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Opinion & Analysis

My 10 favorite assignments of 2020



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 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. 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

The Wedge Guy: Why wedge mastery is so elusive



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



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”!



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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