By Brant Brice
As an avid golfer and equipment junkie, I feel I am easily persuaded by and feel profound guilt for not being the first to purchase and proudly own all of the new technology on the market today.
Let me rephrase that … ahh hummm, as an avid golfer and “former” equipment junkie, I feel I am no longer hornswaggled by the advertisers or tempted by a clubmaker’s new adjustable face, lower center of gravity, reduced spin, longer carry, lighter shaft, more penetrating flight, whiter club head for better contrast, higher MOI/COR or similar spacecraft technology on the market today nor do I feel like a loser for not having the latest and greatest! Golf balls are purposely not included in this discussion as they are replaced after just a few holes or every shot in some cases depending on your level of slice.
Let’s start with the iron. Face it, if we weren’t all searching for the magic swing bean, or “The Secret” we would still be playing those now illegal high tech square groove Ping Eye 2s from the early 80s. I constantly hear people talk about the old I2s. They were well balanced, the distances were on par with forgings, they stuck like super glue on the greens and were actually easy to hit. Do we replace the irons like we do the beloved driver that we adore so much we get a new one every year six months? No. Do we toss them out, give them away or throw them in the woods/water/trash after a bad round and chastise them like we do our collection of 10 putters that essentially are all the same? No. We tend to buy things in patterns and the club manufacturers know this, but they want us to feel inadequate or under equipped and reduce the time between purchases. They know that the average golfer will buy a new set of irons about once every four or five years, drivers about every two years, wedges every three years and putters every two years or when they throw one in the pond, whichever comes first. Those who play more often or who fall for the sales pitch will replace their equipment sooner than those who play less or are more frugal (I didn’t say cheap) and don’t fall for the hype.
So when do you replace your irons? I believe the purchase of irons is different from drivers, wedges or putters. We don’t tend to buy irons because they will help you gain distance or because they get rid of your slice. I think we break down and replace irons because we are either getting better or are getting worse and react accordingly to save or enhance our game.
An aside … many iron manufacturers are advertising longer hitting irons but they are really just lengthening the shafts and strengthening the lofts. I don’t know why we get so bent out of shape by how far we hit irons anyway. You hit them how far you hit them. Live with it.
So we intuitively know that we aren’t going to purchase a set of irons and drop 10 strokes off our handicap. The bottom line is that while they may actually allow you to pick up a few extra yards there hasn’t really been that much done to the technology of irons since the Ping I2, at least not as much as they would lead you to believe. There are different metals, dampeners, groove formations, cavity inserts, blade size and shaft optimization, but the basic cavity shape for game improvement or muscle back design for blades is the same. Look at pictures from old MacGregor or Titleist blades. Do they remind you of Mizuno blades or Nike blades? My advice, replace your irons every 250-300 rounds or so and don’t forget to regrip your clubs every six months or 30 rounds.
Wedges — are they really part of the iron set? Aside from Vokey and the 588s, there haven’t been many innovations since. Why so much iron innovation for the high handicapper yet we still ALL play blade wedges, one of the hardest clubs to hit and arguably the second most important club in the bag. The little advancements are removable face inserts, crazy offset hozels, spinner shafts and progressive bounce formation — none of which really take strokes off your game. My advice, get the removable face insert wedges so replacement is far more economical when the grooves start to fail. Note: for you high handicappers, take out the 60-degree wedge and replace your 4 iron with a hybrid. You will score lower and will send me a thank you letter for no longer sculling or chili dipping your wedges.
Driver — let’s take a poll, how many drivers do you have? Five, eight, 10 or more? How often have you found yourself saying, “If I only had that new TaylorMade R11S I could blast it past all of the fellas.” Also how much did you pay for those eight irons compared to what you pay for one driver? Drivers are the largest consumer cash crop market. For guys, we simply can’t resist hitting something farther than our competitors. They play on our ego. They claim every year to add 10 percent, or 12 yards or 30 percent tighter dispersion than previous models for which they still charge $299. The bottom line is that there is a maximum C.O.R. (coefficient of restitution). This is how far a ball will go after colliding with the driver face at a fixed speed. They can’t make them go farther. Shaft innovation can help but the driver itself can’t be made to break the rules. My advice, replace your driver every five years or until you can use it as a beer mug.
Next, I’ll quickly go over putters. As I alluded to above, we may be more unfaithful to our putters than we are to the driver, wedges, irons, soda, beer, gas stations, car manufacturers, cell phone providers and spouses combined. Do you have three different Anser style putters? Do you have an 8802 of some sort? Do you have a space ship on a stick? Are they face balanced, heel balanced, toe hangers, low MOI/High MOI, polymer insert, CNC milled, plumbers neck, swan, offset, straight, forged, cast, steel, copper, long, belly, standard or Robert Garrigus? Can you make the ball go toward the hole and stop just past it? My advice, pick up all of your putters and pick the one that looks and feels the best to you at address and then go get it fitted for loft and lie.
Worldwide the average handicap for men is about 17 and women about 29. Why has this number not changed in 100 years? I thought we had these new adjustable drivers that promise (every year) to have a bigger sweet spot, hotter face and longer carry with less spin and straighter flight. We have irons that have more feel, are easier to hit and get the ball in the air faster, go farther and straighter (every year). We have wedges that are more accurate, spin more and are also easier to hit. There are a bazillion putters that are easier to align, better feel due tuned inserts, have larger sweet spots and that encourage a more solid strike. Why are we still falling for the advertiser’s promise of a better game? Here’s why … we are looking for a quick tip, a “golf fix”, a magic cure, a holy grail, pleasure without pain, an enlightenment without study.
Here’s my advice, stop spending your money on new equipment. Get fit with the equipment you have now and spend forty bucks a month on a range membership. Also, find an instructor that doesn’t charge an arm and a leg for a RECURRING package of lessons who gives you reachable goals, practice drills and a routine. How is that self taught swing working for you? Set up a practice schedule within your limited free time and dig it out of the dirt. Read one golf book a month. There is a 10,000-hour rule in all professions and trades. If you want to get good at doing something you have to learn the correct way to do it, then practice that learned motion over and over again. Is a 16-year-old or a 40-year-old a better driver? I know golfers who have dropped 30 strokes in three years by having a focused practice routine, spending a half hour or more four or five days a week working on fundamentals, chipping and pitching from inside 100 yards. Don’t waste your entire bucket of balls pounding driver after drive while on the range, and hit the putting green for 40 to 50 percent of your practice time. Luke Donald could take any of your foursome’s bag of clubs and beat you handily with them.
Final thought: Technology changes to make more money, but handicaps stay the same because we want to buy a better game instead of putting in the time. Getting better is easy if you are willing to endure the pain to get there. The golf swing is not free, nor can it be purchased. It must be earned. That’s what Mr. Hogan meant by “digging it out of the dirt.” I still think I could get an extra 20 yards with that new TaylorMade 9.5 degree R11S Matrix Ozik TP 7M3 X-Stiff!
I would love to hear any funny stories about your driver or putter collections gathering dust or any success or failures in your quest for a better game!!!
Thanks for reading.
‘OMG’ – Pro golfers go wild over Tiger Woods’ swing video
If you are a fan of golf, there’s a good chance you have seen the most recent video of Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball on the range posted to his twitter account yesterday.
Making progress pic.twitter.com/sVQkxEHJmq
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) November 21, 2021
As ecstatic as golf fans are about seeing Tiger Woods effortlessly swing a club again, players on Tour seem to be just as fired up about Tiger’s video.
Here we’ve rounded up some of the best tweets from Woods’ fellow PGA Tour players:
It is great to see @TigerWoods swinging a club again. Can’t wait for his comeback!
— Bryson DeChambeau (@b_dechambeau) November 22, 2021
But, I think I love this more ?????? https://t.co/t3gSw2KEAc
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) November 21, 2021
I wonder if Tiger and his crew laugh right before they post a swing video knowing the entire free world is about the lose their damn minds #golf
— max homa (@maxhoma23) November 21, 2021
And just like that the Player impact program number 1 spot is taken ??
Great to see the Big Cat back swinging the sticks! https://t.co/8o5RihG575
— Tony Finau Golf (@tonyfinaugolf) November 21, 2021
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG https://t.co/wM9UJXfiUE
— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) November 21, 2021
As I’m hanging in Montana, it’s great to see Tiger swinging a golf club again. I know he can’t stand me holding a single record so I’m guessing HE wants to be the oldest to ever win a major. I’ll just say this. BRING IT!
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) November 21, 2021
The PGA Tour is in a great place, with many young superstars on the rise and interest in the game at all time high. Even still, yesterday was a reminder that nothing moves the needle in the sport of golf like Tiger Woods. If more evidence is needed, the video Woods tweeted currently has 6.8 million views in under 24 hours.
More from the 19th Hole
- How Danielle Kang instantly added 20-30 yards of distance off the tee with one change
- LPGA star Jin Young Ko is on a greens-in-regulation streak that defies belief
- Why Nelly Korda has hired a new swing coach despite season of dominance
Brooks Koepka signs with Srixon/Cleveland
Srixon and Cleveland Golf have today announced that Brooks Koepka has joined its tour staff.
As part of the new deal, the four-time major champion will play a Srixon driver, Srixon irons, Cleveland wedges, a Srixon golf ball, as well as carry a Srixon Staff bag.
The 31-year-old began working with Srixon’s Tour Department earlier this year and played the brand’s ZX7 irons throughout the 2021 PGA Tour season.
On joining Team Srixon/Cleveland, Koepka said
“I am very excited to join my good friends Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Hideki Matsuyama as a Srixon and Cleveland Golf Tour Staff member. I’ve been an equipment free agent for the past few years, so it will be fun to be involved with a company on a daily basis and be able to contribute to the development of their future equipment.
“I put the ZX7 Irons in play in January and it is the best iron I have played on Tour. I look forward to kicking off our new partnership this week in Las Vegas!”
Speaking on the Koepka signing, Rodney McDonald, Vice President of Tour Operations at Srixon, said
“We’re extremely proud to have Brooks come on board as our newest Staff member. He’s one of the best players in the world and brings his major championship pedigree and validation to our brands. We’re excited for Brooks to join the Srixon and Cleveland Golf family and look forward to supporting him out on tour.”
Koepka will make his debut as a member of Team Srixon/Cleveland at Capital One’s The Match on November 26th against Bryson DeChambeau.
Tour Rundown: Morikawa wins twice on Sunday | Race to CME goes to JYK
This is it. Really, this is it. This is really it. The soon-to-be-renamed European Tour is done. The PGA Tour is done. The LPGA is done. I’m done. Happy American Thanksgiving. It’s colder than the Canadian one, but a good cold breeze is bracing. It also reminds us to get inside, so that we don’t get sick, or frostbite, or some other malady. It also reminds us to be thankful for things like … shirts that don’t tear when you shoot 74 in the final round and fall from first place to another level of frustration (hypothetically speaking, of course.)
Anyhoo, anyhow, anyway, join us one last time for a running of the tours, which is much, much safer than a running of the bulls.
European Tour: Morikawa wins twice on Sunday
I remember that summer of 2019, when Collin Morikawa and two other college stars made their debuts on tour. The guy with the powerful, funky swing won right away. The other guy, the Nordic one, seemed destined to win soon enough (he would win in February of the next year.) Even though Morikawa won in 2019, pundits assessed him to be third in line to the throne. Two years have passed, and there is no line. the Iron Throne belongs to Morikawa.
The Californian from Cal-Berkeley owns two major titles, six worldwide wins, and his first Order of Merit. I’ve always liked that title. Way better than Race To The Cup or any other moniker out there. I’m bringing it back. Morikawa had a good hold on the European Tour’s season-long race, thanks to his Open title in July and his WGC last February. He came to Dubai with great focus, answering few to none of the pointed questions aimed his way. In contrast, and to his credit, Matt Fitzpatrick wasn’t giving up.
The Englishman wasn’t defiant, but he was gritty. He insisted that, as we all know, the tournament and the season were not over until the flagstick was replaced. Fitz did his part with a 66 on Sunday, moving all the way up to a tie for second with Alexander Bjôrk. At that point, sadly, Fitz was finished. He needed a win.
Who topped him? Morikawa, of course. His Sunday 66 at the Earth Course included five birdies on the inward half, when he simply decided to say By the way, I’m the best of 2021. Here’s my third win to prove it. Morikawa’s swing has zero moving parts that should not be moving. It is modern, but classic, if that is possible. If he chases zero distance over the next fifteen years, and simply plays well from tee to green, he should win five more majors and a few more Orders of Merit around the world.
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 21, 2021
LPGA: Race To CME goes to JYK
Remember last week when Nelly Korda became Rolex Rankings number one again, despite not playing? Pretty sure that’s about to change again. Jin Young Ko steamrolled the field at Tiburón in Naples. The Original JYK was nine-under on day four, breaking out of a four-way tie for the lead at dawn’s first light.
Nelly? She had 69 for T5. Celine? 68 for T3. Nasa? She gave Jin everything she could handle. Hataoka signed for 64, and her 6th-hole bogey was her only blemish on the day. She matched Ko birdie for birdie, posting nine of her own on the final day. She made up strokes on three of the final four holes. Trouble was, Young Ko did not wilt. She turned in 30 and added three more chirps on the inward half, putting things away at the 17th with her last of the day.
The title was her fifth of 2021, and her 12th overall. Ko hit 63 consecutive greens this week, and is on a runaway-train path to the LPGA Hall of Fame, and it will be a pleasure to watch her do just that.
Leading by three ?
— LPGA (@LPGA) November 21, 2021
PGA Tour: RSM Classic crowns Gooch by a smooch
Talor Gooch knocked on a number of doors this fall, most recently the Fortinet and the CJ Cup. At both events, he finished top-five, but could not break through for the “V.” At Sea Island, Gooch went into the final round with a one-shot lead over Sebastián Múñoz. Feeling balanced, Gooch went out and bookended his opening 64 with the same closing number. He made a pair of birdies on the front, then turned on the juice and recorded four more coming home. No bogeys found his card this day.
Mackenzie Hughes, the 2016 champion at the RSM, went out in 30 to pick up three strokes on Gooch. Feeling his own brand of juice, Hughes posted four more birdies on the back nine, but also stumbled to a bogey at the par-three twelfth hole. He missed long and left, and failed to get up and down for par. When Gooch made three at the same hole, minutes later, the road to victory got easier.
Two unofficial events (Hero and QBE) will take place in December, and the Tour will return to action on January 6th, for two consecutive weeks in the Hawaiian islands.
Clutch par save.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 21, 2021
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Brooks Koepka’s winning WITB: The Match
Driver: Srixon ZX5 (9.5 degrees) Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 70 TX (44.5 inches, tipped 1 inch) 3-wood: TaylorMade M2 Tour HL (16.5 degrees)...
Bryson DeChambeau WITB 2021: The Match
Driver: Cobra Proto (9 degrees) Shaft: LA Golf BD Prototype 60 X (45 inches) Driver 2: Cobra RAD Speed (5.5...
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Davis Thompson what’s in the bag accurate as of the RSM Classic. Driver: Ping G410 Plus (9 degrees) Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana...
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