Connect with us

Equipment

Korea’s AutoFlex Shaft: Challenging the conventional wisdom of golf

Published

on

We are creatures of habit, or so I’ve been told. And God knows old habits are hard to break. Just ask my right leg that simply refuses to stop reverse-pivoting, despite my best intentions.

Equally hard to break are pre-conceived notions and superstitions. There are hundreds of them to be sure, but I want to focus on one particular idea in golf that seems to be largely unchallenged for its conventional wisdom: The more flexible the shaft, the less accurate it is.

You may have heard a similar version of the same idea. Stiffer shafts offer straighter shots, faster swingers need stronger shafts, and whippier shafts result in more slice. But a recent find has caused me to challenge this well-established notion—that an ultralight, super flexible shaft (44 grams) is claiming to be not only straighter but longer as well.

My first reaction: “NO WAY”. The shaft would practically be a fishing rod. There’s no way that it would stand up to my normal swing speed of 98~100 mph.

But the kicker was that the makers of this ‘breakthrough’ shaft doubled down on me by claiming that their fishing rod-esque shaft can hold under swing speeds of up to 150mph! That’s up in the territory of world long drive champions-and they are practically inhuman! Now I was scoffing out loud—time to put the money where their mouth was.

(Jung-hwan MOON, member of Korean National long drive team, testing out the new AutoFlex FS505 shaft)

The new shaft is named AUTO FLEX. Sounds a little cheesy, until you realize that Dumina Inc., the South Korean shaft manufacturer, also makes AUTO POWER shafts that have caused a local sensation on the KLPGA and elite amateur circles over the past few years.

Autopower shafts have proven itself to be effective, largely due to a wide range of 50+ shafts offering a much smaller gapping of about 5-10 CPMs between shafts. It allowed golfers to dial into their particular swing speed more effectively. Its use of their proprietary weaving pattern and as-yet-undisclosed material KHT (Korea Hidden Technology!?) also did what it said it would. Smooth feel, mid-high launch, and great accuracy/forgiveness.

FLEXING SOME MUSCLE

Enter AUTO FLEX, the new generation of shafts that Dumina claims will make the game of golf easier and more enjoyable for all golfers. By allowing golfers to swing more easily and smoothly with a much lighter shaft, golfers will not only feel fewer aches and pains but that their scores will improve as well.

Oh, and did I mention that there are only 3 shafts that are supposed to fit all levels of swing speeds from 65 to 150mph?

“NO WAY”, you say? I told you so.

Autoflex SF305 shaft / 38 grams / approx. 170cpm / Ladies / SS 60~80mph
Autoflex SF405 shaft / 44 grams / approx. 180cpm / Men / SS 80~95mph
Autoflex SF505 shaft / 51 grams / approx. 210cpm / Pro / SS 95~120+mph

According to the specs provided, I was fit for the SF405 shaft. The SF stands for ‘Spec Free’ meaning that these shafts do not follow the conventional labeling system of R, S, X, and weight. The first few waggles and I was at a loss for words.

Dumina claimed that after three rounds with the Autoflex, I would be well adjusted and that results would be prominent. I began by hitting a few shots with the 43-gram shaft and immediately noticed that the shaft had something much more than meets the eye.

Once I got over the initial doubt that a whippy shaft would not be able to square up to the ball at impact and started to swing normally, the shots flew straight with a bump up in launch angle. The higher launch (from 9º up to 13º) gave me more carry distance over my previous gamer, but I thought it might be increasing my backspin. But a quick check with a launch monitor showed an average of 2,000-2,100 RPM, which was about the same as before.

But the most noticeable numbers were from the total distance, which was about 5~7 yards farther than my usual average. This was surprising because I felt I was swinging a little slower and smoother than before (it may be from the fear that the whippy shaft may cause a duck hook), but the average ball speed increased from 62~63mph to about 65.

I venture that because the shaft is more flexible, it causes the head speed to increase, kind of like cracking a whip of sorts. This somewhat fits into my current belief that a more flexible shaft hits the ball longer (at the expense of accuracy).

Pretty darn good numbers for me, but ZERO side spin means a straight as an arrow shot and 1.50 smash factor.

 

The numbers on the launch monitor were impressive for my standards and usual play. But it needed to be tested out on the course.

At the time of this article, I have played some 10 rounds with the new AutoFlex shaft on my Cobra F9 driver (10.5°, 45.25 inches at D2) and I couldn’t be happier with my results. My driving accuracy has significantly improved over the conventional shaft (HZRDUS Smoke 6S).

I’ve played in both fair and very windy conditions, and the results were the same. I was finding a lot more fairway than ever before. That pesky little draw at the end that rolls the ball into the left rough has all but disappeared.

To be frank, I didn’t see much change in the overall distance as well-struck shots from both my old gamer and new shaft tended to go about the same distance. However, it was the frequency of how often I was able to hit the sweet spot with the new shaft that made me feel much more confident in swinging the driver on the tightest of fairways.

I am still searching for the right words to explain it, but the driver feels whippy on the backswing and yet it feels like the entire length of the shaft firms up on the downswing and at impact. At times, I was certain that the shot completely missed the center of the face and a quick check confirmed that I struck the ball on the heel or toe, well outside the center. But the resulting ball flight is either a slight push or pull with a small distance loss of about 10 yards. Yet, no bananas or duck hooks that I’ve come to associate with such mishits and feedback to the hands. What sorcery is this?

But the most beneficial factor for me was that I was swinging the club much easier and with less energy exertion than I would have done with a heavier, stiffer shaft. I had a lower back disc surgery five years ago that prevents me from making a full turn and a limited finish. Playing with longer-hitting friends invariably leads me to try to swing harder at a faster tempo, usually leading to ballooning scores.

With AutoFlex, once I dialed into the new reality with an adjusted belief about whippier shafts, I was able to maintain both accuracy and distance for the whole round and not feel as tired. And I was better able to maintain my balance with a smoother swing and not have to worry about losing distance. Perhaps this is what let me hit the face center more often. Just like the namesake, it was as if the shaft was automatically trying to help fix my swing flaws to provide maximum forgiveness.

Whatever it is, I was sold.

I now have the same spec AutoFlex shaft in my 3-wood as well. If I had trouble getting my fairway woods up in the air previously, no one would suspect that of me now.

I would love to replace all of my shafts, irons and all if I could afford it, but unfortunately, the shafts are quite expensive. The company tells me that the “hidden technology” material and the manufacturing process is quite costly (nearly seven times over regular shaft manufacturing cost), and they are available in limited quantities at 950,000 KRW (about $775) each.

For me, the proof was in my new-found fearlessness with the driver and wood. I get a kick out of waggling my driver on the first tee to the shock of my playing partners and then bust a drive down the middle. Some still can’t come to grips with the shaft despite trying for themselves. And the makers of the shaft are keeping their lips sealed on what makes the shaft behave differently than the commonly held perceptions. In fact, Dumina has not applied for a patent at all, stating that once their secret is out, it will change the way we play golf and limit their business from copycats. So whatever KHT is about, it will remain undisclosed for the time being.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how the AutoFlex shaft works or what are its component materials? I would be interested in hearing from other gear heads out there!

 

 

Your Reaction?
  • 650
  • LEGIT59
  • WOW146
  • LOL30
  • IDHT7
  • FLOP13
  • OB11
  • SHANK82

James is a golf gear-nut living and writing about all things golf in Korea. A fan of Tiger, Fred, and Seve, he is forever seeking the holy grail of golf clubs that will lower his score. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada and has been in Korea to witness the explosive growth of golf since 1996. Despite playing golf for over 30 years and being a perpetual 10-handicapper, James steadfastly claims to be the embodiment of the Average Joe Korean golfer. He can be reached at [email protected], and often introduces cool new Asia-based golf gear on YouTube and Instagram.

58 Comments

58 Comments

  1. Pingback: The ‘game-changing’ AutoFlex shaft: A year in review – GolfWRX

  2. T-Bone

    Feb 17, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    There’s a sucker born every minute.

    • Ryan O'Keefe

      Sep 22, 2021 at 1:02 am

      There’s a naysayer that’s happy to throw out unfounded statements without a clue about what they’re talking about, every minute.

  3. Pingback: The driver shaft that dominated the talk at Rory Mcilroy’s Christmas dinner – GolfWRX

  4. Pingback: Adam Scott testing Korean AutoFlex shaft at 2021 Farmers Insurance Open – GolfWRX

  5. s

    Dec 1, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    Black Pink, Rainbow. Names of the k-pop idols. Coincidence? LOL

  6. Ken

    Nov 30, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Nice article James. Just purchased a sf405. For your fairway wood, did you use the same shaft and tip it or do they make a version of the autoflex for fairway/hybrid clubs. Thanks

  7. James

    Oct 16, 2020 at 10:36 am

    The AutoFlex shaft is now available to be purchased from Dumina Co. Ltd in Korea.Their site in English is at http://www.autoflexshaft.com and they accept PayPal now.

  8. steve lee

    Oct 12, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    I send the e-mail to Jimmy
    hope I can order one in the US
    I don’t know If I should order Autoflex SF505 shaft / 51 grams or SF505X 54 grams

  9. Paul Davis

    Oct 12, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    The answer I believe would be in an ER chart of the shaft. Based on the description of the feel it seems like the version being tested may have a stiffer mid-section. This would be similar to the Graphite Design Tour AD MJ shaft lineup, but at a much lower weight class.

  10. Thomas

    Oct 1, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    Info on purchasing one please

  11. Wesley Yano

    Oct 1, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    I would be interested in possibly purchasing the SF405 shaft . Would you be able to provide information on how to go about purchasing it?

  12. Greg

    Sep 24, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    I saw this shaft use today my Matt at TXG and he gain ball speed , total Distance up club speed this Shaft is the Real Deal. Just hope the price could come down! At 63 of age with a105 club head speed love to try this Shaft out. Hope this Company can keep it a secret or get a USA Patient. Very nice Company . If you ever want a old Timer to try it I will try it.

  13. Jason

    Sep 9, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    It’s a very interesting concept. As a fitter I am always looking for new innovations to introduce my clients to. This one has a long way to go, but the concept is certainly interesting.

  14. ...

    Aug 20, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    7 iron spinning 3600rpm in the first video. useless on the course.

  15. George Steer

    Aug 17, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    Is $775 worth it if my back feels less strain and I can play longer into my senior years? ABSOLUTELY!

  16. Fishing Rod is the Future

    Aug 17, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    I always believed when everything else is equal, lighter the shaft is better. However, I never expected to see such a wimpy looking shaft to be stable during the swing. But, I think about it again – it makes a sense. Fishing rods are wimpy but stable. And, good fishing rods cost a fortune. They must be modeled after a good fishing rod.

    • James

      Aug 18, 2020 at 2:45 am

      Great observation. That is precisely what I was told 🙂

  17. Jack Nash

    Aug 17, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Question : Is it worth $700 smackers for me to gain 8 or so yards when my avg. drive is 220?

  18. Lee Ditiangkin

    Aug 15, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Does anyone know where you can pick these up in the US

    • James

      Aug 16, 2020 at 8:54 pm

      Hi Lee.At the moment, the AutoFlex shafts are available in Korea only but I believe the company is looking for capable distributors in North America. I will update when and if they are sold there. If you are looking to purchase asap, email me for info to the company. 🙂

      • Jonathan Keith

        Aug 19, 2020 at 3:27 pm

        I would love to get one soon!

        • Lee Ditiangkin

          Sep 22, 2020 at 8:11 pm

          Just got the shaft. Couldn’t miss a fairway, something different about this one.

          Sometimes it appeared the shaft would break at the top of the backswing, but at impact felt pure. Took a while to get used to the flight of the ball because it takes off at a higher window.

          You can swing fast or slow, the shaft responds pretty much down the center.

          Going to play another couple weeks and want to practice with a trackman to see the numbers.

          Coming from a tpt 15, so this is a drastic change.

      • Michael

        Sep 24, 2020 at 7:45 pm

        Sent you a message James. Thanks.

      • Jerry

        Sep 24, 2020 at 10:33 pm

        I would like to get one of these shafts, im also dealer for different makes of clubs and drivers,
        How do I get in contact in getting these shafts?

      • Warren

        Sep 26, 2020 at 9:54 am

        Hi James,

        Thanks for the info and offer to share the company info. I am looking to purchase immediately.

        Thanks!

      • Jason

        Sep 26, 2020 at 2:44 pm

        Hi James,

        I’m interested in buying one of these shafts – Autoflex SF505xx shaft

        – Can you please send me more information. Thank you!

      • Victor

        Oct 1, 2020 at 10:39 pm

        James…can you send me info on purchasing one? Current swing speed is 110+ and playing a 60tx pro orange. Recommendation on which one? Thanks.

      • Scott marshall

        Oct 7, 2020 at 3:09 pm

        James can I get company name to purchase one of these shafts ? Thanks

    • geohogan

      Sep 23, 2020 at 4:41 pm

      try ebay in two or three years for $300, with free delivery.

  19. Benny

    Aug 15, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Great article. Fellas the Rogue 125msi sold for $1200 and many bought those shafts. Not applying for a patent means it cannot be controlled by a manufacture, that theyinvested something. So thisis something abvious and easy.
    I have always thought about a shaft that has to be installed in a specific way for each player, on their plane. That the walls are built up so not to allow the head to twist ever and only flexes backwards on the plane.
    If thats the case the more “whip” the better it helps and zero chance of misdirection or miss hits.
    Maybe its illigal and why its not been marketed. But if we do not play USGA golf than who cares?

  20. Paul Runyan

    Aug 15, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    I think I will wait for Ian and Matt at TXG to do some testing!

    This will probably work well for Some seniors, etc., but I would love to see Matt try this out in his new Callaway or better yet the old Ping G410.

    Thanks!

    • gwelfgulfer

      Aug 16, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      Do a head to head with the Nunchuk to see who rules the one flex for all category.

      • geohogan

        Aug 23, 2020 at 12:29 pm

        Last I looked Nunchuk driver shaft sold for $250, and Xi iron shaft $60

        A no-brainer at 1/3 price.

    • ko

      Aug 17, 2020 at 4:22 pm

      Freaky diky mavericky

    • Sean P Momtahen

      Sep 24, 2020 at 4:49 pm

      Go check out their youtube… the review came out today and it pretty amazing TBH

    • Johnny Penso

      Sep 24, 2020 at 7:46 pm

      Video came out today. Matty gained an avg. of 20 yards through the air. Longest driver was over 370 yds.

  21. Walter E. Welky Jr

    Aug 15, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Sounds like it is capable of flexing from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock with zero torque. Is there an orientation mark on the shaft that would render adjustable clubs useless?

    • Daniel Whitehurst

      Jan 31, 2021 at 11:48 pm

      Not on a Callaway. The shaft doesn’t spin just the two rings around the sleeve. But bad for any other manufacturers adjustable sleeves though.

  22. TonyK

    Aug 15, 2020 at 10:50 am

    This made me curious.. We all know that there are illegal driver heads, but can there be any “illegal shaft” at all?

  23. jim

    Aug 15, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Those “in the know” have known this for years…..hardest part is trying to get golfers to get over their misinformations, personal feelings and preconceived notions as to what is going to happen during golf swing. Hit a 13* driver? what? no way, it will go to high !!! Not.

  24. Glenk

    Aug 15, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Excaliber shafts here in America has been doing this for years in wedge shafts to create extra feel and spin. They are now releasing this same concept in irons and soon woods – called rapid taper shafts. Hackers paradise reviewed the iron shaft and got 8 extra yards from this shaft with better carry numbers. Exxcaliber will not be charging ridiculous prices for theirs though thankfully.

  25. JM

    Aug 15, 2020 at 3:08 am

    When I was younger, I had no money and would buy clubs from Play It Again Sports. I found a nearly new Callaway Steelhead 3 wood for $80 and picked it up. I had no idea what specs were or even why they mattered. I loved that 3 wood. Straightest club in my bag and I always striped it. One day im playing with a good player and i crush my 3 wood. He asks to check it out and proceeds to tell me that it has a women’s shaft in it. I got rid of it immediately and have never hit a 3 wood that good since.

    • Rothkofan

      Aug 15, 2020 at 8:54 pm

      Freddie Couples gamed a 3 Wood for years…that he stole from Tom Watson’s then-wife

    • nomad golfer

      Sep 1, 2020 at 6:53 am

      One thing this article has done for me and that is my rejection of ladies flex has gone and I know where there is a lovely 7 wood (L) and I’m going to buy it tomorrow. I should have known because My old TM R7 and R11 have geriatric shafts and hit like winners. Thanks

  26. DPavs

    Aug 14, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    The price makes this a no go for the average golfer… so it’s a fail for me.

  27. dat

    Aug 14, 2020 at 11:13 am

    LOL $775 for a shaft?

  28. George Steer

    Aug 14, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Great article James!
    Does the company have any plans to market in the United States?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Equipment

Bettinardi unveils new 2023-2024 Queen B line of putters

Published

on

Bettinardi Golf has today introduced its new Queen B Series of putters that includes four timeless models.

The 2023-2024 Queen B Series enhances the Queen B 6 & Queen B 11, while also introducing two brand-new models, the Queen B 14 and Queen B 15.

The entire series is crafted using 303 Stainless Steel and features an all-new Caramel Copper PVD finish, which aims to not only accentuates the classic beauty of each model but also optimize visual cues on the greens to give a confidence-inspiring appearance at every crucial putt.

In addition, the new Queen B line debuts Bettinardi Golf’s new Mini Honeycomb face milling. This newly developed face utilizes an 8% smaller machine tool in order to provide the softest Honeycomb face to date.

“By utilizing an even smaller machining tool during the milling process, we were able to remove more material from the face of the putter, creating a softer feel at impact. Since 1998, Bettinardi putters have been world-renowned for our Honeycomb face milling. Twenty-five years later, my patented face continues to evolve and produces one of the most recognizable looks and feels in golf.” – Bob Bettinardi, CEO/Founder of Bettinardi Golf

The 2023-2024 Queen B Series will be available for pre-order on Tuesday, November 22nd online at Bettinardi.com, and will be available for purchase at authorized Bettinardi dealers worldwide, starting January 17th.

Your Reaction?
  • 32
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW2
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK7

Continue Reading

Equipment

Bettinardi adds BB28 putter to brand’s BB series

Published

on

Bettinardi has today unveiled the addition of the BB28 to its BB series line.

The BB28 features Aggressive Flymill face milling designed to give the putter a responsive, yet soft feel off the putter head, and offers a full-flange design, which provides greater perimeter weighting and higher M.O.I.characteristics.

This latest addition uses a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) finishing technology, which is a thin, yet resilient coating that shows off the mill marks in an artisan way.

Each BB Series putter is one-piece milled from 303 Stainless Steel, which is the same blend of material preferred by all Bettinardi Tour staffers, with the metal offering a more durable, responsive, and solid feeling putter for optimal performance.

Bettinardi have also launched the center shaft BB28 putter featuring a 1/4 toe-hang wide-body blade, as well as a BB28 Armlock containing a near-face-balanced wide-body blade.

The BB28 model is available for pre-order at Bettinardi.com ($430) from November 22nd and at retail on January 22nd.

Your Reaction?
  • 8
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

Equipment

2022 Joburg Open: Betting Tips & Selections

Published

on

And that was the DP World Tour season over.

And here is the DP World Tour season beginning.

Just a few days after Jon Rahm produced an exhibition display to beat a stellar field in Dubai (and earn less ranking points than Adam Svensson did at the RSM), the tour starts its 2023 season with a co-sanctioned Joburg Open, a mixed field of the best of the Sunshine Tour, some European stalwarts, and others that might well not bother turning up.

Viewers will not have seen Houghton GC for many years, but in the years of hosting the Dunhill Championship (2000-2004) the names Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel and Justin Rose call for the halcyon days of the tour in South Africa. There are very few in this field that could reach that major-winning standard, and it will be of interest to see if the internationals can wrest away the title from the home contingent, something they could not do when that event turned to Leopard Creek, the Springboks winning seven from the last ten.

The Nicklaus course now hosts the Joburg Open, where in 14 runnings over various courses, home players have won nine and been out of the runner-up spot just twice.

Back to the Dunhill and it’s most recent winner, Christiaan Bezhuidenhout, easily the most likley victor this week.

Like many of the more promising youngsters in South Africa, Bez’s career starts with early victories on the Big Easy Tour and has progressed ever since.

Although with just four wins to his name at this level, the 28-year-old has built his reputation on a stellar short game, something that enabled him to win at tricky Valderrama by an incredible six shots, before going back-to-back at Leopard Creek and the Gary Player GC, to win two of his home country’s most prestigious events.

Having spent much of the last two years inside the world’s top 50, a series of acceptable rather than impressive results has seen him slip to number 72 but he will surely see this as a chance to get going in the right direction again.

Clearly Bez likes Gary Player designed tracks, and it may be no coincidence that his best recent effort was last time out at the Nedbank (held at the GPGC), but like Nicklaus, Player asks questions of the golfer, and with Bez having a short game at a level higher than the majority of these, it is easy to see him thrive here.

Stats on the recent PGA events are very mixed, but he was third in greens-in-reg and eighth in putting at the John Deere – a course that requires low scoring and a bogey-avoiding round – and he was again top-10 for the flat stick stats at Sedgefield and at the BMW, the penultimate FedEX Cup event.

The mention of that lucrative title certainly puts Bez in a different league to his rivals this week and, having relished the return home a couple of weeks ago, can continue that form and take a win into the 2023 PGA season.

Despite losing strokes off the tee at the Gary Player, Bez ranked 11th for tee-to-green, 4th for around-the-green and top 20 for putting. Add that to his figures when playing at home since 2020 – 1/15/1/1/6/5 – and anything bigger than 6/1 looks worth a pop.

Should Bez get beaten, both George Coetzee and Thriston Lawrence are clearly the biggest dangers, especially given their win records compared to Hennie Du Plessis, Oliver Bekker and Louis De Jager.

Coetzee loves it when dropped back from the DP World Tour and has already won twice when arriving back from either the Korn Ferry or European tours, but he seems happier in weaker fields where he is favourite and can dominate.

However, Lawrence, who, with a win last year finally lived up to some big early hype, won his first true DP World event at Crans after running-up at Kenya – both significant moves towards this event.

Off the boil for a while, he bounced back to form when sixth at potentially linkable Valderrama, before an eventual 15th at the Nedbank disguises that he was third going into Sunday.

19th off-the-tee for the season, the 25-year-old backs that up with top-30 for approaches, tee-to-green and greens-in-regulation, with 18th for putts-per-greens-in-reg.

This is, of course, a huge drop in class from the DP World Tour Championship last week and on overall stats, he looks an each-way play to nothing.

It would be surprising if one of the top lot were not to win, so I’ll take just one, far more unexposed, player to grab a place on the first couple of pages of the board.

Deon Germishuys was a tempter after an excellent Challenge Tour season, but perhaps he’s best left as a ‘follow’ throughout 2023. Instead, take a chance with Tom McKibbin, a name that should be on everyone’s list going into 2023, 2024, and beyond.

Coming from Holywood brings a sense of foreboding, as surely he will rarely escape the comparisons to that Northern Irish town’s most famous son, Rory McIlroy. The 19-year-old isn’t at all fussed, though, telling Irish Golfer, “I try not to read much about myself or anything like that. I’ve heard the comparison since I’ve been nine or 10 years old, so if anything, it’s got a little old now.”

Ignore that and we have one promising player, and one that has broadcasted his ability for a few years, despite his current age.

An outstanding junior and amateur, McKibbin had verbally agreed a move to the University of Florida before Covid ruined those plans and, it seemed, the 2021 Walker Cup, an event he was almost certain to be selected for.

Again, this is a cool head on young shoulders – “It meant I got off to a bit of a head-start in pro golf. I don’t think Walker Cup would’ve been much of a benefit and I haven’t really thought much about it since.”

So, let’s talk about the play.

In his first year with limited status and invites, the JMC-managed player recorded a 12th and 16th at Challenge Tour level before a 26th place at the higher level at Galgorm Castle (11th and 20th after the first two rounds).

That gave McKibbin entry into a few of the better Challenge Tour events, and he has taken advantage in style.

The beginning of the year saw the traditional exodus of trophy-seekers to South Africa, and McKibbin took a lead into the final day of the Cape Town Open before finishing in third place – “I played fine, did the same things I did the first three days, it just wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t tense up or anything like that. I thought I did the right things. It just didn’t pay off.”

A week later, he finished seventh after a level-par Sunday would never be enough to exploit an overnight position in the final group, but the experience would be yet another notch on the post.

The second half of the year was to be McKibbin’s highlight, with 14 events played from July onwards, rewarding him with six top-10s, including an almost repeat effort at Glagorm Castle, and three top-20 finishes.

Latterly, sixth place at the Challenge Tour Grand Final would leave him in 10th place on the CT rankings and a full DP World Tour card, something he can exploit before the bigger events next year.

Mentored by Rory, with Chris Selfridge – ex-professional and ex-caddy of Ryan Fox – on the bag – “It obviously costs money getting a top caddie like him but I think you’ve got to do it right if you want to get something really good out of it in the end. No point not investing in yourself and ending up in the same spot in five, 10 years’ time,” and with one stats line that reads ‘overall stats leader’ at Galgorm, McKibbin is something special.

It may take a few years, as it did Thriston Lawrence, to make a real mark, but it will come. Why not this week?

Other to note for big performances are Oliver Hundeboll, winner in this part of the world on the Challenge Tour last year and fifth at Fairmont at the Hero Open, and Casey Jarvis, a multi-decorated junior who in a short professional career has proven too good for lesser grade and has improved in contention throughout the year, finishing runner-up to Coetzee at the South African PGA at the beginning of the month.

I’m expecting the trophy to be lifted by one of the more obvious types, but eyes down the board to see how some of the youngsters get on, for they will be winning soon enough.

Reccomended Bets:

  • Christiaan Bezhuidenhout – Win
  • Thriston Lawrence – Each Way
  • Tom McKibbin – Top-20
  • Oliver Hundeboll – Top-20
  • Casey Jarvis – Top-20
Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending