Rrrrroll Back??

Alright! Right up until this moment I’ve been very quiet about the hot topic that has come up lately. No it isn’t Tiger’s comeback at the Hero World Challenge but he is involved in this article. Then again so are legends of golf Mr. Jack Nicklaus and Mr. Gary Player. Of course I am talking about the latest talk of rolling back the golf ball.The reason is simple and I totally understand their concern. The fact is that Tour players are making certain golf courses obsolete. Most notably, some of the courses in the rota for the Open Championship. Imagine a world where there is no Open Championship on the Old Course at St. Andrew’s. When you think about it… it isn’t far-fetched at all.

The talk of rolling the golf ball back is not a new idea. Mr. Nicklaus has stated this in the past so his suggestion about a uniform golf ball is nothing new. I remember going back to 2015 during the week of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay the timeless legend Mr. Player stated that golf courses were “getting too long” and that the “mismanagement of the golf ball” is leading to the demise of golf courses. Even more recently, Mr. Player stated that it was “sad” to see the Old Course being defeated by today’s golf ball. He actually expressed concerns in 2005. Tiger Woods joined the “campaign” on dialing the golf ball back very recently as well. Of course, there were those who follow the game that said he wants the golf ball rolled back because he is no longer the longest guy out there. But there he was clearly stating that “We” need to do something. So if this is a concern than why has nothing been done?

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While evolution and progress can be a great thing in some cases it isn’t. In a world of checks and balances something has to give. I have a hard time seeing the likes of the major brands in the industry saying yes to having a uniform golf ball. After all, in the case of Titleist their marketing model has nothing to do with their golf clubs or their mid-range golf balls. It’s all about the Pro V1 golf ball. Play what the best in the world play! Of course, the Pro V1 will almost certainly continue to live for the masses.  But getting back to giving a new meaning to “the one ball rule” how would that process occur? Bids by the likes of Acushnet, Srixon Golf,  Bridgestone Golf, Wilson Golf etc with the winner being selected and to the victor go the spoils? Seems hardly fair right? If all company’s had to adhere to the same criteria that would theoretically work. But then I get this eerie premonition.

Just like when rolling and shaving softball bats was a thing when I was still playing softball. To make composite softball bats more lively guys at all levels of softball would shave the inner walls of the bat and roll the bats to make them “pop” reducing their break-in period which made the bats hot!!!. The result… pitchers dreaded lobbing up every pitch because of the balls exit speed coming back up the middle. Trust me.. it was deadly!   The governing bodies at Provincial Championships had x-ray machines to check for any suspected bats breaching the rule. Remember my premonition? Imagine the eventual winner of a tournament won a tournament that we’ll call ‘The Masters”. The winner was  hitting the “rolled back” golf ball long. Meanwhile, up in The Butler Cabin  by the fireplace sits an x-ray machine. Right before the Green Jacket presentation they examine the golf ball… or all of the golf balls in the golf bag of the winner. Somehow, there was one ball that magically slipped through quality and control at Plant#3 and there’s an illegal golf ball. Disqualification.

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Photo Credit: scottishgolfhistory.com

 

The reality of the game and rolling the golf ball back only is a concern for such a low percentage of golfers around the world. For everyone else (mere mortals) this debate doesn’t or shouldn’t really effect them. With all due respect to Mr. Nicklaus, Mr. Player and Mr. Woods the problem really stems back to my entire baseball bat scenario. Sure the golf ball is long. Maybe it doesn’t spin as much. But those baseball bats started to launch the ball out of the ball park 375 feet  at will. One league I played in had houses built right behind the sports complex. Segments of 50′ mesh nets were strung up in a vain attempt to protect the houses against incoming “mortar shells”. It sort of worked but yet windows were still getting smashed. The league brought in a flight restricted ball and sure the instances of baseballs being hit off of the roofs of neighboring houses decreased but not by much. So what was the correlation and why was it still a problem… other than poor city planning? The bats and athlete’s themselves.

I personally think that the issue with golf and this entire “rolling back crusade” is with the golf clubs themselves. Let’s face it… when you’re an arthritic 70-year-old man you shouldn’t really hitting the ball further than when you were 50. But you are! If there’s an issue with too much length look at the new equipment that’s being constructed from space-aged materials. If it’s anything it’s the equipment causing the issues.  Not just drivers and irons but the turf equipment too. Bear with me for a second regarding the latter. But again, this only pertains to a small percentage of golfers. Have scores dropped significantly among amateurs over the last 5 years with all of the advances in technology? The answer is no! Look at the technology in place for these guys playing on television on Sunday afternoon’s. Sure it’s out there for amateur’s as well  but the technology goes far outside of having the right shafts installed into your set. Who saw Rocky IV? Remember the technology that “Ivan Drago” had? Technology that actually makes the athlete with much advanced workout programs. Golfers at the collegiate and professional levels like their NHL, NFL, and MLB counterparts are quite simply bigger, faster and stronger. So… is the answer having 8,500 yard long golf courses? My thought is no! How the heck does that help and what is a solution?

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The course of the future now. (Photo Credit: Daily Mail)

I never thought that I would say this but maybe.. just maybe the USGA has had it “sort of” right all along with their set-ups. Maybe the superintendents at said courses would take an issue to this but maybe growing out the rough, making fairways narrower and the greens firmer and faster is the answer. Moreover, water the living “bejeezus” out of the fairways. Drench them… and forget about these guys getting 50+ yards of roll. My Lord… most of the fairways that these guys play on roll faster on a “Stimp” than the greens at most Semi-Private golf courses. The machinery that superintendents have at their disposal has come a long way since the era of “Caddyshack’. I’ve said for too long that golf has become hard to watch. Seeing these guys posting combined -24 scores for a tournament is hurting the game and making the game boring to watch. Many people go to car races for the “wrecks” and that’s why I love the carnage at the U.S. Open. High scores and punishment for wayward shots. Many of these courses also feature fairways as wide as the eyes can see… or they should be considering their width. Look at Erin Hills… wow! Heck, even Glen Abbey site of the RBC Canadian Open has massive fairways where the bombers can bomb away at will. If they miss… no big deal because there is no rough. If you want to roll anything back… roll back the course conditioning.

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2004 U.S. Open Shinnecock Hills (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Maybe my solution is too simplified. You aren’t going to be able to roll back the athlete (force them to be obese) and you might be able to do something about rolling back the ball and/or equipment. But the one thing that golf needs to do is preserve the game and preserve the likes of Tillinghast, Thompson, Nicklaus, Palmer, Robert Trent Jones and Ross. Make these guys “golf the ball” around the course. Screw “bomb and gouge” and make these guys hit golf shots. Make them work the ball and penalize a miss.

Until The Next Tee!!

TPT GOLF™ Shaft Used by Winner of the 2017 WGC – HSBC Champions Event

This press release from TPT Golf and Mary Beth Lacy couldn’t come at a better time. As it turns out European Tour action has already been played and a champion was crowned at the Turkish Airlines Open held in Antayla, Turkey. The winner this week was none other than Justin Rose who has been gaming the 15 Series shaft from Swiss company TPT Golf. For those keeping track at home this is back-to-back wins for Justin. below is a press release regarding Rose’s win last week in China at the 2017 WGC – HSBC Champions event where Rose came back from a huge deficit.

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Last January, I was very happy to cover the launch of this exciting brand while attending the PGA Show. A group of us were picked up and escorted to ChampionsGate where we had the opportunity to make swings using shafts from TPT Golf. The first impressions were fantastic and I wrote a review based on that experience. I am in the process of long-term testing using the 15 Series and thus far I am even more impressed now than I was in January. Stay tuned for more coverage right here. In the meantime here is the press release from TPT Golf.

RENENS, SWITZERLAND – TPT Golf™ announced that the winner of the 2017 WGC – HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China this past weekend, was playing one of its shafts.

 

“Congratulations to the champion,” said Sebastian Sebayang, director of TPT Golf. “Everyone at our company is very proud to see our shaft being played by one of the game’s top stars, and golfers will see very soon more of our shafts in the hands of many more of the world’s best players. This victory further validates that TPT Golf™ is setting new standards in shaft performance, using ‘Thin Ply Technology’ (TPT) carbon fiber materials and a patented manufacturing process developed by parent company North Thin Ply Technology SARL.”

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In capturing the tournament, the winner played TPT Golf model 15LKP-LT-LW, part of the 15 series. The 15LKP-LT-LW shaft will be available and launched at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show.  Shafts in this series are designed and engineered for the high clubhead/ball speed players seek in a premium shaft, to optimize their launch conditions. The 15 Series shafts are currently played by top PGA professionals, LPGA professionals and top amateurs everywhere. The LKP used by this tournament winner produces a slightly higher initial launch angle with more spin, while the MKP produces a lower, more penetrating trajectory with less backspin. Both models boost ball speed.

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“Our patent-pending manufacturing process enables golf shafts to be made with exceptionally accurate fiber placement in a highly uniform way around the shaft,” said Sebayang. “This method creates a spineless shaft and overcomes the inconsistencies sometimes seen in shafts produced by the more-traditional table rolling methods. TPT shafts provide exceptional feel, leading to tighter shot dispersion, low spin and increased distance. And for the first time ever, the company can design a shaft that starts with the physical capabilities of the human body and goes on to reflect the coaching being received in practice.”

TPT can now provide the best-performing products for Tour pros and amateurs alike, bringing a consistent and precise product into the shaft marketplace. The range of TPT Golf™ shafts has been designed to make the fitting process as simple as possible. There are models to suit players with any swing speed.

 

Also… here is a quick video with some of my observations thus far through testing.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

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!!