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Opinion & Analysis

Interview with Debert Cook, publisher, African American Golfer’s Digest

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This interview took more than a while to consolidate.

Have a look at the timeline:

  • Sometime in February: I send an email to Debert Cook
  • April 23rd: Debert responds that she would like to participate
  • June 2nd: I finally get the questions to Ms. Cook
  • Today: our interview goes live

As one who initiated a smallish golf publication/website in the early 2000s (BuffaloGolfer.Com) I can relate to the steps and stumbles that Ms. Cook has endured along the way.

A publication that speaks for a people and a culture is especially important to golf, and this is what makes Debert Cook such a worthy personage for this introspective.

Time to step out of the way and let the light shine on Ms. Debert Cook.

1. You are Debert (pronounced DAY-bear or DUh-bear) Cook, the publisher of African American Golfer’s Digest. Please tell us a bit about yourself, outside of the story of AAGD (we will get to that story, we promise!)

DC: I am the grand-daughter of a West Virginia coal miner who lost both of his legs in a mining accident at age 22. In our home, two pictures hung on the wall: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and President John F. Kennedy. I worked my way through college playing trumpet and alto saxophone in a R&B band and auditioned at Detroit’s Motown. Love to travel: I’ve traveled to six continents, nine African countries, met 5 African Heads of State and will be in Antarctica in Nov. 2021.

2. Now it’s time for the story of African American Golfer’s Digest. The magazine is 17 years old. What compelled you to start a magazine in 2003, and what was the beginning like?

DC: I opened my company, Event Planners Plus NA Inc. in 1998, after working 20-years in corporate America as a meeting planner, and started receiving invitations to charity golf outings. Recalling how my previous bosses had received some of these same invites and returned with hands-full of business cards (for me to input into their sales databases), I decided that attending may also be good for my new business and help me to get business leads.

So, I signed up for six weeks of beginner golf lessons at Chelsea Piers in New York City. After learning the basics, buying a set of ladies right-hand clubs, glove and balls at K-Mart, I packed up my gear and headed off to a Meeting Professionals International Golf Tournament in Las Vegas. There, I had a great time, met some nice people and yes, returned to my office with a stack full of business cards! Making calls, some of those new contacts turned into advertisers in my magazine.

It was thrilling to learn this new game, because I have always been active in sports like tennis, softball, basketball and even won third place in our city track meet at South High School (Youngstown, Ohio, 1976) for discus…my golf instructor told me that this is one reason my long drive wins at many tournaments.

3. Is publishing a magazine in 2020 at all similar to what it was like in 2003?

DC: Heck no! Digital is king (queen) nowadays. In 2003 everything was paper, print, paste-up, copy, fax. These days, none of that is a part of our business operations. Yet, my readership, which skews older (70% age 50+) are adjusting to the digital landscape, and to our digital platform—yet still calling me to renew their print subscriptions at $48/annually (previously $18).

4. Define your audience for us. It is too simple to look at the title and restrict your readership. Let us know more about whom African American Golfers Digest seeks out.

DC: Yep, it 89% African American readers. Others are either Hispanics, Asians, or curiosity seekers.

5. At what point did AAGD get into the internet game?

DC: We launched our website in 2003, about four months before the first magazine was even printed. I knew there was going to be demand, because subscription started coming in as soon as the website went live.

6. What have been the greatest success stories of African American Golfer’s Digest?

DC: No. 1: I count being a PGA of America Diverse Supplier as one of our greatest achievements.

Second…Our Diversity Pavilion that exhibited for six years at the PGA Merchandise Show & Convention in Orlando, Fla. It attracted over 300 visitors daily and helped connect and network like-minded individuals, from that, the PGA started holding “diversity roundtables” and featuring a diversity and inclusion component in the annual Show. I guess I showed them, “Look, there is an overlooked audience in the midst of this now $84 billion industry.”

Third, good success has been seen for our annual group destination travel programs which have taken over 400 people across the globe for golf, culture, and enjoyment, to places such as Ghana, South Africa, Cuba, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Alaska, Panama, Martha’s Vineyard.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Debert Cook!

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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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Brandon

    Jun 8, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Good read…thank you

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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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