Improve for Less Than The Cost of a New Driver

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There’s no question golf is a lot of fun but it’s equally true the game is even more fun when we score better. Aside from receiving the “Master of the Obvious” award this simple statement reveals a deeper truth.

Golfers know if they hit the ball better they could score lower but most don’t know very much about the golf swing. Oh, they think they do as in, “head down, left arm straight, swing slow” but not only are many common ideas wrong, they may actually work against having a good swing. An example is playing with clubs that don’t suit their ability which generally means shafts that are too stiff and club heads with a microscopic sweet sport meant for touring pros.

And, on top of everything else, golfers add the “sin” of not getting instruction from a PGA Professional so in effect they are making a difficult game even more difficult. Golf is frustrating enough so why make it more frustrating on purpose?

One advantage of modern instruction is the ready availability of computer swing analysis and club fitting software in use by professionals from national top 50 teachers to the instructors at the local municipal course.

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Kay McMahon

To get a feeling about the its use for teaching and club fitting, we asked two respected PGA Professionals their views. The first was David Moore, the Director of Golf at Walt Disney World’s three courses outside Orlando, Fla. and the second was Kay McMahon, a member of the LPGA Teaching & Club Pro Hall of Fame and a PGA Professional based in Lenox, Mass.

Kicking off the discussion we posed, does computer swing analysis help low handicap players more than higher handicap players?

McMahon responded: “Computer swing analysis could and should be a must for all players – new to low handicap players. The visual feedback is extraordinary for two reasons. First for the lower handicap player – the perception of what one is doing versus the reality check of what one is really doing is an eye opening experience. Perception and reality don’t always meet. Secondly, for all levels of players, the before and after pictures can be dramatic and remarkably shows and proves that changes are and can being made.”

Moore said, “Computer swing analysis will help all golfers with the exception of beginners. Beginners can look at a good golf swing to understand what they are to work on. Once a golfer understands the fundamentals of the golf swing, seeing their golf swing can only help them understand the golf swing AND with modern technology we can put up the perfect swing, against their golf swing to show the golfer where they should be. Listening to an instructor is good however when a person see’s their own swing it really helps to understand their golf swing much better and to see what they need to work.

Then we asked: Should average players (10+ handicap) wait until after a series of lessons before doing a club fitting?

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David Moore

Moore: “To proper fit a person for custom golf clubs the most important factor is to have the golf swing consistent. Ideally a golf swing that reproduces will give the fitter a better idea of what the golfer needs. Shaft flex and the lie of the golf club are the 2 most important factors in club fitting. If a golf club is not properly fit for lie and it is 1 degree off – it could vary the flight of the golf ball up to 10 yards. The more serious of a player you are custom fit golf clubs are the way to go. As for the higher handicap that feels they cannot improve or do not want to improve, can certainly get club fitted, however will be limited to what a fitter can do. Normally the higher handicaps tend to be hitting the wrong shaft flex. A fitter will be able to identify this and certainly help the golfer with the correct recommended shaft flex.

McMahon: “Clubfitting and lessons should go hand in hand. One of the best examples, would be if I gave you a pair of shoes that were either too big or too small, you have not lost your ability to walk, but you most certainly would change how you walked. Clubs, as well as lessons, can make a difference.

She continued, “My best advice for the average player would be to take lessons asking for the golf professional’s advice. The overall general factors of length, shaft flex and weight, grip size, and club head design need to be a consideration. Having the right clubs, can most definitely alter, either by improving or detracting from one’s swing and desired ball flight. Clubfitting can be a simple matter of changing a grip size to a comprehensive computer generated clubfitting session and will vary on the individual’s goals and needs.”

The idea of getting help, professional computer-based analysis, is not new nor is it expensive—a entire series of lessons can be much less than the cost of a new driver—and combined with clubs matched to your swing means better shots, lower scores and more fun.

Fix the World Golf Rankings…Please

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I was on my second cup of coffee when my computer beeped informing me another press release had hit my inbox. The title was “Jason Day takes over as world’s top ranked golfer.”

What? Neither Day nor Jordan Spieth played this past week but because of the calculation used to determine spots on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) sponsored by all the major men’s professional tours around the world, Day “leapt” ahead by 0.0272 points with a total of 12.4235.

Day had a great year no doubt with six wins including the PGA but Spieth had a career-highlight year winning five times including the U.S. Open and Masters plus a second behind Day at the PGA, a T4 at the Open and was a member of the U.S. Team that won the President’s Cup over Day’s Internationals.

Want some more? Spieth was number one in the FedCup standings, won the FedCup and $22 million making him the highest earner ever on Tour and of course he was voted unanimously as Player of the Year. All this and he’s 22 years of age contrasting with his “old man” rival Day whose coming birthday in November will be 28.

The OWGR may be a wonderful mathematical exercise in performance statistical analysis but lacks credibility with fans and therefore misses the mark. How can a system that deservedly puts Tiger Woods at number one for 683 weeks (that’s over 13 years) change number ones when the players don’t play as was the case this time?

World ranking determines invitations to some tournaments plus who gets to play in exhibitions for appearance fees coupled with endorsement contracts that easily run into the millions.

However, the biggest reason to fix the Official World Golf Rankings system is credibility with fans because if the fans don’t understand how it’s done there’s little chance it will be believed.

To accomplish this, there’s no question there are problems. For example–simple question – does anyone think Jason Day is “better” than Jordan Spieth? Tough call for sure. Or how about yesterday’s Frys.com winner Emiliano Grillo earning almost four times the number of points Matt Kuchar did for taking the Fiji International. Kuchar moved to 13th in the world while Grillo went from 72 to 36. The quality of the field certainly figures into it but such are the complexities and judgements one has to face if rankings are done.

Fan understanding of the calculation makes all the difference and right now most PGA Tour players can’t explain the FedEx Cup points system much less the OWGR calculation.

Photo courtesy of Jordan Spieth & the Presidents Cup

Where Are the Critics Now?

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Team Lefty – that has a nice ring to it and after the clutch play by the U.S. Team stemming the strong comeback by the Internationals it is obvious to every observer that Phil Mickelson was a key to the Presidents Cup victory…Maybe even THE key.

Captain Jay Haas was questioned, criticized and even called names by so-called pundits for his captain’s picks. Not for taking his son who narrowly finished in eleventh spot outside the automatic top ten on the points list but for taking Phil Mickelson as the other pick. 

It seems those who made ungentlemanly even rude comments about Lefty have now disappeared and I’ve waited for the apologies to show up on the web with the same intensity as the diatribes. I guess I’m expecting so after two days I’m not holding my breath. 

Mickelson was on the squad because he is looked upon by the younger players as a leader and someone they can trust. Captain Haas and several of the players have said that and it was the main reason he was on the team.

And by the way in case the negativism gets in the way Lefty shared the best record with Zach Johnson at 3-0-1. The two oldest on the team accounted for 7 of the U.S. Team’s winning total of 15 ½.

Where are the critics now?

 

PGA 100 in 2016

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The Professional Golfers’ Association of America marks their centennial next year and the celebration begins in January with the largest gathering of the golf industry, the PGA Merchandise Show held annually in Orlando, Fla.

PGAThe PGA, arguably the most important golf organization, has 27,000 members who are the frontline of industry interaction its customers. Teaching the golf swing, overseeing the tee sheet, selling a new set of irons, setting up tournaments and managing course personnel all are the job of a PGA Professional. Even though at times, it may seem his or her primary task is lending a sympathetic ear to the sorry state of our golf games.

The beginnings of the PGA in 1916 are interesting since a major impetus to start the organization came from the outside, from New York City department store owner and avid golfer Rodman Wanamaker. At that time all professionals were “club pros,” there was no such thing as the PGA Tour, and a large part of every club pro’s income was the sale of clubs and balls. Wannamaker felt golf equipment sales could be increased if they got together and started a professional organization. He sponsored a luncheon in January of 1916 where the idea was discussed and received general approval so that in April the PGA of America was chartered.

The rest as they say is history. The new organization was quick to create competitions for its members with the first PGA Championship played just six months later in October. Jim Barnes, future member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, was the first victor taking the winners share of the $2,580 purse put up by Wanamaker, who also paid for the trophy; the same Wanamaker Trophy still presented to the champion.

The PGA Merchandise Show began during the week of the 1954 PGA Seniors Championship in Dunedin, Fla. being played at the then PGA National Golf Club. Salesmen from several equipment and apparel companies set up in the parking lot using the trunks of their cars and folding table to display products.2014_MRCH_OfficialContractor_GoldBlue

In its 60 years the Show has grown to more than 1,000 exhibitors housed in one million square feet with 10 miles of exhibit aisles in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. Restricted to PGA professionals and members of the golf industry, attendance at the January 2015 Show topped 40,000. For many if not most PGA Professionals the dozens of professional development continuing education classes alone are sufficient reason to attend not to mention the immensely popular Demo Day held at the Orange County National Golf Center prior to Show opening.

The PGA Merchandise Show is considered mandatory by golf industry insiders both as representing the start of a new golf year and for providing the opportunity to interact with their peers and conduct business.

Images courtesy of the PGA of America