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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: American Muscle in Detroit

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Bryson DeChambeau put quarantine to good use, putting on 40 pounds of muscle with a widely-documented diet of protein shakes and pizza. All that work in the gym paid off in a big way when he came from three back to overtake Matthew Wolff and win the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

Much has been said about DeChambeau’s newfound speed and ball speeds regularly breaking the 190 mph mark. To be honest, I really did not want to get pulled into writing an article about his driving, especially considering that his flatstick had quite a bit to do with his victory this weekend. However, once I started tracking his shots in V1 Game, it is hard not to be blown away by what he has done with the big stick.

Drive for Show?

After the opening nine of his first round, DeChambeau already had four drives longer than 340 yards. Bear in mind, two of those nine holes are par threes. The only drives that didn’t go past 320 yards were layups. On the 14th hole, he uncorked a 375-yard drive, and found the green with his second shot for a one-putt eagle. Maybe he hit a sprinkler head or ran down the cart path for 100 yards like he did at least once the previous week. However, just three holes later, on the 17th, his tee shot traveled 378 yards. The V1 Game screenshot shows that drive’s towering distance.

So, alright. I’m impressed. DeChambeau has found the cheat code to overpower golf courses, and the field. He apologized to course designer Donald Ross early in the week, knowing that the fairway bunkers just were not far enough out to keep him from blowing past them on the fly.

Now, 378-yard drives are one thing. There are a handful of long drivers that could easily hang with that, but Bryson was also incredibly accurate this week. He hit 33 of 56 fairways for just under 60 percent. Not bad. However, he did so while making only a single driving error on the week. (A Driving Error in V1 Game is a tee shot hit into a penalty or recovery situation)

On the 14th hole on Sunday, DeChambeau put a 355-yard tee shot behind some trees and was blocked from advancing to the green (a recovery situation). He then overcooked his punch-out into the lake for his only two ball-striking mistakes of the week. DeChambeau averaged more than 340 yards (when hitting driver) on the week for around 47 attempts. He did so without making mistakes! Wild.

Referring to the Strokes Gained Stack chart at the top of this article, DeChambeau gained an impressive 11.1 strokes on a typical field driving for the week. Now, the PGA Tour normalizes that data to the actual field and even then, he gained almost seven strokes with driving.

To say DeChambeau found the cheat code is a little unfair to all the work he has put in. Clearly, those gains are paying off on the golf course. However, DeChambeau has effectively found a way to separate from the field while being perfectly average with irons and in his short game. Here is the secret… Bryson can afford to be an average player from 150 yards if the rest of the field is 40 yards back, hitting from 190 yards.

The above screenshot from V1 Game shows DeChambeau averaged around 330 yards per day when all drives (including layups) were counted. Each day, he easily crossed the 350-yard barrier multiple times. V1 Game can help you track your driving distance should you want to work on similar gains.

Putt for Dough?

Setting the shock and awe factor aside, the fact remains that DeChambeau would not have won this tournament without 1) a little help from Wolff, who had five bogeys in his first 10 holes on Sunday, and 2) a really hot putter.

Again, DeChambeau was perfectly average with his approach game all week. He found a way, though, to routinely make long putts. On two of the four days, he crossed the 100-ft barrier for feet of putts made (which you can see tracked in the V1 Game round summary). On Thursday alone, DeChambeau made 138 ft of putts. Additionally, he only had a single three-putt for the entire week. Below is a summary of his putting performance for the week.

DeChambeau putted well this weekend, avoiding three putts and misses inside six feet, which are two critical keys to scoring you will see highlighted in the post-round performance tracking in V1 Game. Looking at his Strokes Gained: Putting, DeChambeau gained strokes in every bucket except for “From Less Than Three Feet,” where he had one short miss on the week. This phenomenal performance on the greens, particularly on Sunday, kept Wolff from ever getting too close.

Takeaways

DeChambeau put in the work and it is paying dividends. He has been in contention each week following the quarantine and shows no signs of stopping if he can keep his tee shots flying as straight as he has thus far. If he could figure out a way to just be slightly above average with the irons, he would be very difficult to catch.

Much can be learned from seeing how the pros manage the course and get it done from day to day with different parts of their game. The big takeaway this week: If you want to improve your Strokes Gained: Driving, find a reliable way to hit it farther. V1 Game can help you track your progress on the course as you try to hit those distance goals.

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  1. Mark M

    Jul 7, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Cool summary and stats. Only problem is that he put on 40 pounds, but definitely not 40 pounds of muscle. ????

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Opinion & Analysis

The differences between good and bad club fitters—and they’re not what you think

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Club fitting is still a highly debated topic, with many golfers continuing to believe they’re just not good enough to be fit. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s a topic for another day.

Once you have decided to invest in your game and equipment, however, the next step is figuring out where to get fit, and working with a fitter.  You see, unlike professionals in other industries, club fitting “certification” is still a little like the wild west. While there are certification courses and lesson modules from OEMs on how to fit their specific equipment, from company to company, there is still some slight variance in philosophy.

Then there are agnostic fitting facilities that work with a curated equipment matrix from a number of manufacturers. Some have multiple locations all over the country and others might only have a few smaller centralized locations in a particular city. In some cases, you might even be able to find single-person operations.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? This is the million-dollar question for golfers looking to get fit. Unless you have experience going through a fitting before or have a base knowledge about fitting, it can feel like an intimidating process. This guide is built to help you ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things to make sure you are getting the most out of your fitting.

The signs of a great fitter

  • Launch monitor experience: Having some type of launch monitor certification isn’t a requirement but being able to properly understand the interpret parameters is! A good fitter should be able to explain the parameters they are using to help get the right clubs and understand how to tweak specs to help you get optimized. The exact labeling may vary depending on the type of launch monitor but they all mostly provide the same information….Here is an example of what a fitter should be looking for in an iron fitting: “The most important parameter in an iron fitting” 
  • Communication skills: Being able to explain why and how changes are being made is a telltale sign your fitter is knowledgeable—it should feel like you are learning something along the way. Remember, communication is a two-way street so also being a good listener is another sign your working with a good fitter.
  • Transparency: This involves things like talking about price, budgets, any brand preferences from the start. This prevents getting handed something out of your price range and wasting swings during your fit.
  • A focus on better: Whether it be hitting it further and straighter with your driver or hitting more greens, the fitting should be goal-orientated. This means looking at all kinds of variables to make sure what you are getting is actually better than your current clubs. Having a driver you hit 10 yards farther isn’t helpful if you don’t know where it’s going….A great fitter that knows their stuff should quickly be able to narrow down potential options to 4-5 and then work towards optimizing from there.
  • Honesty and respect: These are so obvious, I shouldn’t even have to put it on the list. I want to see these traits from anybody in a sales position when working with customers that are looking to them for knowledge and information…If you as the golfer is only seeing marginal gains from a new product or an upgrade option, you should be told that and given the proper information to make an informed decision. The great fitters, and I’ve worked with a lot of them, will be quick to tell a golfer, “I don’t think we’re going to beat (X) club today, maybe we should look at another part of your bag where you struggle.” This kind of interaction builds trust and in the end results in happy golfers and respected fitters.

The signs of a bad fitter

  • Pushing an agenda: This can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether it be a particular affinity towards certain brands of clubs or even shafts. If you talk to players that have all been to the same fitter and their swings and skill levels vary yet the clubs or brands of shafts they end up with (from a brand agnostic facility) seem to be eerily similar it might be time to ask questions.
  • Poor communications: As you are going through the fitting process and warming up you should feel like you’re being interviewed as a way to collect data and help solve problems in your game. This process helps create a baseline of information for your fitter. If you are not experiencing that, or your fitter isn’t explaining or answering your questions directly, then there is a serious communication problem, or it could show lack of knowledge depth when it comes to their ability.
  • Lack of transparency: If you feel like you’re not getting answers to straightforward questions or a fitter tells you “not to worry about it” then that is a big no-no from me.
    Side note: It is my opinion that golfers should pay for fittings, and in a way consider it a knowledge-gathering session. Of course, the end goal for the golfer is to find newer better fitting clubs, and for the fitter to sell you them (let’s be real here), but you should never feel the information is not being shared openly.
  • Pressure sales tactics: It exists in every industry, I get it, but if you pay for your fitting you are paying for information, use it to your advantage. You shouldn’t feel pressured to buy, and it’s always OK to seek out a knowledgeable second opinion (knowledgeable being a very key word in that sentence!).  If you are getting the hard sell or any combination of the traits above, there is a good chance you’re not working with the right fitter for you.

Final thoughts

Great fitters with great reputations and proper knowledge have long lists, even waiting lists, of golfers waiting to see them. The biggest sign of a great fitter is a long list of repeat customers.

Golf is a game that can be played for an entire lifetime, and just like with teachers and swing coaches, the good ones are in it for the long haul to help you play better and build a rapport—not just sell you the latest and greatest (although we all like new toys—myself included) because they can make a few bucks.

Trust your gut, and ask questions!

 

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Podcasts

TG2: TaylorMade P7MB & P7MC Review | Oban CT-115 & CT-125 Steel Shafts

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Took the new TaylorMade P-7MB and P-7MC irons out on the course and the range. The new P-7MB and P-7MC are really solid forged irons for the skilled iron players. Great soft feel on both, MB flies really low, and the MC is more mid/low launch. Oban’s CT 115 & 125 steel shafts are some of the most consistent out there. Stout but smooth feel with no harsh vibration at impact.

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: Improve your transition for better wedge play

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In my opinion, one of the most misunderstood areas of the golf swing is the transition from backswing to downswing, but I don’t read much on this in the golf publications. So, here’s my take on the subject.

Whether it’s a short putt, chip or pitch, half wedge, full iron or driver swing, there is a point where the club’s motion in the backswing has to come to a complete stop–even if for just a nano-second–and reverse direction into the forward swing. What makes this even more difficult is that it is not just the club that is stopping and reversing direction, but on all but putts, the entire body from the feet up through the body core, shoulders, arms and hands.

In my observation, most golfers have a transition that is much too quick and jerky, as they are apparently in a hurry to generate clubhead speed into the downswing and through impact. But, just as you (hopefully) begin your backswing with a slow take-away from the ball, a proper start to the downswing is also a slower move, starting from this complete stop and building to maximum clubhead speed just past impact. If you will work on your transition, your ball striking and distance will improve, as will your accuracy on your short shots and putts. Let’s start there.

In your wedge play, your primary objective is to apply just the exact amount of force to propel the ball the desired distance. In order to do that, it makes sense to move the club slower, as that allows more precision. I like to think of the pendulum on a grandfather clock as a great guide to tempo and transition. As the weight goes back and forth, it comes to a complete stop at each end, and achieves maximum speed at the exact bottom of the arc. If you put that picture in your head when you chip and putt, you will develop a tempo that encourages a smooth transition at the end of the backswing.

The idea is to achieve a gradual acceleration from the end of the backswing to the point of impact, but for most golfers, this type of swing is likely much slower than yours is currently. I encourage you to not be in a hurry to force this acceleration, as that causes a quick jab with the hands, because the shoulder rotation and slight body rotation cannot move that quickly from its end-of-backswing rotation.

Here’s a drill to help you picture this kind of swing pace. Drawing on that grandfather clock visual, hold your wedge at the very end of the grip with two fingers, and get it moving like the clock pendulum–back and through. Watch the tempo and transition for a few moments, and then try to mimic that with your short or half swing tempo. No faster, no slower. You can even change how far you pull the club up to start this motion to see what happens to the pendulum tempo on longer swings.

An even better exercise is to have a friend hold a club in this manner right in front of you while you are practicing your chipping or pitching swing and try to “shadow” that motion with your swings. You will likely find that your transition is much too fast and jerky to give you the results you are after.

If you will practice this, I can practically guarantee your short-range transition will become really solid and repeatable. From there, it’s just a matter of extending the length of the swing to mid-range pitches, full short irons, mid-irons, fairway woods, and driver–all while feeling for that gradual transition that makes for great timing, sequencing, and tempo.

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