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Opinion & Analysis

Opinion: Why all of golf’s majors should pass on 2020

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As a lover of language, the word selections of golf’s major-championship bodies intrigue me. They plan to delay, postpone, and suspend their events until a later date. It won’t be long before Thesaurus.com’s suggestions are invoked, and we prorogue, adjourn, and defer these tournaments until an undetermined, future date. I have a problem, a serious beef, with the notion that these events might be played. I’ll summarize in two arguments.

Other tournaments own those weeks

Look over the planned tour schedules of 2020. There is little to no room (i.e. open weeks) for events to slot in. The Masters, reportedly, is looking at an October date. Will they contact Shriners, Houston, Nine Bridges or ZOZO and ask them to step aside, or will they not even pay that courtesy? The PGA announced the postponement of its flagship event. The USGA is on the verge of announcing … something about the U.S. Open. No doubt the R&A will follow with an update on The Open Championship. Yes, these are major championships, ones that golfers dream of winning, and around which legends build their schedules. This designation does not give them any right to effectively reduce the efforts of organizers, volunteers, staff and fan base of any other event, to an afterthought. Take what fate has tossed your way, 2020 Majors, and leave a hole in the history books.

Humanity

Does a golf tournament hold any higher worth than other human endeavors? It will take something miraculous to conduct a professional golf tournament in the next 12 months. Doing so would require the assurance for all involved (players, rules officials, staff, and volunteers) that conditions are 100 percent safe. Without a vaccine, without a cure, this guarantee cannot be offered. Let’s not forget, that survival does not mean immunity. There is no suggestion that, once cured; safe. Given our social nature, we humans might reinfect each other, again and again. Why run that risk? Golf doesn’t need the bad publicity that “we matter more than your safety does” will bring. The families of tournament participants, workers, and supporters, also don’t need the worry that exposure will bring.

There are many more arguments to make, in support of this recommendation. There is no need to take up any more of your time, to make them. Join me and ask the Augusta National, the LPGA, the PGA of America, the USGA, and the R & A, to take the humane path and adjourn their premier events for a year. Their sacrifice will ensure solidarity with the rest of us.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Pelling

    Mar 30, 2020 at 10:34 am

    The absolute dumbest thing I’ve seen is golfers who think (selfishly) that’s it’s ok and safe to golf because they don’t touch a rake, a flagstick, or take a ball out of the cup. No, it’s not! Why are you different? You aren’t special, you’re just a moron! Go social isolate and quit infecting the rest of us…

  2. travis

    Mar 28, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    If the majors can’t find a date that works, so be it – would be the same issue if a freak storm completely rained it out. But to simply punt on the entire year of golf right now is ridiculous, it’s not “helping humanity.” Drive the economy another way? How? You do realize that every business that is majorly affected by this virus is having this same conversation, right? It’s not just the PGA Tour or professional sports that is talking about maybe not returning this year – its everyone. And if everyone just said “we are going to shut down for the year,” the economy would collapse. Unemployment would reach unfathomable levels, government programs would crumble, and the world market would bottom out.

    The PGA Tour and golf itself is a billion dollar industry that employs tens of thousands (maybe hundreds) of people at all levels (including this website). To shut it down would be irresponsible. I personally think the PGA postponement is premature, but I don’t know the timetable they have to work under to make an event like that happen, so it could make sense.

    But at some point the economy is going to have to come back online, and all businesses are going to have to be flexible and have to preserve their ability to turn the faucet back on quickly to help save the economy. And risks are going to have to be taken. There will reach a time for each business affected where the risk of possibly getting sick doesn’t outweigh the risk of the business failing and people not being able to put food on the table for their families.

    Making drastic decisions 4-6 or more months in advance could be a death sentence for thousands. No reason to make that decision until you absolutely have to.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Mar 28, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      And how do you feel about the tournaments that ARE SCHEDULED (shouting, I know) on the PGA Tour 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 wraparound? What sort of treatment do they deserve? I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

  3. James Mac

    Mar 28, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    I totally agree that this article is your opinion.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Mar 28, 2020 at 6:02 pm

      You have my attention. How do you feel about what is contained within?

      I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

  4. DoTheRightThing

    Mar 28, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    I’m with you Ron. The greater good absolutely needs to come first, not me me me. There are thousands of workers on the medical front lines who are putting their health, and even their lives on the line, to help others live and to work tirelessly to even slow down this pandemic. And thousands of others who are working to support the front-liners. And yes we need to do what we can, safely, to maintain economic activity without worsening the virus spread before we develop vaccines. But while I love golf and other sports, they matter very little in the big picture currently … history is filled with holes and gaps caused by crisis events, when we had to pause to do the right thing.

  5. Ronald Montesano

    Mar 28, 2020 at 8:31 am

    You all click shank, but you know that I’m correct. Lives and living matter more than these associations and making money. Drive the economy another way, like by giving back instead of taking in.

    • Brandon

      Mar 28, 2020 at 9:14 am

      This is a weak take. There is no economy to drive when everyone is stuck at home not working. I know this is a golf website and most of the readers probably have large amounts of cash in their savings that they can fall back on in a time like this, but for the vast majority of the country this isn’t the case. The 1200 dollar check the government is sending will cover half of my rent on a shitty 1 bedroom apartment here in the Bay area. People need to work. You can’t just shut down the country indefinitely and rob people of the ability to support themselves because of a boogie man that will only manifest as a cold for 95% of the people who catch it. It’s a harsh reality, but the best thing to do just to get back to normal as soon as possible. The fit people who can handle a viral infection will be fine, and the weak people with compromised immune systems will be culled from the herd. This has been happening in one form or another to every carbon based life form since the beginning of time.

      • Ronald Montesano

        Mar 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        What does what you typed, have to do with what I wrote? You act as if the Bay Area is the only one impacted by the crisis. Think about other communities for a moment. They have been prepping, just as SFBA has done for PGA.

        I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

    • A. Commoner

      Mar 28, 2020 at 3:43 pm

      RM: your article is flawless as to logic, values, ethics, and thought maturity. It is incomprehensible how one could trash it.

      • Ronald Montesano

        Mar 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        You had me at “flawless.”

        I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

  6. Che Guevara

    Mar 27, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Setting up an event that has already been planned in advance takes 1.5 weeks. You seem to not understand that the PGA Tour is not in charge of any of the majors. The USGA does not care about the Shriner’s or Houston Open and owes them no courtesy
    96% of fans watch from their couches, so it’s really only the players and event workers that need to be assured safe. It’s about golf and history, not about revenue
    Using your logic, there would be no majors played ever again, since the virus will be around in perpetuity just as the flu is
    I typically like your writing but this one is leaving me scratching my head Mr. M

    • Ronald Montesano

      Mar 28, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      Listen to me, Fuser. We go way back, back to when you were playing rugby in Buenos Aires. We traveled the south american continent together, on a shitty Norton motorcycle that we called “La Poderosa.” Yes, I remained in Venezuela; do you still hold that against me?

      Oh, man, wow, that was stream of consciousness. OK, back to your madness. No, you are extrapolating, friend. Yes, the virus will be around in perpetuity, but within 48-64 weeks, we should have found a vaccine and other treatments. Those will help us deal with other coronavirus that undoubtedly will rear their ugly heads. Your logic is not my logic.

      The USGA, the PGA, the R&A, the ANGCWPC should CARE about the PGA Tour; without it, they don’t have great golfers for their “majors.” Heck, you and I would be playing, without the world’s professional touring professionals. Time for them to say, for once, it’s not about me.

      I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

  7. todd

    Mar 27, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Big time shank, the smaller tournaments need to yield, Majors are what people remember and what the players want to win most, as far as humanity, it’s too early to tell, it’s not even April, it’s possible we get passed this thing by May-June, that leaves 4 months of play, which should be centered around the majors.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Mar 28, 2020 at 6:11 pm

      Past, not passed. We’ve already been “passed” by it. It has us in a choke hold. Are the strings attached to your hands, controlled by a puppeteer? Guess who matters in the world? The smaller tournaments, the common people, not the celebrities. Is this Kanye? One of the other Kardashians? I think that it is.

      I’ll hang up and listen. Thank you for commenting. Knowing that people care enough to read my words, is quite supportive these days … rm

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Why wedge mastery is so elusive

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I have conducted numerous surveys of golfers over my 40-year golf industry career, because I have always believed that if you want to know what people are thinking, you simply have to ask them.

As a gearhead for wedges and a wedge designer over the past 30 years, most of my research and analysis is focused on these short-range scoring clubs and how golfers use them. What this research continually tells me is that most golfers—regardless of handicap–consider the wedges the hardest clubs in the bag to master. That’s because they are. I would even go so far as to say that the difficulty of attaining mastery even extends to the best players in the world.

Watching the Genesis Open this past weekend, for example, it seemed like these guys were hitting wedge approaches on nearly every hole. And while there were certainly many shots that covered the flag—like Max Homa’s approach on 18–there were also a great number that came up woefully short. Not what you would expect when a top-tier tour professional has a sand or gap wedge in their hands.

The simple fact is that wedges are the most difficult clubs in our bags with which to attain consistent shotmaking mastery, and that is because of the sheer design of the clubhead itself. For clarity of this article, I’m talking about those full- or near full-swing wedge shots, not the vast variety of short greenside shots we all face every round. To get mastery of those shots (like the tour pros exhibit every week), you simply have to spend lots of time hitting lots of shots, experimenting and exploring different techniques. There are no shortcuts to a deadly short game.

But today I’m talking about those prime opportunities to score, when you have a full- or near-full swing wedge into a par-five or short par four. We should live for those moments, but all too often we find ourselves disappointed in the outcome.

The good news is that’s not always all your fault.

First of all, you must understand that every wedge shot is, in effect, a glancing blow to the ball because of the loft involved. With 50 to 60 degrees of loft—or even 45 to 48 degrees with a pitching wedge—the loft of the club is such that the ball is given somewhat of a glancing blow. That demands a golf swing with a much higher degree of precision in the strike than say, an 8-iron shot.

I have always believed that most golfers can improve their wedge play by making a slower-paced swing than you might with a longer iron. This allows you to be more precise in making sure that your hands lead the clubhead through impact, which is a must when you have a wedge in your hands. Without getting into too much detail, the heavier, stiffer shaft in most wedges does not allow this club to load and unload in the downswing, so the most common error is for the clubhead to get ahead of the hands before impact, thereby adding loft and aggravating this glancing blow. I hope that makes sense.
The other aspect of wedge design that makes consistent wedge distance so elusive is the distribution of the mass around the clubhead. This illustration of a typical tour design wedge allows me to show you something I have seen time and again in robotic testing of various wedges.

Because all the mass is along the bottom of the clubhead, the ideal impact point is low in the face (A), so that most of the mass is behind the ball. Tour players are good at this, but most recreational golfers whose wedges I’ve examined have a wear pattern at least 2-4 grooves higher on the club than I see on tour players’ wedges.

So, why is this so important?

Understand that every golf club has a single “sweet spot”–that pinpoint place where the smash factor is optimized—where clubhead speed translates to ball speed at the highest efficiency. On almost all wedges, that spot is very low on the clubhead, as indicated by the “A” arrow here, and robotic testing reveals that smash factor to be in the range of 1.16-1.18, meaning the ball speed is 16-18% higher than the clubhead speed.

To put that in perspective, smash factor on drivers can be as high as 1.55 or even a bit more, and it’s barely below that in your modern game improvement 7-iron. The fact is—wedges are just not as efficient in this measure, primarily because of the glancing blow I mentioned earlier.

But–and here’s the kicker–if you move impact up the face of a wedge just half to five-eights of an inch from the typical recreational golfer’s impact point, as indicated by the “B” arrow, smash factor on ‘tour design’ wedges can be reduced to as low as 0.92 to 0.95. That costs you 40 to 60 feet on a 90-yard wedge shot . . . because you missed “perfect” by a half-inch or less!

So, that shot you know all too well—the ball sitting up and caught a bit high in the face—is going fall in the front bunker or worse. That result is not all your fault. The reduced distance is a function of the diminished smash factor of the wedge head itself.

That same half-inch miss with your driver or even your game-improvement 7-iron is hardly noticeable.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Breakthrough mental tools to play the golf of your dreams

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Incredibly important talk! A must listen to the words of Dr. Karl Morris, ham-and-egging with the golf imperfections trio. Like listening to top athletes around a campfire. This talk will helps all ages and skills in any sport.

 

 

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On Spec

On Spec: Homa Wins! And how to avoid “paralysis by analysis”!

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This week’s episode covers a wide array of topics from the world of golf including Max Homa’s win on the PGA Tour, golf course architecture, and how to avoid “paralysis by analysis” when it comes to your golf game.

This week’s show also covers the important topic of mental health, with the catalyst for the conversation being a recent interview published by PGA Tour with Bubba Watson and his struggles.

 

 

 

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