This and That!!! (Volume 3)

According to my calculations this is the third installment of an article that I simply titled “This and That”. I honestly don’t remember what said article was about but I do know that something cheesed me off so I wrote about it. In this installment I’m going to get a few things off of my chest.

Recently, I was asked why is it that I’m so hard on Tiger Woods bordering on the point of hate. The greatest player to have ever played the game. I feel this is the best outlet and time to discuss it. First and foremost I just wanted to clarify that I don’t hate Tiger Woods. I have never had a talk with him and therefore I don’t know him. Yes, he really comes off as arrogant and elitist but that is what I see and I am entitled to my opinion.. I don’t how he interacts with children or elderly people. But there is a certain air about him isn’t there? Is he the kind of guy that would give you the shirt off of his back? I’ll never know. I get it… to his legions of fans that fact doesn’t even matter… or at least I assume that it doesn’t.

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Photo Credit: cbssports.com

But there are some things about Tiger that I do hate. The first thing is that I hate the choices that he’s made. I spoke about that before within these pages. There’s absolutely no excuse for driving under the influence whether it’s prescribed medications or alcohol and there is no explanation that forgives it. To be honest, I don’t care what he did or didn’t do during his marriage to Elin Nordgren. Of course, I am referring to his act of indiscretion (or two), Hey, it’s his life right? The media and how they handle/treat him. This really bugs me. Especially the  Golf Channel most notably and how they gush about him. I get it…. Tiger did a lot for golf  but not in the sense of what Mr. Palmer did. What Tiger has done for golf was bring people to the golf course or driving range who otherwise may not him. He had his name on a very popular game for consoles further immersing youth and old alike in golf. Viewers and broadcasts love him and in particular the ratings that he brings. Ratings that  in all likelihood Golf Channel wouldn’t have. But we don’t need to hear about every time he swings a golf club or what he has for breakfast and so on. Did you know that tere were other players in the event? Did you know that Kevin Chappell was leading? When Tiger is involved directly with the game or an event there is a certain buzz that envelops said event. Look no further than the recent President’s Cup. Tiger is great for the golf industry and he brings attention to a game that is much maligned.

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Photo Credit: golfweek.com

As everybody and their uncle knows Tiger teed it up this week at his event (Hero World Challenge). An event with a field of 18 players most of which are among the game’s elite. In typical fashion during the days leading up to the event all that you saw was Tiger here… Tiger there. It’s understandable… because it was huge. It was a comeback and one that felt different and the masses soaked it all in. Heck, there were some pictures circulating on social media that bordered on creepy. Pictures taken from behind bushes. you know the typical stalker-type. Pictures that were ominously close to being labeled as sociopathic. As I said, this time around the comeback felt different. His swing didn’t look hesitant like in other returns from injury etc. He looked good and I’m the first to say that and give Tiger credit where credit is due. He played well.. real well in fact. He was right there near the top of the leaderboard for a bit. That in itself is great to see and love him or hate him you never want to see a guy struggle or be a shell of their former selves. Whether you’re a “golf fan” or a “Tiger fan” (and there is a difference) it can only be good for our struggling sport. It’s sort of strange for me to see him playing TaylorMade Golf equipment and Bridgestone Golf Tour B XS balls. I don’t even look at the 75 that he shot on Saturday when looking back at his return. He played well period! All that I say now is just let him play golf when he decides to play and nature will take its course.

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My GOAT (Photo Credit: arnoldpalmer.com)

A couple of other things real quick. A reference has been thrown around a ton. The reference of which I speak is a type of livestock. Goats! Otherwise known as the greatest of all time. Many say that Tiger is THE G.O.A.T. and to me I feel that he isn’t. I feel that Tiger is by far the greatest of my generation without question but he isn’t the G.O.A.T. Many factors weigh in to somebody being the G.O.AT. For me it just isn’t about stats or victories. There’s more to being a champion on the course, the field or the rink. Maybe to a rabid Boston Bruins fan Wayne Gretzky isn’t the GOAT when it comes to hockey. Maybe to that fan it’s Bobby Orr.  To me there’s a hidden variable to being a GOAT. That variable is how someone was or conducts themselves in life. Everybody has an opinion and that’s what makes debate fun. Each individual has a reason why (to them) somebody is the GOAT. To me when I look at the greats Tiger is there. But then again so are Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus seeing that his statistics speak for themselves. For me the greatest of all time was Arnold Palmer. Not just for his 93 total victories which included 7 Majors. But he was a champion at life. He was a champion off of the course. To me that makes him THE G.O.A.T!

Another thing that has my hackles up. Golf balls! This entire bifurcation thing”. It isn’t going to work and unless you’re playing on the PGA Tour you don’t really need to worry about it. I’ll stick to my guns and what I wrote last week or whenever it was. Water the crap out of the fairways, narrow the fairways, grow the rough out and firm up the greens. I know there’s a crusade about water conservation. But again my idea only affects Tour courses and the weeks leading up to an event. Sure the member’s at courses that host an event would have it tough for a bit but it’s an easy payoff to lessen the chances of making your 7,300 yard golf course look like a pitch ‘n’ putt and yielding mini-putt scores. Protect the architects!

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Photo Credit: Golf Digest

Long putters! People are bashing Bernhard Langer, Scott McCarron and Adam Scott. Scott because he’s reportedly going back to a long putter.  Langer and McCarron because people feel that they’re breaching the rule (anchor ban) and cheating. I hate long putters and I’ve tried them. They aren’t for me. But if they were automatic everybody would use them. When it comes to the Tour. I think it should be clear. No use… period! Which gets me to the equipment and golf balls for the run of the mill hack… like me! Use whatever you want. Use what makes the game fun for you and gives you the best results. Use a 53″ long driver or a belly putter. Use irons that don’t conform to the groove rule if you wish. If you aren’t playing in a sanctioned RCGA, USGA or R & A event then don’t worry about it. These rules affect only a miniscule percentage of the world’s golfers. If the curmudgeon that you’re paired with on the first tee gets their knickers in a bunch about your equipment… Screw ’em! Just get on the course, play golf and have fun!

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!!

 

A Couple of Thoughts

In this editorial I just wanted to touch on a couple of trains of thought that I had looking back at the last week. There is a fair amount to talk about and I think that I’ll start with the obvious. The Solheim Cup.

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Photo Credit: lpga.com

The Solheim Cup is a biennial event that was founded in 1990. Although it doesn’t have the rich history of their male counterpart (Ryder Cup) the combination of the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour has an event that rarely fails to yield excitement. This year the event was held on the rich American farmland that is Iowa. The Des Moines Golf and Country Club served as the events host this year and as one might expect the home team had the support from their “Red, White and Blue” fans led by team captain Juli Inkster. Looking back at the event I think there are two stories that really sum up this edition of “The Solheim”. The first story was the fact that after Day Two the American squad led the European Squad (led by Annika Sorenstam) 10 1/2 to 5 1/2. In my opinion… a pretty sizeable lead heading into the Sunday Day Three Single’s Matches. On the final day the Americans only needed to win 3 1/2 points to retain the Cup. As we know… they would claim the Cup winning by a margin of 16 1/2 to 11 1/2. The highlight of the matches leads me to the second story of the Solheim Cup. The match played between Lexi Thompson and Anna Nordqvist. The latter definitely had a very strong Sunday and was playing some very inspired golf. Through four holes of golf Anna Nordqvist was 4UP on Thompson. But golf is a funny sport in that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Thompson (Ranked #2 in the World) would play some golf that could be best described as “scintillating”. She would play -7 thru holes 10-18. When somebody is clicking like Lexi was all that you can do (if you’re Nordqvist) is tip your cap to your opponent and shake hands afterwards. It has been said that this match will most likely go down as one of the best in Solheim Cup history.

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Photo Credit: lpga.com

However, as exciting as that match was I have a thought… as I have about the Solheim Cup. Looking at the Official World Rankings the roster of the American squad had five players in the Top 25 in the world. The group led by #2 Thompson, #14 Cristie Kerr, #21 Danielle Kang and #25 Gerina Piller. In comparison the European squad sees their top player being #13 Anna Nordqvist. After her there is #20 Carlota Ciganda and #24 Suzann Pettersen. Strolling outside of the Top 25 there is a number of girls from the American side ranked higher than the European team. My point being that even though any team can win on “any given Sunday” on paper the American’s have a pretty big advantage. Remember I’m from Canada so I have no vested interest in the Solheim Cup other than simply being a fan of golf and hoping for good golf. It doesn’t matter to me who wins although I am Hungarian by ethnicity.

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I wonder if #10 Brooke Henderson would be game??? (Photo Credit: thestar.ca)

The reality is that women’s golf does not get the support that it rightfully deserves from sponsors and fans alike. I have stated this opinion before in the past and I will also hold this opinion until my last breath. Furthermore, the average golfer can lean a ton more from watching the ladies over the men. But if there is one thing that I would love to see it’s the development of another type of match where Team USA would play Team World much like the President’s Cup for the men. Perhaps an exhibition match like this would heavily favour Team World with the likes of Korea’s World #1 So Yeon Ryu, #4 Sung Hyun Park, #9 Inbee Park, New Zealand’s #5 Lydia Ko, China’s #6 Shanshan Feng and Canada’s #10 Brooke Henderson. A star-studded event like this held in Asia would be massive for growing golf and in particular women’s golf. The respective sanctioning bodies could potentially earn huge dollar signs through television royalties and endorsements. Especially in the Asian market. Whether it would fly in the U.S.A however is where this concept could be a bit of a mystery. Would American viewers tune in to watch a rout? Or would the same American viewers tune in to watch a true “David vs Goliath” scenario? Everybody loves an underdog… right?! Moving away from The Solheim Cup.

Recently, I decided that I wanted to try to develop more “audience participation”. So on Twitter (@UntilTheNextTee) I posted my first ever poll. After recent putting woes I had to ask myself. Is it my stroke? Is it my putter? Is it me? Or is everything fine and just keep on keeping on?  My issue was that most of my putts missed either (A) lipped out or (B) just missed on the high side by less than an inch and 5″ past the cup. My frustration level got to the point where I would mutter curse words under my breath for missing a putt… in practice sessions. I would switch between different putters partially because of testing for an upcoming piece on Rosemark Grips and part of it because I thought maybe it was the putter. At any rate I finally came upon the conclusion that putts weren’t falling because of just “plain ole bad luck”. So I stayed the course and lo and behold putts are starting to drop. I want to thank everyone who voted for taking part and below is the actual poll with results.

My first poll. Golfers… you’re putting and you continue to miss putts to the point it’s now frustrating. Lipping out numerous. Do you…

23% Change your putter

42% Change your stroke or..

35% Nothing. It’s bad luck

The voting was close and 42% of the voters said that they would change their stroke. This means anything from a grip change to a change of technique. For example a stroke involving more hands for slower greens. Also receiving a vote was another choice… a little more creative and a reason that slipped my mind. Blaming the superintendent. I like that one!!!

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Until The Next Tee!!