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Opinion & Analysis

My 10 favorite assignments of 2020

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In December of 2012, my first GolfWRX article reached your eyes. For trivia buffs, it considered the viability of sidesaddle putting. Mash all the polemics of 2012 to 2019 together, and they won’t add up to the potent cocktail of 2020. Humanity’s flawed nature, from one sea to the other, was laid bare in the USA. From ethnic strife to biological frailty, to a simple inability to think beyond one’s own needs, 2020 was a year to forget, PLEASE! (No matter what Satan and Girl 2020 try to tell you.) On we strode, torsos leaning into the winds of defiance and change, with hopes to come out of it all in 2021. On considering that cheery note, I decided to compile, for the first time, my ten favorite GolfWRX pieces. I hope that you enjoy recalling this handful of scribbles, and that we see each other again, this time, in 2021.

1. Interview with Debert Cook

Part one

Part two

Why does this matter? Debert Cook is a woman … a woman of color … a woman of color at the helm of a major golf magazine. She lends her perspective to us in the two-part interview, so that we might enter the world of brown and black golfers, and understand what they feel, experience, and enjoy, within the game that we all love, and sometimes share.

2. An in-depth talk: Golf course architect Brandon Johnson

Easily the longest-to-conclude interview I’ve ever done. Brandon Johnson wanted to get it right, so he took his sweet time, and he got it right. Despite my years of study of golf course architecture, I had yet to run across Mr. Johnson, until a friend pointed me in his direction. What came of it, was a narrative thread of an architect who moved through layers of the industry, until he found his well-deserved niche.

3. Tour Rundown: WGC to new world no. 1, Werenski, Kang and more

It was one of many TRs this year, but what set it apart were the numbers: 10K readers, to be precise. My top-selling piece of 2020. What’s funny is, it didn’t showcase a major championship, nor anything particularly salacious. Somehow, it reached five figures. Cool. No more questions.

4. December Open title goes to A Lim Kim

I placed this article at number four, three weeks before the tournament was contested. In writing about the Biden cabinet, some pundit noted that it was not, in any sense, pale, male and yale, suggesting that diversity might be a good thing for government. The same can be said for golf. Golf, its writers, and its power players need to be proactive in welcoming people of all ethnicities, gender identification, age, and social strata, to the world’s greatest game. In December, the Women’s Open in Houston concluded the major championship slate for 2020, and it brought a lot to the fore. Two courses were used in tournament proper, for the first time in history at ANY Open championship. The ultimate champion, A Lim Kim, was everything unexpected and exuberant about golf. The venue and conditions were quite challenging, and provided an appropriate conclusion to an unfortunate year in human history.

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

Tom Doak has written a healthy number of books. Luke Reese has written one. Tom Doak does not write humorous books. Luke Reese could probably not avoid writing a humorous book. For this reason, this pairing of golf book reviews sticks in my head as my favorite book review piece of 2020. I’ve met Tom Doak on three occasions. I don’t suspect that any of them is etched in his memory, but the triumvirate is indelible in my own. As for Luke Reese, we enjoyed a 45-minute conversation on the phone last sprummer (the time between spring and summer) and he truly had me at hello.  Tom Doak’s books are meticulous, attractive, the type that grow in value for intellectual and financial investors. Luke Reese’s collection of anecdotes makes us all better story tellers and historians.

6. The GolfWRX interview: Golf songster Sam Harrop

Out of nowhere came Sam Harrop. For me, at least. He might differ, as that would suggest that his life has taken place in nowhere. If there’s anything a failed artiest enjoys, it’s a send-up, a version, of a famous work. What Jake Trout and the Flounders (look them up) did in the 1980s, Sam Harrop does to a higher degree as the 2020s dawn. His golf takes on popular songs are playable, again and again. That means, you won’t tire of them. You will send the YouTube links along to your friends, and you should post them to your social media accounts. Think of them as LP or EP memes. The laughter will come, in gales.

7. GolfWRX Spotlight: Tour Edge Exotics EXS Blade wedge review

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over time … please tell me what it is, ’cause I don’t know. Seriously, it’s that an equipment review needs to state its purpose in the very first sentence. The scientists, the engineers, the gear heads, all write from a perspective of precise, limitless data. That is not my style of research nor writing. I’m the reviewer who tells you how the club looks, how it feels at various points in the address, swing, and club toss into oblivion. I’d heard so much about Tour Edge, that I sought them out, and was afforded the opportunity to review their wedges. Funny part is, they came out with a brand new line, from tee to green, three weeks after I turned in this review! Fingers are crossed that they’ll have me back for a second course.

8. “A Little Madness: Stanley Thompson’s 5 Great Courses”

Why another book review piece? This one is different. Ian Andrew, a practicing golf course architect from metro Toronto, has worked with Tom Doak (see above) on St. George’s, in Ontario. He also works on the US side of the border, and is consulting architect at a number of courses. Andrew is as fine an expert on the great Canadian architect, Stanley Thompson, as there is. A Little Madness was his labor of love, and he decided to complete the book when the pandemic arrived. Andrew self-published the book, no mean feat, and the result is worthwhile. It should still be available for purchase so, after reading the review, you might wish to secure your own copy and enjoy a little madness of your own.

9. Why all of golf’s majors should pass on 2020

This was me, raising the alarm on golf and its tournaments. My concern was for humanity. I, like all other golf aficionados, was thrilled to watch three of four major titles contested on the men’s side, and three more on the women’s. What still bothers me is the notion of normalcy that a return to professional sports conveys. It suggests to all of us that this pandemic isn’t that bad, but it is. It suggests to all of us that sacrifice and avoidance are for other people, but they aren’t. My fear of human response is tempered only by my faith in human ingenuity. Science will save the day, but not for all.

10. An Interview with Bill Coore

A long ways back, Bill Coore called me out of a swamp. Trudging around a site that he and Ben Crenshaw were considering for a course, he decided to answer my interview request with a 45-minute conversation. I was equal parts thrilled and horrified. Thrilled that a fellow Demon Deacon would value my time and questions; horrified that he might take a bad step and disappear forever, into Dagoba. Fortunately, only the former transpired. The pair opted out of that particular site, but eh ones on which they have built courses have been intuitively chosen.

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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Boring journalism

    Dec 23, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    This is a Facebook post, not article

    • Ronald Montesano

      Dec 24, 2020 at 8:45 am

      I’d like to know more about you. Do you surf the web, in search of boring journalism? Have you established other tenets that writers should follow? It’s exciting to know that there are people like you, adrift in the world, dedicated to improving golf writing everywhere, with 2/3 of a haiku as your mode of communication. Hope to hear back. Happy Holidays.

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Opinion & Analysis

Keep your golf body moving at home

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Over the past few months, I’m willing to bet that a lack of golf, limited access to gyms and spending more time at home in sitting positions will likely be having a negative effect on our posture.

This means certain muscles (pecs, abs, hip flexors) getting tight and short, thereby hunching us over, rounding our shoulders forward and tightening our hips. This combination can wreak havoc on our golf swings, particularly our ability to rotate efficiently.

This simple sequence of exercises, performed daily, will help maintain posture and mobility in the key areas that facilitate rotation in our golf swings. You can find these exercises and much more on the Golf Fit Pro app for iOS.

 

1 – Mid Back Massage – 1 x 90 seconds

Using a foam roller or tightly rolled up towel, aim to apply firm pressure through the mid and upper back whilst gently pushing out the rib cage and arching back. Move up and down the roller or towel to target different areas of your spine.

 

2 – Upper Back Extension – 1 x 30 seconds

Using a bench, box or chair, push the chest down toward the floor whilst keeping your abs / core engaged. You should feel this in your mid and upper back.

 

3 – Straight Arm Chest Stretch – 1 x 30 seconds each side

 

Find a wall, post or doorway, place your hand flat with elbow pointing to the floor and arm straight. Gently turn away from your hand until your feel a stretch in your chest and front of your shoulder.

 

4 – Step Up and Turn – 1 x 5 reps each side 

 

In a push up position, move your foot to the outside of your hand (or as close as possible) then rotate your upper torso with arm straight, aiming to point your hand straight up to the ceiling.

 

5 – Back Swing and Follow Through – 1 x 10 reps

Using a piece of rubber tubing or as pictured, the GravityFit TPro, get into your golf set up position pushing out against the tubing. From there turn into your backswing and then into your follow through. Aim to do the majority of the rotation with your torso, keeping your hands in front of your body.

 

You can check out more of Nick’s articles and services here:

Articles
Golf Fit Pro App
Online Training

 

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Talking new Callaway Gear with Dave Neville

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On this episode of TGD, Johnny chats all things new Callaway gear with Sr. Director Brand and Product Management Dave Neville. They go deep into Epic Speed, the new Cally irons, and basically everything else.

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: From “secret” to 5 basics for a better wedge game

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First of all, thanks to all of you who read and gave last week’s post such high marks. And for all of you who have sent me an email asking for me to address so many topics. Keep those coming and I’ll never run out of things to write about.

In response to so many of those who asked for more on the basics, I want to start a series of articles this week to address some of what I consider the basics as you move your wedge game from greenside chipping, back to “full” wedge distances.

While I certainly do not want to try to replace the skills and contributions of a good instructor, what I hope to accomplish over the next few posts is to give you some of what I consider the most sound and basic of fundamentals as you approach shots from the green back to 100-130 yards, or what you consider “full” swing pitching wedge distance.

So, to get this series kicked off, let’s take the most basic of greenside chips, where the ball lies in a reasonably decent lie 3-10 feet from the edge of the green. I know there are many theories and approaches to chipping the ball, from a “putt-stroke” to hitting them all with a lob wedge, but I’m going to focus on what I consider the most simple and basic of approaches to chipping, so here we go:

Club selection. For golfers who are not highly skilled in this shot and who do not yet want to try to exhibit tons of creativity, my theory is that it is much easier to master one basic technique, then choose the right club to deliver the appropriate carry/roll combination. Once you have done a little practice and experimenting, you should really understand that relationship for two to four different clubs, say your sand wedge, gap wedge and pitching wedge.

Geometry. By that I mean to “build” the shot technique around the club and ball relationship to your body, as those are static. Start with your club soled properly, so that it is not standing up on the toe or rocked back on the heel. With the ball centered in the face, the shaft should be leaning very slightly forward toward the hole. Then move into your stance position, so that your lead arm is hanging straight down from your shoulders and your upper hand can grasp the grip with about 1-2” of “grip down” (I hate the term “choke up”). I’m a firm believer that the lead arm should not angle back toward the body, or out toward the ball, as either compromises the geometry of the club. The stance should be rather narrow and a bit open, weight 70% on your lead foot, and the ball positioned just forward of your trailing foot.

Relax. This is a touch shot, so it needs a very light grip on the club. Tension in the hands and forearms is a killer on these. I like to do a “pressure check” just before taking the club back, just to make sure I have not let the shot tighten me up.

The body core is key. This is not a “handsy” shot, but much more like a putt in that the shoulders turn away from the shot and back through, with the arms and hands pretty quiet. Because of the light grip, there will, by necessity, be some “loading” as you make the transition at the end of the backswing, but you want to “hold” that making sure your lead shoulder/forearm stay ahead of the clubhead through the entire through-stroke. This insures – like I pointed out last week – that the club stays in front of your body through the entire mini-swing.

Control speed with core speed. I think a longer stroke/swing makes for a smoother tempo on these shots. Don’t be afraid to take the club back a bit further than you might otherwise think, and just make the through-stroke as s-m-o-0-t-h as possible. Avoid any quickness or “jab-iness” in the stroke at all. Once you experiment a bit, you can learn how to control your body core rotation speed much easier than you can control hand speed. And it is nearly impossible to get too quick if you do that.

Again, I am certainly not here to replace or substitute for good instruction, and I know there are a number of approaches to chipping. This is just the one that I have found easier to learn and master in relation to the time you have to spend on your short game practice.

Next week, we’ll move back to those shorter pitches up to about 30 yards.

And keep those emails coming, OK? [email protected].

 

 

 

 

 

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