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Opinion & Analysis

Golf 2019: 10 Quick Things

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The Presidents Cup reminded how great team golf can be, and what an exceptional course brings to the dynamic. It also illuminated that Patrick Reed is his own worst problem. Some people prefer to live amidst controversy. He seems to be one. Instead of laying low during the Cup, he instigated the crowd. Why? He should have taken his medicine after his transgression during the Hero Challenge. Speaking of that mistake, it’d be great if Augusta National would rescind Reed’s invitation for the 2020 Masters. He needs a lesson that’ll hit home. Perhaps suspend him from The Masters. That’ll teach him to own his competitive conduct. Tough love for sure, but good for the young man, and a page from former Orioles’ Manager Earl Weaver’s playbook. He would send Baltimore players down to the minors for transgressions like not running out ground balls. “I’m doing the kid a favor – he needs to learn how to play the game the right way,” he’d rightfully say.

The Rules of Golf changes make playing the game easier, faster, more fun. That wasn’t needed. (Insert sarcasm GIF here.)

Toptracer technology from Topgolf is the best thing for TV golf viewing ever.

technology, golf, television, broadcast

Toptracer technology from Topgolf transformed watching the game on TV , adding clarity and insight about how shots fly and are played.

Phil is phinished as a premier PGA Tour contender. No shame there. Phabulous run, old boy. Better than most all-time.

Others who should join Phil’s phoursome on the “Mount Rushmore of Sports/Father Time is Undefeated” Memorial include Tom Brady, Clayton Kershaw, and Carmelo Anthony.

Like the NBA, professional golf needs a shot clock. Two minutes when it’s your turn to play. No exceptions. Including looking for balls. Go.

turtles, slow, golf

Golfers need to play the game more quickly.

“Iron Byron” was a mind blower when first introduced as a performance measurement tool. Now, with AI seemingly omnipresent in golf – can you spell Arccos? – it seems laughably antiquated.

The LPGA (and its Symetra “Road to the LPGA” feeder tour) grows more compelling with each year. The next decade for women’s golf will be looked back on as the era when it “crossed over.” If you don’t know who Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim, or Brooke Henderson are, you will.

An event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and LPGA would be a great move. Make it a team event that players qualify for like they do for the Ryder Cup. The competition would be outstanding, and the uniqueness would make for a hugely compelling competition.

Dan Hicks proved again this year that he is an all-time great. His seemingly effortless calls make watching TV golf with the sound on not only tolerable but enjoyable. He’s fluent, astute, and avoids hyperbole. His commentary is laced with humor, insight, and, most importantly, is never pretentious. That last trait is incredibly hard to avoid. Right, Joe Buck?

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A University of Maryland graduate, Dan is a lifelong resident of the Mid-Atlantic, now residing in Northern Virginia. Fan of the Terps and all D.C. professional sports teams, Dan fell in love with golf through Lee Trevino's style and skill during his peak years. Dan was once Editor of Golf Inc. Magazine.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Golf Stud

    Dec 27, 2019 at 5:18 am

    The PGA Tour has no authority when it comes to the Masters Tournament. They would be in no position to suspend him from that event.

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 27, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Good point, of course, and my point was conceptual, to show how important it is I believe to penalize in a way that sends a message that makes a difference.

  2. D D

    Dec 26, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Good going Dan I Am.

  3. Jim

    Dec 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    This isn’t an article.

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 26, 2019 at 1:19 pm

      It’s an opinion piece, Jim. Like Popeye, I calls ’em like I sees ’em, and GolfWRX is a platform for publishing all types of content, from news articles and features, to opinion columns.

  4. Devin

    Dec 19, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Huh?

  5. cdnasian

    Dec 19, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    What did I just read?

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 26, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      An opinion column by me. I have played the game for decades and worked in the industry for the past 20 years, including as editor of Golf Inc. Magazine.

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Discussing the drivers of 2020 with Bryan LaRoche

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with his good buddy Bryan LaRoche. They chat on life and do a deep dive into the drivers of 2020.

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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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The 5 indisputable rules of bunker play

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I received a particularly interesting question this week from Art S., who said he has read all the tips about how to hit different sand shots, from different sand conditions, but it would be helpful to know why. Specifically, here’s what Art had to say:

“I recently found myself in a few sand traps in multiple lies and multiple degrees of wetness. I tried remembering all of the “rules” of how to stand, how much to open my club, how much weight to shift forward or back, etc. based on the Golf Channel but was hoping that you might be able to do a blog on the ‘why’ of sand play so that we can understand it rather than memorizing what to do. Is there any way you can discuss what the club is doing and why you open the club, open your stance, what you’re aiming for when you open up, and any other tips?”

Well, Art, you asked a very good question, so let’s try to cover the basics of sand play–the “geometry and physics” at work in the bunkers–and see if we can make all of this more clear for you.

First of all, I think bunkers are among the toughest of places to find your ball. We see the tour players hit these spectacular bunker shots every week, but realize that they are playing courses where the bunkers are maintained to PGA Tour standards, so they are pretty much the same every hole and every week. This helps the players to produce the “product” the tour is trying to deliver–excitement. Of course, those guys also practice bunker play every day.

All of us, on the other hand, play courses where the bunkers are different from one another. This one is a little firmer, that one a little softer. So, let me see if I can shed a little light on the “whys and wherefores” of bunker play.

The sand wedge has a sole with a downward/backward angle built into it – we call that bounce. It’s sole (no pun intended) function is to provide a measure of “rejection” force or lift when the club makes contact with the sand. The more bounce that is built into the sole of the wedge, the more this rejection force is applied. And when we open the face of the wedge, we increase the effective bounce so that this force is increased as well.

The most basic thing you have to assess when you step into a bunker is the firmness of the sand. It stands to reason that the firmer the texture, the more it will reject the digging effect of the wedge. That “rejection quotient” also determines the most desirable swing path for the shot at hand. Firmer sand will reject the club more, so you can hit the shot with a slightly more descending clubhead path. Conversely, softer or fluffier sand will provide less rejection force, so you need to hit the shot with a shallower clubhead path so that you don’t dig a trench.

So, with these basic principles at work, it makes sense to remember these “Five Indisputable Rules of Bunker Play”

  1. Firmer sand will provide more rejection force – open the club less and play the ball back a little to steepen the bottom of the clubhead path.
  2. Softer sand will provide less rejection force – open the club more and play the ball slighter further forward in your stance to create a flatter clubhead path through the impact zone.
  3. The ball will come out on a path roughly halfway between the alignment of your body and the direction the face is pointing – the more you open the face, the further left your body should be aligned.
  4. On downslope or upslope lies, try to set your body at right angles to the lie, so that your swing path can be as close to parallel with the ground as possible, so this geometry can still work. Remember that downhill slopes reduce the loft of the club and uphill slopes increase the loft.
  5. Most recreational golfers are going to hit better shots from the rough than the bunkers, so play away from them when possible (unless bunker play is your strength).

So, there you go, Art. I hope this gives you the basics you were seeking.

As always, I invite all of you to send in your questions to be considered for a future article. It can be about anything related to golf equipment or playing the game–just send it in. You can’t win if you don’t ask!

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Podcasts

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Task to target

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In this week’s episode: How having a target will improve your direction and contact you have with the ball.

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