Titleist FittingWorks

By September 26, 2008, 4:00 pm
Imagine traveling 180-200 days a year, working at close to 180 different events for almost 22 years. Meet Glenn Mahler, Titleist Advanced Fitting Specialist.
Once a teaching professional he has done fittings for Cobra before his current position fitting on the Titleist FittingWorks Van in California. Glenn claims that the nice thing about his experience from teaching is that 'you're able to know what techniques apply to ball flight. It's not that we teach players, but it's certainly helpful to know what's coming out of a player's technique and what's coming out of a specification on a club and what's achievable in altering a specification on a golf club to altering ball flight.' In addition, Glenn claims that there is not just 'black magic' to fitting, but science as well. Many of those who take the time to see a fitter are the better players that are more serious about their game. They understand the benefits of fitting.
How many vans are there out there now? Is it just you and Pete Bezuk?
'There's a total of three (vans). There's one out there on the PGA Tour full time. There's one on the Nationwide Tour and then there's us.' 'We're just California based. We have so much business here we don't need to go any further, It's a two-man operation on this van but the tour vans have much more staff. 'Typically two builders on the PGA Tour and one on the Nationwide. They'll have a Fitter that runs that trailer and they'll make that recommendation and there will be somebody from Bob Vokey's department and somebody from Scotty's department. So there are certainly more personnel on the Tour Van than ours.'
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How does FittingWorks fit in with the Titleist Perfromance Institute experience? Is there a charge?
'TPI is the next step up but FittingWorks is still a rare opportunity for individuals to experience Tour level fitting. 'We believe that the golf professionals should charge for their time for a fitting just like they charge for their time for a lesson. We do charge the facilities to bring our trailer on site, but it's up to each facility to allocate these charges however appropriately they see fit and to dictate the pricing. We certainly don't tell them how to price our services and we need to charge because of the level of expertise and all the technology we're bringing plus our Mobile Workshop. It would also be a disservice, to the Golf Professional, if we came to their facility with everything we bring, and you saw how expansive that is, and did that for no charge. It would be very difficult for a golf professional to charge for their time if we didn't even charge for ours.'
'The availability, technology, and resources available on the van is unbelievable. All we're trying to do is add a level of service. Just like you mentioned TPI, that's something Titleist accounts can avail themselves to. This is another level of service we add above their own fitting carts and own local fitting experiences that we bring to their membership or customers. It's not for everybody, but certainly our schedule is quite full and it seems to be the players we fit keep demanding it. So we've got to think we're hitting up on the right chord. The need is there and the expertise is being appreciated.'

The Titleist Approach to Fitting

'Certainly there's science and technology that's in fitting and we certainly avail ourselves to that. There's also certainly an art to fitting and I'll give you an example about the art of fitting. Anytime we start doing a fitting for a player I watch the player hit shots and observe the ball flight. In that observation of ball flight, that ball flight will usually be talking to me. What I mean by talking to me is through its speed, its launch, its spin, and its dispersion. I start prioritizing what it is the golf ball is asking for in improvement to assist the player to score better.'
'This would be very similar to if you went to an emergency room or a trauma center and you had all these injuries after an automobile accident. What the doctors do is assess the injuries and prioritize the order in which they work on them. So they're going to fix and work on a collapsed lung before a broken arm. We kind of look at ball flight similarly. We start prioritizing 1, 2, 3, 4; what can we do in ball flight to improve this player's score? Some things we can achieve faster than others. Some are more difficult to achieve. What I like to do is to prioritize, work on, and improve the greatest need of the ball because that's going to help the player score immediately. And again, these improvements are what we're trying to achieve through some specification in the golf club be it a model, a length, a shaft, a flex, a set compositionthings like that.'

How much do you depend on Technology and Cameras?
Glenn points out that mere accumulation of a launch monitor data, 'does not a fitter make'. One must interpret that data and use it to formulate the best plans in order to improve those numbers. In fact, he's seen so many players and shots that he usually knows what the launch monitor will say before the data is even gathered. Basically, the monitor is there for the player and not the fitter since a fitter that has seen thousands of shots and will already know what the monitor will say.
'Regardless of a player's handicap, I think fitters can blend technology and experience and can observe flight, record flight on launch monitors, cameras, and things like that, can use that information to then formulate a plan for the player.
Is it any easier to fit a Tour player vs a Weekend Warrior?
I don't know that it's any easier to fit a Tour player. I think any fitter can improve any player at any level' says Glenn. When someone goes for a fitting they should not expect to be taught anything about their swing. Glenn points out that,
'We're not there to be their instructors. Most typically we're at a facility that one day so we're not really able to teach them and we're not there as their instructor. What we can tell them is what the golf club is doing or what the golf ball is doing in flight or in the dynamics of when they swing. We can tell them what we believe to be these windows or ranges of what we like to see the golf club or golf ball do, for example in launch angle, spin rate, or dispersion, or path. The first thing that happens is an assessment of what is currently in the player's bag.'
'I like to see what a golfer does with their golf clubs. A lot of times you'll see players are misfitted for length for example. I like to see what they do when they address the ball with their posture in their current set. Our philosophy is dynamic fitting ' players swings and ball flights as opposed to static fitting where you take certain measurements and by these measurements you decide you need certain lie, or certain loft, or certain length. What dynamic fitting does is it takes into account what players do with their posture and their swing. I like to see what players do with their current set because if I do start making alterations I also want to see how much their swing is changing not by me asking them to make a change but by changing a specification in a golf club.'
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How do you go about fitting Players into Products?
'We have these four new iron models that have just been released this march ' the ZM, ZB, AP1, and AP2. What I'll do is I'll go through that family and describe in detail the benefits and features of each model and what the engineers designed that model to do and also to tell them what we didn't engineer that golf club to do. At that point we'll allow the player to hit any and all of the models. We certainly do not direct players into a model. We let the player choose the model because looks and feel are certainly very important. But, we do want to make sure the player understands what the model was designed for because you'll have your best opportunity as a player to succeed when you have this partnership or marriage with engineering. If you try to reverse-engineer you typically will fail because the engineers are better at design than you and I might be at reversing it. What I mean by that is let's say a player hits all over the map on the face ' they don't hit on a consistent part of the club face. Yet they may like the ZM model. That ZM model we do not design to be forgiving, that's not its purpose.' The ZM is actually a traditional-type blade for those who want that sort of club. As opposed to like an AP2 or an AP1.'
'They may like it, but I want to make sure they understand when they mishit that center of percussion, that ball speed is going to reduce pretty substantially. I just make sure they understand what the models are for. At the end of the day we're in the people pleasing business. We want to make sure we please players. Part of pleasing players certainly is giving recommendations and specifications on golf equipment that allows them to be better.
Glenn, you mentioned the most common fault you have found is club length? We had heard from some of our members that Pros fitted by Titleist were going shorter in terms of shaft length?
'That's correct. When it comes to length of any golf club that you're striking off the ground, we can define that as anything but a driver. What we prefer to see is the proper length that allows the player to be able to strike the ball then turf, so ball-turf, and center of percussion, which is higher in the face than most players understand to believe. It's not just in the center of the face. Most players hit it too low on the face or they might hit the center line, but too low on the face. So when a golf club is too long, you will generally see a number of turf then ball shots and then a lot of thin shots. You will also see a lot of heel biased shots as well as you can also see a lot of toe biased shots with golf clubs that are too long.'
'Clubs have really grown in length over the last 10-15 years and quite often we'll recommend shorter than standard lengths. Players will say, If I get a shorter than standard club, am I going to hit the ball shorter? And that could apply to an iron; it could apply to a driver, or a fairway. Generally speaking my response would be, 'No you're not going to hit it shorter, you're going to hit it longer and more repetitive.' The reason being you're more apt to hit the center of percussion on a more repetitive basis. Length is usually where I get a lot of questions. I still get a number of questions: 'Do longer drivers (longer than 45 inches) go further?' That very rarely occurs where a longer driver will go further especially on a repetitive basis.'
'It's amazing then when you start testing players and you start shortening the lengths for players how their ball-turf impacts improve. The strike locations move higher in the face where the ball speed increases, the launch angles go up, and the spin rates become appropriate for that particular loft golf club. They're able to do it on a more repetitive basis and that is the key to a good, accomplished player. Whether it is a Touring Professional or an Amateur, when I see their ball speeds, for whatever club they're hitting, it generally doesn't vary more than 2 miles per hour from swing to swing. That makes for a repetitive carry distance and then players know how far they will carry a golf ball.'
Is it a fair statement that the 6 iron is the 'Benchmark' for irons for FittingWorks?
'We used to, as other companies did years ago, use the 5 iron. We'd find ourselves, quite often, coming into players who didn't have appropriate launch or spin with a 5 iron. We couldn't get accurate information about what kind of set composition they needed when we were testing on a club they couldn't fit into. That's why most golf companies use 6 irons now. We're looking for better players and I'd say club level players are going to have swing speeds on a 6 iron that are going to vary anywhere from 75 to 95 mph. 95 mph would be very high, 95 would be PGA Tour numbers. But 75-85 miles per hour is the typical club speed you're going to see on a six iron for most club level players. Most accomplished players, be they professionals or amateurs, are probably going to swing that 6 iron between 85-95 miles per hour, and 95 is pretty high for a 6 iron. Launch angles are going to run from about 14-17 degrees on a six iron and that's the window we'd like to see the ball launch through. We'd like to see a spin rate plus or minus about 6,000 rpm on a six iron. Obviously if a player is a little bit of a low launcher and he's down maybe 14 or 14.5 in the launch then we'd like a little more spin on the six iron. Depending on the player and depending on the speed of the golf ball maybe we'd like 6,200, 6,300, 6,400.'

How does that compare from the swing instruction side where most people are taught to groove a 7 iron? Do people start to really struggle now once they get past a 6 iron? What is the set makeup you are starting to see more of now considering today's common swing faults?
'Most players have a standard set of 4-PW and never use a 3 iron. It is less likely that a player has the repeatability of repetitive carry distances on a 3 iron. The 6 iron is basically where reality and expectations come clashing together in terms of performance and repeatability. We find ourselves that a lot of time players do better with a 5-PW makeup and then add wedges, hybrids or more fairway woods. This is a real luxury that our fitters have with a great Cobra and Titleist product lines where depending on that player; the speeds, launch conditions, and spin conditions you can make recommendations of where they need to stop the iron and start including either more hybrids or fairway woods to allow them to achieve the launch and spin rates to be able to carry the ball and stop it. Stopping the ball is one of the most important factors. Most times players that play too low a loft can't stop these balls on the green. They just come in too low.'
'You've got to remember that everything we do is always in concert with our golf balls. The golf balls of today certainly launch a lot higher under solid core technology than they ever did when we had wound technology. When we had a wound golf ball, the golf ball by design with the liquid center would launch low. The spin wouldn't catch until the liquid equalized into the center. Now the golf balls we've designed launch so much higher. What we're able to do because of the golf ball design and also where our center of gravity is on our irons - our center of gravity is, I would say generally speaking, a lot lower now than it's ever been. So when you move the center of gravity down and back from the face you're also able to increase launch. As manufacturers we're able to do this because we can launch the golf ball and because of the center of gravity we can now reduce lofts for spin rates. But it's being able to blend the launch and the spin that's appropriate for the player's speed.'
Since you are shortening the shaft and taking into account loft adjustments, how do you factor in the lie angle when fitting? You are known for your saying the the 'lie board can lie.'
'Well, I think other than ourselves, Callaway, and TaylorMade have similar standards on lies. As you know there's no industry standard on lies. Ping has a flatter lie than us, as does Mizuno. As a manufacturer, I think most of us would say that when it comes to what's called standards, whether it's lengths, or lofts, or lies, it doesn't necessarily mean what we believe clubs need to be. It refers to what most of the orders come in at.'
'The demands come mostly from the consumer side, when we see most of the orders coming in at 62.5 it makes sense for us to make that our standard as opposed to 60.5. When a club has a shorter lie angle it is generally flatter. When you talk about a standard length club, whatever that length is, you're usually going plus or minus on lie. When you go shorter you will typically stay standard or go flat. When you go long you will generally stay standard or go up. It's a rare case that I will fit somebody long and flat and it's a rare case I will fit somebody short and upright. It happens this way but it doesn't happen very often. Just like I'm sure if you went through my personal specifications on irons, I probably fit a little bit more longer than standard than shorter but not much. Most of the irons I fit are probably at standard. So I go both ways. I'm not reluctant to go short just as I'm not reluctant to go long. I just let the evidence direct me where to go. I'm always directed by the evidence at impact and the ball flight.'
What about indoor fittings? How much of a difference is an Outdoor vs an Indoor Fitting?
'Personally this is where I believe experience comes in the most. The technology is very helpful too, but, I believe I could be and excellent fitter indoor or outdoors. There are some things you're going to have to be a little bit more aware of indoors because you can't see the ball flight. I would spend much more time interviewing the Player in a couple of areas as that would be the most important part in terms of the indoor fitting. Currently there are three areas I accumulate information. I accumulate information from a player interview where I ask them, like I did you, their handicap, the strength of their game, the weakness of their game. '
'You have the player do a little self assessment for you. I like some history of where players tend to miss, what clubs they struggle with, what clubs they're successful with, do they do better with fairways or hybrids or vice versa. So player interviews are important. Looking at their current set of clubs is equally important because that current set of golf clubs they own is like a crime scene.'
'There are clues and evidence in those clubs. What I mean is I will look at strike locations on the face. I will take measurements of length and lie, start putting them in, and developing a synopsis of their game. Players tell me they tend to miss the ball left for example. And then I start seeing how those specifications work into that. Then finally ball flight, player swings ball flies. So ultimately all three areas, player interview, current set, and ball flight should tell you the same thing.'
'When you take the ball flight out in an indoor facility player interview and assessment of the clubs is going to become paramount. So, on an indoor facility since it's more difficult to see or hear a fat shot which is turf then ball you have to listen for it. Is the player hitting mat before ball? Is the player hitting thin? So you've got to use your ears a little bit more indoors than you do out on turf where you can see a player hit turf then ball.' He looks for the divot or where it should be as he listens. 'So you've got to use your ears a little more and you've got to watch flight, even into a net. Is that ball starting straight? And you have to make sure you've got good equipment in there as far as your launch monitors and cameras and getting the numbers off that. And again, player interview to me is so important if I was indoors because I want to know what their history has been, certain clubs, certain flights, stopping ability, where they struggle, where they're successful.'
Let's start drilling down on the products a bit. Specifically FittingWorks and irons.
'Right. When you look at a Tour players, one of the most important numbers they have is called the 'roll off,' the amount the golf ball rolls once it hits the green because what roll off dictates is shot proximity. As you know shot proximity is where you putt from and shot link tells us you make more putts from 10 feet than from 30 feet. So we like to see a certain variable range for each golf club in your bag in terms of what ball roll off should be. We like for the golf ball to get in these ranges of roll off to help the player have the appropriate ability to stop the golf ball and give them closer shot proximity.'
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How do you approach people concerning length when shortening their Irons?
'That's a factor ' everyone always talks about length, length, length but everyone's irons are for scoring. A 5 iron usually plays into the longest par 4 you can get into. Also when you refer to length, another way we describe it is it's not how far it goes, 'it's more important how far it goes once it hits the green because that's going to determine where you putt from.' Not many players can control their spin off of irons. Or if they have the right spin, maybe they don't have the correct launch rate. So it's being able to get these blends of both spin and launch for that speed and also for the type of greens you play. Here in Northern California where you play traditionally push up greens that are poa anna from back to front, the greens here in Northern California are more receptive to a low shot. As opposed to if you go down to Southern California and play more bent grass which are contoured flatter and maybe have more rolls on them.' Or even a links-style where it may be all flat roll. If you play a golf course that has more elevated greens with more forced carries or bunkers, or a lake, or creeks, things like that. Anytime you have a forced carry the pendulum swings heavily to the player that can not only have the appropriate launch and spin but also repetitive speeds because that player knows exactly how far the ball goes and can gauge distance over a player that's less skilled.'
Do you ever get any requests for Grinds on irons because of these different playing conditions? Also any feedback from players concerning the bounce on the AP 1 or AP 2?
'It doesn't have too much bounce - it has a little bit more sole width. So it has a little bit more camber down there than the 695s and 704s. But I don't think its bounce has increased over either of those models. I believe the bounce is the same; it just has a little more sole width. But that tungsten nickel down there low back toward the trailing edge has really helped increase the launch and definitely helped increase the forgiveness.'

FittingWorks and Drivers

We read a lot of forum topics related to which irons are best for me but, we also get a fair amount of questions in regards to which is the hottest driver and which is the best shaft for it?
'I would say in the last couple of years out of our fitting trailer we do primarily irons and wedges. It's not that we don't do drivers, but most players come to us for irons and wedges. That's not something we dictate, that's something they choose. One reason I think this is because most golf clubs, most golf shops have a lot of different demo clubs to try out. And players take them out and check them out and take them out on the course. Each player knows how far they hit the ball on their course and they've tried different manufacturers, different lofts, and different shafts. Over time they've figured out this driver doesn't go any further than mine.'
'When it comes to shafts, the shaft is certainly something that needs to be appropriate for a players needs. Weight is certainly subjective to feel.'
'I'll give you an example, we were down in Monterey this week and I think this is a typical example: I'm going to see this type of player probably three times a week, maybe four times a week. Strong player, lots of speed; 110, 112 mph club speed in a driver. Playing a Grafalloy Blue, which is 65 grams, X. The dispersion - he was all over the lot, all over the lot. In my opinion, just observing him swing, the shaft was just well too light.'
'The first thing I did was I gave the player a much heavier shaft. I asked the player, 'Hit this, same loft, much heavier shaft, and give me your opinion on how it feels.' Feel is the one thing subjective I can't measure. Certainly every other aspect of ball flight I can measure. The player's dispersion immediately improved to where he didn't have the left and right and was certainly more repetitive. The player said, 'Boy that feels so much better.' Well, that was an issue of the weight. He was in the right flex, he was just in the wrong weight because he couldn't feel what to do down at the bottom. And so when players ask what's the right shaft, there's a lot of questions I would ask to get there.'
'All of the manufacturers make great shafts. I don't have any allegiance; I don't fit one over another. Shaft fitting is about the player's swing, ball flight, and then feel. So if a player likes a shaft weight-wise, we start there. Whatever manufacturer they go to, that manufacturer is going to make a shaft that's in the appropriate weight and that has the appropriate torque for that player. That could be UST, Fujikura, Graphite Design, Aldila, we could just go on and on and on. All the manufacturers make great shafts. So each shaft is the best shaft for the appropriate player. For example, I carry between 20 and 30 different shafts in my matrix. I have over 200 drivers combinations. Players ask me every day, which one of those is the best one in there? I tell them I don't know until we test. The best shaft is what is best for the individual golfer and this can be difficult since there are so many good choices.'
What has been your experience with D1 and D2 Titleist Drivers so far? What are some factors you are looking for in optimal player performance? Have you ever seen it where numbers seen completely out of tune?
'Again, it's a range. I'm not going to give you one number because it's so variable. For better players who have ball speed of anywhere between 145 and 160 mph, we're going to see launch rates in a window from 10-14 degrees and spin rates might be anywhere from 2200 ' 2700.'
'Some of it can be the player dependent on their technique. For example, when it comes to launch rates on their drivers that metric is very technique dependent. You will find, occasionally, players that hit down on the ball quite a bit on the driver. And players that have a downward descending angle of attack on the driver are typically going to launch the ball real low. So there are only a couple of things a fitter is going to be able to do to increase launch rates for players who have descending blows. Generally speaking, when you see someone who hits down on their driver, they're going to launch it low and they're going to be a spinner. So you have to manage the spin rate first. You have to get that spin rate under control.'
For a time there, everyone was going lower loft. Now it seems that people have started to go higher because of spin rates and launch angles. Have you noticed this?
'The media over the last ten years has done a great job on educating players ' we've been trying for years to increase their launch rates and get optimal spin rates. I think over the last ten years or so players have gravitated towards and been more amenable to getting higher lofts in their hands to try to get these optimal conditions. I would say there are times now we see players have too much loft in their hands. They've tried to get the launch up too much and in doing so they've driven the spin up too much. I'm going to occasionally see a player that I've got to reduce their loft. Whereas 10-15 years ago, I never had to reduce loft, I had to increase it.'
How has increasing the CC's over the years effected fitting?
'Well, the K was a little bit shallower and had a great profile. The center of gravity was in a great spot on that driver so it had a nice, high launch but we managed the spin rate. So that was a great driver, but the predecessors since there with the T and the S, then we had the R, now we have the D1 and D2. I think those drivers have great flight to them also.' They've all got the ball flight and the forgiveness. What we were able to do by increasing volume was increase MOI. The mishit ability of the golf club. It's being able to be able to blend the two with ball speed. We're up to ' like all manufacturers, we're up to the finish line. The core limit - it's all about forgiveness now. Right up to the USGA maximum speed limit like all other manufacturers.'
How does working with the Cobra Brand help you with FittingWorks?
'They make several products that are designed for better ball flights. But most of their products are designed to get the ball up and more draw bias. So it's certainly the bulk of majority of players in golf need that type of flight. Their products are engineered to enhance those flights and that's why they create them and why they're so successful.'

FittingWorks and Wedges

How do you fit wedges at facilities? Do you visit many facilities where you can do bunker fittings?
'It's so dependent upon the facility, if there's a bunker there or rough. Again, that player interview is so important - being able to figure out what that player has done in the past. Certainly knowing what golf course, if they typically play one course or do they play a lot of different courses. Because the bounce you may recommend is certainly going to be influenced by the environmental issues of the golf course. So many times with players, especially tournament players ' juniors or accomplished amateurs that play tournament golf they will have a few different sets of wedges. Typically they're going to need two sets of wedges. They're going to generally need low bounce wedges to perform well when they get onto firm conditions.'
'Maybe Palm Springs, or Scottsdale, or Bandon Dunes, maybe they go to Scotland or Ireland every winter. So those conditions will dictate lower bounce. I would say generally speaking when you get into softer conditions like here in Northern California or when you play in the North East, when you play poa annua, bent grass, fescues, rye grass, you need more bounce. Bob Vokey will tell you bounce is your friend. Generally speaking I would say we recommend higher bounce than most players have had but that's only because they've never really understood the purpose of bounce so we really have to educate them on what bounce does, and what it achieves, and what it's able to do. Because when Tour players ask for a wedge, generally they're asking for a wedge to perform in all conditions and do all things at all times. Generally it can't be done.'
How would you assess the availability of different wedge grinds today and what FittingWorks offers?
'I would say, generally speaking, grinds are more effective when you have more bounce because what a grind does is relieve trailing edge and heel relief when you open the face up. So when you open the face up the leading edge comes off the ground, so players say, 'That golf club has too much bounce.' Well, yes and no. The truth of it is bounce is measured on the sole. When you open a golf club up, it's sitting now on the heel and trailing edge so it doesn't have true effective bounce because you're not even on the part of the golf club that measures bounce. And so that's the place that grind is effective, is when you open the face up. I will typically do more grinding on the heel and trailing edge.'
'On Bob Vokey's prototype models he has on Tour, they are generally higher bounce with these grinds and he'll have some different sole widths and cambers. This is the TVD's like the M grind and V grind 60. The V Grind is a great wedge. It has almost 17 degrees of bounce and so it's a great club for a digger. What we're hopeful for is that those wedges get into appropriate player's hands so not only do they get purchased for collectability but we'd like them to get used so we'd like a player that needs more bounce and more sole relief to get this product into their hands because they're just going to be a better wedge player because of it.
Are you seeing grinds on 52*, 54* and 56* Wedges too?
Typically not as much because those generally aren't clubs you open up as much. You might do a little more in a 54 or 56, but 52 is mainly a club that's played from neutral to if anything you're taking it down a little bit, taking the loft off at times. What I mean by taking the loft off, you're trying to hit lower shots in and so you probably don't do near as much in 54s and 56s as you do in 58s.'
Since this is a FittingWorks Tour Van, do you do any grinding of wedges?
'On the van we do, but it isn't available through the company. In other words, if you ordered a wedge through the factory, they wouldn't grind it but the services we provide on our trailer are those services that are identical to what we would do with our Touring professionals. Again, it's so player dependent. We'll recommend a grind for those players we feel would benefit. We use our Tour Chrome heads or our Oil Can heads and then apply a soft grind M grind back on that trailing edge and heel. If it's an oil can, it's not going to rust up any more or less than it would normally. Tour Chrome will have a little bit of rust on it.'

FittingWorks and Putters

Is the Van setup to do putter fittings? There is a Cameron Loft and Lie machine on the Van?
'With our fitting trailer, we do all 13, what I call 'air assault' clubs. So everything that's up in the air, we fit. We don't fit any putters, but we do repairs or alterations, adjust the lie and the loft of the putter should a player need to. And we'll do things like re-grip. So we'll re-grip their putters with a wide stock of grips from what's available from the factory. But we can re-grip a putter, things like that.'

Finally Glenn, What's in the Bag???
'I have a 907 D2, with a Fujikura ZCOM TW-64. It's a lightweight 60 gram, it's got quite a bit of torque to it.
I've got an F4, 15.5, and F4 18.5 and both those just have a YS-6 stiff and they're both a half inch short. Actually the 3-wood is an inch short and the five wood is a half inch short.
I play AP-2 3-PW with Dynalite Gold S300, -.25
I play a Vokey 52.08, and a Vokey 56.14. I just carry three wedges. I'm old school. I don't play very much. I don't practice very much. I didn't grow up playing a 60, I never really learned to hit a 60 so I'm quite accustomed to hitting high shots with a 56. I could probably do it a lot better with a 60, but I don't have the opportunity to practice.
And I have a Scotty Cameron Newport Putter.'
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*Special Thanks to Apryl DeLancey for helping me put this piece together.


LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.

Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.

CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.

LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.

Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

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Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”

For Ariya, Lexi, finish was fabulous, frustrating

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 12:47 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lexi Thompson can take a punch.

You have to give her that.

So can Ariya Jutanugarn, who beat Thompson in the gut-wrenching conclusion to the CME Group Tour Championship Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

They both distinguished themselves overcoming adversity this season.

The problem for Thompson now is that she’ll have to wait two months to show her resolve again. She will go into the long offseason with the memory of missing a 2-foot putt for par that could have won her the championship, her first Rolex Player of the Year Award and her first Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Thompson took home the CME Globe $1 million jackpot and Vare Trophy for low scoring as nice consolation prizes, but the Sunday finish was a lot like her season.

It was so close to being spectacular.

She was so close to dominating this year.

That last 2-foot putt Sunday would have put Thompson in the clubhouse at 15 under, with a one-shot lead, which would have added so much more pressure to Jutanugarn as she closed out.

Instead of needing to birdie the final two holes to force a playoff, Jutanugarn only needed to birdie one of them to assure extra holes. She went birdie-birdie anyway.

Thompson was on the practice putting green when she heard the day’s last roar, when Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-foot birdie to beat her.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to end it,” Thompson said of the short miss. “I don’t really know what happened there. It just happens. I guess it’s golf.”

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Thompson was asked if the weight of everything at stake affected her.

“No, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about it,” she said. “I putted great the whole day. I guess, maybe, there was just a little bit of adrenaline.

“We all go through situations we don’t like sometimes.”

Thompson endured more than she wanted this year.

She won twice, but there were six second-place finishes, including Sunday’s. There were three losses in playoffs.

There was the heart-wrenching blow at the ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major, when she looked as if she were going to run away with the title before getting blindsided by a four-shot penalty in the final round. There were two shots when a viewer email led to a penalty for mismarking her ball on a green in the third round, and two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Thompson was in tears finishing that Sunday at Mission Hills, but she won a legion of new fans in the way she fought back before losing in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

There was more heartache later in the spring, when Thompson’s mother, Judy, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, requiring surgery to remove a tumor and then radiation.

For Thompson fans, Sunday’s missed 2-foot putt was a cruel final blow to the year.

This time, there were no tears from Lexi afterward.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds . . . it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said. “This won’t either.”

After Thompson bounced back from the ANA loss to win the Kingsmill Invitational in May, she acknowledged how the loss motivated her.

“I'm as determined as any other person out here,” Thompson said. “We all want to win. I have a little bit more drive now.”

She was so close this year to elevating herself as the one true rock star in the women’s game. She will have a long offseason to turn Sunday’s disappointment into yet more fuel to get there.

Thompson will prepare for next year knowing Jutanugarn may be ramping her game back up to dominante, too.

Jutanugarn looked as if she were going to become a rock star after winning five times last year to claim the Rolex Player of the Year Award and then rising to No. 1 with a victory at the Manulife Classic back in May, but it didn’t happen.

Jutanugarn struggled through a summer-long slump.

She failed to make a cut in six of seven starts. It wasn’t as miserable a slump as she endured two years ago, when she missed 10 consecutive cuts, but it was troubling.

“Even though I played so badly the last few months, I learned a lot,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m growing up a lot, and I’m really ready to have some fun next year.”

Her surgically repaired shoulder was bothering her again, but it was more than that.

“This time it was more about becoming No. 1,” said Gary Gilchrist, her coach. “I think all of the responsibilities got to her.”

Gilchrist said he could see a different focus in Jutanugarn this week. He credited Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott for helping her deal with all the pressure that has mounted with her growing status.

“It’s been a long process,” Nilsson said. “She’s felt too much expectation from everybody else, where she loses focus on what she can do.”

Marriott said they asked Jutanugarn to come up with something she wanted to do to make herself proud this week, instead of worrying about what would please everyone else.

It worked.

“I told my caddie, Les [Luark], that thinking about the No. 1 ranking wasn’t going to help me be a better golfer,” Jutanugarn said. “I wanted people to say, `Oh this girl, she’s really happy.’ That was my goal, to have fun.”

Late Sunday, hoisting the trophy, Jutanugarn looked like she was having a lot of fun.

Thomas vs. Rose could be Ryder Cup highlight

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:40 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – For those still digesting the end of 2017 – the European Tour did, after all, just wrap up its season in Dubai on Sunday – consider that the PGA Tour is already nearly one-fifth of the way into a new edition.

The Tour has already crowned eight champions as the game banks into the winter break, and there are some interesting trends that have emerged from the fall.

Dueling Justins: While Justin Thomas picked up where he left off last season, winning the inaugural CJ Cup in October just three weeks after claiming the FedExCup and wrapping up Player of the Year honors; Justin Rose seems poised to challenge for next year’s low Justin honors.

The Englishman hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since August and won back-to-back starts (WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open) before closing his year with a tie for fourth place in Dubai.

Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk: Justin v. Justin next September in Paris could be fun.

Youth served. Just in case anyone was thinking the pendulum might be swinging back in the direction of experience over youthful exuberance – 41-year-old Pat Perez did put the veterans on the board this season with his victory at the CIMB Classic – Patrick Cantlay solidified his spot as genuine phenom.

Following an injury-plagued start to his career, Cantlay got back on track this year, needing just a dozen starts to qualify for the Tour Championship. He went next level earlier this month with his playoff victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

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They say these trends come and go in professional golf, but as the average age of winners continues to trend lower and lower it’s safe to say 25 is the new 35 on Tour.

A feel for it. For all the science that has become such a big part of the game – from TrackMan analysis to ShotLink statistics – it was refreshing to hear that Patton Kizzire’s breakthrough victory at the OHL Classic came down to a hunch.

With the tournament on the line and Rickie Fowler poised just a stroke back, Kizzire’s tee shot at the 72nd hole came to rest in an awkward spot that forced him to stand close to his approach shot to keep his feet out of the sand. His 8-iron approach shot sailed to 25 feet and he two-putted for par.

And how far did he have for that pivotal approach?

“I have no idea,” he laughed.

Fall facelift. Although the moving parts of the 2018-19 schedule appear to be still in flux, how the changes will impact the fall schedule is coming into focus.

The Tour’s goal is to end the season on Labor Day, which means the fall portion of the schedule will begin a month earlier than it does now. While many see that as a chance for the circuit to embrace a true offseason, it’s becoming increasingly clear that won’t be the case.

The more likely scenario is an earlier finish followed by a possible team competition, either the Ryder or Presidents cup, before the Tour kicks off a new season in mid-September, which means events currently played before the Tour Championship will slide to the fall schedule.

“So if you slide it back, somebody has to jump ahead. The mechanics of it,” said Davis Love III, host of the RSM Classic and a member of the Tour’s policy board. “I’m still going to go complain and beg for my day, but I also understand when they say, this is your date, make it work, then we'll make it work.”

While 2019 promises to bring plenty of change to the Tour, know that the wraparound season and fall golf are here to stay.

Product protection. Speaking of the fall schedule and the likely plan to expand the post-Tour Championship landscape, officials should also use the platform to embrace some protections for these events.

Consider that the RSM Classic featured the third-strongest field last week according to the Official World Golf Ranking, behind the season-ending tournament in Dubai on the European Tour and the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour.

The winner in Dubai received 50 World Ranking points, a marquee event that has historically been deeper than that week’s Tour stop, while the Dunlop Phoenix winner, Brooks Koepka, won 32 points. Austin Cook collected 30 points for his victory at Sea Island Resort.

All told, the Japan event had four players in the field from the top 50 in the world, including world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama; while the highest-ranked player at the RSM Classic was Matt Kuchar at 15th and there were seven players from the top 50 at Sea Island Resort.

Under Tour rules, Koepka, as well as any other Tour members who competed either in Japan or Dubai, had to be granted conflicting-event releases by the circuit.

Although keeping players from participating in tournaments overseas is not an option, it may be time for the circuit to reconsider the conflicting-event policy if the result is a scenario like last week that relegates a Tour event to third on the international dance card.