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Opinion & Analysis

Past, present, and future: Masters week is magical

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It was 1961 when I watched my first Masters broadcast with my dad on a little black-and-white TV (aluminum foil wrapping the “ears”), and the 16th, 17th, and 18th holes were all CBS covered. A guy named Player was at the top of the leader board, and Arnold Palmer’s name was right under his. As a naive kid of 13 knowing nothing about golf, I thought Arnie was leading because I assumed “Player” was the name of the column and therefore Palmer was at the top of the column!

Anyway, that was 58 years ago and I have not missed a Masters since. As a PGA member, I’ve been fortunate to attend the event several times, but other than those years, I have always arranged my weekend schedule to be sitting in front a TV screen from Holy Thursday to Masters Sunday.

This week, I won’t get any older (I’m actually 70 weeks younger than my 70 years). Oh, I’m not fearful of aging, or the fact that I’m a lot closer to the 18th green than the first tee, but this week I just kind of doubt the reality of all that. I’m all too aware of how fast this whole thing is going by, but this week it slows down just enough that the inevitable trickles instead of flies. Because now it’s springtime in the valley in Augusta, Georgia, and the annual rite of passage into spring is mercifully upon us.

I’m a big fan of tradition — I’m not afraid to admit it, and in the Masters we have “a tradition unlike any other.” What makes it such a tradition? Well for one, whoever puts this whole thing together has channeled their elders and has had the great sense and the courage to leave the damn thing alone. In this crazy, hectic, chaotic world, I need something, anything, that stops changing every time I look up or turn a page.  As a golfer, that thing is the Masters in April in Augusta.

The grass will be just as green this week, the holes will be cut in the same places they’ve always been, the pimento and cheese sandwiches will still be wrapped in the little green bags and still sell for a buck fifty, the back nine will still decide the winner, “fore, please!” will still be Augusta-speak for play away, there will still be limited commercial messages during the broadcast, 30,000 “patrons” will still walk the hallowed ground each day, the azaleas will be as gorgeous as always, the spirits of Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts will still come alive, and we all will feel, in the words of Bob Dylan, forever young!

The Crow’s Nest, the Butler Cabin, Rae’s Creek, The Hogan Bridge, Sarazen’s double eagle, Arnie’s Army, the honorary starters… There’s nowhere else we know the players and events, the thrilling victories, the tragic defeats like we do at Augusta. Everyone is familiar with everything because it stays the same.

“The Masters,” was a name for the event Bobby Jones was reluctant to use because it seemed a bit precocious. Jones didn’t make many mistakes when designing this “toonament,” but I’m really glad he dropped “The Augusta National Invitational” tag. Oh, and he decided to reverse the nines.  Can you even imagine this event, with the most famous back nine in golfdom, being played as the first nine? Horrors!

Every first full week of April, we get to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, we dust off the sticks and head to links. But this week we stand in awe of the sporting spectacle we know as the Masters. Anyway, let the show is about to begin. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. I’d like to add one final note to the younger readers and maybe first time attendees at the event: If golf is in your soul, treasure every moment this week because the memories will last a lifetime, and you’ll appreciate it more with each passing year.  Believe me, b there will come a time when you drag your feet just to slow the passage of time, and there is no better time to do so than this week. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Dennis now teaches at Bobby Clampett's Impact Zone Golf Indoor Performance Center in Naples, FL. .

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Reviewing TaylorMade’s P770 Irons and SuperStroke’s Wrist Lock Putter Grip!

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Finally, I have had a full set of TaylorMade P770 irons out on the course for the last few weeks. The P770 takes a bunch of DNA from the larger P790 and packs it into a smaller size. Don’t be fooled, the smaller size still gives you a bunch of distance and forgiveness! SuperStroke’s Wrist Lock putter grip is designed to help add stability and consistency to your putting stroke. It really does give you the feeling that the putter is locked into your stroke and won’t go anywhere.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: My thoughts on single-length irons

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One of the bigger stories in golf equipment the past few years – thanks to Mr. De Chambeau – is the development of single-length irons. So, are they right for you or not? That’s a question only a fair trial can answer, but let me offer some thoughts on how your set make-up might look if you do take that direction.

First of all, the concept is not about single-length clubs — the conversation is about single-length irons. No one is playing a driver or fairway woods at the same length as their irons. Probably not even the hybrids. The putter is typically not either. So, the question is where in the set does the “single-length” begin and end?

I’ve long espoused the concept that your set of clubs (excluding the very specialized putter) should be divided into three sub-sets: Distance Clubs, Positioning Clubs, and Scoring Clubs. And generally speaking, these subsets each cover a specific range of lofts.

The Distance Clubs are those up to 20-25 degrees or so. This subset begins with your driver and encompasses your fairway woods and maybe your lowest loft hybrid or two. Your goal with these clubs is to move the ball “on out there” and put you in a place for your “positioning shot.”

The Positioning Clubs then begin after that highest loft Distance Club and take you up to 38 to 40 degrees of loft. Generally speaking, this subset would begin with your 3 or 4-iron or hybrid and go up to through your 7- or 8-iron. The goal with these clubs is to set up a reasonable putt or chip so you can get down in no more than 2-3 shots. My opinion is that it is only within this subset that “single-length” might serve you.

The Scoring Clubs – those over 38-40 degrees of loft — are the ones with which your scores will likely be determined. Long ago, I wrote several posts about the “round club mindset” when 8-irons had a more curved topline than the seven – a distinctly different look, and those 8-irons were 38 to 40 degrees. These are the clubs designed for putting the ball close enough for a makeable putt, hopefully, more often than not.

So, most conversations about single-length irons should be limited to that subset of “Positioning Clubs,” from your longest iron through that iron of 38-40 degrees. While many golfers may not see the distance separation between clubs that you would ideally like to have in that subset, others might. I’ve long observed that the distance a club can be hit is a combination of loft AND club shaft length. I just don’t see how you can get the range of distances from the longest to shortest in the set by changing loft only. I have tried several of these sets and just do not experience the distance differentials I want from that subset in my bag.

But I can certainly assure you that you simply cannot be as accurate with wedges that are 37 or 38 inches in length as you can with those clubs being 35 to 36 inches. It’s simple golf club physics. With very few exceptions, the shorter the club, the narrower your distance dispersion is going to be.

Consider that a “wide” shot with a 45-inch driver might be 30-40 yards off-line, while even the worst “wide” shot with your 35-and-three-quarter-inch pitching wedge is not likely to be more than 15 yards offline. In between, your lateral dispersion is progressively narrower as the shaft length is reduced.

So, I just cannot see why anyone would want to make their wedges the same length as their 5- or 6-iron, 37.5 to 38 inches, and give up the naturally more accurate dispersion that the shorter shaft delivers.

I am looking forward to hearing from those of you who have tried single-length irons and longer wedges to share your experiences.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Sharing some time with one of the best PGA Professionals in America

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Meet Jimmy Stewart. From his early childhood junior days in Singapore and Thailand, to golf course and driving range operator in California. We talk Turkey, where the game was, where it is and to where it’s going.

 

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