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Opinion & Analysis

Ways to Win: Redemption for Morikawa

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How Justin Thomas Collin Morikawa stole the show

I had already written the opening paragraph in my head on how solid Justin Thomas is with three holes left in the Workday Charity Open. Three up with three to play. It was over…until it wasn’t. I began rewriting the same paragraph when Thomas knocked in a 50-foot putt on the first playoff hole. That clutch putt gained over 1.14 strokes on the typical tour player from that distance…but then Morikawa rolled in his own improbable 24-footer.

I hesitated to pick up the pen again when Thomas had just over 10 feet on the second playoff hole. Morikawa simply would not go away, and, in the end, he survived the three-hole playoff to walk away with the victory. In retrospect, he was certainly a deserving champion. Other than a nervy third round disappointment, Morikawa was solid all week. It was his time.

Tiger-like

Comparing any player to Tiger Woods is a somewhat ridiculous exercise. However, the way Morikawa gets it done and his consistency has hints of Tiger. For starters, his streak of 22 consecutive cuts made to start a PGA Tour career is second only to Tiger Woods. At this point in his career, Morikawa has won more events than he has missed cuts. There aren’t many pros that can say the same.

Morikawa’s consistency and brilliance largely come from his ability to separate from the field with ball striking and, specifically, his iron game. Tiger Woods made reliable ball-striking a staple throughout his career. Looking at Morikawa’s performance over the four-round tournament, it is obvious that approach is the most dangerous weapon in his bag. He gained 3.6 strokes on Thursday and more than six strokes on the field Sunday. His approach game kept him in the tournament despite losing strokes with the flatstick.

Morikawa is ridiculously good with his irons. Utilizing the shot distribution chart in V1 Game, we can see he rarely misses the green from close range, and he hits it, on average, inside 25 feet from every distance bucket except from 150-175 yards. In fact, 150-175 yards looks like somewhat of an anomaly for Morikawa. His proximity on average is “only” 32 feet from this distance. In fact, for all buckets over 100 yards, it is the only distance bucket in which Morikawa loses strokes to the field. Again, using V1 Game’s approach analysis we can clearly see the Proximity Trends and Strokes Gained information by bucket. Morikawa gains between a 0.1 and 0.3 strokes with his irons every time he hits a shot. That is a tremendous asset to separate from the field. He simply has more birdie putts from closer distance than the vast majority of the field.

Still Have to Close

Morikawa’s approach game aside, he still has to close. A few weeks ago he was unable to convert from short distance to extend a playoff. In a way, this week was a redemption. Morikawa putted beautifully for the majority of the week, gaining more than three strokes with the flatstick. That does not even include the clutch 24-footer he made in the playoff to extend the match.

However, there is still significant room to improve on the greens for Morikawa. Looking at his putting performance for the week, he did lose strokes from 10-20 feet with one three-putt and very few makes in that distance. Morikawa will need to improve with the putter to continue to convert his ball striking into trophies. However, his consistent iron game should continue to give him plenty of opportunities.

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: hit it closer and you’ll make more putts. Hitting the green more often takes stress off of one’s putting and short game.

Download V1 Game in the App Store today and start tracking your golf performance like the pros. 

 

 

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Elk is in the house!

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In this episode of TGD brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats with the one, the only, the legend Steve Elkington.

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 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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