I’m Working Here

As I sit here in what seems to be the “Dog Days of Summer” with sweltering heat and nary a breath of wind, I have a question for all of you. I think that the question I pose is a relatively fair one, and it’s a question that I’m asking out of nothing more than simple idle curiosity. So, here goes.

When you go to the driving range, do you want to be left alone and just focus on yourself, or do you welcome conversation about the mechanics of the golf swing?

I ask because the following story is a situation that arose the other day during a “focused” session at a nearby facility (Brock Golf Course).

Lately, since receiving a new set of SUB 70 699 Pro irons (that review here) my practice approach has taken on a renewed intensity. What some of you may not realize is that I took a kick at the proverbial can of playing professionally in some Mini-Tour events a few years ago. The timing was as poor as my results (see embarrassing). At the time, I was going through a complete swing reconstruction, however, I have no regrets because it got me valuable tournament experience (I had none prior) and as it turns out, I inadvertently invested in Canada’s Michael Gligic (while playing on The Great Lakes Tour). Too bad, my health got in the way for good measure. So here I am, thinking about it once again. I turn 50 in less than two years and with it, I get the equivalent of a “sort of” golf vasectomy. So, I’m thinking about playing in competition again and I’m working towards it in every way.

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Loving the graphite-shafted SUB 70 699 Pro irons.

Every now and again, I fall into a trap of working on things where I lose my sense of feel as it relates to the golf swing. I wrote an article earlier this season in which, to sum up, I screwed myself over getting too mechanical while practicing in isolation. It took a while to break the habits in my swing that I suddenly had acquired. I had a serious issue with hitting blocks. A shot shape that I’ve never had, and then shortly thereafter I had an issue with hitting pulls as I was coming out of “the blocks” and the pulls, those were eerie Hell! It grossed me out. Since then, I have rectified both misses and my sessions have gone extremely well. Phew! (insert wiping off brow here).

It feels great, and in a way, it feels like I’m in cruise control. My typical shot shape has returned, straight to baby draw. The shot shape that I know and trust. Which gets me to the point of this article.

The other day I went into the Pro Shop at Brock Golf Course, purchased my bucket of balls, found some grass in the hitting area, and dropped off my balls and golf bag there. Typically, I spend time on the putting green working on my putting stroke, and then head over to the chipping/pitching area to work on my short game. This day was no different. Like I said, my focus has suddenly changed. Now that I’m sitting here, thinking about it. My focus began to change on the back nine during a recent round with a friend. I felt the competitive juices start to flow within myself and rise to the surface.

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Feeling the flow. About to ride the bronco.

As I was working on my short-game, I noticed that a woman was watching me closely from the range. Upon finishing up my short-game practice I slowly meandered over to where my golf bag awaited and standing beside my golf bag was… the woman. We exchanged pleasantries and she sat down. I worked with my Orange Whip and she asked if it was an Orange Whip Trainer to which I responded “Yes ma’am, it is! It’s been in my bag for 5 or 6 years”. “May I see it?” sure, why not? I have hand sanitizer in the golf bag. So now, I’m engaged in an ongoing conversation. Honestly, I didn’t mind. But then the conversation took a turn.

From out of nowhere, she starts talking about the golf swing after I make a few swings with my wedge, settling into my routine. She starts talking about a whole bunch of technical thoughts, about seven of them (my head was spinning after the third) and she’s demonstrating them sounding like a robotic parrot. Demonstrating all sorts of angles and why they’re happening, she explained that she’s been struggling with her swing. In the interest of transparency, I feel that I should say that while I was practicing my short-game, I casually glanced over and observed her making swings. It was a series of thins and fats. I realized that she was looking for some free swing tips, and I vaguely recollected her from last year too. It was the pitch of her voice that stood out.

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The more that she spoke, the more that I felt she felt like this. 

Realizing that she was likely working with someone (I never, ever talk or help someone that’s already working with another instructor) I asked her “So, who do you work with?” She ignored the question and continued with technical speak about the golf swing without missing a beat or taking a breath. So I asked her again, “Who do you work with?” she finally responds. “Why do you ask?” So I explained to her, “I ask because, you ma’am, are way too mechanical for your own good”. An allegation that she denied and debunked saying nothing more than “No” and walked away. As she walked away, I said to her “Have a fantastic day!” That was the end of the conversation. By the way, I’m doing this as I’m working through my routine making swings.

I don’t mind talking on the range, and I don’t mind discussing the golf swing. But if you’re going to fill my head or anyone else’s with swing thoughts and not be open to hearing what others think.  Keep them to yourself and leave me or others the heck alone. After all, I’m working here.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

The Pandemic HAS Created A New Golfer

It’s been a trying time over the last few months. Of course, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic. Really, that could have gone without saying. It’s been a real downer for everyone. Golfers, boaters, and of course our healthcare workers who’ve had an extremely heavy stress load forced upon them. The doctors, nurses, and lab technicians. All of them, legitimate, bonafide heroes who should be making the money that professional athletes make. But I digress.

Now, we have “Murder Hornets” too!  is that, it’s only May! Now that I pause and think about it, 2020, you really suck!

Anyways, it’s amazing what light can come out of a situation like we’ve all been facing. As many people that have been infected and unfortunately passed away worldwide from COVID-19, there are also those that have beaten the infection and recovered. One day, we’ll win this war, and THAT to me is a light at the end of the tunnel. Speaking of rays of light in a dark time, I want to talk about my son Alex.

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A proud papa moment. Alex seen here after graduating from a Junior Ceremonial Drill course when he was in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

My son, Alex, is a great kid or shall I say, young man. He’s a gentle soul, very respectful, and I guess that I should mention for the purposes of this story that he’s on the “spectrum”. Alex has Autism and in particular, he has Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s very comfortable in his “bubble” that is his bedroom. He has a bit of a social disorder because of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Because of this, he keeps to himself in his room and like most youth or young adults nowadays, Alex is heavily immersed in the life of electronics and video games.

Well, yesterday, he surprised me and gave me a real “Proud Papa” moment.

Upon arriving home, after driving my wife (Crystal) home from work, I walked my Labrador Retriever (Muskoka). After the walk, I walked in the door and went to my bedroom and looked out my window. Lo and behold, who’s outside on the UTNT Practice Centre for Deprived Golfers? Alex! I mentioned to Crystal that he was out there, and my wife assumed that it was me because she heard the sound of a golf ball being struck by a club. So, in an instant, out the door, I go, with no shoes on my feet and I start watching him.

In the past, I have introduced Alex to golf, fishing, and fly fishing. Criticize me if you like but, I’ve never been the kind of parent that “force-feeds” their kids to do anything. I’ve always been of the ilk to let them decide to choose and like what they do (within reason). Alex was first introduced to golf at about age 5. Since, he’s been on a driving range a smattering of times (like in 2014 on a trip to Ottawa/Quebec), played in a 4-Person Scramble with me in Maine (2015), and worked at a golf course (2016). That’s it! So for all intents and purposes, he’s a newcomer to the game and a new golfer. Looking back at pictures of the past, perhaps it was I that dropped the ball by not approaching him. For that, I’m sorry son.

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On the range in Ottawa in 2014.

As I’m outside observing him, he’s trying to figure things out on his own and I just let him go. After a few minutes, I offered him a couple of quick tips. But first, I tried him with a couple of different irons from a couple of sets. He was trying to use my one old set, which was too long for him so I put him into another set that’s closer to standard length. Next, I examined the “Fundamental Four” as I call them.

  • Grip
  • Posture
  • Ball Position
  • Addressing the Ball (which ties into BP)

Having examined that, I moved on to a couple of other things. He was making two common mistakes that many seasoned golfers make. He was “flipping” at impact and he was “picking up the club” as opposed to making a “turn”. So we focused on his bottom hand (wrist angle) and the turn. Taking baby steps, I had Alex make only 1/4 to 1/2 to get him started resulting in him showing signs of instant improvement. And then I thought, let’s try one other club since he was using a muscleback.

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Alex walking off of the green in 2015  on a trip to Maine after making a putt for his team.

I went to my bag with some of my tested equipment and pulled out the 699 9-iron that I received from SUB 70 Golf for review last year. He made a swing and my eyes bulged out of my head. Suddenly, he was making crisp contact at a 4 out of 5 clip. My excitement level was peaked!! Even my speech sped up while explaining things to him. My feet were wet from standing on the wet carpet and grass (mud) so finally as a chill cut through me, I succumbed and went back into the apartment while Alex remained outside and continued to work.

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One picture can say a lot. There’s a lot of good happening here. Trail shoulder down and through. His hips have gotten through the impact zone. The navel is getting towards the target line. Alex is extending down the line. Lastly, he’s transferred nicely to the lead leg and he’s posted up. 

Some time passed and he wrapped things up for the night. There was a twinkle, no, a spark in his eyes. He was happy and excited. He then said something that I never thought I would hear. First, he asked “Dad, is 7 am too early to hit golf balls?” to which I said yes, out of respect for our neighbours. Then he informed me that instead of playing video games tomorrow, he was going to go into the backyard and hit golf balls. I was literally beaming all night.

As bad as this pandemic has been, there’s just a glimmer of positivity. The pandemic and the consequential lockdown have seemingly created a new golfer. My son!

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

 

REVIEW – SUB 70 Golf 699 Pro Irons

SUB 70 Golf, what could I possibly say about their golf equipment? In my previous testing of the 699 irons and their Pro Fairway Wood, I learned a lot (Please see that review here). It’s very high-quality golf equipment, their products perform just as good (if not better) than golf’s “Goliath’s” and it’s equipment that’s very affordable.

I had discussions through various e-mails and a terrific telephone call with the CEO/Founder of SUB 70 Jason Hiland shortly after they announced that a 699 Pro iron was being released. We discussed a testing opportunity and I received the privilege to test a 7-iron of the 699 Pro irons.

 

The Set-Up

The 699 Pro irons are built on the same chassis as the very popular 699 irons. Features include a face which is a “1.7mm wide sliver of 455 Carpenter Steel, allowing for maximum compression”. Also, seeing that the 699 Pro irons are a hollow-bodied design, SUB 70 Golf utilizes TPE (a type of resin) which aids in improving the sound and feel at impact while stabilizing the face. But that’s where the similarities end.

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In developing the 699 Pro irons, SUB 70 Golf learned that while golfers really liked the original 699s, better players wanted to see a couple of things. A thinner topline, a more compact head, and last but not least. Less offset. Ask and you shall receive! You get those characteristics in the 699 Pro irons. A golf manufacturer that listens to feedback from the golf consumer. How novel!!

Another difference in the 699 Pro irons is the finish. “Out” is the brushed satin chrome look and “in” is a stealthy black finish which SUB 70 refers to as its QPQ finish. The Quench Polish Quench finish “is a specialized type of nitrocarburizing case hardening that increases corrosion resistance and wear resistance. The name refers to the three steps involved: nitrocarburizing, polishing, and post-oxidizing. This finishing process provides a surface condition that protects against corrosion and wear, superior than hard chrome or nickel plating”.

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The Transition

First of all, I just wanted to talk about the customer service provided by the team at SUB 70. The customer service at SUB 70 is second to nobody in the golf industry.

Do you need your clubs made to certain specifications? SUB 70 will customize your clubs for loft, length, and lie at no additional charge. In my case, for the purposes of the review, I went with +1/4″ longer than standard, 2* flat with standard lofts. The shaft I opted to go with was the Project X Graphite in 6.0 flex.

I was excited to receive my tester 7-iron and I wasted no time in picking up my club upon receiving notice that it arrived. I opened the box, and there it laid in front of me. Upon unsheathing the 7-iron from its plastic cocoon laid a beautiful, murdered out piece of golf equipment. All-black, and it looked sharp. What really caught my eye however was, the personal touch of the hand-written note from their CEO (Jason Hiland). In my book, little things go a long way. Class.

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So, is there a difference between the 699 vs the 699 Pro? Yes! And you can tell right away. The top-line has been “shaved down” and is noticeably thinner. I loved looking down at the 699 Pro iron and the lesser offset is very eye-pleasing. Overall, SUB 70 got the aesthetics of the 699 Pro irons… Right!

Performance is what you want to know about, right? I made my way to the Paddock Golf Dome in Tonawanda, NY to break it in. After warming up, I made my first swing and that first pass was met with a very sharp “crack”. The feel just resonated right from the head and through my hands. The feel was “hot”. The ball was very responsive as it jumped off of the face. That first swing, a tight draw! Swing after swing that first session yielded more of the same. Flighting the golf ball was a breeze and so was working the golf ball in either direction. I left the facility very impressed after the debut session.

Testing would include some early on-course testing in pretty nasty conditions. Outdoor driving ranges and on-course testing. Full swings in the cold (temperature’s hovering around just above freezing) resulted in carry distances of 160-165 yards. The performance of the 699 Pro irons was consistent and impressive, to say the least. Are they forgiving? Yes, there is a degree of forgiveness to them. Strikes off of the toe are not severely punished. While there is distance loss, strikes stayed on line.

Recently, while I was down in Florida for the PGA Show, I managed to get some post-show golf in. During a round at Southport Springs Golf Club, I used the 7-iron to tee off of the Par 4 1st Hole and it was a shot that put me into perfect position for my approach into the green. The 699 Pro 7-iron was my “go-to” club that round and I used it to rescue myself from under low-hanging trees draped in Spanish Moss. That shot, I left my tee shot right with about 115 yards left to the green. I set the ball back and hit a perfect punch shot with the 99 Pro 7-iron. The ball would settle to 5 feet from the pin setting up a birdie.

I had an issue with the finish wearing off quickly. During a great discussion with Mr. Hiland at the PGA Show, I asked him about the finish wearing fast. I actually asked Jason if it was meant to go “raw”. I was informed that my sample was an early model. The finish of my tester was black PVD and not the QPQ finish.

The Finish

The 699 Pro irons are winners. They are a golf club that I feel extremely comfortable with and I would have no issue putting them into play when it counts. A golf club that is best described as a “Player’s Distance” golf club. Low and mid-handicap golfers will love the 699 Pro irons. They produce a slightly flatter ballflight than my gamers in head-to-head testing. Wind-cheaters, workable, forgiving, and hot.

Their scheduled release is set for late-February. A set of 699 Pro irons will run $534 for their stock set. Upgraded shafts are available with an upcharge.

Truth be told, if they would have been present at the 2020 PGA Show the 699 Pro irons would have been finalists for a Teezy Award in the “Player’s/Player’s Distance” Category. SUB 70 Golf uses the tagline “Expectations Redefined” and they exemplify this.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

 

 

 

#TeeBoxChatter – Tour Edge Golf, AXIS 1, SUB 70 Golf and more.

In this episode of #TeeBoxChatter I come to you from the Wehrle Golf Dome in Cheektowaga, NY.

On a day were i was just planning n getting in a few swings in preparation for the 2020 PGA Show I had an expected yet unexpected parcel arrive. In for review is a putter from AXIS 1 Golf. Also in this episode I discuss the apprehension of wondering what the new Exotics EXS 220 metalwoods from Tour Edge Golf will be like. The Exotics EXS of 2019 WILL be a tough act to follow. Ongoing testing of the 699 Pro irons from SUB 70 Golf, Cameron Smith and more.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee