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Wisdom teeth come young, wisdom takes a while

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I do give Rory some slack. For one reason:  He’s 23!  To be No. 1 in the world at anything is tough but at 23 it is unimaginable. But this is golf and there are two things we can’t do: cheat and quit. He’s certainly not a cheater, I hope today does not forebode the latter.

In baseball, if you’re the starting pitcher and you’re getting shelled, they take you out. In boxing when one fighter is being beaten senseless by the other, they stop the fight.

But in golf, we just keep golfing our ball until we hole out on No. 18.  It’s the nature of the beast and why it remains the ultimate test of character.  There is no dugout, no early showers, no dressing room or penalty box to slip into.  You just stand there and look foolish in front of millions.

Bobby Jones once picked up his ball and ripped up his card at The Old Course at St. Andrews. He regretted it for the rest of his life. But we came to love Jones because of his character — character he learned from that and other lessons the hard way.

Golf is a metaphor for life. The very same emotions we go through every day in life we go through in a four hour round of golf. Sometimes golf, like life, just gets the best of us. I’m guessing that nobody feels worse this weekend than Rory. He will learn from this because he is a fine young man. And when he gets those wisdom teeth out, he’ll get the wisdom to learn this lesson.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at [email protected]

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Troy Vayanos

    Mar 8, 2013 at 5:08 am

    As long as Rory learns from the experience and improves that’s the main thing.

    I think he will and come out much stronger at the other end.

  2. Matt

    Mar 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Spare me this sanctimonious nonsense. Bobby Jones was not loved because of his “character.” He was loved because he was a winner. We do our society a disservice when we conflate athletic prowess with moral fortitude, and we do it far too often. To suggest that McIlroy’s behavior last weekend provided us a window into his soul would be as foolish a thinking that Tiger’s smile on the 18th of Augusta afforded the same.

    • t

      Mar 6, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      i still don’t buy the wisdom teeth story. advil can’t help tooth pain.

  3. Jeff

    Mar 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Rory has shown he can blow out fields at his best, but he seems to lack the mental toughness of Tiger who happened to win a US open with a torn tendon in his knee. I like Rory, he seems a lot more modest and if a European player has to be number one in the world I’m glad its him and not Garcia or Poulter. The US players have shown up to play this year and my hope is that one of them can grab the number one spot back and pound on Europe leading into the next Ryder Cup.

  4. k

    Mar 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I don’t think Rory cares nearly as much as all you guys writing the articles.

    • Andy B

      Mar 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      No one is saying Rory cares. The writers are simply saying he should care. When he, and Tiger, and anyone else quit due to a terrible round it takes away from the game of golf. I 100 percent agree with Dennis Clark, that golf is a test of character. If you want to be the greatest you should have the character and respect for the game not to wd anytime you are about to shoot an all time high round. While Rory may not care, he should care, and he should want to show he is the best player in the world, even if he is having a bad day at the office.

  5. Dane

    Mar 3, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Great write up Dennis!

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On Spec: The DIY episode talking fitting, and personal launch monitors

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Opinion & Analysis

WRX Insider: How the Callaway tour staff matches up golf ball and irons

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It’s not something that is widely explored. When it comes to the golf ball, we typically prioritize driver numbers, wedge numbers, and feel. In actuality, however, it’s a player’s irons that need to be optimized more than anything. Full shots, 3/4, fades, draws—the shot varietal with irons is all over the map.

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I had a chance to speak with Callaway Golf Ball R&D specialist Nick Yontz and Director of Tour Operations Jacob Davidson on dialing in the ball and the irons to match up with the best players in the world.

JW: How much do you depend on Nick’s expertise throughout the season, especially with new irons (X Forged and Apex MB) having just hit the market?

JD: Any time we launch a new product, it’s essential for the tour team to know how the new product will perform. Nick provides in-depth data on how our golf ball will perform with the new products. When you look at the golf bag, there is one constant variable and that’s the golf ball. Our ultimate goal is to collaborate with the iron engineers and golf ball engineers to design a product that works together to help golfers play better. Nick Yontz is a tremendous resource for our tour team and has worked closely with several major winners in his career. We lean on him weekly for insight into in-depth product performance and future prototype products.

JW: When considering the spin off of the irons for a player like Xander, is he working around one number or are the multiple spin windows to hit?

JD: Spin rates can vary from player to player depending on clubhead delivery and launch numbers. Currently, we’ve worked hard to get Xander’s iron spin rates into a range that we feel allows him to hit a variety of shots to play his best golf.

JW: Let’s look at an LPGA profile for a player like Anne van Dam. Where does Chrome Soft X benefit her the most? 

NY: The Chrome Soft X has blended with Anne’s club set up in a way that she can be an excellent driver of the golf ball, while better controlling iron and wedge spin rates compared to her previous golf ball.

JW: If a player is looking for a higher launch window with the irons, what tweaks are you making, all while honoring the specific DNA of a player’s bag?

JD: There are several different levers we can move in order to raise the launch window. However, in order to determine which lever makes the most sense you have to fully understand the player’s bag. In order to do this, each club has to be studied deeply to know the cause and effects of a change. After we have completed this process, we will look at what options will best fit the player.

JW: As you look at the numbers, where do you see the improvements (gains) with the CS X vs what you saw with previous balls?

NY: Across the board, we’ve seen measurable ball-speed gains on the launch monitor during player testing sessions. It’s exciting for them and us when they reach driver ball speeds (and distances) that they couldn’t before!

JW: On the PGA Tour, is there an overall RPM profile that all players chase or is it player specific?

*question based on general rule of number on club x 1000 RPM IE 7 iron spins at 7000 RPM

JD: Our goal at Callaway is to move all of our staff players into optimal ranges in an iron spin. Our 2020 golf ball and the iron lineup has allowed us to move several players bags into a more optimal range this year. We work closely with the player, instructor, and caddie to constantly find ways to improve performance.

JW: In regards to working with a Champions Tour Player that has gone from Balata into CSX. Is that player still playing out of the same launch windows that he has for years or is he having to adjust for new technology?

NY: There are some differences in modern equipment that we hear from players that have played over multiple decades. The shape of the trajectory is an example. Current trajectories can look flatter or may get up higher sooner in the flight than a balata did. Players who have experienced balata and modern balls also talk about the amount of lateral movement being less today.

JW: Discuss how you guys work together on a week to week basis. What does it look like?

JD: Nick is an excellent resource for the tour team. Each week, we are providing feedback and observations to him from what we are seeing and hearing across all the major tours. Throughout the year, Nick will attend several tour events allowing us to work closely together with players on the range tee or on the golf course.

NY: Jacob and the entire tour team knows each tour player at the deepest level. For example, knowing each player’s swing tendencies and look preferences enhances the raw numbers we collect. Tour players are the best product testers in the world that push us to make better equipment.

JW: Can you both talk to me about the importance of spin with your irons?

JD: It’s much easier to take spin off than to add it from the fairway. The majority of shots that a tour player hits during a round of golf will be off-speed. When you reduce speed, spin also reduces. We’ve found that when we are fitting a player to a golf ball and irons, it’s imperative to pay close attention to how much reduction in spin comes from off-speed shots.

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Opinion

It may seem trivial, but to me, this is the secret sauce of really making a bag and fitting work for you. Pay attention to ball speed and launch but mostly spin rates. If the ball doesn’t spin you can’t control it—I don’t care how high it goes or steep it lands.

In the past year, I have focused way more on proper spin with my irons than ever before. What I have found is when 4-PW are in the right spin windows, which for me is around 6,800 RPM with a 7 iron, my iron play has improved dramatically.

See the PGA and LPGA TrackMan averages from 2019 below. At my age and speed, I actually strive to stay right in between the averages for both tours. It’s not only realistic for me but also has actually helped.

 

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