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What’s your tee time?

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I was always an early-morning man, a dew-sweeper. When I didn’t already have a tee time, I’d get to the course an hour before sunrise on a Saturday morning to see if I could get out as a single in one of the first groups.

Or I’d play the back nine with a few friends. We’d get to the 10th tee while it was still completely dark. We’d hit balls over the 18th green down the hill toward No. 13. When we could finally see the flight of a ball well enough to have an idea where it was going, we’d hit our tee shots on 10. By the time the sun rose, we’d be on 13 trying to find as many of the “warm-up balls” as we could.

Now that I’m older and my kids are out of the house, I no longer like to tee off with the sun barely breaking into the sky. I prefer a later time; a tee time that grants the opportunity for a full-night’s sleep, a leisurely cup of coffee, a chance to read the sports page, and to properly warm up.

I think an 8:30 tee time is just about ideal. And, not surprisingly, so do the people I play with at that hour. But golfers, this long-daylight time of the year, tee off anywhere from five in the morning until 6:30 in the evening.

I found Grady getting ready to play at 2:15 one recent Sunday afternoon.

[quote_box_center]“I like playing later,” he said. “The morning is for the early birds, I don’t usually get up before noon on the weekends.”[/quote_box_center]

“You’re single?” I asked.

“Now, yes. No kids either so my weekends are free. Tee times are no problem — if there’s not a big tournament. I got this time online an hour ago.”

It was a beautiful afternoon for golf and I wondered why it wasn’t more crowded.

[quote_box_center]“Seems like the regulars,” Grady said, “men’s club — and more serious golfers play really early. Then late morning you get guys who don’t play as much, or couples. In the afternoon though a lot of times, it’s wide open.”[/quote_box_center]

“You play by yourself?”

[quote_box_center]“Yeah, if no one else is here, I may play two balls. On some holes I may play three or four.”[/quote_box_center]

At a different course on a different day I met Blake and Austin. They were getting ready to play a higher-end daily-fee course.

“We wanted to play Pearl Dunes,” Blake said, “but they didn’t have anything open until later.” This was at 9:30 on a Sunday morning. “We pay more here” for the greens fee, he continued, “but we were able to get a time pretty easily.”

“What time do you think you’ll finish?” I asked with visions of the five-plus hour round they’d have to endure.

“Shouldn’t be too bad,” Austin answered, “it’s not that crowded. Depends on how we play, but I bet we’ll finish around 1:30.”

And who can complain about a four-hour round from a mid-morning tee time?

[quote_box_center]“I like to play in the afternoon when it’s warmer and the course has dried out. The beer tastes better then,” Denny told me at Shelter Grove as he and a couple of friends got ready to head to the first tee. “If it gets backed-up, we might skip around to an open hole and then come back around. Or we might play the front nine twice, we’ll just see how it goes.”[/quote_box_center]

“I love twilight golf,” Remy told me on a weekday afternoon in early June. “For one thing, it’s cheaper. For another, it usually isn’t packed. I got done working at 2, twilight starts at 3, and with any luck I’ll be done by 6:30.”

Not too long ago I played an afternoon round of golf with my youngest son. When we finished a little after 5 p.m. there was a couple on the first tee just heading out. I asked the man if he thought they’d finish the round before dark.

[quote_box_center]“I don’t know,” he answered. “But my girlfriend has only played a few times and we don’t want to bother anyone — or be bothered by anyone. We’ll play until it starts getting dark, or until the bugs start getting bad.”[/quote_box_center]

At dawn on Wednesday last week there were three foursomes waiting at the first tee at Spring Valley and another eight or 10 golfers on the practice green.

One of the guys, a heavy-set, deeply tanned man probably in his mid-60s, told me they played early every Wednesday. “We’re part of the senior men’s club,” he said. “We have tee times from 6 until 7:30, we get about 40 players most weeks. We’ll finish and have lunch, and I’ll be on my way home by 1.”

One guy was by himself in a cart on the 10th tee. “I’m just playing the back nine,” he said. “I’ll be done by 7:15, home and showered and in the office by 8:30.”

Some 12 hours later I was back at Spring Valley, waiting as a twosome made the turn to the homeward nine.

“We teed off at 5 and played through one foursome,” Graham said, “and there’s a two a couple of holes in front of us but they’re playing as fast as we are.”

“What time do you think you’ll finish?” I asked.

“Before dark. Everyone plays a little faster when the sun starts to set.”

“The carts have to be in by 8, we’ll make that no problem,” said Graham’s friend Kelly.

In the pro shop, Dustin behind the counter told me that the last tee time they’ll sell today is at 7 p.m. “You can play nine in 45 minutes if you hustle,” he said. “But usually no one starts much after 6:30. I doubt we’ll have anyone more.”

Just then, two guys walked in.

“You still get us out for a quick nine?” one asked.

And I realized as the two hurriedly paid and headed to the first tee, from dawn to dusk golfers have to take the opportunity to play whenever time, and daylight, permit.

What time of the day do you like to play? Let us know in the comments section below. And check out the inspirational story of one golfer trying to shoot the round of his life at 7-ironpress.com. The book is called A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth and you can get free shipping on the paperback with the code GOLFWRX, or $4 off the e-book when you enter the code GOLFWRX1 at check-out. Pre-Father’s Day delivery in the US if ordered by June 17.

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Tom Hill is a 9.7 handicap, author and former radio reporter. Hill is the author of the recently released fiction novel, A Perfect Lie – The Hole Truth, a humorous golf saga of one player’s unexpected attempt to shoot a score he never before thought possible. Kirkus Reviews raved about A Perfect Lie, (It) “has the immediacy of a memoir…it’s no gimme but Hill nails it square.” (kirkusreviews.com). A Perfect Lie is available as an ebook or paperback through 7-ironpress.com and the first three chapters are available online to sample. Hill is a dedicated golfer who has played more than 2,000 rounds in the past 30 years and had a one-time personal best handicap of 5.5. As a freelance radio reporter, Hill covered more than 60 PGA and LPGA tournaments working for CBS Radio, ABC Radio, AP Audio, The Mutual Broadcasting System and individual radio stations around the country. “Few knew my name and no one saw my face,” he says, “but millions heard my voice.” Hill is the father of three sons and lives with his wife, Arava Talve, in southern California where he chases after a little white ball as often as he can.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. dr bloor

    Jun 14, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Grady’s my soulmate. I love sneaking out after the morning rush but before the afternoon leagues tee off, solo. One to four balls depending on my mood. On one occasion I had about 45 minutes to myself on the 18th green to chip and putt. It’s heaven.

  2. C. Weber

    Jun 13, 2015 at 6:54 am

    I play in a group on the weekends that will tee off anytime between 7 and 8:30. Our course hosts a lot of tournaments but our Pro takes care of us letting us know what times are ahead of the tournament. During the week I get out 2 or 3 times usually Tues and Thurs at 3:30. Can get in 18 by 7pm then.

  3. Timbleking

    Jun 12, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Being a father for now 7 weeks, I discovered the very early tee-times and I must say I like it. With my best friend, playing right after the greenkeepers is priceless. We play fast and good golf, and we do the same for the competitions.

  4. Jim

    Jun 12, 2015 at 2:06 am

    I hate mornings in general. I don’t even feel awake before about 1pm, and when my 65 year old father comes into town and wants to tee off at 7am and we compromise at 8:30, I am terrible. Joints feel unused, I’m sore, unfocused, 10 strokes over my usual, etc. By myself or with my wife, I start around 5pm and play 27 holes or so by 9pm, when it gets dark here. I love it, and can honestly say if I had to play golf before 10am any time I wanted to play golf, I simply would not play golf. A bonus that super twilight is 1/3rd the cost of a 6am rate, which is baffling to me.

  5. Tim

    Jun 11, 2015 at 5:09 am

    The British summer is great – once finished playing a match on the 22 hole at 10pm, the light really was fading by then. I think we teed of at 5 or 5:30. The Steward had kept the lights on in the clubhouse for us.

  6. trbgolfer

    Jun 10, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    I usually play late-morning/early-afternoon weekdays and I can usually play in 2 hours or so if I can play thru folks but usually it’s pretty clear by then. I live in OK and it is usually getting hot and humid then and most golfers are gone. Most people here like the early morning or late evening rounds so I try to get in the middle. I’m self-employed and have the ability to play twice a week like this. I’m blessed.

  7. FEV

    Jun 10, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    1st or 2nd tee time of the day. Some courses that can be 5:30 am

  8. RobG

    Jun 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    I prefer to play in the evenings when it’s a bit cooler and the course isn’t so busy. I rarely get a full 18 holes finished before dark but I am usually able to play 2 or 3 balls and hit a lot of practice shots around the greens and work on my short game so it doesn’t matter.

  9. Golfraven

    Jun 10, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    almost morning on weekends before the booking time – usually 7.45 ish. Late evening from 7.30 is also ok but hard if you have little ones and need to finish work.

  10. Christosterone

    Jun 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    I am in Texas and will only play at sunup(6:30-7:30 depending on time of year)…my goal is to be home showering by 10:30 to 11:30…anything over a 3 hours is out of the ordinary for these times

  11. Jacob

    Jun 10, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Any time of the day is great..but I prefer real late rounds..at the end of the day ending at or right before dark..the course is never busy and you can really take your time and still finish 18 in 3.15 hrs..or I do really early..my wife sleeps in on the weekends. I’m generally up as soon as it gets light Our..so half my round is done before she wakes.

  12. Chad Rechlo

    Jun 10, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    100% a morning pegger, love the feeling of an 8:00 am tee time on the weekend.

  13. Tom Wishon

    Jun 10, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    After work and even after dinner when far fewer people are on the course. I always have liked practicing on course more than the range – play two balls on a hole and play “worst ball” against yourself, hit 2-3 extra shots here and there, try different putts from different places on the greens, take 30 mins to play a hole, etc. I’m fortunate that we live on a course so I can just watch for when the holes near the house are empty to jump out there.

  14. Moses

    Jun 10, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I prefer to play in the afternoon and I usually play better because I’m looser. Plus it’s much cheaper. But since I live in LA I typically only play in the morning because you can easily see 5 1/2+ hr rounds anywhere after 1030am.

  15. ibroke90

    Jun 10, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    down here in south texas, i like playing early, as early as possible! temps start to rise by 10 and with the humidity it gets uncomfortable.

  16. Jeez Utz

    Jun 10, 2015 at 11:38 am

    First off at 8
    So no one is in front of me

  17. Double Mocha Man

    Jun 10, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I’m up at 6:30AM to make breakfast and get my teen off to school. Then I shower, sip a coffee, make my own breakfast and stretch… on the course by 9:15. Usually finish in under 4 hours so making happy hour is no problem. If I play in the afternoon then I take happy hour with me in the form of my infamous Italian Sports Drink in a canister… Pinot Grigio. It nicely lubricates the swing. Shot a 72 a couple weeks ago with ample lubrication.

  18. Chisag

    Jun 10, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I hate morning golf. My brain doesn’t work for a few hours after waking and my body doesn’t cooperate either. The few times I have been on golf trips the morning rounds are in the mid 80s and afternoon rounds in the low 70s. And for me, there is nothing quite like watching the sky change color and the sun start to set coming up the last few holes.

  19. ca1879

    Jun 10, 2015 at 10:36 am

    The very best time to play is just as soon as I can after my last round. We have a short season up here, and I like any time, anywhere.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Plenty to be thankful for

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golf course sand bunkers

This has always been my favorite week of the year, well, at least since I got old enough to understand that Christmas gifts do not just “appear” out of nowhere. I think that was about 60 years ago! This is the week of the year where, hopefully, we all take time to ponder the wonderful blessings of our lives.

No matter what 2022 might have brought you, I’m sure you can find at least a handful of blessings to be thankful for. My favorite holiday movie is a 1942 Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire film called Holiday Inn. If you haven’t seen it and enjoy old movie musicals, you might make it a “must see” this season. Besides being the movie where the classic White Christmas was introduced, there is a wonderful song for Thanksgiving called Plenty To Be Thankful For. It’s also a favorite of mine.

As I ponder my own year and the 70 years before it, I realize I have so many wonderful things to be thankful for. That starts with my blessing of good health. I find it remarkable to be on the north side of 70 and still have no issues. No prescription drugs. Only one visit to the hospital in my life, the result of a motor scooter incident when I was 13. A fabulous Mom and Dad, small town upbringing. A lifetime of great friends and the blessing of living in a small town on the Texas coast. And most recently, the entry of a great lady into my life that makes it all so very much better.

I have the opportunity to run a fledgling custom wedge company, Edison Golf, which allows me to challenge the entire category with different thinking. And I love writing this column every week to share the many lessons learned and observations made in this 40-year career in the golf club industry.

There are just so many things I cannot list them all. But right there with them is the blessing of the strength and flexibility to still move the golf ball around pretty good. To be able to still play to a low single digit handicap from the regular tees (no ‘senior tees’ for me, thank you), and test courses from the back tees occasionally is fun.
That last blessing comes straight from God, of course, but I “help Him out” by making stretching and fitness a part of my daily regimen for over 30 years. And that is something anyone can do to improve their golf scores.

As we all face the “off season” (even here in South Texas it gets cold and rainy occasionally), you can make the decision to have lower golf scores to be thankful for this time next year. Just because you are cooped up inside for the next few months doesn’t mean you have to forego golf and preparation for next year can begin right now.
I believe flexibility is more crucial to stronger shots and lower scores than strength. A simple internet search can turn up dozens of good guides to stretching for a longer, fuller and stronger golf swing. If you add a bit of endurance and strength training to that, it’s amazing what will happen to your golf fortunes. Nothing more complex than a daily walk and swinging a weighted club daily or several times a week will pay off big dividends when you can get out on a winter golf vacation or next season starts.

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving, and I look forward to another year of being able to share my lessons from a lifetime in golf and over 40 years in the golf equipment industry. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship: Betting Tips & Selections

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Is Cam Smith in Oz the Jon Rahm of the Spanish Open?

The recent, dominating T2/winner of the DP World Tour Championship went off at around 9/4 to beat Tommy Fleetwood, Min Woo Lee and company in Madrid in October, eventually sauntering home by six shots and delighting home fans supporting his third win at his home Open.

This week, Smith looks like going off at much bigger (at 7/2) to beat a slightly fuller depth of field, again including Min Woo, to win his third Australian PGA, after going back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.

There is little left to say about the winner of the 150th Open Championship in terms of class, summarised by the run of T2/T10/T3 at the three most recent Masters, as well as wins at the Sony Open, Tournament of Champions and The Players.

Of course, his career year has also been hot with controversy, denying a move to LIV and then vehemently defending his right to join the Greg Norman-led tour a couple of weeks later, but that’s not our concern as bettors. Indeed, look at the way his presence has been received back home.

Smith’s local Brisbane Times reports that the 29-year-old superstar was the first golfer to be awarded the ‘keys to the city’ and will also probably get his desire of a LIV event in Queensland.

He’s huge news back home, and if we are looking back at that Rahm comparison, looks pretty big at over 3/1.

Smith, though, is a grinder, no matter how good of one, and whilst wins have come in decent numbers under par, he tends to win when the short game simply outlasts everyone else in tough conditions. I’m not certain he gets that here, where the winning score was 22-under last time (in January 2022), and examining his impressive victories, it’s worth noting that none of his six PGA Tour victories have been by more than a single shot, with his second Oz PGA by just a stroke further.

You can count the LIV victory as better than I do if you like. No complaints on that score, but following that win he’s gone 42nd and 22nd on LIV – beaten by a lot less a player than he faces this week.

The filthy each-way doubles look certain to be popular, with Smith across the card from Joburg fancies Bezhuidenhout and Lawrence, but in a light betting heat, I’ll take a chance with just a couple of wagers.

Just one outright for me this week.

Golf form site, tour-tips.com  rates Ryan Fox the number one this week, a short-head over Smith, and whilst he isn’t quite that elite class, his form shows he is plenty good enough to beat the favourite on his day, and hasn’t that much to find in comparison to Adam Scott, MIn Woo and Cam Davis, all of whom are rightfully respected and popular.

Fox is easy to precis.

In what has been a stellar season for the always-promising Kiwi, the 35-year-old has improved from around 200th in the world rankings at gthe start of ’22, to a current ranking well inside the world’s top-30, and certain of invites to all the most desired events.

Fox waltzed home by five shots in the desert at Ras Al Khaimah and won again by a stroke at the Dunhill Links, an event including tournament stalwarts Rory McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood. In between, Fox posted eight top-10 finishes including running-up in Belgium, at the Dutch Open, Irish Open and, just a couple of weeks ago, by a shot to Fleetwood and one of the latter’s favourite courses, the Gary Player GC.

Fox went into last week’s DP championship as a live contender for the title, which, given his commitment to the European Tour, would have been richly deserved. Perhaps that’s too political for here, though.

Either way, despite starting slowly in Dubai, he made his way up to 19th after four steadily improving rounds, enough to hold off Rahm from swapping places at the end-of-year rankings.

The silver medal is the least Fox should have got, and with a strong game on the sand-belt and a significant win in Queensland at the QLD PGA in 2018, challenging here should be a formality.

Fox has always had a strong driving game, and finding greens has rarely been an issue. However, he’s now gone from being one of the worst with the flat stick to ranking in the top-10 for putting average at even the toughest of courses.

I have the selection at the same price as Min Woo, who may have needed the run-out when a beaten 6/1 favourite here 11 months ago, so that 14/1 is simply too big to resist, especially as the latter has not won since July last year.

Fox can continue a big year for the Kiwis following Lydia Ko’s brilliant victory and subsequent crowning as this season’s LPGA queen.

The only other wager that appeals as a value pick is defending champion Jediah Morgan over Marc Leishman in a match bet.

Leish is a bit of a hero of mine, but it may sadly be time to give up on him as a serious potential winner in this class.

After a lucrative career, the 39-year-old came off a Covid slump to once again show up at Augusta over the last couple of years, but this has been a poor year.

There have been highlights – top-15 at the U.S Open, maybe – but he played poorly at River Highlands, in an event at which he historically does very well, and followed that with missed cuts at the Scottish Open and Open Championships, and midfield, don’t-write-home-about-it efforts at the first two FedEX play-off events.

Leishman is now at LIV, doing nicely ‘thank you’ and collecting $3 million for doing nothing much. In fact, his individual results gained him less ‘sole’ money than Pat Perez, another who caught onto the coat-tails of his teammates.

Respect to him, but Leishman isn’t going forwards these days, and will need the weather to turn bad if he is going to be able to live with some of these birdie machines.

Count Jediah Morgan as one of those birdie machines.

Although he produced a 100-1 shock in January when winning this event in just his fourth event as a professional, Morgan did it in some style.

The 22-year-old recorded three rounds of 65/63/65 to take a nine shot lead into Sunday, and simply went further clear, crossing the line 11 shots clear of Andrew Dodt, himself with plenty of previous in this grade at home, and a further shot clear of Min Woo.

In 2020 Morgan had won the Australian Amateur around this course, beating Tom McKibbin (see Joburg preview for his chances over there) by 5 & 3, an event that has thrown up Cam Smith amongst other multiple international winners, and whilst he hasn’t shown his best lately, returning to a venue he knows so well should be to his big advantage.

Morgan was one of the surprise signings to LIV Golf, although, as he admits, he “didn’t have much in my schedule,” given his exemption to the DP World Tour didn’t kick in till the 2023 season, plus it gave him the chance to compete at Centurion Club for LIV London – “The field is nice and strong so it’s a cool format to see how I shape up.”

Morgan has played every event since, although mixing it up with sporadic entries and invites onto the PGA, DP and Asian tours do not help a young golfer settle.

His Dunhill Links effort wasn’t bad – a 76 on that horrendous day two the cause of his eventual missed cut – but 25th and 13th at the last two events are as good as Leishman produced at the same events.

Leish has the back-form and the class but looks on the way down, and while the attention of being defending champ could overawe the younger man, he has put up with ‘Golf, but louder’ for a few months now.

I have these much closer than the prices suggest, so take the 8/5 in a match.

Recommended Bets:

  • Ryan Fox 14/1 Each -Way
  • Jediah Morgan to beat Marc Leishman -72 holes – 8/5 
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Opinion & Analysis

TourPutt – The secret of the pros?

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Driver vs. Putter: Your Choice?

If you were granted one golf-related superpower, which would you choose? The ability to hit 300-yard drives straight down the fairway all the time, or never 3-putt again?

Bobby Locke, one of the greatest putters in the game, said to ‘drive for show, but putt for dough’ And when you consider that the putter is the most used club in the bag, it seems like a no-brainer. But then again, according to Mark Brodie and his ‘strokes gained’ method, a long, straight driver may be more important to saving strokes. So what would you choose?

For me, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with the putting skills as I am currently suffering from the worst case of yips I’ve ever experienced in over 30 years. Sure, it’d be nice to outdrive the guys in my regular foursome, but I don’t think I can live down the shame of missing inside of 3ft all day, every day. And with no genie in site, I have searched high and low for that perfect putter that can cure my woes.

After trying nearly 50 putters over the past two years and enduring numerous snide remarks to get putting lessons instead, I finally gave in. I bit the bullet and sought professional help from Jong-hwan Choi, Korea’s number one putting coach to the pros.

Choi’s resume includes LynnBlake Master Instructor certification, AimPoint LV3, PuttDoctor, MichaelHebron Neuro Learning for Golf, and many others.

Choi is an accomplished Tour putting coach who has made a name for himself through relentless research and dedication to master his chosen craft. Thus far, the pros and elite amateurs he helped have won a total of 350 tournaments, including KPGA, KLPGA, and LPGA wins. He is so popular that it can take up to a year to book a lesson with the man himself, but I was desperate. After pulling all the strings I can muster, I was able to get an interview with him in the hopes of getting some help
with my flat stick.

When the day finally came, I arrived at Choi’s academy armed with 3 of my current best-performing putters. I was eager to glean the secrets of the pros and to find out which of these best fit my stroke. I was greeted by Choi and briefly shown around the spacious academy, which had a large flat putting surface and some basic training aids that are common online. Upon chatting about Choi’s background and teaching philosophy, he reminded me of the motivational speaker Tony Robbins. He was constantly emphasizing positivity and proactive learning reinforced with hard work and dedication towards self-growth – that skills are built, not born. Sure, I get that.

But surely, preaching alone doesn’t improve (my) putting?

TourPutt: The Secret of the Pros?

When Choi offered (after some subtle arm twisting) to look at my putting, I was puzzled when he pulled out a tablet rather than some kind of putting trainer. I figured maybe he was going to film me first, then point out some flaws on the monitor. Nope.

We were going high-tech for this one. We were joined by his friend and business partner Chan-ki Kim, a software engineer who co-developed TourPutt, a state-of-the-art putting training system.

According to the dynamic duo, TourPutt was developed to accurately assess a player’s putting tendencies, habits, and skills utilizing big data and A.I. Rather than second-guessing and trying to identify the faults, Tour Putt acts like an MRI machine that shows the doctor where to problem lies. Once the diagnosis is made, Choi would bring to bear his extensive experiences to cure the ailing putter. Sounded simple to me. But how would it know what my problem was?

As Choi’s fingers danced over the tablet in his hand, the TourPutt sprang into action and a small circle the size of a hole-cup appeared on the artificial putting surface. As I surveyed the circle of light beamed from a ceiling projector, Choi asked me a question I hadn’t considered before. ‘Which breaks are you most comfortable with on short putts? What are the odds that you make them?’ Taking my blank look as his cue, Choi proceeded to explain the process of mapping my putting pattern to gauge my stren gths and weaknesses.

To begin, I was directed to putt a golf ball into a hole from 36 random locations ranging from 3 to 6 ft. A ball tracking camera with two projectors mounted on the ceiling rendered various crisp, clear images onto the putting surface. Prior to start, I was informed that the putting surface was sloped 3% from top to bottom. So if you were to imagine a clock face, the 12 o’clock location would be a 3° downhill straight putt, while 6 o’clock would be a 3° uphill straight putt.

As I am right-handed, all putts from the left side of the 3 o’clock would be a hook like, and the left side a slice lie, all to varying degrees. When I asked why it was fixed at 3%, Kim explained that tour regulation greens don’t allow for more than a 3 degree slope within 6ft of the hole. Also, most amateur golfers had a difficult time detecting such a small amount of slope, and thereby misjudge the breaks to a higher score.

Knowing Where to Tap

After the pattern test began, it took me a little over 20 minutes to complete a total of 36 putts at random locations. I was quite conscious of the many eyes on my performance and equally frustrated at how often I was missing putts despite my best efforts. After I was done, Choi pulled up my results, or key performing index (KPI), on a large screen TV where I was able to see exactly where I was effective in my short putts. In brief, I had a tough time with both hook and slice lie putts. I showed slightly better results with uphill straight and slice putts, but absolutely nothing to write home about.

Now, I’m sure many of you are familiar with the story of the plumber who was called to fix a steam pipe. After looking around the pipes and tapping a couple of valves, he charged $200 for his services. When the irate customer demanded to know why it cost so much and asked for a detailed breakdown of the services, the plumber replied, ‘$10 for tapping, $190 for knowing precisely where to tap.’

As such, my results from the pattern test were eye-opening. I’ve never known what lie I was more effective at, much less the percentage of probable success. For example, the more often I use TourPutt to practice or diagnose my putting, the more accurately it can diagnose my skills. Thus, I can pinpoint which area to improve through practice, as well as try to get the ball to an area I am more likely to save par.

Wow. This was tour pro stuff. Was this the secret of the pros?

The green area indicates a successful putt and the red is where I missed. The numbers show how long it took me to strike the putt after being instructed by a bell sound.

I was starting to get heady with the possibilities this digital marvel was able to provide. It took both of them to bring me down to earth again by informing me that knowing the areas of improvement is only half the battle.

For the actual tapping part, Choi and Kim then walked me through the many innovative features of TourPutt focused on helping me improve my putting. I was mesmerized by the detailed graphics that flashed all over the putting surface.

I was already impressed with the diagnostic aspects of TourPutt, but upon seeing the actual features to help me improve my putting, I was doubly blown away. From reading the green speed and breaks accurately to effective swing tempo and motion tracking, the system seemed straight out of the future.

Putting from variations of the 3% slope helps golfers to get a better feel the greens, a skill that can translate onto reading the breaks on actual greens.

Before TourPutt came into being, Choi was frustrated with the difficulty in collecting crucial data from an actual green as it was difficult to find a flat area to map his student’s patterns. When he discussed the matter with Kim back in 2019, Kim immediately became interested in ways to mesh modern technology and A.I. driven data to the art of putting. As an elite level golfer with extensive knowledge in the fields of VR and AR (virtual and augmented reality), Kim understood right away the issues faced by Choi and how he could help.

Delving deep into Choi’s experience and insights, Kim designed the TourPutt’s interface to yield accurate and reliable data that can be cross-checked, correlated, and compared across past and future performances. Best of all, TourPutt and its proprietary app feature the ability to keep track of all of my performance from any TourPutt system and access the data anywhere at any time. I could even replay all of my past putts and see the speed and the path it took, and compare them with other golfer’s data in the system. Mind. Blown.

Kim further explained that this feature of collecting real-world significant big data is one of the biggest advantages of TourPutt, and enables it to evolve further with every putt stored in its vast database.

The app can be used in both English and Korean, and can keep track of my performance and improvements.

The Student Becomes The Teacher

Once the flaws are identified, we moved on to the more traditional slow-motion video to see what I was doing wrong to miss the putts. For me, I kept too much weight on the back foot, and also needed more forward press to keep the putter head online through impact.

After several minutes of drill to correct the issues, I was holing the putts much better. The data from the second pattern test confirmed the improvement, and I was also shown the actual paths that my two putts took before and after the fix. All in all, being able to verify that the diagnosis was correct with immediate results, all backed by data was highly reassuring and enlightening. But what if these improvements were short-lived? That as soon as I walk out of Choi's presence, the magic evaporates and my crappy putting returns? I can’t tell you how often a club I thought was the answer to my prayers devolved into an ordinary stick as soon as I paid for it. It’s downright uncanny how often this happens.

To this end, Choi gave me a glimpse of hope. He assured me that since I was investing time into my skills and not money into more equipment, it will definitely last longer. Also, the coaching provided by Choi is reflected in each and every putt I had made since the lesson and recorded as part of my putting profile. So if I were to stray from the ‘good’ putts, the system can be used to bring me back on track. And if this cycle of improvement continues, I would be able to be my own teacher and
eventually practice effectively and independently on my own.

Honestly, I don’t know about this part. After all, I too know that the right diet and exercise will give me a six-pack; but knowing and doing it are two separate things. In the end, how effective any tool can depend on how well I make use of it, so it will have to remain to be seen. What I can say with certainty, however, is that TourPutt seems to work for a lot of people. Choi’s students continue to post wins on various tours with regularity, each crediting him with their improved putting performance. In turn, Choi credits his partner Kim and TourPutt’s growing database for accurate diagnosis and self-learning.

ToutPutt and its built-in sensors are capable of sensing where the lies have changed. The self-learning A.I. system actively adjusts for the changes to the putting surface, thereby eliminating the need for recalibration.

In Korea, the art of putting has found its poster child in Choi, with more and more golf academies and private studios installing TourPutt for its members. Several local tour pros and top amateurs have also installed the not-so-cheap system in their homes and have said to benefit from the move. Remember when Tiger showed up one day at the range with his own Trackman? I would imagine having a TourPutt in your basement is something like that, but I can only guess. I don’t have a personal Trackman either.

Choi attends seminars all over the world each year to continue his improvement in putting instruction.He is currently working on compiling his own training and certification program to impart to a new generation of would-be putting gurus.

Now that I know where I need to improve on, does this mean I will be taking money off my foursome buddies with alarming regularity? Well, let me see. I signed up for pilates a few months ago and found out exactly where I need to work on for more flexibility. But as I still creak all over when bending over to tie my shoes, I’d guess my putting won’t miraculously improve right away neither. But hey, that’s on me. I’ll just have to start working on the tapping part. Anyone looking to buy some used putters?

For more information on TourPutt from the man himself, check out the video below.

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