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Reflections on a disappointing golf season (so far)

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We could call this an “article,” but in my mind, I feel like it’s more of an open therapy session.

As most golfers know, this is not an easy game. There are days when almost nothing seems to go right, you just can’t put things together. Misreads and bad shots out of what feels like nowhere—but then maybe, just maybe, a few times a round you hit a shot or make a putt that feels perfect, and wonder “why can’t I do that more often?” It’s what brings us back.

As a player with an ever-fluctuating handicap, it’s been a tough season. I bought a membership at my local muni like I have the last three years. I spent as much time the range as I could, and as a fitter and builder, I have zero excuses about ill-fit equipment—but for some reason, it never really clicked.

Like many golfers, my expectations can sometimes get away from me, but I started this year like every other with the goal to break par a few times and keep my handicap around the low single digits—goals that I have accomplished before—let’s just say neither one is looking good at the moment.

I haven’t gotten to play as much as I wanted (moving can do that to you), but that’s certainly not an exclusive situation to me. I believe most golfers have that feeling. I worked hard on weaknesses and did my best to eliminate the “big numbers,” but too often I seemed to be standing over a putt for a seven knowing it was probably going to kill my round.

I’m an honest golfer and have very little ego about my skills—at least that’s what I tell myself. I attempt to have fun when I play. That’s an easily accomplished goal (I have checked that one off the list a LOT this year), but part of me wants to be better, wants to play well, wants to feel like I continue to improve. If I’m being 100 percent honest with myself, I don’t feel like I have. Maybe I’m stuck in an improvement rut, maybe it’s time to seek out professional help, maybe the offseason is just what I need (it wouldn’t be the first time that an extended break has done wonders for my golf game). But at this point in the season, I still know there is lots of golf to be played. And maybe, just maybe, my best golf is still ahead of me in 2019.

I might not always feel like I am a great golfer, but I can say without a doubt I am a happy golfer. I find enjoyment in a lot of other parts of the game—playing persimmon, messing around with yardages I play from, tinkering with gear—all of that takes up a lot of my “happy place” you could say.

At the end of the day, 2019 has been a season of missed potential. I have not been a better golfer, but I have for sure been a better person. Maybe that’s it; the cart before the horse—the balance that’s needed for things to feel in sync when trying to “be one with the course.”

I still believe the next round is going to be the best one, and maybe that’s all I can really hope for.

 

 

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. chris

    Aug 29, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Join the club of scratch or near-scratch players who just can’t get over the hump. Been trying for 15 years. Thousands like us. Ive tried lessons, practicing all the time, lifting weights, etc. Tour players just have that…gift.

  2. Alex

    Aug 29, 2019 at 7:48 am

    Moved from a links course to a Parkland course exactly a year ago. Handicap is off 2. Went through 2 2 week stretches where I loathed this f*=%#$& game. I’ll never quit playing it, but this article feels like it was written about my year. A week ago had 7 lipouts in one round and a ball lodge in the side of a bunker. Good riddance to golf in 2019.

  3. Tom

    Aug 29, 2019 at 7:37 am

    I totally agree. This has been one of my worst golfing seasons ever. I also live in an area where there is zero credible golf instruction making it even more frustrating.

  4. BenH

    Aug 28, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Took the words out of my mouth lol

  5. BettiBoop

    Aug 28, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    Agree 100%. This year has been the same for me, just disappointing all around. Not a single round I can even be happy about.

  6. Y

    Aug 28, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    I think alot of people feel that way, with the awful weather eating up rounds and causing bad conditions

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Opinion & Analysis

Watch for players lofting up at altitude at the WGC-Mexico Championship

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This week, at the PGA Tour’s WGC-Mexico Championship, we are going to watch some of the best and longest players on the planet play what will effectively be one of the shortest courses on tour.

Now, 7,341 yards is by no means a cakewalk, and there are shorter courses from a pure yardage perspective played on tour—Harbour Town, as an example, only plays at 7,099 yards from the very back. The difference is Harbour Town is played at sea level while Club de Golf Chapultepec is at over 7,500 feet of elevation, and when you factor in the altitude difference between the two courses, they play very differently—more on the math in a moment.

The altitude will also factor in how some players will be setting up their equipment and we could see some adjustments. The most obvious is lofting up the driver or fairways woods to increase carry, which is something Tiger Woods specifically mentioned last year.

The biggest misconception when talking about playing golf at altitude is that the ball doesn’t spin the same in thinner air and players “loft up” to maintain spin. Let’s get into the physics to bust this “spinning less” myth and simplify the science behind playing at altitude,

The golf ball is an inanimate object, and it has no idea it’s at altitude; the air will not have an impact on how much the ball will actually spin. Yes, increasing loft should, by almost every imaginable measure, increase spin but the air it travels through will not change the spin rate.

However, playing at altitude has an effect, Let’s break down what happens

  • Thinner air exerts less drag force (resistance/friction) on the ball. The ball moves more easily through this less dense air and won’t decelerate as quickly as it flies. But note that the faster an object moves the more drag force will occur
  • Less resistance also means that it is harder to shape shots. So you when you see Shot Tracer, the pros are going to be hitting it even straighter (this makes Tiger’s fairway bunker shot last year even more unbelievable)
  • Less force = less lift, the ball will fly lower and on a flatter trajectory

Time for some math from Steve Aoyama, a Principal Scientist at Titleist Golf Ball R&D (full piece here: The Effect of Altitude on Golf Ball Performance)

“You can calculate the distance gain you will experience (compared to sea level) by multiplying the elevation (in feet) by .00116. For example, if you’re playing in Reno, at 1 mile elevation (5,280 ft.) the increase is about 6% (5,280 x .00116 = 6.1248). If you normally drive the ball 250 yards at sea level, you will likely drive it 265 yards in Reno.”

Not every player will be making changes to their bag, and some will instead focus on the types of shots they are hitting instead. When speaking to Adam Scott earlier this week, I was able to ask if he planned on making any changes heading into Mexico the week after his win at the Genesis Invitational.

“It’s very rare for me to make club changes week-to-week beyond playing in the Open Championship and adding a longer iron. The one thing I focus on when playing at altitude is avoiding partial shots where I’m trying to reduce the spin because as spin goes down the ball doesn’t want to stay in the air. I’ve experienced partial shots with longer clubs that end up 25 yards short, and because of that I want to hit as many full shots as possible”

With Club de Golf Chapultepec sitting just over 7,800 feet above sea level, we’re looking at 9.048 or an increase of just over 9 percent. That makes this 7,341-yard course play 6,677 yards (+/- where the tees are placed).

 

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Urban Golf Performance owner Mac Todd

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In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Fujikura, Johnny chats again with his old pal Mac Todd Owner and Operator of Urban Golf Performance in Los Angeles. They cover the growth of the business, what the new Club member experience may look like and much much more.

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

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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The Gear Dive WITB Edition: Adam Scott

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In this WITB edition of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with JJ VanWezenbeeck and Aaron Dill of Titleist Golf on the ins and outs of Genesis Invitational Champion Adam Scott’s setup.

Adam Scott WITB details below

Driver: Titleist TS4 (10.5 degrees, A1 SureFit setting, 2-gram weight)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 80 X

  • Scott put the Kuro Kage in play this week. Per Titleist’s J.J. VanWezenbeeck, “Adam Scott switched to the TS4 driver at the ZoZo Championship due to head size, shape, and improved launch to spin ratios. This week, after discussions with Adam, he went to a shaft he had previously played for increased stability. He felt the shaft went a little far and he lost head feel. We went on course with lead tape to get the feels to match up then weighted the head to preferred swing weight after testing.”

3-wood: Titleist TS2 (16.5 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Rombax P95 X

Irons: Titleist 716 T-MB (3-iron), Titleist 680 (4-9 irons)
Shafts: KBS Tour 130 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (48.08F, 52.08F, 56.10S), Vokey Design SM8 WedgeWorks (60.06K)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT Tour Issue X100

Putter: Scotty Cameron Xperimental Prototype Rev X11 (long)

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Scott marks his ball with dots in the pattern of the Southern Cross, which is featured on the Australian flag.

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

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