Review: SMT Golf

January 24, 2011

Today’s post takes a look at one of the great finds of my golfing career: SMT Golf.

I’m not sure exactly how I found SMT. I wish I could remember so I could tell you. However, what I CAN tell you is that I am very happy I found them.

Anyone who has been to a big box store knows the frustration. You go to Golfsmith or PGA Tour Superstore or Edwin Watts; you try a bunch of drivers; most of them feel the same. You like one of them maybe a little more than the others; it’s priced at $399. You try to trade in your old one and get $40 or so on your trade. Two weeks later you see your old driver on the used rack for $150 and the one you just paid $399 is on clearance for $249. You spend the rest of your time with the club avoiding any possibility of scratching it or knicking it because you spent WAY too much money on it. It’s a frustrating experience that you only have to have once to be turned away. Hence, why I was looking for something more. What I found was SMT.

SMT Golf (www.smtgolf.com/) is a component club maker in Oswego, Illinois. SMT makes Read the rest of this entry »

Stamping A Wedge

January 17, 2011

Here at the PF, we try to share both our accomplishments and failures with the community in hopes that we can help someone out there learn from both our successes and out mistakes. With that backdrop in mind, here is my description of stamping my own wedges.

I followed the directions listed at the links in our prior post on stamping/paint filling clubs, located at https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/great-link-to-stamppaint-fill-your-irons/.

I trolled eBay for the cheapest stamp set I could find and ended up with one that was $16 shipped. If you go to buy your own stamp set, make sure you check with the sellers to ensure that your stamps can be used on steel. Many of the stamps on eBay are designed for jewelry applications, which involve MUCH softer metals (gold, silver, etc.).

The photo below shows the supplies I needed, including:

1. A work bench of some type (could be just a table)
2. A hammer
3. A stamp set
4. Masking tape
5. Safety glasses (yes, potential shards of hardened steel breaking off and flying is a hazard for your eyes)
6. A golf club to be stamped (duh)
7. A test piece
8. Ibuprofen for when you smash your fingers (just kidding….kind of)

Here is a look at my stamp set. You can also see the test piece with markings in it from where I tested my stamp set on it.

My goal in this first stamping project was to stamp the number “53” on the bottom of my gap wedge, because I regularly grab it instead of the lob wedge or vice versa–they look the same when in the bag. Thus, I clamped the club in by the neck….but….

That was a bad idea. We’ll get to it later on in the post, but, suffice to say, if you’re clamping your work piece, do not try to clamp it on a rounded portion. Hitting the club head with a hammer will cause it to move (duh). This project was a bit difficult because I wanted to stamp the sole of the club. However, I should’ve known this setup wouldn’t work out.

The correct setup is below. Because the blade is actually clamped, the club will not move.

I taped the bottom of the club…

Then I held the stamp and hit it with the hammer. The following is the result.

A couple of things I learned from this. As you can see below in the red oval, the bottom of the “3” is moving down the club. This was a result of the bad clamping, which I discussed above. With each hammer strike, the club moved a little. Once I reclamped it on the blade, it was OK, and I was able to get the deep 3 located above the red oval.

A second learning experience was with the 5. Although you don’t need to swing the hammer very hard, you do need to strike the stamp about 15-20 times to get a nice deep stamping (at least on these wedges–it may be different with different metals). With that in mind, you need to be darn sure that the stamp itself doesn’t move. So, what I had to learn how to do was to hold down the stamp in contact with the club head, rather than simply holding it over the club head. In other words, I needed to actually be pushing the stamp into the club head to hold it in the exact place. Otherwise, it’ll move a bit, as you can see in the yellow circle.

But, with renewed enthusiasm, I tried it on the lob wedge, stamping with my initial “J.” I think it looks pretty good, despite a few errors.

One last thing I learned from the experience: don’t just try your technique on a test piece; perfect it on the test piece. Otherwise, you’ll end up with some errors. None of them bother me that much (because I’m just not that serious), but I know some of you out there (LG?) would be extremely bothered by an error on the club.

All in all, it’s not difficult, but it requires patience and absolute accuracy.

Play of the Week 8

January 13, 2011

DJ

This week’s POTW goes to DJ–my man! Dustin Johnson is reportedly dating darling of the LPGA Natalie Gulbis. Gulbis followed DJ at the back nine of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Gulbis, who apparently leaked the news, stated “I’ll let Dustin handle our PR” with a smile.

Johnson has purportedly denied a relationship with Gulbis. The big question: why! Come on dude! You landed the hottie of the LPGA. Brag about it a little. According to About.com (http://golf.about.com/b/2011/01/09/natalie-gulbis-dustin-johnson-a-couple.htm) “The only thing longer than Dustin Johnson’s drives are Natalie Gulbis’s legs.”

While some would say Paula Creamer is #1 hottie for the LPGA (a lot of people: http://thesandtrap.com/forum/thread/5426/paula-creamer-vs-natalie-gulbis) , DJ certainly could have done worse.

So here’s to you DJ! You may not have won the 2010 US Open at Pebble, which you should have. You may not have won the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which you should have. You may not have landed PF favorite Lauren Thompson. But you certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to landing a hottie. Here’s hoping you find the fairway.

And, just for good measure, let’s not forget about the darling of the PF… Lauren Thompson, official hottie of The Power Fade.

Here’s to you too. 8)

Posted 12/4/2010 by JK:

Here’s an interesting topic. Some have postulated recently that Tiger’s golf regression means he won’t catch Jack Nicklaus for the all-time major championship wins record. Jack Nicklaus won 18 professional major championships in his career. At one time, it seemed like an absolute lock that Tiger would pass Jack. But Tiger hasn’t won a major since the ’08 US Open at Torrey Pines, and with the impressive young talent right now (Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Ricky Fowler, Anthony Kim, Martin Kaymer, etc.), it seems that Tiger will have even fewer chances to win going forward.

For my money, I can’t see any reason how Tiger would not pass Jack, and here’s why: statistics. It used to be that golfers over about 42 years old were generally just biding their time, waiting for the Senior Tour (or, now, the Champion’s Tour). But that has changed, in my opinion, and it will affect Tiger’s ability to challenge Jack.

Tiger is now 35 years old, and many of today’s great golfers are playing well even into their late 40s (Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh). Even Fred Couples is still competing at 50+. If he follows that trend, Tiger’s got a good 10 years of very competitive golf left in him, and with modern conditioning, weight training, equipment, and medical attention that he has experienced his entire life, he may go even further without a hitch. If he goes 10 more years, he has until 2020 to complete the feat. Even considering he only makes it 10 more years of truly competitive golf (45 years old), he’ll still have 40 more majors to play in. That means he’d have to win only 10% of the majors to tie Jack’s record. If he averaged 2 majors every 3 years–2 wins out of 12 tries, or fewer than one per year–he’d still tie Jack’s record by 2016 and beat it by 2019. In 14 years, he’s won 14 majors (exactly 10%), finishing second or tied for second 6 times, and finishing in the top 10 but outside of 1 or 2 another 14 times. Plus, he was out for half of 2008 with knee surgery and was dealing with “off-the-course” issues during 2010. If he has one more stretch like 00-02 (6 majors) or 05-07 (5 majors), he’ll pass jack over a 2-year span. And, he has 10 years in which to get it done!

Moreover, it has to be considered that Tiger no longer has the stress of keeping up extramarital affairs in the background of his already complicated personal life. The same thing that made him a scumbag to a lot of the world probably hurt his ability to focus on his job. How else would you explain Tiger shooting 75 in the final round of a major to be caught by YE Yang? Moreover, now that he’s “single” again, he doesn’t have the constant need to put his family ahead of his professional endeavors. Many athletes perform better after divorces–sad to say, but it’s true. And Tiger’s swing already looks better, and his competitive drive seems to have returned along with it.

Thus, I can’t see any way that Tiger doesn’t break Jack’s record.

Any thoughts, LG?

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Posted 1/11/11 by LG:

Thanks for the intro, JK.  I agree with you that it’s likely (for me, nearly inevitable) that Tiger will one day hold the record for most major championship titles owned by a single golfer.  The more interesting questions to me are whether Tiger needs to break this record in order to go down as the greatest golfer that’s ever played the game and whether people want this record to be broken.

As to the first question, I’m sure much debate and defaming would go down if I were to take a firm position on the matter.  For me, I’m not honestly sure what entitles someone to call themselves the “greatest golfer in the history of the game.”  Bobby Jones championed the cause of the amateur golfer during a time when professional golfers were despised.  Arnie brought the game to the people:  He is the King.  Jack won the most majors and exemplified the true competitor.  Tiger has destroyed the field, redefined the game for the next generation, and brought the game to its largest known audience in history.  For me, No one besides these four should be considered for the title.  Forced to choose between them, I would pick Tiger.

My reasons are selfish.  I never once thought I’d play golf while I was growing up.  I took lessons for one summer and enjoyed them but never pursued the game.   I took up pool in college and thought that golf was what people did after they busted out of a pool tournament (happily mistaken).  At the end of the day, when I think about why I play this game, it is because of Tiger.  His dominance over the game was something I had to experience to believe.  Only after playing golf could I begin to understand the magnitude of his accomplishments.

Sport to me comes down to one thing: competition.  Whether it’s putting a ball into a hole, shooting a ball into a basket, or sending a puck into the back of a net, the game is played to decide who wins and who loses.  Therefore, the greatest golfer to me must be the greatest competitor.  While Jack did win the most majors,  Tiger has won more dominantly than any other player in history.  If Tiger wins more majors, it seems untenable to argue that Jack is the greatest golfer on this theory, but I’m sure there are those who will try.  Before that happens, however, I find it difficult to decide between the greatest number of wins and the dominance in those wins.  The question remains, who is the greatest?

As to the second question, I don’t believe there could be any greater stimulus to the game of golf in this nation than for Tiger to break this record.  The chase toward the record, and the manner of Tiger’s wins thus far, has been the single reason (like it or not) that golf has achieved the notoriety and cool factor that it has with the international sports community.  Tiger’s dominance created an aura of invincibility that has likely not been paralleled in individual competition in modern history.  The solitary nature of golf, with one man controlling his fate, renders Tiger’s achievement even more awe inspiring.  If and when Tiger wins another major, we will not only find golf ratings shooting through the roof at near 2000 rates, but the game will feel new again.  I, for one, am waiting for the day when Tiger begins his run again.  Just thinking about Tiger in contention to win the Masters in April with a 12 footer to win on 18 already has the hair standing up on the back of my neck.  Kobe held up five fingers at the end of the NBA championship last year to celebrate his 5th title.  How do you celebrate your 5th green jacket?  A fist pump?  a high-five (that, for once, hopefully looks somewhat coordinated) with your caddie? Holding your (Scotty Cameron) putter in the air?  I can’t wait to find out this April.

Today’s post is about purchasing golf equipment and how to maximize benefit while reducing cost.

Many people don’t realize that the “price” of something isn’t really the price. In America, we are conditioned to believe that the price marked on an item is the price of the item. If you have the money, you buy it; if you don’t have the money, you don’t buy it. But anyone who has traveled abroad knows the value of a marketplace setting and “haggling” to get a deal.

When I was in Italy, I found a marketplace where a very nice man was selling wallets. I found one I especially liked and internally valued it at about 12 euro. It had “25 euro” marked on it. I told the man I wanted to pay about 10 euro. He came down from 25 to 18. I asked if I paid in cash, would he take more off (credit card fees), and he came down to 16. I said “I really didn’t want to pay more than 12” and he came to 15. He told me how nice it was; how the craftsmanship was excellent; how he couldn’t make money if he sold it for less than 15. Politely, I said “OK. Well, it’s a very nice wallet, but I don’t want to pay more than 12 euro. Thank you so much for your time.” Then I walked away. As I turned the corner, he yelled out to me “OK! OK! I can do 12!”

People don’t really understand where all the numbers come from, though. They think “well, I need to start low so I can work my way up to the price I want to pay.” That isn’t the strategy at all.

Instead, the strategy behind buying and selling is figuring out an independent value for things BEFORE looking at the price tag or negotiating a transaction. This value is something completely subjective–something that only you can define. As in my wallet example, I decided that the wallet was worth about 12 euro to me before I saw that the price was 25. If the marked price was 12–great, I would have simply paid the price. But I wasn’t going to go above what I thought it was worth.

The same thing holds true for buying golf equipment. Value is a completely subjective measure. For one seller, a club needs to bring in at least $150 or it’s just not worth selling, whereas another seller’s main concern is getting the club out of his closet, so he’ll take $100 for the exact same thing.

Now, all of this isn’t to say that you offer the seller whatever price you think it’s worth. Instead, figure out whether the seller’s price is close enough to the price you’re willing to pay so that an offer will seem reasonable to the seller. I once had a seller call me a “dumb uck” (intentionally leaving out the “f” to avoid being thrown off of the website) because I offered him a price that he perceived was too low for a club. Often times, however, a seller will accept a lower price. By following this procedure, I have consistently saved between 20% and 50% on used golf equipment.

So, with that backdrop in mind, I have listed some guidelines for buying equipment (and saving money). Hopefully they will help you with your search for equipment.

(1) Know what you want; know Read the rest of this entry »

POTW 7: “FORE!!!”

January 7, 2011

The tranquility of golf is something that cannot be denied. A walk through nature; a game of chess with oneself; a game that Bobby Jones described as played on a course “located in the 6-inch space between your ears.” Truly, golf is about focus, patience, and skill. It teaches many lessons, a reason why it such a great game for the youth of America.

Unfortunately, that tranquility is something that is not preserved by the game itself. It’s a special feature of golf that is preserved by the players who respect it. Like the many “unwritten rules” of baseball, golf’s billing as a “gentleman’s game” cannot be enforced as a rule. It simply must be respected. And anyone who has played a public course in a city knows how much the respect has waned with the boom of golf over the past decade. Balls flying into all different fairways; carts driving where they shouldn’t be; bunkers left unraked; beer cans lining fairways. As the masses flock to golf, the tranquility of the game is eroding away.

New York’s highest court recently encountered a case regarding the tranquility of the game–specifically, whether a golfer had to yell “fore” before every swing. Dr. Anoop Kapoor and Dr. Azad Anand were playing on a nine-hole course in October 2002 when Kapoor took the swing without the warning. Anand was hit in the head and sued.

Importantly, the NY Court of Appeals decided that Anand “assumed the risk” by being on the golf course.

A person who chooses to participate in a sport or recreational activity consents to certain risks that “are inherent in and arise out of the nature of the sport generally and flow from such participation” (Morgan v State, 90 NY2d 471, 484 [1997]). A court evaluating the duty of care owed to a plaintiff by a coparticipant in sport must therefore consider the risks that the plaintiff assumed and “how those assumed risks qualified defendant’s duty to him” (Turcotte v Fell, 68 NY2d 432, 438 [1986]). However, a plaintiff “will not be deemed to have assumed the risks of reckless or intentional conduct or concealed or unreasonably increased risks” (Morgan, 90 NY2d at 485 [citations omitted]).

Here, Kapoor’s failure to warn of his intent to strike the ball did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct, and did not unreasonably increase the risks inherent in golf to which Anand consented. Rather, the manner in which Anand was injured–being hit without warning by a “shanked” shot while one searches for one’s own ball–reflects a commonly appreciated risk of golf.

I applaud the Court for preserving one of golf’s sacred rules. There is no need to disturb the tranquility of golf unless the golfer’s actions are reckless or knowingly put someone in danger. Imagine your local course, filled with Sunday golfers, where every golfer by law had to yell “fore” before each shot. If you play golf to relax (like I do), nothing could be more nerve racking.

So here’s to you, NY Court of Appeals. While I haven’t agreed with all of your decisions (Mr. Cardozo), thank you for preserving the game.