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Well, I use to think technology didn't make too noticeable a difference, since average scores/handicaps haven't changed much (if at all) over the past few decades -- you know, "It's the indian, not the arrow" thinking. I am, however, having my doubts.
I coach a HS girls golf team, and while practicing at the range with them recently, I hit one of the player's Taylormade (TM) Burner (white) driver and 5 wood. She plays mens' clubs, just with regular shafts that have been cut down an inch.
I'd gone through a small bucket myself prior to the girls arriving at the range, so I was warmed up. I hit my own clubs fine, especially my driver -- which I can seem to easily do on the range, just not on the course. But that's a whole other subject.
I started with her Burner 5 wood. I struck 7 balls, hitting the first slightly left, then five in a row dead straight, with the last being a slight fade. What I found odd from the experience was the feedback. On the five hit straight, I could definitely feel a sensation the club face was self-correcting -- I never felt I put a great swing on any of those five, but the results were far better, and easier to accomplish, than with my current woods (which are older technology). The bottom line -- it seemed, overall, the results were disproportionate to the quality, speed and face contact of the swing. Even a below average swing created above average results.
I hit the TM Burner driver (10.5º) as well, and experienced the same results. I really don't like the look of the thing -- kind of cone shaped -- but the ball jumped off the club, and the right to left deviation was minimal. Again, I could feel a self-correcting effect.
With my driver (Callaway Diablo Tour 9º, std length stiff shaft) that I hit well earlier, the feedback equalled the results. I could feel when I pulled it, pushed it, faded it and just plain didn't catch it on the hot part of the face -- the feedback and results were consistent with the swing and contact.
Even though it wasn't at all a "scientific test," not accounting for all the variables involved -- changes in shaft flex, twist, torque; possible changes in my swing to accommodate shorter shaft; etc, etc -- there was a substantial difference in the relation of swing quality/face contact to overall results. I have not felt that great of an impact from a change in clubs before. I definitely know why so many pros play the TM line. Apparently, they're just easier to produce quality shots with.
Now that doesn't mean I'm rushing out anytime soon to buy TM anything. This fool and his money don't part company often, and I know if I buy anything new, actual results will not meet the high expectations, and I'll be ticked I made the purchase. And, like with all other drivers I've swung over the past several years, I'd hook it off the tee anyway -- and that is the indian, not the arrow.
Callaway is really no different than most others in the golf industry. Without searching the web, pick out a manufacturer other than TaylorMade and try to think what their different lines of clubs are. TaylorMade got lucky with the gimmick to paint their woods white. They've milked that gimmick for awhile now, leaving the RBZ (or is it Rocketballs?) clubs white. But that, too, will run its course and they'll find themselves in the same boat as other manufacturers -- fighting for the increased share of a dwindling market. I think the younger generation is reserving their scarce funds for more tattoos and piercings than that new offering from ? manufacturer.
Too me, Callaway is on the front line of a huge problem -- the US economy. It's been reported repeatedly that corporations are in a holding pattern, awaiting the right time to reinvest huge sums of cash they've had on-hand for several years. I'm no accountant, but I'd bet Callaway has bunches of actual, securely-held cash, that it too is willing to invest in new product designs if the political climate changes. With market share currently down (all industries suffer trends), what incentive do they have to try something new
Cutting back will get them through the end of the year, but then what?
If the current regimes in the legislative branch -- and more importantly, the executive -- do not change, then there will be an insurmountable number of corporations fleeing to other countries. And they'll do it soon, while the American dollar still has enough worldwide value and integrity. If they can't find foreign buyers, then owners and investors will pull the golden parachute cord, spend what they can of the money while they can, and convert the rest to gold for storage in a well-fortified vault. Who can blame them? I'd do the same thing. Self-interest doesn't make you selfish, just rationally careful.
If our nation's political landscape does not change, then all recreational luxuries -- such as golf -- will continue to disappear at depressing rates. How many courses and clubs in your area are struggling or have closed?
I don't like making this political, or so serious, but the reality is harsh. It's possible, by the end of the year, the only thing a golf club might be good for is whacking zombies as they try to enter your home for the last Pop Tart in your pantry. At that point, whether that weapon is a Callaway or a TaylorMade won't matter much.
I agree with Stretch. I haven't watched, listened to, or viewed online any so-called "news" sources in the past couple of years. The media -- including local affiliates -- have morphed into shock-entertainment mode only (not that journalism was ever that objective anyway), so I stick to reading just opinion columns to keep up with events. I have a journalistic background, and regular newspapers began to infuriate me in the way they infected straight news stories with editorializing. I subscribe to nothing of print, which makes for a clutter-free kitchen counter, and mind.
I'm 47 and I feel like I don't fit anywhere into our culture. It's not a suffering from depression, woe is me thing -- not to worry. It's based on, what I feel, is a pragmatic assessment. I'm kind of mesmerized that as the Greatest Generation thins out, large numbers of which are dying each day, a substantial number of the Baby Boomers they've left behind are nothing but immature, whiny creatures competing for their so-called 15 minutes of fame, or desperately sucking that fame from others. And the generation they've bred, the narcissistic, overly self-esteemed spoiled-lings have discarded any chance at wisdom for -- what they have been convinced is -- great knowledge (which is a falsehood when you see how we rank in school test scores compared with other countries). Simply, there are very few adults in charge anymore, and what was once deemed highly valuable -- the seeking of virtue and decency -- is laughable by most.
I don't see why Tiger even bothers with the media anymore, other than to meet the Tour's obligatory rules. Does anybody really watch post-round interviews or read what he or any other player said in the press tent? Tiger's not going to reveal much of anything anyway, and good for him. Who cares what people really think of him personally? We are astonished by what he can do to the back of a golf ball, not the rear end of a hooker.
Damn I feel old and tired... and a tad grumpy. I need a nap. And you probably do to after reading this long, uplifting tirade.
I was helping out at a girls' high school tourney, shuttling the players up a large hill from 17 green to 18 tee box. As I was sitting in the shade waiting for the group on 17 to play and finish the hole, I watched a girl hit her approach shot from just across the creek fronting the green. She shanked it -- the ball headed about 45 degrees to the right, striking the back of a cart occupied by some onlooking parents.
As everyone around arose from their quick ducking (hands and arms covering their heads), the spectators and I looked around to see where the ball had ricocheted to. It hadn't. Somehow, it stayed in the cart, coming to rest in the floorboard of the empty bag holding area.
Puzzled, the people in the cart glanced around, not knowing what to do. They then looked at me, noticing (I guessed) the high school logo on my golf shirt, thinking that I looked a bit more official than anyone else there and that I could make the call. I told them I was just a volunteer and not a rules official, but that I could help the player with her drop.
The poor girl, apparently shy by nature, was embarrassed and mystified, not knowing how to proceed. I explained she gets relief from the path, that's there's no penalty, and, because of where the ball was resting in the cart, her nearest point to drop was behind the path, further away from the green. After determining her nearest point of relief (plus a club length), she nervously held out her arm and dropped the ball into play.
Then, with all eyes on her, she struck her pitch shot, picking the ball cleanly -- a quality shot, just a bit strong. Her two opponents already had balls on the green, which neither chose to mark. Good thing.
This girl's pitch landed on the green, scooted across the surface, then caromed off another ball, striking just at the precise angle…then rolled softly into the hole. The crowd went nuts.
Like all who've been long-time golfers, I've witnessed some remarkable shots, but nothing comparable to the small sequence of things that took place for this girl -- a shank into a cart, then not your average drop for relief, followed up with a billiard shot into the cup. I tend to be too pragmatic about golf and life in general, but it was certainly rewarding to see such a uniquely positive outcome happen for the young lady. She was all smiles when I carted her to the final hole.
Cruel to be kind -- seems the golfing gods can have a heart for justice after all.
With the exception of the Moe Norman-style swing (where the wrists remain in line with the arms at address and impact), the wrists are naturally hinged upward at address. As the club makes it back to parallel, they hinge a bit more. Harvey Penick, in one of his "little" books, stated that at parallel, the wrists have already hinged enough, and that the backswing can be completed with no additional hinging needed.
At address, the arms are naturally more together, with the elbows pointing down at each hip. But on the downswing, the left elbow is out, pointing more down the target line, and the right elbow is in by the side. Because of this, the hinging has to be lost just prior to impact. The left wrists should naturally bow to retain a bit of lag, keeping the club face square longer, and keeping the right hand from releasing too soon, but the wrists at and through impact are no longer hinged -- they're now in line with the arms. They have to be or they couldn't roll over -- well, they could, but the toe would be pointing up in the air.
That's why it appears at times the club head is resting on the heel, with the toe slightly up, at address -- it's the hinging at address causing that. However, through impact, the heel and toe (ideally) arrive in line to the ground together -- that can only be accomplished if the wrists are no longer hinged and are in line with the arms through impact. Pretty cool. I just learned this recently on one of Martin Hall's School of Golf shows.
Moe Norman purposely started his swing with no wrist hinge, since he simply wanted to start his hands in the same position they'd be through impact. Made since, and he sure made it work.
Nice thing about all of this is that with most all of the hinging occurring at address, you really don't have to think about hinging after that. Allowing that left wrist to stay bowed through impact though -- well, that takes some work. After 30 years of playing, I still don't have that one mastered. And since the bowed left wrist helps keep the right hand from rolling over too quickly, I guess that's yet another reason I fight the hooks.
I bet "lhrocker" isn't exaggerating about getting the distances he's stating by taking the club back to just parallel. I read once (I read a bunch, so I don't recall where) that some 80 percent of your clubhead speed is generated with the releasing of the wrists. I've tried it before on the range, and it holds true. I'm a HS golf coach and I was trying to demonstrate to my better players -- those that could understand -- how important it is to lag the club by delaying the wrists releasing through impact. On average, I strike an 8 iron around 155, and sure enough, swinging from the parallel position, I could hit it around 130 yards (following a few attempts to get the feel). I was pretty amazed.
I played with a guy back in the '90s who took his hands back to just around his right-pocket height, then cocked his wrists rather extremely. His down- and through-swings weren't anything to watch, but he hit his irons considerably further than mine -- mostly because the delayed wrists de-lofted the club, turning a 7 into a 5. It was unusual, but it worked.
In my opinion, I think "lh" is developing a great method to hitting the ball more consistently. Like "dak" alluded to, it's far easier to add length/width to your backswing than it is to eliminate too much of one -- especially for those swingers exceeding parallel at the top.
Play versus practice -- they really seem to be less complimentary of one another and more at constant odds.
I played high school golf ages ago (our the team sucked, but we proudly did so together), and playing was the only thing I did. We didn't have access to a range, so playing and practicing were pretty much one in the same, and improvement over the next few years following high school continued to develop only from being on the course. Although scores from then wouldn't reflect it, I do recall enjoying the game more and finding it easier to do. I guess that was from being young, naive, with a freedom of not knowing I should care more. Now, with age comes wisdom -- some anyway -- exposing me to the harsh reality of expectations and consequences. Hitting poor shots and having to recover from them (more from the emotion than through the effort), seems to be my default position. I have accepted failure happens in golf, and I don't find enjoyment or excitement in that. Facts suck.
Golf, however, is about improvisation (Bubba!). Sure, many shots are similar, but none are really the same. Variables change (redundant?), from day to day, course to course. Wind, lie, incline, temperature, what we ate for breakfast... you know the list. We have to adjust, bringing all our knowledge and senses harmoniously together to conjure the all-important "feel" for the shot. But, we have to have the mechanical structuring to pull that off, and that comes from all of those reps -- hoping we're doing it correctly -- emptying buckets.
And that's where play and practice clash. It becomes far too easy to forget you're performing (improvising) and resort to a recital. It's the same difference in watching Eddie Van Halen rip away at the guitar in 'Hot For Teacher" and a youngster plink away on stage at "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on piano. On the course, you really have to trust that you "know what you know," inform the conscious mind to go elsewhere for the moment, and just let it happen, without trying to create what you think is your best Hoganesque reproduction. Like Harvey Penick said, "Pretty is as pretty does."
Unfortunately, there can be no line that truly separates play from practice. Both are the key ingredients to this game. And very few -- myself included -- have the recipe.
I've been playing for over 30 years now and I still struggle with distractions, mostly from annoying players I'm unfamiliar with in my group. It truly can readily be a "good walk spoiled" if you get an overly-testosteroned idiot joining you who decided to play the game because he failed at other sports and realized golf is a game where you have a captive audience to potentially show-off to for over 5 hours. It's easy to not care about these fools personally, but very difficult to block out their violations of etiquette -- what golfers and non-golfers alike use to refer to as common decency.
Few people realize the very first section of the Rules of Golf covers etiquette, including "Consideration for Other Players." I've been a golf coach for the past three years and I'm a stickler about having my players be still and quiet while others in their group are playing. I tell them "I don't even want to hear you blink an eye!" They get plenty of dirty looks from me when they rustle around when others are playing during matches and tournaments.
For me, I try to play with the same group of players. They know my nuances and phobias, and I know theirs. And if I have to, I remind them if they're doing something annoying, such as standing behind me down my target line on the tee box -- you'd be surprised by the number of people I regularly play with who know that gets to me, and others in the group will politely correct them if it happens. It's not personal.
This game is far too expensive and time-consuming to allow others to annoy you. I tell my players that they are their own best representatives, and if they won't speak for themselves, who will? By saying something, those who truly don't know about etiquette will learn, and if they're decent, they'll show respect. And if not, then you've identified yet another narcissistic bore you can remove from your golfing life.
I find myself practicing more, mainly hitting balls into a large net from a turf mat. I feel the reps are the only true method for improvement, although not always enjoyable.
I recently ready two books on the subject of developing "talent" -- The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. In a nutshell, both authors arrive at the same conclusion on how to become good, even great, at anything -- hard work! The authors discovered it's a common myth to believe people are born with talent. The ones who achieve true greatness work on their techniques for a very long time, with most starting at very young ages -- Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods being classic examples in golf.
I'll write more about these books in the appropriate book section, but I wanted to reference them here as they relate to practicing. I feel there is no substitute for hitting a large number of balls.