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Opinion & Analysis

GolfRedefined aims to make club swapping easier

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There is a fair chance that the average GolfWRX reader has a few drivers hidden in their closets.

Maybe they are tucked away so the wife doesn’t find them and then have the nerve to ask you why you have four different drivers that say “Superfast” on them, yet you still refuse to buy anything but discounted detergent while buying groceries. Or maybe that is just me. But if you have more Callaway Razr’s than disposable ones, GolfRedefined thinks it has the solution for you.

GolfRedefined.com is a new exchange-based website offering golfers the option of signing up, paying a monthly fee and then requesting and trading for their choice of a large selection of fairly current drivers (just drivers for now). The selection and monthly fees are dependent on one of the three different packages you choose.

The monthly pricing starts at $24.95 per month or $69.95 per quarter for what is called the “birdie” program, and this, like all membership levels, allows you to request any driver that falls into that package, and then trade it for others basically an unlimited amount of times as long as you are a member. There is a shipping fee of around $12 to $15 as well that gets tacked on for each new driver you receive, while sending them back included pre-paid shipping.

Stepping up a notch in terms of driver selection, there is a “hole in one” plan as well that will bill you just under $100 quarterly and give you access to the newest drivers on the market. Then there is the “eagle” plan that will set you back just under $40 a month and is targeted at seasonal golfers.

Annually, the “eagle plan” would cost more than the “hole in one plan,” while offering an older selection of drivers. But it gives golfers the option of paying monthly, while the “hole in one” plan mandates that golfers make a quarterly commitment.

Obviously the idea with this site is to capitalize on the fact that many golfers like to tinker with a lot of drivers. Its target market is likely the guy who is tired of buying a $399 driver and then seeing a commercial promising him more distance or forgiveness, and not really being able to afford shelling out more money to try it out. Or of course the guy who loves his driver one day, and then wants to wrap it around a tree the next when he misses 10 fairways.

With GolfRedefined, you could change your current driver for another without paying full retail. And with an “eagle” package, you’d have access to basically any big name driver on the market including the new ones. Sounds great on paper if you are an obsessive tinkerer, and the website touts its merits in its FAQ section. But the math does make for some interesting things to ponder.

First off, there are a couple of reasons I couldn’t join. The service is only offered to the continental U.S. and it currently does not offer left-handed clubs. So while GolfRedefined is not a possibility for me right now, I wonder if it would be if I happened to be a right-handed golfer from say, Minnesota (I like people from Minnesota, they pronounce their “o” like we do, and thus they are all honorary Canadians in my book), would this service interest me?

Well, the “birdie” package costs roughly $300 a year and the drivers offered to those consumers is a mix of relatively new but not current models (Ping G15, Cleveland TL310, Taylormade R11, Diablo Octane to name a few). The website’s FAQ also says the average client makes about four trades a year which would bring the total to roughly $360 if I factor in shipping charges. So would I pay $360 for this service, to use four drivers in 2013?

To be honest, probably not, as I actually already own three of the four drivers I listed above (a G15, Tl310 and Octane) and my local golf store still has all of them new for between $95 and $150 factoring in U.S. conversion. I just bought my Cleveland TL310 for $95. You could buy two or three brand-new drivers offered in the “birdie membership” for less than the price of a year’s payments. And they are yours, you own them and can trade them in later for credit. You can’t do that if you have to return them to the site. So the price point of that program is maybe a bit of a concern.

The top-of-the-line “hole in one” program might make a bit more sense to a hardcore club-swapper. If you keep your membership for a year you’d pay roughly $400 plus the shipping dues. That would bring you to roughly $460 a year if you are an average member making about four trades. That is more expensive than almost any premium driver on the market but if you planned on using three or four a year, as well as upgrading every year, I could see how that might be appealing to someone who always wants to try something new, and maybe have a status club in the bag. But I could also see how if you ever found something you really liked and wanted to stick with it, you’d feel you were spending a lot to use it. Though I suppose people who stick with drivers is not really GolfRedefined’s target audience.

Speaking of target audience, I also wonder about whether the obsessive tinkerer has much use for a completely stock driver. For example, he site does not reference an ability to change the grip, adjust the length, or hot melt/lead tape the head for swing weight purposes. This might not be a problem for 99 percent of the golfers out there, but obsessive tinkerers seem to comprise the main target market of this website. I wonder how many players out there switch drivers four times a year but also want to play them all completely stock?

I would also be interested in hearing reviews of actual members. While the FAQ section seems to be geared heavily at customer satisfaction, it is also pretty vague in regards to stocking levels and damage policy. The site does promise to try to have all new drivers in stock at all times, but there is no guarantee of turnaround time. There is also no guarantee that the shaft flex of your choice will be available either. Do they stock more regular then stiff? Any X flex? These also might be concerns for the compulsive tinkerer. As far as the damage policy goes, you are covered for “everyday” wear and tear but I’m not sure what that is. What about skymarks? The site promises all clubs are in “new” or “new like” condition. If I skymark a driver do they throw it out? Do I get charged for it?

OK, I’ve been a bit tough on GolfRedefined, but in all fairness, with any program you are never tied in to anything long term (the longest commitment seems to be three months) and you can quit at any time. In the end, spending $25 to $40 a month to try out a bunch of drivers and see where it goes could be fun. The site does say that if you decide you want to keep a driver, they will sell it to you and allow you to cancel when your term is up. So there is that. I could also see this being of value to someone who only plays a few months a year, wants to use a $350 driver, but doesn’t want to pay for one. If you take the “hole in one” membership and pay $100 for three months, you could use a Ping G25 this golf season for only $100. That isn’t bad.

Feel free to check out the site for yourselves and form your own opinions (click here). Worst case you have another option of how to go about acquiring clubs, and for any golfer, that is a good thing.

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. JKratz

    May 9, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Just learn how to use an auction site. Buy and sell the drivers you want/don’t want. You may incur some losses, but not a monthly fee. And…you may even MAKE money if you know what you’re doing!

  2. Tyson

    May 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    In Canada where did you get your drivers for 95-150$?

  3. Spencer

    Apr 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I got as far as “Monthly fee” before I stopped reading.

  4. kloyd0306

    Apr 25, 2013 at 5:27 am

    This will fail because it’s dumb…….

  5. Flip4000

    Apr 23, 2013 at 9:46 am

    If your a golfer who cares about spending extra money on after market shafts, your probably someone who doesn’t buy 3-4 drivers per year and therefore the program doesn’t appeal to you. I think its more for the guy who maybe is a little older or the single post college grad with a little bit of income to throw around or someone who just likes to try the latest and greatest drivers rather than trying to fully customize a driver to their game.

    Look, when you rent a car, they dont let you pick any custom rims or aftermarket parts to put under the hood, nor should it matter since its a RENTAL,this program is the same concept. if your someone who wants to custom build a club just for “you”, then just continue buying clubs at store or online for a discount and throwing whatever expensive shaft you feel like on it.

    I think its more for the person who cant make it out to a demo day or doesn’t have access to a demo day in order to try a club on the course and see how it may or may not fit their game. we have all hit a driver on a simulator and said to ourselves “psh, clearly i drive the ball farther than this” or ” oh sure i hit it good at the store but what would it look like on the course”. With this program you basically get to have your own demo day at your course when ever you feel like it, which i think is kinda cool. I am not someone who really cares about the latest and greatest so i wouldn’t ever use this program but i can see the market for it

    i think the target market was mis represented in this article;it appeals more for the guy who sees the new Taylormade driver is in stores and immediately heads down to golf galaxy to take on the latest yard challenge rather than people who take time to tinker with their clubs. Just my thoughts

    • Blanco

      Apr 23, 2013 at 11:35 pm

      I guess those guys do exist… but looking at the web site, in particular the Anser Driver… has four stock shaft options that are completely different in every way. Not only are you prevented from selecting a specific shaft, you aren’t even made aware of the shaft you’re choosing.

  6. Blanco

    Apr 23, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Nice idea. Poorly thought out.

  7. justplay

    Apr 22, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    sounds dumb!!!

  8. J

    Apr 21, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    No shaft options mentioned on their website.

    So this is a service that lets you try out completely stock, bare bones drivers.

    Nope.
    Their not offering custom shafts and custom lengths, different grip types… All of the stuff that their target audience would be after means failure.

    You want ” tinkeres ” to use your clubs? Offer more than stock. Period.

  9. Trevor

    Apr 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I don’t like the idea at all. Seems almost scam-like and why not try them out the store before buying them anyway?

  10. Ronald Montesano

    Apr 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Key words: disposable income!

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Opinion & Analysis

I’m practicing. Why am I not getting better at golf?

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We all want to improve our golf games; we want to shoot lower scores, make more birdies and win bragging rights from our friends. As a result, we practice and invest many hours in trying to improve. However, do we improve as quickly as we want to? Is there something we’ve been missing?

“The secret is in the dirt,” Ben Hogan said. And he was right. To date, not one golfer has become an elite player without investing thousands of hours in improving their golf game. And yet, there are thousands of amateur golfers who practice every week and don’t get better. What is the difference? To me, this is a very interesting question. What underpins how or why we learn? Furthermore, how can we super-charge our rate of learning? 

To super-charge our learning, we must first realize that practice itself does not make us better at golf. This is an empty promise. It is close to the truth but incorrect. Instead, practice, when done correctly, will cause changes in our body to make us more skillful over time. This is a subtle, but important difference. There is no magic type of practice that universally builds skill, however, there are a handful of factors that can speed up, slow down or even stop your progress.

Remember: “You are not aiming to hit 50 balls; you are trying to become more skillful.”

There are the two major factors that stop golfers improving. Try not to view them as switches that are on or off. Instead, view both factors as sliding scales. The more you can fine-tune each factor, the faster you will improve your golf.

1) Give your body clear and precise feedback

What is 2 + 2? Imagine if you were never given the answer to this question at school. If you weren’t, you would never know the answer. Similarly, imagine you made a golf swing and the instant you hit the golf ball it disappeared. How would you know what to do on your next attempt to hit a straighter shot?

In both cases, feedback is the missing ingredient. Feedback comes from the shot outcome, watching the ball flight and many other sensations we get during our golf swing. As soon as our body does not have clear and precise feedback our learning will stop.

When we first learn to play golf, the feedback required to improve is simple – did the ball move at all, and did it get airborne? As we progress, we then need more precise feedback to keep developing our skill.

As a 20 handicapper, we need to know if the ball finished 10 or 15 yards right of our target. When we become an elite player, the requirement for feedback becomes even more stringent. The difference between a wedge shot landing 103 or 107 yards becomes important. This type of feedback, known as knowledge of results, is focused on the result of your golf shot.

“If your body can’t tell the difference between two outcomes, you will not make any changes – learning will not occur.”

To learn, we also require another form of feedback, known as knowledge of performance. In essence, your body needs to know what it did to cause “x.” Relevant practice drills, training aids and videoing your swing are all useful ways to increase feedback on performance. The best form of feedback, however, is an internal understanding of your swing and how it causes different ball flights. This is an implicit skill all great golfers master, and a by-product of many hours of diligent practice, refinement and understanding.

Many golfers hit a brick wall in their golfing journey when their practice stops providing the precise feedback they need to keep improving. They may not have enough information about their shot outcome, or they may not understand how the golf swing causes various shots. Both will completely halt your golfing progress.

Next time you practice, think of ways you can obtain clearer feedback. You don’t need Trackman by your side (although this can be helpful), but pay attention to where your shots finish during putting and chipping practice and note these trends. Find landmarks behind your golf range to gauge the lateral error of your long shots.

If you’re working on your swing path through the point of impact, one way of obtaining feedback on your performance is to place a bottle or a second ball on the ground. To put it simply, if the bottle/ball flies, you’ll know you’ve made a bad swing. Another way, if you are trying to improve your iron striking, is to place a towel one inch behind the ball to indicate whether or not you have hit the ground before the ball. These ideas are not mind-blowing, but trust me; they will speed up your rate of learning.

2) Make your practice suitably difficult

When you first go to the gym, lifting the lightest weight you can find is fine. But how much would your fitness improve if you were still lifting that same weight 12 months later? Now think of how your golf practice has changed over the past 12 months. If you were asked, could you explain the level of difficulty of your practice?

The reason many golfers can’t answer this question is they don’t have a good measure of success when they practice. Most golfers don’t have a quantifiable way to say “that shot I just hit was or wasn’t good enough.” Even fewer golfers have a way to say “this week my practice performance was 20 percent better than last week.” If you fall into this category, try the following game the next time you practice your long game.

Structure your practice so that you have set target zones (10 yards and 20 yards wide) with points for hitting each zone (3 and 1 points respectively). Take a set amount of balls (20 balls) and see how many points you can score with a 6-iron and a driver (10 balls with each). Each week, play this game and track your progress. We’ll call this game the “WRX Range Challenge.”

Set a goal for how many points you want to achieve. This goal should be challenging, but not impossible. When you reach this goal, make your target zones smaller and repeat the process. This way you can track your progress over time. As you make the target zones smaller and smaller, your body has to continually refine your swing to make it more effective.

Summary

We all want to improve our golf. We all want to get better at a quicker rate. The two factors discussed here are obvious and yet are not addressed by many golfers when they practice. Next time you head to the range or practice ground, ensure you have clear feedback on your shot outcome and golfing technique. Make your practice measurable, suitably difficult and enjoy watching your scores progress.

If you do try out the WRX Range Challenge, let us know. Post your score and a photo: #WRXrangechallenge @GolfWRX and me @golfinsideruk on Twitter and Instagram.

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Podcasts

The 19th Hole: What it’s like to play golf with a goat caddie

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Live from Silvies Valley Ranch in Oregon for the Grand Opening of McVeigh’s Gauntlet and the debut of its goat caddies (yes, goats), host Michael Williams shares his experiences using a goat caddie. Guests include course architect Dan Hixson and Seamus Golf founder Akbar Chistie.

Listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Bobby Clampett: “The 2 big problems with club fitting”

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Four million golfers are still quitting golf in the United States each year. My concern about this trend has led me to write several recent articles for GolfWRX. I’ve shared my thoughts because I believe much can be done to help golfers better understand the game, and most importantly, improve their games in ways that are not being done today.

The high frustration level of golfers is a leading cause of their giving up the game. I’ve talked about how I’ve learned this playing in over 200 pro-ams in my five years on the Champions Tour. I’ve discussed the sources of this confusion: style-based golf instruction with an over-abundance of swing tips, as well as confusing and conflicting swing theories offered on television and internet sources, etc. Another cause for concern that no one seems to talk about involves the way club fitting is typically done in our industry. While there are many examples of how improper club fitting causes issues and frustration, there are two main areas that desperately need to be addressed by fitters and even club manufacturers.

Problem 1: Clubs Designed to Correct a Slice

The first culprit is clubs that are designed to correct a slice. I’ve had several first-time students take lessons with me this season who had been recently fit for clubs from a wide range of club fitters. Some of these students had significant out-to-in swing paths through impact and all were chronic faders/slicers of the golf ball. The clubs recommended to them were “anti-slice” clubs. All the grips were small (standard size), and the woods (especially the drivers) were upright with the sliding weights put in the heel. The irons were “jacked-upright” as much as 8 degrees. All of these adjustments were made for the purpose of building in the ability to hit hooks.

Many of the woods with today’s improvement in technology can be easily altered with sliding or interchangeable weights. Adding weights into the heel slows the heel down through impact and allows the toe to close faster. Thinner grips also encourage the golfer to have more active hands and forearms causing the toe to close faster. While some of today’s adjustable woods do allow for a small bit of upright lie adjustment, it would be good if manufacturers went back to longer hosels that can be more lie-adjusted.

If the lie of the club is upright, more “hook” is built into the club through the principle that “loft is hook.” Additionally, the more the available “loft” of the club, the more the upright angle increases hook. So a set of clubs built 8 degrees upright has a very different directional profile with the 4-iron than with the wedge. This is a fact a well trained and experienced club fitter will take into consideration and properly apply.

Without correction, a wedge that is 8 degrees upright will really go left, while the 4-iron won’t have as much correction. Additionally, the uprightness of the club significantly reduces the sweet-spot, making the club less forgiving by increasing the chance that the ball will be struck lower in the face (which has a worse effect on long irons than short irons). Gear effect has now been proven to exist even in irons, and low-in-the-clubface hits will cause a gear effect fade, magnified with lower lofted clubs, even if the face and path are square. So, the uprightness of the club creates a bigger pull/hook in the wedge and the effect doesn’t really work in the longer irons. If fitters are going to use this approach, then short irons should be bent less upright and long irons more upright, but even so, this will reduce the sweet-spot in the longer irons and most golfers will really struggle to get the ball into the air since most of their hits will be low on the clubface.

I’ve had playing lessons with some of these students and have clearly seen how much farther to the left shots go when teeing the ball up, such as on a par-3. With the contact higher in the face, the contact has “zero” gear effect. The upright lie angle, combined with the loft of the club, sends the ball with a pull-hook way off target. This alone is enough of a source of confusion and frustration to send some golfers home, back to the tennis courts, to the card room, or whatever else might take the place of golf.

Additionally, golf clubs that are set to “lie angles” that are not square will not cut through the grass (when taking divots) as they are intended to do. For example, using the example above, if the lie angle of the club is set too upright and the shot is hit a little fat, the heel of the iron will dig or hit into the grass first, usually causing the heel to slow down while the toe of the club speeds up, thus closing the face and causing a big pull/hook. Different grass types, different firmness of grasses and different density of grasses can have differing effects, leading to increased inconsistencies of golfers and greater frustration levels.

Some club manufacturers have built game-improvement irons with bigger sweet-spots (with lower CG’s and higher MOI’s). When club fitters make the lie angle “off-square,” this improvement immediately is canceled and, in most cases, completely nullifying any benefit the game-improvement design can provide. The poor golfer who just spent thousands of dollars getting new equipment comes to the realization that the clubs didn’t work that well after all, and his/her 16 handicap is not dropping.

The real answer to game improvement lies in improving the golfer’s impact first, then getting clubs to match his or ideal impact or the impact they are striving to attain. Then, and only then, will the golfer get the full and just reward for improving one’s impact. Simply trying to buy a new game by getting a new set of clubs just doesn’t work. One must work with an instructor who truly knows what proper impact is and is diligently directing the instruction to improve their impact first. Then they can have a knowledgeable club fitter fit clubs to that proper impact. Unfortunately, in our industry, instructors and club fitters rarely work together. Golfers are continually being fitted to their improper impact and thus effectively playing with clubs with smaller sweet spots that are ill-designed for what they were originally intended to do.

Problem 2: Fitting Irons for Distance

The second problem that seems to be growing in the industry is the focus on increased distance with the irons. I don’t mean to be too blunt here, but who cares how far you hit an 8-iron! Today’s pitching wedge is yesterday’s 9-iron. My pitching wedge is set at 49 degrees, and my 9-iron is 44 degrees (about the standard loft for today’s pitching wedge). The only two clubs in the bag that should be designed for distance are your driver and your 3-wood. All the other clubs should be set for proper gapping and designed to improve consistency and proximity to the hole. That’s why my pitching wedge is at 49 degrees and I only hit it 120 yards (exactly 16 yards farther than my 54-degree sand wedge). Most of my students hit a pitching wedge 20 yards farther than I do, but I drive the ball 30-40 yards farther than they do. When they get into the 7-irons through 4-irons, their gaps narrow. They have a 175-yard shot, and they don’t know what club selection to make since the 7, 6, 5, and 4 irons all go somewhat similar distances.

When I dig a little deeper, I start to find significant differences in spin rates. Like most pros on the PGA Tour, my 7 iron spins about 7000 rpm, I launch it around 17.5 degrees and carry the ball about 158 yards with 88 mph of clubhead speed. OK, I’m retired from playing competitive golf and I’m 58 years old, so I don’t have that youthful club head speed anymore. When I try some of the new products that are the top sellers today, I start launching the ball slightly higher but my spin rate drops below 6,000 rpm. Suddenly, I’m hitting my 7-iron 170 yards like my 6 iron. But is this better?

Yes, my peak height gets slightly higher (I do like that), and the ball won’t roll out much differently, even with the lower spin rates. So, what’s the problem you ask? When I start to look at distance control numbers and proximity to the hole, I clearly see higher distance dispersions and thus proximity to the hole gets worse. Learning to hit the ball flag high is one of the key separators between top PGA Tour Players and those a notch or two below. It’s also a key element in lowering scores. So, greater distance with my irons actually makes my game worse and it does the same with my students, too, because accuracy and ability to get the ball consistently closer to the hole is negatively impacted.

What avid golfers are really wanting is game improvement. They want to see their handicaps go down, shoot their lowest scores, create personal bests. Sure, there is a bit of “wow factor” they like to have with the new, shiny equipment, but the people I give lessons to and have played with in all these pro-ams want a better game! How are they going to get that when the golf industry separates teachers and club fitters? Where can golfers go to get the whole experience of tying in their swing improvement that creates better impact with their equipment properly set up?

If you want to see your scores get better, the best way to do so is to work with a qualified golf instructor who knows how to improve your impact while keeping your style of swing. You want to work with a club fitter who understands that the lie angles of the irons should be set to square, and that proximity to the hole is more important in the irons than distance. Only then can you get the biggest game improvement and take full advantage of hitting better shots with a better impact.

Improve your impact, improve your game; it really is that simple!

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