Adjusting to New Clubs

By Adam BarrJanuary 19, 2008, 5:00 pm
2008 PGA Merchandise ShowMy feet dont hurt. Its my fingers.
Actually, theyre fine. Just worked hard. At this years PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, whose vastness usually provides a workout for the feet, I muscled up my thumb and forefinger putting together a vast array of clubs with interchangeable shafts.
Theyre the vanguard of the latest wave of golf innovation, loosed on the industrys shores by a new rule allowing clubs to be adjustable for more than just weight.
Most of these new clubs were drivers, and many overlapped in some way with fitting systems. That makes sense.
The idea of the relaxed rule on adjustability, says Dick Rugge, senior technical director for the U.S. Golf Association, is to bring recreational players closer to the experience of tour players, who can visit the tour van any time they want to make an adjustment to get the gear to fit their game better. (The USGA, with its rulemaking partner the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, made the new rule, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2008.)
This New Years gift to the industry came along quickly, making a lot of manufacturers scramble to accelerate under-development concepts through the pipeline. Those products were on display at the PGA Show. Consumers should see them by early spring.
Approaches to the new opportunities are as diverse as the industrys participants.
Callaway Golfs I-MIX system arises from its OptiFit driver fitting system, which already has a foothold in the custom fitting business. I-MIX customers will be able to buy a driver head ' say, a square FT-i or more traditional FT-5 ' in the loft they want, then buy single shafts whose tips are fitted with special attachment hardware. Pop the shaft into the head receptacle, finger-tighten the O-ring, and use the special torque wrench to secure the system. The wrench can only fit onto the hosel one way, and it clicks when youre done. Theres also an indicator window on the wrench that shows a red dot when youre finished, just to be safe. Voila; a playable club.
Other companies go the bottom-of-the-shaft route.
Nickents Evolver system, which will at first be available with its popular 4DX driver head, uses a screw that drops into the receptacle on the sole of the club, near the heel, to meet up with a threaded fitting on the shaft you have inserted through the top. The wrench gives a solid click when youve done the job right.
TaylorMade will have the r7 CGB Max Limited, which uses a titanium screw much the same way.
Other companies are, for now, confining their interchangeability story to fitting. Pings fitting system uses interchangeable heads (and not just in woods), but the company hasnt announced any interchangeable play clubs yet. (Thats not to say that such plans arent on the drawing board.)
Nike is in a similar position, focusing its interchangeability efforts on a comprehensive fitting system. Both Ping and Nike support their systems with proprietary software, some of which offers extremely detailed interfaces. Pings nFlight software, for example, lets you fly along with the ball, so fitter and fittee can analyze ball flight and customize the fit that much more. The interface is based on sophisticated gaming software.
Beyond fitting, interchangeable technology allows adjustments for conditions, say the systems proponents. On a windy day, for example, a slightly more tip-stiff shaft could bring ball flight down to a more manageable level, where distance will rely more on rollout than hang time. A screw-in or snap-in system could make that possible for many more golfers.
As an hour-long symposium on the main show stage proved, what weve seen so far is just the beginning. Many issues need to be addressed, from product liability to retail packaging and behavior to where the PGA pro or clubfitter will fit into the brave new self-fitting world. And where will interchangeable tech go next? Hybrids? Wedges? Irons? Innovation will be as limitless as imagination.
And lets not be so blinded by the bling of the new that we forget that so-called traditional clubs are not going anywhere. Fixed-head models abound, such as Callaways Hyper-X driver and Clevelands improved HiBore XLS. The latter has a 17 percent larger face, which should be even more forgiving of mishits, Cleveland says.
This was the 55th consecutive annual PGA Merchandise Show. The longevity is telling. It seems no matter what the condition of the economy ' macro or inside golf ' theres always something to see and talk about in Orlando. In a game that aggressively sells hope, the allure is undiluted.
Definitely worth sore feet ' or fingers.
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

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    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''