Which Bag Is Muy Macho

By Adam BarrOctober 1, 2005, 4:00 pm
Golfers of a certain age -- mine, for example -- who never fretted about getting enough sleep before Sunday dawn patrol tee times will remember an era of Saturday Night Live that included Billy Crystal's take on suave Latino entertainer Fernando Lamas.
'Qui es muy macho?,' Billy/Fernando would intone, and then pit Tom Cruise's coolness against, say, Mr. T, or Gerald Ford, or Boy George.
Something similar happens in modern golf, but with less comic results. A common refrain on practice tees and development center ranges from Carlsbad to Croton-on-Hudson, invoked to explain why old club habits die so hard even in the face of proven better technology, goes like this: 'Well, you know how it is...the macho factor and all.'
Most recently, the MF has been seen as the glue that keeps 2-irons in bags whose owners' ability doesn't justify a place among the Elite 14. Hybrids, despite their ball flight advantages and their acceptance at all levels of the game, can't dislodge tradition and ideas of male toughness in every precinct of golf.
There's a good reason for that. Twos, and even the occasional knife, are good for a very narrow pie slice of the golfing population. And tradition is so strong in this game that some people consider a mere sacrifice of trajectory a small price to pay for the privilege of carrying golf jewelry.
But if you're not part of that elite group, and you agree with me that hitting fairways and greens is all the macho anyone really needs, you have to honestly assess your equipment choices. So here's a quick rundown of some macho options versus those that are less so (read: more effective for all but the most skilled players). If you have the game or the desire to go the macho route, there's nothing wrong with that...but my Handicap card and I will be waiting for you on the first tee.
Driver. Macho: About 350 cc's (if you can still find one), 8 degrees loft, stiff shaft. Non-macho: Enormous head, probably right at the 460 cc limit. Eleven, 12 or even 13 degrees loft. Regular flex shaft, maybe an A-flex for seniors whose swing speeds have slowed a bit. Non-macho advantage: Bigger head, bigger effective hitting area for people who can't hit it in the same spot on the face every time like professionals. A shaft that flexes easily and imparts as much energy as possible to the ball. The shaft's low kick point and the increased loft throw the ball up in the air and add hang time. While the ball is up there, it's going forward.
Long-shot clubs. Macho: Four-, 3-, 2-, and (yipes!) 1-irons, complete with their undeniably cool and classic look. Non-macho: A well-thought-out, fitted mix of two to four fairway woods and hybrids. Non-macho advantage: Like modern drivers, today's fairway woods and hybrids have weight low and waaaay back, which drops the clubhead's center of gravity way below the equator of the ball. As a result, impact drives the ball into the air rapidly, which is especially beneficial from rough. As for shots from good lies, see the driver section above regarding what the ball is doing while it's up there. And sole designs these days account for the fact that most of us don't hit down on the ball as much as we should, but rather sweep it a bit. These new soles give a sweet feel through the turf.
Irons. Macho: Player's blades, thinner than a bad alibi, complete with the razor top line and all the panache that comes with. Non-macho: One of the many models of irons available that feature low-and-back mass properties, often artfully hidden in the hitting position beneath a clean top line that has substance without undue width. Non-macho advantage: As with the longer second-shot clubs, the lower centers of gravity found in clubs with cavity backs, undercut channels and cut muscles encourage the ball to get airborne. Perimeter weighting fights dispersion. And here, going non-macho need not involve a cosmetic sacrifice. There are a great many very good-looking iron models out there now, and for all levels of player. Examples from a sea of choices: Titleist's forged line (especially those with precisely engineered cavities or muscle-like weighting features), Mizuno's MP 60s, and Cleveland's TA line.
Golf balls. Macho: A three- or four-piece tour ball with a urethane cover. Non-macho: A two-piece ball with a large, highly responsive core. Non-macho advantage: For people with lower swing speeds, the large-core models tend to go farther; tour-ball distance often comes from a core that is so deep in the ball that only really fast clubhead speeds can take advantage of it.
However, this is one area where the general rules of macho/non-macho don't always apply. Ball performance is so complex, and the demands we make of balls so diverse, that you may be better off going against type. That is to say, if the spin characteristics and distance of a tour ball work better for you (or just please you more) than the ball that fits your swing speed, have at it.
One last note: I don't mean to be sexist, but it's pretty well accepted that the so-called Macho Factor in golf is a phenomenon perpetuated by us men. Women, unconstrained by such primal golf forces, seem much better at building bags that give them the best chance of achieving their golf goals. Anyone in the grip of MF would do well to change his mindset and remember the object of the game: Less strokes, more fun.
And what's muy macho than that?
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

“Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

“I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.