Play of the Week 35

June 30, 2012

The letters:

L

G

Probably the play of the month, really. After years in the game, constant obsession, tireless effort, battling work for just enough time to practice….LG finally achieved that milestone, the big one, the ultimate. That’s right: 79. We all knew it would happen one day. The guy is way too into this game not to get better. But the results have been up and down for the last few months, and neither of us have been seeing much consistency.

But LG started showing signs. He shot 83 and 84 in the rounds preceding. We talked about it recently, and determined that LG had shot 84 with only 4 GIR. Not bad when you consider it that way.

I’m sure when LG started out today, he didn’t know it would be the day he broke through. Even playing the front 9, he probably felt he was playing well but not scoring. Then, this:

LOOK AT THAT BACK 9! I don’t think I’ve had a back 9 like that this year, and I’m a 1.5 handicap! An eagle (LG’s first), a two-putt birdie, and a -1 for the 9? Amazing. Plus, this guy shot 79 with 3 double bogeys AND three 3-putts. While it may look like he just passed the line, this is a huge breakthrough: clearly, he’s doing something he wasn’t before.

Way to go LG. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for it, but I’m really glad you finally got the monkey off your back. Enjoy being one of the few who’ve accomplished this feat, and enjoy making it an every day practice.

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POTW: Mitch Lowe

June 28, 2012

This week’s POTW goes to Mitch Lowe.  Mitch recently qualified to play in this year’s PGA Championship by way of placing T-7 in the PGA Professional National Championship held this week at Bayonet and Blackhorse.  The top 20 in this incredibly difficult tournament qualify to play in the next PGA Championship.  Mitch shot a strong final round of 70 closing with two birdies in the last three holes.  We always appreciate a strong performance and a particularly solid finish here at the PowerFade, so we solute you, Mitch.  Way to close strong.  We look forward to watching you play at Kiawah Island this August!  

Mitch was the subject of one of our earlier reviews: https://thepowerfade.com/2011/02/22/review-lesson-with-pga-professional-mitch-lowe-and-the-fleming-course-at-harding-park/.  He now teaches at Half Moon Bay Golf Links in Half Moon Bay, CA.  You’d do well to take a lesson from him.  http://www.pga.com/professionals/mitch-lowe-pga.  See our review of Bayonet as well: https://thepowerfade.com/2011/10/05/course-review-bayonet-seaside-ca/.  

Updated 6/20
Yikes. Once again, our prowess for picking tournaments is pretty poor. See correct answers below:

Overall:
Winner: Webb Simpson
Winning Score: +1.
Runner Up: GMac and Michael Thompson.
Low Amateur: Jordan Speith.
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Michael Thompson, John Peterson. THIS IS WHAT I MEAN BY “UKNOWN”–AS IN, NO ONE KNOWS WHO THE F THEY ARE!
Most difficult hole vs. par: 6, but I contend it would have been 16 if they hadn’t moved the tees up on Sunday.
Easiest hole vs. par: 17.
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Missed the cut.
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 4 – Furyk, GMac, Els, Goosen
Will there be an ace?: Yes.
…(assume there is) Which hole: 13.
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: Furyk definitely lost it

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Goosen and Vijay shot 75; ZJ shot 77. no one won.
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Westwood
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: 69 for GMac on day 1
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Ryo shot 71 on day 1 (followed by 78 and MC on day 2)

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger shot 70. Phil and Bubba shot 71. Close.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Goosen and ZJ shoot 70
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Westwood and Donald shoot 72; Rory shoots 73.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Furyk with the 69
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Johnson shoots 74 FTW. WTF?

Original 6/13:
Alright Ladies and Gents, this week marks the 112th playing of our National Championship.  The tournament will take place in LG’s backyard – the Lake Course at the Olympic Club.  Given LG’s inside knowledge of the course, clearly he should win (and already has because he has inside knowledge).

Without further distraction, our predictions:

LG:

Overall:
Winner: TW.
Winning Score: -3.
Runner Up: Sergio Garcia.
Low Amateur: Patrick Cantlay.
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Aaron Baddeley.
Most difficult hole vs. par: par-3 Third.
Easiest hole vs. par: Par-4 Seventh.
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make the Cut.
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3.
Will there be an ace?: No.
…(assume there is) Which hole: 15.
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: TW will win it.

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: TW gets off to a rocky start.  Bubba takes the win on day 1.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Hate to say it, but probably ZJ.
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Luke shoots even for the win.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio.
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Fowler with the win on day 1.

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Tiger makes a charge.
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: ZJ again, unfortunately.  probably with a +3
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rory comes back to make the cut.
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio gives a couple back.  Furyk pulls out the win.
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?:  DJ.  Did you see him at the St. Jude?

JK:

Overall:
Winner: Dustin Johnson
Winning Score: Even
Runner Up: Rickie Fowler
Low Amateur: LG, when he finds out he has to work instead of watch the open. But seriously, Cantlay
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Rooting for Tim Weinhart, local pro from Atlanta who made the field through qualifying.
Most difficult hole vs. par: Any of them could be. There isn’t an easy hole on the course. Let’s go with 16.
Easiest hole vs. par: 18
Last Year’s Winner (Rory) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): make the cut. He’s not in good form after choking at the St. Jude
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 0
Will there be an ace?: no
…(assume there is) Which hole: I said NO!
Will someone win it, or will everyone else lose it?: No one wins the US Open.

First Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Bubba
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: ZJ
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rors
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Sergio
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: Fowler

Second Round Three balls:
Tiger, Phil, or Bubba?: Phil
Goosen, Vijay , or ZJ?: Vijay
Rory, Luke, or Westwood?: Rors
Furyk, Sergio, or GMAC?: Furyk
Fowler, Ryo, or DJ?: DJ

Play of the Week 33

June 19, 2012

This week, I’m afraid I have to give the POTW to the USGA. Typically, I am not a fan of the US Open. When I’ve watched the tournament in years past, I’ve typically found it to be rather boring for a number of reasons. In most cases, it is pointlessly difficult, to where even the best in the world can make nothing of the courses (Oakmont, 2007; Shinnecock, 2004). In many cases, the winner is boring or surprising–as if we were playing the John Deere classic instead of a Major (e.g., Lucas Glover 2009, Angel Cabrera 2007, Michael Campbell 2005, Reteif Goosen 2001/2004). Often, it’s just a war of attrition, where the one player who’s lucky enough to find his ball on every hole manages to sift through the gauntlet and survive the fray (GMac, 2010). Or, the tournament is just boring (McIlroy, 2011).

But every few years, the USGA gets it right. One of the most memorable tournaments I’ve ever watched was the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, where Tiger edged Rocco Mediate with a gutsy performance that just outlasted one of the most tenacious players in the game. Or 1999, where the image of Payne Stewart sinking a 20-foot putt to save par on the 72nd hole has become an icon of the game of golf. But in 1999, although the winning score was -1, the course played fairly. It showcased how the greatest in the world (a very young Tiger, a younger than now Phil) could play when the pressure cooker was on, and Payne’s lasting legacy of 1-putting the last 3 holes to hold on was truly a riveting watch.

Like ’08 and ’99, this year, the USGA got it right. The US Open this year wasn’t flashy. It was a simple test–a par 70, even. No water hazards to fly over, no forced carries, not even more than a few fairway bunkers. But Olympic Club was just right. The winning score a nice +1, with Webb Simpson coming out on top over Jim Furyk–trying to hold on–and Graeme McDowell, who charged in at the end but couldn’t seal the deal. Webb posted his second 68 of the weekend hours before GMac and Furyk walked off the course, leaving the scene for great tension and excitement. Olympic was a true test–not just a slaughterhouse. It TESTED the best in the world, but the test could be passed. Players didn’t complain that it was unfair or say that it was too penal. Instead, they went about their business, and the winner played under par both rounds on the weekend. When was the last time you said that about a US Open winner? (well, other than 2011, when Rors was on an absolute tear, but who else?) And, for the second time this year, the winner of a major has come from a pairing other than the final group, which is some welcome excitement that we don’t often see.

I’m not saying this was as exciting as the Masters is every year, or that the US Open is no longer my least favorite of the majors. What the USGA typically does to the players isn’t right, on any level. But this year, the course was what a true test should be. When a player masters that test, he should get the trophy, and Webb did. So, to the USGA, we solute you. And, to Webb Simpson, congrats on passing the test.

us open olympic

WITB: JK Edition

June 7, 2012

Updated 6/7/2012

LG’s What’s In The Bag (https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/whats-in-the-bag-lg-edition/) inspired me, but, sadly, not enough to do anything about it until now (yes, nearly a year later). Now that I finally have my set the way I want–or as close as it’s going to get at this point–here it is. Without further ado, JK’s WITB:

The first look is of the entire bag. What immediately stands out is the color yellow. To accommodate my Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, I’ve bought yellow golf bags over the years. Slowly, I’ve continued to include yellow colors in various aspects of the bag until virtually everything in the bag now has something yellow associated with it.

The towel here is for Mystery Valley Golf Course in Stone Mountain/Lithonia, Georgia. I grew up playing this course, and this towel goes with me wherever my bag goes. It’s a reminder of where I learned to play the game and, more importantly, how I learned to play the game. Mystery Valley is the subject of a PF review, https://thepowerfade.com/2011/07/25/review-mystery-valley-golf-course-lithonia-ga/.

I recently decided that I wasn’t good enough to play blades anymore. Too much inconsistent contact (due to too much inconsistent practice) means cavities were the way to go. I picked up these Mizuno MP 63 irons near the end of last year. They’re great. Diamond muscle cavities provide a good touch and workability along with a low COG, but the cavities edges create perimeter weighting, helping with forgiveness on off-center hits (THANK YOU!). I would recommend staying away from the KBS Tour iron shafts, though. They felt mushier and less certain, to me, than the X100s that I am now playing in them. I swingweighted them to D4-D5 and put on custom ferrules (which are seen in another pic). Nice to have a set that is truly my own.

Below are my Fourteen MT28V5 wedges, spec’d at 54/10 and 60/08, but with the 54/10 bent to 56/12. These were refinished and rechromed near the end of last year by Jim Kronus at The Iron Factory. The review is at https://thepowerfade.com/2011/12/28/review-iron-factory-jim-kronus/

I purchased this MP 53 3-iron from a member at GolfWRX. I found out later when building it into its current form that the head weight is a little light of standard due to it being designed as a “B” head. Mizuno is the only company (that I am aware of) that has two production lines: one is for standard weight heads for standard length clubs, one is for long club for taller players. When the clubs are built to 1 inch or more over standard, the head weight needs to come down to keep the swingweight relatively the same. Because I play my irons at standard, I have a tip plug and lead tape on the head to get the weight where I like it (playing around D4-D5).

Another view of the bag shows the various towels and headcovers. LG was kind enough to get me some yellow and white towels, and I keep a black one on the bag for when I really get a lot of dirt on the club and don’t want to dirty up my nice white towels. There are four headcovers on my bag, none of which are standard. One says “GT” for Georgia Tech and has some logos on it. Another is Buzz, the GT mascot. These two headcovers protect my fairway woods. A black panther protects my driver. The panther is the mascot of Georgia State University, where I got my graduate degree. I was unable to find any blue or purple panther headcover, though (both colors used by the university at some point, oddly enough), so I went with black. The last is the cover to protect my putter, which is a custom made by Delila. More seen of that in later pictures.

Pure Pro grips are tremendous. I’ve been meaning to do a review on these, but they are sturdier than Tour Velvet while also being tackier to promote traction. I couldn’t be happier with them, and the yellow was a bonus.

Custom yellow ferrules from eBay. Yes, it’s a little gawdy (or maybe a lot), but I’m the only person I’ve seen that has custom yellow ferrules. There’s something to be said about that.

Another look at the various headcovers.

Below is, simply put, the best putter in the world LaMont Mann at Sunset Beach did a tremendous job on this, as he does on many putters. This one has helped me transform my game from a bomb and gouge, can’t get it in the hole player to a “he makes them from everywhere on the green but can’t swing to save his life” kind of player. Trying to get those two married together, in a good way. A full review of SSB is at https://thepowerfade.com/2011/05/02/review-sunset-beach-golf/


Chris Jordan of Sunset Beach was nice enough to get me a yellow putter grip recently. It works great. I had 27 putts in my last 18 hole round.

Below is the headcover by DelilaH. A full review of Delila and her process is at https://thepowerfade.com/2011/12/07/review-club-covers-by-delilah/. The long story short, I wanted a custom cover to match my bag and to remember my kids when I’m on the course. This was the best I could’ve ever dreamed of.

Another look at the Panther. Growl.

LG and I simultaneously (or close thereto) have shifted between various drivers over the last few years. First, we had SMT drivers (review at https://thepowerfade.com/2011/01/24/review-smt-golf/). We experienced some problems with our SMT drivers that we did not anticipate, so LG first switched. He was looking at the Titleist 910 drivers and decided to save his money and buy a 909D2, which is basically the same thing but without an adjustable hosel. I followed suit shortly after, buying a 909D3. I put in a V2 Tour Flight shaft, but it was too low, and I did not like my dispersion. So, I found a decent price on a Japan-issued prototype Diamana Whiteboard 73x5ct. I had previously played 80g shafts and 60g shafts, but they never felt right. The Whiteboard, at around 70g, was right on. I put in a Harrison Shotmaker in E flex, and my drives have been long, straight, and accurate ever since. Nothing is a panacea, and I still have occasional bad shots, but this setup is working very well for me.



Below is the oldest club in my bag and its cousin. The 904f 17 degree fairway wood was a club I bought while I was in college. I had played a 2-iron for a long time, but I decided it was getting too difficult to hit. Plus, I wanted to add an extra wedge, and carrying a 3-wood and a 2-iron could be eliminated if I played a 4-wood. So, I traded in my old 3-wood and got the 904f. It has seen a lot of bag changes (from 962s to MP14s to MP67s to MP32s to KZG ZOs and now MP63s, and that’s just the irons!). It got so scratched and dirtied that I decided to repaint it. It’s still the same tremendous golf club it was for me many years ago. The 13 degree I bought within the last two years. LG was in Atlanta more than a year ago and hit my 904f 17 degree. He liked it so much that he started looking for his own 904f. We found someone willing to sell a 15 degree, 13 degree, and 19 degree, so I bought all of them, kept the 13 for myself, and sent the 15 and 19 to LG. The 13 will be coming out of the bag soon in favor of an Adams XTD Super Fairway (pics to come later), but my bag is still accurate as of now.

Oh, and an instructional for repainting the 17 degree fairway wood is at https://thepowerfade.com/2010/12/06/repainting-a-club-redux/9/, which includes a link to the original repainting thread.


The Bushnell Tour V2 laser, approved for tournament play. What a great device.

The scorecard holder below was a gift from LG (very kind, and thank you). It goes with me everywhere and is very helpful, especially on summer days in Georgia when I have a tendency to sweat through my scorecards. A review of these will be forthcoming, but know that this is a great product and is just the signature touch I needed to complete my bag.


In a nod to Georgia Tech, I mark my golf ball with a gold dot and gold line (considering the colors are old gold and white). I do it while I can, until I run out of the markers I have, then I’ll have to find something else to do.


These markers are out of production now. They still make the silver metallic ones, but Sharpie does not make gold anymore. I’m told they once made copper too, but those are the rarest by far. These still come up on eBay from time to time, but they aren’t cheap typically. I lucked out and bought 6 about two years ago for under $20. I still have 3 remaining, so hopefully they’ll last until I can find more. Sharpie does make paint markers, but that’s not the same as a true Sharpie. The color is great, and the markings wear off slowly over the course of a round. While this seems bothersome, it’s actually good because you can remark at the end of the round and, as long as you haven’t significantly dinged your golf ball, it feels like a new ball! I’ve been very happy with these.

Finally, a bag tag from Glen Abbey. For those that don’t know Glen Abbey, it’s a championship course that was the home of the Bell Canadian Open for many years. Now, the Canadian Open shifts from one site to another, but the course is still in championship shape. Glen Abbey was one of the first (if not the first) championship courses I ever played. It’s loaded with history of great players doing spectacular things there. Some memorable moments are seen in the video clip below, most notably, Tiger Woods’s 6-iron shot out of the bunker on 18. Yet another moment (I believe from the same tournament) but lesser-known was Tiger’s charge to make the cut. After shooting a 39 on the back 9 of round 1 on Thursday, (scorecards here: http://www.pgatour.com/r/tiger.victoryroom.win24/index.html), Tiger was in jeopardy of missing the cut. Tiger finished the back 9 on Friday (round 2) with birdie, eagle, birdie, eagle–going 6-under for the last four holes to shoot 32 on the par 37 back 9 to make the cut and, eventually, to win. The Glen Abbey bag tag is a reminder to me never to give up and, when all else fails, to be aggresive and to trust my instincts.

canadian open

So that’s it. There are some other nuances, but I could waste all day blathering on about mindless stuff that has some meaning to me but, invariably, doesn’t have meaning to someone else. Leave a comment if you feel, and thanks for looking.

Also, the pictures below were taken near the end of last year to try to do a WITB then, but…clearly…I didn’t. As you can see, not a lot has changed, but there are some differences. Many of these are now backups to my current set. Enjoy.
































POTW 32: Magic at 16.

June 4, 2012

Forget that he won.  Forget that he won for the 73rd time.  Forget that he tied Jack AT JACK’S PLACE.  Forget that he came from 4 back to win by two.  Forget that you couldn’t tell if it was 2000 or 2012 when watching the final round at the Memorial.  The play of the week goes to the shot that will likely define Tiger’s comeback.  A shot that Jack called the greatest shot he’s ever seen in the circumstances.

Go ahead.  Watch it again.  We are.