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Opinion & Analysis

Two more golf books: “Getting to 18” and “One for the Memory Banks”

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Tom Doak is an accomplished golf course architect, and has proven himself to be a fine writer and researcher over the years. His Confidential Guides have introduced golfers across the world to the courses (and their worth) located around the globe. Luke Reese has written precisely one book, and it is this one. It is a collection of stories, based on his time spent learning the game of golf while in management at Wilson Sporting Goods and other athletic companies, in Europe. Coincidentally, many of his lessons took place on courses that show grandly in Tom Doak’s Guides. In fact, Reese cites the original Confidential Guide as one of his particular field guides. His One For The Memory Banks is a collection of 19 tales, precisely the amount of holes needed for a standard round of golf, plus the requisite and celebratory 19th hole. As for Tom Doak, Getting To 18 is the first in a series of three or so volumes, that details the processes that he and his team have used over the years, to get to 18 holes on a piece of property. Each volume will contain photos, drawings, and description of the process of completing 18 courses. Since Renaissance Golf, his company, has some 50 to 60 original designs, our guess is three volumes.

You’ve heard of coffee-table books? Add legs and Getting To 18 is a coffee table. It is massive, and that is a good thing. It is leather bound, and as a result, carries a hefty price. However, since this is a limited-edition volume, it is a collector’s item and an investment. In other words, it’s worth the purchase price. One For The Memory Banks will not carry the same size nor cost, but should be a worthy purchase. Rumor has it that a second round of chapters might come along, down the line. Both books are in my possession and will not leave it, anytime soon.

Getting To 18

Why you chose this book~

You love golf course architecture and you have an idea of who Tom Doak is. If neither is the case, yet you somehow came into possession of it, your conceptualization of both will change forever. To wit, golf course architecture is what makes the playing of golf different from every other sport and game we humans have. The constantly-changing, playing surface keeps our interest. The more practiced the hand that laid it out, the more memorable and challenging the course. Tom Doak is a practiced hand, and also, a practiced writer. A glimpse at the process required to build his first 19 courses (bonus), along with a fleck of photos from each, should wet your appetite to consider golf differently, and seek out his courses, in particular.

Some of what you will find~

You will find courses that no longer exist. Funny to say that about someone who began to build courses in the 1990s, but such is the way of the game. Some gave way for bigger and better things (the original Sheep Ranch) while others ceded space for smaller and lesser things (Beechtree, Charlotte Golf Links.) You will find courses built in far-off places and nearby spaces. You will find honest assessment  of one’s own work, of the constraints and freedoms that accompany the finding, designing, and building of a golf course. Don’t believe me? I’ll leave you with this quote from Tom Doak, from the book, about one of his gone-away courses: The sad part is, I don’t miss it at all.

What to take away~

In your hands, is an investment. It is a collector’s volume, for the size, the binding, and the content. It is an investment in your understanding of golf course architecture. It should lead you to other books by Tom Doak and his contemporaries, and then, to books by their predecessors. And farther back, until no more antecedents remain. It will begin your journey to the game’s soul, which touches on people and places, communities and beliefs, for the past five centuries of human existence. That’s a lot for one book.

One For The Memory Banks

Why you chose this book~

You DID NOT choose this book because its website says “Part Final Rounds, Part Dewsweepers, Part To The Linksland, Part Rick Reilly.” Making those allusions to other writers is a disservice to Luke Reese and Alan Bond. Alan Bond is not a character that any of the aforementioned books nor writers did create, nor could have created. He would not have been who he was, without having precisely THIS Luke Reese as his boss. You DID choose this book because of what I am about to tell you. I will encourage you to read Lazy Days At Lahinch, either through purchase or library loan, before you read this one. My reasoning is: Lahinch is the telling of stories from the golf soul of humor while parked at one particular course; Memory Banks is the sojourner’s golf soul retelling. They are companion volumes from different authors, but their spirits are identical.

Some of what you will find~

You will find a relationship between a professional superior and his subordinate. You will find trips to Europe’s finest golf courses. You will find competition and collaboration. You will find witty repartee, grandstanding, suffering, and celebration. Most important, you will find the kinship that develops through the human experience that is golf, and you will find yourself on the floor, rolling in laughter (or perhaps, simple leaning back in your chair, to let a sizable guffaw escape your lungs.)

What to take away~

Having never met Luke Reese, I agreed to take a phone call with him. Expecting 15 minutes of shop talk, he had to pull away after nearly 90 minutes. Luke Reese is a born storyteller, with a unique voice (remember what I wrote above?) He is the victim, if such a role ever truly existed, of Alan Bond’s capers, antics, and shenanigans. Reese might be considered the fall guy or the straight man, but every legendary comedian would be nothing without such a cohort. In the end, we come to understand that these two fellows were accomplices in one of the great heists of the late 20th and early 21st century. They enjoyed more camaraderie than any of us deserves, while doing things that their jobs demanded. That’s one lesson to take away, but I guarantee that you’ll find a dozen more.

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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.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Is lighter always longer?

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One of the continuing trends in golf clubs – particularly drivers – is the pursuit of increasingly lighter shafts; this obsessive goal has given us the premise that the lighter the club, the faster you can swing it. And that idea is driven by the relentless pursuit of distance at all levels, and for all golfers.

But as long as he is, for example, Dustin Johnson ran away with the Masters because he was exactly that – a “master” at ball control and precision. DJ outperformed almost everyone in the field in terms of fairways and greens. That gave him more birdie putts, better looks because of his precise approach shots, and many fewer tough par saves.

But my topic today is to pose the question: “Is lighter really the key to being longer for all of us “recreational” golfers?”
Let me begin by saying that “recreational” doesn’t mean any lack of seriousness or dedication to the game. Hitting better shots and shooting lower scores is the goal for all of us who care about our golf games, right? What I mean is that we do not make our living playing the game. We do not practice incessantly. We do not spend hours at the gym every day specifically preparing our bodies to optimize our golf skills.

Today I’m going to put on my “contrarian” cap and challenge this assumption of “lighter is longer” on a couple of bases.
First, if you watch every accomplished player, you will see that the body core rotation is fast enough to “beat” the hands and clubhead to the ball. All instructors agree that the big muscles of the legs and body core are the key to power and repeatability in the golf swing. The faster you can rotate your body through impact, the more power you generate, which flows down the arms, through the hands and shaft and to the clubhead. This is a basic law of “golf swing physics”.

The simple fact is, the speed at which you can fire these big muscles is not going to be measurably impacted by removing another half ounce or less of weight from your driver. But what that removal of weight can do is to possibly allow for your hands to be faster, which would aggravate the problem I see in most mid- to high-handicap players. That problem is that their body core is not leading the swing, but rather it is following the arms and hands through impact.

Secondly, speed without precision is essentially worthless to you, and likely even counter-productive to your goal of playing better golf. Even with the big 460cc drivers, a miss of the sweet spot by just a half inch can cost you 8-12% of your optimum distance. You could never remove enough weight from the driver to increase your club speed by that amount. So, the key to consistently longer drives is to figure out how to make consistently more precise impact with the ball.

No golf adage is always true, but my experience and observation of thousands of golfers indicates to me that the fastest route to better driver distance is to get more precise with your impact and swing path, and not necessarily increasing your clubhead speed. And that may well be served by moving to a slightly heavier driver, not a lighter one.

I’ll end this by offering that this is not an experiment to conduct in a hitting bay with a launch monitor, but rather by playing a few rounds with a driver that is heavier than your current “gamer”.

Continuing with my “contrarian” outlook on many aspects of golf equipment, the typical driver “fitting” is built around an intense session on a launch monitor, where you might hit 30-40 or more drives in an hour or so. But the reality of golf is that your typical round of golf involves only 12-13 drives hit over a four-hour period, each one affected by a number of outside influences. But that’s an article for another time.

For this week, think about pulling an older, heavier driver from your closet or garage and giving it a go for a round or two and see what happens.

I would like to end today’s post by wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s been a helluva year for all of us, so let’s take some time this week to count our individual and collective blessings.

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Podcasts

TG2: Reviewing the first major OEM (Cobra) 3D-printed putter!

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The first major OEM with a 3D printed putter is Cobra Golf! I took the new Limited Edition King Supersport-35 putter out on the course and found it to be a great performer. Cobra partnered with HP and SIK Putters to create a 3D printed body mated to an aluminum face that features SIK’s Descending Loft technology.

 

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Opinion & Analysis

You went to play, now you want to stay: Homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs

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At some point, we’ve all had that moment during a vacation where we look around and think to ourselves, “Instead of visiting, why don’t we just move here?” It always sounds a little crazy in the moment, but really, what’s stopping you?

Like many, I have done this myself, and it leads me down a rabbit hole of golf destination real estate to places all over North America where you get world-class golf minutes from home.

So whether you’re a big spender or looking to downsize and find a cozy hideaway, these homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs have it all.

Homes near Cabot Links & Cliffs

Inverness, Nova Scotia

Steps away

$1,495,000 – 12 Mine Road Inverness MLS Number: 202011562

Location, location, location!

This is currently the most expensive house in Inverness NS, and for good reason. It’s steps away from Cabot Links and overlooks the resort. It’s over 2,600 square feet of beautiful open concept living, and with a local address, you get a discount on tee times at the course, although with its growing popularity, you aren’t guaranteed times like if you stay on the actual property.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this view every day? Listing: 12 Mine Road – Realtor

Just up the road

$980,000 – 30 Broad Cove Road Inverness, MLS Number: 202010717

If the first one seems a bit crazy, this next one might be right up your alley.

This 4,000 square foot home, is only minutes from Cabot Link and Cliffs and has amazing views that overlook the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It has everything you could want including a large chef’s kitchen and enough room to host friends and family.

Listing: 30 Broad Cove Road – Realtor

Just you and the ocean

$394,000 – 6 Bayberry Road, Port Hood, MLS Number: 202015994

If you like golf but want a little more separation from the Cabot golf resort, less than 20 miles down the road is Port Hood, another quiet seaside town filled with quaint shops and endless views of the ocean.

You can wake up every morning to the sounds of the ocean and the smell of sea air, and when you want to play golf at a top 50 course in the world, you just need to make a relaxing drive along the water to get there—heck, if you are so inclined, and happen to have a boat, you can go almost door to door that way too!

Listing: 6 Bayberry Road – Realtor

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