The President’s Cup

It’s been a little while since I wrote an editorial so I thought that it would be time to write one now. The time is perfect as a matter of fact because the topic is one that I feel very strongly about. The President’s Cup.

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Every two years we see this collection of the best player’s from the United States of America (wait… that’s The Ryder Cup right?) pitted against top player’s from everywhere else that isn’t Europe. Where the Ryder Cup has a rich history (1927) The President’s Cup has a history that I feel is considerably less endowed in terms of history (1994). As a Canadian I admit that it’s tough getting up for the Ryder Cup because of course Canadian golfer’s are exempt (understandably so) from the two teams. But because of the history of the event and as a fan of golf I can get into it. When asked who I’m cheering for often my response is simply… “golf”. I simply hope for good golf. Now for us not living in or on continental Europe or the United States it’s the President’s Cup that we get up for. Or do we? For us in Canada we get to watch fellow “Canuck” Adam Hadwin compete this year which is nice. But ultimately I just can’t get up for this event…ever.  This year, it was for a good reason too.

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Captain Canada Adam Hadwin. (Photo Credit: tsn.ca)

I mean the scene is great being in the Metropolitan New York City area as Liberty National is just across the way in Jersey City, New Jersey. Perfect for getting the masses through the ticket gates. There was a sighting of the prior three president’s and Phil Mickelson got a great picture with them (President’s Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton) which was cool. All three past president’s have been honorary chairmen of the event. But beyond that it’s been pretty ho-hum.

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Photo Credit: golfweek.com

Leading up to the event it didn’t take a degree in “Rocket Science” to see that the American side was the stronger team. Sure the Internationals have Matsuyama, Day, Scott, Hadwin, Schwartzel, Oosthuizen and in my opinion the most underrated golfer on the PGA Tour Marc Leishman. But look at that American team! The squad is composed of a who’s who of those who are ranked very highly in the Official World Golf Rankings. Not to mention who were in big-time contention of winning the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Did I happen to mention that the champion himself Justin Thomas is there too? The rosters speak for themselves and it shows on the scoreboard too. The state of American golf is strong. This President’s Cup isn’t even a contest.

My hats off to the U.S. team for dominating but all this did was strengthen my beliefs that this event is a “filler” with no true meaning. There is no money to be won and the proceeds go to charities voted on by the Captain’s, Captains’ Assistants and the player’s themselves which is terrific. Sure the European’s are all from different countries like the International’s but at least that event has a history to it… a storied history. But there’s also a rivalry to it… at times heated which always makes for compelling television. The President’s Cup is merely an exhibition dressed in “competition drag” and that’s all. A near afterthought! While the American squad has a flag and country to play for the International side has bragging rights in a “Miss. Congeniality” kind of way. Honestly, I don’t put a ton of stock into the idea of team events when it comes to golf. Golf is a solitary sport at the root of what it truly is. Golf as a team event is a romantic and noble gesture that in my opinion doesn’t really do much to grow the game.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

At some point I’ll likely turn on the television and watch some of the telecast tomorrow. After all it is golf and I love the game. But I might be more likely to go and play some golf or hit the driving range instead. This event is already over but maybe there can be some excitement like the match between Tiger Woods and Mike Weir in 2007 when the event was held in Canada at Royal Montreal. That match was a classic with the native son Weir winning the match. Overall, that event was a laugher/snoozefest too! I guess at this point all that I can do is simply cheer for golf. Go golf!

Until The Next Tee!!

 

KenRick Golf Company

Accessories. When you think of vital golf equipment the thing that golfers are most likely to think about first are clubs, balls and golf bags. Of course, these are all integral to playing the game. But at some point accessories enter the fray. Shoes for example are considered an accessory in my eyes and so are belts. After all without them… we could be losing our pants every swing. (Before continuing special thanks go to Holly Geoghegan of Golf Marketing Services for the opportunity)


I think it’s fair to say that all belts are not created equally. I used belts from different companies over the last five years and while some were good… others were rubbish. Long forgotten because they weren’t durable. However, the focus of this review is so far on the opposite end of the spectrum that it isn’t funny.

Nestled away in the Northeastern United States lays a little state called Rhode Island. This is home to the KenRick Golf Company. KenRick is the creation of Ken Block and Rick Schad. I had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Block leading up to this review and I learned a lot about the innards of how KenRick came to be. Both gentlemen as one might expect are passionate about the game of golf and admittedly they are not world beaters. Mr. Block has been quite active in politics (he ran for Governor of Rhode Island in 2014) and has a background in computers. Mr. Schad has over two decades of design experience and his reputation in the design industry is extraordinary. Having designed shirts for some of the greatest rock bands, designed toys for some major brands and FOX Sports. Between the knowledge of both men is a great foundation for success.

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Part of this success is due to their passion of designing the best possible product and having the product made at home in the United States as opposed to outsourcing overseas. The advantages of this means that for quality control purposes they “don’t need to travel around the world” and of course there is tremendous pride in being truly Made in the U.S.A. So how does a company like KenRick keep all of the production at home? As fate has it, Maine is home to one of the last remaining tanneries in the United States. All of the leather straps are produced at this tannery and it’s only a short five hour drive for KenRick to check on quality control of products… if needed.

To the average person many would be inclined to think… “what’s so special about a belt?” and the answer to the question is easy. You can tell that a lot of thought went into the design of the belt. To that end the design is for the most part Mr. Schad’s. The belt straps are offered in a very fine and premium leather and a “ribbon webbing”. While the leather straps come in white, black and a crocodile embossed brown. The ribbon webbing can be customized and is great for companies or tournaments wanting to promote their respective brands. The ribbon is woven and not printed which is a point that Mr. Block pointed out. This leads to a superior product. Rounding out the design of the ribbon webbing version of the belt is a cotton backing and genuine leather. The leather version as stated earlier is made with the highest quality leather and the quality is obvious.

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While the entire product is quite impressive the star of this show is the divot tool. The divot tool is made from cast aluminum and is the tip of the sword… I mean belt. It was by chance and accidental that the sound of the divot tool coming out of the belt is similar to the sound of a Samurai Sword coming out of the sheath. It was something that I noticed but never paid attention to until my conversation with Mr. Block. The design is smart and clicks when it’s inserted back into the belt. The ball marker included is magnetic and sits inside of the divot tool. A recent change has seen KenRick make the ball markers open to customization.

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As far as my observations go when tested this product tested with top marks. It’s hard to ignore the practicality of this belt because everything is right there. Have you ever dug through your pockets looking for your divot tool or ball marker? Of course you have. Have you inadvertently had yourself poked and prodded in your  “nether region”? You might have… I have. Have you put a hole in your $100 pants by a divot tool? If you have then you have me beat. Either way, kiss all of these problems good-bye. When I wore the belt for the first time while practicing at Whirlpool Golf Course (Niagara Parks Commission) I knew that KenRick had a winner on their hands. I was working on approach shots of varying lengths and as I approached the practice green I would slightly pull out the tip of the belt, remove the ball marker and then using my thumb and index finger I pulled out the divot tool. A quick repair of the green later I picked up my marker, inserted it into the back of the divot tool and clicked the divot tool back into the place. No digging and no fumbling around. I would also get one last hurrah in on the course and I wore my black belt with the excellent contrasting white stitching. My KenRick belt was a star and that was something that I thought that I would never say about a belt.

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Seeing that KenRick Golf is newer to the golfing industry the only thing missing is getting these belts into more hands of the golfing masses. This is something that KenRick  addressed at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show. The belts come in at two different price points. Which is a stroke of genius from a retail perspective. If you go to http://kenrickgolf.com/ you will find that the current prices are $44.25 USD for the Ribbon Webbing version and $74.25 USD for the leather versions. The Croc Embossed Brown is a little more at $89.25 USD. Either way, these products from KenRick are worth every dime. If you’re in the market for a new belt really consider KenRick Golf (Twitter handle @KenRickGolf)

Until The Next Tee!!

REVIEW – Wilson Staff Triton

Wilson Staff. The Chicago, Illinois based brand that has claimed the most Major Championships in the history of golf. Established in 1914 their irons have claimed 61 Major Championships. The most of any golf manufacturer. A company that is rich in history and tradition. As far as I’m concerned in the last several years Wilson Staff has made the biggest strides when it has come to growing a brand. Wilson Staff went from rich history to becoming a brand that became synonymous with being a “box store brand” mostly because the average consumer didn’t realize the difference between Wilson and Wilson Staff. Unfortunately for Wilson Staff this was a stigma that was tough for them to break.

Over the last several years that I’ve attended and covered the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando I have noticed the brands attempt at growing and with that growth developing products that are classy yet groundbreaking. To this day I think that the FG Tour 100 (2014 release) irons are the prettiest in the land where a classic design met new technology. But then the brand really thought “outside of the box” and came up with a concept. A reality show that would air on Golf Channel where competitors would design their newest driver. That show was “Driver vs Driver”.

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The concept was new, fresh and exciting. From week to week different designs were created and we watched the process evolve. From concept drawings, 3-D models and prototypes… watching the process was entertaining and interesting. In the end the winning designer was a former University of Cincinnati College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning student (Eric Sillies). As I watched the series finale I honestly felt that the better product lost and Wilson Staff made a huge mistake when selecting Triton as the winner. When Wilson Staff released the MSRP on the Triton driver I was concerned that their price point of $449.99 had them straying “out of their lane” forcing consumers to go with similarly priced drivers from other manufacturers. Getting a chance to swing this driver was on my “short list” of products that I had to swing at Demo Day. Was it worth the winning design?

For those that are unaware Triton is a driver that features some interesting adjustability options. The one feature that stands out is the interchangeable sole plate. Golfers have the option of having a sole plate that was either Carbon Fiber or Titanium. Reasons for these options was to give golfers the option of a higher launch (Titanium sole plate weighs 22 grams) or a lower spinning/low launching flight (Carbon Fiber 9 grams). Also of interest was the Fast Fit Hosel system which allowed golfers to change lofts without removing the shaft entirely from the head. The adjustability options of the Triton also featured “Movable Weight Technology” which allows golfer’s to fine-tune their launch conditions and ballflight through adjustments of 4 weight screws.

The time came for me to swing this club and when the time came I opted for a 9* head in the stock setting and the shaft used was one of ten shaft options available. I should add that there is no upcharge fees for shafts. In this case I went with an Aldila Rogue Tour Silver 125MSI in a stiff flex and started with the Titanium sole plate. There was a lot that I liked. The hosel blended nicely into the head, I liked the tasteful graphics on the sole. I loved the incorporation of the Wilson Staff logo on its face which brought some of the tradition of the old to the new. I even liked how the weights had contrasting colours between the black and “wine”. However what I did not like from an aesthetics point of view was the alignment aid on top of the crown. Part of the design by Mr. Sillies was the invention of  “1:1 Visible Swing Active Technology”. This idea acts as both an alignment and swing plane guide to help golfers have more consistent ballstriking The guide isn’t as intrusive as it looks but at the same time I felt that it never looked “quite right”. But the silver does contrast smartly with the gloss black crown.

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So I got down to business not quite knowing what to expect. As I made the first pass I was extremely surprised by what happened. The ball just took off, the ballflight towering and long and the sound/feel was that of a solid “thwack”. I watched in awe and more importantly I stood there astonished by the feel… in a good way. While the FG Tour F5 was an improvement over the FG Tour M3 driver it’s the sound and feel of the latter that still remains in my head. Awful sound and feel… like a cheap aluminum baseball bat. In comparison, the Triton is a massive step forward in the acoustics/feel department where Wilson Staff drivers are concerned. I had no issue with hitting the golf ball straight and failed to hit one off to the right unless I purposely placed a “cut swing” on the golf ball. I ended up making 15 swings in total with the Titanium sole plate and my misses were a couple of high hooks (think of an overcooked draw).

Later I helped myself to the drivers and located a Triton with the same shaft and loft. The difference of course was that this head had the carbon fiber sole plate instead. I definitely preferred this set-up. Strikes were authoritative and dare I say the ballflight was aggressive and a little bit lower. Perhaps backing up the claims that this head was lower spinning in this configuration. Not one ball veered off course with only a couple of swings being struck a touch low on the face. While the flight was still straight the distance definitely dropped off. But a straight miss is the miss to have if you’re going to have a miss. But passes that were on the sweet spot were extremely well-rewarded. Out of all of the Wilson Staff drivers that I have made swings with to date this is the longest of the bunch.

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In conclusion, the Triton driver that won the Driver vs Driver reality show is a solid performer. Good swings are rewarded with length and a solid feel.  Poor swings see a slight drop-off in distance and the head of the Triton does offer plenty of feedback on those swings that are less than optimum. Either way, Triton delivers some punch with a plethora of adjustability and reliability. Wilson Staff has also dropped the price of  the Triton from its original price tag of $449.99 to $149.99. If you’re looking for a late season change to newer technology give the Triton a look.

Until The Next Tee!!