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  1. We're in that special hell of rules controversies with the implementation of the new Rules of Golf. There have been some growing pains with the new rules, and that has allowed the golf media to tee off on its favorite target, the USGA. Which, to be fair, can make itself an easy target: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/despite-harsh-words-from-some-tour-pros-usga-pleased-with-roll-out-of-new-rules-of-golf. That aside, I wanted to talk about the "controversy" about the knee-height drop that the Rules now require. Rickie Fowler got a one stroke penalty for dropping from shoulder height this past weekend. Cue the complaining from him: https://golfweek.com/2019/02/22/rickie-fowler-hit-with-one-shot-penalty-for-illegal-drop-at-wgc-mexico-championship/ I can forgive him - he just had a brain fart, probably didn't gain an advantage in this situation, it cost him money. I'm always annoyed when I get a penalty, personally, and it's absolutely never my fault, okay? But cue the pearl clutching from the media: https://www.golf.com/news/2019/02/25/backstopping-pro-tours-under-policed/ I'm here to tell you that this is wrong, and knee-height drops actually make a ton of sense. One of the best things the new Rules do is simplify dropping. Now, all you have to do when dropping is land the ball in the relief area (without touching you or your equipment before hitting the ground) and ensure the ball comes to rest in the relief area. If you don't do this, you have to redrop. Pretty simple. Yes, you have to figure out what your relief area is, but that's pretty simple, too. (For a fuller explanation of this, see Rule 14 and the definitions in the Rules of Golf.) The old rules were much more complex. Specifically, if your ball rolled to one of 9 areas after you dropped it, you had to redrop. For example, if your ball rolled more than 2 club lengths away from where your ball hit the ground, you had to redrop. You had to know all of these 9 areas to know if you needed to redrop or not. So, the new way is simpler, right? Instead of learning 9 different triggers for a redrop, you only have to learn 1. Great! Why am I talking about when you have to redrop? This is why we're dropping from knee height. Generally, under the new Rules, your ball cannot go as far after hitting the ground as it used to without triggering a redrop. Dropping from knee height reduces the chance that a redrop will be necessary. It also means that a ball has less of a chance of embedding in sand when you drop it. It makes a ton of sense, really. Now, you might say, that's all fine, but why not allow dropping a ball from anywhere above knee height? I think you could easily game the rules to be able to place the ball when you really want to by simply dropping from shoulder height instead of knee height. Think about dropping on a side slope, for example. You're much more likely to have to redrop and place if you drop the ball from a higher point. Sure, this is rare, but why take the chance? We're all on the same page, right? Knee-height drops make a lot of sense. (If you want to know more about the changes to dropping, this is an excellent article that talks about this in a bit more detail: https://rulesgeeks.com/2018/12/30-days-of-2019-rules-changes-day-16-procedure-for-dropping-a-ball-in-playing-it-from-a-relief-area/) Now to the point of all of this: golf media, please take 5 minutes to understand the rule before issuing a HAWT TAKE about the rule. The USGA has a one page sheet that explains the rule: http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/major-changes/new-procedure-for-dropping-a-ball.html. You don't come off very well when you fail to read that. I know it's fun and easy to just mindlessly bash the USGA, but they do get things right. This is one of them. (Oh and by the way, the Rules are actually really good, as a whole. Maybe I'll talk about that in another post later.)
  2. While it's always a great idea to spend some time with a qualified fitter, there are a couple things you can do on your own to see if your irons are properly fit for you. Recent feedback I've gotten from several fitting experts is that the technique of drawing a sharpie line on the back of a ball is better for dynamic lie fitting than using a lie board. The sharpie test is simple and allows you to hit balls off grass. The lie board with tape on the sole is obviously a popular method but the board is raised off the ground and the surface is different than grass. These differences can influence the club at impact and your swing. The lie board can encourage some players to sweep the ball while some players have a tendency to hit more down than normal, so it can be tough to get accurate and clean readings. Big reason why I like and wanted to share info on the sharpie test, I think it's best if you can accurately represent what will happen on the golf course. Here's how to go about performing the sharpie test. Draw a heavy vertical line on one side of the golf ball with sharpie and place it facing the club head. After impact, the line should be transferred onto the club face. If the line is perfectly vertical your lie angle is good to go (right pic). If the line is tilted out towards the toe of the club (left pic), your club is too upright and the lie angle needs to be flatter to get the line to vertical. Vice versa , if the sharpie line is tilted towards the heel your club, the lie angle is too flat and you would need to bend the club more upright. The test won't tell you exactly how much you need to adjust the clubs but it's a good start. For a static test, use a business card. Since it's static the test doesn't account for the fact that players are usually higher with the handle at impact, along with some shaft droop but it's something I recommend you do in combination with the sharpie test and getting your height/wrist-to-floor measurements. For this lie angle check, take your address position on a hard surface with the handle at a proper height; butt of the club pointing at or somewhere between the belly button and top of your zipper. Have someone slide a business card under the sole of the club. If the lie angle is correct, it should stop the where the one end of the card is at the center of the club (pic below). If the business card reaches the heel, the club might be too upright, too flat if the card doesn't slide to the middle of the face.
  3. Television golf analyst and professional player Bobby Clampett recently wrote an article on club fitting...more specifically what he feels are the 2 big problems with club fitting. He made some comments that I felt were spot-on, and he made some comments that I would consider "interesting". The issues he addresses are 1) club fitting for players who have a chronic fade/slice, and 2) too much emphasis being placed on fitting irons for maximum distance. In the first section he talks about meeting players during a pro/am or when he works with students giving lessons: The clubs recommended to them were “anti-slice” clubs. All the grips were small (standard size), and the woods (especially the drivers) were upright with the sliding weights put in the heel. The irons were “jacked-upright” as much as 8 degrees. All of these adjustments were made for the purpose of building in the ability to hit hooks. If the lie of the club is upright, more “hook” is built into the club through the principle that “loft is hook.” Additionally, the more the available “loft” of the club, the more the upright angle increases hook. So a set of clubs built 8 degrees upright has a very different directional profile with the 4-iron than with the wedge. Without correction, a wedge that is 8 degrees upright will really go left, while the 4-iron won’t have as much correction. I've condensed this a little, but so far everything makes sense...except maybe the part about irons being 8* upright! That's pretty extreme. I don't know any club techs or club builders who would attempt to bend irons that much. I've done 6 degrees which is 2 degrees more than I'm comfortable with, but it was only one club which started out flat, so it wasn't ridiculously upright when I was done. Anyway, it's hard to imagine anyone needing clubs so upright. Bobby then goes on to say: The uprightness of the club significantly reduces the sweet-spot, making the club less forgiving by increasing the chance that the ball will be struck lower in the face (which has a worse effect on long irons than short irons). Gear effect has now been proven to exist even in irons, and low-in-the-clubface hits will cause a gear effect fade, magnified with lower lofted clubs, even if the face and path are square. Some club manufacturers have built game-improvement irons with bigger sweet-spots (with lower CG’s and higher MOI’s). When club fitters make the lie angle “off-square,” this improvement immediately is canceled and, in most cases, completely nullifying any benefit the game-improvement design can provide. Ok...I've been in the golf business for over 18 years, most of those as a full time club builder, a fitter and as an equipment technician, and I've never heard anything relating to an upright lie angle reducing the sweet-spot by increasing the chance the ball will be struck lower on the face! Now I will say that if a player's clubs are adjusted to a very upright lie angle not to fit the person's swing, but in an attempt to correct a slice, this can cause several issues. The last part is equally confusing. It seems he is saying if the lie angle on a set of game improvement irons is adjusted, it eliminates any benefit that those types of clubs offer. What? The part of the article I applaud him for is his opinion that there is too much focus on making irons go further. He says: I don’t mean to be too blunt here, but who cares how far you hit an 8-iron! The only two clubs in the bag that should be designed for distance are your driver and your 3-wood. All the other clubs should be set for proper gapping and designed to improve consistency and proximity to the hole. Learning to hit the ball flag high is one of the key separators between top PGA Tour Players and those a notch or two below. It’s also a key element in lowering scores. So, greater distance with my irons actually makes my game worse and it does the same with my students, too, because accuracy and ability to get the ball consistently closer to the hole is negatively impacted. Proximity to the hole is more important in the irons than distance. Amen to that. Thoughts?
  4. I’m getting a static fitting for my driver, hybrids and irons, and I also need new grips to be put on. I have all my recommended adjustment measurements (lie angle, club length, etc) from my golf coach. I live in Queens, NY. What places would you highly recommend?
  5. I'm all for getting fit for new clubs. However, I only have one set that I would classify as being "fitted". Also, I play with some guys who regularly score in the 70's who never have been "fitted" for their clubs as TST members understand fitting. It may just be the way they always have done things. In other cases, though, fitting may not be available to many for various reasons such as distance to fitting center locations, or cost, or what is offered is really static, not what TST members think of being fitting. And, also related to my question, there was a time when club fitting as TST members think of it either didn't exist or was not available. So there had to be/have to be alternative methods of choosing the clubs for the golfer's swing and game. What are the alternative methods to fitting that folks do or have used to arrive at a good club selection? Thanks, -Marv
  6. We have mentioned Club Champion recently in our discussion of post-Golfsmith club fitting sources. Well, CC has a quarter-page ad in today's Wall Street Journal, page A12. Dave Leadbetter is featured in the advertorial. DL touts custom fitting in general, and CC in particular. CC now has 20 studios scattered around the USA. Has anyone dropped in on CC yet?
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