Survey – Your Life As a Golfer

Survey – Your Life As a Golfer

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With all this doom and gloom hovering over the industry we figured it’s probably important to better understand how exactly it is that you (actual golfers) came to play this game. If we can understand what sucked the current generation of golfers into the madness that is golf, maybe we can figure out a way to lure the next generation to the game as well (at least the guys who don’t take up lacrosse).

We also wonder what, if any, correlations exist between the origins of your life as a golfer (when you started, where you started, and how often you play) and the equipment that’s in your bag today. Was your equipment destiny predetermined?

We’d sure like to find out.

The Enticement (Giveaway)

This survey is a bit longer than our previous ones (just a few more questions) so to entice you to take a whole 5 minutes out of your day to get through it, we’re going to randomly select one lucky respondent to receive a really cool prize package from the MyGolfSpy Vault. Technically we don’t actually have a vault, but rest assured, somebody is going to get something VERY cool.

Take the Survey Now

Survey Link for Mobile Users: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YouAsAGolfer

When the Results Are Tallied. . .

We think there is some incredibly interesting information to be gleaned from this survey. We’re definitely looking forward to sharing the results with all of you. Be sure to come back to find out what we learn.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Community Review – TaylorMade Spider SI Putter

Community Review – TaylorMade Spider SI Putter

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Written By: Will Dron

At MyGolfSpy we’re known for our data-driven Most Wanted club reviews. We are, afterall, #Datacratic. What you may not know is that our Community Members are also given the opportunity to test new equipment as well. When a good opportunity crosses our desks, we select 3 or more MyGolfSpy forum members in good standing to take part in our community review process.

Each golfer who is selected is asked to write a complete review of the product being tested. Those individual reviews are posted in the forum with each tester and author making himself available to answer any questions from our other forum members.

Our member reviews from MarcKilgore, Jmikecpa, The Artful Duffer, and Jaxbeachpackerfan have already been shared and can be found by clicking on each’s member to name to read their individual reviews. For my part, I tested the TaylorMade Spider Si along with our tester group and will include some research I’ve done on the club, comparisons to my current putter (original Ping Nome), and the findings from our member tester group.

We’ve taken all of feedback from our testers on the 38″ TaylorMade Spider Si Counterbalanced Putter and consolidated it here in this community review.

If you’d like the opportunity to take part in a future community review, Join the MyGolfSpy forum, contribute, and see for yourself why it’s different here.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_Head_and_Cover2

A look at forgiveness

One of the things I set out to find out was what do the MOI values TaylorMade espouses mean. For reference, TaylorMade boasts the Spider Si has a MOI of 6000+ and the Daddy Long Legs a MOI of 8500+. So I went to Google and look it up and found a couple of interesting articles:

Moment of Inertia: What is It?
Moment of Inertia (MOI)

“Moment of inertia or in our case more correctly referred to as rotational inertia is simply an object’s (clubhead) resistance to turning or rotating when acted on by some outside force (ball).” – Ralph Maltby

I’ll only briefly mention the mathematical aspects in this paragraph since I can already imagine many of you just not giving a damn.

The formula for MOI is mass times distance from the center of gravity squared. There, done with the math part.

One thing mentioned in the one-putts article that has been echoed by TaylorMade in the past is that almost no one can tell the difference of a difference in 1000 MOI. So while mathematically speaking, there is some difference between the Spider Si (MOI 6000+) and the Daddy Long Legs (MOI 8500+) and likewise between a blade style putter and the Spider Si, in practice the gap between the numbers isn’t nearly as drastic as it might seem. They do offer a point of reference, which can be helpful for giving the golfer a better sense of how much MOI he prefers in a putter.

That said, our testers (and I agree with them) found the forgiveness of the Spider Si to be fantastic. Compared to the Ping Nome, there was little difference, but that is a plus for the Spider Si, since I found the original Nome to be incredibly forgiving.

One difference between the two putters, however, is that the Nome has a very distinctive clink sound when struck off the center of the face, whereas the Spider Si more-or-less feels the same unless you miss significantly away from the center of the face.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_Head_and_Cover3

Choking down a really long grip

The Spider Si has a head weight of 380g. Most putters on the market today have head weights of 330-370g. This is where the long grip and counter balancing comes in. The 125g grip they use has most of its mass in the back of the club to help mitigate the swingweight of such a heavy head.

…which led to my next question, what is the swingweight of this putter?

Luckily, I have a scale for such questions. Unluckily, the swingweight of this putter is literally off the scale. The thing is, using this scale is something most five year olds would be capable of, so I know I didn’t screw it up, but to double check I took out my Ping Nome and it measured to around E6. This is reasonably top heavy, but at least it was on the scale. Now, the real issue is you need to choke down on the Spider Si, so getting a functional swingweight is near impossible with the simple equipment I have since it really needs to be measured at the spot of your hands.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_Grip_Scale

Even without a tool to measure swingweight though, a simple waggle test will tell you the swingweight of this putter is significantly higher than most traditional putters. For comparison, after adjusting to the Spider Si, the Nome with its E6 swingweight felt very light. This exaggerated swingweight makes the counterbalanced club just feel incredibly stable.

A great deal is said about confidence while putting. Counterbalancing can give you the confidence that you won’t hit a push or pull as often.

One important thing we found about counterbalanced putters is there is an adjustment period, due in part to the drastic difference in swingweight. Many of our testers, who spent over 4 weeks with the putter, echoed this in their reviews. For me personally, I was ready to toss out the putter after the first few rounds. I was putting poorly and looked at every part of this putter as a reason why I was putting so badly. I even went back to the Nome and, oddly enough, continued to putt badly. I did work my way through it though and in the last weeks of the review process, had some of the best putting rounds of my life. While there is an adjustment period, it can be worth the effort.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_Shaft

On a more negative side of counterbalanced putters, our tester group also found one very important problem: the grip will occasionally catch bellies and jackets. Since the putter is choked down, a portion of the grip sticks out past your hands. I’m a pretty skinny guy, but whenever I wore a jacket I had to be especially conscious of this overhang. We tested the 38″ model, so it’s likely the issue would be mitigated simply by selecting the 35″ model.

“This review showed how important it is to get properly fitted for a putter. I am 5’ 10”, cursed with short legs, long torso, and a growing waistline. The 38” length was 1” too long for me to use without having to stand more upright, suck in my gut, or step back a few inches from the ball, which made it very difficult to properly align longer putts.” – MarcKilgore, MGS Community Member

The other aspect of choking down on a putter that I noticed was until you found the right spot on the grip, consistency suffered. This is why I think I struggled the first two weeks with this putter, until I had a set spot on the grip (using the Spider icon as a guide), I was always in a slightly different setup. However, once I was able to adjust and consciously remember to grip it in the same place each time, my putting improved dramatically. A future improvement manufacturers could make is to add horizontal stripes on the grip to help make it easier to find your ideal grip spot every time.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_ChokeDown

PureRoll Insert

The final bit of technology I looked into was the PureRoll insert. TaylorMade has put all their eggs in the basket when it comes to this insert. Unfortunately, much of the manufacturing process is kept as TaylorMade’s secret sauce, but what I can tell you is the inserts are made using a customized machine that can create grooves the size of a fraction of a hair’s width and there are many of these micro grooves in the insert.

From a testing perspective, the face of the putter is primarily affects how the putter feels, but if you buy into TaylorMade’s story, then it also affects how well the ball rolls, which we tested as a measurement of accuracy. Both will be addressed in the next two sections.

“Clean and crisp. It’s definitely and eye catching design and the colors fit together nicely … There’s a muted little click and away goes the ball. I wish the feel was just a fraction harder for a little more feedback as I wonder if some of my distance control issues on the long putts could be to to everything feeling so solid.” – The Artful Duffer, MGS Community Member

There is, however, one complaint several of us had of the insert, and that’s sand can get stuck inside the grooves. Personally, I found this to be almost a non-issue, but if you don’t carry a brush to clean your irons, you may want to do so.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_Head2

Performance Notes

The three main areas our testers were asked to focus on were accuracy, distance control, and forgiveness. Each was evaluated separately for putts greater than 20 feet, between 5 and 20 feet, and less than 5 feet.

Three of our testers rated accuracy from all distances as very good to excellent and the final tester rated it as fair. Personally, I felt like the ball was on a rail after being hit. One tester said it was comparable to the Odyssey 2 ball. I would rate it marginally better than the Ping Nome, but by no means a clear-cut winner.

“I tend to try and hit shorter putts from six feet and in firmly and at the back of the cup Philly Mick style (and yes I have four jacked a few holes from inside of 6 feet). The same characteristics that made this putter maddening on mid range putts made it a superstar from shorter ranges. The ball holds its line well and I seemed to make anything I looked at from short range.” – Jmikecpa, MGS Community Member

Distance control was a bit different. I was with most of the testers. We really struggled with distance control for a while and this was the biggest area that required adjustment, which makes sense since the putter feels so different from most putters out there. After the adjustment period, several of us rated distance control as excellent. One tester rated distance control as excellent right off the bat and another tester said he was still working on it by the end of the 4 week review cycle.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_Head_Ball

Finally, forgiveness rating from every tester was consistently excellent. Off center hits more or less went the same distance as center hits. Ralph Maltby mentioned in his testing that even plus one cappers use a 5/16” to 3/8” circular area of the clubface, so no complaints here.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_Grass

Subjective Notes

In this section, testers looked at the looks, sound and feel, and likelihood of purchase of the Spider Si.

Two of our testers loved the looks of the putter and three of them, including myself, felt it was good, but nothing outstanding. One major complaint we found though is it is painfully obvious when the paint chips. This is true of nearly any of TaylorMade’s white putters. My son uses the Spider Blade, and typical of a 10 year old, it looks very much like it was tossed out of a car and then chewed on by a rabid animal.

If  the durability of the finish is a major concern for you, we might have a deal-breaker where the Spider Si is concerned.

I was honestly shocked by how much our tester group liked the sound and feel of the putter. For me it was actually a significant adjustment as the Spider Si is much more muted than I was used to. I’m not one to really care about sound and feel, but it was a noticeable change. Our tester group all rated sound and feel as excellent though: different, but very good.

“The alignment lines are almost exactly ball width extending back an inch and a half from the putter face.  But then, there are also the wings, and the slight flange at the end of the wings, which end with a gap between the two wings also almost exactly a ball width apart.  Visually, this creates an alignment channel extending 3+ inches behind the putterface, but without any mass for the last portion of the channel.  This provides additional alignment aid to me without the clunky look or feel it would have if it were solid the entire distance.” – Jaxbeachpackerfan, MGS Community Member

The grip received high marks as well as soft and comfortable to use, with the exception of being too long for at least one of our testers, and with another tester still deciding whether it was too long for him or not.

Likelihood of purchase received much harsher scores from our tester group though, but that’s mainly because they’re a bunch of cheapskates several of them like buying models one seasoned removed. While the scores were low, several of them said the numbers were still fairly high compared to other recently released putters. Only one tester said he would not buy this putter, but again that was largely due to the 38″ test length being too long for his frame. Personally, if I were looking to buy a putter the Spider Si would be at the top of my list of putters to check out.

TaylorMade_SpiderSi_BallScoop

Conclusion

I’m assuming several of you really did not read everything above this section, so I’ll repeat myself a bit. The real takeaway from our review is many of us felt counterbalancing works, but takes time to adjust. Likewise for TaylorMade’s PureRoll insert. The high MOI of the Spider Si gives more than enough forgiveness and it feels incredibly stable through the putt. It wasn’t for everyone, but a lot of this had to do with the fit of the club. TaylorMade recommends people who putt 34” clubs can use either the 35” or 38” models, but it was the guys who used 34” putters previously that had the most complaints with the 38” model we received. Fitting, as always, is very important and it should be added that it is very easy to custom order any putter to your preferred length.

I should also mention the putter has a scoop! Mallet users on the practice green know how nice it is to not bend down every other minute like a Hooter’s waitress to pick up a ball. My back is OK with me spending time on the practice putting once again.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Shaft Review – The Hiskei Wave

Shaft Review – The Hiskei Wave

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Written By: Tony Covey

Ride the Wave to Greater Distance

Shameful puns aside, let this serve as your introduction to one of the more interesting shaft products that has come our way in…well…maybe ever.

It’s called the Wave. It’s from Hiskei golf which, as you all are certainly aware, is a well-known Japanese component brand rapidly gaining popularity in the US.

What’s that? You’ve never heard of Hiskei?

Ok…all cards on the table, no BS, I had actually never heard of Hiskei either until John Muir of clubmaker-online.com reached out to see if we’d be interested in taking a look at a couple of Hiskei products.

The most compelling of those products is unquestionably the Hiskei Wave shaft. To call it unconventional would be a bit of an understatement.

The Wave actually gets its name from undulating rippled wave pattern that starts about 10” from the tip and roughly 7” back towards the tip. For lack of a better description, it looks almost as if the shaft was left too close to a fire, melted and became slightly deformed.

So what’s the deal with those waves?

“The Hiskei Wave shaft has multiple kick points about 10″ from the tip of the shaft. Below the wave section, towards the tip, the Wave design offers a more stable tip for control and stability. The tip flexes less than tradition shafts”.

Above the tip section, the Wave design minimizes vibration so shock is relieved.

You get a smooth feel/feedback, great for golfers suffering from arthritis.At the Wave section (about 7″) the shaft flexes more and the shaft accelerates for increased distance.”

Hiskei Wave-7

Performance

We had a couple of our more consistent swingers put the Hiskei Wave to the test. The Wave (58g, stiff flex) was outfitted with a TaylorMade tip and tested side by side with our control shaft in a 9.5° TaylorMade SLDR head. Both loft and SLDR weight placement were set to the standard/neutral position.

hiskei-wave-perf2

Watching the numbers come up on the launch monitor swing after swing, we found ourselves slightly confused.

“Is this really happening?” – MGS Testers in response to Hiskei Wave Launch Monitor Numbers

Compared to our reference shaft, the Hiskei Wave produced an average ball speed that was 4.79 MPH faster than our reference shaft, and an average distance increase of 6.31 yards.

Also noteworthy is that that the wave reduced the distance from the target line by 2.77 yards.

Given what we were told about the Hiskei Wave’s performance characteristics, we weren’t surprised to see it launch a bit higher and spin a bit more than our reference shaft.

Looking at the numbers;  if we added loft of the head with the reference shaft such that it produced roughly the same launch angle as the Wave, the spin numbers would likely level out as well.

The point is that the Hiskei Wave isn’t inherently a high spin shaft on a comparative basis, but rather a shaft that for which there is a likely a direct correlation between that higher spin and the higher launch angle.

Simply put, we were more than pleasantly surprised by the performance of this strange looking, $125 shaft from a company we had basically never heard of.

Hiskei Wave-9

Fitting Limitations

The Wave is not currently available in an X-flex, and weight maxes out at 58 grams which obviously isn’t going to work for guys who generally fit better into heavier and stiffer shaft.

And while perhaps it shouldn’t, that talk about arthritis probably isn’t going to help sell the wave shaft to those of us who fancy ourselves too manly for anything that can potentially reduce fatigue.

Feel

While I wouldn’t classify the Hiskei Wave as whippy (based on stiff flex), it may play a bit too soft for those who prefer a stout shaft. It offers a relatively smooth kick, and you will definitely notice the added pop on a well-struck ball.

In general, there isn’t much to distinguish the feel of the Hiskei Wave from most other mid-mid offerings. Given the unique design that’s probably not a bad thing, as you can make use of whatever benefits the wave offers for your particular swing, without having to concern yourself with any wonky feedback.

Hiskei Wave-5

Graphics

Initially I wasn’t a big fan of the visual presentation offered by the  Hiskei Wave, but it has grown on me just a bit.

The plain silver that runs from the tip to the mid-section is fine and actually transitions well to the polished graphite finish on the TaylorMade SLDR. I suspect it would blend well with other silver accented heads like the Wilson FG Tour M3, PING i25, TaylorMade SLDR S, Tour Edge XCG7, and even a Callaway X2 Hot.

The maroon with gold accents at the butt end of the shaft reminds me a bit of those silly tribal tattoos that were all the rage a few years ago. It’s not bad, although not as subtle as I like, but for those who concern themselves with matching shaft to driver the Hiskei wave might look out of place in something like a blue or orange Cobra BiO CELL.

While the graphical design isn’t dissimilar from the dragon design found on Mizuno’s Fujikura Orochi shafts (which I don’t love on the orange background either), it strikes me as overly-elaborate for elaborate’s sake, but given the Japanese market’s fondness for bling, I get it.

Given the performance, it’s not a deal-breaker, but I’d certainly prefer something a bit cleaner.

Hiskei Wave-8

Final Thoughts

Making shaft recommendations is tricky business. With all that makes us different (swing speed, tempo, transition, angle of attack, etc., etc., etc.), what works for one generally isn’t going to work for all.

That said, for those looking for a solid mid-high launching shaft with what should prove to be mid spin, the Hiskei Wave is an interesting proposition.

At $125 it’s a relative bargain compared to a good bit of what’s available in the aftermarket, and the ball speed gains we saw are certainly compelling.

For more information, or to order the Hiskei Wave, contact John Muir at clubmaker-online.com.

Hiskei Wave-10
Hiskei Wave-1
Hiskei Wave-3

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Marriott Golf Kicks-Off 3rd Annual “Fairways-Fore-FREEdom” Military Golf Program

Marriott Golf Kicks-Off 3rd Annual “Fairways-Fore-FREEdom” Military Golf Program
Marriott Golf begins its third annual “Fairways-Fore-FREEdom” military golf program on Memorial Day,  Monday, May 26, 2014. The program offers active, reserve and retired military personnel discount golf from Memorial…

Golf Blogger

Callaway Wants to Give You $16,253

Callaway Wants to Give You $16,253

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Written By: Tony Covey

In case you missed it, yesterday Callaway announced what they’re calling THE  BIG BIG BERTHA PAYDAY contest. The bold caps were their idea. It’s so huge that you can’t simply talk about it, it needs to be screamed:

THE BIG BIG BERTHA PAYDAY!

I’ll be honest, I’m less on-board with Callaway’s version of the equipment hype machine than others in my particular sphere of the media, and as a general rule I don’t believe that big OEM contests warrant 10% of the hype that the golf companies try and throw behind them, but in this particular case, I’m riding the fence…actually, I think I just crossed it.

Somebody could win 1.5 Million (that’s probably what we should have used the giant screaming font on). And yes…I know that I used a much smaller number in the headline, but I’ve got a rep (for being sometimes humorous, often cynical, and occasionally a total douchebag) that I need to live up to, so I led with the lowball number.

Shame on me.

Here’s how this thing works:

:: Demo a Big Bertha Driver at participating retailer (or don’t, more on that in a bit).

:: Go to the Sweepstakes Website, type in your code, your participating retailer, and some personal info…

and #BOOM you’re entered to win Phil Mickelson’s US Open Paycheck.

Not his actual paycheck. It looks like you get one of those giant checks from Callaway. The important thing is that the numbers are the same.

In case I haven’t been clear with this (and I admit, I probably haven’t), for one “Callaway Fan” the company will match Phil’s US Open Paycheck. You win what Phil wins.

A 2nd place winner receives a Phil Mickelson autographed Callaway Driver. According to the rules, it’s a non-specific driver of Callaway’s choosing, so let’s hope for the runner-up’s sake they don’t have any leftover Diablos they need to unload.

For those who already have demoed a Big Bertha and don’t care to do it again, or for those who don’t give a damn and just want a shot at a buttload of money, Callaway has provided a workaround:

To participate in the Sweepstakes without visiting a participating retail location and demoing The New Callaway Big Bertha Driver: During the Sweepstakes Period, visit www.bigberthapayday.com (“Website”), provide the Entry Information requested and enter the Code BIGBERTHA2014. For the name of participating retailer location you visited select “Other” from the pull-down menu and click “Submit” to receive one (1) entry into the Sweepstakes (“Alternate Entry”).

phil-win

But What If Phil Misses the Cut?

Given how Phil has played recently, there’s a chance that the Second Place prize could be worth more than the Grand/First Prize. Callaway has accounted for that. In the unfortunate event that Phil does miss the cut  (dude has made 21 of 23 US Open cuts so it probably won’t happen) Callaway will pay out what the last place paid finisher gets, which as it happens is $16,253.

Ta-da…headline.

If you look at the whole of Phil’s body of work over his 21 US Open made cuts, his average finish is 26. If he matches that, the winner is looking at something in the very general ballpark of $75,000.  That’s pretty sweet. Consider Phil’s 10 Top-10s, 8 Top-5s, and 6 runner up finishes, and Callaway’s winner could be in for a huge payday (1.5 Million if Phil wins).

Cynical as I may be, friends, that’s one hell of a golf contest.

No Better Time

For Callaway, the US Open, and by extension, this contest, couldn’t come at a better time. Despite strong Q1 results, reliable sources are telling us that Callaway sales are trending the wrong way right now, and there is some uneasiness within the company. The Apex iron has remained a strong performer, but after a strong initial launch sales of Bertha drivers have leveled a bit, and in some markets big box numbers across the board aren’t what they’d like them to be.

That last bit is almost certainly true for everyone given the long winter, and of course the doom and gloom surrounding the decline of the game in general, rounds, lost, etc. Golf, and by extension golf equipment is a tough business for everyone right now, but Callaway is still trying to claw its way out of the hole it dug for itself over the last decade, and that leaves them more vulnerable than others to further overall declines in the market.

As you may have noticed, TaylorMade has its foot on the accelerator again (the same is usually true of the old lady who drives through the convenience store window, so….). Their free fairway with JetSpeed driver promo carried them until they could queue up the Mini Driver and the rest of the new SLDR S. The SLDR irons, I believe, are going to be a mammoth success, and the likelihood is that all of it will help TaylorMade reclaim market share from Callaway.

612x612-big-bertha-payday-promo

A Tough Spot

All of it puts Callaway in a bit of a tough spot. Sure, they slashed prices (and aggressively so) on X2 Hot, but in general, the best way to fight new product is with new product. It’s a reasonable assumption that Callaway has something it could release tomorrow, but they’re barely 3 months deep with most of their product, and the 6 month old stuff (Apex) is the strength of the lineup right now. Basically, they’re not likely to pull a TaylorMade just yet, which means they had to come up with an outside of the box way to  jump start the buzz engine, and this certainly qualifies.

#BerthaPayday Translates Well

One of the things I’ve questioned about the new Callaway model is how well the online stuff (full-on Twitter assault, Callaway Media productions, etc.) will translate to the offline world. Sure, I get the sphere of influence, word of mouth thing, but I’m not convinced that you can hashtag your way to the top of the golf industry.

The chance to win 1.5 million…that translates. Check out the TV spot.

Dont’ Worry, They’re Covered

One of the things that initial concerned me is the prospect that Callaway might have to payout 1.5 million bucks at a time when nobody in the industry really wants to be giving away 1.5 million bucks. Good news for shareholders, right?

The last thing you’d want is a situation where it’s arguably in Callaway’s best financial interest for Phil to miss the cut (not that it’s the nature of the Callaway guys I know to want for such things anyway). Fortunately there is insurance for exactly this sort of thing.

I was able to confirm that Callaway has purchased insurance against a strong showing by Phil. Basically what that means is that the money is already spent (based on some quick digging, the policy likely cost Callaway something in the low six-figure range), and that Team Callaway and the rest of us can sit back, relax, and hope it goes well for Phil (and the guy whose name gets pulled out of the hat when this is over).

If Phil wins the US Open, it will be huge for Callaway (it would have been huge anyway, but we’re talking bring-back-the-screaming-font huge). You can bet stories will be written about the 1.5 million (I bet a quarter million gets plenty of coverage too) Callaway gave to one of its fans, and the impact will likely trickle through the rest of the golf season. Even if Phil doesn’t get TV time on Sunday, the value of the build up will likely exceed Callaway’s costs, and that alone is a win at a time when nobody in the golf industry is winning much of anything.

For what it’s worth, the last time Callaway ran a promotion tied to Phil Mickelson’s performance in a Major, the dude won The Masters, and Callaway reimbursed fans for 2000 drivers.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Here’s Why You Love Golf

Here’s Why You Love Golf

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Written By: Tony Covey

A few weeks ago I asked you guys to tell me why you love golf…and thank you very much, you did.

And so that’s what I’m talking about today; the love of golf.

But before I get to that, there’s something that needs to be said – even if I don’t like saying it.

There a chance that the brain trust over at HackGolf is right.

I feel dirty, or at least lightly soiled.

Tabling any arguments about whether or not golf actually needs to be grown for a bit; the probability is that if golf is actually going to be grown, it’s going to have to be innovated, and quite frankly, dumbed…or at least watered down a bit.

I don’t like it – and I hope we eventually come up with something better than a 15” cup (credit for starting somewhere, I suppose), but the truth is that courses are hurting.

I’ll concede that I generally like my courses uncrowded, but they’ll be useless when they’re closed.

keep-calm-and-love-golf

Let’s be honest with ourselves, in the digital, iwhatever world we live in, where kids grow up playing virtual everything, and where even baseball is losing numbers to lacrosse (is there anything more insidious than lacrosse?), how can we reasonably expect to cultivate an expensive game that takes twice as long and moves at half the pace of nearly anything else we could spend our precious time doing?

Golf is a board game trying to compete to compete with Xbox One.

Golf, or at least key aspects of golf need to be adapted to better fit in our zero-focus, top 5 list, sound bite society.

That’s, sadly, is what I’m afraid might be true.

It’s not what I want to be true.

That’s likely a delusion, but at least I can say it’s my delusion.

Embracing What’s Right

What I find most fascinating is that time and time again, you guys basically said the same things. The things you love about golf, are, ironically enough, at the top of the list of things that the most recent incarnation of the grow golf moment says we need to change.

Could it be that what golfers love is what non-golfers hate…or at least what golfers think non-golfers hate?

When I looked through your responses to my simple Why Do You Love Golf query, I found that the overwhelming majority of your answers touched on 3 central themes.

The Challenge

golf-is-hard

Golf is too hard

We hear that one all the time. The difficulty of the game is seen as an obstacle. It’s the reason for the 15” cup. And yet, despite the impossibility of it all, that difficulty is one of many reasons why you embrace the game.

Here’s what you had to say:

My love of golf lies in the impossibility of beating the game. I love that it’s difficult, and I enjoy pushing myself to find ways to get as good as I can because the fact that I can even manipulate that small of a ball to that small of a target from that far away blows my mind a little bit every time I think about it – Paul S.

We play for one great shot.

Golf is about hope! You can hit 85 bad shots, get up to the 18th hole and then bomb your driver straight down the fairway 280 yards! That one shot reaffirms you are capable of greatness. – Mike

Hell yes, golf is hard, and you’re totally cool with that.

I love golf because it seems simple on the surface, but is too difficult to master. It is hard and I like it. Easy is boring but playing great is endlessly enjoyable. – Kenneth J

Would it be so wrong to simply accept that golf is a challenging and difficult game, and that alone means it isn’t for everyone?

Continuing with the video game metaphors; Rockstar Games isn’t trying to recode Grand Theft Auto for people who don’t like gratuitous violence and dead hookers.

Trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for chronic failure.

Time Spent with Family & Friends

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Yes…I really just segued from dead hookers to a bit about spending quality time with family.

How are we not better selling this amazing aspect of golf (family, not dead hookers)? There isn’t another sport short of bowling that allows generations of family members to play alongside, and if you so desire, compete against one another.

How many grandfather-daughter-son soccer leagues are there?

How many people compete against their grandfathers in baseball? Not even the Griffeys.

How many moms play lacrosse with their dads?

Golf can be a family sport like none other. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Why can’t we better leverage that to grow the game?

3 Generations playing together

I play with my grandparents, my dad, and me, it is amazing. It does not matter who you are, or what athletic ability you have, anybody can play golf. – Jpcgolf

A wife and daughter too

There is only one thing in my life that my daughter, my dad, my wife and my closest friends all enjoy. Golf. It, for me, is spending time with my dad, who introduced me to the game, when I don’t get to very often, and taking the experience and now passing it on to my daughter. My grandfather taught my dad, my dad me, and now I get to pass that legacy on. – Kenneth J

And Friends

I love golf for the time it allows me to spend with my son and my close friends. There is nothing better than enjoying a round of golf with close friends and family, the fun and competitiveness from all in the group is fantastic. – RG

Nearly everyone talks about wanting to spend more time with family. Golf affords us an opportunity like none other to do just that. Golf can take a long time to play. If you’re with the right people, that’s hardly a bad thing.

Unwinding with Nature

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That’s probably a bit of a catch-all blanket phrase, but the point is that many of you mentioned that you love golf because it allows you to get outside, clear your head, commune  with nature…that sort of thing.

A couple Thursdays ago I teed off under what you’d probably call dreary conditions. It was cloudy and drizzling. Just short of the 12th green is one of only two water hazards on the course. The rain had stopped, the sky had cleared, and as the fog slowly lifted, I was paused by a gentle chorus of frogs and bugs.

Not to get all sandals and granola on you, but it was relaxing, soothing even. Good luck having a similar experience inside a bowling alley, watching lacrosse, or playing with your damn iPad.

Golf – it’s better than going to the mall.

When the day light has faded and the golf course staff has left for the day, the feeling you have walking off the course will make you realize what’s so great about golf. – TXGolfJunkie
I love walking 18 holes on a warm slightly breezy day enjoying the weather, the beauty of the course, the sky and the GOLF! – RG

The Full Marketing Pitch

Several of you touched on the Challenge, family/friends, and the great outdoors, but none did it better it better than this guy. If this isn’t the marketing pitch for golf, I’m not sure what is.

It sure beats the hell out of “Golf – Now with a bigger cup”.

A lot of people complain about not having enough time to play golf, that 4 hours is too long. I work a 9-5 job and I play because it takes 4-5 hours to play; it’s a privilege to have that much time outdoors with friends playing a sport that involves challenges and patience. It’s so hard to force yourself to unplug and relax in our current 24/7 easy access climate, golf gives me an outlet to lose myself in sport, outdoors and witty banter with my pals. That’s why I look forward to my Sunday afternoon game and that’s why I love golf. – Marko

Seriously…This Could Work, Right?

Are we over-thinking this whole growing golf thing? Maybe the message so far has been wrong. Does the game really need to be easier? Do we really need to play it faster?

Sure, there’s some work to be done, and course managers are going to need to get onboard with the big picture, but how hard could it be to sell people on an amazing and challenging game that presents a the rarest of opportunity for multiple generations of a family to spend 4.5 hours together, outside, and unplugged?

Never mind…don’t answer that.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

PING Ketsch – Designing and Manufacturing 2014?s Most Wanted Mallet Putter

PING Ketsch – Designing and Manufacturing 2014?s Most Wanted Mallet Putter

Post image for PING Ketsch – Designing and Manufacturing 2014′s Most Wanted Mallet Putter

(by Dave Wolfe and Tim Halberg)

Based upon your comments, I would say that many of you really enjoyed reading about our visit to PING HQ. If you missed those articles, you can find Part 1, HERE, and Part 2, HERE.

It was fun for me to take you all along as we toured the expansive aspects of the PING facility. You may find this hard to believe, but I actually skipped over part of our visit.

That’s right, there was more!

I wanted to hold a little something back for later. You know, like that last piece of pie that you stashed behind the pickle jar. Mmmm pie.

What is it that I kept from you? What piece of PING equipment deserves that hidden-pie treatment? Of course it’s the 2014 Most Wanted Mallet, the PING Ketsch.

 

Un-Ketsch-able

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Un-Ketsch-able. That’s what the PING Ketsch was in the mallet competition. It just pulled away from the competition. It seemed like our testers just couldn’t miss from the 5-foot mark. OK, they did miss two out of fifty putts. For those of you who have been out of school for a while, that comes out to 96%, earning the Ketsch a best-in-class A.

What I have for you today is a little more information about the design of the Ketsch, and also some great shots of how the Ketsch is made, courtesy of Golfspy Tim.

 

S-Ketsching the Design

Engineering and design seems the natural place to start a Ketsch discussion, as that is how PING develops all of its new products. The Ketsch was no exception. PING engineers did not set out to build this putter, but rather studied the science of putting, adding to their knowledge environment, then subsequently creating the Ketsch from their findings.

The foundation for the Ketsch really came from two separate studies; one about face impact patterns, and a second about alignment.

 

Face Impact Studies

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PING engineers began their research process by exploring the putter face impact pattern in relation to player handicap. As I mentioned in the visit article, one of the cool things about working at PING is that you can choose to be a club tester a couple of times a week. For the engineers, this represents a whole bunch of data to work with.

Anyway, the study in many ways was similar to how impact position on a driver face impacts ball speed off the tee. This time though, it was ball speed off the putter face.

It is from this data that the PING engineers developed their TR groove system.

The TR grooves normalize ball speed across the face of the putter by reducing center-strike ball speed, and increasing ball speed on off-center hits. PING is not the first company to pursue this design idea, but I believe that others have used inserts rather than grooves to achieve the result.

A PING engineer explained to us that the TR grooves make the putter perform like it has a higher MOI, though this is more apparent in the Anser-like heads as opposed to the already-high-MOI mallets.

Basically, this allowed PING engineers to change the inertia of the head without changing the shape of the head. This is key, as many of those head shapes have proven to be quite successful (re. PING gold putter room).

 

Alignment Study

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Next, PING engineers returned to their tester pool, this time exploring the effect of different putter design elements on accuracy.

Their hope, in studying the head shape, lines, dots, and so on, was not just to develop one putter, but rather to generate knowledge that could be used in the development of all future putters. It’s knowledge first, then products at PING.

PING engineers determined three components that improved putter alignment/accuracy.

  1. A line going from the back to the front of the putter.
  2. A curve from the back to the front of the putter.
  3. Ball-width visuals (lines) on the top.

 

If you take the knowledge that led them to the TR Grooves, and combine it with the knowledge from the alignment study, you can see where the Ketsch design came from. Other PING putters created from this knowledge base include the PING Nome TR (tied for 2nd Most Wanted) and the Scottsdale TR Anser T (currently competing in the Most Wanted Blade competition). So far, the PING engineers are 2 for 3 with this product pool in our putter competitions. I too am curious how the Anser T will score.

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That gives you some insight into why the PING Ketsch was made. Let’s no take a little look at how the Ketsch is made.

Ketsching Fire

Back in Part 1 of our visit article, I mentioned how the shafts are glued into the Ketsch heads and then bent to meet the fit-for-stroke requirements. I bet that many of you assumed that like most of the other PING clubs, the Ketsch heads were manufactured elsewhere and then precisely assembled at PING. That may be the case with most of the other clubs, but not so with the Ketsch.

This is what the Ketsch looks like when it hits PING.

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What you have there, fearless reader, is a block of aluminum. It is from this billet, that the Ketsch is carved. Think of how a statue comes from a block of marble. The statue hides inside the marble block, the artist need only find it.

With the Ketsch, the engineers have developed the sculpture, and the milling machine was tasked to find it. Here is the progression from block to putter:

First, the top of the putter is milled.

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Next the bottom is milled.

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Note the difference between the sole plates on the standard and counterbalanced models. That knob is where the extra weight comes from.

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Finally, the Ketsch is ready for cosmetics and shafting.

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Milling Madness Bonus Round: The PING Tour Wedge

Tim and I also were able to watch Gorge grooves being milled into the faces of PING’s Tour wedges.

The wedges hit the shop groove-less, looking like this.

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Next, wedges are loaded three at a time into the milling machine.

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The Gorge™ grooves are then cut.

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The grooves are constantly checked for spec, making sure that they conform to USGA standards.

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After all is said and done, the PING Tour wedges and the Ketsch putters. Head out to the customers, and a whole bunch of metal scrap heads to the recyclers.

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Playing Ketsch

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After all the design work and manufacturing precision that went into the development of the PING Ketsch, it’s little wonder that it already has multiple wins on multiple tours this season, and more importantly, it won MyGolfSpy’s 2014 Most Wanted Mallet competition by a mile.

I know that we will see more gold-plated Ketsch putters in the PING vault in coming months, as well as in lots of recreational golfer’s bags. Maybe even yours…

Win A Custom PING Ketsch

How would you like to own your very own Most Wanted mallet? The PING Ketsch can be yours just by leaving a comment about the Ketsch in the comments below. In about a week, we will pick a random winner, get your custom specs, and then PING will send a new custom Ketsch your way. It’s just that simple. Good Luck and I’ll Ketsch you later.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

adidas Golf Wants to Press its Tiny Metal Nipples into Your Neck

adidas Golf Wants to Press its Tiny Metal Nipples into Your Neck

Post image for adidas Golf Wants to Press its Tiny Metal Nipples into Your Neck

Written By: Tony Covey

*The majority of this story originally appeared in the MyGolfSpy Forum

I know…it’s almost ridiculous to use apparel and story of the year in the same sentence, but for whatever its worth, my adidas guy is telling me that their new climachill polo is the adidas apparel story of 2014.

Please contain your excitement until the end.

As far as apparel stories go, this is HUGE (I’m right on the edge of using the blink tag). It’s so huge in fact that we changed the headline when we moved this story out of the forum.

Originally we went with: climachill – the adidas Golf STORY OF THE YEAR

I didn’t exactly go to journalism school, but I’m pretty sure leading with nipples is day 2 or day 3 kind of stuff.

This tiny metal nipples thing is unquestionably better, right? It grabs you, or at least it pokes you.

Either way I have your attention.

And so here I am, once again, trying to get you guys excited about the latest in a long line of $75 golf polos.

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So here goes:

Seriously…adidas has done something really cool with this new line of climachill polos…cooling dots, titanium fibers, something about mesh, and mostly solid style.

This shirt is seriously a polo worth reading about.

Excited yet? No? Really?

Fortunately, I’ve got the nipple thing to fall back on.

For years now apparel companies have been talking about their various magic fabrics. It’s lightweight, it wicks away moisture, it’s breathable…stop me if you’ve heard any of this before.

All of it? Right…moving on.

In many ways the new climachill isn’t any different. It is lightweight, the climachill fabric “acts like an open mesh”, which means it’s well ventilated, and designed to draw heat away from the body. As you might expect from the name, climachill is designed to keep you cool.

Get to the Part About the Nipples Already. . .

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The most prominent feature of the new climacool polo is a smattering of aluminum (A-loo-min-ee-um for my British friends – I don’t actually have any British friends, surprised?) cooling dots located inside the neck and collar area of the shirt.

The idea is that the dots stay cool and stay pressed against your skin, which in turn helps you keep cool. I actually wouldn’t know if they actually work because apparently I wore the shirt wrong the first time.

Yes…apparently you can wear a shirt wrong without putting it on backwards. I did the climachill equivalent of tucking a t-shirt into jeans and not wearing a belt, or worse yet, tucking a t-shirt into sweat pants.

These cooling dot things (metal nipples) require skin contact to do their thing (keep you cool), and so climachill isn’t supposed to be worn with an undershirt, which is what I did. And ha ha, adidas (and more specifically adidas Golf Director of Global Apparel Product Marketing, Davide “Superfluous E” – or Super E for short – Mattucci), it was an Under Armour t-shirt.

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So anyway, yup…apparently I’m the chode who somehow managed to wear a polo shirt wrong. Dumbest guy in golf. Don’t be like me…let your moobs jiggle freely, climachill demands it.

Assisting in the cooling equation are titanium fibers that are actually woven into the shirt to maximize the connection between you and the shirt. Titanium and cooling dots…in a shirt. Can’t say I’ve seen it before.

Of course, those of you who have purchased adidas apparel for other sports, might actually have seen the cooling dots before.

Historically adidas golf and adidas proper haven’t worked closely together (or at all). That’s finally changing, which means technologies developed by the parent company (like tiny cooling dots) are finally finding their way into golf apparel. We very well could be on the leading edge of an adidas apparel revolution, insomuch as apparel can be revolutionized. It’s probably going to be a very small revolution…like when Cosmo Kramer went on strike at H&H Bagels.

Of course, because this is golf, our version of the climachill polo runs $15-$20 more than the tennis equivalent. By all means feel free to buy and wear the tennis version instead. I sure as hell don’t care.

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Here’s the Deal

The adidas guys swear by this shirt…like genuinely believe they’ve created a technologically advanced polo. Like I said, I can’t yet comment on the effectiveness of the shirt, because I wore it wrong, and because it really wasn’t that hot anyway…and I had beer, so you know.

I do like the idea though, and come August when it’s 95° and humid as the sticky side of a mystery wrinkle on My 600-lb Life, I may find myself actually loving it. In the mean time I’ll just sit and wonder about where they might place the dots next. I’ve got some ideas.

adidas climachill-8

But What About. . .

A few readers have questioned whether the metal dots might warm up in direct sunlight and actually climaheat your back. adidas says that won’t be a problem.

Aluminum dissipates heat extremely well. Granted, it’s not quite as good as copper or silver, but there is a need to be cost effective (and we’re already at $80). It’s a bit unfortunate actually. A silver-nippled Tour version of the climachill would have fit in well with the PGA Tour Silver Out promotion that TaylorMake is running to celebrate the launch of the SLDR S line of metalwoods.

Talk about a missed cross-marketing opportunity.

Readers have also wondered if the surface area covered by the nipples dots is sufficient to actually provide any sort of really cooling effect. What adidas is saying is that while the dots do help to further cool what is one of the hottest spots on the human body when we sweat (the neck), the primary cooling effect comes from those titanium fibers woven throughout the proprietary adidas fabric.

Even adidas knows you lead with the nipples.

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climachill in real life

In nearly 4 years of having random apparel show up on my doorstep, the climachill is by far the lightest polo I’ve seen. It’s basically the shirt equivalent of the adizero golf shoe, and I suspect that plays a role in keeping you cool.

The cut is slightly athletic, and not nearly as boxy as most of what’s under the other A-brand under which TMaG produces apparel. climachill is basically true to size, and while not rigid, it doesn’t stretch quite as much as most of what’s in my closet.

I did have the chance to wear the climachill the right way the other day. It really wasn’t all that hot, and so I don’t yet have any sort of opinion on the cooling dots. The way I see it, even if the aluminum cooling dots and magic titanium fibers don’t climachill you any better than the other metal-less and nipple-less shirts out there, you’ve still got yourself a nice polo that, total outrage aside, isn’t much (or any) more expensive than any other premium golf polo offering.

The Requisite Tech Video

For those looking for a bit more info on the dots and the impact heat has on your golf game, Sports Science has produced a new segment where John Brenkus basically cooks Jason Day like a rotisserie chicken to show the effectiveness of climachill technology.

Another @itsthejor Media Kit

Seems kinda big...and delicate to be a polo. Oh wait...it's from itsthejor. It all makes sense now.

Seems kinda big…and delicate to be a polo. Oh wait…it’s from itsthejor. It all makes sense now.

adidas golf PR guy Jory Mendes is the current champ, and a legend (primarily in his own mind, but a legend nonetheless) when it comes to creating some of the most seriously badass, over-the-top media kits going right now. Already this season thejor can claim responsibility for the adizero one speaker box, the Ashworth Major Series Collection, and the adidas gripmore…hell, I don’t know what you call this. Check it out for yourself.

To promote climachill thejor and the rest of the adidas golf team decided to ship the polo in a matching mini fridge. Why? Because nothing says chill like a fridge, I guess.

While you don’t have to love adidas, I would hope most can appreciate a company where one guy says “hey, let’s ship a polo out to media…in a mini fridge”. And then another guy…or girl…doesn’t matter, is like “yeah, that’s a fabulous idea”, and then a 3rd guy…probably Mattucci is like “ok, but the fridge has to actually work…like actually cool stuff”.

Everybody nods in agreement, and this happens:

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Styles, Pricing, and Availability

adidas climachill polos are available now in 3 distinct styles: (left to right) climachill Stipe Block Shirt ($80), climachill Print Shirt ($80), climachill Chest Print Shirt ($75).

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)