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What I learned from my single-length irons experiment

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Among the stories for this year’s Masters, the serious club folks show a serious interest in Bryson DeChambeau, specifically his single-length clubs. This evokes memories for me, as I experimented with a single-length set many years ago.

First a little history. Back in the mid ’80s, a golf pro by the name of Jimmy Shack from Royal Oak Country Club in Titusville, Florida, came up with a concept for a single-length set. He managed to get the Tommy Armour Company interested, and they came out with the EQL irons in 1989. They were a single-length set using the 6-iron length as standard. Despite a strong marketing push, they were relatively short lived and eventually disappeared into the great club box in the sky.

Fast forward to the mid ’90s when I was designing sets for Adams Golf and the idea of single length re-appeared, at least for my personal clubs. I read that Bryson is 6 feet 1 inches tall, and I strongly suspect his height was a factor in his single-length set. Before arthritis and age took their toll, I was 6 foot 3 inches tall, and was facing a personal club-fitting problem. It’s funny, but I clearly remembered my mindset at the time.

“Where was it written that a set of irons had to be based on a 37.5-inch 5 iron? Why couldn’t the 5 iron be 40 inches or 34 inches? Why did the increments have to be 0.5 inches?” I figured it all started with a Scotsman, who was probably 5-foot 9-inches or so, shaping a set of clubs that fit him. As decades passed, it became “standard.”

As I saw it, the objective with a set of irons/wedges was to have a club that went a maximum distance, working back to a club that went the shortest distance. The key factor was an equal gap from one club to another. Given this rather broad premise, I turned to the club-fitting system I had designed to see what evolved.

One of the keys in our club-fitting system was establishing a comfortable position at address. We measured knuckles to the ground standing erect (more consistent than fingertips because of hand size). We combined this with what we called maximum drop — how much the hands lowered gripping the club — the idea being a solid address position before we got into flex, lie, etc. 

One thing I learned is all of us are not ideally suited to a proper address position in conjunction with clubs we could play. For example, I am long from the waist up, which means to get a comfortable address position I needed clubs 3 inches over standard length, and they were simply too long. For a guy 6 foot 8 inches to 6 foot 10 inches, no problem, but for me, problem. I used to tell people that not everyone has a body that can handle the required length, so in some cases you have to bend over at address a little extra. Given that I couldn’t automatically fit myself, I started with the maximum distance and gapping and worked backward. It wasn’t about the clubs; it was about ball flight.

I remembered the equal-length story and started to experiment. I liked the length of short irons when I made them all like 6 irons, but 5 iron and down were too short. One thing that I’m taking as a given here is the readers understand the need for different head weights and lie angles. Add 3 inches to a standard PW and it becomes significantly “head heavy.” The playing lie changes, too, and all of those things have to be recognized. As I experimented, my emphasis was also on trying to make a set with constant inertia. I wanted the clubs to all swing the same so I would be more consistent controlling ball flight, even when hitting different kinds of shots.

After much work, I ended up with a “tri” single-length set, which I labeled The Oxymoron’s. My longer irons (4-6) were all one length, my 7-8 irons slightly shorter and the higher-lofted clubs were a little more than 2 inches over standard. I felt comfortable at address, so any gapping issues were attacked with loft. Every club had unusual head weights, and they were all were back-weighted — again, my approach to obtaining constant swing  inertia. I didn’t have a 3 iron, because another experiment resulted in a rather odd-looking long iron patterned after the Troon clubs of the 1800s.

How did the irons work out? They were pretty good; I think I would have really liked them with a bit more fine tuning. I’ll never know. We got pretty busy, and I essentially stopped playing for the better part of 10 years, so my inertial irons idea disappeared. We did introduce irons as a company, but they were industry standard specs. We didn’t influence the market; it influenced us. Besides, my clubs were for me and I’m not standard.

I’m not convinced there isn’t a way to improve a set of irons, so at 77 I’m still messing around. Do I think there is a place in the industry for single length sets? I’d say in the general market, no. Possibly in some custom fitting applications where the size of the player is outside normal standards.

In the business, there are things that are nice and play well, but aren’t technically different. And there are ideas that when fully tested identify a technical improvement to making clubs. It’s the latter that keeps us experimenting.

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at [email protected] Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. SteveK

    Oct 7, 2017 at 2:27 am

    I just can’t seem to hit my irons pure and I blame it on the different shaft lengths. It’s so obvious that a single shaft length is the logical way to go. Why in God’s name do golf clubs need to be various lengths? Doesn’t that mean I must have 13 different swing planes?!!

  2. Mat

    Jul 1, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    It’s funny. Everyone bags either SLI or 1/2″ steps. The truth is that if you built a set at 1/4″ steps, you’d really get the best of both… SLI would fly more “normally” and land better, and the physical change would assist almost the same as true SLI. Imagine only 1″ between a 5-9 iron instead of 2″…

  3. Craig Waggaman

    Feb 15, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    I have been fascinated by the possibilities of single length irons ever since I started dabbling in club making many years ago. So i did something I have never done- pre-ordered a set of Cobra F7 One single length irons. I received them about a week ago and will be writing about my experiences on my golf blog:
    linkswanderer.com
    Feel free to take a look and ask questions or comment.

  4. Scientific Golfer

    Jan 7, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Ironic and pathetic …. the average golfer (95% of all golfers) keep seeking a golf solution that doesn’t involve physical conditioning, sport-specific training and then performance training. They just seek an equipment solution that avoids time commitment to the sport… and then delude themselves into buying a game with the ‘best’ equipment no matter the cost.

    What we are witnessing now is the squeezing of the last $$$$ from a declining delusional golf population and will desperately spend to rescue their fantasies. Look at the OEM advertising… it’s so obvious.

    Most recreational golfers and other sports don’t devote enough time to practice and refuse to admit they themselves are the fault of their incompetence. “If I could just adjust the clubs to my personal swing!” …. so the OEMs are producing multi-adjustable clubs for failures who have more money than brains!!! Sorry for the rant, and discouraging comments from others who have been hit with this reality.

  5. Andre

    Nov 17, 2016 at 7:27 am

    Very interesting article Mister Adams,
    You mentionned backweighting and constant moment of inertia. Just curious as to how you went about that and if you reached your target MOI. Did you try to obtain a certain swingweight across the set or else?
    Thank you

  6. Andre

    Nov 17, 2016 at 7:20 am

    Very interesting article Mister Adams.

  7. Ryan morris

    Oct 24, 2016 at 5:19 am

    I purchased a set of slc last week. Had the best round of my life and i play about 2 to 3 rds per week. I felt the real magic came in hitting the 3-5 iron (its was almost boringly easy). On the range and course, im showing zero distance loss. Its amazing the misconceptions out there, even the pro at the course said, im sure you wont…..well i bet if…..etc etc
    Regardless, they work. Getting people to try them will be the challenge. I did notice a little control issue with my pw, at first, but i think the range has sorted this out the last few days.

    • OB

      Sep 7, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      Incredible, fantastic, wonderful, almost too good to be true …. which it is not!

  8. Ted

    Oct 6, 2016 at 2:36 am

    I own a set of EQLs: 2-7 are 7i length; 8-PW are 8i length. Easy as pie to hit; distances are predictable. 2 iron is dead straight unless I mess up the swing. Warm ups? Only need to hit 2 irons to warm up. Only drawback (for you chumsp who want a reason to reject the concept) is that the PW @ 8i length could be more accurate at shorter yardages, i.e., below it’s standard PW shot @ 8i length. Fix: choke down, put the ball back in the stance, and knockdowns are dead on. I also own PING BECUs, Cal BB Golds, and set of custom Alpha blades worth more than all these sets combined. Have owned just about every set/concept out there. Am now making a longer set of single length irons with some Matrix graphite X shafts because the concept works. Will go with 4i & 5i lengths to make the transition from these to the driver & woods more consistent through the round, and because I love to choke down & hit knockdowns. To each his own. If God wanted golf to be consistent, we probably would all be left-handers… (no offense, Phil)…

  9. Brian

    Jun 12, 2016 at 11:59 am

    wishon Sterlings have resolved all of these issues and now we have the best option for single length on the market. Hundreds of sets have been sold and every client I have built for is thrilled with the results. Look up a competent club fitter from Tom Wishon’s site and you can try them.

  10. Justin

    May 27, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Before we start: I know… I’m always late for the party. Not just “fashionably late”- freaking late.

    Anyway, I see Single-Length irons as being on par with ideas like True Length. It’s not a fad, but it’s not going to threaten the status quo, either. Someone, somewhere, will benefit from these so-called quirky ideas. If it helps someone enjoy their time on the course more, I’m all for it.

  11. Jack Wullkotte

    May 6, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I’m not an engineer, mathematician, scientist, or scholar of any kind, just a klutzy old clubmaker, but, I can assure you that the market for a set of irons, all the same length is going to be minimal at best. Naturally, there’s always someone out there who will buy anything that’s new, because they have more money than brains. Way back in the 1950’s, while working for the MacGregor Golf Co., we made a set of irons for someone in which all the irons were the same length. He returned within a few months and requested that we make them all standard length. I believe the length was 37″ and I think the swing weight was D-6. In order to make the 3 iron 38 1/2 inches, we would have had to grind about 3/4 of an ounce of weight off of the head, 1/2 an ounce off the 4 iron and a quarter ounce off the 5 iron. The 6 iron head would have remained the same. We would have then had to add 1/4 ounce of weight to the 7 iron, 1/2 ounce to the 8 iron, 3/4 ounce to the 9 iron and 1 ounce to the pitching wedge in order to get a standard D-6 swingweight throughout the set. Our plant manager, Bob Lysaght told the guy to go suck and egg or buy a new set. True story.

  12. Jonathan Birch

    Apr 29, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    I’ve been playing the single-length irons from 1 Iron Golf for about 12 years and would never go back to traditional length clubs again. Once you get used to using the same swing and ball position with every iron magic happens. I’m not impressed with the other companies who have sprung up over the past couple of years offering single-length irons since it is painfully obvious that they are just climbing onto the band wagon and really have little, if any, experience in this area.

    • 300 Yard Pro

      May 31, 2016 at 1:47 am

      1 Iron are the biggest junk clubs. That’s their problem.

    • Christopher Fotos

      Jun 11, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      I, too, have been playing 1 Iron Golf clubs for something like a decade now. High quality — I’ve never had to replace the irons or woods during that time. I’ve gotta say I marvel a bit about the recent appearance of stories about single-length clubs without mentioning the continued success of 1 Iron Golf, which arrived at this destination quite some time ago.

      I don’t have it handy, but company founder David Lake has a booklet about the history of clubmaking as it relates to length. My recollection is imperfect but IIRC back in the wood-shaft days many clubs were single length. There are also anecdotes thrown out there occasionally about pros using custom-fit single length irons without talking about it. I remember one such tale claiming a set of clubs used by Nicklaus back in the days, now on display in Columbus, show many of the irons are single-length (they’re sitting in a bag).

  13. duke

    Apr 27, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    looking for set of old tommy armour EQLl irons! same length. Im 6’6″bad worn out back so before spending a fortune on custom made, thinkin this might be starting point.

    • Justin

      May 27, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      What do you consider a fortune? Value Golf has their Pinhawk SL set that starts out at $234. Throw in a GW, SW and LW and it bumps it up to $351. In that configuration, it comes with the Apollo Standard Stepless irons (personally, I really like these) and the Karma Black Velvet (similar to Golf Pride Tour Velvet) grips. You can have the shafts and/or grips swapped out, for an upcharge.

      As of right now they’re out of stock, though a couple of sites are saying they’ll be available in June.

  14. KevS.

    Apr 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Barney, you say playing lie angles must adjust through the set of a single-length irons…and yet on the TV broadcast for the RBC at Harbor Town, Nick Faldo said he’s discussed the set with DeChambeau several times and his set features a consistent lie angle for all irons regardless of loft. I believe Faldo mentioned all irons are 77 degrees (13 degrees upright), but don’t quote me on the specific numbers because I did not make a note of it. Frankly, I don’t understand how he plays tough trouble shots at times, and Gary McCord was also mentioning the specifics of sand bunker shots with a sand wedge the length of a 6-iron.

  15. Deano

    Apr 13, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    To all the Shank, Flop, and OB critics – what gives? This was a good article from a legend club maker. What’s Pebble Beach – LOL?

  16. Shallowface

    Apr 12, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    The Armour EQL was available from 1989-1994. I have all of those catalogs. I wouldn’t call that short lived.
    Not saying they sold very well as it’s been a long time since I saw a full set, especially when compared with the 845s which I find on a regular basis everywhere from Ebay to thrift stores.

  17. Ron

    Apr 12, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Barney and others….
    I tried the single length experiment a few years ago by taking a set of heads with an undercut
    sole and adding weight in the cavity for the 5 and 6 irons, and played with the 8,9,W a little too
    heavy. I have a loft and lie machine, so adjusting the lie angles to match was no problem. The
    set played OK, but I didn’t like the wedge being so long, so I didn’t give it a good enough chance before going back to my trusty Ping i5’s.

    When I bought my next new set (Callaway Xr’s last spring), I adjusted the length of them to
    have only a 1/4 inch differential from one club to another. This means that the difference between
    the 6 iron and the wedge is only 1 inch. This way, I feel I have the best of both worlds with the set
    being “almost single length”, yet maintaining weight increments. It works for me, and I guess in the final analysis, I guess that’s all that matters!

  18. MRC

    Apr 9, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Enjoyed your article Mr.Adams.
    Appreciate the nuggets and most of all, the fact that you’ve been there and done that!!
    Keep up the great writing.

  19. oldredtop

    Apr 9, 2016 at 8:09 am

    To those who would like some technical background on single length clubs, may I suggest a trip to GolfWRX contributor Tom Wishon’s website. http://wishongolf.com/designs/sets/sterling-irons-single-length-set/

    His company has just released a single length iron set and and there is a great deal of technical information there along with the philosophy behind his approach to single length. Are they for everyone? Certainly not. But for me, if Tom is willing to put his name on a set of single length irons, the concept is solid and worth a little study.

    • oldredtop

      Apr 9, 2016 at 9:39 am

      disclaimer: I am not financially affiliated with Wishon Golf Technology in any form or fashion. Just a happy customer. 🙂 (771CSI irons)

  20. Barney Adams

    Apr 8, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Re Moe’s clubs. I made a set of irons he played with for several years. They were not single length. They were however very head heavy offset somewhat by oversize and heavier grips.

    • Bif

      Apr 10, 2016 at 2:04 am

      It’s what happens when you have small hands like yours Smizzle and can’t handle man-sized grips

  21. Ike16

    Apr 8, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Have played twice with my SL irons. All heads weighed 270 grams, shafts are Steel Fibre i70 tipped light R and all weighted the same at 37 inches, FLO tested, and finished with Winn W-5 grips. Every club is within 17 MOI points. Each has exactly the same lie. The feel of the swing with each is identical. Have to sometimes look twice at the number on the toe to make sure which one is used. The biggest challenge to date is getting used to wedges that are on the ground farther from my toes. That’s look, not feel. Next is forcing myself to play each in a coordinated (same) position. No more forward or back due to loft or length. These are cast heads and I have played forged for ages, but as a builder the challenge was too great to ignore. So far the playing distances are building trust and the plan is to keep these in the bag for the foreseeable future.

    • toad37

      Nov 7, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Would love an update… how are they working for you?

  22. Joshuaplaysgolf

    Apr 8, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    My buddy is playing with single-length irons. Actually just finally got his pinhawk heads in today. It’s been really interesting talking with him about the challenges he is running into and the process of getting things dialed in, as he made his old irons all single-length just to see if he liked it. What I’ve noticed more than anything, is he hits his mid-short irons MILES into the air. We live in Denver, so t’s relatively windy, and when even a slight (5-10mph) breeze picks up, he has to pay extra attention to conditions. This will probably get ironed out when he gets the new lofts dialed in, just my observation so far…but interesting concept. Especially for those of us with nagging backs.

    • Loser

      May 18, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      You cant just chop down a regular set and make them the same length.

  23. kn

    Apr 8, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Hi Barney,
    I enjoy reading your articles. I think DeChambeau has a hard row to hoe, especially if he wants to make golf his profession. He’ll have to win in a way nobody else has done it, and in today’s environment of cutting-edge golf equipment. He’ll always be playing with the wind in his face, so to speak. Until he wins, and it’s probably going to have to be a lot, he’ll just be considered a quirky egghead on the peripheral. That may be a tad brutal, but it’s also reality. If we all played with single-length clubs, maybe the story would be different.

    • Mike

      Apr 8, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      I couldn’t disagree with this more.

      • Grim

        Apr 8, 2016 at 8:47 pm

        Even if he won a couple, it still wouldn’t be enough, he would have win 40 or 50 events

    • Buddy

      Apr 8, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      Until he wins? U.S. Am doesn’t count?

      • Buddy's an eejit

        Apr 9, 2016 at 12:48 am

        Have you looked at who’ve won the US Am in the past? Tells you everything about your question

        • Guy

          Apr 9, 2016 at 9:30 pm

          Sure there’s some past winners who didn’t do much on tour. But the stat meant was “until he wins” which he has. As someone who can’t even win a club championship, I feel some respect should be payed to winning the U.S. Am.

        • Scott

          Apr 29, 2016 at 4:37 pm

          Yeah like that Tiger guy and that Jack guy and that Arnold guy. Those guys did nothing.

        • 300 Yard Pro

          May 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm

          He won the top two Am events the same year. Only people to do that were some losers called Jack and Tiger. I wonder what happened to those losers?

    • Loser

      May 18, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      He contended at the Masters, pounding tons of the best in the world and backed it up with a T4 at Harbor.

  24. Alex

    Apr 8, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Great read Barney. My question is, while I have been fitted for clubs before I feel that at 5’6″ (on a good day) I should try to have my irons cut down more than the standard 0.5″ for us little guys. So, if I were to go closer to 1-1.5″ off would I need to add weight to the club heads? Would this really be beneficial? Because, I love my putter at 32″ and I’m fairly upright putter.
    Thanks

    • Barney Adams

      Apr 8, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Best I could suggest is have one club shortened and bring out the lead tape. let your shots answer.

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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.

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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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