This is important.
Well, maybe not really. I suppose you could argue there are more important things going on in the world of golf. WGC events, major championships, Tiger’s health, the FedEx Cup, a guy in Alberta getting socked in the face… and that’s all in the past month! But GolfWRX has other writers to cover those things. This is my story, so I’m going to talk about what has come to interest me in the last week: the coolest names in golf.
Why is a cool name important? Well, it’s easier to cheer for a guy with a cool name. Who is your favorite sprinter? Usain Bolt? Justin Gatlin? Both of them have cool names. Would you want Usain Smith to win the 100-meter dash? I suppose maybe if you were from his country, or Usain himself. But it’s a lot cooler to cheer for a fast guy with the last name “Bolt.”
Other sports are full of cool-named players to cheer for. If you knew nothing about football and were told the New Orleans Saints had two quarterbacks, one named Drew Brees and another named Luke McCown, who would you think was the better QB? That’s right, you’d say Drew Brees. Same question, Andrew Luck or Matt Hasselbeck? C’mon, not even close. And did you have any doubt that a guy named Colin Kaepernick would eventually take over for a guy named Alex Smith?
Fans gravitate toward cool names because they are fun for us to say, and fun for announcers to say (I swear pronouncing Camilo Villegas in a debonair manner became somewhat of a contest between golf analysts when he was winning tournaments). And frankly if you’ve made it this far in the article without clicking the “back” button to check out WITB threads, you probably don’t need more convincing.
That’s why I’ve created a list of the five golfers with the coolest names, which will be ranked based on the following three categories:
- How cool their names sound.
- Nickname potential.
- Nantz-a-bility (how many puns Jim Nantz would have at his disposal if the player won the Masters).
Disclaimer: Tiger Woods will not be on the list. Yes, he has a cool nickname… ferocious even. And yes, his last name is also the same as a type of club used by all golfers. But Tiger has been written about enough. I want to talk about some other guys. Fair enough?
OK, let’s do this thing. In descending order:
No. 5: Justin Rose
From Pete Rose to Derrick Rose, the last name “Rose” has captured the public’s attention in professional sports.
Maybe part of the reason is that “Rose” is so easy to say. It just kind of rolls off the tongue. In fact, Justin Rose might have the easiest name to say in all of golf. You can get out in a couple of seconds, even with a mouth full of peanut butter.
While it’s low on nickname potential, there’s plenty for Jim Nantz to work with: obvious parallels to roses blooming (“This Rose bloomed in April”), which lends itself to enough puns to cover about 10 Masters victories in itself. But there’s also the double entendre about rising to the occasion.
No. 4 Jonas Blixt
If you type “Blixt” into google, Jonas Blixt is 9 of the first 10 results that pop up. Not only is it a cool-sounding name, but it’s also unique. I mean, I’ve read it over a few times in my head and it sounds cooler each time. I wish my last name was Blixt!
Blixt sounds like something you did last night.
“Me and the friends went out and man we got Blixt!”
Plus, the Nantz-a-bility is pretty high. There’s lot to work, like “He Blixt the competition!” I want to see him win the Masters now just because I’m convinced that’s what Nantz would say.
His nickname potential is moderate as well, because of the obvious Jonas Brothers parallel. If he were my friend, would I jokingly refer to him as “Love Bug?” Maybe.
No. 3: Hunter Mahan
When you heard the name Mahan, you probably were pretty sure it was spelled M-a-y-h-a-n. That is key, because having an exaggerated pronunciation in some form is always fun. It seems that broadcasters guys go out of their way now to dwell on the “May” portion of his name… Hunter MayyyyyHan (note: there’s actually no “Y” in the proper spelling).
Mahan is a different sounding name, and combined with the first name Hunter it’s a classic. Examples: Pin Hunter, Flag Hunter, “He hunted down the competition,” etc.
Hunter is a great sporting name, and Mahan lends itself to high levels of Nantz-a-bility. You could work with “Mahan MAY-BE” in some way. While his last name doesn’t have much nickname potential, his first name is essentially a nickname in itself. Big points for that.
No. 2: Sang-Moon Bae
Sang Moon Bae sounds like a place you’d go on your honeymoon, or where vampires might flock in a Twilight movie (Sang means blood in french by the way).
There’s Nantz-a-bility with every one of the three parts of his name. “Sang, a song of victory,” or something about a full moon that I’m sure could be worked in.
“Keeping competitors at Bae” is fun, too: It’s almost unfair. There’s more possible puns in his name than in an entire Robert Frost poem.
No. 1: Jhonattan Vegas
Jhonny Vegas just had to be No. 1.
When a golfer comes out of nowhere to win a PGA Tour event during a down part of the season and his name is “Johnny Vegas,” I start to get suspicious that there are larger marketing plans at work. Maybe there was a meeting at PGA Tour headquarters where someone said:
“Look, early season and late season tournaments are killing us. Do you know what would be fantastic? If we had some guy with a catchy name win a few events, and we could play off that a bit. Like if his name was ‘Joe Cool’ or something. People would go for that, right?”
And then someone else in the room said:
“Remember in the Bond movie, ‘Die Another Day,’ where the guy got DNA transplant surgery and became someone else? What if we took, like, Henrik Stenson or something and made him a guy named Johnny Vegas and he won a few silly season tournaments?”
Couldn’t this have happened? Have you seen Henrik Stenson and Jhonattan Vegas in the same room? Didn’t Stenson have a couple of poor seasons the past few years? And since he’s re-emerged, where is Vegas? Think about it for a second.”
I mean, a guy named Johnny Vegas comes out of nowhere, hits huge bombs off the tee and briefly leads the FedEx Cup (2011) at a point in the season where the Tour struggles for viewers? Too good to be true. His name is so cool that it made me write all of the above gibberish, and the fact that it seemed plausible enough to you is proof of how good of a name Mr. Vegas has.
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Club Junkie: My favorite G425 driver? Reviewing Ping’s NEW G425 lineup!
Ping’s new G425 line of clubs was just released this week and I have had them out on the range! Comparing the G425 LST driver to the Max and what one worked best for me. The rest of the lineup is just really easy to hit and very forgiving. Ping has crafted a great lineup of clubs that are easy to hit and will make the game more enjoyable for those who play them!
The Wedge Guy: Is there a single “secret” to a better short game?
Last week, I asked for you all to send me your ideas for topics to address in my weekly blog and so many of you came through—we are off to a great start with this new “two-way” relationship I hope to have with you all. Thanks to those who wrote me. The topics presented so far covered a wide range of aspects of wedges and short-range performance, but one that was repeated in one way or another was whether or not I thought there was a single “secret” to building better wedge technique.
You know, I’ve seen so many great short games in my life, it’s often hard to single out one or two “secrets”, but I do think there are a number of core fundamentals that almost all good wedge players exhibit in their technique. Some of those are more obvious than others, but one that I find extremely enlightening for our “study” today is the way the hands and club move through the impact zone.
Take a close look at the photo I chose to illustrate this article and study it for a few minutes. You will see dozens of photos of tour players in this exact same position right after impact on a chip or pitch shot.
Now, let me tell you what I see from the perspective of an equipment (i.e. wedge) junkie who has studied the tools and the craft every which way from Sunday for over 30 years.
First, I see hands that have obviously been very quiet through impact as the angle formed by the forearms and shaft is identical to where it was at impact.
I also see that the hands are in front of the golfer’s sternum, which is likely where they were at address, into the backswing, and will continue to be for the rest of the follow-through. I am a firm believer that the less “hands-y” your wedge technique can be, the more consistent it will be. This golfer obviously is keeping his hands in front of his body through impact, so that the speed of his hands and therefore the club are controlled by the speed of his body core rotation.
I’m going to come back to that in a moment, but first…
Quiet hands also preserve the relationship of the sole of the wedge to the turf, so the impact “attitude” is a copy of the address attitude. In other words, the golfer has prevented a hinging and unhinging of the wrists that would likely cause the club to get more upright at impact, thereby compromising the turf interaction efficiency of the wedge’s sole design and bounce.
He has also preserved the loft of the club to that which he pre-set at address. For a low running pitch or chip, he might have added a little forward press and played the ball back a bit to keep it low. Or he might have played it a bit forward in his stance and set the shaft more vertical to add loft and spin to the shot.
But either way, his body core rotation totally controls the shot outcome, because he is not manipulating the clubhead through impact with his hands.
The point is, keeping the hands quiet and controlling the path, speed, and release of the club with the body core results in fewer moving parts and less room for error in contact, speed, and distance.
And back to that speed control aspect, I think the speed of the body core rotation through impact is more repeatable–for recreational players, weekend golfers, whatever you want to call us–than trying to memorize a number of backswing lengths to hit different distances.
But that is a topic for another post. For now–even if you are snowed in and can’t get to a range or course—take this picture and your wedge and go play around with it to see how close or far your own technique is to this tour professional. I think it will be fun.
And remember, as an advertiser on this page, Edison Golf is going to give away a free Edison Forged wedge every month to one of my GolfWRX readers chosen at random from all of you who send me an email with a question or topic for a future post. Just send to me at [email protected].
Thanks, and a repeated Happy New Year to you all!
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