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The Dan Plan: Keep your gear in line with your skill set

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My last post was about my experience at Titleist’s Oceanside Test Facility, and what it means to get fit by some of the best in the industry. The fitting process was very informative and positive, so I was excited to get my new custom-fit clubs. I couldn’t wait to break them in, get some launch monitor data and see how they matched up to my old gamers.

I was sold on the performance of the clubs at Oceanside, but I still wondered how much the fitting would affect my ball striking numbers at my home course. I was especially curious because my previous clubs were only a year old. But then again, I’d come a long way in that one year.

When I was last fit, I had never broken 80 and never played in a tournament. Since then, I have put in one third of my 4,200 practice hours, shot rounds of 73 and played in 12 tournament rounds with a low score of 80 on a couple occasions.  It’s been a growing year and so much has changed.

After hitting each new stick five times (to get a general average of how they performed) and comparing the results to a similar test I had done a few months ago, I was pretty surprised at some of the differences.

Although my old clubs were from Nike and my new ones are from Titleist, this post is not about comparing two different club manufacturers. It’s an eye-opener about how important it is for golfers to keep their gear in line with their skill set.

Below is a chart that gives my launch monitor numbers for my previous sticks:

nikesticks

Launch monitor numbers were gathered using Trackman and range balls from a grass range and with the data “normalized” for ideal conditions. 

One of the largest areas of concern with my old clubs was that I didn’t have very good gapping in my distances with some of the clubs. In particular, my 6 iron, 5 iron and 4 hybrid were scary close in profile, and I had a rather large gap between my 9 and 8 irons. I never quite understood the reason for that, and I am still not 100 percent sure why that was occurring. I had my clubs checked, and all of them had the correct lofts and lengths.

photo copy

Also, I didn’t feel like my mid-iron swing was as bad as it was on paper, and with the amount that I practiced with them I was mystified as to why the overlap and lack of distance was happening. For some reason, though, I was not delivering those clubs to the ball well.

A large part of me assumed that it was 100 percent my swing that was causing the numbers to be a bit off, but I was still curious what new gear could do for my game. When the clubs arrived, I didn’t know if things would be the exact same or if some differences would appear in the data. After hitting the irons (they arrived first) for two days, I got the launch monitor out and gathered some numbers in the same fashion that I had with my previous clubs. Here are the new iron numbers — again I hit each club five times to get an average look at what they now do:

titleistirons

For a full write up of what’s in the new bag, please check out this article:  http://www.golfwrx.com/91497/who-knows-how-to-fit-better-than-the-source/

To be honest, I’m not a pro at analyzing this data right now. That said, I am attending a TrackMan University class in Seattle this week and will know a ton more about what all of this actually means soon. For the time being, though, there are a few numbers that stand out to me immediately.

First off, my ball speed with the 9, 8, 7 and 6 irons are all somewhat similar from the old to the new, although the new clubs have more consistent steps between each iron. The distances are all fairly similar as was, but again the new clubs have better gaps.

The 5 iron is where it gets intriguing. My old 5 iron carried about the same as my 6 (I can attest it was the same on the course as the range) and my old 4 hybrid seemed to be roughly similar in flight distance. The new 5 and 4 irons are a different story. The consistent gapping goes through those irons and now I have sticks that carry about 185 and 194 yards. My new irons have nice gaps and have full-swing carries of everywhere between 140 and 195 yards. That’s a lot of distances covered.

Next comes the new hybrid, wood and driver. The old clubs carried 190, 204 and 235 respectively, and had decent gaps in ball speed between each club. The replacements came just a few days ago and I finally got the sticks on TrackMan yesterday. Here are the results:

titliestdriverwoods

The carry distances are now 210, 227 and 250. Granted, the hybrid is two degrees stronger than the old one. Regardless, it’s not the carry distance that matters, but having more distance is usually a good thing, especially when you are 5-foot-9 inches tall. The ball speeds are very similar between the old and new clubs, but the spin rates with the new sticks have gone way down, which is a testament to a successful club fitting. In fact, the spin rates with all of the new clubs are much more in line with PGA Tour averages, as are the launch angles.

There is a ton of data here to delve into and I hope to know more about it this week during the TrackMan University class. For now, I think that the differences between the new and the old clubs is significant and more than enough reason to make the switch. It will definitely provide a boost to my distances and confidence heading into this tournament season.

My goal now is to optimize my new clubs through better understanding this TrackMan data and by putting in hundreds (or thousands) of hours of practice with these new sticks. Titleist did its job and it did it well — now it’s my time to get to work.

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Dan decided in April 2010 to quit his job and, with zero previous experience in the game, dedicate 10,000 hours of practice to golf. Follow his journey as he discovers how practice translates into success. Learn more about Dan on his website, thedanplan.com Twitter: @thedanplan Facebook: facebook.com/thedanplangolf

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Roseland Golf and Curling Club in Windsor, Ontario

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member tommg, who takes us to Roseland Golf and Curling Club in Windsor, Ontario. The course has previously featured on the Mackenzie Tour, and in tommg’s description of the track, he praises the fact that it is a course full of the characteristics that you would expect from a Donald Ross designed course.

“Classic Donald Ross built in 1928. Very flat besides the elevated greens, but all holes surround by mature trees. Always in very good condition. Extensive renovations in the last couple of years to bring it back to the original Ross design.

Hosted MacKenzie tour a few years ago. Being a muni it can get a tad slow on weekends. When you get to the huge oak on #11 look to your left and wave, I may wave back.”

According to Roseland Golf and Curling Club’s website, 18 holes can be played for $44 on both weekdays and weekends.

@WalkingGolferMW

@WalkingGolferMW

@WalkingGolferMW

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Equipment

Bargain Challenge 2: Putting together a $500 set of clubs for a mid-handicapper

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Last week, I posted about what clubs you can get with $500. I built a set that I would use myself to show that even golfers with particular specs can find what they want for a decent price. Overall the feedback on the post was good, but I did want to follow up since one of the commenters put me up to a challenge. See below.

Well alright James, challenge accepted.

Challenge: A set of mid-handicap clubs with stiff shafts for less than $500.

Driver

Since I was going to be building a set of a mid-handicapper, my goal was to find a driver that got solid distance, but was also forgiving. I found this R9 460 in 10.5 degrees for $65. While the paint has seen better days, this should perform exactly how we want it to. Plus it is adjustable.

Wood

The 3-wood search stumped me for a bit. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to go with. I knew I didn’t want a strong three wood and I knew I needed something with forgiveness. After some searching I found a Ping K15 16 degree with a stiff shaft. While the loft is higher, I have found that many higher handicap amateurs can find good use out of a higher lofted 3-wood. On top of that, the K15 is an incredibly easy to hit and forgiving head.

Hybrid

I knew what most mid-handicappers would have a hard time hitting a 2 or 3-iron, so my mind immediately went to a 3-iron hybrid. After some searching, I stumbled on this Ping Rapture V2 with a stiff shaft. Historically, the Raptures have been really easy to hit which makes this a great addition to the bag.

Irons

I had the hardest time in this entire process finding irons. There were just too many to choose from. You had great player irons like the Ping S57 and you also had the super game improvement Adams irons. To find something slightly more in the middle, but still easy to hit, I went with the 2012 TaylorMade CBs. A great year for TaylorMade irons and easy to hit with the irons only going down to the 4. This is where someone can have some fun with their choices if they want.

Wedges

Wedge shopping was still hard this time around. Since the PW in the iron set was strong, I knew I needed a stronger gap wedge. I found a Callaway X-Jaws 50-degree for $24. Really, the entire point of the 50 is to have another iron and bridge the gap to the sand wedge. Speaking of the sand wedge, I went with the 56-degree Ping Gorge SS wedge. It has good grooves and will get the job done around the greens. For the lob wedge, I went with the Cleveland RTX 2.0 60 degree: A really solid wedge with good groves to give you the zip you need around the greens.

Putter

And finally, I went with another great blade putter for $55. Honestly, there were a lot of different options in the range from mallets to blades, so don’t be afraid to search around.

Total

In summary, anyone and any skill level and swing speed can find something in the used market. In fact, it was even easier to find clubs in stiff than X-stiff because most X-stiff clubs are custom and are in less demand making, them more rare and expensive than stiff clubs. Take a look, you never know what you may find.

Related: Bargain Challenge: Putting together a set of clubs for $500

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: The Bluffs Golf Course in Vermillion, South Dakota

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member ihatecats18, who takes us to The Bluffs Golf Course in Vermillion, South Dakota. The course sits along the Missouri River, and in his description of the track, I hatecats18 praises the fairness of the challenge provided.

“It has been a few years since I golfed here, but after playing it for one full summer it is a course I truly do miss.  It is home to the University of South Dakota golf and isn’t necessarily the toughest course out there, but it is fair. Holes 13-16 are amazing holes that make you make big choices on how to attack the green.”

According to The Bluffs Golf Course’s website, 18 holes during the week will cost you $24, with the rate rising to $32 on the weekend.

@KyleScanlon65

@MMCLancers

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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