February 18, 2015
No reasonable golfer would ever choose to live in an area that for half the year is ungolfable. After spending the majority of one winter in Detroit, I am only further entrenched this view, but with maybe one small caveat. Below is photographic evidence of this craziness in real life.
If it wasn’t obnoxious, I’d repost the same image again just for emphasis.
Rather than move to a place with real sunshine and grass, someone decided this was a better idea. The above image comes from the heated tees at a golf shop in Bloomfield Hills, MI. This Sunday was the warmest day of the winter thus far, registering a balmy 37 F on the comically large thermometer next to the range. I wasn’t the only hacker who decided to take advantage of the “sunshine.” Indeed, I waited for patiently for 35 minutes to get one of 40 or so mats that were all teeming with eager beavers shanking away. It was one of the few times I can say I was actually happy waiting in line because it was the first time I’d even heard a golf ball being hit in over a month. All of this being said, the conditions on the heated tees were actually very nice. Despite the tundra in front of me, It got so warm under the heaters that I had to take off my jacket and sweater! I was never worried about my hands being cold, but the range balls were a different story.
Range balls have their own inherent issues – limited ball flight, low compression, but in these conditions the balls and air are so cold that distances and, indeed, ball flight become all but irrelevant. Sure, the direction still tells you something about your swing path, but spin (peak height), compression (ballspeed), and general body temperature all become somewhat fluid and not meaningfully measurable in these conditions. There was a kind of serene obliviousness to hitting balls this way. Who cares where it lands? I’m not going to see it anyway. The targets are basically meaningless. Honestly, I’m more concerned with just making sure the balls I’m hitting are not so frozen that they’re going to crack the hosels on my SLDR irons.
100 balls in, I find the bottom of my swing. I’ll blame that on the conditions too. But after the next 100, I feel as though I’ve had one of the best range sessions I’ve had in the last 6 months. Why, you ask?
The conditions forced me to detach from my (totally unreasonable) expectations of my golf game. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to see the ball land, that my 7 iron wasn’t going to go 165 yards, that my driver wasn’t going to rise beautifully to 2.5x the height of the net at the back of the range, and that generally any expectations I have of those things happening with any regularity were probably just as ill conceived, it became much easier to focus on the one thing that I actually could control and measure – contact. Focusing purely on the quality of the contact I was producing for 100 balls did wonders for my confidence and allowed me to test various setup positions and tweaks to see how I could adjust this one facet of my game.
Focusing on a single measurable and focusing on improving that one element of my game was far more satisfying and likely helpful to my game than worrying about a host of interrelated issues and results. The snow helped me realize a truth about practice I hear all the time, but rarely act upon in my own game: focus on one measurable at a time. I hope the lesson sticks, but who ever heard of digging their game out of the snow?
If you’re a true PF-er, you might understand why this photo makes JK and myself crack up every time we see it:
September 25, 2014
It’s finally here. This year, the biennial matchup of US vs. THEM hits Gleneagles.
Tom Watson’s USA Team includes:
Keegan Bradley *
Hunter Mahan *
Webb Simpson *
And Paul McGinley’s Eurotrash squad includes:
Stephen Gallacher * ^
Ian Poulter *
Lee Westwood *
^ = first appearance
* = captain’s pick
It’s time for the USA to take one! Let’s GO US!
October 6, 2013
Three years ago today, LG and I embarked on a journey. As many of you know, it started with a few conversations about the game, a few moments watching golf and beating the commentary to the punch, and an experiment to figure out if we could do any better. What came out of that was a place where we collect our thoughts and–hopefully–help others thrive in this glorious game into which we put so much energy and effort. Although the PF has seen a recent decline in postings and material (thanks to outside factors greatly influencing LG’s and my ability to have a few free moments in front of a computer), the PF remains a host for our thoughts, our memories, and at least a portion of our contribution to making this game better for those who come after us. We’re thankful for your continued readership, and we’re looking forward to more greatness in the future.
September 3, 2013
Many thanks to LG for making the trip to my new locale to visit, meet the children, and play some golf. Many of you may not realize that for years LG and I lived 2,500 miles apart. Our contributions to this endeavor were almost exclusively electronic. Although we’re now a good bit closer in proximity, it’s still a big deal if we get together.
And, like all big deals, we celebrate well. Our last four PF outings have included Wolf Creek (Las Vegas, Spring 2012?), East Lake (Atlanta, Fall 2012), Pebble Beach (Monterey, January 2013), Spyglass (Monterey, January 2013), and Torrey Pines (San Diego, August/September 2013). Although I can’t vouch for the level of play, it was still a tremendous experience playing Torrey, and it’s always a great time when LG and JK get a chance to chat face-to-face. Now all LG needs to do is learn how to putt!
Thanks again to LG, and we’ll see you soon at another big time venue.
August 5, 2013
As we turn the page on another Tiger Woods march to victory, I find it increasingly important to examine what we have witnessed. Greatness at a game that demands perfection is simply inspiring. So let’s start by taking a moment to soak in what we just witness. Tiger Woods just put one of the most important tournaments of the year (Firestone) on ice by shooting 61 on Friday, scaring 59 and breaking the course record, rendering the final two days a mere victory lap.
Lost in the shuffle of Tiger’s recent major drought is that his greatness had seemingly waned, so much so that, when I passed a TV on Friday and saw his round in progress, I assumed it was a flashback to a prior year. “The Tiger we have now doesn’t dominate tournaments anymore,” I thought. “Sure he wins Bay Hill and Memorial every year, but he needs outrageous flop shots and heroic putts to win.”
We’ve lost sight.
Tiger has won more than 1/4 tournaments in which he has played. He’s won five times this year. But we all think he’s not what he once was because he’s finished second and third in majors more times than most of his peers have made the cut.
It’s time to take a step back and admire what we’re seeing. The night before Phil Mickelson choked away the US Open for the sixth time, I sent LG a text reminding him that, no matter what you think of Phil, he is one of the all timers.
We’ve lost sight of what these players have given us. Let’s take a moment to appreciate it all.
April 28, 2013
Last year, for the first time in our relatively short blog history, LG celebrated the turning of the year of PF awesomeness with a gift for himself and for me, Stanley Mayhem scorecard and yardage book wallets, which he reviewed in detail here: http://thepowerfade.com/2012/11/15/review-leather-scorecard-wallets/. After fully agreeing with LG’s analysis, it became apparent that this should be a yearly exercise for the PF–not only to review excellent equipment, but to support the artisans who make them.
This year, I stumbled upon a tremendous offering from a friend of the PF, LaMont Mann. I’ve known LaMont Mann since he lovingly crafted my putter, which is reviewed here: http://thepowerfade.com/2011/05/02/review-sunset-beach-golf/. LaMont is one of the kindest and most humble people you will ever meet, but he is also one of the most talented in crafting putters. His custom and hand work has become a springboard for a great business. LaMont is capable of making things in the golf world that few can, and he offers his services at a reasonable price to those lucky enough to find him in a world where marketing often wins out over true craft.
I’d recently noticed LaMont’s postings on his Facebook page about some new divot repair tools. His initial offerings were single-prong tools. While those appeared to be well-crafted and of tremendous quality, they did not pique my interest for the simple reason that I never have liked to use single-prong tools. I’m sure someone was in his ear telling him “you have to make these in a two-prong shape.” Well, he did.
Coinciding with LG’s birthday, LaMont released his two-prong version. The moment I saw it, I knew this had to be the PF equipment of the year. I purchased one for LG’s birthday and one for myself. I asked for LG’s to be stainless steel and torched, while my tool is carbon steel and torched. LaMont not only sent me pictures of them in process, he returned my request to produce LG’s especially quickly knowing he had a birthday upcoming. The beautiful results are shown below:
As you can see, these tools are custom milled, torched to perfection, and hand paint filled by LaMont himself. The cost was $86 for both tools with shipping included–certainly not inexpensive, but not as much as I would have expected for custom-made equipment.
So, any downsides? Well, the answer to that is a “sort of.” These tools are really, really cool items–especially for someone who knows custom equipment and/or knows who LaMont is. For the casual golfer, the reaction might be “why did you pay so much for something that nice clubs give away for free?” Or “I bought one of those at the Tour Championship for $36 and it had the Tour Championship logo on it! That’s an absurd price!” I understand where those people are coming from. I think these are tremendous. The personal craftsmanship is there. They are milled steel, paint filled, and made just like I wanted. On the other hand, these are not performance golf tools; they are being used to fix pitch marks in the green. They don’t have to be perfectly balanced to strike a ball correctly or milled to tight tolerances to avoid defects. However, when I use my custom tool by LaMont, I’ll know that I have exactly what I want in my hands and that it is as good of a tool as I could’ve gotten. That alone will give me confidence not to think of the wrong things on the course.
Speed of Production: 10
Customer Service: 10
Overall: 8 (and it’s 8 only because it’s not required for everyone, but for those that do get it, it’s a 10 all the way)
April 16, 2013
I’ve had a few recent additions/deletions from the bag for 2013. My bag has changed greatly from my prior WITB. I’ve come into a position of being able to purchase TaylorMade equipment, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I still have my Adams XTD Super Fairway, I still have my Fourteen MT28v5 lob wedge, and I still have the world’s greatest putter, my Sunset Beach Ocean Isle crafted by LaMont Mann. Otherwise, the bag is very different.
A few of them were undesired changes. For example, a caddy at East Lake lost my Mystery Valley towel along with several towels that LG gave me. I haven’t had a chance to make it back to MV to purchase another. I haven’t yet transferred all paraphernalia from my old PING bag to my new RBZ bag, but it’s in progress.
Some highlights of the new additions are below.
First, RocketBladez Tour irons. These are tremendous irons. I originally purchased my set 3-PW, but I had to buy an AW because I hit them too far. I am pushing 250 with the 3-iron. The slot technology really does improve the distance, but that’s not why I bought them. The more important part is that it improves the feel. The sweet spot is enormous on these–almost the size of a quarter. To a good golfer, the difference between nickle- and quarter-sized sweet spot is enormous. Perhaps that’s the reason so many pros got them.
Anyway, here are the specs:
1 degree weak lofts
mostly standard lie (had a dynamic fitting to get them right, some are a bit flat)
Dynamic Gold X100–swingweights to the D3.5-D4 range, which is great for me
As you can see, I still have my MT28V5 lob wedge, but I’ve replaced the sand wedge after a few seasons and a restoration. I went with the TaylorMade ATV wedge in 56 degree bent 1 degree weak to 57 degree. This was the loft I had always played in my wedges going back to when I was 16 years old, so this just made sense. ATV’s sole flange is actually really good out of sand because it gives more bounce contact with the sand. Plus, they are naturally set up a little shorter and a little heavier than a standard wedge, which is what I do anyway, so it works out great. I have since changed the paint fill on the two stripes to yellow/yellow, but for the purposes of getting this uploaded and online, it’s on in black and red.
Now, the beauty–R1. This driver is a beast. First off, the customizability is a tremendous feature. For a better player especially, this works wonders. You go out to the range, hit it 20 times, tweak it, hit it again, tweak it again, and go over and over until you hit the flight you want. If you can find a few different shafts to try, even better. Mine is dialed in to 10.5 loft (higher than the 9 I used to use) with a TP shaft in it, a RIP Phenom in 65g. The original 55g RIP Phenom I felt was a bit too light. I also cut it down to 45″ from the original 45.5″, which is stock. To compensate for swingweight, I replaced the heel weight (1g) with a 6g screw-in weight. It really is a driver that I customized for me. Best part–if I ever find I don’t like it, I can change it. I think LG is going to work on a new shaft in his–we’ll see what he ends up with.
This driver is a beast. It is every bit as long as my last driver, but I never seem to mishit it. Even the ones that don’t feel great are still long and around the fairway. I’m able to move the ball both ways but it doesn’t ever get out of control. I really like this driver, but that’s what TaylorMade has always done well.
I’m now using TaylorMade Lethal golf balls, which work great. Maybe not quite as much spin as Pro-V1x, but it’s frankly been a good thing because I can’t seem to hit my driver anywhere other than exactly where I want to. The ball feels great on and around the greens. As you can see, I still have my gold markings commemorating Georgia Tech. I recently found new Sharpie markers in an Office Depot, as well. It seems Sharpie has finally re-released the gold, silver, and copper colored Sharpies (not paint markers) again. Great news for me, as I was down to my last gold Sharpie.
That’s it. As you can see, a lot has changed, but a lot remains the same. Most of the inner workings of my golf gear has not changed–the ball liner, the scorecard cover from LG (thanks bud), the range finder, etc. However, the influence of a good deal is evident–I definitely am getting great pricing on TaylorMade gear. But it should be noted–I have elected to continue to play equipment that works well for me (which is why I still have some non-TaylorMade equipment). With the new additions–especially the newer and better driver–I’m striking the ball well and looking forward to a good season.