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Opinion & Analysis

Golf 2019: 10 Quick Things

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The Presidents Cup reminded how great team golf can be, and what an exceptional course brings to the dynamic. It also illuminated that Patrick Reed is his own worst problem. Some people prefer to live amidst controversy. He seems to be one. Instead of laying low during the Cup, he instigated the crowd. Why? He should have taken his medicine after his transgression during the Hero Challenge. Speaking of that mistake, it’d be great if Augusta National would rescind Reed’s invitation for the 2020 Masters. He needs a lesson that’ll hit home. Perhaps suspend him from The Masters. That’ll teach him to own his competitive conduct. Tough love for sure, but good for the young man, and a page from former Orioles’ Manager Earl Weaver’s playbook. He would send Baltimore players down to the minors for transgressions like not running out ground balls. “I’m doing the kid a favor – he needs to learn how to play the game the right way,” he’d rightfully say.

The Rules of Golf changes make playing the game easier, faster, more fun. That wasn’t needed. (Insert sarcasm GIF here.)

Toptracer technology from Topgolf is the best thing for TV golf viewing ever.

technology, golf, television, broadcast

Toptracer technology from Topgolf transformed watching the game on TV , adding clarity and insight about how shots fly and are played.

Phil is phinished as a premier PGA Tour contender. No shame there. Phabulous run, old boy. Better than most all-time.

Others who should join Phil’s phoursome on the “Mount Rushmore of Sports/Father Time is Undefeated” Memorial include Tom Brady, Clayton Kershaw, and Carmelo Anthony.

Like the NBA, professional golf needs a shot clock. Two minutes when it’s your turn to play. No exceptions. Including looking for balls. Go.

turtles, slow, golf

Golfers need to play the game more quickly.

“Iron Byron” was a mind blower when first introduced as a performance measurement tool. Now, with AI seemingly omnipresent in golf – can you spell Arccos? – it seems laughably antiquated.

The LPGA (and its Symetra “Road to the LPGA” feeder tour) grows more compelling with each year. The next decade for women’s golf will be looked back on as the era when it “crossed over.” If you don’t know who Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim, or Brooke Henderson are, you will.

An event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and LPGA would be a great move. Make it a team event that players qualify for like they do for the Ryder Cup. The competition would be outstanding, and the uniqueness would make for a hugely compelling competition.

Dan Hicks proved again this year that he is an all-time great. His seemingly effortless calls make watching TV golf with the sound on not only tolerable but enjoyable. He’s fluent, astute, and avoids hyperbole. His commentary is laced with humor, insight, and, most importantly, is never pretentious. That last trait is incredibly hard to avoid. Right, Joe Buck?

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A University of Maryland graduate, Dan is a lifelong resident of the Mid-Atlantic, now residing in Northern Virginia. Fan of the Terps and all D.C. professional sports teams, Dan fell in love with golf through Lee Trevino's style and skill during his peak years. Dan was once Editor of Golf Inc. Magazine.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Golf Stud

    Dec 27, 2019 at 5:18 am

    The PGA Tour has no authority when it comes to the Masters Tournament. They would be in no position to suspend him from that event.

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 27, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Good point, of course, and my point was conceptual, to show how important it is I believe to penalize in a way that sends a message that makes a difference.

  2. D D

    Dec 26, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Good going Dan I Am.

  3. Jim

    Dec 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    This isn’t an article.

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 26, 2019 at 1:19 pm

      It’s an opinion piece, Jim. Like Popeye, I calls ’em like I sees ’em, and GolfWRX is a platform for publishing all types of content, from news articles and features, to opinion columns.

  4. Devin

    Dec 19, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Huh?

  5. cdnasian

    Dec 19, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    What did I just read?

    • Dan Shepherd

      Dec 26, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      An opinion column by me. I have played the game for decades and worked in the industry for the past 20 years, including as editor of Golf Inc. Magazine.

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The Gear Dive: Aaron Dill is back!!!

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In this episode of TGD brought to you by Titleist, Johnny has a dear friend and master wedge human Aaron Dill to chat about Cantlay, The Masters, and his new TSi3.

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TG2: Testing the NEW Cobra King Tour irons and the Ben Hogan GS53 MAX driver

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Cobra’s new King Tour irons with MIM technology are built for better players looking to hit precision shots. The feel is very soft and responsive while the smaller profile lets you easily hit any shot in the book. Ben Hogan has released their most forgiving driver, the GS53 MAX and it is easy to hit. Designed with a ton of tech, this driver is long and helps reduce that slice!

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The Wedge Guy: Equipment tidbits for you to think about

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One of the most fun things about being a golfer is that we all want to get better–hit drives longer and straighter, iron shots that find greens more often, pitches and chips that get closer, and putts that go in more often. And we all seem to take great pleasure in finding that next “missing link” in our bags that will help us achieve one of those goals.

Today I want to share some thoughts about how little things can often mean a lot when it comes to tweaking your equipment. On the surface, a golf club seems to be a pretty simple thing—a piece of metal, at the end of a tubular piece of metal or graphite, with a rubber-like handle at the end. But when that golf club is put into motion at 100 mph or so, a lot of dynamics begin to happen.

As we ponder the dynamics of the complex action of swinging a golf club and the broad set of mechanics that come into play on every shot, I thought I’d share some random observations I’ve made over the years about equipment cause and effect:

Increasing your driving distance: The industry has taken us on this dramatic quest for distance and power, and the average driver sold today is over 45” long. That’s two inches longer than the standard of 25 years ago. And while the humongous driver heads brag about “forgiveness”, the fact is that your longest drives (and straightest) will always come from dead center hits. It’s still a fact that a sweet spot miss of just ½” will cost you 7-9% distance loss, and a miss of 3/4” will increase that to 12-15%. I suggest you try gripping down on your driver an inch or more the next time you play and see if you don’t hit the ball closer to the sweet spot and see it consistently going longer and straighter. It’s been proven over and over again.

Examining iron specs: The “standard” way a set of irons was engineered for decades was that the irons vary in length by ½”, and in loft by 4 degrees. But the past few years – driven by the relentless quest for distance – we have seen the loft gaps increased to 5° at the short end of the set and as small as 2.5° at the long end. The harsh reality of this geometry is that almost every golfer will have much smaller distance gaps at the long end of the set than at the short end, where distance precision is critical. I have tweaked my irons for years so that I have smaller length and lie differences at the short end than the long, and that allows my distance gaps to be more consistent. Most golfers could benefit from examining their TRUE carry distances from club to club and then tweaking lofts and lengths to fix their gapping.

Fit your putter. It amazes me to watch how many golfers–even some of the pros on TV–and see the toe of the putter up in the air at address. Simple fact is that this makes the face point left because of the loft. I’ve become a true believer in putter fitting. A good fit will ensure that your putter really is aimed at the target, and that the lie angle allows the ball to come off the putter straight. Yes, the style of putter is a matter of personal preference, but a putter that is accurately fit to you makes this maddening part of the game much less so.

Watch your grips. We spend hundreds of dollars on a driver or set of irons, and we get disposable “handles”. It’s a fact that grips wear out. They get dirty. And they need replacing regularly. Take a close look at yours. Worn, dirty grips cause you to grip the club tighter to have control. And bad shots are much more frequent because of that.

Experiment. The toys are a big part of the fun of golf, so don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve long suggested all golfers should try the blade style short irons of one of your better player friends or pros, but experiment with other clubs, too. Hit your buddies’ hybrids, fairways, irons, drivers. Try different golf balls. [But I just can’t buy that tees can make a difference, sorry.] It’s fun.

So, there you have some random thoughts of the hundreds that swirl around in my head. Let me know your other questions about equipment, and I’ll try to address them in future columns.

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