Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Ryder Cup hecklers raise more questions than answers



How should we feel about a fan telling Rory McIlroy to “suck a ****?” Underlying all the soundbites and more nuanced discussions of U.S. fans’ conduct at Hazeltine this week are questions like these: What do we expect from fans at a Ryder Cup? How should they act toward the foreign opponents? Should Ryder Cup fans adhere to a different standard than fans at other sporting events?

And heading off any “cultural disintegration” arguments: No European team member went as far as Sam Torrance did in 1999, when he called U.S. fan behavior at Brookline “disgusting.” And no fan went as far as spitting on the captain’s wife at Hazeltine this year, which reportedly also happened at Brookline.

So, abandoning the “American culture has gone to hell and this is what you get” argument, let’s dig into what happened at Hazeltine. The easiest way to do this would seem to be looking at the situations of Danny Willett and Rory McIlroy separately, and then looking at fan behavior more generally (cheering for bad shots from the Europeans, etc).

First, the unfortunate Mr. Willett. The Masters champ’s brother, P.J., wrote a (satirical?) column for the National Club Golfer ahead of the Ryder Cup in which he made a number of less-than-flattering characterizations of American golf fans. For example: “pudgy, basement-dwelling, irritants, stuffed on cookie dough and pissy beer, pausing between mouthfuls of hot dog so they can scream ‘Baba booey’ until their jelly faces turn red.”

Yahoo’s Ryan Ballengee (perhaps mistaking the chicken for the egg) stated firmly “Danny Willett’s brother was right…fans chugging Bud Lights and Silver Bullets shouted “Baba booey” on most every hole Willett played. Multiple times in some cases. The courage juice certainly helped some spectators come up with other gems like, “Where’s your brother, Danny Boy?” and “Hot dogs!” and “Your brother could’ve hit that shot!”

It’s difficult to imagine a situation in which Danny Willett wasn’t going to hear it from the fans, as he was (unfortunately for him) the only Willett teeing it up at Hazeltine. He was rattled, and didn’t earn a point in three matches.

Should Danny have been the whipping boy for P.J.’s sentiments? From a fairness standpoint: No. From standpoint of “Would he get far worse in any other sport?” Assuredly yes. The question then revolves around whether we ought to give Ryder Cup fans a wider berth than we (and security) would at a PGA Tour event.

Rory McIlroy, as the top dog for team Europe, caught plenty of flack early, which only intensified as he…well, intensified. And his “You’re welcome for the show” bow Friday afternoon firmly sentenced him to another two days of heckling.

The worst of it for McIlroy (as far as we know) came when a spectator yelled, “Suck a ****, Rory!” with the Ulsterman only a few feet away as he walked between holes. For his part, Rory reportedly said, “If you want to back that up, I’m right here,” before having the heckler thrown out.

There’s no doubt McIlroy went to another level of intensity in the face of the jeering (going 3-2-0), and he said as much after his matches Saturday: “(The heckling) fueled me a lot…the more they shouted, the better we (he and Pieters) played.”

ESPN’s Bob Harig, writing about the venom directed at the former world No. 1 said:

“There’s nothing wrong with such partisan cheering at the Ryder Cup. But why such venom has been directed at McIlroy is beyond puzzling. This is one of the more popular, gracious players when he competes in PGA Tour events. He just won the Tour Championship on Sunday — and the FedEx Cup’s $10-million bonus — and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone at the tournament who didn’t cheer that victory.”

This may not be as true as Harig thinks, but the fact remains: McIlroy is not an unpopular player in America. He was, however, the best golfer on the European squad. And he did make a few flippant remarks about the U.S. team and the Ryder Cup task force ahead of the competition. So harassment was deemed a priority by some, and that contagion only spread.

The McIlroy situation is a little tougher to judge than Willett’s. In other sports similar occurrences are frequent, albeit most often not at such close range. And again, like the Willett situation, there’s no doubt such conduct wouldn’t fly at any Tour stop. Thus, the question is, again,  “Do we give fans a wider berth than we (and security) would at a PGA Tour event?”

Moving from fan interaction with specific players to the atmosphere in general: Talking about the Hazeltine faithful, Sergio Garcia sounded off:

“They have been quite poor. I’m not going to lie. Obviously it’s unfortunate, because I think that 85 percent of the people are great and I love playing in America. My girlfriend is American. But that 15 percent that is really bad, it makes them look bad.”

That didn’t jive with European Ryder Cup captain, Darren Clarke’s estimate. “I think you have 99.99 percent of the crowd out there that are wonderfully respectful. They are patriotic, yes, but they are wonderfully respectful,” Clarke said.

“You’re always going to have one or two idiots that say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and, unfortunately, that’s happened,” Clarke said. “But overall, the fans have been absolutely superb to us. And it’s unfortunate, you’re just going to run into people like that now and again that say the wrong thing at the wrong time and the wrong place.”

So there you have it. In general, somewhere between 85 and 99.99 percent of fans conducted themselves appropriately.

Do we respond differently to the Hazeltine hecklers if they numbered 15 percent or a fraction of a percent? Probably. If Garcia’s estimate is anywhere near correct, you might see the next Ryder Cup sponsored by the Temperance Union, rather than Michelob Ultra.  

For what it’s worth Golf Digest’s John Huggan thinks he has the solution to Ryder Cup heckling:

“On those occasions when a player is disturbed by heckling while standing over a ball ready to putt. When and if that happens, the putt should immediately be conceded by the opponent. Knowing that any attempt to distract will be counter-productive is perhaps the only way to counteract this cancer that pervades the Ryder Cup.”

Not a slippery slope there at all, John! But really, there are more questions than answers with this one. On the one hand, there are vested interests in the Ryder Cup being as rude and raucous as possible, and few would argue that they didn’t enjoy seeing Rory McIlroy’s performance, which was directly related to the heckling. On the other, putting aside golf’s traditions and the “spirit of the game,” golf is a game played in relative silence where fans are incredibly close to the players, so holding fans to same standards as, say, attendees at an NFL game, doesn’t make sense.

Somewhere between these two poles a solution lies. Maybe a Heckling Task Force is in order?

Related: See what WRX Members are saying about the hecklers in our Tour Talk forum. 

Your Reaction?
  • 170
  • LEGIT40
  • WOW3
  • LOL10
  • IDHT3
  • FLOP5
  • OB1
  • SHANK102

GolfWRX Editor-in-Chief



  1. stephenf

    Oct 14, 2016 at 11:39 am

    “Should Ryder Cup fans adhere to a different standard than fans at other sporting events?”

    Yes. Always.

    The pro game is swirling down the toilet of other pro sports. It’s just behind the curve a little, but it’s well on the way. A lot of this is the PGA Tour’s insatiable search for ever more money and ever-wider markets. When the game has to make no demands of anybody’s behavior or speech, when it has to be everything to everybody, it becomes nothing. Nothing more than just another pro sport, complete with sex scandals, tabloidism, ex-criminals and drug addicts, you name it.

    If what matters about the game is going to survive, it’s going to be at the amateur level, with parents taking their kids out and teaching them what matters in the game. The pro game is becoming more and more just a shadow of what the game used to be and what it meant. Nobody should see it as a flagship, because it isn’t.

    Don’t like taking your kid to a baseball game because (aside from being prohibitively expensive, especially for a guy who grew up going to Dodger Stadium when it wasn’t) you’re not crazy about drunk idiots yelling obscenities over the top of your kid’s head? Better not take them to the Ryder Cup either, since you’ll get “Suck a —-” from alleged “golf fans.”

    And why exactly do we have to keep “putting aside” elements like cultural decline, golf’s traditions, and the spirit of the game? A little too antiquated for us now, so we have to be vaguely apologetic and avoidant? These things matter. Golf used to be a civilizing influence, when taught and played the right way. It still can be, but it’s rarer and rarer that it is. It’s being subsumed by a culture of selfishness, coarseness, and vulgarity. Anybody who doesn’t see this as tragic and regrettable doesn’t understand the game and what it’s supposed to be.

    By the way, it’s “flak.” And “jibe,” not “jive.”

  2. Dave r

    Oct 8, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    No class at all shown by some fans , have another drink ….not

  3. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 5, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    … and you wonder why your comments get removed…

  4. Harry Lines

    Oct 5, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I think the point is that this kind of heckling and shouting “get in the hole” on the tee of a 600 yard par 5 doesn’t really happen on the European tour or at a European hosted Ryder Cup. It all seems a bit pointless when all the players are trying to do is put on a show for the fans and win a premier event in there sport.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Oct 5, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      If you yell “Get in the hole!” on a par 5 tee shot you’re either really, really drunk or you have never played golf other than a miniature golf course or you’ve hit a large bucket on the range using only your driver.

  5. Christian

    Oct 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    To deny this, generally, is an American problem is weird. The number of rude and brash bozos are higher among US golf fans, and that of course is a reflection of american culture. Just accept it or if you see it as a problem, deal with it harshly at events. Producing long winded apologist pieces like this article is not the answer.

  6. Craig

    Oct 5, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Maybe for something like the Ryder Cup, it should just be played without spectators present? They have done this before in European Soccer. Television is the bulk of the audience for a tourney which is watched around the world. When some idiot yelled out as Stenson started making his backstroke, I stopped watching, it all got too much and as an Australian without a vested interest, couldn’t be bothered with a contest biased towards one side.

  7. Mark Donaghy

    Oct 5, 2016 at 5:02 am

    We like to think that poor crowd behaviour is a modern phenomenon but in 1855, when playing a match against Willie Park at Musselburgh Tom Morris left the course, with the referee, because the partisan crowd was kicking and standing on his golf ball. These were big money matches with lots of betting and drinking, crowds would number in their tens of thousands and be very hostile to visitors. People would be shouting out at the top of a player’s backswing. Spectators stood in the bunkers to get a better view. Looks like we have come full circle.

  8. Ty

    Oct 5, 2016 at 2:34 am

    Isn’t this a ton of fun? The Hecklers are in force on these comments boards! Excellent! Lets keep it going for two more years!

  9. Brent

    Oct 5, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Because you’re a di** head probably.

  10. schadenfreude

    Oct 4, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Golf is a gentleman’s game not a WWE event, Raiders game, or monster truck rally! I hope the Ryder Cup doesn’t take on the personality of that Waste Management Tourney in Arizona. As a matter of fact I hope it goes even more conservative and stops selling alcohol to decrease the excuses for idiot behavior. We got a whole bunch of “Kardashian” intelligence sports but lets keep the few we don’t have classy.

  11. Brian

    Oct 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    The Euros flooding this board have no room to talk. Look at their behavior during soccer matches.

    • RedX

      Oct 4, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      Sad you feel that way Brian. I’m not European by the way but we’re talking about one of the showcase events on the golfing calendar – “golf” being the most important word in that sentence.

    • Com

      Oct 5, 2016 at 2:32 am

      Once again, Brian, an American, getting topics and subjects confused and mixed up and making them all the same. A typical American trait, that, not being able to compartmentalize.

    • Sven Olsen

      Oct 6, 2016 at 6:22 am

      I am not an European – I am Danish, and I think the discussion has come to a point, where common sense has left the building.

      If you compare soccer to golf, you are far out. Golf is a gentlemen’s sport – soccer is definately not!

      If people cannot behave, they have nothing to do at a golf game – cheering on your team is something we all do, but not to the extend, where the opposing players are intimidated and/or abused by a couple of braindeads – for that is the cold facts: Only a very tiny minority behave like idiots – the vast majority of the mainly American audience were good sportsmen – they cheered a good performance, and made some teasing comments – which is fine and proper – since this happened post-shot, so to speak.

      And, a little foot note: Please do not call true Europeans for Euros – they abhor the modern version of Hitler’s Neuropa. Further to your comment: Don’t forget, the Scots, who are Europeans (to a certain degree) invented golf, so we, the Scandinavians and the Europeans have plenty of room – plenty!

  12. Topic_Monitor

    Oct 4, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Please be respectful of others and stick to the subject matter. Thank You

  13. Proud Yankee

    Oct 4, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Thanks WRX for letting someone post something so absolutely hateful like saying Americans are C**** you should be proud of yourself for taking my post off but leaving that

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Oct 4, 2016 at 9:41 am

      We regret the comment you’re addressing making it through our spam filters. Our apologies. It has no place on our site, and never will.

  14. Ian Muir

    Oct 4, 2016 at 4:05 am

    The whole world watches the Ryder Cup; it is broadcast worldwide and so the US looks bad in the eyes of the neutrals be it in the Far East, Australasia as well as in Europe and every other corner of the world. But you know what, all that the Hazeltine crowds have done is to further imbed the already held beliefs around the globe that the US are a nation of low-class, drunken and moronic fools. But I guess rather than tackle the issue (and it’s not the first time in RC history that the US crowds have acted in this way) the US will do what it always does – circle the wagons. I guess at least there was no-one firing guns when the putts were rolling in.

    • Chris

      Oct 4, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Broad generalizations to label a whole country? That seems about right. So Europe’s futbol fans must be a direct representation of their country , correct? …
      Get over it , any normal tour event there is not an issue with hecklers and people over here like Rory and a lot of other foreigners. They even root for them. This is a TEAM EVENT that happens every two years of course we are going to root against the euros..

  15. Ian Muir

    Oct 4, 2016 at 2:24 am

    It reflects where America is in the world; boorish and needy for attention whilst being lacking in class and intellect in equal measure. The behaviour (yes that is the correct spelling NOT behavior you mugs) seen at Hazeltine was televised around the world and America’s reputation sinks even lower; well done to the brainless, knuckle-dragging morons. Oh, and ban the sale of alcohol it is not the time nor the place for it.

    • Brian

      Oct 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      Kind of like the Euro soccer fans that hurl bananas and chant monkey noises at black soccer players? Those who live in glass houses…

      • Lucas

        Oct 4, 2016 at 4:03 pm

        This isn’t soccer…look at the Wimbledon? Thats not the Point. Stupid people dont have to ruin every sport.

      • stephenf

        Oct 14, 2016 at 11:38 am

        Kind of like, it doesn’t matter what other people do. It matters what _you_ do. That’s one of the things this game is supposed to teach people, if they learn it the right way.

    • Bert

      Oct 5, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Sad prospective – very sad.

  16. Brian

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Is that anything like Euro soccer fans throwing bananas and making monkey noises at black players?

  17. Rock Flite

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Some behavior crossed the line. On the Saturday afternoon fourball, Westwood missed a 4/5 foot putt early on the back nine. He had another on the next hole, when someone yelled ‘miss it’ on his backswing- I have it on tape. Commentators acted like it didn’t happen. With that in the back of his mind and the crowd screaming for blood, Westwood proceeds to gag over the next two that were inside the leather. Can only hope the Euro crowd forgets this by ’18.

  18. RedX

    Oct 3, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    For all those advocating a restriction on alcohol take a moment. The Euro’s at their press conference rejected any call for future alcohol bans. Yes there were a few too many incidents of poor behaviour but it was the overwhelming miniscule MINORITY of the crowd. An alcohol ban punishes many for the indiscretions of the so very few. Lets just hold the idiots accountable for their actions rather than putting a dampener on things for so many people who can have a few drinks and still act like responsible, respectful adults.

    If those idiots have a problem at a Ryder Cup match because they’ve had a few beers they probably have problems elsewhere as well

    • john

      Oct 7, 2016 at 12:56 am

      This is how society makes laws… The minority ruin it for the rest (speed limits in cars for a prime example). If your minority can’t handle their liquor at a golf event, then alcohol needs to be banned.

      • Double Mocha Man

        Oct 7, 2016 at 11:37 am

        I’ve tried to explain just that to my son… how a few idiot people cause laws to be written… laws that end up impacting us all. I think we should be able to apply for an Adult Maturity and Wisdom card. Ownership of that card would allow you to skip over a lot of laws made specifically for the selfish idiots.

  19. Markallister

    Oct 3, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    maybe the us players should eat more hot dogs and drink more beer so that people would actually like them.

  20. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 3, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Hey! Let Smizzle have his say!

  21. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 3, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    We all have our problems (as do you and your username) but that was a little over the top.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Oct 3, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      I was referring to the Tickle Me guy. Smiz, all your usernames are okay with me.

      • Double Mocha Man

        Oct 3, 2016 at 5:50 pm

        Chuckle… chuckle… (don’t do anything to get yourself censored)

  22. tickle me puswoo

    Oct 3, 2016 at 4:59 pm


  23. leo vincent

    Oct 3, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    The United States public in general has gotten more rude and dumber in general.All that needs to be said is the U S public may elect Donald Trump president you can’t get much dumber than that.

    • birdy

      Oct 5, 2016 at 7:38 am

      unless of course you elect a corrupt, dishonest, incompetent, unlikable, woman with a track record of fail.

  24. Drimmen

    Oct 3, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    I was at Hazeltine on Friday and Sunday. Huge crowds, huge emotions. I followed Reed and Rory for several holes. Obviously I’m only one person, but I didn’t see any continual over-the-top rude behavior. A couple of times someone would shout something out and rest of the fans would quickly shut them down. I think Clarke’s .01% was probably correct. The PGA had plenty of messaging on the video screens about being respectful. I say a lot of media hype. Followed Phil and Sergio for much of Sunday. Great match. Sergio seemed thankful for the fan behavior and support.

  25. The Ruder Cup

    Oct 3, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    It’s the RUDER Cup. To see who can be the rudest in the land.
    Pathetic show of a competition or whatever belligerent-fest it is

  26. Warwick

    Oct 3, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    My wife does not play or watch sport but she watched a few holes with me and exclaimed, “The Americans are very rude.”

    We are neutrals from South Africa but the poor sportsmanship displayed by MOST of the American crowd tarnished Arnold Palmer’s memory. The cheer that went up when Rory hit into the water on the 16th was disgusting. An American friend could not stop apologizing.

    I thought the golfers behaved pretty well but some, including Patrick and Rory went too far in their antics. Ricky and Phil were exceptionally well behaved.

    The golf was riveting but the mindless” USA USA” chant was distracting. Minnesota is not on my bucket list.

    • Dave

      Oct 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      This must be your first Ryder Cup.

    • Whatsthecatch

      Oct 4, 2016 at 1:56 am


      Yes Apartheid was wrong but not genocide…whatever definition from any generally accepted source you want to use

      Preventing a person sitting in a whites only restaurant is wrong but not genocide.

      What about the Indians?Because it was way back, smaller sample pool does that now change the principle?

    • SNBD

      Oct 4, 2016 at 2:11 am

      This is an amazingly witty comment…directed at yet another non-american making “MOST” of us out to be the worst fans in all of sports. Sergio and Clarke didn’t even say “MOST” of the fans were out of line and they were at the event. As for the USA USA chants, you (Warwick) don’t see this type of enthusiasm for the international team in the President’s Cup because your beloved South Africans and the rest of the world get waxed every two years.

    • Brent

      Oct 5, 2016 at 1:00 am

      What has South Africa’s history got to do with the ryder cup?

    • cwp

      Oct 14, 2016 at 7:19 am

      Oh yeah? Care to tell me what happened to the Sioux tribe then? Only a part of the extermination of indians you have in your history so stop spouting your nonsense.

    • stephenf

      Oct 14, 2016 at 11:39 am

      Yeah. I’ll bet these people aren’t either.

  27. Jay

    Oct 3, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    All the comments of the problem being a tiny minority, or the Euros are the same, or ‘it’s the players fault for stoking things up’. It’s all a smoke haze. Those things are the result, not the cause. The real cause of this, is an over abundance of cultural Nationalism spreading it’s way around the world like a cancer. The world appears to be well down the road to a more dangerous junction whereby Patriotism has already been mistaken for Nationalism and history has repeatedly shown that this slippery slope of Nationalism has ended very badly, yet we as humans have failed to learn any lessons from our past. That’s sad, and a great worry!

    • Double Mocha Man

      Oct 3, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Here’s to being a Universalist. We all share this planet. What’s with those dotted white lines between countries anyway?! They’re just “political” boundaries. God didn’t put those there.

      • Double Mocha Man

        Oct 3, 2016 at 4:21 pm

        Smizie… go look up Donald Trump’s GHIN handicap index, watch a YouTube video of his swing and tell me he doesn’t cheat at golf. Your red state doesn’t trump my blue state. Mine has better golf courses. Un-i-verse… Un-i-verse… Un-i-verse…

        • Double Mocha Man

          Oct 3, 2016 at 4:25 pm

          Well, sorry, that was a bit of a non-sequitur. I enjoy Smizzle’s commentary, both good and stupid. Didn’t mean to bring in politics, but Smizzle was sounding alot like an old white man there.

      • stephenf

        Oct 14, 2016 at 11:40 am

        Hilarious. You really want to try to live without them?

        It’s not the fact of the boundaries that causes incivility.

    • RedX

      Oct 3, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      Jingoism is the expression you’re searching for Jay. Not new unfortunately

  28. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 3, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    1. I would have loved to see Rory punch that guy out.

    2. You hand should be stamped every time you buy a beer. After 4 stamps you’re cut off.

    3. If that guy had 4 stamps or less on his hand he wouldn’t have used that language against a good guy from Ireland.

    • Dave

      Oct 3, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Rory had classless comments about the Americans before it started and Rory was egging it on during the competition. It’s the first time I have ever rooted against him. I now believe he is a spoiled little brat. Stenson on the other hand, due to his behavior and ability to tune out the crowd, is fast becoming my favorite Euro. I just wish he would smile more then once a week.

      • stephenf

        Oct 14, 2016 at 11:41 am

        If you think somebody else’s behavior or comments are the cause of yours, you are no golfer. Not really.

  29. KJ

    Oct 3, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I have to admit that hearing what was being said was embarrassing at times. I don’t care if it was a very small minority. Find the idiots and throw them out! I was also not thrilled with the overreaction by players on both sides after making good shots and holing putts. You would have never seen any of the greats react that way. I know its an emotional time and tournament, but have some respect for the game. An occasional fist pump or reaction is fine and expected……but not on every hole. McElroy and Reed played ridiculously good golf and both went over the line IMHO.

    • Keith B. Real

      Oct 3, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      I wish there was a like button. 🙂

    • Paul

      Oct 3, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Its opinions like this why Golf is so hard to grow. This sport absolutley needs some emotion in it. How do you expect to draw in a younger crowd…which you have to do to energize this sport…if you become offended at the idea of someone displaying passion for draining a 20 foot putt in front of a few thousand. Relax a little bit broski..have a beer..and let the kids have some fun

      • Scooter McGavin

        Oct 3, 2016 at 4:10 pm

        Paul is right on the money. They went “over the line”? Are you kidding me? Why do you think most people find golf to be incredibly boring and question it even being athletic? Because of these attitudes that excitement, energy, and passion have to be suppressed in order to maintain “proper decorum for this noble game of old”. That’s why everyone thinks it’s a stuffy hobby for rich white people, when in fact it is quite fun and exciting. Anyone who plays knows how exciting the game can be, so why fight it? To add to it, the Ryder Cup actually adds a team and group pride element absent from other golf tournaments. That’s ONE of the reasons more people find sports like football, soccer, basketball, and baseball more exciting, is they have a team that they and a well-defined group of other people have a vested interest in, so they get more excited to watch them.

      • JG

        Oct 3, 2016 at 8:48 pm

        You’re absolutely right Paul. Why didn’t people go up in arms when Tiger would fist pump a putt after leading by 10 at Pebble? Because they loved the emotion.
        Plus, competitive matchplay is a completely different game than your day in day out stroke play, the emotion is what gets under players skin. Which might I add is a benefit in the Ryder Cup.

      • KJ

        Oct 4, 2016 at 8:12 am

        Golf does not need guys running around, mouthing obscenities and all of the theatrics that were on display in some of the matches. Again, I said some emotion and gamesmanship is great. I enjoyed it to a point. But, they took it too far. If that’s what golf “needs”, then I want no part of playing around anyone that thinks that’s what the game is about. If you cant have fun being outside enjoying good weather, getting some exercise with your buddies, enjoying their company and competing then golf isn’t for you. And that’s ok as far as I’m concerned.

        • JThunder

          Oct 4, 2016 at 10:47 pm

          Wow, so many of you equate “emotion” with yelling obscenities and trash talking the opponent. That’s very telling. Those things are not one in the same, and not necessarily even related.

        • Jack

          Oct 5, 2016 at 3:45 am

          Agree, I think a proper celebration would have been a slight tip of the hat or even with a charming wink added in. Anything more would be a travesty.

    • MBU

      Oct 3, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      You’re bang on there. They should both have known better. There didn’t seem much mutual respect between them either. Dustin Johnson came off as a good guy, and Phil of course.
      What Willet harped on about post Ryder Cup was awful. I hope he’s not picked again.
      I thought that the USA team celebrated very respectfully after winning. I didn’t mind the US’ winning it, they had a very positive attitude, and deserved it.

    • Rwj

      Oct 3, 2016 at 6:27 pm


      The problem is they are no longer sporting events for fans, they are social events for people needing to post selfies showing their acquaintances their life is great. True fans rarely go to sporting events anymore because they know the alcoholics are going to be loud and obtrusive to ruin a good day.
      It’s a dog and pony show now on tour. The athlete can’t finish a putt and soak in his achievement of winning a tournament without his trophy wife needing to be on the green for tv coverage.

    • SNBD

      Oct 4, 2016 at 2:24 am

      KJ: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you’re not in your 20’s and probably not even in your 30’s….if you are, what is it with your pre-mature “get off my lawn” attitude? Golf is seriously struggling with the younger generation and there are a lot of factors, but the stuffy, respect the game attitude that your post so aptly displays is a huge one. MLB is in the same boat…so many unwritten rules in baseball, you can write a book about them. This is a serious prediction….golf will probably see a gain in popularity and have a “come back” when the baby boomer generation literally dies. Everything wasn’t better in the 50’s….simpler, yes, but not better.

  30. Mr. Wedge

    Oct 3, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Standing in a crowd behind the ropes gives a certain few people the false sense of anonymity. Sort of like the internet. General rule, if you wouldn’t say it directly face to face, don’t yell it through a crowd.

  31. Scooter McGavin

    Oct 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I’m not sure what everyone else was watching, but it looked to me like everyone was really excited and having a blast. Maybe the complainers just need to quit being pansies and whining all the time. Also, fwiw, the 85/15% number was thrown out by Sergio, who is a giant baby.

    • Jack Nash

      Oct 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      It’s obvious you musta been out of the room when the commentators were mentioning the morons and derogatory remarks towards the Euro players. You musta missed Bubba and the group he was following when he told some fans to cut it down a notch. There’s no problem with boisterous fans. There’s no problem with boisterous players. There’s no problem with the home fans cheering for missed Euro putts or shots. There IS a problem with vulgar and unnecessary shots at different opposition players.

  32. Ajb

    Oct 3, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    As a neutral and just observing I couldn’t help but notice the similarity between the crowds at the golf and a Trump rally. A very similar energy and I bet if a survey had been done the majority of the golf crowd would have been Trump supporters.

    • Michael

      Oct 3, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      You aren’t a “neutral” and your comment makes that quite clear.

      • Ajb

        Oct 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm

        I reside in New Zealand hence the neutral tag but have played well over a hundred games in the USA. I have certainly never attended a Trump rally but what I have seen on the net the behavior from large numbers of both crowds is very similar

      • Ajb

        Oct 3, 2016 at 2:18 pm

        I live in New Zealand so consider myself a neutral. I have played golf at over 200 course in the USA over 30 years and all the people I have played and met have been wonderful.
        I have never attended a Trump rally but the behavior at the golf from large numbers of the gallery seemed very similar to the behavior of his audiences.

        • daniel

          Oct 5, 2016 at 9:02 am

          Was there all weekend, wearing a trump pin. The people in MN were def not Trump fans lol. Super liberal. Also I think the media made this a bigger deal than it was. I only heard one thing in 2 entire days I felt was inappropriate. The Euros and Americans in the crowd were both very boisterous, I dont think any one was that out of line.

  33. Bill W

    Oct 3, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    I quit watching tournaments on TV because of this stuff. It only shows the greed of the organizers to make money from alcohol and what classless trash shows up.

    • Michael

      Oct 3, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      The article and the experience of most people reflect that this does not go on during regular tour events. It doesn’t. I don’t know what you are watching, but it’s not the same PGA Tour and Euro Tour events I am watching.

  34. gofish721

    Oct 3, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    What does anyone expect? It’s now a team game so it will get more vocal. When my team the Cavs played the Warriors, I had no trouble loudly cheering for LeBron and at times loudly booing the Warriors. But when they play is fair and they outperform us, I don’t boo or go abusively vocal. One has to tip his hat to Sergio to play like he did against Phil’s onslaught, sink that last pressure putt, and eke out a half. Wow! That was fun to watch!!
    But in other sports pro games, when the players pass by fans going to the lockers rooms, the most obnoxious and offensive comments are made. It’s when you’re practically face to face. Same with passing through to the next tee and the situation with Rory. That may be where they need to focus crowd control. Limit the amount of rope the fans can press up against. And add a few more marshals there willing to eject over the top people to set a desired standard. Two things though… 1- you’ll never stop every classless and/or drunk fan from speaking out pathetic things. 2- make no mistake about it, the European fans who are used to being spectators at soccer matches (and we have seen some results of those), are no angels either. It’s going to happen. Still overall, it’s very enjoyable. I don’t let a few sully comments from a losing team knock the tarnish off this one!! From what I’ve read, Rory has handled it well.

  35. KennyV

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Wait till we get to Bethpage

  36. KennyV

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Two issues. One….the crowds are too big for the event. 40K paid entries and the PGA and sponsors add another 10K comp tickets. That’s 50K people watching 4 groups. You can’t see anything and sit around for an hour on an empty hole waiting on groups to arrive. What else is there to do but drink
    Two….These same fans are idiots most every other week. Something about yelling “get In the hole” that seems cool. Maybe Willet was right. They need to be busted and marched out. Bring back a better spirit to the game.

  37. RichC

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Similar instances of bad behaviour and heckling were evident at the 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline, in an effort to stop it at the next Ryder Cup on US soil, which was held at Oakland Hills, the tournament organisers imposed a total ban on alchohol on the South course, the tented village area was located on the North course which was the other side of the road, and while alcohol was available over there it was not allowed or for sale anywhere on the south course. The US team didn’t perform very well which could have been a factor, but it seemed that overall the behaviour of fans was excellent.

  38. Dunce

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Alcohol is the biggest issue, its a shame some morons overdo it, as most people can sit there and have a few beers and not cause problems. They should have a big, Oktoberfest style beer tent or something along those lines for those who want to drink, once you go in there you have to stay there the rest of day or leave the course.

    • Dunce is a wuss

      Oct 3, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      What a wussy un-American, un sporting event like comment. You have just been stripped of your man card.

  39. Bill

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I think some of the hecklers are egged on by the players themselves. The way some of the golfers over reacted to some of their putts was excessive and way beyond the norm. Some of the older golfer announcers even mentioned it and said in earlier Rider Cups those types out outburst never happened. I think if the players calmed down and acted more restrained and respectable then so will the crowd.

    • Dale Doback

      Oct 3, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      I’m sorry but nobody wants to watch unrestrained golf, that’s what makes the Ryder Cup fun. We get the golf clap and the quiet signs all year. The Ryder Cup is a different event. Most of what took place at the Ryder Cup was perfectly fine and no different than what has happened on European soil. Rory and other Euros definitely fueled the crowed which was fun to watch especially when the level of play was stepped up. This was definitely the best Ryder Cup I have ever watched as far as the quality of play from both sides. when the fans serenaded Rory with the song “Sweet Caroline,” I thought that was incredibly funny and clever heckling, I don’t even mind so much the cheering when one opponent missed a shot to allow a player to win a hole. I heard Euro fans cheering when USA players missed putts, but a line must be drawn for conduct and the Euro/USA committee need to have more/better security to deal with rare over the top incidents like what happened to Rory to keep vulgar insulted heckling out of the best event in golf.

  40. Mr. Wedge

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:21 am

    The patriotism and heckling is a small part of what makes the Ryder cup a great event. But there’s a line between heckling, and just being rude and offensive, that unfortunately some people don’t understand. It’s one of the reasons I love golf and hate going to other types of sporting events. God forbid you go to an opposing team’s football game, you have to worry about getting beer poured down you back and getting into a fight. I enjoy the heckling, the boos for missed putts, etc, as long as it doesn’t cross that line. But the Ryder cup seems to attract a portion of that other crowd. You get it from both sides though. Rory even acknowledged that the Euro fans are pretty tough on the Americans when it’s on their turf.

  41. Jackson Galaxy

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I have more respect for Rory now than I ever did before. He played his heart out and was very gracious toward the US players afterward.

    • Galaxy Jackson

      Oct 3, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      He was wanting to back it up and just suck a D when he told the guy “If you want to back that up, I’m right here,” That was his invite for the dude to get a hummer

    • Bert

      Oct 5, 2016 at 9:21 pm

      Absolutely! What a match – can’t get any better but not to forget Phil and Sergio. Two fantastic matches that I’ll not forget.

  42. AllBOdoesisgolf

    Oct 3, 2016 at 11:05 am

    doesn’t beat the Euros spitting on Tiger and calling him a N!@#$%….. but hey, just the Americans are bad….

    • SimonCordier

      Oct 3, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Do you want to substantiate that, or did you just make it up?

    • Gollie

      Oct 3, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      When did this happen? Seems like it would have been a big deal. Never heard about it.

      • Jack Nash

        Oct 3, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        You never heard about it because it never happened.

  43. Brian DeGraf

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:29 am

    As another has said, this type of behavior is not seen at the Masters. I think there two reasons for that. 1) No alcohol is allowed or sold. 2) Limited ticket sales. The larger the crowd, the more agitation among fans trying to see and hear.

    • GaHack1

      Oct 3, 2016 at 11:11 am

      Well they do sell beer at the Masters and I would say they have a larger crowd than at the Ryder Cup. But the patrons at Augusta would not stand for such nonsense, I believe they would take care of anyone doing such things.

    • Seth

      Oct 3, 2016 at 11:19 am

      Alcohol is sold at the Masters. Domestic and Import beer is available to the patrons at concession stands throughout the course. Liquor is available if you are fortunate enough to get into the more restricted areas (clubhouse, etc.) during tournament week.

      I agree with you on the crowd size. I also think people have heard the stories of losing badges and being black listed if the Green Jackets determine your behavior is unacceptable. Also, a lot of people attending the Masters buy their tickets through a broker or hospitality company and there are very stiff penalties in place if the purchaser does not return the badge after play has ended.

    • Tom

      Oct 3, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Fans are also probably a lot more emotionally invested in the Ryder Cup than the Masters. Yes, you have your players to cheer on at Augusta, but you’re rooting for your country at the Ryder Cup.

  44. Patricknorm

    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:00 am

    This isn’t popular but you have to eliminate or restrict alcohol sales at these events. Doing that settles the crowd down a bit and maybe 15% of the fans are going to be affected. The tickets are expensive, it’s a hassle to get there and move around the course and everyone is jacked up because it’s the Ryder Cup. Like I said it’s not popular but possibly the way to appeas the 85% who came to watch and appreciate great golf.

  45. Reeche

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Who is at fault ,
    Danny willets brother or the “Gutter Press ” for asking for a golf professionals brothers opinions , ,,,,then printing it

    • larrybud

      Oct 3, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Right, because otherwise adults who are outside the ropes can’t help themselves but yelling such nonsense…

  46. DrunkenStooper

    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Get the drunk idiots off the course and the problem will be solved. They are not golf fans anyway.

  47. Bert

    Oct 3, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Rory was awesome and so was the American Team. Hecklers are unnecessary wasted trash.

    Congratulations to both team for a wonderful golf adventure, one I’ll never forget.

    • Redx

      Oct 3, 2016 at 9:04 am

      +1 to that Bert.

      Ben, for the record partisan enthusiasm is what Rory was responding to. That and the (tremendous) enthusiasm of the US plays (Reed in particular). He wasn’t responding to the minuscule percentage of idiots that worked to tarnish the reputation of US fans overall.

      I do feel we expect more of golf fans than some other sports. As we expect more of the players with the rule of fair play and etiquette – it should be In the DNA for golfers.

      Great event. Can’t wait until 2018 in Paris. Golf is great and the Ryder Cup is special. Keep the idiots out in whatever way possible but play on! We (the viewers) are the winners here.

      • Fredo

        Oct 3, 2016 at 11:26 am

        Right on Bert & Redx! There will always be ‘that’ clown skulking around. The emotion and fire power by the fans and players was exactly what golf needs right now. The Sunday match with Rory and P. Reed was riveting! And that will hopefully translate into new golfers, or bring back the golfers that have deserted the game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


The Wedge Guy: Understanding versus learning versus practice



I’ve long been fascinated with the way the golf swing works, from full driver swings to the shortest chip shots. I’m sure that curiosity was embedded in me by my father as I began to get serious about my own golf around the age of 10. His philosophy was that the more you know about how something works, the more equipped you are to fix it when it breaks.

As I grew up in the game, my father and I spent hours talking about golf and swing technique, from the grip to positions at impact to conceptual aspects of the game and swing. I’ve continued to study and have conversations with knowledgeable golf professionals and players throughout my life. But back to my father, one thing he made very clear to me early on is that there is a big difference between understanding, learning, and practice.

Understanding and learning are two very different aspects of getting better at this game. The understanding part is where you actually grasp the basic concepts of a functionally correct golf swing. This includes the fundamentals of a proper grip, to the geometry of sound setup up, and alignment to the actual role and movements of the various parts of your body from start to finish.

Only after understanding can you begin the learning process of incorporating those fundamentals and mechanical movements into your own golf swing. I was taught and continue to believe the best way to do that is to start by posing in the various positions of a sound golf swing, then graduating to slow motion movement to connect those poses – address to takeaway to mid-backswing to top of backswing to first move down, half-way down…through impact and into the follow-through.

Finally, the practice part of the equation is the continual process of ingraining those motions so that you can execute the golf swing with consistency.

The only sure way to make progress in your golf is through technique improvement, whether it is a full swing with the driver or the small swings you make around the greens. There are no accomplished players who simply practice the same wrong things over and over. Whether it is something as simple as a grip alteration or modification to your set up position, or as complex as a new move in the swing, any of these changes require first that you understand…then clearly learn the new stuff. Only after it is learned can you begin to practice it so that it becomes ingrained.

If you are trying to learn and perfect an improved path of your hands through impact, for example, the first step is to understand what it is you are trying to achieve. Only then can you learn it. Stop-action posing in the positions enables your muscles and mind to absorb your new objectives. Then, slow-motion swings allow your muscles to feel how to connect these new positions and begin to produce this new coordinated motion through them. As your body begins to get familiar with this new muscle activity, you can gradually speed up the moves with your attention focused on making sure that you are performing just as you learned.

As you get comfortable with the new muscle activity, you can begin making practice swings at half speed, then 3/4 speed, and finally full speed, always evaluating how well you are achieving your objectives of the new moves. This is the first stage of the practice process.

Only after you feel like you can repeat this new swing motion should you begin to put it into practice with a golf ball in the way. And even then, you should make your swings at half or ¾ speed so that you can concentrate on making the new swing – not hitting the ball.

The practice element of the process begins after the learning process is nearly complete. Practice allows you to ingrain this new learning so that it becomes a habit. To ensure your practice is most effective, make several practice swings for each ball you try to hit.

I hope all this makes sense. By separating understanding from the learning process, and that from the practice that makes it a habit — and getting them in the proper sequence — you can begin to make real improvements in your game.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading


Beyond limits: Carbon bending and the future of shaft manufacturing



My name is James, and I am an equipment junkie. Like many of you, I am also a (mediocre) golfer struggling to take my golf game to the next level. But since I’m not so keen on hitting the range or the gym, I’m always searching for the next big breakthrough to help me avoid excessive practice and golf lessons.

TLDR: I am back to report that I may have found the ultimate breakthrough involving how golf shafts are manufactured. It will sound mind-boggling and counter-intuitive, but the new technology involves controlling a shaft’s variables of weight, flex (CPM), and torsional strength (torque) all independently of one another. As if this alone doesn’t sound far-fetched enough, it also purports to control the subjective aspect of how stiff the shaft feels without affecting the other variables.

To the best of my knowledge, I never knew any of these were possible, but seeing (and feeling) is believing, though I’m still reeling from my recent experience. Moreover, I dare predict that the sheer novelty of this discovery has the potential to redefine the golf shaft industry as we know it.

Also, the article is long. You’ve been warned.

In A League Of Their Own

Over the years, I have reported on several golf innovations and technologies that made golfers sit up and take notice. Of those finds, let me briefly recap two products that especially stood out before I unveil my most recent discovery further below.

Starting at number three, I present the now-famous Autoflex shaft by Dumina. Introduced in early 2020 during the COVID epidemic, the small Korean company claimed that their shafts didn’t use any flex designations and are to be selected solely based on a golfer’s swing speed. Against conventional wisdom, the company claimed that a super flexible, ultralight shaft can improve distance and accuracy for golfers of all swing speeds. The AF shaft, with its mysterious Korea Hidden Technology (KHT), sounded too good to be true, but more often than not, golfers who braved the steep price and the hot pink color agreed that the shaft seemed legitimate. Many also credit it with creating a whole new category of soft and hyper-flexible performance shafts.

Next in the number two spot is the groundbreaking FreeFlex shaft from SJ Golf Lab, also out of Korea. When the FF shafts surfaced in early 2023, I first thought they were a slightly improved version of the Autoflex. At weights and flex even softer than the AF, the shafts also improved distance and accuracy at a lower price point than their counterparts.

Upon delving further, FreeFlex Technology (FFT) was far more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Against the norm, the inventor of FFT claimed that a shaft’s weight, flex (CPM), and torque are NOT relative to each other and that each variable can be controlled separately. According to SJ Lab, a lightweight, flexible shaft with a strong torque was possible, and vice-versa. The incredulous claim went largely unnoticed at the time, but the folks at SJ Lab recently decided to prove their technology by introducing the ultimate unicorn of a shaft.

Aptly named ‘Hammer Throw’ the rubber-like shaft featured a conventional shaft’s weight of 62g yet measured only 140 CPM to be incredibly soft and flexible. To top it off, it also featured a strong 3.5 torque similar to an S-flex shaft, all unlikely numbers that have never been combined in a single shaft before. The Hammer Throw proved to be a wonder shaft for slower swingers, helping to increase club head speed, distance, and even accuracy.

Ultimately, SJ Lab redefined the concept of ‘shaft customization’ by proving that a shaft’s WT, CPM, and TQ can be controlled independently to any degree.

Featuring SJ Golf’s FFT technology, the Hammer Throw and FF38 also caught the attention of many WLD athletes with swing speeds over 150mph.

Mind-Bending Revelation

The AF and FF shafts are indeed quite amazing, but what I’m about to share with you may be an even bigger discovery than both of them combined.

It was a Thursday afternoon in October when I arrived at SJ Golf Lab. I had just finished a round of golf that morning and felt flush after having bested my buddies on a tough track. I was to cover the story of a new line of putter shafts (based on the Chaos Theory in physics, no less) and was looking forward to seeing if it could help my putting.

I was making small talk with Dr. Choi, the inventor & CEO of SJ Golf Lab, when a courier arrived to hand him a sealed envelope. Inside was a patent certificate for a new golf shaft manufacturing process, which was to be featured in SJ Lab’s latest MetaFlex series of shafts.

“Oh, that sounds interesting” I said politely. “Is it like FreeFlex technology?”

What came next was a barrage of information so contradictory and yet so transformative in its revelation that I forgot all about the putter shafts.

Entering The Realm Of The Senses

Carbon Bending Technology (CBT) is the latest brainchild of Dr. Choi, the inventor of FreeFlex shafts. As incredulous as his FFT may seem, his new CBT technology takes it even further by stating that a fourth variable, the shaft’s level of firmness, can also be controlled independently of the other variables.

“CBT technology involves bending or wrapping carbon in a certain way to control how stiff a shaft feels, independently of weight, flex, and torque.” – Dr. Seung-jin Choi, inventor of CBT Technology 

Take a moment to let that sink in. Not only is he saying that the objective values of WT, CPM, and TQ can be controlled in any manner desired, but he can also control the subjective aspect of how firm a
shaft feels.

If CBT technology is legitimately possible, the implications of his discovery are immense and may well change the way golf shafts are made. Needless to say, such a spectacular assertion begs the question, “How can such an improbable idea be possible?”

As I struggled to comprehend what I just heard, Dr. Choi handed me a shaft and asked me to try and bend it. Grabbing it at both ends, the shaft felt light and soft, and I was able to bend and flex it easily. I was then given another shaft and asked to do the same. The new shaft felt much firmer from the get-go, similar to what I’d expect from a typical S-flex shaft. When I said that the second shaft felt much stronger than the first, I was in for a rude awakening.

“They’re the same shafts” Dr. Choi said. “The only difference is that the second one was treated with the CBT process. Other than that, both are practically the same in CPM and torque.”

“What do you mean these are the same shafts? This one is definitely stiffer.” My eyebrow arched in puzzlement at such a blatant contradiction.

After all, I was holding both shafts in my hands, and no one in the world was going to convince me that these two had the same CPM and TQ measurements.

The skepticism in my voice must’ve been obvious as I was led to a measuring device. I wish I could’ve seen the look on my face at that exact moment when my eyes confirmed both shafts to have the same CPM and torque.

Two same-looking shafts measured similarly in CPM and torque, despite one feeling much stiffer.

Goosebumps broke out on my arms, and my brain felt numb. Stunned, I took turns grabbing each shaft by the ends and bent them over and over again. There was absolutely no doubt that one was stiffer than the other. It wasn’t even close. Yet, if the numbers don’t lie, how was I to reconcile the two empirical facts at odds with each other before my very eyes?

Seeing Is Believing… Or Is It?

After repeated measurements to ensure I wasn’t dyslexic, I regained enough sense to sit down with Dr. Choi to hear more about the sorcery of carbon bending.

ME: How does CBT differ from your earlier FFT technology?

CHOI: CBT came as a result of golfers loving our FreeFlex shafts with the FFT technology but wanting even more. The FFT allows us to control the weight, flex, and torque independently. We used this discovery to design a new breed of shafts that help all levels of golfers increase club head speed and distance. But some of the stronger, faster-speed golfers were eventually turned off from it, as they couldn’t get accustomed to the soft feel and flex. The fear of spraying the ball all over the course was just too much.

To solve this issue, I looked at many factors that led golfers to describe whether a shaft is soft or stiff. Similar to FFT, I soon discovered that a shaft’s stiffness is not relative to its CPM value. By reinforcing a shaft through a special process I call carbon-bending, it can be made to feel as stiff as I wish without changing the original CPM or torque.

ME: (blank stare)

CHOI: Did that answer the question?

ME: Uhh… no? What do you mean the CPM doesn’t change? If the shaft became stiffer, it means the CPM value must have increased, doesn’t it? How we perceive stiffness is subjective, so we measure the CPM value objectively with a machine. That way, we can compare the CPM values of different shafts to see which one is stiffer with the higher number.

CHOI: Normally yes, but like I said, how stiff the shaft feels does not have to correlate with the CPM. They are independently controllable. As I just showed you with the two shafts earlier, both measured at the same CPM and torque. It was only when I applied the CBT method to one of them that it became stiffer than before, as you have seen for yourself.

ME: Yeah, I’m still not sure how that is, feeling firm in my hands but the machine reading it as soft. Is this like the cat in Schrodinger’s box, where the cat is both alive and dead at the same time? This shaft is also both soft and firm simultaneously?

CHOI: Not quite. But how about this? What if the CPM measurement we currently use to gauge and compare stiffness between shafts is not the only method? What if there were other ways that we haven’t considered to control the feeling of firmness?

ME: So you’re saying you discovered a new way to objectively measure how we feel or perceive stiffness?

CHOI: I think it’s better to say that I realized that a shaft’s CPM and stiffness can be independent of each other, whereas before, we thought they were directly relative. It led to look for other ways to make the shaft firmer, which is what I did. In the process, it also made me think, what else are we missing? Maybe we’ve been limiting ourselves in believing there’s nothing new left to discover.

Shaft Manufacturing 101

According to Dr. Choi, the method of manufacturing carbon shafts has remained largely unchanged since 1979, when Taylormade first introduced the first graphite shaft that offered many advantages over conventional steel shafts. Since then, various new materials and technologies have made the shafts lighter and stronger, but the basic shaft-making process remains the same.

The making of a modern golf shaft consists of wrapping layers of prepreg (treated carbon fiber) sheets around a steel shaft (mandrel). As more layers are applied, the shaft becomes progressively thicker and heavier (WT), which makes the flex (CPM) stiffer and increases the torsional (TQ)

The characteristics of a shaft depend on the amount of material and how each layer is oriented on the mandrel. How this is done varies among OEMs.

The current method and its proportional relationship between WT, CPM, and TQ is widely accepted. However, it also presents a big challenge for shaft-makers, whose main goal is to make shafts that improve distance with more accuracy. This is because generating more club speed for more distance necessitates a light and flexible shaft; while improving shot accuracy requires the shaft to be firm in both flex and torsional strength.

To balance the trade-off as best they could, OEMs have continually researched new materials and higher-quality carbon, along with their own, often secret, ways of weaving and arranging the carbon prepreg. A good example to illustrate shaft improvement in this manner is the lighter 50-gram range of X-flex shafts, which were a rarity only a few years ago.

At least for now, 5X shafts seem to be the pinnacle of conventional shafts that can be made with the existing process.

Shaft Manufacturing 2.0

In physics, Force equals Mass multiplied by Acceleration (F=MA). The same can be applied to golf at impact, but since a golf club is designed to be in motion, its dynamic energy is calculated as Impulse=MAT, where T is the time the ball stays in contact with the club face.

Dr. Choi explained that increasing any of the three factors would transfer more energy to the ball (I).

In other words, by making the club head heavier (M), faster (A), and getting the ball to remain in contact with the clubface longer (T), the distance will increase as a result.

Now that we can get faster club head speed (FF shafts), how can the shaft be made to feel stiff while retaining a longer distance? The solution was surprisingly simple, as most discoveries tend to be at first.

“Imagine wearing a pair of skin-tight nylon stockings,” Dr. Choi said. “It’s tight, but you can still move and bend your knees easily.” Truth be told, I’d never worn stockings before, but I nodded to see where it would lead.

“If you were to put on one more, your legs will feel stiff, and with yet another, it’ll now be very difficult to even bend your knees,” he was building up towards a big reveal. “But no matter how stiff your legs now feel with the layers of stockings, you can still rotate them.” Come again?

“When you try to sit down, the legs will stick straight out like they’re in a cast, right? But you’d still be able to twist or rotate your leg [left and right] because the stockings are not exerting force in that direction.”

Dazed at the anticlimactic turn, I tried to recall the last time I had a cast but he plowed on. “The original characteristics of your legs don’t change because of the stockings. They’re still your legs, which are bendy and flexible.”

I may have missed a whole lot there, but loosely translated, CBT technology is like adding tight pairs of stockings to make a shaft feel firmer, but won’t change what the original shaft was in terms of
torque or CPM.

Helical Carbon Armour

Carbon bending involves a new step in the shaft manufacturing process, where a thin strip of carbon is helically wrapped tightly around the shaft to increase stiffness. This new sheath of armor will firm up the feel of the shaft but will not affect the CPM or torque. In addition, Dr. Choi’s in-depth research further showed that the width of the strip band and the spacing between the helical spirals all played a part in changing the characteristics of the shaft in minute ways.

Each shaft has been treated with CBT and using different carbon weave, band width, materials and alignment to display a unique characteristics that can be tailored to a golfer’s swing

The truly mind-blowing prospect of CBT, however, is its ability to create an endless number of unique shafts with specific performance characteristics. For example, the number of new shaft possibilities can reach tens or even hundreds of thousands, depending on various factors, including but not limited to the width and thickness of the band, the spacing and orientation of the helical spiral, the weave pattern of the band fabric, and each of the different materials that all of these factors can be applied to.

“Can you imagine a PGA tour pro being able to dial in a golf shaft to squeeze 99.9% of the performance potential from their favorite shaft, without giving up anything they prefer in WT, CPM, TQ, and now FEEL?” – SJ Golf Lab 2023 

If It Looks And Barks Like A Dog?

Several days later, I returned to SJ Lab to test the new MetaFlex CBT shafts. The lineup consisted of three driver shafts of 5H, 6H, 6.5M, and iron ix90 shafts (H for high kick, M for mid-kick). Again, the MF series is designed for faster-speed golfers who swing at least 100mph to well over 120mph. I purposely asked not to see the shaft specs beforehand, as I wanted to remain neutral in determining how the new shafts felt and performed.

Waggling the 5H shaft first, it felt similar in weight and flex to a typical R-shaft. I usually average a smooth swing of about 95 mph with my FF38, but the 5H shaft instinctively made me try to swing harder to compensate for the firmer feel. The good drives launched high and carried as far, with spin between 1900~2000 rpm. As I warmed up, I was hitting it quite well, despite swinging a bit harder than usual.

I had grown accustomed to swinging smoothly and in tempo with FF shafts, so it felt good to swing hard again and not worry about the head catching up. The overall distance was comparable with my own driver at 240~250 yards, so I guessed the 5H specs to be about 220 CPM and close to 4.0 torque. On the downswing, the shaft reminded me of the many 5S shafts I had been using before being turned onto softer shafts. I imagined I could play it well, but struggle to keep it straight on the back nine when I gradually get tired.

Next, the 6H shaft felt like a conventional 5S on the waggle, but much stiffer like a 5X shaft on the actual downswing. I guessed it to be about 230~240 CPM and 3.5 in torque, as I was only able to turn the club head over about one-third of the time. I got a couple out to 240 yards but the rest of the shots varied from a fade bordering on a slice interspersed with low pulls. I felt the shaft demanded more speed for it to show its potential, and my slower speed wasn’t making it sing as it should.

Lastly, the MetaFlex 6.5M told me right away that it was out of my league. The waggle reminded me of a Ventus or a Tensei shaft, and the actual swing was even stiffer and closer to a 6X shaft. As expected, my shots were mostly pushed dead right, as I couldn’t effectively load the shaft with speed.

When I tried to force the head to turn over, I’d overcompensate to flip the wrist and pull it low left. The few that managed to land on the fairway barely traveled 210 yards with a noticeable decrease in ball speed. I can usually muster enough muscle to make a typical stiff shaft work over nine holes at least, but the 6.5M felt like an iron rod.

Overall, MF shafts’ waggles felt similar to conventional aftermarket shafts and felt even firmer during the actual swing.

I was now ready to see the actual spec measurements of the three shafts.

I could never have imagined such numbers corresponding to the firmness I experienced with MetaFlex shafts.

“There’s no way these numbers are the actual specs,” I protested. “These are softer than my FF38, so how…?” Hearing my voice hit a high pitch, I quickly closed my mouth. I already knew to expect something different, but this? Trying to reconcile the stiffness with such low numbers was just as difficult as it was the first time I encountered this phenomenon.

For lack of a better comparison, imagine picking up a cute kitten to hear it purr, only to be shocked at hearing it bark like a big angry pitbull with its tail stepped on. Does this mean I can no longer use phrases like “seeing is believing,” What will happen to “if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog?”

More importantly, what does this mean for the future of golf shafts?

Implications For The Future

Deep down, I believe every golfer wants to increase their driver distance. It doesn’t matter if you average 150 yards or 300 yards. As golfers, the need to hit it farther is in our DNA.

Since discovering that longer, easier distance (and accuracy to boot) is possible with the advent of AF shafts, I’ve never looked back. When FreeFlex shafts debuted earlier this year, I switched all my shafts throughout the bag and couldn’t be happier. I’ve received dozens of similar emails from golfers who read about my experiences and took the plunge, mostly to their pleasant surprise.

As amazing as the shafts are, some scoffed at the absence of such shafts on professional tours. If they’re so good, why aren’t they used more? After all, a distance gain of 10 yards on drives can mean as much as 5-10 percent closer to the pin on approach shots for shorter putts, which can translate to millions of dollars in winnings. In fact, dozens of pros from all major tours have tried them, some openly and some in secret.

As a recreational golfer, I can live with an occasional OB if it means consistently out-driving my friends. But an elite tour pro for whom a single stroke may be worth millions? Not a chance. Even the best can become a psychological wreck if the shaft flexed more than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. Especially on the back nine of a major on Sunday afternoon.

But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose there exists a shaft that truly offers longer distance and accuracy of the soft FF shaft with the reassuring feel and playability of a stiff shaft. Better yet, what if your favorite shaft can be readjusted to fit all of your needs for maximum performance output and feel preferences? I’d bet my last Pro V1s that elite professional golfers will stop at nothing to have them tested and optimized to benefit each of their own swing metrics and performance. It’s in their DNA.

Dr. Choi also mentioned that he is nearing completion of his state-of-the-art swing and shaft diagnostic system, which can prescribe precisely the type of shaft (weight, flex, torque, feel, kick, kitchen sink?) needed for a player. And he builds it to that specification. Customization to the fullest.

As the company’s name implies, that is the ultimate goal of SJ Golf Lab and Dr. Choi, who hopes his shafts will come as a “Special Joy” for each and every golfer.

All in all, CBT certainly felt to me like the next evolutionary step in golf shaft technology.

So, what do you think? Can we trust the accuracy of the statements made by SJ Golf Lab? I would love to hear from other golfers and knowledgeable shaftoids in the industry, and what it can mean going forward.

Your Reaction?
  • 117
  • LEGIT21
  • WOW40
  • LOL9
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP6
  • OB2
  • SHANK21

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The science of spin



Over my 30-plus years writing about equipment and designing wedges, I must have been asked thousands of times: “How do I get more spin with my wedge shots?” That seems like such a simple question, but the answer is as far from simple as you can get. So, today I’m going to try to break down the science of spin into its separate components.

The amount of spin imparted to the golf ball in any wedge shot will be affected by three basic things:

  1. The ball you play
  2. Your personal swing skills
  3. The specific wedges you play.

Let’s look at each of them.

The Ball

One very simple way to improve the spin you get with your wedge shots is to play a premium ball with a soft cover. The harder and usually less expensive balls typically have a firmer core and a cover that is more durable but doesn’t allow as much spin. You should experiment with various balls to see which gives you the optimum combination of distance and spin.

Your skills

We all know those golfers who seem to spin the ball better than others. That’s because they have honed their skills to make an accelerating, pure strike to the ball most of the time, and to make contact very low on the clubhead – elite players wear out a dime-sized spot on their wedges that is center-face and between the 2nd and 5th grooves. My bet is your wear pattern is more the size of a quarter or even half dollar and centered several grooves higher. You’ll see later why that is so important.

Anyone can learn to be a better wedge player by engaging a golf professional and spending lots more time practicing your wedge shots. I highly recommend both, but also realize that spin is greatly affected by swing speed as well. A strong player who can hit a gap wedge 120 yards is likely to generate much more spin than an equally skilled player who hits gap wedge only 90 yards.

Now we get to the fun part – how the specific wedges you are playing will affect the amount of spin you can impart to any given shot.

The wedges


Very simply, if you are playing a wedge that you’ve had for years, the grooves are likely well past worn out and are costing you valuable RPMs on every wedge shot. That said, no wedge brand has any measurable competitive advantage over another when it comes to groove technology. The USGA has not changed the rules on grooves in over a decade, and every premium brand of wedges is utilizing the best CNC-milling techniques to push those regulations to the limit. There’s just no story here. And my robotic testing indicates the total absence of grooves only reduces spin by 15-17 percent on a dry ball.

The Shaft

Yes, wedge shafts are that important. You should have shafts in your wedges that closely match the shafts in your irons in weight, material, and flex. This is particularly important if you have evolved to lighter and softer iron shafts. The exception to that is if you play X-flex shafts in your irons, take a tip from almost all tour professionals and opt for a slightly softer flex in your wedges.

Clubhead Design

What is much more important to make a wedge “spin-ier” is the design of the clubhead itself. While wedges really didn’t change much for decades, over the past few years, every major wedge brand has begun to position a bit more mass in the top section of the wedge clubhead. This repositioning of mass raises the CG a bit and improves the “gear effect,” which enhances spin on every wedge shot.

While they all are doing so to a different degree, most are held back by their reliance on their tour professionals’ input. Those elite players already spin the ball as much as necessary, and they don’t need or want more spin in their wedge shots. But that isn’t in your best interest.

This subject simply cannot be addressed without referencing my own work in wedge design for over thirty years. My wedges for Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, Ben Hogan and now Edison Golf have put increasingly more mass in the top half of the clubhead to help recreational golfers get more spin on all their wedge shots. I’m flattered that all major brands are finally starting to follow my pioneering of this design concept, because it works.  (Caliper measurement reveals that none of today’s wedges even have as much mass above center-face as my original Reid Lockhart wedges did in the mid-1990s)

Regarding my reference to tour players’ skills and their dime-sized wear pattern earlier, by striking their wedge shots so low in the face, they are optimizing spin on their traditional “tour design” wedges, because it maximizes the amount of clubhead mass above the point of impact. We all know that “thinned” wedge shot that flies low but has sizzling spin – same concept.

To help explain how this CG placement affects spin, look at what has happened in drivers, fairways, hybrids, and now irons.

As the “launch monitor wars” have come to dominate club-fitting (and selling!), the “holy grail” of distance is high launch and low spin. The engineers are achieving this by continuously finding ways to put maximum mass low in the clubhead with carbon crowns, tungsten inserts and thin faces. But good wedge play is all about penetrating trajectories and optimum spin — and all that mass in the bottom of the wedge head is exactly the opposite of what is needed to deliver that ball flight.

Final thoughts

I’ll also leave you with this thought on getting maximum spin on your intermediate-range wedge shots.  You are quite likely to discover you actually get more spin with your 52- to 54-degree wedge than with your higher-lofted 56 to 60. That’s because the ball is less likely to slide up the clubface, which causes loss of spin and higher ball flight. Give it a try to see for yourself.

This has been one of my longer posts, but the topic is worthy of a full explanation. I hope the “science of spin” is much less mysterious now.

Your Reaction?
  • 53
  • LEGIT11
  • WOW3
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB1
  • SHANK10

Continue Reading