FIRST LOOK – The Odyssey eyeFIT Putter Fitting Mirror

FIRST LOOK – The Odyssey eyeFIT Putter Fitting Mirror

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“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

(by Golfspy Dave)  Putter fitting, who needs it?  We all know that many average golfers get “fit” for a putter by grabbing one that they like the looks of in the shop, rolling a few balls on the carpet, checking the price, and then taking it to the course.  Don’t start in on your SAM lab fitting specs and the hours that you spent choosing your putter’s features with your pro.

If you visit this site, you probably are not the average golf consumer.  Think about Joe and Jane golfer though.  Do they use the SAM lab?  Did they buy the cradle to use the iPING app on their phone?  Average golfer says “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”  Seriously, isn’t picking a putter all about choosing one that you like the looks of, those looks inspiring confidence, and that confidence will naturally translating into made putts?  Isn’t that how we also shop for clothes?  ”I like the look of them trousers.  Try them on, you ask?  Not necessary.  They look so good I know that they will fit and make me look great.”

A Putter Fitting = A Putter That Fits

Get fit, get fit, get fit.  That has been a common theme on MyGolfSpy for a long time (forever?).  We all know that we play better with custom fitted gear, just like we look better in a tailored suit (or dress).

We know this, and yet many golfers will only bag 13 custom-fitted clubs, with the putter being selected for more emotional/less-scientific reasons.  Why is this the case?

Maybe it’s a perception that putter fitting is not really necessary, that fittings are too expensive, or that the resulting data (SAM) is just too complicated.  I think that PING introducing the iPING putting app and cradle represented a major step in educating the golfing masses about putter fitting.  Buy the cradle, download the app, and learn something new about swing path and how it relates to your suggested style of putter.  Again, I think that this was a huge advance in putter fitting, but it was still something that was too complicated for average golfer.  Cheap average golfer was not going to buy the cradle anyway.  iPING made putter fitting more accessible, but still not quite to the level needed for Joe and Jane.  Then came Odyssey’s eyeFIT.

K.I.S.S.

That is one of my favorite abbreviations and credos in life.  Keep it simple, stupid.  As soon as something becomes too complicated, like many putter fitting tools, then it probably causes the average golfer to tune out.  Not you, because again your reading articles on this site screams not average.  However, Mr. Dropping-By-Dick’s-Real-Quick-To-Buy-A-Putter wants things to be really simple, and fast. There in lies the beauty of the Odyssey eyeFIT system, it couldn’t be faster or more simple.  Seriously simple.  Here are the steps for finding the putter that fits you:

Ask Yourself These Questions:

There is no cradle to attach, app to download, sensor to calibrate, moving parts, need for someone in the shop to help, or any other complexity.  Ask yourself these questions:

:: Can you hold a putter?
:: Can you address a ball with that putter?
:: Can you look down?
:: Do you know which parts of your face are the eyes?
:: Can you count to four?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then I hope that you didn’t drive a car to the course.  Your car is a million times more complicated (and dangerous) than Odyssey’s eyeFIT system.  You walk up to the mirror, take a comfortable address stance, then look down to see where your eyes line up on the mirrored sections.  It’s so easy, you can almost do it through the computer monitor.  Here’s the whole chart, try it…

The chart was developed by Odyssey putter gurus, like Austie Rollinson, by looking at the correlation between tour players’ eye positions over the ball and the positions of the hosels on their putters.  Eye position and hosel position should be in sync if one is to have the best chance of making putts.  Each dash on the chart represents the movement of the hosel toward the rear of the putter.

What also happens, of course, is that when the hosel moves further toward the rear, the toe hang of the putter increases.  Intuitively, you can also look at the eye lines and know that someone putting from line four will likely require more of an arcing stroke than someone at line one.  The eyeFIT sets up a simple visual correlation between swing arc and toe hang, without the consumer ever having to know what those are, let alone what a hosel is and how moving a hosel changes the putter.

Instead, they go.  ”I see my eyes.  I need a two dash putter.”  Both the Versa line and the White Hot Pro putter lines have the dashes on the bottom.  The consumer then just chooses the model with the correct number of dashes that they like the best.  It’s a simple way to find the right putter and a great way for Odyssey to sell even more putters.

But What About…?

I know, I know, there are other putter features that should be addressed if one is to have a truly comprehensive putter fitting.  The eyeFIT does not provide all of the data that you would get from a complete fitting, and that is its simple genius.

A golfer who wants all of the intricacies and nuances of his putting stroke to go into his putter might want to consider making an appointment with a master fitter and puttersmith, maybe like a David Edel.  I think that there are over a million possible putter configurations on his fitting cart.  The resulting putter will be truly custom fit.

However, I don’t think that Odyssey envisions the eyeFIT carving out a piece of that full-custom market.  Instead,  Odyssey’s eyeFIT enables the unwashed masses of previously un-putter-fitted golfers to make a simple step toward playing the correct club on the green.  Joe and Jane’s games just got a little bit better simply by standing over a mirror and looking down. That’s the eyeFIT genius.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

MyGolfSpy Labs – “The Secret To Longer, Straighter Drives?

MyGolfSpy Labs – “The Secret To Longer, Straighter Drives?

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(Written By: Matt Saternus) In two recent MyGolfSpy Labs, we’ve talked about the impact of shaft flex and shaft weight.  The data we gathered showing the importance of fitting for the right flex and weight was shocking: we saw testers gain or lose 20 yards or more with the wrong flex or weight.  Today, we discuss torque, which may be the least understood, and possibly most important variable in making your drives long and straight.

“What the hell is torque?”

Some of you know what torque is, some of you have seen the word on shaft spec sheets, but the majority of you are probably encountering it for the first time.  Torque is really pretty simple: it’s the shaft’s resistance to twisting. Torque is measured in degrees (meaning: how many degrees will the shaft twist under a certain amount of force), and you’ll typically see measurements as low as 2° and as high as 5°, 6°, or 7°.

As with many other things, these numbers don’t necessarily mean a lot because there’s not a standard way to measure, but I’ve already done that rant.

“So…why should I care?”

You should care because torque is a major component in how a shaft feels, much more than flex.  You could have an XX-stiff shaft with high torque, and it might feel “smooth” or even “whippy.”  Alternately, you could have a senior flex shaft with low torque that can feel “boardy.”

Torque also has a major impact on where the ball ends up.  All other things being equal, a shaft with higher torque will lead to a club face that is pointed further left (for a RH golfer) at impact…but we know “all other things” are rarely equal when you add in the human element.

The Conventional Wisdom

The conventional wisdom on torque consists of two major tenets:

1) Players who tend to hook the ball will benefit from a lower torque shaft.  Players who tend to slice the ball will benefit from a higher torque shaft.

2) Players who swing faster need lower torque.  This assumption is built right into most shafts by the manufacturers: take virtually any shaft on the market, and the X-flex version will have lower torque than the S-flex, which has lower torque than the R-flex.

As always, we look at conventional wisdom like an email from a Nigerian prince who wants to transfer his wealth to us…that is to say, skepticallySo we put it to the test!

HOW WE TESTED

For this test, we had golfers test drivers with low ?, mid ?, and high torque ? shafts.  All 3 shafts had the same weight and flex, the only difference was torque.  The golfers were able to choose whether they wanted stiff or regular flex.  Every player used the exact same head: a 10.5* Callaway RAZR Fit.  To keep the testers from knowing what shaft they were testing, UST Mamiya supplied blacked out shafts with no distinguishing marks (I marked the grips so that I would know which shaft was which).

Each golfer hit 10 shots with each shaft and the results were measured by our FlightScope X2 launch monitor.  All testing was done at the range at The Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club.

What Effect Can Torque Have?

Validation

The numbers are indisputable: torque made a huge difference for our testers.  To validate our results, I ran our numbers past the guys at UST Mamiya to see how our test compared to theirs.  Once again, we saw the same things in our test that they did when they tested hundreds of golfers: no simple pattern, but a clear statement about the importance of fitting the golfer into the right shaft.

How Did Conventional Wisdom Hold Up?

Over the course of our last three labs, conventional wisdom has fared about as well as you would in a bar fight with Mike Tyson.

Why is Conventional Wisdom So Wrong?

Because golf clubs are swung by HUMAN BEINGS.  If golf was played by robots (and I know many of our robot-loving readers wish it was), conventional wisdom would be great.  Robots have no feel and they swing every club the exact same way.  Our testers, on the other hand, do have feel.

Tester 3 hates boardy feeling shafts, so, despite the fact that his most-hated miss is a hook, he does not like low torque shafts.  On the other hand, Tester 1 doesn’t like loose feeling shafts despite the fact that he needs all the help he can get to square the club face.  Historically, he has found better success with lower torque shafts because he feels like he can release the club more aggressively.

The Takeaway

Torque matters, and, like flex and weight, there are no easy rules to follow.  You need to try a variety of things and be fit into the shaft that will work best for you.

The other thing that we were able to see in this test is that feel is important.  In past tests, players could not always feel the changes in the equipment, but in this test, they picked up on the differences right away. This allowed them to verbalize how the feel of the equipment impacted their swing.  Though we do consider ourselves a data-driven site, and many would eschew feel as nebulous, the data seems to indicate that feel has a very real impact when it comes to a good fit.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Callaway Golf XHot Pro 3Deep. Different Enough, or Just Different?

Callaway Golf XHot Pro 3Deep. Different Enough, or Just Different?

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Callaway Golf has just (quietly) announced the impending retail availability of what’s being called the XHot 3Deep fairway wood; presumably because it will be the 3rd version of the XHot line offered to consumers, and because the biggest feature is the deeper face (10% higher than XHot Pro).

Given the online golf connoisseur’s penchant for whining about companies releasing too much gear every year, it’s possible that Callaway might ruffle some feathers by releasing another iteration of XHot. It’s an out of the box move for a company trying to fight its way back to the top, and out of the box is more or less the story of the new Callaway Golf…at least on the marketing side.

What remains to be seen is whether the consumer will see XHot Pro 3Deep as a unique performance proposition, or whether it’s destiny is to be just another club on the rack…almost totally indistinguishable from the one next to it. For a company that has recently championed the idea of clear marketing segmentation, 3Deep would seem to blur those lines just a bit.

The Origins of XHot

As you may be aware, the XHot line was born largely from a mandate from new CEO Chip Brewer. Callaway engineers were tasked with creating a fairway wood that could match, and ideally outperform anything on the market right now. And so XHot was born.

Phil Mickelson (and probably everybody else) wanted a fairway wood that was more versatile, easier to shape, and of course, really long. To better service the needs of their tour staff (and to get that pesky competitor’s fairway wood out of Phil’s bag), XHot Pro was born too. Think of them as fraternal twins.

While the XHot and XHot Pro do a good job of covering the needs of a healthy percentage of the market, it turns out it’s not quite ideal for everyone. If one of those guys it doesn’t work perfectly for is you or me, chances are not much happens. If one of those guys happens to be Phil Mickelson…well some changes get made.

XHot Pro 3Deep is the result of those changes.

What XHot 3Deep Means for Phil Mickelson

Phil’s tendency is to strike the ball a bit higher on the face than many. Essentially Phil hits the ball above the conventional “sweet spot”, or more simply put; Phil hits it high on the face. With XHot Pro above the sweet spot contact results in a decrease in ball speed, and an increase in spin rates. Neither is really what you’re going for with a 3 wood.

With the new XHot Pro 3Deep, Callaway designers were able to increase face height, and raise the center of gravity. The result is a head that maintains ball speed for above center contact, while improving spin robustness. Spin robustness, is the variance between high and low spin rates off a given head. The lower the variance, the narrower the gap between high and low spin. As much as anything else, spin robustness is an indicator of what happens when you don’t quite hit the sweet spot.

“The most meaningful club Phil has ever put in his bag…” – Jim “Bones” Mackay

While the on-course impact of 3Deep remains to be seen, Mickelson’s caddie, Jim “Bones Mackay is calling 3Deep “The most meaningful club Phil has ever put in his bag”. Because of the added distance from 3Deep, Mickelson’s plan (always subject to immediately change) is to hit fairway off the tee in most situations, while turning his driver into a pure bomber for those situations when he wants every yard he can possibly get.

According to Callaway’s Randy Peterson, the versatility of XHot 3Deep will allow Phil to do some experimentation with the driver. Callaway is going to look at longer (46″) shafts, as well as possibly changing the weight configuration, and even the loft. It sounds like the goal is to focus exclusively on squeezing as much yardage as they can out of Phil’s driver, even if it means sacrificing some accuracy to do so.

When you consider Mickelson’s erratic tendencies with the driver…hold on fellas…this could get interesting.

Tour Issue Comes to Retail

What’s most interesting about 3Deep’s upcoming availability is that it marks one of the rare occasions when a golf club adapted to the specific needs of a PGA tour professional will find its way to retail. Most of us realize that a good bit of what’s in the bags of the tour guys isn’t exactly the same as what’s on the store shelves. There are some who are ignorant of the fact. Some accept it. Some whine about not being able to play exactly what the pros play, and some take to eBay and a couple of other Tour Issues dealers and spend ridiculous sums of money for products that in many case don’t fit them.

Most of us…we’re no Phil Mickelson.

While I’m not certain I buy into Callaway’s claims that consumers asked for this club (most consumers are just finding out about it today), I suppose I can appreciate what Callaway’s doing. Essentially, they’re getting the jump on the any potential consumer demand for a “tour” product with the very real benefit of keeping the Callaway name and products fresh on the minds, and ideally, the tongues of consumers.

When Chip Brewer ran the show at Adams it was anything but unusual for tour issue prototypes to pop up in the golf forums on an almost weekly basis. Those images not only guaranteed Adams almost equal time, they also helped provide a legitimate meter of consumer interest in the products.

Without spending a dollar Adams was able to stay in the news, do a little bit of market research, and distance themselves a bit from the reputation of being simply a hybrid and game-improvement company.

By bringing what legitimately qualifies as a Tour prototype to retail, Callaway, under Brewer’s influence, appears to be engaging in a similar strategy, even if the consumer demand piece feels a little more contrived. Unlike the Adams days, it’s not like pics of the 3Deep were being drooled over in every golf forum on the planet. Buzz is being built…retroactively.

Nevertheless, I’ll give Callaway plenty of credit for demystifying the product (toning down the Tour Issue mystique) and drawing some clear and easy to understand distinctions between the XHot Pro and the XHot Pro 3Deep.

It’s simple really. If your tendency is to hit the ball below the center of the clubface, XHot Pro is the better choice. If you’re like Phil…you like flashing thumbs up, and you strike the ball above the center of the face with your fairway woods, 3Deep will likely be the better choice.

The challenge comes in letting the consumer knows he has options, and doing it without causing confusion.

As is always the story with XHot, Callaway maintains that both the Pro and Pro 3Deep models are Longer from Everywhere.

Availability and Options

XHot Pro 3Deep will be available in 13° and 14° (RH) and 13° (LH). Stock shaft is a 43.5″ Project X Velocity.

Look for the XHot 3 Deep to hit store shelves sometime next month. Retail price is $229.99.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Golf Tips and Techniques

Golf Tips and Techniques

golf tip video

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The prestigious Golf Digest magazine awarded 4 stars to the club golf Le Mirage, thus ranking it among the most beautiful clubs in Canada. Debbie Savoy Morel is Head Pro at this prestigious golf club, where the personalities she teaches include renowned singer Céline Dion, who in 1997, with her husband Rene Angelil became owners of the club. In this video we speak to Debbie Savoy Morel. Here: www.watchmojo.com/index.php?id=7061

Series-”How I Started My Golf Company” (Seamus Golf)

Series-”How I Started My Golf Company” (Seamus Golf)

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What’s In The Box?

(Written by: Golfspy Dave) Not too long ago a package showed up, was a standard, boring mailer, and to be totally honest, I couldn’t remember what I had coming my way from Oregon.  Then I cracked open the package and found the above package inside.

It was like a nesting doll, where the outer, nondescript package contained this more interesting tissue wrapped package.  As soon as I saw the inner package, I remembered what was coming from Oregon.  A little bit of my Scottish heritage was in that mailer.  Inside that tissue was my nod to my ancestors who served in the Black Watch.  You see, that package contained my new wool headcovers from Seamus Golf.

How Seamus Golf Got Started

Seamus Golf is a small company located in Beaverton, OR.  Seamus is all about manufacturing golf headcovers from the highest quality wool.  In this day and age of outsourcing, Seamus prides itself upon using wool milled in the Pacific Northwest, with all of the designing and sewing taking place in Oregon.  In Seamus, you can tap into the heritage of golf, while at the same time knowing that you are buying and using a product that was made locally by someone who has put care and effort into its production.

So…what’s behind this little company that is named after the owners’ fun-loving Irish Terrier?  For this information, we turn to one of Seamus’ owners, Akbar Chisti.

Why did you decide to start this business?

We started with our covers when my wife, Megan, went in to fix a great cover my Dad brought back for me from Royal Troon in 2001.  Megan is an accomplished designer who worked her way up the ranks in one of the more prominent and local apparel companies here in Portland, Oregon.  Many of her designs are featured in such great stores as Urban Outfitters, Nordstroms, and Neiman Marcus.

Below are a few of the photos from the process of fixing those covers and seeking out some new and fun designs using what we had access to….locally sourced wool and brand new black business socks that we could cut and stitch into the top.

Before we got serious with professional seamstresses, industrial sewing machines that require periodic tune ups like a fine sports car, and surgers, we had a couple of small home sewing machines to work with.

At this time, we really didn’t have any intentions of starting a ‘business’.  Our only goal was to make some really awesome head covers for our buddies and consequently their buddies.  We wouldn’t have been so driven to perfect our design if we were readily able to find a cover like what we had in mind.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome?

Sitting and relaxing when there is a day where there is no huge hurdle to overcome.   Maintaining an open mind when discussing important issues with your business partner who is also your spouse.

What was the most rewarding moment in this process?

When somebody says, “I really like that head cover”.  It means so much to hear that.  It practically makes me want to give them away as thanks, but Megan reminds me that we can’t do that anymore (we have sewers to pay).

Explain the process of going from idea to having a finished product for sale.  How long did it take?

Our current fairway cover took 3 years to arrive to.  Initially, we started with a business sock attached to a tartan top, not unlike the typical ones you see with tartan fabrics.  For a while, we settled and used a simple design that had a sock bottom.  It was great for fairway woods, but would limit us when going to fit the 460CC drivers or customizing for the hybrids.  Also, we hadn’t figured out how to add an elastic lining without impeding on our desired clean design.

There are several of the above floating around, but it is a decidedly inferior product to what we have today.  We proceeded to work on our design with the help of a highly proficient and professional seamstress.  Further, we relied upon friends that played between 80 and 90 rounds in a year to show us the results of the testing through the Oregon sun and rain.  After use testing, and trying different knit bottoms, we found that there was no real solution for the stretchy sock part that could bear heavy use, so we shifted to a barrel style.  Our decision to drop the sock was twofold:

1) We didn’t like the way the various knitted wool was wearing.  After use, it hooked onto various things and would fade in the sun, and

2) We could get really easy single handed use with a barrel style and even further promote the clean lines we had been striving for if we could perfect the elastic lining.  After using about a dozen various types and sizes of elastic, we found the right one so that the barrel cover would stay on perfectly.

The driver and fairway hybrids both took about a year, and took far less time, as they are variants on our fairway cover.  Starting slowly with only one product, the fairway wood, was probably the best thing we could have done as it only improved all of our offerings.

The above represents the covers that took us many years of work, and are exactly what we were striving for. Long lasting, a unique design, locally made, and goes great with different patterns or even different head covers.

With our MacMonies golf bag (made in Portland, Oregon in the early 1900′s), we set out to take some photos and have some fun with our covers.  A limited number of the special run, ‘INITIAL OFFERING’ covers in the photo below were sold or circulated in hand wrapped tissue and woolen yarn.

At this time, we never had intentions of putting any sort of logos or customizations on our very clean and simple head covers.  We decided that it was all about letting the plaid do the talking, and our pop color fleece lining add some fun to the traditional styles.  We haven’t mentioned the following in any other publication, but the pop color fleece lining was inspired by the modern works of our favorite artists Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, and our distinctive black labeling was drawn from some very fine wool accessories featured in the Modern Museum of Art in San Francisco.

After being asked by the right folks about logo options, we studied our options carefully learned about a solution that would allow us to maintain our clean design philosophy.  A Portland, Oregon wooden iPhone case manufacturer called RECOVER could burn logos onto vegetable tanned leather, a material very similar to the materials used in high grade leather saddles.  This leather we found is so awesome, and really isn’t anywhere else in golf.  It ages really nicely to a dark tan with use, so you can really tell if the golfer is getting out to play.  Below is a sample run we did for the January 2012 PGA Show

What unexpected challenges did you face?

The wool we use costs more than leather.  Domestic production is very costly, particularly when you want to maintain control over each step of the way and want highly proficient production staff.  We didn’t know any of this at the start and continually face financial challenges arising from this business approach.

We sourced patterns and woolen fabrics from 4 different mills in Oregon, Washington, and Scotland.  Why wool? The tartan wool we sourced was all 100% virgin wool, and dyed/woven such that it would wear well through many years of use.  One of the greatest things about wool is that it is a living fibre.  So unlike cotton, it does not attract dirt in the same way and can be thrown on the grass and not pick up anything.  With all these great patterns, it was really all about the sewing and production at that point.  Onward!

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a golf business?

There is one piece that I would offer more than anything else: You should absolutely love this business more than anything you have ever done.  I think too many golf businesses are started with the hope of making money, and I think if that is your only hope there is a high likelihood of failure.  If the goal is to do what you love, and you absolutely love this business at the start, it is hard not to find success.  So far we’ve been doing pretty good by that metric.

Going forward our intentions are to continue making fun and traditional pattern head covers domestically with very talented sewers and really the highest quality wool ever introduced to golf.   Our covers can be found in high end golf shops across North America, and in a few surprising professional / celebrity golf bags.  We have shipped to some fun places, and continue to live vicariously through the little wooly covers we make and the sensational links they hang out at.  At the current time, we have no plans of introducing anything other than fun new patterns for our finest woolen golf club head covers.

Golfspy Dave’s Observations

The Seamus Golf headcovers are everything that they are advertised to be.  The construction is exceptional.  While I am by no means an expert on wool, the fabric is very strong and also somehow seems to repel dirt.  This coming from the occasionally-angry golfer who sometimes tosses a headcover to the ground when approaching the tee box.  There are a few other things that I love about these Black Watch headcovers

Variety

If you are looking to add a bit of traditional flair to your stick sack, I bet that Seamus has a pattern that will catch your eye.  If you go through the inventory on the Seamus website, you will find two pages of different patterns and colors to choose from.  If you can’t find one that you like, they even have a custom section.  In the custom section, you can select your pattern, select the color of the liner material, and even opt for customized leather tags.  The tags are engraved and “vegetable tanned”.  I didn’t even know vegetables could tan…

Quality and Value

Truth be told, these two Black Watch headcovers are not my first Seamus Golf headcovers.  A few months ago, I picked up a hybrid cover from them.  If you want to read more about the hybrid cover, go HERE.  Regardless, based upon my experiences with the headcovers, I am proud to report that Seamus headcovers are indeed of the highest quality.  The fabric is solid, and the stitching precise.  The shape and internal elastic allow the headcover to stay put during walking and riding.  The only thing to keep in mind with these covers is that they are a barrel-type headcover.  If you are looking for a long sock that protects the shaft deep into the bag, these are likely not for you.  And after reading what Akbar said above, why would you want that?  I feel confident that they will protect my driver and fairway heads as I lope around the course.

READ MORE: “How I Started My Golf Company” Stories {CLICK HERE}

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

The Odyssey Arm Lock #7 & Why It’s Asinine to Ban Anchoring

The Odyssey Arm Lock #7 & Why It’s Asinine to Ban Anchoring

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(Written by: Golfspy Dave)

Golf is a silly and very difficult game.  It’s ridiculously difficult actually.  Think about the inability of the average non-golfer to participate in a “pick-up” round of golf compared to other sports.  Someone who plays basketball for the first time probably makes a basket; the novice football player may even catch a pass.  Who shoots par the first time they play golf?  Who even pars one hole that first time out?

The brutal nature of the game even mandates a handicap system so that the wide range of skilled golfers can compete with each other mathematically rather than physically.  Golf is hard.  Practice and repetition are paramount to even minor improvements in one’s game.  I can’t think of another sport where people dedicate their entire lives to incremental, frequently infinitesimal, improvements.  The passionate quest for improvement drives a huge equipment industry that routinely produces the latest and greatest clubs, as well as multitudes of borderline-sadistic “training aids” to help golfers get better quicker.  Getting your correct set of golf gear is no small fiscal task.

The crazy thing about golf though is the fact even after you have invested in your gear and are ready to play; the rules about equipment can change and continue to add difficulty to an already difficult game.  I could bring up the max driver volume restrictions, the banning of grooves, or other governing decisions, but I want to throw my hat in the ring about the latest anchored putter debate.

To put it right out there, I am against the ban.  I think that it is at best ridiculous and definitely unnecessary.  We know that if there was truly a competitive advantage to the anchored putter that all of the professional golfers on all tours would be gaming them.  Remember that madness with the Ping Eye 2 wedges when the groove ban went into place?  PGA guys bagged those wedges, attempting to get an edge.  If the long putter worked better, more (all?) pros would use it.

What about the success of Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, and Keegan Bradley you ask?  Why are they so accurate with the long putter?  It must be unfair!  These guys are good with the long putters because they have been training with them for a long time! Seriously, how long has Webb used that belly putter?  What model of Ping is it?  G5 Craz-e?  When did that come to market?  2005?  Webb putts amazingly well with that putter because he has been using the same putter for years and years.  His aiming and touch is second nature at this point because of familiarity, not the magic powers of an 8-year-old putter.  Anchoring, cheating, blah blah blah.  People putt better when they find a putter that “works” for them, and then roll about a million putts with it.  Would the anchored putter guys play worse if they had to game a different putter?  Would you?

The true silliness of the anchoring ban is best demonstrated by the putter I have to share with you today:  Odyssey’s Arm Lock #7.  This putter is not silly, far from it actually.  Instead, it shows just how diverse the putter field should be if we are to provide all golfers the right tools to succeed at this difficult game.

Meet: The “Arm Lock”

My first look at the Odyssey Arm Lock #7 actually came at Callaway/Odyssey HQ in Carlsbad last December when some of us were fortunate enough to visit.  Our visit occurred on the day, or a few days after the USGA announced their anchoring position.  While we were learning about the 2013 Callaway and Odyssey gear, Odyssey’s Global Director Chris Koske brought out the “Arm Lock”.  The putting style promoted by the Arm Lock was not new, Matt Kucher has been “arm-locking” a putter for years.  We all saw how he was a one-putt machine at the WGC Match Play this year with his Bettinardi.

Why then is Odyssey introducing the Arm Lock putters (#7 and D.A.R.T.) if they don’t reflect a new putting style? Is Odyssey, the clear leader in putter sales worldwide, just trying to grab banned belly players?  Are they trying to have the new technically not cheating long putter? Or perhaps does offering the Arm Lock allude to something else entirely?

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Does The Odyssey Arm Lock Create a Competitive Advantage?

The answer is yes.  But let me qualify that with the phrase “for some”.  Some golfers will pick up the Odyssey Arm Lock #7 and they will mesh very well with its aesthetics and required putting stroke.  Others will try it and get nothing but hole-missing awkwardness.  But guess what, that’s what happens in every single golfer and putter relationship!

How many putters are in your local shop? How many head styles, different metals, lengths, inserts, colors, grips, headcovers, and so on?  How many of you have a putter that you sink putts with and a whole bunch of other putters that you would never consider gaming because you suck with them?  That would be all of us.  We find a putter that suits our stroke and our nebulous sense for feel and aesthetics.  We have a lot of options out there because we all want different things.

Anchored, blade, mallet, heel-shafted, center-shafted, and arm lock putters are all designed to give an individual golfer an advantage on the green! And guess what, not every putter works for every golfer.  That is why this anchoring ban is so asinine.  Raise your hand if you tried an anchored putter.  Keep that hand up if you are still using it.  I tested three, maybe four belly putters last year, and yet I still game a 34” putter.  I get the belly concept, and I could even make some putts with them, but I feel like I am more accurate, comfortable, and consistent with the 34” stick, so that’s what I putt with.  Do I care if someone I play with uses a long putter?  No.  If they putt better than I do am I going to cry foul and blame their “cheater” equipment?  No.  They putted better than I did because they are a better player.  Of all of the equipment, to think that a putter style represents a miracle cure is just folly.  If you want the game of golf to become standardized (aka bulls-eyes for everyone), that’s one thing, but if the intention of the anchoring ban is to remove advantage, I just don’t see it.

 

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Back to The Arm Lock

The Odyssey Arm Lock #7 is unlikely to be my long-term gamer.  Granted, a long-term gamer is not something that one who is as putter schizophrenic as myself is likely to have.  That being said, the only reason that I would not game the Arm Lock is that the style of the swing really doesn’t suit my tastes.  I have always liked the #7 head, and the Metal-X insert is one of my favorite inserts.  I have a 34″, Metal-X #7 in my garage right now.  The Arm Lock continues Odyssey’s commitment to excellence; there is not even a modicum of low quality, or speck of flawed design in this putter.  I just wasn’t as comfortable with it as I am with a standard stick.

With the Arm Lock, I had the unconscious tendency to exaggerate the forward position of my left arm with the putter.  When I did this, I missed the hole.  However, when I realized what I was doing and added an “arm position” pre-putt mental checkpoint, my putting improved.  I get the style, and I see how someone could like the enhanced stability by bracing the putter to the left arm.  It’s just not what I am looking for at this point.  But I feel very confident in saying that the Odyssey Arm Lock may be just what some of you are looking for, not because it’s better, but because it’s different.  And the difference is the key to this putter.

There Can’t Be Only One!

Kudos to Odyssey for adding the Arm Lock putters to their line-up this year.  I think that the more diverse the putter corral can be, the better.  You cynics out there are likely saying that Odyssey only brought these putters to market to make money with the possible banning of the anchored putters.  To you I say “Well duh”.  A for-profit company trying to grab part of the highly competitive marketplace in order to boost profits?  Again, duh.  Economics aside, a big golf company like Odyssey introducing the Arm Lock to the average golfer is good for golf.  It’s good for golf because it gives a segment of golfers a new putting tool that will help them to play better.

A diverse pool of putters is critical for all golfers to have the greatest chance for success playing this ridiculously difficult game. The anchored putter, and other putters like Odyssey’s Arm Lock are advantageous for some players, but not for all.  That putter has not yet been found.  I know, I’m looking for it every day.  But there are putters out there that make the individual a better player.  It seems almost criminal to take such a putter out of someone’s bag be they amateur or pro.

Let’s drop this whole anchoring madness and get back to the real issues with the game like slow play, five-somes, holes punched in a 7% slope, denim, and $8 beers.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Crime Ring (1938) … LCSO Charges 7 in Connection with Organized Theft Ring (Feb 07, 2013) …item 2.. Ex-Detroit mayor convicted of corruption — ‘private profit machine’ (11 March 2013) …

Crime Ring (1938) … LCSO Charges 7 in Connection with Organized Theft Ring (Feb 07, 2013) …item 2.. Ex-Detroit mayor convicted of corruption — ‘private profit machine’ (11 March 2013) …

golf lessons online

Image by marsmet551

Business owners said they were forced to hire Ferguson as a subcontractor or risk losing city contracts. Separately, fundraiser Emma Bell said she gave Kilpatrick more than $200,000 as his personal cut of political donations, pulling cash from her bra during private meetings.
A high-ranking aide, Derrick Miller, told jurors that he often was the middle man, passing bribes from others.
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……..*****All images are copyrighted by their respective authors ……..
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… message header for item 1. WCTV News

When store personnel flagged Young’s identification for not having proof of purchase for items returned, Young began soliciting others to assist her in the scheme. On twelve occasions between November 2012 and January 2013, Young and another person would enter the stores and continue the thefts with the other person presenting identification each time.
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…..item 1)…. LCSO Charges 7 in Connection with Organized Theft Ring [SLIDE SHOW] … WCTV News … www.wctv.tv/home … Coverage You Can Count On! …

Posted: Thu 5:14 PM, Feb 07, 2013 … Reporter: Leon County Sheriff’s Office Email

www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/LCSO-Charges-7-in-Connection-w…

Leon County Sheriff’s Office Release

Tallahassee, FL – In January 2013, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Loss Prevention personnel from both Lowe’s Home Improvement stores in reference to a series of thefts.

Property Crimes Detectives were able to confirm that seven individuals had been involved in an organized scheme that defrauded the Lowe’s stores out of more than $5,000.00 dollars. Beginning in November of 2012, Lesley Young, 39, began visiting both Lowe’s stores.

Young took merchandise off the shelves, going to the customer service counters and obtaining merchandise cards as refunds for returning the items that were never purchased.

When store personnel flagged Young’s identification for not having proof of purchase for items returned, Young began soliciting others to assist her in the scheme. On twelve occasions between November 2012 and January 2013, Young and another person would enter the stores and continue the thefts with the other person presenting identification each time.

Detectives, working with Loss Prevention personnel, reviewed video surveillance of these incidents, identified the suspects and obtained arrest warrants. As contact was established with each suspect, they were interviewed and taken to the Leon County Jail.

One of the defendants, Octvter Stibbins, 39, is in custody in Dade County, Florida on unrelated charges. Stibbins will be charged here upon the conclusion of the unrelated charges.

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img code photo … Lesley Young, 39

media.graytvinc.com/images/426*320/TheftRing-LesleyYoung.jpg

Lesley Young: Charges: Grand Theft (7 counts), Felony Theft (2 counts), Dealing in Stolen Property (8 counts), Organized Scheme to Defraud

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img code photo … Willie Holloway

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Willie Holloway: Charges: Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property

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img code photo … Britany Williams

media.graytvinc.com/images/426*320/TheftRing-BritanyWilli…

Britany Williams: Charges: Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property

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img code photo … Cedric Mills: Charges

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Cedric Mills: Charges: Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property

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img code photo … Charlton Williams

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Charlton Williams: Charges: Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property

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img code photo … Octvter Stibbins

media.graytvinc.com/images/427*320/TheftRing-OctvterStibb…

Octvter Stibbins: Charges: Warrants for Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property (In custody in Dade County, Florida)

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img code photo … Sharon Echols

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Sharon Echols: Charges: Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property

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…..item 2)…. Ex-Detroit mayor convicted of corruption after he stole nearly $1 million and spent cash from charity for needy city residents on yoga lessons, golf clubs and travel …

Mail Online – Daily Mail … www.dailymail.co.uk/news

… Kwame Kilpatrick has been convicted of corruption charges today after a five month trial
… The politician took bribes, rigged contracts and lived far beyond his means while in office until fall 2008 and ran a ‘private profit machine’ out of Detroit’s City Hall
… Stole money

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
PUBLISHED: 11:25 EST, 11 March 2013 | UPDATED: 14:13 EST, 11 March 2013

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2291616/Kwame-Kilpatrick…

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been convicted of corruption charges today, ensuring a return to prison for a man once among the nation’s youngest big-city leaders.

Jurors found Kilpatrick guilty of a raft of crimes, including a racketeering conspiracy charge.

He was portrayed during a five-month trial as an unscrupulous politician who took bribes, rigged contracts and lived far beyond his means while in office until fall 2008.

Prosecutors said Kilpatrick ran a ‘private profit machine’ out of Detroit’s City Hall.
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img code photo … Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/03/11/article-2291616-18918F…

Convicted: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, pictured leaving court today, has been convicted on corruption charges

AP
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The government presented evidence to show he got a share of the spoils after ensuring that Ferguson’s excavating company was awarded millions in work from the water department.

More…

… US accused of colluding with Taliban in Afghanistan as President Karzai hijacks Hagel’s visit
… Jeb Bush calls political journalists ‘crack and heroin addicts’ as he reveals he is NOT thinking about a run for the White House – yet

Business owners said they were forced to hire Ferguson as a subcontractor or risk losing city contracts.

Separately, fundraiser Emma Bell said she gave Kilpatrick more than $200,000 as his personal cut of political donations, pulling cash from her bra during private meetings.

A high-ranking aide, Derrick Miller, told jurors that he often was the middle man, passing bribes from others.
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img code photo … Profit machine:

i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/03/11/article-2291616-1891AE…

Profit machine: Prosecutors said Kilpatrick, pictured, ran a ‘private profit machine’ out of Detroit’s City Hall

AP
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img code photo … Racketeering:

i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/03/11/article-2291616-18918E…

Racketeering: Jurors found Kilpatrick, pictured center, guilty of a raft of crimes, including a racketeering conspiracy charge

AP

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Internal Revenue Service agents said Kilpatrick spent $840,000 beyond his mayoral salary.
Kilpatrick, who now lives near Dallas, declined to testify.

He has long denied any wrongdoing, and defense attorney James Thomas told jurors that Kilpatrick often was showered with cash gifts from city workers and political supporters during holidays and birthdays.

The government said Kilpatrick abused the Civic Fund, a nonprofit fund he created to help distressed Detroit residents. There was evidence that it was used for yoga lessons, camps for his kids, golf clubs and travel.
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img code photo … Sexting:

i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/03/11/article-2291616-189168…

Sexting: Kilpatrick, pictured with his wife and actress Gabrielle Union at the 2007 Bermuda Music Festival, resigned in 2008 amid a sexting scandal with his chief of staff

Getty images

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img code photo … Low:

i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/03/11/article-2291616-189168…

Low: The government said Kilpatrick, pictured right while he was mayor, abused the Civic Fund, a nonprofit fund he created to help distressed Detroit residents

Getty images

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Kilpatrick, 42, was elected in 2001 at age 31. He resigned in 2008 and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in a different scandal involving sexually explicit text messages and an extramarital affair with his chief of staff.

The Democrat spent 14 months in prison for violating probation in that case after a judge said he failed to report assets that could be put toward his $1 million restitution to Detroit.

Voters booted his mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, from Congress in 2010, partly because of a negative perception of her due to her son’s troubles.
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TRAINING AID REVIEW – ORANGE PEEL

TRAINING AID REVIEW – ORANGE PEEL

Post image for TRAINING AID REVIEW – ORANGE PEEL

Orange Peel Review

Introduction

(Written By: Matt Saternus)

One of the very, very few things in the golf swing that is not debatable is that good players have their weight forward, or towards the target, at impact.  Bad players, like the majority of the guys on your local driving range, finish their swings falling over, spinning around, and doing everything other than imitating the PGA Tour logo.  With all this in mind, a swing trainer that is designed to help golfers with their weight shift, like the Orange Peel, should be a slam dunk.  But is it?  Read on for the juicy details.

Orange Peel Review

Ease of Use/Set Up – 10 Points

The Orange Peel is one big hunk of plastic, no set up required.  Throw it down on the range, take the appropriate stance (more on this later), and you’re ready to go.

Score: 10/10

Orange Peel Review

Effectiveness – 30 points

Though it would seem to be a uni-tasker, the Orange Peel can be used to address a number of different balance or swing issues.

  • If you stand on the center of the Orange Peel, the raised ends will simply amplify your weight shift, helping you to move behind and then through the ball.
  • Standing towards the front of the Orange Peel simulates an uphill lie which will help players to “get behind” the ball in the backswing.
  • Standing towards the back of the Orange Peel simulates a downhill lie making it easier to get to your target-side foot at impact.
  • Players who struggle with “outside-in” or “inside-out” swings can stand with their toes or heels, respectively, on the edge of the Peel to help feel get their swing more “on plane.”

So, the Orange Peel has many potential uses, but is it effective in these uses?  My answer is a wishy-washy “maybe.”  There is no doubt that standing on the Orange Peel and making swings helps you to feel a good weight shift.  The major problem is that you can’t hit balls while you’re standing on the Orange Peel.  Ok, to be accurate, you can hit balls on the Orange Peel, but the Orange Peel places you approximately 2 inches above the ball.  That may not sound like a lot in writing, but it forces you into a significant posture change.

Ultimately, the Orange Peel is best used for practice swings, whether with an Orange Whip or a real club.  Though this has some value, we all know that doing something in a practice swing and doing it while trying to smash the ball are very different.

If the Orange Peel could be used while hitting balls, it would be a home run.  As it is, it’s just a single: good, but far from great.

Score: 22/30

Orange Peel Review

Orange Peel Review

Longevity – 20 points

The Orange Peel is 44”X28” and weighs 21 pounds.  It’s not exactly the kind of thing you can easily leave in your bag or in your trunk for those impromptu range sessions, nor is it the kind of thing you can use discretely.  For the guys with practice stations in their backyard (or at least enough clearance to swing a club in the garage), the Orange Peel definitely will have more longevity, but that’s a very small minority of golfers.

Furthermore, while the Orange Peel can be used to fix a number of different problems, it is likely that a given player will only use it for one reason.  This makes the Orange Peel is a bit of a one-trick pony which decreases its longevity.

As for the Longevity of the device itself, it should last forever, which does boost the Longevity score a bit.

Score: 14/20

Orange Peel Review

Value – 20 points

The Orange Peel sells for $179 through the Orange Whip Trainer website, which places it at almost double our $100 “average” price.  That kind of price can be excused if the trainer is dynamite, but the Orange Peel is not that.

Score: 10/20

Orange Peel Review

The Peanut Gallery – 20 points

For this Peanut Gallery, I showed the Orange Peel to the normal Peanut Gallery and I used it with some of my most balance-challenged students.

The Peanut Gallery was as blunt as they’ve ever been: they were not impressed with the Orange Peel.  They got the idea behind it, but felt that the drawback of not being able to hit balls with it was too much to overcome.  When I told them the price, the reactions ranged from face-palming to laughter.

My balance-challenged students, on the other hand, enjoyed the Orange Peel.  The primary issue that these students faced was not finishing their swing on their left (front/target) side.  By having the students stand on the Orange Peel and make full swings (without a ball), they were able to feel a proper weight shift.  Being able to do this with a ball was not automatic after using the Orange Peel, but they did have an idea of what they were working towards.

Score: 12/20

Conclusion

Ultimately, I think that buying an Orange Peel might be a good investment for a teaching professional, but it’s not something I would recommend for the average golfer.  While it has a number of uses, the Orange Peel will likely only serve one purpose for each golfer, which significantly hurts its value.  Most importantly, the Orange Peel is best used for practice swings, not hitting balls. Though making swings on the Orange Peel can help a golfer to feel what they should be doing, the fact that you can’t hit real shots from it severely limits its effectiveness.

Score: 68/100

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

CONTEST! – Adams Golf “Easy Million” Campaign

CONTEST! – Adams Golf “Easy Million” Campaign

Post image for CONTEST! – Adams Golf “Easy Million” Campaign

Golf Store Owner: OH MY GOD! (in a voice the entire store could hear)…now that’s a first!
GolfSpy X: What’s that?  Oh…wow!  Have to say I’ve never seen that before myself.

After a few more minutes hitting the club I turned back around to take a break.  I hadn’t realized, but there was a crowd that had started to form around the hitting bay without me knowing it.  Kind of like an impromptu OutKast concert popping up out of thin air at the Wooden Nickel Bar back when I was in college.  Problem was, they weren’t there to see me, they were pushing to the front of the stage to see a damn golf club.  Yeah, seriously, this thing was a rock star that night.

Why you ask?  Well…it’s not every day you get to see a hybrid going farther than almost every driver in the store.  I myself had never seen it…and neither had the crowd that was swarming to get their hands on my club.  This hybrid was putting up numbers that exceeded 6 out of the 8 drivers I tested that day.  It had actually outperformed every driver at that point in time (we’re talking about a 300-yard hybrid here).  It wasn’t until the last 2 that it got beat.

:: Spill The Beans!

When I got back to the office I immediately posted this news on Facebook.  First response from a fan?  ”SPILL THE BEANS!  What club was it?”  It’s called the Adams Hybrid Super LS.

Let me start from the beginning.  A few weeks ago I was contacted by Adams Golf, they wanted to chat about their big new marketing campaign, called #EasyMillion.  Prior to the call I had asked if they could send some info along so I could take a look.  Looked like a good enough idea, nothing earth shattering, but definitely a unique spin on a distance claim for a new product that was about to launch.

Anyways…during our conversation I had to make a decision, I always have to ask myself, “is this something the readers really care to read, or is this just one of those thanks for sharing your new concept with us…talk to you soon kinda conversations?”  I thought it was the later, but then I said how about this, “How about MyGolfSpy puts your campaign to the test, head-to-head against what we’re playing now?” With zero hesitation they replied:  Absolutely.  100%.  Yes. A few weeks later myself, GolfSpy Dave, GolfSpy T and GolfSpy Matt had all been fitted up to see how the new Adams Super LS Speedline clubs would do head-to-head against our current gamers.

:: So, What Is The #EasyMillion Campaign?

Hit it. Share it. Wear it.

Everyone has heard of the +17 or 17 + 10 type of campaigns.  Distance claims sell clubs, true story.  But, Adams Golf, has something a little different with their newest distance claim, this one is all about golfer interaction.   Adams new #EasyMillion campaign is a truly unique and experiential marketing campaign, in an effort to allow golfers to gain a cumulative total of 1,000,000 yards of added distance with the company’s new line of SUPER clubs.

They want golfers to compare their new SUPER lineup head-to-head against their current clubs – and then using social media, tell the world how much distance they gained (if you do you get an Adams “Tour” Hat in return for free).  No specific yardage claim here…but let’s just say their pretty confident your gonna gain some distance and often times lots of it.  So, they don’t care whether it’s 10 yards, 45 yards or 105 yards (which they have actually seen) they just want to get the clubs in your hands to show you how big that + sign might be.

Once the golfer goes through the #EasyMillion experience and has their total yardage gained, they then immediately submit that number to the running total at OneMillionYards.com by using their mobile phone (via mobile text messaging) or on any tablet device, laptop or desktop computer.  And you actually get to see your yardage move the needle on the website.  Pretty slick little campaign.

Once the yardage has been submitted you will then be sent your own Adams Golf tour-issued hat, with your unique yardage number embroidered on the side, shipped to your home or office. (VIDEO EXPLANATION BELOW)

:: The MyGolfSpy Test

This test was pretty simple and straightforward, we simply said to Adams and their new SUPER lineup “Show Us The Yardage!”. And to make it even tougher on Adams we made them go up against our current gamers not just some off the rack clubs we picked up from the local “$5 Bargain Barrel Bin”.  They had their work cut out for them.  But, the crew at Adams fit us up for the new Adams gear and the match was set.  There was no turning back now.

:: CONTEST! – How Much Yardage Did MyGolfSpy Gain?

(1 entry per reader)

THE MATCH: MyGolfSpy staffs current driver, fairway wood, hybrids and irons (vs) Adams SUPER driver, fairway wood, hybrids and irons.

PRIZE: Adams Super LS Hybrid (aka: The Rock Star)

HOW TO WIN: The reader who guesses closest to the total number of yards gained by the MyGolfSpy Staff with the new Adams Super lineup wins!

ANNOUNCEMENT: The complete list of yardage gained by each staff member and total yards will be posted tomorrow on MyGolfSpy.com

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Swing program inspires wounded warriors to retain active lifestyle 090407

First Swing program inspires wounded warriors to retain active lifestyle 090407

golf swing instructions

Image by familymwr

PHOTO CAPTION: The sun shines brightly on Sgt. Roy Mitchell as he hits golf balls from a Solorider (a specialized adaptive golf cart) during a First Swing golf clinic at Fort Belvoir, Va.
(Photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs)

www.armymwr.com

First Swing program inspires wounded warriors to retain active lifestyle 090407

By Tim Hipps
FMWRC Public Affairs

FORT BELVOIR, Va. – Six summers ago, Sgt. Roy Mitchell was a 2-handicap golfer who earned a tryout for the All-Army Golf Team.

Now he’s a disabled golfer with an 8 handicap, striving to regain his form on a prosthetic leg and tinkering with a specialized golf cart.

On Nov. 23, 2003, Mitchell was riding in the front passenger seat of a Humvee that drove upon an anti-tank mine near the Pakistan border in Afghanistan.

Mitchell, 37, of Fort Drum, N.Y., survived the blast but lost three-quarters of his left leg, four teeth and some jawbone, suffered third-degree burns on his right leg, shattered his left elbow, caught shrapnel in his midsection and right eye, and sustained a concussion.

He spent 10 months rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

"As soon as I got out of the hospital, I picked up a club and was trying to hit balls at the local MWR where they have an indoor net," Mitchell recalled. "But I got so discouraged with the way that I was hitting the ball that I just had to step away."

Four years later, thanks in part to the National Amputee Golf Association’s First Swing program and the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, which partnered with the United States Golf Association, Mitchell is intent about getting back atop his game.

He wowed professional golf instructors, fellow wounded warriors and a film crew from The Golf Channel during a recent First Swing clinic at Fort Belvoir. Strapped into a Solorider – a specialized adaptive golf cart – Mitchell drove balls deep onto the driving range like a pro warming up for a PGA Tour event.

"I’ve never played a round of golf in the cart," said Mitchell, who two weeks earlier climbed aboard a Solorider for the first time. "Just by sitting here on the driving range and hitting the ball, I could see the cart possibly being a little bit of a hindrance, but ultimately it’s going to make the game easier because I won’t be as tired at the end of a round.

"Rather than having my prosthetic on and worrying about getting to the ball and making a good swing the whole time, this is going to make the game more relaxing … and that would make playing more enjoyable."

Helping servicemen and women enjoy life after injury is the primary purpose of the First Swing program, which was designed to teach therapists and golf pros how to use golf as therapy and teach disabled people how to learn or relearn to play and enjoy the game.

Fort Belvoir Director of Golf Jeff Lychwick said his club was fortunate to host 14 military PGA instructors from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; Carlisle Barracks, Pa.; Fort Eustis, Va.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.; Naval Station Mayport, Fla.; and Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. They instructed 47 disabled servicemen and women from around the National Capital Region.
Sgt. Roy Mitchell, who lost most of his left leg to an anti-tank mine in Afghanistan, admires his drive from a Solorider (a specialized adaptive golf cart) during a First Swing golf clinic for wounded warriors at Fort Belvoir, Va.

"Absolutely, it’s an honor," Lychwick said. "There’s a strong sense of responsibility to deal with these gentlemen and ladies that have lost a limb for us. This kind of instruction has more therapeutic value than anything else."

Physical therapists from Belvoir’s DeWitt Army Hospital helped spread the word about the clinic, and 10 Soldiers came from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"I work in the Military Advanced Training Center at Walter Reed and they are extremely active in the recreational opportunities that have rehab potential for the vets," said Drew Breakey, a physical therapy student. "They go on kayaking trips, skiing trips and fishing trips all over the country."

Breakey was impressed with the way Mitchell adjusted to the Solorider.

"This is actually the first time I’ve got to see him hit the ball and he’s whacking it pretty good," Breakey said. "I challenge anybody to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to strap you into a chair and I want you to swing a club differently than you’re accustomed to,’ and first of all, even be able to make contact, or in this case, hit it 170 yards down the range."

Mitchell encourages all disabled Soldiers to get physically active as soon as possible.

"The Wounded Warrior Program should be high on every wounded Soldier’s list of the people they should be getting in contact with," he said. "And, really, you don’t even have to worry about searching them out – they’re usually the first ones in your hospital room doing the grip-and-grin and dropping off paperwork and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got this going, and we’ve got that going, as soon as you get healthy and the doctors will let you go, we want to start taking you out.’ And they have a full spectrum of sports available. Anything that you want to do, they’ve got it."

Four World War II veterans, who lost limbs but not their love of the game of golf, founded the National Amputee Golf Association in 1954. The association, which today has more than 4,000 members, is administered by amputees, all of whom are volunteers.

The First Swing clinic’s next stop is Fort Bragg, N.C., on April 19-20. Mitchell encourages wounded warriors to take advantage of the opportunity rather than resist the challenge.

"They have to go back to the basics of what they were taught in the military," he said. "In any branch of the service, you’re taught to adapt and overcome, and that’s the mentality that they’ve got to get into. You have to adapt to your situation and then overcome it.

"Once you get them in that mindset, they will come out here and try golf for the first time, or go out and ski for the first time, or get on the water and try to water ski. The biggest hurdle for these guys is to convince them that they can do it."

Mitchell, a native of Sunman, Ind., thinks the program should be even easier for first-time golfers.

"I never skied before – had never tried it," he explained. "But they took me to a ski clinic and taught me how to ski, and I loved it. I think it’s harder for people like me, who had played golf before, to come back and try to play now because there is a lot about the golf swing that has changed because of our situation. I think it’s easier for people that have never played the game before to come out and try it for the first time."

Mitchell’s father, Roy, never doubted that his son would return to the game he loved. He put a club in Roy’s hand at age 9 and had him on golf courses at 12. He was at Belvoir to watch his 37-year-old son re-instill the passion.

"He was good," dad said of his son’s game before the injury. "He beat the crap out of me. He loved to play golf and he was dedicated to the game.

"With his love of the game, he couldn’t give it up. I think being able to get back out and play helped him a lot with his rehabilitation."

The elder Mitchell, who did two stints in the Vietnam War while serving in the Army from 1963 through ’70, is proud of his son’s resilience and of the Army for giving him a chance to stay enlisted.

"I think this is one of the best programs the Army has come up with as far dealing with Soldiers’ physical and psychological injuries," he said. "It was neglected for a while. When I was in the Army, we didn’t have anything like this."

The younger Mitchell is glad that he gave golf another chance.

"I got home and I tried to swing the golf club with my prosthetic arm, and for some reason, I just couldn’t make contact," he recalled. "I was always topping the ball and I just couldn’t stay down on it, so I got discouraged, put the golf clubs away, and didn’t pick them up for about two years.

"I got them back out and told myself, ‘Listen, I am going to learn how to play with a standard set of clubs.’ People were telling me, ‘Just get longer shafts – that will help you stay down on the ball.’ But I said, ‘No, I’m not going to get a modified set of clubs. I’m going to learn how to play with the set of clubs that I have.’

"And finally I did."

Now Mitchell is intent on scoring in the low 70s.

"I think he can come back to where he was," his dad said. "He’s determined. He might not hit as long a drive, but straighter. Just like us when we get older, we don’t hit ’em as long, but we hit them straighter.

"I’ve always been very proud of him, before his injury, and after. He’s a great boy."

Mitchell believes being disabled helped strengthen his resolve.

"A lot of us have the mentality that the things that we take on, we’re going to dedicate 100 percent to it," he said. "I think that’s what kind of separates us from other people.

"I’m happy I’m back in the game."

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The Fairway Wood is Dead

The Fairway Wood is Dead

Post image for The Fairway Wood is Dead

By Tony Covey | Follow Tony on Twitter

The End is Near

The fairway wood isn’t dead yet…but it sure as hell looks like it’s dying.

Yes, I’ve heard of RocketBallz, but in this case, Stage 2 means terminal. Never mind Speedline, Adams should call their next fairway wood the Flatline. Why call them fairway woods at all? Calling them panda woods seems more appropriate. Extinction is all but certain.

I suppose TaylorMade, and Callaway, and Nike, and just about everyone else with a new for 2013 fairway wood  would disagree, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

The Surge

There’s a strange phenomenon that sometimes happens as terminally ill patients near the end. In the hours before they flatline they experience a surge of energy. They are renewed, they are vital, and then they are gone.

And yes…I first learned about the surge while (not) watching Grey’s Anatomy. Personally, I hate the show, and basically watch it by accident when my wife watches it, but I definitely don’t like it. It totally sucks. That is my official story. And I’m absolutely sticking to it.

Where fairway woods are concerned, after barely breathing for the better part of a decade, The Surge happened last season. With the release of RocketBallz TaylorMade reinvigorated a market segment golfers had largely stopped caring about. Lured by the promise of 17 MORE YARDS, golfer suddenly found themselves energized to do something they hadn’t considered in years; buy new fairway woods.

And they did…by the truckloads. Lots and lots of truckloads. For its efforts TaylorMade raked in something in the neighborhood of a gozillion dollars, and set record sales numbers…again.

This season, the beeps aren’t what they were a year ago. Sales, like the heartbeat of the fairway wood, are slowing. We’re inching closer to the end.

Beep…Beep…Beeeeeeeeep_____________________ (pulls the plug so we can all mourn in silence).

Reality Setting In

You can say what you want about TaylorMade…hell, I’ve said lots of things about TaylorMade, but you’ll never hear me call them stupid. They must have known that the momentum from the original RocketBallz wasn’t wholly sustainable. You just gave me 17 more yards (actually in my case it was 37 yards), I don’t really need 10 more…not from hardest to hit club in the bag, and not from a club I just replaced last year (unless it’s the driver…in which case…sure, 10 more yards sounds fantastic).

Callaway for its part must have believed the same with the XHot fairway. Maybe there’s a little noise to be made. Give Callaway some credit for reviving, the 7, 9, and even the 11 wood, but a full-on lighting strike isn’t happening two years in a row.  Not with a fairway wood.

Even the most promiscuous of club hos doesn’t replace his fairway woods every season.

The point is, even if nobody expects to sell a freighter full of fairway woods, you still have to put something on the shelves. Their presence alone shouldn’t suggest that the consumer actually wants them.

When I picked up the game, a 3 wood and a 5 wood were practically mandatory for every golfer on the course. Those days are over. The 7, 9, and 11 woods are bordering on extinction (Callaway’s XHot could prove to be the last of the species), and even the 5 wood is just barely clinging to life. Some golfers (including your’s truly more often than not) have abandoned the fairway wood altogether, and an increasing majority rely on just a single fairway wood to get them through their rounds.

Ideally they never have to use it.

More often than not it’s a 3 wood. For some it’s a 4 wood. Beyond that…well…there’s probably nothing beyond that.

Fairway woods are an evil of dwindling necessity.

Neglect, Hybrids, and the PGA Tour

So how did we reach a point in time where the once mighty fairway wood is slowly going the way of the jigger? The way I see it, you can’t point the finger 3 places; neglect, hybrids, and the PGA Tour.

NEGLECT

Blame the golf companies. While perhaps not for lack of trying, for the better part of a decade engineers and designers conjured up what basically amounts to zero innovation on the fairway wood front. At the beginning of last season when I spoke to Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade’s Chief Technology Officer, he told me that revolutionizing the fairway wood has been on his to-do list for 10 years, and RocketBallz was the first time in a decade his team had achieved the goal.

10 years. That’s a long time to without any significant technological breakthroughs (real or imagined), and TaylorMade certainly wasn’t alone. The golf companies inadvertently conditioned golfers to believe that fairway woods were the ultimate equipment commodity. They’re all they same. They haven’t changed in years.

We’ll make your drives go farther. We’ll make you a better iron player. Have you tried the new hybrid? Check out the grooves on these wedges.

The fairway wood…don’t bother. What’ s the point?

In a decade we can give you 15 drivers each better than the one that came before it, but a fairway wood…meh…stick with what you got.

And that’s exactly what most guys did…it’s what most still do. I can’t count the number of times a reader has told me that nothing on today’s market can touch the Titleist he’s had for the last decade.

HYBRIDS

About the same time that fairway wood futility was setting in, hybrids/rescues began to emerge as viable alternatives to long irons. As golfers became more and more comfortable with the idea of no longer bagging difficult to hit 3 and 4 (and in some cases 5, 6, and 7) irons, many started to wonder if it might be possible to replace those even more difficult to hit fairway woods with lower lofted hybrids.

Questions flooded forums, “Can I replace my 5 wood with a 2 hybrid?”, and as golfers experimented many learned that what little they lost in distance by switching to a hybrid, they more than made up for in accuracy. There’s always something to be said for swinging on plane and hitting the ball with the center of the face. Who needs this 5 wood?

Keeping up with growing consumer demand, manufacturers focused more of their attention on the emerging hybrid space. In many cases, higher lofted 3 and 4 iron replacements were accompanied by 19°, and then 18°, and then 16°, and now 15° hybrids. Hybrids are no longer designed just to replace irons. Hybrids are being designed to replace fairway woods, and with 15° offerings, one could argue they’re being designed to render the 3-wood obsolete.

Given the distance increases companies are achieving with rescue clubs, we could be one well-designed 13° hybrid away from the extinction of the 3-wood.

Now if I’m being completely objective, it’s impossible not to notice that today’s modern long hybrid aren’t much different from yesterday’s fairway woods. Only a few CCs and ½” or so separates the modern 15° hybrid from the 3 wood of a decade ago.

You can call them whatever you want, but the clubs themselves simply aren’t that different, but hybrids have the benefit of reputation. They’re easier to hit. Fairway woods…they’re hard to hit. Scrap ‘em if you can.

THE PGA TOUR

Whether you define the shape of influence as a pyramid or a sphere, the single greatest retail influencer remains the the PGA Tour. And those tour guys, they’ve done a piss-poor lousy job of selling the consumer on new fairway wood technology.

It’s not that Callaway’s XHot marketing has been totally ineffective, or that TaylorMade hasn’t gotten some attention with their #IER campaign (Johnson Wagner saying “Mustache-IER” is funny), it’s that despite supposed advancements in technology, guys…lots of guys on the PGA Tour continue to win with what the manufacturers would have the rest of us believe is obsolete technology.

Looking back from this year’s WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral to last season’s Masters, no fewer than 15 wins (and that doesn’t include multiple winners like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy) are credited to guys carrying something other than the latest fairway wood technology. And we’re not talking about guys who are just a little slow transitioning from last year’s model to this year’s model. We’re talking about some seriously old, antiquated, find-it-for-thirty-bucks-or-less-on-eBay gear.

Those winner’s bags include such classics as Titleist’s 980F and 906F2, TaylorMade’s Burner, Nike’s SQ Sumo, and Callaway’s famed FT-i.

And then there’s Cleveland staffer Charlie Beljan. He won without a single fairway wood in the bag (he carried 15° and 20° hybrids).

If the best players in the world – guys for whom a single shot can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – aren’t finding the performance gains to justify an upgrade, why should the average joe drop upwards of $300 on a club he can’t hit straight anyway?

The Future of the Fairway Wood

I’ve been predicting the end of fairway woods for years, and yet they keep limping along. Truthfully, I probably got a little ahead of myself (what can I say, I’m a visionary) and TaylorMade’s success with the RBZ last season admittedly forced me to bump my time table back a bit. I’ll begrudgingly accept that it’s probably not time to pull the plug on the 3 wood just yet. It’s not going away any time soon (if ever), but the 5 wood is on a life support, and most everything else…let’s just say they might not outlive the Javan Rhino.

As long as the tour guys keep playing something of the 3 wood variety, I suspect golfers will continue to occasionally buy new 3 woods, but despite best efforts from Callaway, TaylorMade, and anyone else who thinks they’ve got the next IT fairway, we’re unlikely to see another year like last year any time soon. Golfers will revert to their old habits, and that means fairway woods will only get replaced when it’s absolutely necessary. It’s probably better that way.

They’re all the same right? You stick with what you got, and I’ll keep not watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Join the Discussion

We want to know (share with us in the comments section):

  • Do you upgrade your fairway woods frequently, or are you one of those who clings to the familiar?
  • When was the last time you put a new fairway wood in your bag, and why did you do it?
  • If you’re one of those guys who bags a so-called “obsolete” model, what ‘s in your bag now and what would it take to convince you to replace it?

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SHAFT REVIEW! – Oban Kiyoshi

SHAFT REVIEW! – Oban Kiyoshi

Post image for SHAFT REVIEW! – Oban Kiyoshi

Introduction

By: Matt Saternus

Lots of companies talk about being proponents of custom fitting.  They have lists of authorized fitters on their website…right next to the button that says, “Or just buy it online without trying it first.”  Rare is the company that puts their money where their mouth is, but Oban is one such company.  Try to find a place online (other than eBay) to buy an Oban shaft.  You can’t do it.  That’s because Oban only sells their shafts through qualified custom fitters.  So check out this review, then book an appointment with a certified fitter to see if Kiyoshi is what you need to start hitting it pure.

Specs, Price, and Manufacturer Notes

  • The Kiyoshi line was launched with the PRP in 2010.  It features Oban’s Emersion Wrapped Frequency Technology.
  • The Kiyoshi BLK offers low spin similar to the PRP but with a higher kick point for lower ball flight.
  • The Kiyoshi WHT is the newest Kiyoshi.  It features proprietary Multiplex Design Technology to combine a softer butt section with a stiff tip and mid-section.
  • Oban uses numbers to represent the flex of the shaft: 01 (Ladies), 02 (Senior), 03(Regular), 04 (Stiff), and 05 (X).  Each shaft is available in 55, 65, 75, and 85 grams.  The PRP is also available in 45 grams.
  • All of the Oban Kiyoshi shafts are offered as both .335 tip shafts for drivers and fairway woods as well as .370 tip for hybrids.  The hybrid shafts range from 90 to 100 grams.
  • The Oban Kiyoshi line can be purchased through authorized club fitters.  The MSRP for the PRP and BLK is $360.  The MSRP for the WHT is $400.

Looks, Feel, and Miscellaneous

One of the things that I like best about the Kiyoshi series is that each shaft has a very distinct feel. The purple Kiyoshi kicks like mule with a black belt.  Of all the shafts I’ve tested, I can’t remember one with this much pop; it’s almost enough to make you feel bad for the golf ball.  Where the purple Kiyoshi is a pure mid-kick point shaft, the white has a mid-high kick point and thus a little less snap.  The black Kiyoshi has the highest kick point which gives it the least amount of “kick feel.”

A “side effect” of these three very distinct feels is that the difference between stiff and X (04 and 05, in Oban terms) can be very big or very small.  In the purple, the difference is very pronounced – the 04 has the big kick, the 05 is much smaller.  In the white, the difference is noticeable but not enormous.  The difference between stiff and X in the black Kiyoshi is only slightly noticeable.

Just as the feel of the Kiyoshi varies greatly from one model to the next, so do the looks.  The graphics are identical in all colors: gold bands wrapping the “Oban” name and angry-looking faces above the branding.  The colors, however, are what give the shafts their personality.  The white is good looking, very trendy.  The black is refreshingly black (not so many black shafts these days…I’ll call that the Fowler Effect).  And the purple may be the single best color since Ozik’s candy lime. It’s pure awesome.  It’s one of a handful of shafts I want to play simply because it looks great.

And a final bit of nonsense: Kiyoshi is a great name because it’s fun to yell after you smash a drive.  Try it.  “KIYOSHI!!!”  Wasn’t that fun?

Oban Kiyoshi (7)
Oban Kiyoshi (13)
Oban Kiyoshi (14)

Performance

For the Performance testing, I hit each of the shafts in a Callaway RAZR Fit Extreme 10.5 head on a FlightScope X2 launch monitor.  I hit 20 “good” shots with each shaft, changing frequently so that fatigue was not an issue, nor did I get grooved with one shaft to the detriment of fairness.  All shafts were gripped with PURE Grips.

Testing was done at Golf Nation in Palatine, IL, one of the best indoor golf facilities in the country.

*NOTE: Testing has moved back inside for the winter, and our FlightScope seems to be producing somewhat different numbers indoors compared to outdoors.  To greater or lesser extents, ball speed, club head speed, and spin are all coming in lower than they did outdoors, hence the carry number is smaller.  That said, it’s still an apples-to-apples comparison, so no attempt has been made to “normalize” the numbers: we’re publishing the numbers straight off the FlightScope, as always.

DATA

oban kiyoshi purple

oban kiyoshi black

oban kiyoshi white

ANALYSIS

When I first looked at the final Dispersion display, I did a double-take.  I could not believe that three shafts that felt so unique could produce results that were so similar.  From the “Dispersion” to “Launch Angle” to “Spin”, the differences, for me, were not huge.  Personally, I like the idea that I can pick my favorite feel and get similar, excellent performance no matter what.

Please keep in mind when viewing these results that they are unique to me on the day of the testing.  Others might find very large differences between the different models.  As we always say, fitting is key.

Conclusion

While the lack of “retail” availability might be a turn off to some, we at MyGolfSpy applaud Oban for their commitment to real custom fitting and for making a series of shafts with exceptional performance.  And for the “Try-Buy-Sell-Repeat” crowd, there’s always eBay.

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