This and That!

Before I sat down to write this article I was initially going to sit down and write a review based on my first impressions of the F7 ONE Length irons from Cobra Golf. However, I have been sitting on some things in the back of my mind for some time and after recent events I feel like putting those thoughts together… here and now! 

The reality is that I may lose followers as a result of this article. In the past, I have been reluctant to post anything controversial or political because of a fear to lose readers. When it comes to topics like religion or political views it’s a surefire way to piss somebody off especially in this… “The Age of Sensitivity”. But sometimes you just have to get crap off your chest and in some cases you just shouldn’t give a “flying rat’s ass” about what someone may think. That’s where I’m at.

Let’s start with the obvious and the day’s most recent news. Tiger Woods. Recently, he said that he has felt the best that he’s felt in a long time. Woods also stated that he was pain-free. Perfect! Maybe it was him inching ever so closer to a return to competition. Bravo! Tiger Woods in competition again would be good for television ratings and TaylorMade Golf. Unfortunately, news out of Jupiter, Florida today shows that Tiger was arrested for DUI. Whether or not Tiger was impaired from alcohol, prescription drugs or recreational drugs is of no consequence and makes no difference to me. He was wrong and irresponsible regardless of what it was. Period! I personally don’t care to hear any bullshit press release from him or any agent (P.R. Firm) acting on his behalf. I don’t care about the infamous “Elin 9-iron” from a few years ago. That wasn’t of consequence to anyone and I don’t recollect whether or not there was drinking and driving when he drove into the tree. Anyways, people came to his defense for his cheating ways back them and again I couldn’t care less about that nonsense. What I do care about is the impaired driving charge and this is his second time. You know the saying… “fool me once….” See his photo? He was freaking “gooned”! You see impaired driving strikes a real nerve with me. I was nearly killed by an off-duty impaired police officer in 1995. As a matter of fact I had an ex-girlfriend killed by an impaired driver. Impaired driving has definitely effected who I am and my life. There is no freaking excuse for putting your life and more importantly the lives of others to drive impaired. I have seen within the last hour numerous Tweets trying to make excuses for him. One uneducated buffoon even said… “everyone has driven impaired”. Buddy, just because you likely have doesn’t mean that we all have. Everyone?! Not me… so enough of putting everyone and myself under an umbrella with a ridiculous statement like that. At this point in time I don’t care what Tiger has or hasn’t done for the game. This is a massive black eye! Tiger you could have killed somebody. A mother, father, grandparent, aunt, uncle or child with your selfish act. Not to mention you could have taken yourself away from your children. Greed and selfishness!

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Drunken Tiger Hidden Golf Game (Photo Credit: msnbc.com)

 

Politics and golf. I hate politics yet it’s one of those things that just seems to come up. This past week the PGA Champions played their Senior PGA Championship in the Washington, D.C. area this past weekend. German Ironman Bernhard Langer was the eventual winner outlasting Vijay Singh at the tournament which was hosted at Trump National which of course is owned by President Donald Trump. Langer now owns the Career Grand Slam (plus one) on the Senior Tour. A truly remarkable accomplishment. Leading up to the event a few players came to Trump’s defense. Players like Rocco Mediate, John Daly and Fred Funk came to his defense. Stating that they were friends. While Mediate wished to talk about only the tournament because talking about other things weren’t his “forte”. Funk on the other hand according to a U.S.A. Today (fake news? Too soon?) article said that he would “get in their face” of any “fantester” on hand to protest the Trump embroidery emblazoned on his chest (Funk has been sponsored by Trump). Funk said that he wouldn’t talk politics but he ultimately did defending policies and so forth. Daly on the other hand was very diplomatic and to paraphrase suggested that it’s just best to support Trump. That citizens should try to jump on the proverbial bandwagon. Regarding the protesters Daly said that he would “just ignore them”. The activists that were on hand were there because of only one reason… the Trump name.

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Dear Protesters and Players:

Golf doesn’t need protesters and golf doesn’t need politics to mar press conferences and tournaments. Keep the political nonsense at home. The end!

Sincerely Yours

Golf trick shots and general on-course stupidity. I admit that golf trick shots involve a boatload of skill. More than learning to hit a golf ball straight? Perhaps not! I admit that I cannot hit a golf trick shot and in no way do I suggest that it takes no talent. I used to admire trick shots but am I the only one that thinks that they have gotten old and boring? I realize that I sound like an old curmudgeon but I am tired of seeing them. Especially when it involves an original shot being copied by another person and then that person being copied by another. It’s almost like a damn “pyramid scheme”. When it comes to bloopers I don’t mind them but staged stupidity involving damaging golf carts and stuff? C’mon! How many clips are on the internet involving the senseless destruction of golf carts? Too freaking many… which means too many freaking people getting their “five minutes”. For those that play such courses where you’ve destroyed golf carts and other golf course property. You wonder why you have to leave credit card information at the Pro Shop and also wonder why cart rates have climbed? Think about it! I have no issue with playing golf and having fun while playing. For those that haven’t golfed with me you need to know that I am one of the least serious people out there. I love to have fun and I am all about having fun. But you don’t need to be stupid destroying course property. Go ahead… drink and be merry! Enjoy the day but don’t hold the rest of us up lighting carts on fire.

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This cart is on fireeeee….. (Photo Credit: youtube.com)

Until The Next Tee!

Review – TaylorMade Golf M1 and M2 (Driver)

When it comes to writing these reviews sometimes I have a tendency of giving a ton of background information. Although I have no intention of straying too far from my usual ways there is a part of me that wants to jump right into the meat of this review. I won’t mince words but the reality is that their product cycle is a bone of contention for many consumers. I admittedly have been among the brands detractors in the past because of that product cycle. But the reality is that the brand continues to excel especially when it comes to its metalwood division. The brands founder Gary Adams has to be smiling from above seeing what his creation has become. Lately, TaylorMade Golf has seen its athletes go on a huge roll. DJ is number one on the world, Sergio Garcia won The Masters, Si Woo Kim won The Player’s Championship and the beat goes on.

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The 1 that changed golf forever. The creation of Gary Adams. (Photo Credit: golf.com)

2016 was a banner year for the Carlsbad, California-based golf giant. The brand released the M family of woods and irons and for the most part the equipment took the golf world by storm. Whether you were at a golf course getting set play your weekly game or you were tuning into a golf telecast on Sunday afternoon chances were that you saw one of their two-toned multi-material heads in play. Partially because of the brands willingness to pay players as their budget is a decent size. Partially because of a very strong marketing game. Lastly, because the products were just that good. How good? Well they were good enough to see a few Nike Golf equipment “refugees”  and other Tour professionals start experimenting with their products. Namely the M1 and M2 drivers and fairway woods. Prior to the golf show last year I came into a M1 430 that I had one from TaylorMade… which in fact turned into my first review of a TaylorMade product. I was fit at their Performance Lab in Woodbridge, Ontario and I really did like the driver and 3 wood. However, I had a couple of issues with it. I wasn’t crazy about the feel (felt dead) and I wasn’t convinced that it was better or longer than my SLDR 430. On the other hand, when I first caught wind of the M2 I was excited about it. I was on an airplane on a short layover in Clearwater, FL. I would swing the M2 at the PGA Show Demo Day and I knew after one swing that (in my opinion) it was superior. Better length, feel and acoustics. I immediately wanted to sell my M1 and buy an M2 on the spot. No wonder why Rory and Tiger put it into play last year. It was a beast!

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PGA Show Demo Day. The TaylorMade booth was rocking.

As the PGA Show approached this year I was excited to swing the newest generation of the M1 and M2  metalwood family. Would this year’s version be as good, better or a step backwards? I had an appointment arranged by TaylorMade Golf Marketing Manager Nick Obritsch to be walked through their product range. So I made my way over to their booth and I was introduced to TaylorMade Senior Director of Creation Brian Bazzel who was accommodating to talk me through the 2017 version of the “M FaM1ly”. There is more going on with the 2017 version of the M1 and M2 driver than a different look.

 

M1 – There are two models of the M1. There is the typical 460cc version but instead of going with a 430cc clubhead TaylorMade opted to go with a slightly bigger 440cc version. The M1 features a new 6-layer carbon crown and a carbon toe panel. This changes results in the M1 having 43% more carbon than in 2016. This change allows for a lower “Centre of Gravity” and an expanded T-Track which allows for more adjustability as far as launch angle and spin is concerned. Moreover, TaylorMade set out to improve the acoustics of the 2017 model. Part of the reasoning is due to the new material usage. Also engineers at TaylorMade focused on the internal acoustic properties. The end result is a more pleasing pitch at impact that is described as “best in class”. With the 2017 version, TaylorMade created a driver that offers golfer maximum forgiveness, performance and adjustability.

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Streamlined looks. the sole of 2017 M1.

M2 – With the 2017 version of the M2, TaylorMade is offering golfers two versions of the M2. There is the “standard” version and then a “D-Type”. The D-Type features a draw bias (up to 20 yards) with weighting more towards the toe, a slight offset which will help golfers take out one side of the fairway (right for a right-handed golfer). The standard version offers a re-designed speed pocket that the company says is “three times more flexible” than the original version. The body is constructed of 9-1-1 Titanium and does feature the same 6-layer carbon crown as the M1. The titanium used in the construction of M2 and the carbon used means that engineers at TaylorMade were able to move approximately 25 grams of weight to be moved lower and more towards the back of the head. This provides easier launch, a hotter launch and more distance.  Another feature found in the 2017 is “Geocoustic Technology”. I’ll use literature from TaylorMade to do the speaking in describing exactly what it is.

The new Geocoustic feature combines geometry and acoustical engineering to unlock more forgiveness and best-in-class sound. The new breakthrough in geometry comes from the sunken sole portion of the driver. This section utilizes ultra-light, thick-thin 9-1-1 Titanium—a design that enabled engineers to free up volume without raising the center of gravity.

Dispensing with some of the technical information behind the M1 and M2 drivers what was my perspective? As intrigued as I was about the M2 I cannot tell you much I anticipated swinging the M1. I really thought that the M1 was way behind the M2 (and several other products in its class). I would work with TaylorMade Golf Fitter Stewart Bannatyne at Demo Day. It wasn’t too long before I made my first swing with the M1. I was put into the 9.5* head with the Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage DC TiNi 60 which is one of three premium stock shafts that are offered by TaylorMade. I knew right away with my first swing that TaylorMade truly did address the acoustics and feel. Where I thought that the M1 felt dead in my hands last year the 2017 version felt lively. The ballflight I felt was penetrating and the T-Track was never tinkered with from its neutral (or stock) setting. The shaft and head did it’s job and the results were long(ish) baby draws with an average launch angle of 12* and spin numbers being around 2300 rpm. There was no evidence of ballooning and off-center strikes were not severely punished. I realize that it’s only paint but I love what TaylorMade did with the paint scheme in 2017. It’s a minor aesthetic detail but gone is the red slider and accompanying red accents. These give way to a black slider on the T-Track which I feel gives the 2017 M1 a sleeker look. I cannot stress how much of an improvement the feel and acoustics of the M1 is over last year. Working the ball was a breeze with draws and fades being hit at will.

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Framing the ball is easy. 6-layer carbon.

The M2 in 2016 was as close to perfection as I’ve seen in a driver. As 2016 gave way to 2017 I had one simple thought. How could TaylorMade Golf improve upon the original? Could they really? Again, I was put into a 9.5* head and instead of the stock Fujikura Pro XLR8 56 we placed the same Mitsubishi Kuro Kage DC TiNi 60 that was in the M1 and as I recollect the M2 that I made passes with last year. There definitely is a difference in aesthetics this year and the difference in such is borderline “shocking”. What a difference and the sunken sole is noticeable. Where the M2 cosmetically looked almost “simplistic” and where TaylorMade toned down the M1. The 2017 M2 on the other hand was really “spruced up” and the sole looks sleek. Looking at it you want to put the M2 to work… aggressively. So I put the M2 to work and as one might think the M2 had a higher ballflight than the M1 however this wasn’t “obscenely so”. Making swings I couldn’t believe how easy the M2 was to elevate. Launch numbers were always in the 12* range with the spin being in the 2500 rpm range. The M2 I found to be as workable as the M1 however my distance was better with M2. Drives hung around 290 yards and the worst swing being a straight 270 yards which clearly demonstrates the forgiveness of the 2017 M2. Improvement over last year? In a word… yes!

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Improvement?

TaylorMade knows a thing or two about metalwoods and they should. For a brand that has been much maligned over social media for its product cycle TaylorMade proved that this year was more than “paint and wallpaper” and wiley marketing. The products are simply outstanding. Hot, forgiving, high-performance machines. Personally speaking, I would be ecstatic to put either driver in my bag. I would love to swing them with a 70 gram shaft.

Until The Next Tee!

 

 

Ripped or Over-Ripe?

The game of golf has come a long way since Old Tom Morris graced the fairways of the “Home of Golf”. Gone are wooden shafts, golf balls made with feathers and the days of wearing tweed jackets to keep you warm from the elements. Of course the equipment changes have been plentiful since then and one could contend that the changes and advancement of material (both fabric and equipment) has seen plenty of change in the last decade. But what about the material fiber behind the clothes, club-making material and equipment? Golfers themselves have evolved since Old Tom was winning his four Open Championships. The beards in recent times worn by Graham DeLaet and Andrew “Beef” Johnston aren’t that big of a deal. After all “Old Tom” had quite the facial hair masterpiece. All of the other major sports in the world have seen massive developments in technology. Technology from both an equipment and player development point of view. Athletes have gotten bigger, faster and stronger. Golf is no different.

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Old Tom… serious beard game. (Photo Credit: scotsman.com)

Starting with the elite junior golfer. Parents and coaches alike have encouraged their young athletes to partake in physical fitness regimens. All in an attempt to get a head start on the competition while working towards golf scholarships and paid educations. A few years ago I was a coach for a Novice (6-8 year-olds) Rep hockey team. In a trainer’s course they made one thing very clear. At no time should athletes under the age of 12 start working out for mass. At the time, we were given the explanation that children hadn’t reached the time in their lives when they were physically ready to develop muscles (hormones). Flexibility and mobility yes.

There has been a lot of debate in recent times regarding golf and working out. Working out definitely has it’s place in golf. Since November, I have been serious about adding a workout regimen in my life. Both for golf and self-betterment. I have been toying with the idea of competing again and thought that maybe if I lost some weight and gained some strength it might give me an opportunity to keep up with the kids coming out of “golf factories” (College and University golf programs). While I have been successful in losing weight (to date 25 pounds) and several inches off of my waist (7″) I have been careful not to gain a lot of muscle mass. The goal here is to get stronger and faster… not necessarily bigger. So far mission accomplished.

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Always opinionated. Brandel Chamblee (Photo Credit: GolfChannel.com)

In recent memory, much has been made about professional golfers and their workout regimens. Admittedly, I don’t watch anything on Golf Channel like Morning Drive because more often than not I feel like they are just blowing hot air and re-capping the same stuff. It wasn’t long ago when it was all over social media that Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee was absolutely destroying Rory McIlroy for his workout regimen and they way that his physique became. As a matter of fact the two of them engaged in a sort of “quasi-feud”. Chamblee basically saying that Rory’s working out was over the top and Rory countering with a long-winded  (to paraphrase) “mind your own business”. Here we are several months later and right on the heels of signing a reported $100M multi-year deal with TaylorMade Golf Rory is out with a rib injury. Tough break for the investors. Like him or not maybe Brandel had a point.

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“Do you even lift bro?” (Photo Credit: Men’s Health)

Tiger Woods. As legendary as his career has been his physical exploits have been nearly as legendary. Remember when a young Tiger Woods emerged on the scene? He was lean and lanky but he could still pound the golf ball. As time wore on we saw that Tiger was evolving. Slowly getting bigger and bigger! Before you knew it he looked like a linebacker in the NFL. There was speculation that he was using HGH (Human Growth Hormone) to help him along the way and whether he was or wasn’t doesn’t really matter. But it is pretty ironic that since he got so big he has seen nothing but injury, surgery, re-hab and injury resulting in a vicious cycle. Most of these injuries occurring after bulking up with the most recent setback prior to the tournament in Turkey (he withdrew from his tournament the Safeway Open). Which begs the question. Is getting big good or detrimental? Does more muscle mass mix well with the forces of the golf swing?

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The oft-injured Tiger. (Photo Credit: phillipinesdailymirror.com)

I remember years ago a conversation that I had with my mother. The conversation took place in 2010 not too long before she passed away later that year. Out of all of the conversations that we could have had we talked about golf. My mother was a nurse most notably in the Emergency Room and she of course knew a lot about the human body and injuries. We talked this day in particular about the golf swing and I remember her saying “I don’t know how you (golfers) do it. That swing and the motions. There is so much twisting and contorting like you are a Chinese acrobat. How does the body not get injured more often?” My only response was by stating that “we stretch”. It was a weak and uneducated answer. But the more that I have learned over the years of learning, playing and teaching the golf swing the more I heard her question in my mind. Factor in the observations of Mr. Chamblee and her words become even louder in my mind.

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“The Crusher”

 

The “cookie-cutter swing” that has become the norm has a ton of torque placed on so many parts of our anatomy like my mother suggested. The golf swing is a powerful movement and strength does play a role in the search for more distance. I think “Smash Factor” is far more important. We have to be efficient in striking the middle of the clubface. But bulking up…is that good? I am by no means a kinesiologist but in my opinion there is a very fine line between working out for the golf swing versus working out to get “jacked”. The golf swing and getting more distance is not about brute strength (although tell that to the guys and gals in Long Drive). Some of those guys and gals competing in LDA events are “beasts and beastettes” but there is a huge difference in technique. Where Tour swings are for the most part all about being tight and compact the swings on the LDA are a little more “loosy-goosy”. Not every golfer on Tour has gotten injured but it is ironic that the guys who became huge have found themselves injured. Bigger hitters like Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler don’t have the physiques of McIlroy, Woods or any NFL linebacker. Evidence of this is in their spring break videos. While they are slim and in good shape they aren’t the bearers of rippling muscles on top of other rippling muscles. Ironically enough, they have not suffered long-term injuries that have forced them out of action. The era is different and the information wasn’t as readily available like it is in this the “Information Era” but when did you hear about Jack Nicklaus, John Daly, Tim Herron or Joey Sindelar have numerous knee and/or back injuries? None of them could have body’s that would be described a “ripped temples of flesh and skin”. As far as that goes what about Bubba Watson? Unfortunately, in the case of Fred Couples and many others herniated discs have been an “Achilles Heel”. Ironically, none of these golfers had the “modern golf swing” that is being taught nowadays.

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Beach bodies? (Photo Credit: golfdigest.com)

So what’s better for player development and injury prevention? Being ripped or over-ripe? A swing that is full of torque or one that is more “loose”? Does one type of swing suit a certain type of physique? Or is there a delicate balance between all of the above?The debate will go on for years. What say you?

Until The Next Tee!