Difference Makers

By David AllenMay 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The set is dead. Or so proclaims TaylorMade-Adidas Golf in its advertising campaign for the new Burner 09 irons. In the Burner, TaylorMade believes it has created an iron that is longer, more predictable and more individual than any other iron ever made.
Instead of being designed as part of a set, with a look and feel similar to the other irons in the set, the Burner 09 irons are engineered separately to give you a more sizable distance gap between clubs and different performance characteristics.
Typically, the way you design a set of clubs is you start with a 6-iron, and everything flows off the 6 and theres your set, says Harry Arnett, TaylorMades senior director of equipment. The more we talked about the way irons are designed, the more we realized that its not the way people play golf. We thought it was a stupid way to design irons because the performance you need from a 9-iron is significantly different from what youd expect from your 4-iron. Why would you want those two clubs to perform similarly? Youd want them to be designed dramatically different in order to optimize your performance for those particular shots.
With the Burner 09 irons, TaylorMades Research and Development team decided to start with the 4-iron because in testing they found that the average golfer hit their 5-iron longer than their 4. They wanted to build a 4-iron that would be the longest, most forgiving long-iron in the history of the game.
We felt that if we could make a long-iron that that was far easier to hit than any other, wed learn a lot about how to make the middle- and short-irons easier to hit, too, said Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMades chief technical officer.
TaylorMade got the distance it was looking for in the new Burner 4-iron by scaling the clubface back to 1.9 millimeters, half the thickness of its predecessor and most competitors. This made the face more flexible, increasing ball speeds by as much as 7 mph -- which translates into as much as 25 to 30 extra yards for some Tour players.
Its the longest 4-iron weve ever made, said Arnett.
The perimeter of the clubhead is expanded in the long-irons (4-, 5- and 6-irons) to increase the MOI (Moment of Inertia) and make each iron more forgiving. The degree of offset is also increased and the top-line thickened to give the appearance of more size behind the ball, inspiring more confidence.
The mid-irons (7- and 8-irons) are designed with a slightly thicker clubface and slimmer top-line than the long-irons, but are outfitted in longer shafts than you normally see in a traditional 7- or 8-iron to give you more distance. The short-irons (9-iron and pitching wedge) feature an undercut cavity which allows more weight to be moved to the perimeter of the head to improve stability. The size of the heads are significantly smaller and the face thicker than those found in the long irons, creating less distance but more accuracy.
We dont want to give people the ability to hit their pitching wedge 150 yards, said Arnett. Thats not a distance theyre familiar with in a scoring wedge. People want a consistent performing pitching wedge that they can chip with around the green, that sounds great and fits their eye.
Some elements do remain constant throughout each iron, including a wide, thick sole which helps lower and drop the center of gravity behind the face, making it easier to launch the ball high and long.
We were able to protect ball speeds on mishits and get accurate distance-gapping between irons for the first time, said Arnett. Even if you mishit your 4-iron slightly, youre still going to hit it 15 yards farther than your previous 4-iron.
A set of Burner 09 irons includes the 4-iron through pitching wedge ($699 steel shafts, $899 graphite); 3-iron, sand wedge and lob wedge can all be purchased separately.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.