2005 Callaway Golf New Products

One hacker’s opinion on Callaway’s 2005 new products to hit the market.

CallawayMy annual trek to Orlando included a round of golf with the good folks from Callaway Golf, giving me a chance to try some of the company’s new clubs and balls. While the really new stuff — like either of the prototype Fusion drivers being tested on tour, or the softer prototype HX Tour ball that Phil Mickelson is playing — stayed under wraps, there was still a wide berth of Berthas to put through their paces. Here’s one hacker’s opinion on Callaway’s latest products to hit the market, based on a morning of scramble golf.

Once is Enough for Langer

Victorious in 2004, European Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer has withdrawn his name from captaincy in 2006.

Bernhard LangerEarly in November of 2004, the United States chose Tom Lehman as its captain for the 2006 Ryder Cup. The European team has taken a bit longer to choose its leader for the 2006 campaign. Ryder Cup super-star Colin Montgomerie decided he’s not done trouncing American opponents and withdrew his name from consideration. This left three possible choices: Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, and Bernhard Langer. Better make that two. Now it appears Langer has decided he’s going to step aside and allow someone else to fill the position. Although Langer removed himself from the captain’s seat, he still has ambitions of being in Ireland saying, “I have every intention of being a playing member of the 2006 European team.” This comes as bittersweet news to American golf fans considering Langer’s 10 Ryder Cup appearances and 21-15-6 cumulative record.

How Good is too Good?

Is the new standard of well manicured golf courses in America killing American golf?

12th Hole Augusta NationalIt all began quite innocently in 1956 with the televising of The Masters tournament held at Augusta National. Just one look at the pristine fairways and perfectly manicured rough and Americans across the country demanded the same attention to detail from their local municipals. This day marked the end of American dominance in the sport of golf. Recent history proves how dead American golf is. Look at the World Golf Rankings, 13 of the top 25 come from countries other than the United States. The European teams have held The Ryder Cup six of the past nine years. College golf teams are recruiting players from all over the world because of their abilities. Why the shift in power? It’s not due to a lack of effort: go to any course and you’ll see tons of youngsters trying to emulate Tiger woods. If fingers should point, then blame should lie squarely on American golf courses.

Go Home, David, Please

Go home, David Duval. Get your game in shape or something, but until you do, please – just stay away.

David Duval NikeDavid Duval, at one point in the third round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, triple-bogeyed three straight holes. After three rounds of play on the relatively easy courses of the Bob Hope Chrylser Classic, Duval sits at +30. The leader, Joe Ogilvie, is “comfortably” fifty three strokes ahead. Lanny Wadkins, second-to-last, is 19 strokes clear of Duval. Davis Love III made more birdies on the back nine today than Duval has made in three full rounds of play, and we’re quite confident that were Sam Snead alive today, he too could beat David Duval.

Until last week, I was as big a Duval fan as you’re likely to find these days. I was happy that he finished T13 at last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship. As I said, until last week. Duval withdrew during one of the weather delays and returned to Colorado to get in some snowboarding. This week, he’s +30 after three rounds. This week, right now, I just wish the guy would stop embarrassing himself.

Ban Belly Putters? For the Good of the Game?

Where do you stand on the belly putter debate? Are they an unfair advantage? Or are they just as likely to help you miss putts?

USGAIt all began quite suddenly a year ago. After Ernie Els lost to Trevor Immelman at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open, Els called for the USGA to ban belly putters. Since then the debate has raged on: should the USGA and R&A ban long putters? These putters have become all the rage with golfers who develop cases of the “yips” and can no longer keep short putters stable. Yet some golfers continued to cry out against belly putters. Even players like Colin Montgomerie who have resurrected their careers with these putters agree they’re an unfair advantage. Once again, the rumor mill is spinning and there are grumblings around golf that the USGA is about to make a ruling outlawing belly and long putters. New developments have only added fueled to this fiery debate: many new putter companies such as Yes! Golf haven’t introduced belly and long putter models. Furthermore, established ones like Titleist’s Scotty Cameron house haven’t added new belly putters to their existing lines. Where do you stand on the belly putter debate? Discuss it in our forum!

TaylorMade Rac Y-Cutter Wedge Review

TaylorMade’s y-grooves are all the rage on the PGA Tour, but are they worth it for amateur golfers?

TaylorMade LogoFor the past year and a half, two of my favorite clubs have been my 56° and 60° Titleist Vokey Oil Can wedges. These wedges performed superbly on approaches from the fairway, out of the rough, and were a sure bet out of the sand. However, many people have been raving about the incredible spin produced by TaylorMade’s y-groove wedges which are found only on their tour versions of the RAC wedge series. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase one of these wedges from Bomb Squad Golf and pounced on it just to see what all the hype is about. A few days ago, a 56° oil quenched RAC y-cutter with 12° of bounce was delivered to my door and I tested it at the course the next day.

2005 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Preview

The Bob Hope Chrysler Classic tees off tomorrow, will Phil Mickelson be able to defend his title?

Bob Hope Chrysler ClassicThe Bob Hope Chrysler Classic tees off tomorrow morning and will spread professional golfers and big-name celebrities over four courses throughout five days of competition. Unfortunately, this tournament has failed to attract the top four players in the world: Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els,and Retief Goosen. However, if recent trends continue that may be a big mistake since the past two champions, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir, have gone on to win the Masters. The format for the tournament is different from others on tour due to the large amateur presence. During the first four days, teams of players and amateurs rotate through four different courses. Finally, on Sunday the top 70 professionals “make the cut” to play for the championship at PGA West.

Whistling Strait Back

The diabolical Straits course in Kohler, Wisconsin has locked up a Ryder Cup and at least two more PGA Championships.

Whistling StraitsThe 86th PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI was such a success that the course was recently named the home of the championship in 2010 and 2015. Additionally, the course will host the Ryder cup in 2020 pending guarantees of sufficient hotel rooms.

The Straits Course, Pete Dye’s latest major design to receive a national audience and a large tournament, was opened in 1998 alongside Lake Michigan and ranks among the top 5 places you can play according to Golf Magazine. At 7,536, the Straits course is currently the longest course in major championship history.

Said Herb Kohler, fauce man extraordinaire, “We are honored that the club professionals of The PGA of America have made such a strong long-term commitment to return to this venue.”

Out of the Fog Comes Tiger

Tiger Woods, helped by Lady Luck, emerged from a fog (and a bout with the flu) to capture the 2005 Buick Invitational.

Tiger Woods Fist PumpThe fog parted, and Tiger Woods emerged from his second event of 2005 with his first victory of the new year.

This victory closed the books on the longest stroke-play drought of Tiger Woods’ career (American Express Championship in October, 2003). Of course, it certainly seemed as though Lady Luck was on Tiger’s side as competitors fell away hole by hole. Charles Howell III in particular felt the wrath of Lady (Un)Luck as he rattled the flagstick and holed his approach to the par-5 18th for eagle only to have it spin around in the cup and rebound into the lake. Had the ball stayed in the hole he’d have ended up tied with Tiger at -16.

Tiger said “This golf course is so difficult, anything could happen.” Just about everything did.