The Times Have Changed

I’ve sat here trying to figure out how to write this piece for about a week. Honestly, it became much easier to write after the most recent events that happened to me yesterday. If you think working in the golf industry as a Pro Shop Attendant or similar is glamourous, thnk again. It isn’t.

When word came on May 16th, 2020 that golf was allowed to be played again in Ontario, you’d think that everyone that plays golf would feel “warm and fuzzy” inside. There’d be a feeling of relief and a sense of  happiness to just be back to playing the game or working in the industry that we love. While this may be true for some, it simply isn’t for others. 

I have no doubt that when the decision was made to open golf courses, the decision was on the heels of pressure and lobbying by the NGCOA of Canada (National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada). I’ve said it here that it was more for the shareholders and the “bottom line” after all it’s a business. They (NGCOA) devised a set of protocols to open up golf courses with protecting players and staff in mind. This involved everything from modified cups (my course has a sloppy piece of 2″ PVC in the hole where I have touched the pin in my limited action), the sanitizing of carts and frequently touched surfaces, protocols like staying in the parking lot until 20 minutes before your tee time, proper (ample) signage indicating all of the protocols like maintaining physical distancing and more.

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In my opinion, the opening of my course was rushed and ill-advised. My golf course located in the Hamilton, Ontario area is operated by a large golf holdings company. They operate over 30 golf courses coast to coast in Canada. Our opening went down exactly how I said it would within these pages. I said that we’d wake up and get a phone call stating “We’re open” and that we’d open in mid-May. We opened on the 18th of May. While there was some signage, it wasn’t nearly enough. The signage would arrive the following Friday. There was no staff orientation to get everyone on the same page. That’s developed into a problem in itself. And as far as Pro Shop employees go, the lack of protection for us was NOT in place and I noticed that right away. There is no plexiglass or clear plastic barricade protecting us from golfers coming in to pay and this alone has made me very apprehensive. But, at least we have no less than 7 bottles of hand sanitizer between the entry door, arrows directing foot traffic, and we’re using a dedicated entry and exit door. Or at least trying to.

I said in an article when we got word that we were opening, be nice to the staff. This is going to be a wild ride for us.

For the most part, golfers are okay with the protocols, especially daily greens fee players. Members on the other hand, are a totally different story. Not all, but enough of them. Getting them to employ and adhere to the “new normal” I could compare to trying to break in a wild horse. The number of times I’ve had to direct and re-direct is nauseating. I get it, old habits die hard but you also have to have the ability to adapt in life.

Would you believe that in one shift, I witnessed numerous infractions of protocols just in the brief time I would walk out from my post and get some air on the barren patio? I’ve personally witnessed handshakes, “bro hugs” on the 18th, received reports of the pins being removed, and then there was the “coup de gras”. One of our members, a guy who thinks that he runs the golf course, entered the clubhouse at the turn to buy beer. Instead of waiting his turn like everyone else, he took it upon himself to “bull” past people waiting in line to pay for their respective rounds of golf and he actually made contact with two of them. I nearly exploded. He then got his beer and followed the GM over to our usual Pro Shop to pay and walked out of the entrance door. This meant that he actually walked past those in line face to face wearing no mask. I was livid and explained my malcontent to my GM.

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The amount of verbal abuse that I have received and endured in the less than two weeks that we’ve been open has been more than my entire time working in the golf industry combined. Our carts are $30 pp if you’re a single rider. If you’re from the same household or arrive in the same vehicle together it’s $20 pp. While there has been a little grumbling over our rates from public players (they either pay it or decide to walk) the response from the members (again not all) has been appalling. I have been verbally abused on multiple occasions every shift but two of them. You see, we have a “Cart Discount Program” and by definition, it gives those that purchase it ($210 plus tax) the ability to get a cart for half the going rate. Last year, the rate was $9.50 for 18 holes per rider. A price that hadn’t changed for at least 8 years. This year the rate started $12.43. Less than half of the $30. Consequently, the ensuing swearing and verbal abuse were brutal. And then, all of a sudden, without notice the rate changed on my co-worker. It was now $15 per rider which we delayed until this past Monday. That’s two rate increases within a week and a bit. So guess what happened? The abuse has since really ramped up. If you know that the rate is going to be $30, why in the world would you not set the price at $15 in the first place?

Last night, I had an issue with a Member that I’ve given several lessons to and given some latitude towards. He can be best-described as a difficult member. He showed up over an hour early for his tee time. Below is an excerpt from the note that I sent to my GM.

…I explained to him that he was really early and that he had to return to the parking lot and that we had to adhere to the 20-minute rule. He flew off of the handle and went on that he was able to get the cart on Saturday and return to the parking lot (it was me and then it was 30-minutes early) he also explained that he was going to go over to the range etc and I explained to him that all of the practice facilities were closed as the signage clearly states. I am proud to say that I was calm and composed when I talked to him in an attempt to deescalate him. However, inwardly, it was a much different story. I had tingling in the left side of my face, pressure in the left rear quadrant of my head, numbness in the left arm, and at times afterward, I had issues with my speech. All very reminiscent of September 2018.
I had a second issue right after from another member about the cart rates.

For all of the flak that I’m taking, I really don’t hold my GM responsible. I love Richard. He’s a good guy and I think of him as a friend and I love working for him. I like to think that when I was the Director of Golf at another golf course, the employees felt the same way. Many followed me on IG well after my tenure was over. Rich does the best that he can with what he’s given.

Seriously though, if I had to point my finger at anyone, I totally blame corporate for this. It’s not them facing the adversity. I would love to see anybody from corporate handle what I’m facing. Our servers are actually relieved that they haven’t been pressed into duty other than working the door. They’ve told me “I can’t or couldn’t do what you’re doing.” Well, Sarah and Leah, I’m not sure that I can go much longer either.

In this time, I have been sworn at repeatedly and had my ethics and integrity questioned. The latter happening after explaining to Frank (the cart rates) that I totally understood where he was coming from. I was empathetic and sympathetic to his concerns. He told me “You don’t (expletive) understand and you don’t (expletive) get it”. Here’s a newsflash and this isn’t for just you Frank. To all of those that have “lit me up”. I don’t set the (expletive) prices nor do I generate any income from it. I’m just a pawn behind the (expletive) counter trying to earn a paycheque while trying to make you happy by providing a service.

Then there’s the Marshals and Starters.  Many of them think that they’re paying a membership fee at the course. For one 6 to 7 hour shift they get golf privileges. On top of that, they also receive a golf cart (a $30 value). The funny thing is that they are the first ones to whine and complain about things. On one day this year with a long line-up out the door he wanted to pay $7 for a handicap system that has nothing to do with the Pro Shop. He was just standing there blocking the washrooms (traffic control) and blocking those from paying. I asked him what he wanted, and he explained that he wanted to pay for the handicapping. I asked him “Keith, can you do it tomorrow or the next time you come in?” he responded “No, I have to do it today” he didn’t have to and that led to a heated exchange where he informed me “I’ve waited in line for 20 (expletive) minutes. I tried explaining him that we had bigger issues at the moment. People were trying to pay and our Moneris point of sale machines weren’t working and I was trying to get them running and registering people to play manually. Writing down names, what they were paying for and hoping that they’d come back. I paid for him out of my pocket that night before I left.

Furthermore, the Starters.Marshals tend to be the first to break protocol. Regarding the 20-Minute Rule, on Monday one said “What difference does it make?” when he arrived at the course early for his tee time. Ernesto, if you aren’t going to abide by the rules then you should be the first one to find your way out. How can you enforce the rules if you don’t abide by them yourself? Last year, you and another Marshall cut in front of people, placing yourselves on the 5th hole in front of me and a bogged down tee sheet. Your partner, Tony, then unceremoniously hit a drive up towards the Par 3 9th tee to “warm-up” there golfers on #8 green. I personally witnessed that. Believe me, you shouldn’t be in any capacity at the golf course. If I were GM, I’d unceremoniously turf your ass and would have done so last year. Now you’re giving your fellow Starters a difficult time when they’re trying to uphold the COVID-19 protocols??? Shame on you. So yeah, of course, I gave you shit on Monday afternoon after you ignored Doug with your cavalier attitude.

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Speaking of income. I’m making $.50 above minimum wage. Heck, the amount of work that I’m doing for such is as follows. Not only am I checking golfers in and making tee times, but I’m also taking in league application fees, filling out league applications, signing up members or adding plans to memberships, taking food orders, serving food, serving beer, and taking flak for a company that I know that doesn’t give a “Flying Rats Ass” about me and more. Speaking of which, crap, after I had my stroke in 2018 they failed to give me a record of employment for a month and a half so I could collect benefits. I literally had to chase them down.

As a result of the stress and abuse in the less than two weeks that we’ve been open. I’ve experienced Angina on three separate occasions where I had to use my Nitro-Spray and suffered a TIA (Trans Ischemic Attack) last night. So I ask this. At which point is enough… enough?

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

My First Round of 2020 is in the Books

Have you ever been so happy about something that you couldn’t wipe the smile off of your face? 

Well, that’s exactly what happened to me yesterday. I’ve experienced this sort of euphoria before, most notably it was when I was fishing with my father, any time that I’m fly fishing especially on small streams, and yes I’ve had this sort of feeling before on the golf course. Yet, I didn’t have that feeling after getting my first Ace last year. That felt triumphant as I watched the golf ball disappear into the hole, but then that joy practically evaporated when I realized quickly that there was nobody to high-five or that witnessed the feat.

Yesterday was different. Golf courses opened up in Ontario this past Saturday which meant that I was now back to work. I opened and welcomed the first golfers onto the golf course that morning and I had plans to play my first holes of 2020 after that shift. That never came to fruition because our tee sheet was the busiest of any that I’ve ever seen in my years working in the industry. As it turns out, 250 golfers hit the golf course at Scenic Woods Golf Club that day. Only 16 people were “no-shows”. While I was disappointed to not play I was okay with it, after all, that day was about Members and Guests.

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I’m no botanist and I don’t know what kind of tree this is. But the morning was gorgeous.

Then Sunday happened. Sunday was pretty steady as far as the tee sheet went. The morning brought out golfers. Clouds gave way to sun and that sun would give way eventually to rain. A system that was supposed to dump 100 mm from Sunday to Monday. Upon finishing my shift, I knew that I was going to play at least 4 holes. I was stoked, and I was just ecstatic to find out that my GM was going to join. Rich, is a great guy and a lot of fun. So we loaded up our respective carts (I was going to walk) and made our way to the 1st tee.

I won’t give a play by play of what happened but I will say that my 1st tee shot of 2020 was not what I had expected. If I was going to miss, I predicted on social media that it would be the low left. Instead, it was right of right and my opening tee shot using a Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220 that I’m testing for review ended up on the landing area of the 4th green. Oops! So I pulled out the  3-Wood for my recovery and dag nab it, it went right into the fescue on the right side. A dropped ball, a 7-Iron (also a club that I’m testing the Exotics EXS 220h), and a pitch later. I one putt to card an opening bogey (the hole is a Par 5). The start wasn’t what I expected.

After 4 holes my GM and I went out separate ways. The rains had started to move in on the 3rd hole and instead of packing it in, I decided to play the Front 9 while entertaining thoughts of playing more. The rain got heavier and I left after 9 holes. My friends, there are better days ahead.

Admittedly, I struggled with the Exotics EXS 220 driver and 3-wood as I haven’t made a swing with anything longer than a 7-Iron since January 27th. I would figure out my issue by the time that I got to the 8th and the solution was obvious. I wasn’t releasing through impact because my grip pressure was too tight in my bottom hand. What a dumb-dumb right?! Now my short game, that was also unexpected as well. But for many different reasons. Another article for another day.

All that I know is this. Regardless of how it went yesterday and I did settle down nicely, that 9 holes were the most gratifying, satisfying golf that I’ve played in my life. Sure, I’ve come back from serious health issues and I was happy to be back on the course after recovering in those instances. Heck, in 2019 I came back from a Stroke, and that was an amazing feeling. But yesterday, that was different. I couldn’t get the smile off of my face.

It’s amazing what we take for granted when something is taken away from us.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

Golf Operations in the COVID-19 Era

Saturday, May 16th marked the first day of the golf season in Ontario. It was an exciting day as the 2M Ontarian golfers in Ontario got the opportunity to choose, whether to play golf or not.

The first day of golf in Ontario also marked my first day back to a golf course where I’ve commenced my third season. Scenic Woods Golf Club is a golf course near Hamilton, Ontario that’s operated by GolfNorth Properties. GolfNorth Properties operates and manages 32 golf courses from coast to coast. Including the newly added Salmon Arm in British Columbia, The Ridge at Manitou (Ontario), and Cape Breton Highlands Links in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

It was nice to be in the Pro Shop first thing this morning greeting and welcoming members and guests back to the game that we love. All in all, the day ran pretty smoothly, other than a couple of system-related issues. We had a crammed tee sheet. From the first tee time available from 8:00 am until 6:45 pm there wasn’t a tee time to be had. Opening day with stellar weather, are you kidding me? I don’t even know if there was a cloud in the sky after the morning fog was penetrated and burned off by the sunshine.

One thing, however, became readily apparent. From a golf operations standpoint, the COVID-19/Pandemic era has brought a different feel to the game. Seeing the Starter’s spraying down golf carts with sanitizer with a sprayer like you’re spraying weed killer. Policing, ensuring that people are social-distancing, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces hourly (bathroom doors, etc), golf carts routinely only having one rider (and asking if golfers are from the same household), controlling washroom traffic, watching four carts roll down a fairway as a foursome and so much more.

The weirdest things for me are wearing rubber gloves (it just feels odd to type with them), for my second shift I’ll be wearing a mask and being a high-risk I’m therefore executing my due diligence because the exposure rate to people is still quite high, and not shaking anyone’s hands to welcome them back (social-distancing). The latter because I’m a very engaging person. But I will also say this. I have never been so nervous about sneezing.

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A packed tee sheet equated to no golf today for me. And that’s okay.

Right now, there’s a real learning curve for golfers and staff members alike. Our clubhouse layout is almost tailor-made to handle the check-in process. You enter the main entrance, pay at the lounge/bar terminal instead of the Pro Shop, and inform the customer to exit out through the lounge door behind them. One-way traffic. At one point, I jokingly stated that I felt like a flight attendant and instructed as such. “You have one exit to exit the clubhouse. This exit is directly behind you.” complete with hand gestures. There were a lot of corrections as far as reminding people about where to exit after it was explained but like I said. It’s a learning curve and we’re creatures of habit. But we’ll get it. Dare I say it, this is going to be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

Upon the conclusion of my shift, I had plans to play my first holes of the year. That failed to happen as there was nowhere for me to squeeze in. That’s quite okay though. Today was really about the Members and paid public players getting out. It was just great to see a full tee sheet and a full parking lot. Sunday will see me get on the course after my shift. It’s supposed to rain, and even if I only play a few holes, that’s perfect for me. I’ll be golfing.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay vigilant.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

 

 

So, Today is the Day – Golf Returns

Honestly, I feel like a kid at Christmas time. Or maybe, it’s the excitement of the first day of school.

In so many ways, I feel an excitement looming over me much like I used to on Christmas Eve, during my early much more innocent years. For 2+ million Ontarian golfers like myself, we are finally getting the opportunity to take our golf clubs for a ride in the car and walk or ride the fairways for the first time in 2020. It’s a day full of excitement and anticipation.

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By the time this is published, it will be Saturday and I really hope to be asleep, counting the proverbial sheep as I fall into a deep slumber. My day will start at 5 am as I wake up and take my trusty Labrador Retriever for a walk. Afterward, I will shower, wake up my wife, drive her to work, and then point my truck in the direction of Scenic Woods Golf Club. This is my third year working at the golf course and for GolfNorth Properties. I really enjoy the membership out there.

But as I write this short piece,  there’s nervous energy that’s starting to consume me. I admit, that I am a little bit nervous about reporting to work for the first day in the “COVID-19 Era”. Mostly, this nervousness is my own doing because I’m a high-risk individual for contracting the virus. I’ve been safe up to this point, and the reason for that is that my exposure to others has been quite minimal since January 29th.

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GolfNorth has listed the protocols that will be put into place for everybody involved. That link is below. Ultimately, the onus is on all of us to ensure that we all remain safe and healthy. This “thing” is very far from being over. We need to be vigilant.

GolfNorth COVID-19 Protocols

Many courses while opening, are not necessarily prepared to be open. The decision to allow golf and ultimately open came from out of the blue like a lightning bolt. So that said if the conditions aren’t to your liking. Keep it to yourself. Just be happy to be out there playing golf in the first place. Be safe and be kind to the staff. If they ask you to back-up because you’re encroaching on somebody, please don’t get “butt-hurt” and get mad. We’re just doing our job to ensure the safety of you, other golfers, and us (staff). We’re in this together.

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My shift will come to a conclusion at 1 or 1:30. I’m actually not too sure when it will be. All that I know is this. When I have any sort of inkling as to when my shift will be over I will be heading out onto the links. It might be 4 holes or it might be 9. We did get hit with rainfall today. All that I know is this. I’m going to relish being out there. At that point, my other work will be getting put in. Time to put my swing to the test that I’ve been working on while on the UTNT Practice Centre For Deprived Golfers. Also, I do have testing of products as well. Please see my WITB video to see what I’m up to and what I’m testing.

If you’re getting out for the first time today. Stay safe, stay healthy, be vigilant, and most importantly have fun!! We deserve this.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

We’re Back Baby!! – Golf in Ontario

Initially, I had plans to post a press release or two today but some much bigger news came to the forefront that placed those plans onto the backburner.

Well, I think the title says a lot. Golf is back in Ontario, and I cannot express how happy this makes me feel inside. While the announcement hasn’t officially come down from Premier Doug Ford’s government, and while I’m at it, that announcement will come later on today I found out shortly after 2 pm on Wednesday.

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The sun rising over Scenic Woods Golf Club

Not to toot my own horn, but golf resuming in Ontario has gone down exactly as I had predicted some time ago. I said mid-May and the course that I’m employed is opening on Saturday, May 16th. Right in line with the May Long Weekend, which is typically when things really get going at the golf course. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter which golf course I’ve worked at, this has typically been the case. Other than for the “die-hard” types.

So, I received the phone call today at 2 p.m. from my General Manager at Scenic Woods Golf Club, which is run by GolfNorth Properties. The message went a little like this.

“Alex, it’s Richard from Scenic Woods. We’re opening really soon, as then sooner than expected. I was wondering about your availability. Gimme a call, Please!”

At the time, we were already out and about driving, so I couldn’t take the telephone call. So upon hearing the message, and seeing that I was already halfway there. I drove out to the club with Crystal. Upon pulling in, crystal said to me. The course looks great!! It really did, and quite honestly, it was the tonic that my eyes needed. So I pulled up to my customary parking spot, got out, walked around to the front door, and then I heard Crystal call out to me, “Over here”.

So we called out to each other (“Yoo… Hooooo) and we met. He explained to me that there was a conference call with other GM’s and the “powers that be” for GolfNorth. It was determined that we were opening Saturday, May 16th. I’ve been mentally prepared for the call and to have to go into work on a whim.

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One rider per cart.

I’ll be working that opening shift and I cannot wait to welcome golfers back to the golf course with a smiling face. I, no, we’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Of course, restrictions (golf restrictions) set out by the Ontario government will be in place. Things like and not limited to.

  • Social-distancing being strictly enforced
  • No range or putting green
  • No congregating around the first tee
  • Stay in cars until 10 minutes before your tee time
  • Inverted or Pool Noodle/PVC in the cup.
  • No rakes in bunkers
  • No ball washers. (Soak a part of your towel with bottled water, water from a water hazard or similar)
  • One rider per cart. Unless you’re from the same household
  • Strict sanitizing in place
  • Limiting areas of contact (including but not limited to no locker room access or bag storage)

Food and beverage will be limited to take out and a very limited menu. Also, to start we’re running with a total clubhouse staff of four. My GM and three others including myself. Unfortunately, this means that our serving staff who are all university students (except for one) will not be working. Hopefully, the lounge will be able to re-open soon for their benefit. Of course, we’ve lost events that were planned (Member and Corporate events alike) because of social-distancing but leagues will commence June 1st.

As we open, there might be some learning curves. Please be kind to the staff and others. Please be safe and respect social-distancing. Please don’t blow this for us. Things are finally looking brighter.

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The calm before the storm. No ball washers, no tee blocks. The 10th goes to the left. The 5th fairway in the background. (Photo Credit May 14th by Crystal Toth)

Ah yes, golf is back. Oh yeah, when my shift concludes on Saturday, you know where I’ll be. Right to the first tee.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

“First Impressions” Review – Bridgestone Golf TOUR B Golf Balls (2020)

When you think about the arsenal in your golf bag, what is the one product or piece of equipment that you use on every shot from tee to green? A driver? No. A putter? Nope, not that either. How about the golf ball? Whether you’re a scratch or better golfer firing 68s or a golfer that shoots scores a little higher, it’s the golf ball that is omnipresent.

In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to test and review different golf balls from Bridgestone Golf. Whether it was the TOUR B range from 2017, or the e12 from 2019, offerings from Bridgestone Golf always seem to fare very well.

When news started to percolate out of the Bridgestone Golf  “camp” about a new TOUR B golf ball, I was caught up in the “hype” that their savvy marketing team was sharing over social media.  Not to mention, there were some very exciting things being said about the “then” new prototype TOUR B golf balls that Matt Kuchar had put into play. Better numbers were being touted with the prototype when compared to the 2017 iteration.

In a nutshell, the golf ball was re-invented with new technologies. So, let’s have a look at what the new TOUR B golf balls for 2020 are all about.

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The Set-Up

Following on the heels of the successful 2017-18 range of TOUR B golf balls, As a matter of fact, Bridgestone Golf did not focus R&D on new equipment for 2020. So, if you’re looking for new equipment from Bridgestone Golf in 2020 you won’t find any. Their focus was solely on new golf balls (technology).

Bridgestone Golf has once again released a range of golf balls using the same monikers.

  • TOUR B X
  • TOUR B XS
  • TOUR B RX (Available in White and Yellow)
  • TOUR B RXS (Available in White and Yellow)

In name, they’re the same, but that is where the parallels end. There is a ton of technology put into the new TOUR b golf balls, and much of this technology was put on display by Marketing Manager Elliot Mellow at the Bridgestone Golf booth during the 2020 PGA Show.

  • REACTIV Urethane Cover – The new REACTIV cover of the new  TOUR B golf balls is designed with a few goals in mind. More distance and higher ball speeds with your driver and add more spin with your wedges. How do they achieve this feat? This cover “sticks” to the face longer.
  • Gradational Core – Added distance and more forgiveness are generated from new core technology. The Gradational Core produces higher initial ball speed and less sidespin. This equates to more power and control.
  • Dual Dimple – While this technology isn’t new, the Dual Dimple design is a proven technology that Bridgestone Golf has employed over the last few generations of golf balls. Dual Dimple means that a more preferred trajectory is achieved through less drag which yields more distance.
  • Seamless Cover Technology – Perfectly balanced dimples aid in creating consistent flight and performance.

As you noticed, there are two categories of TOUR B golf balls. While all of the TOUR B range has the same MSRP ($44.99) there is a difference in the golf balls. You’ll notice it in the name. Where the TOUR B (X and XS) are geared for players with swing speeds more than 105 mph the RX and RXS are geared more towards the recreational player and those with swing speeds less than 105 mph with one Major exception.

** Fun Fact: Fred Couples plays the TOUR B RXS

 

The Transition

There has been no golf in Ontario since March. So, this is why this is a “First Impressions” review. Until golf resumes where I live (thanks COVID-19) my testing thus far was conducted right after the PGA Show while I was still down in Florida.

To conduct the testing, I would have one night where I spent considerable time focusing on the short game side of things (putting, chipping, pitching, and bunker shots). Secondly, I would play a round of golf before departing Florida where I would have an opportunity to see what the TOUR B golf balls did tee to green in real-world conditions.

For the sake of keeping everything streamlined and organized in the writing of this review, I’ll break everything down by the golf ball. I’ll touch on each of the characteristics that I noticed.

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TOUR B X – This is the golf ball that has been validated on TOUR by the likes of Bryson Dechambeau, Lexi Thompson, and Matt Kuchar.

I found this golf ball to feel the most firm out of the four golf balls. It was something that I noticed on the first night of testing around the greens chipping and while putting. Without knowing and looking, I could tell that this was the TOUR B X. The green was firm and I was genuinely surprised by the amount of roll that it had. You never expect a golf ball to check up out of the rough, but from tight lies, I expected more. Maybe, my expectations were too high? I’m not suggesting that the golf ball rocketed past the hole, it’s just that it didn’t stop where I planned on it stopping.

On the golf course, the next day, it was a recurring theme when it came to the short game. However, when it came to other aspects of the game (driving and approach shots) the TOUR B X has decent distance, was very controllable, and had very nice approach spin. Kudos to the REACTIV Urethane Cover. Even though it’s classified as being soft, for my liking I found it to be too firm.

 

TOUR B XS – The golf ball that Tiger plays and designed.

Ironically enough, without looking to see which golf ball this was during the first night of testing I was able to identify which golf ball this was as well. Feel is a very individual sense and as “firm” as the X was the XS is not. I found it to be that much softer. Of course, this golf ball is not mushy. I really liked the greenside control that the TOUR B XS exhibited and this ball performed exactly as I felt it should. It checked and stopped where I felt it should have (other than out of rough) and I enjoyed the feel off of the putter.

On the course, I hit some of my best shots that day using this golf ball. I’ll be honest, I don’t know where my clubhead speed is at the moment but I did hit some very nice drives with this golf ball. I don’t hide the fact that I gravitate towards a softer feeling golf ball. Maybe, it’s because of my advanced years. All that I know is that the XS seemed longer than the X. Easier to compress? Tee to green this ball felt very good. Driver and irons alike. Again, this golf ball was very controllable and checked off a lot of boxes for me, in regards to what I look for in a golf ball. Looking back at 2017 and that review, I determined that the TOUR B XS was the choice for me. It might be the same for 2020.

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TOUR B RXAs mentioned, the TOUR B RX is geared for golfers with swing speeds under 105 mph. In the past, the RX and RXS dating back to the B-330 RX and RXS had a borderline “cult following” amongst recreational players.

I felt like the RX fell somewhere in between the TOUR B X and XS in terms of firmness. Rolling putts, it had a nice blend of firm meets soft and the same really could be said of the other aspects of the short game when using the RX. Chip shots did tend to have some rollout characteristics and I would contend that the rollout was a shade more than that of the TOUR B XS.

Implementing the RX on the golf course did see a lot of good things going for it. In my estimation, the distance was about on par with B X. The RX felt really nice on full iron shots and in general, on any swing more than a chip this ball delivers good feel.

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TOUR B RXSAlso geared for the “recreational player” and players with swing speeds under 105 mph is the TOUR B RXS. Or is it geared for that type of player?

The golf ball played by Rocco Mediate and Fred Couples. THIS golf ball could be a serious cult hit!!!

Going into testing, I knew that this golf ball was put in play by Fred Couples on the Champions Tour (PGA TOUR Champions). The first week that Freddy put it into play he nearly won, losing in a playoff. There isn’t much that this golf ball does not do.

The feel of this golf around the putting green feels great with on any shot. Putting, chipping, and pitching. It really made no difference, it just felt really stinking good! The greenside spin was so good, that at times I thought, it was the TOUR B XS. The RXS was quite predictable and I would suggest as predictable in terms of playability and reaction around the greens.

While testing this golf ball on the golf course, I was borderline “giddy” with the results that I was seeing. The TOUR B RXS just felt “explosive”. There was no doubt that this ball yielded by longest tee shots out of the four and more can be said about distance with the irons as well. This is a very good golf ball (tee to green) and for a golf ball and what I look for, the TOUR B RXS checks ALL of the boxes for me. The TOUR B RXS IS my favourite from Bridgestone’s 2020 golf ball line-up.

b rxs

The Finish

Bridgestone Golf really might have “re-invented the golf ball”. Bridgestone Golf R&D has placed a lot of time and effort into golf ball development and it shows! The REACTIV cover technology coupled with their proven dimple in dimple design works. This is a golf ball that performs exceptionally well, and depending on what you look for in a golf ball, there’s a golf ball for every type of player.

If you’re really unsure of which golf ball model to choose there are options. You can head over to the Bridgestone Golf website by following this link. There, it’ll give you the option of using their new VFIT Ball Selector tool, VFIT Video where you record your swing in slo-mo using your phone and submit your video to their Ball Fitting Experts (they are the best in the biz for ball fitting) or if you know your launch conditions you can use VFIT Numbers.

Give the new TOUR B a look (as golf opens up here, there will be a follow-up to this review. Stay tuned!)

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

“First Impressions” Review – Wilson Staff D7 Forged Irons

The time has come to look at one of the winners from this year’s Teezy Awards. The Wilson Staff D7 Forged irons were emerged victorious from the 2020 PGA Show Demo Day in the “Top Game-Improvement Iron” Category.

What made them the winner? Quite frankly, the D7 Forged irons checked all of the boxes for me. They had the looks, the performance, they had the sound and feel that I look for and they actually amassed a staggering 48 out of 50 points. Near perfection.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the D7 Forged irons from Wilson Staff.

 

The Set-Up

Back in October was the first time that I saw these irons from Wilson Staff. It was one of those things where my imagination ran a little wild. Even though I couldn’t swing them then nor take pictures (they were under embargo them) I knew that these irons would be on my “short list” to swing at the 2020 PGA Show.

When examining the D7 Forged irons a few things come to mind. First, the D7 irons from 2019 were designed with much of chassis of the phenomenal FG Tour V6 irons in mind but with some obvious and noticeable differences.

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Power Holes. (Photo Credit: Wilson Golf)

Located on the sole of the D7 Forged irons are Wilson Golf’s patented “Power Hole Technology” (PHT). The PHT placement has been changed and “optimized” when it comes to the forged heads as opposed to their cast brethren. PHT increases face deflection (or trampoline effect) and in doing so, ball speeds and distance are increased.

“Power Chamber Technology” is an innovation from the Chicago-based manufacturer. you’ll notice that the “Power Holes” are not hollow. A proprietary innovation/material “fills the Power Holes as well as the entire chamber behind the face” which is said to result in dampened vibration for resulting in reduced vibration resulting in better sound and feel.

Unlike the D7 irons from 2019, these D7 Forged irons are forged. 8620 Carbon Steel is the chief material used in the manufacturing process. 8620 Carbon Steel is known for providing a superior feel for the discerning golfer.

The lofts are bumped a little as the PW is 44º and the stock shaft offerings are that of KBS $ Taper Lite (steel) or the True Temper Catalyst 80 (graphite).

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Power Chamber Technology. (Photo Credit: Wilson Golf)

The Transition

First things first, I feel that I need to clear something up. Are the D7 Forged irons a Game-Improvement (GI) iron or are they a “Player’s Distance” iron? In my opinion, the D7 Forged irons are a Game-Improvement iron, and here’s my reasoning. A few years ago, Wilson introduced a “letter code” system for their products. They were F, C, and D respectively. “F” (Feel) was aimed towards their Tour irons (FG Tour VT, FG Tour100, etc). “C” (Control) was for the player that wanted characteristics of a “player’s iron” with the forgiveness and distance of a GI iron (C100, C200, etc). Then there was the “D”  (Distance) category. These irons offered more offset, strong lofts, and were GI or Super GI) through and through. Based on the letter code and Wilson’s past marketing, the D7 Forged irons are GI irons.

Aesthetically speaking, these irons are real eye-pleasers. I thought that they were “eye candy” in October, and under the Florida sun, they were even nicer than I thought. Their satin chrome finish glistened, and for the most part, their cavity is pretty clean. The graphics are clean, simple, elegant and to the point. “The Shield” is neatly placed and I like the simple silver with black detailing. There’s just enough there to let people know that this iron is a “D7”, it has a “Power Chamber” and that it’s “Forged”. The sole is of a moderate thickness to help prevent digging and reduces “fat” shots and the “Power Holes” are not an eyesore. The top line is definitely much thinner when compared to many others in the category in 2020. I loved looking down at them in the address position. The D7 Forged irons because of their aesthetics will appeal to players of all skill levels.

When it comes to the feel and sound of these irons, there is nothing to dislike. There MUST be something to the “Power Chamber Technology” because these irons feel fantastic. Nearly every shot felt great as the ball propelled off of the face and yes, I experienced no issues with vibrations. If there was a day where there should have been some semblance of vibration, it was in the cold at Demo Day. Now, a lot of the feel can be contributed to the soft 8620 Carbon Steel that was employed during the manufacturing process. The sound is an authoritative “thwack” that sounds. I loved the feel and sound of the D7 irons.

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The performance of the D7 Forged irons was astounding. These are very easy to swing and easy to hit irons. I never saw a D7 Forged with the stock True Temper Catalyst 80 shaft, so I settled for trying out the steel-shafted offering. The KBS $ Taper Lite is a mid to high trajectory shaft and low to mid-spin. With the slightly stronger lofts, this shaft is paired extremely well with the head. While having a swingweight of D2 the D7 Forged felt heavier than advertised through impact. This is a good thing and complimentary. I love a D4 to D5 because I like to know where the head is throughout the swing. Moreover, I love to feel the head pass through the impact zone.

Golf shots were easy to control. These irons are “workable” and tight draws were the norm into the teeth of the wind. Working the ball in the other direction (left to right) was pretty easy as well. Flighting the golf ball was a snap. So, if you need to dial up a stinger for your approach shot into the green, fear not, the D7 Forged will do it with “gusto”.

Distance, this is always a tough aspect to gage when hitting products at Demo Day. One of the first questions that I’ll ask a rep at Demo Day is “How far is it to that pole?” and they almost always have an answer. Upon finding out that a certain target was 150 yards. I figured a 7-iron would be the selection based on the wind which was no less than 2 clubs bordering on 3. In short, it was too much club. The 8-iron got the distance dialed right in. My point being, these irons are long. How far would that 8-iron have flown in more favourable conditions? 165-170 yards? The flight of the ball is “long and strong”. Is it possible that the D7 Forged irons are too long? Maybe, but as my years advance, I’m not going to complain as long as i can get my gapping right.

The Finish

The D7 Forged won the Teezy Award for their category and for good reason. The D7 Forged earned every point that they received. The D7 Forged irons come highly recommended from me for those golfers looking for a new set of irons in 2020 or beyond. Long, workable, forgiving, and pretty.

They retail for $899.99 USD for steel or $999.99 USD for graphite. For more information, please head to Wilson Golf.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#seeuonthenexttee #fightandgrind