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Golf pioneer Lee Elder passes away at age 87

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One of the pioneers against segregation in golf, Lee Elder, who will be mostly remembered for his appearance as the first black golfer to take part in The Masters, was reported to have died on Sunday, aged 87.

Having moved to Los Angeles at a young age, Elder took jobs at local golf courses before being encouraged and tutored by Joe Louis and Ted Rhodes before making his mark in the United Golf Association Tour for African-American players, at one stage winning 18 of 22 tournaments.

He reached the PGA Tour in 1968, losing a play-off to Jack Nicklaus at Firestone but always faced an uphill battle against the prejudice that existed.

Per Golf Channel’s report, during a tournament in Memphis one of his opponents, Terry Dill, saw a spectator pick his ball up and discard it, only for him to receive death threats at his hotel.

Further to that and similar episodes, at the 1968 Monsanto Open, Pensacola, Elder was amongst many black players forced to change in the car park as members would not allow non-white players in their clubhouse.

Six years later, Elder was to win in Pensacola, paving his way to that first initiation to The Masters, and whilst he received “up to 100 death threats” he confirmed some 40 years later that, “Every green I walked up on, the applause was just tremendous, I mean every one of the people shouted, ‘Go, Lee! Good luck, Lee!’”

In 1979, Elder became the first black player to qualify for the Ryder Cup and became a crusader and spokesman for injustice against racism at golf clubs, as well as speaking out against social discrimination and forming the Lee Elder Scholarship Fund, aiding low-income families seeking a place at college.

Elder eventually became a member of the PGA Champions Tour winning six of his first 22 starts and a total of nine tournaments.
As Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters, Elder was on hand to witness the cheers. “You would have thought I was winning the golf tournament,” Golf Channel report Elder to have said. “To be there, to see what Tiger did, that meant the world to me.”

Indeed, Tiger himself stated that “I wasn’t the pioneer. Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder and Teddy Rhodes paved the way,” said Woods. “I was thinking about them and what they’ve done for me as I was coming up the 18th fairway. I said a little prayer and a thanks to those guys. They are the ones who did it for me.”

Last April Elder was appointed an honorary starter (alongside Nicklaus and Gary Player) for the 85th Masters declaring that it was ”one of the most emotional experiences that I have ever witnessed or been involved in…..it is certainly something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Masters chairman Fred Ridley gave Elder the ceremonial first-tee honours while adding that Elder will “make history once more, not with a drive, but with his presence, strength and character.”

Lee Elder is survived by his wife, Sharon, and will surely go down in history as one of the most influential players to break down racial barriers within the sport.

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News

People are going crazy over these Jordan 1 Low Golf sneakers!

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Nike’s next installment of Jordan Golf sneakers is releasing in the U.S. today. This time, we don’t have to guess if the sneakers will sell out — we already know they will.

The Nike Jordan 1 Low G was released in Korea on January 14, and it was a sight to behold. According to The Korea Times:

“Pitching tents hours before the opening of Nike stores so as to be the first to get inside, customers sprinted into the stores like a mad mob. A witness to the scene at Shinsegae Department Store in Daegu said it was ‘scary to see them running like zombies.'”

Reports say that most of the customers were there to make a profit on the secondary sneaker market, a market that’s been growing exponentially for years now, with pairs reportedly selling for up to $670.

As far as the sneaker go themselves, they’re relatively toned down for all the hype they’ve created. The sneaker is essentially the Jordan 1 Low ‘Wolf Grey’ but with Nike’s traction sole.

They’ve been advertised as “everything you need to play 18 holes in comfort” by Nike themselves.

Check out this video to get a better idea of wild the scene in Korea on January 14.

Jordan 1 Low Golf mayhem

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2022 American Express

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GolfWRX is live this week from The American Express at PGA West in La Quinta, California as the PGA Tour begins its West Coast Swing.

We got an in-hand look at the new Mitsubishi MMT Putter Concept putter shaft (as well as the inside story here), Fujikura Ventus TR Blue shaft (story here), Vokey SM9, new Cobra drivers, new TaylorMade putters, as well as plenty of peeks inside player bags.

Check out links to all our photos below!

Gallery threads

Spotted threads 

WITB threads

Join the discussion and see what GolfWRXers are saying here. 

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Equipment

Patrick Reed on PXG driver deal, new Grindworks “Barrett” wedges (plus 2022 WITB)

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Prior to PXG’s recent announcement, Patrick Reed was an equipment free agent and had the freedom to play with any driver he wanted.

Without any mandates from a particular OEM, Reed was free to test and use different drivers from various manufacturers. And, throughout the majority of 2021, that’s what he did. Seemingly every week, Reed was using a driver from a different company, searching for his right fit.

By the end of the year, he finally found it. Starting in October 2021, Reed used a PXG 0811X Gen4 driver (equipped with his usual Aldila Rogue 125 MSI shaft) for the remainder of 2021.

Three months was an eternity in Reed’s 2021 free agency world of ever-changing driver choices, so it was no surprise when PXG announced the endorsement deal at the start of 2022. He was already using the company’s driver for a relatively extensive period, so the deal happened organically.

Following his T-15 finish at the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui – his first event as a member of the PXG Troops – I briefly caught up with Reed on Tuesday at the 2022 American Express in Palm Desert to ask him about the driver and the deal.

“The driver’s been amazing,” Reed told GolfWRX. “Being in that free agency market, I’ve been able to use whatever I want. I’ve tested every driver from Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, Ping, PXG, and this one I feel like gives me the best opportunity to make my golf swing and hit the shot I want to, and at the same time have the speed I’m looking for. So, for me, the driver’s unbelievable.”

While the PXG driver has been in his bag for months now, he did show up to the 2022 American Express with a few new clubs.

In addition to the Grindworks irons that he’s been playing the last few years, Reed now has new Grindworks “Barrett” signature collection wedges in the bag (Barrett is the name of Reed’s son). As per the company’s website, the wedges are officially called “Grindworks + Patrick Reed – The Barrett Wedge Collection.

Designed by Niimi Kiyonari, the same craftsman who designed Reed’s irons, the Barrett wedges are the result of two years of close work with Reed to get exactly what he wants out of his wedge.

“We’ve been working really hard on designing the wedges through Grindworks,” Reed told GolfWRX on Tuesday. “They’ve been really good. It’s still a work in progress, trying to tweak them a hair here and there, but for me, it’s going to be a game-changer, because, let’s be honest, you have to be perfect from 130 yards-and-in nowadays on Tour, because that’s where you score every time.”

On the company’s website, Kiyonari writes the following about working with Reed on the wedges, and how they’re different:

“The idea of creating Mr. Reed’s wedges intrigued me. When Mr. Reed asked me to design his new wedge, I immediately realized that Patrick was after feel and nothing else. Feel permeates Patrick’s game through the core and is not to be compromised ever.

“So, the next question entered my mind… how do you go about designing a wedge that is unparalleled in the market and that you can only describe through feel at impact? Patrick had absolute faith in my ability to take his words, direction, and his eye for the aesthetics of the clubs and develop and synthesize all of the information and create what would be the perfect set of wedges.

“At first, I was tempted to dismiss the project, only because the feel is so subjective. How would I know from person to person what feel people want to be achieved? But in working with the irons with Patrick, I realized his aptitude for knowing what feeling people as well as the best players in the world are looking for… as well as what they were not looking for. It took us well over a year and a half just discussing the details with Patrick. The alloy to use, the shape to forge, how many grooves to cut and not once during all this time did Patrick waver about the technology or processes, all he wanted to achieve were his grinds….the grinds he had been trying to duplicate with each win, with each practice, wedges that would no longer need grinding and lead tape, he wanted his wedges and he wanted me to create his ‘go-to’ set of wedges, no grinding or lead tape necessary, ready for game- time.

“It took over two years of prototypes, discussions, changes, and sacrificed so many samples to achieve exactly what we all wanted. As a surprise to Patrick, we named his signature Wedges ‘Barrett’ after his only son.”

Reed had three Grindworks Barrett wedges (51, 57, and 61 degrees) in the bag on Tuesday at The American Express, although he appears to still be testing out the 61-degree version against Titleist Vokey SM9 and SM8 lob wedges.

As a side note, I also asked Reed about the relationship with Grindworks and how it started in the first place.

“Justine,” Reed said. “Justine (Reed’s wife) contacted them whenever I was trying to figure out what direction I was trying to go with clubs when I was in free agency. We just asked them if they’d build us a set of clubs, and I’m thinking they’re just going to send a blade that they’ve already made with my specs and just send ’em to me. After about 500 emails and 8 different CAD designs, we designed the entire set from scratch.”

Below is an in-hand look at each of the new Barrett wedges and a company description of each new design.

Grindworks PR-B51

“The Grindworks Barrett 51 wedge is all about ‘smooth transitions.’ This wedge is intended to give you the shotmaking from the fairway giving players optimal spin, with the ability to control trajectory, and create the shot you want or need into the greens.”

Grindworks PR-B57

“The Grindworks Barrett 57 grooves are stamped lower and also closer to the leading edge giving it an overall straighter look but also keeps the forgiveness needed not to ‘dig.’ The intention with this 57-degree wedge was to give heel and toe relief, a wider sole, and smooth transitions from the heel to the toe.”

Grindworks PR-B61  

“A ‘High-Toe Look,’ but not a high toe. The 61-degree wedge has a nice straight leading edge, but transitions to the bounce smoothly so it does not dig. The grooves are stamped lower and are set deep into the wedge for optimal spin and performance. The bounce of this wedge is lower with heel and toe relief which allow for play on multiple surfaces and different lies and gives a player a multitude of shots, enhancing playability anywhere around the greens or from the fairway.”

Below is everything that Reed had in his bag on Tuesday ahead of the 2022 American Express. To see what GolfWRX members are saying about Reed’s equipment, and see all of our photos, check out the full Patrick Reed WITB 2022 forum thread here.

Driver: PXG 0811X Gen4 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 125 MSI 70 TX

3 Wood: TaylorMade SIM (15 degrees), TaylorMade Stealth Plus (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 130 MSI 70 TX

Hybrid: Callaway Apex (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila RIP Phenom Hybrid 100 TX

Irons: Grindworks PR-202 (4 iron), Grindworks Patrick Reed Forged 101-A  (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Grindworks Barrett (51, 57 and 61 degrees), Titleist Vokey SM9 (lob wedge), Titleist Vokey SM8 (lob wedge)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Odyssey White Hot Pro #3

Click here to see all of our photos of Reed’s equipment.

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