Hot Takes (Round 1 – 2020 Masters)

Well, here we are. It’s November and finally the tournament has come that we all look forward to every spring. The Masters. It goes without saying that 2020 has been like nothing that we’ve experienced before. Things have changed, things are different, and in saying that, how different is a Masters Tournament in November? It’s rare and mysterious. It’s a unicorn.

Leading up to the playing of The Masters this year, I wasn’t that excited. Or so I thought. In retrospect, I think that it’d be best if I stopped lying to myself. Apparently I was excited, when I woke up and looked for Masters coverage. Failing to find anything, I went to the Masters’ website looking for scoring information and the leaderboard, and lo and behold… Nothing. I was bewildered. As it turns out, it was only Wednesday. Not excited for The Masters? Yeah, right!

But finally the event started today, former Masters Champions and legends of the game Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player hit their ceremonial tee shots and alas, The Masters was underway.

Here are my hot takes for Round 1 of the 2020 Masters Tournament.

The Weather – After a few players finally got underway and started their tournament, it wasn’t long until expected inclement weather moved into the area. As the klaxons went off indicating a temporary stoppage in play there was a feeling of deflation. Tributaries of Rae’s Creek overflowed and just for a little while, Rae’s Creek looked like a “Rae(ging) River”. The Masters was delayed for how many months? So, what’s another couple of hours? Eventually, the skies cleared and blue skies emerged. Symbolic, because one day, we’ll be through this pandemic and it’ll be nothing but blue skies ahead. Play was suspended due to darkness thanks to the weather delay.

The Defending Champion – The defending champion, Tiger Woods, looked great today. There’s just something about Augusta National Golf Club and Tiger that looks, natural. He just looks so comfortable strolling around out there, golfing his ball doing what Tiger does best. The greens became very receptive after the torrents of rain and Tiger took advantage of them. He posted a -4 (68) and looked really good doing so, other than a couple of unforced errors. After the first round Tiger sits in a share of 5th place. During the delay, I watched a press conference from earlier in the week of Tiger discussing his 2019 victory. It was so nice to see him show some emotions. Am I alone in wishing that we saw more of this type of human element from Tiger more often?

Photo Credit: NY Post

Ageless Wonders – Golf is a funny game. Golf is simply a game that demonstrates that there’s more than one way to swing a golf club, play the game, and score. Contrary to popular belief the game is not all about power and brawn. How about 62 year-old Larry Mize posting a -2 (T-21) in the first round? And then there’s Bernhard Langer. At the tender age of 63, there he sits, in a tie for 13th place after the first round. Is it just me, or do we see this from him more often than not. I’m really hoping that Freddy Couples has himself a great second round. He’s currently sitting in a T-72nd.

Power and Brawn – Speaking of power and brawn. Coming into this week, everybody was talking about Bryson DeChambeau, thanks in most part to Bryson DeChambeau. Yes, he put a 48″ driver, which isn’t newsworthy. Heck, Canada’s Brooke Henderson from the LPGA has been playing with one for quite some time. But, then there was the talk about him turning the Par 5 13th hole into a driver and a little “excuse me” wedge into the green. In the first round, that didn’t quite happen as he carded a 7 on the hole. Oh yeah, there was also his bulletin board material of a quote where he stated that (for him) Augusta National Golf Club was a Par 67. With his 70 today, does that mean that he technically fired a +3? Carding a -2 (70) he is anything but out of this thing. By the time that the dust settles this, he will make noise. Plenty of it.

Marco…Polo!!!! The search is on for Bryson’s golf ball on the 13th hole.

The Leader – Paul Casey took advantage of the conditions in the first round. Actually, a healthy portion of the field took advantage of the softer greens. In fact 63 players out of the field of 92. Not only were the greens receptive, but they weren’t rolling at their typical lightning fast pace. Casey in the first round posted his -7 (65). The overnight leader after the first round.

Ugly Polos – While I’m in no way the fashion police I couldn’t help but notice some of the fashion during the first round. Was it just me or were there some ugly polos being clad by players in the field. At times, Nike Golf could be accused of having the ugliest scripting out of the apparel companies during the Major Championship’s. Man, Paul Casey’s left me confused. I sort of liked Rickie Fowler’s in a way, but, there was something about it that my eyes hated. And then there was Hideki Matsuyama. That thing was ugly as sin. The green and white stripes somehow reminded me of a prison outfit. Granted, the stripes weren’t horizontal. Well, at least they weren’t Tabasco polos.

No Galleries… No Problem – Is there a golf event this year that will miss fans more than The Masters? If there was an event, other than a Ryder Cup that was meant to have spectators and galleries in attendance, it’s The Masters. I’m going to miss the roars of Sunday. The cheering, applause, and gasps just reverberate around the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club. But, I will say this. There’s no taking away from the beauty of Augusta National Golf Club, and if anything we get to enjoy the views a little bit more without the fans being in-person. In a way, Augusta National Golf Club seems more natural, serene, pristine, and pure. Yet, in a way, the lack of fans also makes it seem more elitist and untouchable. Either way, I’m really enjoying it. How about you?

The silence is deafening. I love how pure ANGC feels.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

Review – TaylorMade Golf Tour Response Golf Balls

The Set-Up

After having an excellent run, and a bit of a cult following with the TaylorMade Golf Project (a) golf ball, TaylorMade Golf decided to release the next generation of their mid-level range of golf ball. In saying that, the type of golf ball that I describe is one that has most of the characteristics of a tour-level golf ball, however, it’s one that doesn’t come with the tour-level price tag.

Introducing, the Tour Response golf ball from TaylorMade Golf.

When looking at the TaylorMade Golf Tour Response golf ball we’re looking at a golf ball that features a 100% Cast Urethane Cover. The benefits of this type of cover are that it will yield a softer feel at impact and there will also be a tendency for the golf ball to “stick” a little longer on the face of your club which theoretically could deliver more distance. Not to mention, the added bonus of more greenside spin.

The Tour Response golf ball is an easy golf ball to compress, in large part due to the soft, ultra-low 40 compression rating that comes with it. Low compression means that the golf ball has more potential energy transfer and as a by-product, more distance.

The Tour Response golf ball features a 3-piece design where the cover is cast urethane and the core is low compression (both already discussed above). Rounding out the layers, laying in between the core and the cover we find the ‘Speedmantle” layer. Technology similar, to what we see in their tour-level brethren TP5 and TP5x golf balls respectively. This firmer second layer “surrounds the soft inner core and allows for an explosive transfer of energy and increased ball speeds”.

The Tour Response golf ball is available in white and high-visibility yellow, for those that need help locating their golf ball both in flight and in the turf.

Cost – $34.99 USD/dozen or $44.99 CAD/dozen

If you prefer to watch video, here’s a video review too.

The Transition

Even though I first saw this golf ball in October 2019, my testing and use of the Tour Response golf ball came quite late into the 2020 golf season.

While at an event with the Golf Journalists Association of Canada, attendees had their choice of a dozen golf balls to help ourselves to. The TP5 and TP5x were offered along with the Tour Response. Having never played the Tour Response, I figured that I would select a dozen of the Tour Response. After all, I could use the opportunity to test them and write a review. Little did I realize that I wouldn’t put them into play until November.

The day when I finally put them into play for the first time was a day that was chilly, windy, and there was an imminent threat of rain. Conditions at the golf course were soft. Cart path only. So, know early in this review that when I talk about the length of these golf balls, it’s strictly carry yardage. The same could be said of the sequel to that round regarding moist conditions, although, it was warmer. Besides, when it comes to golf ball reviews, total yardage mean “diddly” it’s carry distance for the win.

When summarizing the performance of this golf ball, let’s look at it in terms of their qualities starting with feel, then putting, greenside spin, full approach spin, and distance.

Feel – Recently, I wrote a review on it’s little sibling, the Soft Response. While the Tour Response isn’t as soft as the Soft Response (the Soft Response has a compression of 35), the feel of this golf ball is soft. All of the technologies nicely meld this golf ball together into one great feeling product. While I found that this golf ball was a little more firm than the Soft Response, it still is a very soft feeling golf ball. Especially with the irons. The feel that I get through impact with the Tour Response is one where I have that sense that I have compressed the golf ball. I liked the Soft Response, I prefer the feel of the Tour Response.

Putting – I realize that for the most part, putting with this golf ball really ties into the feel aspect of things too. This is a golf ball that feels soft yet offers a slight “click” with putters that either have inserts, or do not. The “Tour Response” alignment aid is functional. To the best of my ability, I did not observe any sort of “wobble” indicating that this golf ball rolls true.

Greenside Spin – This is where spin is so important. If you miss the greens in regulation, you’ll need a solid back-up plan. That back-up plan is a golf ball that will provide some spin and help you inside of 25 yards. The Tour Response golf ball is very predictable, especially from tightly mowed areas. In general, always expect less spin from the rough, but I found that the Tour Response was pretty reliable and predictable in these conditions as well, when tested. The urethane cover is responsive when it hits the green and the Tour Response does have a “set of brakes”.

***All of this is dependant on the golfer and how they strike the golf ball.

Full Approach Spin – I’ve used TP5 and TP5x. In fact, I love both of those offerings. In comparison, it’s my opinion that the Tour Response is just as good in this facet of the game as its more expensive stablemate. The Tour Response has no problem stopping on a dime and/or backing up. This golf ball has so much full approach spin that you will gain confidence with it quickly and learn its tendencies. Peace of mind is so important i n this very cerebral game. In the rounds of golf played with the Tour Response, I don’t recollect one approach that released from its ball mark upon landing on the surface. Approach shots have either (a) stopped where it landed or (b) went reverse. We’re talking greens that aren’t severely sloped either or greens that feature backstops.

Full approach spin. With the Tour Response, you’ll be repairing ball marks.

Distance – The Tour Response is long. I always refer to a “benchmark golf ball” which was/is my gamer. Simply put, the Tour Response is every bit as long, if not, longer than my gamer. Over my rounds of golf playing the Tour Response the weather really varied. From a wet, windy, cold day (it was 9*C or 48*F) where the sky was heavier with rain, or my most recent round when it was sunny and in the low 70’s (or low 20’s in Celsius) the Tour Response loves to fly. I was amazed by how it flew, in particular, with a hurting right to left wind.

On one particular shot from 185 yards out and just off of the fairway with water staring me down (forced carry from my angle) my ball just penetrated, unaffected from the wind and unceremoniously landed just past pin high. The shot went approximately 190 yards.

With the metalwoods I can report more of the same observations. The Tour Response goes “deep” whether it’s a 230 yard 19* hybrid, 240 yards into the wind with a 3-wood, or off of tee with the driver. This is a golf ball that appears to be a lower-spinning golf ball. The Tour Response is longer than many other golf balls that I’ve tested, especially in this category of golf ball.

The Finish

Dare I say it, I’d put this golf ball into play before the TP5 or TP5x. Especially considering that I’d be paying for my golf balls on my own dime. Unlike the tour professional or the more affluent golfer, every dollar counts for me. The price savings, in Canadian funds is a difference of $15/dozen. For the difference in price, there isn’t that much of a drop-off in performance IF there is one.

The Tour Response does everything that a tour-level golf ball does. It offers greenside spin, full approach spin in spades, length, and a cast urethane cover. The cover, by the way, has been durable thus far as well.

I highly recommend the TaylorMade Golf Tour Response.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee