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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    First-, second-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 12:20 pm

    Three-time champion Tiger Woods is playing in The Open for the first time since he missed the cut in 2015 at St. Andrews. Woods will begin his first round Thursday in the 147th edition at Carnoustie at 10:21 a.m. ET, playing alongside Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Knox.

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth delivered the claret jug to the R&A on Monday at Carnoustie. He will begin his title defense at 4:58 a.m. ET on Thursday, playing with world No. 2 Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

    Other notable groupings:

    • Rory McIlroy will look to capture his second claret jug at 7:53 a.m. Thursday. He goes off with Marc Leishman and Thorbjorn Olesen.
    • World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is playing with Alex Noren and Charley Hoffman. They will play at 8:04 a.m. ET in the first round.
    • World No. 2 Justin Thomas goes at 8:26 a.m. with Francesco Molinari and Branden Grace.
    • Masters champion Patrick Reed will play with Louis Oosthuizen and Paul Casey at 5:20 a.m. ET.
    • U.S. Open champion and world No. 4 Brooks Koepka is grouped with Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith (9:59 a.m. ET).
    • Phil Mickelson, the 2013 Open champion, will begin at 3:03 a.m. ET with Satoshi Kodaira and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

    Here's a look at the full list of times for Rounds 1 and 2 (all times ET):

    1:35AM/6:36AM: Sandy Lyle, Martin Kaymer, Andy Sulliva

    1:46AM/6:47AM: Erik Van Rooyen, Brady Schnell, Matthew Southgate

    1:57AM/6:58AM: Danny Willett, Emiliano Grillo, Luke List

    2:08AM/7:09AM: Mark Calcavecchia, Danthai Boonma, Shaun Nooris

    2:19AM/7:20AM: Kevin Chappell, Oliver Wilson, Eddie Pepperell

    2:30AM/7:31AM: Ross Fisher, Paul Dunne, Austin Cook

    2:41AM/7:42AM: Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Cantlay, Shane Lowry

    2:52AM/7:53AM: Thomas Pieters, Kevin Kisner, Marcus Kinhult

    3:03AM/8:04AM: Phil Mickelson, Satoshi Kodaira, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    3:14AM/8:15AM: Brian Harman, Yuta Ikeda, Andrew Landry

    3:25AM/8:26AM: Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Nicolai Hojgaard (a)

    3:36AM/8:37AM: Stewart Cink, Brandon Stone, Hideto Tanihara

    3:47AM/8:48AM: Gary Woodland, Yusaku Miyazato, Sung Kang

    4:03AM/9:04AM: Ernie Els, Adam Hadwin, Chesson Hadley

    4:14AM/9:15AM: Pat Perez, Julian Suri, George Coetzee

    4:25AM/9:26AM: David Duval, Scott Jamieson, Kevin Na

    4:36AM/9:37AM: Darren Clarke, Bernhard Langer, Retief Goosen

    4:47AM/9:48AM: Matt Kuchar, Anirban Lahiri, Peter Uihlein

    4:58AM/9:59AM: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

    5:09AM/10:10AM: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Chris Wood

    5:20AM/10:21AM: Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed

    5:31AM/10:32AM: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas

    5:42AM/10:43AM: Yuxin Lin (a), Alexander Bjork, Sang Hyun Park

    5:53AM/10:54AM: James Robinson, Haraldur Magnus, Zander Lombard

    6:04AM/11:05AM: Kodai Ichihara, Rhys Enoch, Marcus Armitage

    6:15AM/11:16AM: Sean Crocker, Gavin Green, Ash Turner

    6:36AM/1:35AM: Brandt Snedeker, Sam Locke (a), Cameron Davis

    6:47AM/1:46AM: Patton Kizzire, Jonas Blixt, Charles Howell III

    6:58AM/1:57AM: Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Tom Lewis

    7:09AM/2:08AM: Alex Levy, Ryan Moore, Byeong Hun An

    7:20AM/2:19AM: Michael Hendry, Kelly Kraft, Lee Westwood

    7:31AM/2:30AM: Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Jimmy Walker

    7:42AM/2:41AM: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Russell Henley, Jovan Rebula (a)

    7:53AM/2:52AM: Rory McIlroy, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen

    8:04AM/3:03AM: Dustin Johnson, Alex Noren, Charley Hoffman

    8:15AM/3:14AM: Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele

    8:26AM/3:25AM: Justin Thomas, Francesco Molinari, Branden Grace

    8:37AM/3:36AM: Jason Day, Shota Akiyoshi, Haotong Li

    8:48AM/3:47AM: Todd Hamilton, Beau Hossler, Jorge Campillo

    9:04AM/4:03AM: Ryuko Tokimatsu, Chez Reavie, Michael Kim

    9:15AM/4:14AM: Kyle Stanley, Nicolas Colsaerts, Jens Dantorp

    9:26AM/4:25AM: Tom Lehman, Dylan Frittelli, Grant Forrest

    9:37AM/4:36AM: Lucas Herbert, Min Chel Choi, Jason Kokrak

    9:48AM/4:47AM: Padraig Harrington, Bubba Watson, Matt Wallace

    9:59AM/4:58AM: Ian Poulter, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka

    10:10AM/5:09AM: Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Shubhankar Sharma

    10:21AM/5:20AM: Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Knox

    10:32AM/5:31AM: Jason Dufner, Ryan Fox, Keegan Bradley

    10:43AM/5:42AM: Ryan Armour, Abraham Ander, Masahiro Kawamura

    10:54AM/5:53AM: Jazz Janewattananond, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jordan Smith

    11:05AM/6:04AM: Brett Rumford, Masanori Kobayashi, Jack Senior

    11:16AM/6:15AM: Matt Jones, Thomas Curtis, Bronson Burgoon

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    Rahm's Carnousite strategy: 'As many drivers as I can'

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 10:57 am

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In his practice round Monday at Carnoustie, Jon Rahm bashed away with driver on the 18th tee, reducing one of the most intimidating finishing holes in championship golf into a driver-wedge.

    Indeed, when it comes to his choice of clubs off the tee this week at The Open, Rahm has one strategy in mind.

    “As many drivers as I can,” he said after playing 18 alongside Rory McIlroy. “I just feel comfortable with it.”

    Playing downwind, the firm and fast conditions on the 18th have led some players, even a medium-length hitter like Brandt Snedeker, to challenge the burn fronting the green.


    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Rahm explained Monday why that was the prudent play.

    “You can lay up with an iron farther back and have 140 or 150 meters to the front and have a 7-, 8- or 9-iron in,” Rahm said. “But if you hit a good one with a driver, you’re going to have nothing to the green.

    “If you hit the rough this year, it’s not as thick as other years. You actually get a lot of good lies, so you can still hit the green with confidence.”

    Rahm said that revelation was “quite surprising,” especially after encountering thicker fescue when he played the French Open and Irish Open, where he recorded a pair of top-5 finishes.

    “But with this much sun” – it hasn’t rained much, if at all, over the past six weeks – “the fescue grass can’t grow. It just dies,” he said. “It’s a lot thinner than other years, so unless they can magically grow it thicker the next few days, it’s pretty safe to assume we can be aggressive.”

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    Remembering Jean, because we'll always remember Jean

    By Al TaysJuly 16, 2018, 10:38 am

    The thing I remember about the 1999 Open Championship is that for 54 holes, it was boring. I can’t speak for the next 17, because I didn’t watch. I took advantage of a beautiful Sunday morning to play golf. When our group finished, we went into the clubhouse hoping to catch the last few holes or at least find out who won. Instead, we were greeted by an almost deafening buzz. It seemed everyone in the dining room was excitedly talking at once.

    The wall-mounted televisions provided the answer. There stood Jean Van de Velde, resplendent in a white visor and blue shirt, and whatever the opposite of “resplendent” is with his trouser legs rolled up above his knees. He was up to his ankles in the burn that winds in front of Carnoustie’s 18th green, hands on hips, holding a wedge. He was staring down into the water the way you’d stare at a storm grate through which you had just accidentally dropped your car keys. You know, the “What the heck am I going to do NOW?” stare.

    Van de Velde was the reason I had dismissed this 128th Open Championship as boring. Actually, he was one of two reasons. The first was that Tiger Woods was no factor. The second was that Van de Velde was running away with it, having taken a five-shot lead into the final round. It also didn’t help my interest level that I knew nothing about Van de Velde. I didn’t know Jean Van de Velde from Jean Valjean. The only thing I knew about him was that he was French, and the last great French golfer was … uh, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

    As we got caught up on Van de Velde’s predicament – he had gone to the tee of the par-4 18th hole with a three-shot lead, but through a series of calamities now lay 3 … underwater – now my opinion of the guy did a 180. NOW I wanted him to win. It wasn’t going to be easy, though. Surely he would come to his senses and take a drop (4), then pitch onto the green (5) and hope to get that shot close enough that he could make the putt for 6 and claim the claret jug. A 7 – which would have plunged him into a playoff – was not a farfetched possibility.

    Not farfetched at all; that’s the score he made, only it didn’t unfold quite as simply as I had envisioned. After taking his drop, Van de Velde hit his next shot into a greenside bunker. He then blasted out to 8 feet and, needing to make the putt to get into a playoff with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie, he did just that.

    You think Leonard’s 45-footer at Brookline that won the Ryder Cup later that year was clutch? I’ll take Van de Velde’s putt eight days a week.



    But there would be no happy ending for Van de Velde. In the four-hole, aggregate playoff, he opened with a double bogey and watched Lawrie win his only major.

    Van de Velde got roasted in the media for “choking” and “making stupid decisions.” I felt this was unfair. So the next day, in my capacity as a sports columnist for The Palm Beach Post, I wrote this:

    “I have a new hero. Jean Van de Velde, The Man Who Gave Away the British Open.” I wrote that Van de Velde had “remained true to himself” and that had he geared down and played the hole safely and won with a double bogey, he would have been quickly forgotten.

    As it turned out, because of his tragedy (self-inflicted though it was), he gained far more fame for losing than Lawrie did for winning (which is unfair to Lawrie, but that’s a tale for another time). I’ll also wager that Van de Velde gained far more fans for the grace with which he took his defeat than he would have had he won. See Norman, Greg, Augusta, 1996.

    Van de Velde may have made some questionable decisions – hitting driver off the tee, bringing water into play on his third shot when he had a horrible lie – but he had reasons for all of them. Nowhere do you see him saying “I am such an idiot” a la Phil Mickelson, or “What a stupid I am” a la Roberto De Vicenzo.

    “Sure, I could have hit four wedges,” he recently told Golf Channel. “Wouldn’t they have said, ‘He won The Open, but, hey, he hit four wedges.’ I mean, who hits four wedges?”

    There’s a great scene in the 1991 movie “The Commitments,” about putting a soul-music band together in the slums of Dublin. Against all odds, the band reaches the brink of success before sinking in a maelstrom of arguments and fistfights after its last gig.

    Manager Jimmy Rabbitte is trudging home through the gloom, when saxophonist Joey “The Lips” Fagan rides up on his ever-present scooter. Joey tries to get Jimmy to see the bright side.

    Look, I know you're hurting now, but in time you'll realize what you've achieved,” Joey says.

    “I've achieved nothing!” Jimmy snaps.

    “You're missing the point,” Joey replies. “The success of the band was irrelevant - you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it's poetry.’

    That’s what Jean Van de Velde created on that memorable Scottish day in July 1999.

    Poetry.

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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 16, 2018, 10:20 am

    Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.