Jack Would Have Been Third

LongDrive

Two years ago the PGA of America realizing how much interest there had been in the long drive competition formerly held before the PGA Championship so they reinstated it. Fans really love seeing their favorites who will be competing for the Wanamaker Trophy in two days put a peg in the ground and swing as hard as they could.

On Tuesday South Korean sensation Byeong-Hun An had the longest drive managing a very credible 347 yards, besting Rory McIlroy by two yards and Nicolas Colsaerts by six.

But wait, Jack Nicklaus at Dallas Athletic Club in 1963 using a persimmon headed driver and a wound balata cover ball took the long drive contest that year with a tee shot just inches under 342 yards.

A drive which would have put him third in this year contest.

And, if I’ve done the math correctly, it means in the intervening 53 years the winner gained an unspectacular five yards. So allowing for the difference in the price of drivers then and now that works out to just over $100 per yard.1963Clip

Rather than this being a knock on today’s improved technology compared to five decades ago it’s more a statement of how unimaginably hard the Golden Bear could hit the ball with vastly inferior equipment. Pictured is the money clip he still carries for the win all those years ago.

Images courtesy of Jack Nicklaus and PGA of America

High Heat 3-wood & Hybrid

HighHeat_3W_3H

There have been few startup manufacturers whose clubs have received as much attention and praise as the High Heat driver introduced last year by Knuth Golf. Golfers took to the High Heat at once with many finding it to be both longer and straighter than the major manufacturer’s driver they were playing.

Creator Dean Knuth, a former Senior Director of the USGA, designed the High Heat specifically for amateurs by giving it the combination of a large sweet spot and high coefficient of restitution or COR. And according to Steve Trattner, Knuth Golf’s Executive Vice President, sales have been very strong.

With this background in mind I was looking forward to my on-course testing of their newest clubs, the High Heat 3-wood and High Heat hybrid. In discussions with Knuth he pointed out the clubface of both is made from titanium, so in comparison to fairway woods and hybrids with a steel clubface, the cup face titanium construction has an immediate benefit. Titanium being lighter and stronger than steel produces a larger amount of face rebound at impact and that translates into something we all want…distance without added effort.

Titanium in the clubface also helps preserve ball speed when contact is not in the center of the face which is another way of saying average players will find the High Heats forgiving. So, since most of us miss the sweet spot regularly this is an important feature.

Overall the fairway woods are larger being 25% deeper and have a center of gravity that is 18% lower according to Knuth. He also explained the variable thickness face has seven zones with lobes near the toe and heel designed to increase the amount of trampoline effect.

On the course it was immediately apparent the 15 degree loft 3-wood is a strong club. After two sessions on the range the first hole I actually put it in play was a sharp dogleg around water. The ideal tee shot would be a gentle draw of about 220-yards and the High Heat performed perfectly putting the ball exactly in the center of the short grass leaving it wedge distance to the pin.

From the fairway the High Heat 3-wood gets the ball airborne from even suspect lies and did well from shorter length rough. In one instance the ball came to stop on the side of a sand-filled divot and, while I usually would not use a 3-wood from that kind of lie, I thought what-the-heck. Let’s see what happens.

Without consciously making any changes to my swing to compensate for the lie (such as being sure to hit down), the ball came out easily with just a little drift from left to right. Entirely satisfactory.

The 18 degree High Heat hybrid is a real beast and I particularly liked it from the tee on long par-3s because it gives the ball a nice high trajectory so it lands and stops unlike some other hybrids that roll out too much. In its primary job of getting the ball back into play or even onto the green from the rough it performed extremely well. The combination of a somewhat larger clubhead, a prominent sole rail and weight low in the clubhead meant it almost never met a lie it didn’t like…and couldn’t the ball out of.

Both the woods and the hybrid have a mirror finish face and while it may not seem like a big deal and might even be considered merely cosmetic, but the finish shows the ball’s point of impact giving valuable feedback after each shot.

TGA Expands Into Clubs

TGA_JuniorSet

Joshua Jacobs is on a mission and the mission is to introduce children to golf. For a dozen years he and his company TGA Premier Junior Golf have been doing just that with a franchise business model tailor made for PGA Professionals and others interested in growing the game. The success of TGA has led to the introduction of their own line of clubs just right for youngsters beginning the game.

“Since 2003 TGA has become a leading expert on introductory and recreational junior golf instruction,” said TGA CEO, Jacobs. “By experiencing firsthand how juniors learn, swing and react to equipment, we have developed junior clubs that kids will find esthetically pleasing and well performing, which will further expand our expertise and credibility among our golf consumers.”

They didn’t create the clubs on their own but called on the background and knowledge of industry veteran Ross Kvinge of Plus One Sports who has experience with several top-of-the-line manufacturers. He is also the owner of a TGA franchise giving him additional insight into what children need and can best use.

The clubs themselves are designed expressly to make them easy to hit the ball giving juniors the satisfaction of seeing results they can feel good about. The driver for example has a very large clubhead and clubface to easily make contact and yet lightweight for young swings. Irons have weight moved from the hosel, where it doesn’t help performance, to the topline of the face to make a larger sweet spot.

From putter to driver TGA’s equipment uses technology that allows beginning and experienced junior golfers to excel.

Boxed sets have a choice of seven color coded sizes based the child’s height with right and left handed options for both boys and girls. Parents will like the price as well. Sets of three to six clubs with a stand bag and headcovers range from $89.99 to $149.99.

Also in the good news department, TGA will be offering a trade up program for families to keep their children fitted properly.

Additional information may be found playTGA.com.

A Professional Mixture – Business & Golf

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At one time or another most of us have played golf in a business situation often with customers or potential customers and sometimes it hasn’t gone too well.

Whether it’s having novice golfers on the back tees or being stuck with the guy who never turns off his smartphone, there are literally dozens of do’s and don’ts that can make the mixture of business and golf a bust or success. Lots has been written about the synergy of golf and business but I know of no one until now to have enumerated what should be done to ensure a successful linking.

Author John Glozek fortunately not only understands all of this but has written a book entitled Business Golf – The Best Business Meeting You’ll Ever Have. It is a must read if you use or want to use golf as a positive tool for your business relationships.

And Glozek has the credentials to know, since in addition to being a golf fanatic he is publisher of an award winning publication named Golfing Magazine based in Long Island, N.Y. Plus if that weren’t enough to prove his bona fides, he is President of one of the leading golf industry organizations, the International Network of Golf.

Taking a look at the chapter headings gives an idea of the scope Glozek’s advice: “Find Your Comfort Zone,” “Etiquette vs. Skill vs. Rules,” “Pre-round Preparation,” “Score Doesn’t Matter,” “the 19th Hole” and my personal favorite, “If You Don’t Believe Me…Ask Tiger.”

It includes probably the best one liner in the book.

“John’s Bonus Golfbit: Don’t teach your guests. Leave the teaching up to the PGA professional.”

Glozek also tapped the knowledge and experience of a number of business people for their views about the golf and business combination including Donald Trump and there’s even a short contribution by yours truly.

Even if you’re an old hand of using golf to further your business interests I guarantee you will find a wealth of information in Business Golf to make your next foursome or corporate event a smashing success.

Business Golf – The Best Business Meeting You’ll Ever Have

178 pages

Author: John Glozek, Jr.

$20.00 on Amazon.com

Why Not Olympic Caber Tossing?

Caber_toss

After more than a century golf is again an Olympic sport and perhaps it would be a good idea to consider also adding that other sporting contribution from the highlands of Scotland, caber tossing. You know, when really big guys in kilts pick up a log slightly shorter than a telephone pole and flip it in the air. The winner is the one who tosses it the furthest and presumably can remain standing long enough afterwards to accept the trophy. Adding the caber toss to the Olympics would provide immediate international exposure to the sport and probably result in a surge of participation around the world.

Makes sense or at least the same amount of sense as Olympic golf.

What does make an international competition important, exciting and memorable? Let’s see:

Representing your country – check

International visibility – check

Best players – check

Established historic courses – check

Interesting format – check

Scheduled allowing proper preparation – checkGolf,_Rio_2016

Pretty much what is found in the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup, the Solheim Cup, the Walker Cup, the Palmer Cup, the Eisenhower and Espirito Santo Trophies…well you get the idea.

The Olympics, for all the mythic qualities it may have for some sports, doesn’t have many check marks on the above list when it comes to golf. Not only are world class players dropping out left and right (with the top Americans still to be heard from) but the course outside Rio de Janeiro, while probably another of Gil Hanse’s first class designs, is anything but a historic venue having been just completed.

The format is a yawner. Two limited 60 player field 72-hole events, one for men and one for women. More to the point, and at least in the case of the men, for a variety of reasons not all the best will be there. Not only because some, like world number one Jason Day, have announced they won’t go but a country’s team may only be four players and all have to be in the top 15 of world ranking. Otherwise the national team is no more than two.  

Scheduling is also a huge problem. Olympic golf is sandwiched into an already crowded season. The British Open is followed by the Canadian Open, the week after is the PGA Championship then the Travelers Championship and then the Olympics concluding for the men on August 14. The FedEx Cup playoffs of four tournaments start August 25th concluding Sept. 25th and the Ryder Cup begins Sept. 30th.

Putting two major championships almost back to back, the PGA only two weeks after the Open, would be laughable if it weren’t so serious a compromise necessary to accommodate the Olympics. It about guarantees players, not just those going to Rio, will be unable to maintain their best games for the latter part of the season. It will be “burn out’ with capital letters.

The world’s top Brazil Olympic Games Emblemplayers have a full dance card or should I say top professionals since in another of the myriad inconsistencies surrounding the Olympics, amateurs are not eligible. But then again the professionals’ sponsors, who pay large amounts of money to gain exposure, get no Olympic benefit since team uniform, bags, etc. have no brand logos…at least there’s something in common with the Ryder Cup. NBC and the International Olympic Committee are making money from the Games and the athletes, professional or amateur, aren’t. Seems somehow inconsistent.

Brazil and the city of Rio de Janeiro have real problems. The country has both a major political scandal and a financial crisis while street crime in Rio has been called an epidemic which authorities have promised to have under control during the Games.

And then there’s the Zika virus, transmitted by mosquitoes or sexual contact, adding measurably to the gamble should a fan or competitor be planning on having children. The Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization have said Zika is a small risk but nonetheless it is real. But it’s not just the fact several hundred thousand visitors to Rio will be potentially exposed to disease, when they return home they could be carrying the virus with them.

Finally, golf already is a worldwide sport with a long history of international competition so it can presumed not every touring professional feels competing in the Olympics is an absolute career highlight. Maybe to them it’s just another play-for-no-pay exhibition that interferes with their personal lives and playing schedule. Add the situation in Brazil, Rio and ho-hum format and one can see why enthusiasm may be lacking and the list of dropouts growing.

An oft cited benefit of golf returning to the Olympics after a century’s absence is exposure on a worldwide scale which will help to “grow the game,” words which have been used to rationalize any number of efforts to attract new players and reverse declining participation. People play golf for a variety of motivations stemming from their own character, social needs and culture plus of course if they have the time and money.

Golf in the Olympics changes none of those factors.

It almost like convincing yourself Olympic caber tossing would all of sudden cause Dads and Moms to rush out and buy 20-foot long wooden poles for their kids.

Golf has the Walker Cup, the Solheim Cup, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup which truly pit the best against the best and that’s the key difference when evaluating golf inclusion in the Olympics.

From a rational viewpoint golf doesn’t need the Olympics and at best it’s a sideshow exhibition for a limited number of truly world class golfers to compete in a field filled with players of less skill.