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Spotted: TaylorMade Milled Grind 4 wedges

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TaylorMade released the Milled Grind 3 wedges back in 2021, and we got a very good look at their replacement this week. Collin Morikawa and Lucas Herbert both had new MG4 wedges in the bag at the Travelers Championship.

The wedges in these tour bags looked to be fully raw steel, not just a raw face like the MG3 wedges have. We don’t know any technical details yet, nor do we know if we will get a full raw version at retail.

 

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Our own Andrew Tursky was at the Travelers this week and caught up with Lucas Herbet to talk about the new wedges and what he is seeing from them that got them in the bag.

“The faces feel like sandpaper, because they’re so grippy. You feel it straight away around the greens. You’re getting a lot more spin. Even like 80-yard pitch shots, I can see them spinning a lot more, as well.”

The new MG4 wedges keep the tradition of having a completely milled sole grind that ensures consistency from wedge to wedge since hand polishing allows for varying sole dimensions and angles. The faces look to be a little different on the new wedges with angled micro grooves in between the main grooves on the face. These angle grooves have been used on other wedges and are described as helping to control the direction of spin on open-faced shots.

Also new for these MG4 wedges looks to be the shape of the Tiger Woods version. The TW 56* and 60* have sole grinds that are built specifically for Tiger but his wedges look to also have a much more squared-off toe shape compared to the standard MG4 wedges.

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I have been an employee at GolfWRX since 2016. In that time I have been helping create content on GolfWRX Radio, GolfWRX YouTube, as well as writing for the front page. Self-proclaimed gear junkie who loves all sorts of golf equipment as well as building golf clubs!

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Four books for a springtime review

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One thing that never changes over time: snowy evenings give purpose to reading (is it the other way around?) It has been a snowy 2024 in western New York, and I’ve had ample time to tuck into an easy chair with a blanket, coffee, and a book. You’re in luck, because despite the title of this piece, I’ll share five books and their worth with you.

There is great breadth of subject matter from one to five. Golf is as complicated as life, which means that the cover of the book isn’t worth judging. The contents begin the tale, but there is so much more to each topic presented within. If you’re like me, your library grows each year. Despite the value of the virtual, the paper-printed word connects us to the past of golf and humanity. Here’s hoping that you’ll add one or more of these titles to your collection.

        

Rainmaker

Hughes Norton interviewed with Mark McCormack for 20 minutes (30 if you count the missed exit at Logan International) while driving the founder of IMG from Harvard to the airport. The lesson of taking advantage of each moment, of every dollar, because you might not get another opportunity, is the most valuable one that life offers. I say to you, be certain to read this book, because another opportunity to bend the ear of Hughes Norton may not come our way.

Hughes Norton was with Tiger Woods for waaayyy fewer years than you might guess, but they were the critical ones. Be warned: not all of the revelations in this tome are for the faint of heart. Some, in fact, will break your heart. Golf was a sleepy hamlet in the 1990s, until the 16-lane interstate called Eldrick “Tiger” Woods came into town. Everything changed, which meant that everything would change again and again, into eternity. Once the ball starts rolling, it’s impossible to stop.

My favorite aspect of this book is its candor. Hughes Norton is well into his time on Planet Earth. He has no reason to hold back, and he doesn’t. My least favorite aspect is that George Peper got the call to co-author the book (and I didn’t.) Seriously, there is no LFA for me, so this is the best that I could do.

Decision: Buy It!

The Golf Courses of Seth Raynor

Michael Wolf, James Sitar, and Jon Cavalier, in abject partnership, collaborated to produce a handsome volume on the work of gone-too-soon, engineer-turned-golf course architect. Seth Raynor was pulled into the game by Charles Blair MacDonald, the crusty godfather of American golf. Raynor played little golf across the 51 years of his life. His reason? He did not wish to corrupt his designs with the demands and failings of his own game.

Jon Cavalier began his photography career as a contributor to the Golf Club Atlas discussion group. I met him there in a virtual way (we still have yet to shake hands) and have exchanged numerous emails over the years. Despite the demands of his day job, Cavalier has blossomed into the most traveled and prolific course photographer alive today. His photography, both hand-held and drone, makes the pages pop. Michael Wolf invited me and two friends to play his home course, despite having never met any of us in person. His words, melded to those of James Sitar, are the glue that connect Cavalier’s photos.

My favorite aspect of the books is the access it gives to the private-club world of Raynor. Fewer than five of his courses are resort or public access, and knowing people on the inside is not available to all. My suggestion? Write a letter/email and see if a club will let you play. Can’t hurt to try! My one complaint about the book is its horizontal nature. Golf is wide, but I like a little vertical in my photos. It’s not much of a complaint, given the glorious contents within the covers.

Decision: Buy It!!

Big Green Book from The Golfer’s Journal

Beginning with its (over)size, and continuing through the entire contents, there is no descriptor that defines the genre of the Big Green Book. It is photography, essay, layout, poetry, graphics, and stream of consciousness. It harnesses the creative power of a lengthy masthead of today’s finest golf contributors. Quotes from Harvey Penick, verse from Billy Collins, and prose from John Updike partner with images pure and altered, to immerse you in the diverse golf spaces that define this planet.

One of my favorite aspects is the spaces between the words and photos. Have your friends and others write a few notes to you in those blank areas, to personalize your volume even more. One aspect that needs improvement: the lack of female voices. I suspect that will be remedied in future volumes.

Decision: Buy It!!!

Troublemaker and The Unplayable Lie

Books that allege discrimination and mistreatment check two boxes: potentially-salacious reads and debate over whose perspective is accurate. In the end, the presentation of salacious revelation rarely meets the expectation, and the debate over fault is seldom resolved. Lisa Cornwell spent years as a competitive junior and college golfer, before joining The Golf Channel as a reporter and program host.

Despite the dream assignments, there were clouds that covered the sun. Cornwell documents episodes of favoritism and descrimination against her, prior to her departure from The Golf Channel in 2021. Her work echoes the production of the late Marcia Chambers, who wrote for Golf Digest in the 1980s and 1990s. Chambers took issue with many of the potential and real legal issues surrounding golf and its policies of access/no access. Her research culminated in The Unplayable Lie, the first work of its kind to address issues confronted by all genders and ethnicities, and immediately predated the professional debut of Tiger Woods in 1997.

My favorite aspects of the two works, are the courage and conviction that it took to write them, and believe in them. My least favorite aspects are the consistent bias that many groups continue to face. Without awareness, there is no action. Without action, there is no change.

Decision: Buy Them!!!!

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2024 Texas Children’s Houston Open

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GolfWRX is on site in the Lone Star State this week for the Texas Children’s Houston Open.

General galleries from the putting green and range, WITBs — including Thorbjorn Olesen and Zac Blair — and several pull-out albums await.

As always, we’ll continue to update as more photos flow in. Check out links to all our photos from Houston below.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Texas Children’s Houston Open betting preview

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As the Florida swing comes to an end, the PGA Tour makes its way to Houston to play the Texas Children’s Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course.

This will be the fourth year that Memorial Park Golf Course will serve as the tournament host. The event did not take place in 2023, but the course hosted the event in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Memorial Park is a par-70 layout measuring 7,432 yards and features Bermudagrass greens. Historically, the main defense for the course has been thick rough along the fairways and tightly mown runoff areas around the greens. Memorial Park has a unique setup that features three Par 5’s and five Par 3’s.

The field will consist of 132 players, with the top 65 and ties making the cut. There are some big names making the trip to Houston, including Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris and Sahith Theegala.

Past Winners at Memorial Park

  • 2022: Tony Finau (-16)
  • 2021: Jason Kokrak (-10)
  • 2020: Carlos Ortiz (-13)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value). 

Key Stats For Memorial Park

Let’s take a look at several metrics for Memorial Park to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

Memorial Park is a pretty tough golf course. Golfers are penalized for missing greens and face some difficult up and downs to save par. Approach will be key.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach per round in past 24 rounds:

  1. Tom Hoge (+1.30)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+1.26)
  3. Keith Mitchell (+0.97) 
  4. Tony Finau (+0.92)
  5. Jake Knapp (+0.84)

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

Memorial Park is a long golf course with rough that can be penal. Therefore, a combination of distance and accuracy is the best metric.

Total Strokes Gained: Off the Tee per round in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+0.94)
  2. Kevin Dougherty (+0.93)
  3. Cameron Champ (+0.86)
  4. Rafael Campos (+0.84)
  5. Si Woo Kim (+0.70)

Strokes Gained Putting: Bermudagrass + Fast

The Bermudagrass greens played fairly fast the past few years in Houston. Jason Kokrak gained 8.7 strokes putting on his way to victory in 2021 and Tony Finau gained in 7.8 in 2022.

Total Strokes Gained Putting (Bermudagrass) per round past 24 rounds (min. 8 rounds):

  1. Adam Svensson (+1.27)
  2. Harry Hall (+1.01)
  3. Martin Trainer (+0.94)
  4. Taylor Montgomery (+0.88)
  5. S.H. Kim (+0.86)

Strokes Gained: Around the Green

With firm and undulating putting surfaces, holding the green on approach shots may prove to be a challenge. Memorial Park has many tightly mowed runoff areas, so golfers will have challenging up-and-down’s around the greens. Carlos Ortiz gained 5.7 strokes around the green on the way to victory in 2020.

Total Strokes Gained: Around the Green per round in past 24 rounds:

  1. Mackenzie Hughes (+0.76)
  2. S.H. Kim (+0.68)
  3. Scottie Scheffler (+0.64)
  4. Jorge Campillo (+0.62)
  5. Jason Day (+0.60)

Strokes Gained: Long and Difficult

Memorial Park is a long and difficult golf course. This statistic will incorporate players who’ve had success on these types of tracks in the past. 

Total Strokes Gained: Long and Difficult in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+2.45)
  2. Ben Griffin (+1.75)
  3. Will Zalatoris (+1.73)
  4. Ben Taylor (+1.53)
  5. Tony Finau (+1.42)

Course History

Here are the players who have performed the most consistently at Memorial Park. 

Strokes Gained Total at Memorial Park past 12 rounds:

  1. Tyson Alexander (+3.65)
  2. Ben Taylor (+3.40)
  3. Tony Finau (+2.37)
  4. Joel Dahmen (+2.25)
  5. Patton Kizzire (+2.16)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (24%) SG: OTT (24%); SG: Putting Bermudagrass/Fast (13%); SG: Long and Difficult (13%); SG: ARG (13%) and Course History (13%)

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Wyndham Clark
  3. Tony Finau
  4. Joel Dahmen
  5. Stephan Jaeger 
  6. Aaron Rai
  7. Sahith Theegala
  8. Keith Mitchell 
  9. Jhonnatan Vegas
  10. Jason Day
  11. Kurt Kitayama
  12. Alex Noren
  13. Will Zalatoris
  14. Si Woo Kim
  15. Adam Long

2024 Texas Children’s Houston Open Picks

Will Zalatoris +2000 (Caesars)

Scottie Scheffler will undoubtedly be difficult to beat this week, so I’m starting my card with someone who I believe has the talent to beat him if he doesn’t have his best stuff.

Will Zalatoris missed the cut at the PLAYERS, but still managed to gain strokes on approach while doing so. In an unpredictable event with extreme variance, I don’t believe it would be wise to discount Zalatoris based on that performance. Prior to The PLAYERS, the 27-year-old finished T13, T2 and T4 in his previous three starts.

Zalatoris plays his best golf on long and difficult golf courses. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 3rd in the category, but the eye test also tells a similar story. He’s contended at major championships and elevated events in the best of fields with tough scoring conditions.  The Texas resident should be a perfect fit at Memorial Park Golf Club.

Alex Noren +4500 (FanDuel)

Alex Noren has been quietly playing some of his best golf of the last half decade this season. The 41-year-old is coming off back-to-back top-20 finishes in Florida including a T9 at The PLAYERS in his most recent start.

In his past 24 rounds, Noren ranks 21st in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, 30th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, 25th in Strokes Gained: Total on long and difficult courses and 21st in Strokes Gained: Putting on fast Bermudagrass greens.

In addition to his strong recent play, the Swede also has played well at Memorial Park. In 2022, Noren finished T4 at the event, gaining 2.2 strokes off the tee and 7.0 strokes on approach for the week. In his two starts at the course, he’s gained an average of .6 strokes per round on the field, indicating he is comfortable on these greens.

Noren has been due for a win for what feels like an eternity, but Memorial Park may be the course that suits him well enough for him to finally get his elusive first PGA Tour victory.

Mackenzie Hughes +8000 (FanDuel)

Mackenzie Hughes found himself deep into contention at last week’s Valspar Championship before faltering late and finishing in a tie for 3rd place. While he would have loved to win the event, it’s hard to see the performance as anything other than an overwhelming positive sign for the Canadian.

Hughes has played great golf at Memorial Park in the past. He finished T7 in 2020, T29 in 2021 and T16 in 2022. The course fit seems to be quite strong for Hughes. He’s added distance off the tee in the past year or and ranks 8th in the field for apex height, which will be a key factor when hitting into Memorial Park’s elevated greens with steep run-off areas.

In his past 24 rounds, Hughes is the best player in the field in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens. The ability to scramble at this course will be extremely important. I believe Hughes can build off of his strong finish last week and contend once again to cement himself as a President’s Cup consideration.

Akshay Bhatia +8000 (FanDuel)

Akshay Bhatia played well last week at the Valspar and seemed to be in total control of his golf ball. He finished in a tie for 17th and shot an impressive -3 on a difficult Sunday. After struggling Thursday, Akshay shot 68-70-68 in his next three rounds.

Thus far, Bhatia has played better at easier courses, but his success at Copperhead may be due to his game maturing. The 22-year-old has enormous potential and the raw talent to be one of the best players in the world when he figures it all out.

Bhatia is a high upside play with superstar qualities and may just take the leap forward to the next stage of his career in the coming months.

Cameron Champ +12000 (FanDuel)

Cameron Champ is a player I often target in the outright betting market due to his “boom-or-bust” nature. It’s hard to think of a player in recent history with three PGA Tour wins who’s been as inconsistent as Champ has over the course of his career.

Despite the erratic play, Cam Champ simply knows how to win. He’s won in 2018, 2019 and 2021, so I feel he’s due for a win at some point this season. The former Texas A&M product should be comfortable in Texas and last week he showed us that his game is in a pretty decent spot.

Over his past 24 rounds, Champ ranks 3rd in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 30th in Strokes Gained: Total on long and difficult courses. Given his ability to spike at any given time, Memorial Park is a good golf course to target Champ on at triple digit odds.

Robert MacIntyre +12000 (FanDuel)

The challenge this week is finding players who can possibly beat Scottie Scheffler while also not dumping an enormous amount of money into an event that has a player at the top that looks extremely dangerous. Enter McIntyre, who’s another boom-or-bust type player who has the ceiling to compete with anyone when his game is clicking on all cylinders.

In his past 24 rounds, MacIntyre ranks 16th in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, 17th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and 10th in Strokes Gained: Total on long and difficult courses.

MacIntyre’s PGA Tour season has gotten off to a slow start, but he finished T6 in Mexico, which is a course where players will hit driver on the majority of their tee shots, which is what we will see at Memorial Park. Texas can also get quite windy, which should suit MacIntyre. Last July, the Scot went toe to toe with Rory McIlroy at the Scottish Open before a narrow defeat. It would take a similar heroic effort to compete with Scheffler this year in Houston.

Ryan Moore +15000 (FanDuel)

Ryan Moore’s iron play has been absolutely unconscious over his past few starts. At The PLAYERS Championship in a loaded field, he gained 6.1 strokes on approach and last week at Copperhead, he gained 9.0 strokes on approach.

It’s been a rough handful of years on Tour for the 41-year-old, but he is still a five-time winner on the PGA Tour who’s young enough for a career resurgence. Moore has chronic deterioration in a costovertebral joint that connects the rib to the spine, but has been getting more consistent of late, which is hopefully a sign that he is getting healthy.

Veterans have been contending in 2024 and I believe taking a flier on a proven Tour play who’s shown signs of life is a wise move at Memorial Park.

 

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