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The Wedge Guy: A tale of two tours

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If any of you watched much golf on TV this past weekend, you could have seen a complete contradiction of what golf was, is, and has become. I’m talking about the stark difference between the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour. This reflection is somewhat of a follow up to what I’ve been writing about the past couple of weeks. I promise to move on to more tips to help you improve your scoring next week!

On the one hand, we saw the PGA Tour professionals simply pummel TPC Summerlin. The winning score was 23 under par, and three players tied at that figure. If you watched, these amazingly long-hitting professionals made mincemeat of what is not an overly easy track. But is it really “23 under par” when all par fives were reachable in two with a mid- or short iron? Or when two of the par fours are driveable? Even with an iron in one case for DeChambeau?

We now are witnessing an acceleration of the evolution of golf at the highest level. It is no longer about controlling the flight of the golf ball, hitting fairways and greens. No, now the game belongs to the most powerful. These are highly tuned athletes who generate enormous clubhead speeds…throughout the bag. They can drive it out of sight, muscle wedges out of deep rough, their short games are magical, and the greens roll as smooth as pool tables. Give them green-reading books and caddies, and there is no end in sight into how they can bring any golf course to its knees, apparently.

It will certainly be interesting to watch how Augusta National holds up to this “new game” in only a few weeks.

In contrast, the LPGA stars took on a classic example of golf course architecture in Aronimink, outside Philadelphia. In the lead up to the event, many were talking about hitting fairway woods and hybrids to many par fours and even some par-threes. There was no question they had to use every club in their bags to challenge this fabulous Donald Ross layout.

And the winner, Sei Young Kim, put on a simply amazing display of shotmaking and ball control–I hope you got to see some of it. Over and over again, she hit approach shots that covered the flag, and it didn’t seem to matter whether she was hitting wedge, 7-iron, or even longer. She was on fire with ball control we just don’t see much of anymore.

The point of this comparison is not to throw shade on the PGA Tour or its professionals. The TV audience apparently wants to see this kind of pummeling of golf courses every week. I just don’t see how we rank-and-file golfers can learn anything from watching this. Unless you are going to go to the gym and change your body like Bryson and all the others are doing . . . Unless you are going to spend countless hours fine-tuning your short game . . . unless you are going to spend endless practice time on the putting green . . . well, this just isn’t the game we all play, no more than NASCAR represents our daily driving.

Again, if that appeals to you, get after it. But if you really want to see golf played masterfully at a level closer to your own, I suggest you tune in to the LPGA and watch these ladies showcase their skills.

You will see methodical pre-shot routines, swing rhythm, pacing, and sequencing that is almost perfect. And you will see just as magical scoring skills around the greens, executed by female athletes who have club-to-club distances much closer to your own.

Honestly, it’s the way the men’s game was played not all that long ago. Did you know, for example, Johnny Miller shot 63 on the last day to win the 1973 U.S. Open, hitting only a few approach shots with less than a 6-iron. I remember it like it was yesterday… Masterful.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Rwj

    Oct 14, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    The first couple days of the LPGA tourny was setup difficult. The weekend was lightened up for a major. They moved up tee boxes and flags werent as tucked. The wet conditions should have made it long and over par, but they adjusted to help

  2. 8thehardway

    Oct 14, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Bryson’s Augusta bag (happy caddy!): driver, putter, 4 iron & wedge, maybe a mid-iron for the unexpected. If the USGA doesn’t rule his body non-conforming, Augusta’s only hope is to start planting sequoias; once records fall and the novelty wears off, I’m not sure this level of Bomb & Gouging will be worth watching.

  3. This site is so mediocre

    Oct 14, 2020 at 11:44 am

    I feel like you had no one to tell this too so you wrote this “article.”

  4. Tom

    Oct 14, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Big difference yes, BUT PGA tour was a mid tier event at best while the LPGA was a major championship. The scores for the majors on the PGA are not in the 23 under range.

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