. In the midst of this, you could immerse yourself in the wide world of golf course architecture, and the woke world surrounding it. Learn about the Redan, the Biarittz, and how if the course doesn’t have a Punchbowl, there’s no point of even playing.
Create a workshop
Continue down the path of the golf dork and architect your own clubs. Our own Ryan Barath is a true inspiration on this. We’re all tinkerers here, if there was ever a time to create a regripping station, the time is now. Maybe you can even make a few dollars and convince your friends to upgrade their shedding Winn grips.
Enjoy this time fellow golf addicts, what can be known as the longest stretch of golf confidence you’ll own until about this time next year.
The Gear Dive: TrackMan’s Tour Operations Manager Lance Vinson Part 1 of 2
In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats with TrackMans Lance Vinson on an all things TrackMan and its presence on Tour. It’s such a deep dive that they needed two shows to cover it all.
Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below.
An open letter to golf
I know it has been some time since we last spoke, but I need you to know I miss you, and I can’t wait to see you again.
It was just a few months ago I walked crowded isles, stood shoulder to shoulder, and talked endlessly with likeminded individuals about you and your promising future in 2020 at the PGA Show. At that time, the biggest concern in my life was whether I had packed the perfect dress-to-casual pant ratio and enough polos to get through the mayhem of six days in Orlando. Oh, how the times have changed.
On a professional level, what started with the LPGA Tour a few weeks prior progressed quickly at The Players Championship, when you ground to a complete halt within days. As much as it was a tough decision, it was the right decision, and I admire the judgment made by your leaders. Soon after, outside of the professional ranks followed suit and courses everywhere began shutting doors and asked golfers to keep away.
This is the right decision. For now and for the foreseeable future, as much as I don’t like it, I understand how important it is we let experienced health medical professionals make choices and craft policies for the wellbeing of people everywhere. Although, judging by the indoor short game trickery I have witnessed over the last 10 days, handicaps could be dropping when you finally return.
As a game, you are over 200 years old. You have survived pandemics, wars, depression, drought, and everything else that has been thrown at you. Much like the human spirit, you will continue on thanks to the stories and experiences others passed down and enjoyed.
I know you will survive because I also plan on surviving. As long as there are people willing to tend to your grounds and maintain your existence, I will also exist ready to take on your challenge.
When you are able to return in full, I will be here.
Ryan Barath (on behalf of golfers everywhere)
The Wedge Guy: Improving your short iron and wedge impact
One of my most appreciated aspects of this nearly 40 years in the golf equipment industry is the practically endless stream of “ah ha” moments that I have experienced. One that I want to share with you today will–I hope–give you a similar “ah ha moment” and help you improve your ball striking with your high lofted short irons and wedges.
As I was growing up, we always heard the phrase, “thin to win” anytime we hit an iron shot a little on the skinny side (not a complete skull, mind you). When you caught that short iron or wedge shot a bit thin, it seemed you always got added distance, a lower trajectory and plenty of spin. It was in a testing session back in the early 2000s when this observation met with some prior learning, hence the “ah ha moment” for me.
I was in Fredericksburg, Virginia, testing some wedge prototypes with a fitter there who was one of the first to have a TrackMan to measure shot data. I had hit about two dozen full pitching wedges for him to get a base of data for me to work from. The average distance was 114 yards, with my typical higher ball flight than I like, generating an average of about 7,000 rpms of spin. What I noticed, however, was those few shots that I hit thin were launching noticeably lower, flying further and had considerably more spin. Hmmm.
So, I then started to intentionally try to pick the ball off the turf, my swing thought being to actually try to almost “blade” the shot. As I began to somewhat “perfect” this, I saw trajectories come down to where I’d really like them, distance increased to 118-120 and spin rates actually increased to about 8,000 rpms! I was taking no divot, or just brushing the grass after impact, but producing outstanding spin. On my very best couple of swings, distance with my pitching wedge was 120-122 with almost 10,000 rpms of spin! And a great trajectory.
So, I began to put two and two together, drawing on the lessons about gear effect that I had learned back in the 1980s when working with Joe Powell in the marketing of his awesome persimmon drivers. You all know that gear effect is what makes a heel hit curve/fade back toward the centerline, and a heel hit curves/draws back as well. The “ah ha” moment was realizing that this gear effect also worked vertically, so shots hit that low on the face “had no choice” but to fly lower, and take on more spin.
I had always noticed that tour players’ and better amateurs’ face wear pattern was much lower on the face than that of recreational golfers I had observed, so this helped explain the quality of ball flight and spin these elite players get with their wedges and short irons.
I share this with you because I know we all often misinterpret the snippets of advice we get from friends and other instructional content that is out there. To me, one of the most damaging is “hit down on the ball”. That is a relative truth, of course, but in my observation it has too many golfers attacking the ball with their short irons and wedges with a very steep angle of attack and gouging huge divots. The facts are that if the club is moving only slightly downward at impact, you will get the spin you want, and if the clubhead is moving on a rather shallow path, you will get a more direct blow to the back of the ball, better trajectory, more distance and improved spin. Besides, shallow divots are easier on the hands and joints.
If this is interesting to you, I suggest you go to the range and actually try to blade some wedge shots until you somewhat groove this shallower path through impact and a lower impact point on your clubface. As you learn to do this, you will be able to zero in on the proper impact that produces a very shallow divot, and a great looking shot.
[TIP: If you will focus on the front edge of the ball – the side closest to the target – it will help you achieve this kind of impact.]
It will take some time, but I believe this little “experiment” will give the same kind of “ah ha moment” it gave me.
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