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For the past four years and almost 500 articles, I have not taken a week off, but I’m going to, finally. This will be my last post of 2011, and I’ll see you all on Tuesday, January 3 with the first of 2012’s WedgeGuy posts.
This has been as interesting a year in golf as I’ve seen in a long time. We saw the near-takeover of the metal wood market by the color white (who’da thunk it?). The media wrote almost weekly about Tiger Woods, even though he rarely played, much less put himself in the heat of the battle (will they ever give us a break?). Rory McIlroy folded in the Masters and then dominated in the Open (kudos Rory!). Long putters made a splash on the scene and are heralded as the next tidal wave in clubs that will change the game (we’ve heard that before). And as always, dozens of “greatest thing since sliced bread” product introductions were made in the Spring (most won’t last into 2012, when they’ll be replaced by the next “greatest thing since sliced bread.”)
And maybe my favorite story of the year – Luke Donald. This smallish scrapper has proven that you don’t have to bomb 300+ yard drives to win out there. That solid mechanics and a formidable short game will win over brute strength regularly. His putting stats are staggering as well. This guy is solid, and I’m betting he’s going to follow up 2011 with an equally awesome 2012 . . . unless he gets it in his head that he has to hit it longer and screws the whole thing up.
Wait, that wasn’t my favorite story of 2011. My personal favorite is the one we’re writing right here at this upstart short game company – SCOR Golf. We’ve challenged decades of “conventional wisdom” in wedges and irons and are winning the comparison most every time. Beginning three years ago, we asked some questions that no one seemed to be asking. Like . . .
“Why should all your wedges look alike, regardless of loft?” The 12 degree difference between a 48 and 60 is the same as that between a driver and five iron. Hmmmmm.
“Why do 9-irons and PWs look like 6-irons?” The PW is 16 degrees from the 6-iron . . . so is your driver!
“Why wouldn’t golfers want custom-fitted, custom-built scoring clubs when they get used almost as much, or more, than all the others combined? Your better short game is not on the display rack with a one-size-fits-all stiff steel shaft.
The result of that three years of design, development, testing, re-design and finally, production, is a remarkable approach to the short end of the set which is proving to have the impact there that hybrids have had on the long end.
Please forgive me for bragging a bit, but SCOR4161 wedges and short irons are promising to have the same impact as hybrids. The golfers who try them are telling us they make an immediate difference in their short range performance, so we’re dang proud of that. Not many companies will antiquate their own products because their new work is just that good. But we have. The old EIDOLON V-SOLE wedges have been finally outdone. And at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve, the EIDOLON website will come down for good.
2012 is the year of SCOR Golf and SCOR4161 wedges and short irons. We hope to see them make their way into your bags, and help all of you cut some more strokes off your handicaps this year.
Thanks for reading, writing in and sharing your viewpoints with me here. Let’s have a great 2012 together. See you on January 3!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I promised I would give you my take on these, if you really wanted to hear it. Well, the number of emails I received gave me the answer, so here goes.
In theory, this is a concept that makes a lot of sense. The ability to tweak your driver to favor a fade or draw, or a slightly lower or higher ball flight certainly would seem to be a great thing, especially if it really worked. We see most of the major brands now offering pretty-much-the-same approach to the opportunity created when the USGA ruled that such an adjustability of a golf club would conform to the Rules of Golf. By rotating the clubhead around the shaft to different set locations, you can slight alter the face angle and/or loft.
Sounds reasonable enough, right? But here’s where the theory falls well short of actual beneficial performance:
Golf shafts are not symmetrical.
Except for the most high-grade graphite shafts that cost hundreds of dollars, graphite shafts have shaft-to-shaft inconsistencies that make each shaft perform differently depending on its orientation into the clubhead. A while back I wrote about the similarity of heads and shafts to tires and wheels on your car. No matter what quality of component you have, optimum performance can only be achieved when a single shaft is matched and aligned with a single head. Just like the tire shop has to balance that high grade tire to the exact wheel it is going to be installed on.
I’m mostly referring to the shaft’s spine and how the position of that spine can cause a shaft to “jump” . . . even just a bit . . . as it loads and unloads. This is totally a function of the manufacturing structure of that particular shaft, and it has nothing to do with the graphics on the shaft. Only a properly-equipped clubmaker can show you this.
So, if you rotate the shaft around in the head, not only are you changing the orientation of loft and face angle, you are changing the way that shaft will perform in the fraction of a second from top of backswing to impact, when the club accelerates from 0 to 100+ mph, wherein the shaft loads and unloads under terrific G-forces and in a rotation around its axis. The chances of you actually getting the performance that the owner’s manual says you will are pretty darn remote in my observation, experience and opinion.
With regard to the adjustable sole plate to change lie or face angle, that’s baloney. You better not be making contact with the turf with your driver, so how can the sole plate affect anything? And those adjustable weights? I’m skeptical of how much effect on ball flight you can have by moving just a few grams around . . . . but it does make for good marketing buzz, huh?
Let me end by saying that I don’t think there is a “bad” clubhead out there. The driver you are going to bench for one of these new adjustable ones has a head that is probably as good as it’s going to get for you. What makes one driver perform better than another is all about the shaft, and if you have a driver that looks good to you, spend your time and money having it re-shafted by a skilled clubmaker who can determine the best shaft for your swing, and put the club together so that it is oriented correctly in the golf club.
You asked me to sound off, so there it is. Comments?
Putters have been at the top of the golf equipment news lately with the buzz about long putters and belly putters, and I sounded off on that recently. But I received an email from a reader asking my opinion regarding the face of the putter – milled vs. insert. I love it when you guys send me a new topic to dive into, so here goes.
It’s pretty universally accepted that the ball has to be given a pure and solid roll in order to run true to the intended line, but the “purity” of the roll the ball takes off the putter face is affected by several variables.
The effective loft of the putter face at impact is very important, as you do not want the ball lofted into the air at impact, but you do not want it compressed into the turf either. The roll is also influenced by the angle of approach to the ball – is it steep or shallow/level to the ground? Many putting experts claim that the best roll is imparted to the ball when the putter is moving very slightly upward at impact, with only 1-2 degrees of “effective loft” at that point. I can’t argue that at all.
Which . . . finally . . . brings us to the subject of the treatment of the face of the putter, and this area of putter design and manufacturing technology has evolved over the past few decades. Early putter faces were polished on a sand belt running over a flat metal plate. This produced reasonably flat faces that certainly won many PGA tour events. In the 1990s, a trend to give the face more attention and precision by CNC-milling the face surface gained traction. There’s no question that the process delivers much more precision than the old sanding method.
Then along came the “new” idea of softer face inserts in putters to affect feel, sound and the time the ball adheres to the face, with claims by the brands who did this that this adhesion imparted a truer roll to the ball. Odyssey® and others rocketed to the forefront of putter category with this single feature, and supported their claims of a truer roll with high-speed video to prove their claims.
The CNC-milled believers countered that by applying a variety of milling textures to the face, claiming that the ball takes on a better roll because of this treatment, and all also had some kind of slow motion video to prove it.
So, which is better? I think the answer is simple. YOU have to decide for yourself what works better. I can tell you that the treatment of the face cannot convert you from a bad putter to a good one. Every day on the professional tours and every local course, guys are heating it up on the greens with all kinds of putters – milled, insert, no special treatment at all. And I don’t think there is one golfer out there who was transformed from a bad putter to a good one because they changed the kind of face their putter had on it.
The secret is that whatever gives you confidence, go for it. As that . . . in my opinion . . . is the single most important putting fundamental. Golfers who putt well come in all shapes and sizes, all kinds of putting styles and stroke paths. You know them. They look like hell but can putt the eyes out of the ball. And they carry a wide variety of putters, with all kinds of faces. Some are so beat up there’s not a flat place on them . . . but don’t bet against that guy with the old Ray Cook, Bullseye or Ping.
The problem is that confidence only comes through success. Success only comes through solid fundamentals and practice. And that takes time and commitment.
But then, whoever said this was gonna be easy?
A side story to what we do every day at SCOR Golf – building what we believe to be the finest scoring club concept to ever come along – is that the word is out locally that we have a sophisticated golf equipment laboratory that can dissect any club to find out what it really is. More and more friends and acquaintances come over to have us tear apart a golf club to see just what it is, and then they go out into the world and tell the horror story. I’ve shared a few of our “discoveries” with you over the past few years, but they just keep coming and it’s not like me to keep things to myself.
The challenge to me as a golf blogger who is, first and foremost, a golf club geek, but who also happens to run a premium golf club company, is that I don’t want to seem like I’m always bashing the major brands. But darn it, these guys keep sending me case studies that wear me out, and I want to shout from the rooftops what I see on a weekly basis to help my readers avoid these kinds of situations. Here are two of the past week or so, and a tip for all of you who are in the market for any kind of golf clubs.
So, the moral of this story is simple — you have two choices in golf equipment. One, you can buy from the major brands and blindly choose to believe you got what you ordered and your shot problems are all your own fault. Or, two, you can make it a point to learn more about what makes golf clubs tick, find a qualified golf club professional who can accurately tell you what you bought, and you can hold these guys accountable.
It’s your money, but I’d be really p—ed off if I had spent $300 on that 3-wood or $1,000 on that set of irons.
And don’t get me started on this trend to adjustable drivers . . . . or ask me and I’ll tell you what I see with those dang things.
No sooner than I started gloating over the wonderful mild winters we have here in South Texas that our first blast descended upon us. This week is going to be cold (for us – highs in the40s), windy and wet (hopefully, God knows we could use the rain!). So, I’m feeling like my golf brothers in the north, where it’s just not in the picture for a while. That got me to thinking what I could be doing on these cold wet days to help my golf game when practicing is out of the question.
These are things any and all of us can do throughout the winter when actually getting out to play or practice just isn’t in the cards. And we’d all benefit next spring and summer if we just spend a little time and interest away from the course working on simple things that will help our golf performance.
Just because you can’t play doesn’t mean you can’t work on your game. I’d like to hear from you readers about other off-season things you do to keep in touch with the game when you can’t get out and play. Sound off!!!!
I’ve been taking some time the past couple of weeks to try to get in 100 practice balls each afternoon, as I’ve been experimenting with various tweaks to my swing and shotmaking. I’ve played a fade most of my life – inspired by Mr. Hogan probably – but have “perfected” that shot pattern to a point where I have severe difficulty moving the ball right to left when I want to. Because our golf course really favors a draw on a number of holes, my early New Year’s resolution is to tweak my swing a bit so that I can move the ball right to left more consistently when I call upon that shot.
So, I’m having to re-think a lot of the little pieces of my swing that make that fade so consistent, to see how to modify them to allow that draw to be worked back into my quiver of shots. Since I was a little kid, I was always taking things apart to see how they work. Of course, lots of those things didn’t always go back together as they were, and often I would have a few little pieces left over. Reminds me of the scene in the movie “Doc Hollywood”, when the shade tree mechanic hands Michael J. Fox’s character a box when he says he’s finished with his Porsche, and says “we always have some parts left over when we’re done”.
Anyway, that tinkerer’s mind is now dissecting my golf swing to focus on how it’s put together to produce a pretty reliable fade, and a straight ball as my norm. I’m having fun doing this just as I would when I take anything else apart. I’m setting the parts aside and “numbering” them, making notes of how they go back together. Yesterdays’ session produced a couple of “epiphanies” for me as I tackle this project, and I thought I would share those with you, in case any of you want to dissect your own swings this off season:
So, I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but I’d like to hear you guys sound off on what changes you’d like to see in your golf game for the 2012 season. And maybe the rest of us can help you figure out how to get there.