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Opinion & Analysis

Which type of playing partner are you?

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If you’ve played golf long enough in one area or at one golf course, surely you’ve become part of a group of guys or gals who you play golf with every so often. It’s a foursome, or maybe more, and you know their golf games, tendencies, attitudes and basically everything about them — because how better to get to know someone than on a golf course?

Well, today we’re in for a treat. In this article, you’ll meet the “four amigos.” They’re a group of guys (who I made up), who represent, in some capacity, the four playing partners in your group. And if you haven’t met any of these four golfers, you either don’t play much golf, only play golf alone, or one of them is YOU!

We meet the four amigos on a Friday night during their weekly Saturday match. Which one is most like you, or your buddies?

Kenny

First up is Kenny, a golfing sociopath. He has his clubs and shoes cleaned, bought three dozen new balls, and has his golfing wardrobe selected, color coordinated and laid out ready for the morning. He has checked the weather forecast and loaded the bag with all the essentials. He had a lesson mid week to dial in his angle of attack and has been practicing all week, preparing for the “the best round of his life.” He’ll be in bed early reading Hogan’s Five Lessons and will be up early for a nutritious breakfast before heading to the club first thing to warm up, hit balls and practice his short game. He’ll play, lunch afterwards at the club and then head back to the range to work on his game for a few hours. He might get a chance to get to the DIY store later to buy new locks for his house just in case his ex comes around and trashes his apartment again! But that can probably wait. He’ll probably just head home for a night on the couch watching the Golf Channel. Kenny dreams of playing the tour some day, but hates the fact that he has to work at the bank to pay the rent.

John

John is also playing tomorrow. His clubs are in the trunk of his car, exactly where he left them after last Saturday’s round. The mud is now fully caked on his irons and there is a nice pungent smell exuding from his FootJoys. He’s out tonight at the bar to watch the game and will have several drinks. He’ll wake up tomorrow with a sore head and throw on whatever clothes are closest to hand. He’ll arrive late coming into the car park on two wheels, screeching to a halt, grab his clubs and run to the tee, coffee in hand. His first swing of a club is his opening tee shot. He’ll munch on a breakfast roll for the first few holes. His triple-bogey, double-bogey start doesn’t surprise anyone, but he comes good toward the end of the round and suggests to his group that next week he’ll take things easy the night before… until he realizes that it’s Chad’s bachelor party next Friday. Kenny hates John, as he has natural talent, and he knows that if John wised up he could beat Kenny with one arm tied behind his back. But John cares less about golf; he just enjoys playing each Saturday with his buddies. He knows that when he does eventually settle down some time in the future, he can focus a little more on his game.

Harry

Harry is not sure if he can play tomorrow or not. He still has to run it past the wife and thinks at best he’s only a 50-percent chance. He might be able to swing it if he’s up early enough to mow the grass and collect the kids from soccer beforehand. Each week he finds most of his clubs in the garage scattered around by his kids, and he just throws what he can find in the back seat, as his truck is full of prams and kids’ stuff. He’s keen to get going and plays the entire round glancing at his watch and cell phone to check for updates from his “better half.” Occasionally, he’ll have to take a call to explain to the wife that he’s nearly finished and that it is “so damn slow out here today.” After the game he runs for the car, shouting “see you guys next week.” He has a lot of catching up to do when he gets home, as the wife heads out the door for some “me time.” Harry hates Kenny and John; where do they get the time for all this drinking and playing golf, he wonders?

Eric

Eric is definitely not playing tomorrow. Since last Saturday, he now hates golf and all that it has done to his life. He used to enjoy playing with Harry, John and Kenny, but his game is in the toilet right now. He has tried lessons and new clubs to no avail. He is now at counseling and thinking about taking up cycling. But he comes around late on Friday night after realizing that it’s his grip that’s been his “achilles heel,” according to Golf Digest. So he decides to give it one last shot, and he sheepishly shows up for his Saturday tee time “again,” knowing that he’s going to get a roasting “again” from the other three. After three holes, Eric is openly discussing committing harakiri with his driver. By the 9th, he announces that he’ll be taking a break for a few months. And by the 18th he has run out of expletives, blaming the weather, oil prices and his new potassium-rich diet for his poor shots. Eric hates everyone, but he secretly loves being the focus for attention. And they all know he’ll be back the following Saturday!

In fact, they all will.

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Mark Donaghy is a writer and author from Northern Ireland, living in the picturesque seaside town of Portstewart. He is married to Christine and they have three boys. Mark is a "golf nut," and is lucky to be a member of a classic links, Portstewart Golf Club. At college he played for the Irish Universities golf team, and today he still deludes himself that he can play to that standard. He recently released Caddy Attitudes: 'Looping' for the Rich and Famous in New York. It recounts the life experiences of two young Irish lads working as caddies at the prestigious Shinnecock Hills course in the Hamptons. Mark has a unique writing style, with humorous observations of golfers and their caddies, navigating both the golf course and their respective attitudes. Toss in the personal experiences of a virtually broke couple of young men trying to make a few bucks and their adventures in a culture and society somewhat unknown to them... and you have Caddy Attitudes. From scintillating sex in a sand trap to the comparison of societal status with caddy shack status, the book will grab the attention of anyone who plays the game. Caddy Attitudes is available on Amazon/Kindle and to date it has had excellent reviews.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Dannyd

    May 20, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I know a lot of Harry’s, what tool bags

  2. Alex

    May 20, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Last year I formally announced to my buddy on a Wednesday after an awful round “ok, I’ll take a month break. My golf sucks”. He just looks at me, eyes wide open, like “you’re kidding” but he never said a word. Next Saturday I was at the first tee trying to hide away from my pal to avoid ridicule.

  3. The Dude

    May 20, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Met them on a Friday night during their weekly Saturday match??????
    Time warp?

  4. Tom

    May 20, 2016 at 11:19 am

    There’s a lot of drama in this foursome.

  5. golfraven

    May 20, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I am the Kenny type but right now in my life feel like the Harry dude. Funny enough.

  6. alan

    May 20, 2016 at 7:07 am

    i am john. i show up late and hung over but still play pretty decent. my vehicle stank so bad yesterday from a wet golf towel i finally had to wash it.

  7. Harry

    May 20, 2016 at 3:18 am

    Hey! My wife does a lot for me, and how often does she get 5 hrs away from the litter, I mean kids? I do pretty well to get out at all.

  8. Chris

    May 19, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    With my fiancee away for this weekend, you can call me Kenny!

    • Brian

      May 19, 2016 at 11:50 pm

      Anyone who uses their phone and drives needs to be beat with their clubs til they break.

      Quit being self-centered and put your phone down.

      • Drew

        May 20, 2016 at 4:06 pm

        You comment on WRX articles….on your phone….while you golf?? On top of that, your comment is about your annoyance of someone referring to the person they are engaged to marry as their fiance? Ok dude…

        • Brian

          May 21, 2016 at 3:31 pm

          We’re all slowly (and cringe-worthily) learning to ignore the Smiz. Obvious troll is obvious.

    • cgasucks

      May 20, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Anyone who texts while driving needs to be beaten by their fiancee with his clubs.

  9. cgasucks

    May 19, 2016 at 11:56 am

    I’m not golf-obsessed like Kenny and I’m definitely not Harry since I don’t have a wife and kids to answer to…I might have been like Eric a couple of years ago (but not now). So by virtue of elimination, I just be more like John..

    • JustTrying2BAwesome

      May 19, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      So, looks like it’s time to go to the bar.

      • cgasucks

        May 20, 2016 at 10:04 am

        Yuppers…you want to be my drinking buddy??!

  10. andy walker

    May 19, 2016 at 10:04 am

    You forgot the typical golfwrx’er with his new tour issue shaft and prototype wedges. Playing and shooting 128 each and every week!!

    • SuperHack

      May 20, 2016 at 4:57 am

      does it make a difference if I’m fully self-aware of this? Besides, its usually 110!…

  11. Don Quiote

    May 19, 2016 at 9:20 am

    *Price is Right losing horns*

  12. Ian

    May 19, 2016 at 7:53 am

    ?

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Do irons really need to go longer?

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At Edison Golf, we put high emphasis on getting the right lofts in our customers bags to deliver precision distance gapping where distance control matters most – in prime scoring range. Our proprietary WedgeFit® Scoring Range Analysis helps us get there, and one of the key questions we ask is the loft of your current 9-iron and pitching wedge.

Please understand I have been collecting this type of data from wedge-fitting profiles for over 20 years, and now have seen over 60,000 of these. What’s interesting is to watch the evolution of the answers to those two questions. Twenty years ago, for example, the 9-iron and PW lofts would typically be around 42-43 degrees and 46-47 degrees, respectively. By 2010, those lofts had migrated downward to 40-41 degrees for the 9-iron and 44-45 for the “P-club”. (I began to call it that, because it’s just not a true “wedge” at that low of a loft.)

But how far are the irons makers going to take that lunacy? I see WedgeFit profiles now with “P-clubs” as low as 42-43 degrees and 9-irons five degrees less than that – 37-38 degrees. The big companies are getting there by incorporating mid-iron technologies – i.e. fast faces, multi-material, ultra-low CG, etc. – into the clubs where precision distance control is imperative.

Fans, you just cannot get precision distance control with those technologies.

But the real problem is that golfers aren’t being told this is what’s happening, so they are still wanting to buy “gap wedges” of 50-52 degrees, and that is leaving a huge distance gap in prime scoring range for most golfers.

So, to get to the title of this post, “Do Irons Really Need To Go Longer?” let’s explore the truth for most golfers.

Your new set of irons features these technologies and the jacked-up lofts that go with them, so now your “P-club” flies 125-130 instead of the 115-120 it used to go (or whatever your personal numbers are). But your 50- to 52-degree gap wedge still goes 95-100, so you just lost a club in prime scoring range. How is that going to help your scores?

Please understand I’m not trying to talk anyone out of a new set of irons, but I strongly urge you to understand the lofts and lengths of those new irons and make sure the fitter or store lets you hit the 9-iron and “P-club” on the launch monitor, as well as the 7-iron demo. That way you can see what impact those irons are going to have on your prime scoring range gapping.

But here’s something that also needs to get your close attention. In many of the new big-brand line-ups, the companies also offer their “tour” or “pro” model . . . and they are usually at least two degrees weaker and ¼ to 3/8 inch shorter than the “game improvement” models you are considering.

But really, how much sense does that make? The tour player, who’s bigger and stronger than you, plays irons that are shorter and easier to control than the model they are selling you. Hmm.

It’s kind of like drivers actually. On Iron Byron, the 46” driver goes further than the 45, so that’s what the stores are full of. But tour bags are full of drivers shorter than that 46-inch “standard”. So, if the tour player only hits 55-60% of his fairways with a 45” driver, how many are you going to hit with a 46?

I’m just sayin…

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Opinion & Analysis

GolfWRX Book Review: Phil by Alan Shipnuck

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The most awaited golf book of 2022 is titled “Phil: the Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized) Biography of Golf’s most Colorful Superstar,” featuring a look at Phil Mickelson’s life and times. Alan Shipnuck, long a respected writer in the golf interweb, has produced another long-form contribution to the vast library of golf tomes. Early leaks did nothing but heighten the anticipation of the residents of golfdom for the book’s release. Shipnuck wrote for GOLF Magazine for years, before heading out with other proven and decorated scribes to form The Fire Pit Collective. His place at GM reveals how he was able to get close to Mickelson and his inner circle. Before we continue on with the book review, it’s important to determine how Shipnuck and I have a cosmic bond. It is summed up in two words.

Bob Heppel

Bob Heppel was the guy who stood me up in the fifth grade, swim locker room. I swung and bloodied his nose. I was more stunned than he was, but I retired as a fighter with a debatable record of 1-o. Alan Shipnuck tells a similar story in the introduction to his most recent literary effort. No kindred-spirits malarkey here; the type of coincidence that the cosmos allow on occasion.

How does the book read? Well, it has an element of stream of consciousness, combined with a heavy reliance on anecdotal sequencing. It is necessary to stack story after story, to connect the dots of a sometimes-indecipherable image. That’s Phil, to a T (or a P.)

Back to me for a moment. I received the digital copy of the volume about three weeks before the release date of the paper edition. On Friday the 13th, I finally opened the PDF. As I held the PgDn button on my laptop, stopping intermittently to catch up, a random turn of phrase caught my attention:

a man’s man with big calloused hands and the briny demeanor that came from having been at sea for weeks at a time. 

It takes a special awareness of how language intersects with life to string words like that together. Those words describe one of Phil Mickelson’s grandfathers. Shipnuck gives us so much information on Phil’s ancestor that we forget for a moment, that this is a book about Phil. This is a good thing, because we need to learn about the others that helped to forge the Phil Mickelson from whom we cannot avert our eyes.

The chapter in the book that will most ally you as a Mickelson sympathizer is, predictably, the one about Winged Foot and the 2006 USGA Open. The one that will most distance you from Lefty, is the one that begins around page 150, concerning his gambling habits. The section that will have you question golf administrators in general is the one about the 2014 Ryder Cup. In other words, there are a lot of chapters that expect the reader to suddenly jump up and scream at anyone who will listen, You won’t believe this, but …

At times throughout the reading of this book, you feel like a student in a statistics class. The author presents anecdotal evidence in tens and twenties, and you try to determine if Phil Mickelson is enviable or pitiable; sincere or counterfeit; ultimately, good or bad. And then, Shipnuck delivers a knockout punch in which he melds the detached storyline of wealthy professional golfers with the reality in which the rest of us live. Shipnuck resists the temptation to offer too many of these body blows; the book is, after all, about Phil Mickelson.

At about the midway point of the book, it is revealed that Mickelson might have something of a James Bond complex, a need to put himself at greater risk than before, to determine if he can handle the pressure. This notion explains a purported interest in gambling, or a suggested enthusiasm for abandoning the US PGA tour in favor of mideast money; the latter would be the straw that broke the back of Mickelson’s most loyal sponsors.

Without giving too much away, nor attempting to drive the reader toward any sort of conclusion (which would probably have been impossible, in hindsight) there are two, late-volume sequences that lead us toward an understanding of Phil Mickelson and of Alan Shipnuck’s intent:

even Mickelson’s failings feed his image as an uninhibited thrill-seeker

This is the image that he has cultivated over the course of a lifetime. It is the gift that his parents and his grandparents bequeathed to him.

In his public statement, Mickelson allowed that his comments were “reckless” but couldn’t resist making himself both the victim and the hero of his narrative …

This statement reveals the cleverness of Shipnuck’s efforts. He allows the readers to determine which one Mickelson is. My guess is that the readership will be split down the middle. As if I needed to tell you, go buy this book. You’ll enjoy revisiting the glory days of the southpaw, but be warned: you won’t feel the same about him when you turn the final page.

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Opinion & Analysis

Viktor Hovland can dominate if he addresses this key weakness…and it’s not his chipping

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Ahead of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, the expectations for star Viktor Hovland are sky high. Hovland is a native of Oslo, Norway but played his college golf at Oklahoma State University before turning professional in 2019.

During Hovland’s time as an amateur, he won the 2018 U.S. Amateur and earned invitations to the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open the following year. He became the first player to win low amateur honors at both the Masters and U.S. Open in the same season since 1998.

As if expectations for the 24-year-old weren’t already lofty enough, he is now returning to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as one of the favorites in a major championship in the state that he played college golf.

There is an argument to be made that Viktor Hovland is the most talented golfer on the PGA Tour. Since he arrived on the scene in 2019, the young phenom has dazzled the golf world with his tee to green excellence. He’s also become a fan favorite due to his abundance of charisma and infectious smile.

Hovland’s career thus far cannot be categorized as a disappointment. He has three regular PGA Tour victories: one at an alternate field event in Puerto Rico, and two at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He also became the first Norwegian to win on the European Tour (Now DP World Tour) when he won the BMW International Open in June of 2021.

Despite the relative success, it would be hard to argue with the fact that something is missing.

In terms of skill set, one of the most accurate comparisons for Hovland is Rory McIlroy. By the age of 25, McIlroy had four major championships. It would be unfair to compare Hovland to McIlroy in terms of career trajectory, but I find it reasonable to expect more out of him.

Hovland will also draw many comparisons to Collin Morikawa. For better or worse, Viktor Hovland will always be mentioned in the same breath as Morikawa due to the fact that both golfers arrived on Tour at the same time, are within a year of each other in age and rank in the top five in the world.

For all of their similarities, Hovland and Morikawa are in many ways polar opposites. Hovland is a flashy, big hitting, birdie maker. Morikawa is steady, sharp, and has what I believe to be the highest golf IQ since Tiger Woods.

The Norwegian is every bit as talented as his friend and rival, but Morikawa has five PGA Tour victories, including two major championships and a World Golf Championship victory. Hovland is still searching for his first win in a marquee event.

Much has been made in recent months about Viktor Hovland’s troubles around the green. The 24-year-old has lost an average of 1.0 stroke to the field in his career in Strokes Gained: Around the Green. Hovland will be the first to tell you that he has a major weakness in his short game.

“I just suck at chipping,” The Norwegian said after his first career victory at the Puerto Rico Open in February of 2020.

While his chipping undoubtedly needs improvement, it is not his fatal flaw. Poor course management is.

Thus far, course management has been the most consequential detractor to Hovland’s career.

There have been numerous instances where Hovland has had a chance to win or at the very least contend at a tournament that would qualify as a “signature win” on Tour for Hovland. Yes, his short game has been a hindrance, but his poor course management has been a non-negotiable disqualifier.

There are countless examples of this, but in particular, three of them stuck out to me.

Back in February of 2021, Hovland was in the midst of a spectacular second round at the WGC-Concession in Bradenton, Florida. He had seven birdies and no bogeys and found himself two shots back of the lead with one hole to play.

Then disaster struck.

After driving it into the fairway bunker, Viktor put his second over the green and into the palmetto bushes. Instead of taking an unplayable and trying to get up and down for bogey from a decent lie, he decided to try and punch it out of the bush.

After his failed punch out left him in a terrible spot in the greenside bunker, he put his next shot right back into the palmetto bush where he started. He continued to mangle the 18th hole until he finally made his quadruple bogey-8. He went from two back of the lead and possibly in the final pairing to six back of the lead with a slim to none chance of contending.

There’s that infectious smile again.

Back in March, Hovland once again found himself in contention on Sunday with a chance to win the most meaningful victory of his career at The Arnold Palmer Invitational. As he approached the par-3 17th, he was tied for the lead with Scottie Scheffler at -5. The conditions in the final round were very challenging, and the obvious play was to the middle of the green to try and make par. Instead, Hovland went for the pin and came up short, leaving himself a short-sided bunker shot. He went on to make bogey. Scheffler played it to the middle of the green and two-putt for an easy par and went on to win the tournament by one stroke.

Hovland’s course management issues continued to plague him in the first round of The Masters Tournament. After ten holes, he was -1 for his round and three shots off of the lead as he headed to back nine with some birdie holes in front of him. That’s when the lack of proper course management hurt Viktor once again.

The 11th hole at Augusta National is notoriously difficult, and even more so this year as it was lengthened by fifteen yards. With very few exceptions, the entire field played the approach shot into 11 short, not daring to go over the penalty area left with such a long iron shot coming in. At the time, there was only one birdie on the hole all day.

After a beautiful tee shot, Hovland had 221 yards into the green. Inexplicably, he decided once again to attack a pin that he had no business trying to take on. In the late part of the afternoon, there had only been one birdie made there all day, and it was a 35 foot putt. Predictably, his approach shot was left of the target and splashed in the penalty area. After grinding out a very good front nine, he made a double bogey-6 on the hole. As has happened so many times in the past, his poor decision making cost him precious strokes in an event where he can’t afford to give them away.

Hovland has had a good start to his career, but with generational talent comes lofty expectations. He has plenty of time to redirect his career trajectory and accomplish all of the feats his talent should all him to, but first he must address his fatal flaw.

The PGA Championship at Southern Hills would be a good place to start.

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