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Opinion & Analysis

Interview with Debert Cook, Part 2

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If you missed it, be sure to check out part one of our interview with Ms. Debert (pronounced DAY-bear or DUH-bear) Cook, founder and publisher of African American Golfers Digest.

Ms. Cook has captained AAGD since its birth in 2003. In part two of our interview, she reveals more about the machinations of the enterprise, its greatest successes, and its contributions to golf. Without delay, let’s jump into part two of our interview.

RM: What goals do you have for AAGD, over the next years, five years, fifteen years?

DC: Looking for a buyer, so I can retire! I am age 61, turning 62 on December 29.

RM: Tell us a bit about your writers. Do you have regular columns, or is everything a one-off type of article?

DC: With a limited budget, all of our writers and editors volunteer their time. We carry regular articles such as ‘Destination Review‘, golfer profiles, “Youth Tee,” “Women’s Round”, Leaderboards of African American tournaments.

RM: Rank these article topics in order of importance for the African American Golfer’s Digest publication and site…

DC:

#1 Average Golfer
#2 Lifestyle
#3 Travel
#4 Celebrities
#5 Equipment/Apparel
#6 Instruction

RM: Golfers like Cheyenne and Tiger Woods, Harold Varner III, Mariah Stackhouse, and Ginger Howard might be held to a different standard, due to their skin color. Should they be expected to speak out more on social issues, or is this an unfair burden?

DC: Yes, I staunchly believe they should speak out on social issues. They owe their Black community the respect of vocalizing their stance, whether or not if it hurts their celebrity, or not. Their fans deserve to know where they stand on social issues and their stance can make a difference in engaging more people on these issues.

RM: What is the most important success story in African American golf history, that most people in the industry need to know?

DC: My story. I am the only Black woman to wholly own a golf magazine. It’s been 17-wonderful years, yet, many people who enjoy the game and work in the golf industry have never heard about my publication.

RM: What question haven’t we asked, that you would like to answer? Please ask it yourself, and answer it. Thank you.

DC: How do you think AAGD has help the golf world?…In the last 17-years, AAGD has exposed millions of people around the world to the passion and love of the sport that African Americans have for the game of golf. AAGD has given exposure to Black golfers who would otherwise never have been featured in a golf magazine. (these kind notes I receive regulary). The late, World Golf Hall of Famer Charlie Sifford was on one of our magazine covers and when he saw it he called to tell me that he really liked it, that he had never been on the cover of a magazine. Students email and tell me how much their profiles in the magazine helped when attached to their college applications. Parents call me to say how much golf has helped their child focus and concentrate of being a better citizen. Golf coaches call me to say “thank you” for being a resource for our scholarships, keeping many from going to waste. Women call me to say how much they appreciate seeing so many Black women golfers between the page of the publication. Readers text me to say, thank you for being a pioneer and making Black folks look good! I am most proud that the magazine has no debt!

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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. Nack Jicklaus

    Jun 22, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    The Image on the cover of the magazine has some 90’s or very early 2000’s Nicklaus irons and some 90’s era metalwoods in the bag. I hope the inside of the magazine is a little more up to date. Also, I was pretty shocked when the lady said that “she” was the most important success story in African American golf history?! Tooting her own horn pretty loudly it seems, but I could have taken her answer the wrong way…

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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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