Drivers with a twist

By David AllenMarch 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
Bookmark and Share
In the not-too-distant future, the most popular question being asked on driving ranges everywhere will be, Do you have a wrench? Its already started on the PGA Tour with the recent introduction of Nike Golfs SQ DYMO STR8-FIT and SQ DYMO2 STR8-FIT drivers and TaylorMades R9, all three of which make it easy to change the face angle, loft and lie angle of the club with a few twists of a wrench.
Nikes STR8-FIT (pronounced straight fit) technology offers up eight different head positions from open to closed, allowing you to correct a slice or hook or change your shot shape to fit the course youre playing. Trevor Immelman won last years Masters employing Nikes STR8-FIT technology, setting the face angle on his SUMO 5000 driver to 1 degree open (from 2 degrees open) so hed have the ability to draw the ball more easily at Augusta National. Immelman wound up hitting 48 of 56 fairways that week.
Instead of tweaking the face angle with a wrench, however, the shaft in Immelmans driver had to be removed from the clubhead, reset, and then glued into the hosel by one of Nikes equipment specialists on site, a process which took approximately one hour. Now, Immelman can feasibly do it on his own in 30 seconds or less with the aid of the STR8-FIT shaft adapter, which is built into the hosel. Using the six-inch long torque wrench that comes with each SQ DYMO STR8-FIT driver (found in the headcover), you unscrew the head from the shaft, find the loft and face angle combination that works best for your game, and then reconnect; a red LED light and sound indicates when the clubhead is locked into place and its safe to hit.
The good news for consumers is you dont need a Nike Tour Van nearby to help you customize your driver. You can modify your driver before or after your round, not mid-round, per USGA rules.
If Im a slicer and I start with a club that has a naturally hooked face, then no matter how right Im going to hit it, its going to hit it less right, said Tom Stites, Nike Golfs director of club creation. It wont fix every slice, but you will move the ball more toward the desired location you want.
For maximum correction on a slice, you remove the head from the shaft and turn the shaft adapter two teeth marks (from neutral, represented by the yellow arrow) to the left so the L matches up with the black line on the hosel. This is a 2 degrees closed setting and should aid in bringing your slice back toward the center of the fairway or green. One turn to the left (1 degree closed) will give you a slight draw bias (right to left) whereas three turns to the left will assist in your trajectory and promote a higher draw. Conversely, to correct a hook, you turn the shaft one mark to the right from neutral for a slight fade bias (1 degree open), two marks (2 degrees open) for a maximum fade bias (left to right), and three marks for a high fade. Once you have the face angle and loft combination you desire, you lock the head and shaft back into place using the wrench.
For the average golfer, if your tendency is to slice the ball, youre going go be able to buy this driver, change the setting on it, and see your slice straighten out, Immelman said. It gives you a whole new driver.
The more traditional-shaped SQ DYMO STR8-FIT and square-shaped SQ DYMO2 STR8-FIT drivers hit stores on March 19 with a street price of $399. They are available in lofts of 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 11.5 degrees, and HL (High Launch).
The R9, which combines TaylorMades Movable Weight Technology - launched in the r7 back in 2004 - and Flight Control Technology, or FCT, debuted at the Bob Hope Classic in mid-January. Thirteen pros used it, including winner Pat Perez, making it the first driver to debut at No. 1 in its first week on the PGA Tour. Its been the No. 1-played driver on Tour every week since, including this weeks Transitions Championship, where 24 were in play.
With FCT, you can rotate the shaft and special metallic hosel sleeve to change the clubheads face angle from 2 degrees open to 2 degrees closed, affecting the amount of side to side adjustment (right and left ball flight) by as much as 40 yards. That number can reach as high as 75 yards if you combine FCT with the three moveable weights, which help relocate the clubs center of gravity. The driver comes equipped with one 16-gram and two 1-gram weights. To promote a draw and the maximum amount of right-to-left movement capable, youd set the face 2 degrees closed and place the 16-gram weight in the heel of the clubhead. For a straighter shot, youd set the face to the neutral position and the 16-gram weight in the center of the clubhead, and for a max fade youd adjust the face to 2 degrees open and move the heavier weight to the toe of the clubhead.
Were able to do in 25 seconds what used to take us 16 weeks to do, said Harry Arnett, TaylorMades senior director of equipment. Six, seven years ago, we would have had to build a totally new golf club. Now, we can change the face angle, adjust the draw-weighting and produce a super game-improvement club in a matter of seconds.
The procedure for adjusting the face angle, loft and lie angle in the R9 is slightly different from the Nike STR8-FIT system. Using the T-shaped FCT wrench, you loosen the FCT screw in the sole of the clubhead to remove the shaft from the clubhead (the screw remains in the head). Once the head is removed, you choose one of eight desired FCT settings marked on the sleeve and end of the shaft, and align it with the serial number on the back of the clubhead. From here, you slide the sleeve into the hosel of the clubhead until the tip of the sleeve catches in the well of the clubhead. Once secure, you tighten the FCT screw with the wrench until you hear a loud clicking sound.
To close the clubface 2 degrees and promote a draw, you align the L or Left setting on the sleeve with the serial number on the hosel; conversely, for a 2 degrees open clubface and a fade-bias, you align the R or Right setting on the sleeve with the serial number. A neutral upright setting (NU) creates a 1 degree upright lie and a slight draw bias.
The first time I hit it, it went long and straight, said Perez. It comes off the face hot. Its got that new shaft technology, its awesome. You can hit it anywhere you want. If youre a fader, you can set up to hit a draw. Its phenomenal technology. I look forward to where the driver is going after this.
The R9 and R9 TP drivers hit retail stores on March 6. They have a street price of $399 and $499, respectively, and are offered in lofts of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees.
Getty Images

Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

Getty Images

Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.

Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.

Getty Images

Davies sweeps senior majors with Sr. LPGA Championship

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 10:45 pm

FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- Laura Davies won the Senior LPGA Championship on Wednesday at chilly and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two senior major events of the year.

Davies birdied the final hole for a 2-under 70 and a four-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson and Silvia Cavalleri. The 55-year-old Englishwoman won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open in July at Chicago Golf Club. In March in Phoenix, she tied for second behind Inbee Park in the LPGA's Founders Cup.

''I wish there were more of them to play,'' Davies said about the two senior majors. ''This was a real treat because I've never put three good rounds together on this course. With the wind today and the challenging layout, I think 2 under par was a really good score.''

Full-field scores from the Senior LPGA Championship

Davies led wire to wire, finishing at 8-under 208 on The Pete Dye Course. She birdied three of the four par 5s in the final round, making an 8-footer on No. 18.

Alfredsson also shot 70, and Cavalleri had a 71. Michele Redman was fourth at 1 under after a 73. Brandie Burton, two strokes behind Davies after a second-round 66, shot 77 to finish fifth at 1 over.

Juli Inkster followed an 80 with a 73 to tie for 12th at 6 over.

Davies earned $90,000 for her 86th worldwide professional victory. She won four regular majors.

Getty Images

For Korean women, golf is a double-edged sword

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2018, 10:30 pm

There is always a story behind the tears.

For In Gee Chun, it’s a story about more than her victory Sunday at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

It’s about the other side of the Korean passion that runs so deep in women’s golf and that makes female players feel like rock stars.

It’s about the unrelenting pressure that comes with all that popularity.

Chun explained where her tears came from after her victory. She opened up about the emotional struggle she has faced trying to live up to the soaring expectations that come with being a young Korean superstar.

Her coach, Won Park, told on Wednesday that there were times over the last year that Chun wanted to “run and hide from golf.” The pressure on her to end a two-year victory drought was mounting in distressing fashion.

Chun, 24, burst onto the world stage when she was 20, winning the U.S. Women’s Open before she was even an LPGA member. When she won the Evian Championship two years later, she joined Korean icon Se Ri Pak as the only players to win major championships as their first two LPGA titles.

Following up on those victories was challenging, with Chun feeling as if nothing short of winning was good enough to satisfy Korean expectations.

After the victory at Evian, Chun recorded six second-place finishes, runner-up finishes that felt like failures with questions growing back home over why she wasn’t closing out.

“There were comments that were quite vicious, that were very hard to take as a person and as a woman,” Chun said. “I really wanted to rise above that and not care about those comments, but I have to say, some of them lingered in my mind, and they really pierced my heart.”

Chun struggled going from the hottest star in South Korea to feeling like a disappointment. She slipped from No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings to No. 27 going into last week’s KEB Hana Bank Championship. Maybe more significantly, she slipped from being the highest ranked Korean in the world to where she wasn’t even among the top 10 Koreans anymore.

“Some fans and the Korean golf media were hard on her, mostly on social media,” Park wrote in an email. “It caused her to start struggling with huge depression and socio phobia. She often wished to run away from golf and hide herself where there was no golf at all.”

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

Socio phobia includes the fear of being scrutinized or judged by others, according to the Mayo Clinic’s definition of conditions.

Though critics of South Korea’s dominance have complained about the machine-like nature of some those country’s stars, we’ve seen quite a bit of emotion from South Koreans on big stages this year.

After Sung Hyun Park won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in July, the world No. 1 with the steely stare uncharacteristically broke into tears.

“This is the first time feeling this kind of emotion,” Park said back then. “It’s been a really tough year for me.”

It was the second of her three victories this season, a year in which she also has missed seven cuts.

“A lot of pressure builds up,” said David Jones, her caddie. “That’s just what happens when you’re that good, and you’re Korean.”

While American players admire the massive popularity Koreans enjoy in their homeland, they see what comes with it.

“Koreans really do elevate their women players, but at the same time, they put a ton of pressure on them,” American Cristie Kerr said. “There’s pressure on them to not only be good, but to be attractive, and to do the right things culturally.”

So Yeon Ryu felt the pressure to perform build as high as she has ever felt with Koreans trying to qualify for the Olympics two years ago. The competition to make the four-woman team was intense, with so many strong Koreans in the running.

“This just makes me crazy,” Ryu said back then. “The biggest thing is the Korean media. If someone is going to make the Olympics, they're a great player. But if somebody cannot make it, they're a really bad player.”

Ryu didn’t make that team, but she went on to share LPGA Rolex Player of the Year honors with Sung Hyun Park last year. She also won her second major championship and ascended to world No. 1.

LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park was under fire going to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She was coming back from injury and there was growing criticism of her. She was hearing clamor to give up her spot to a healthy player, but she went on to win the gold medal.

“I almost cried on air,” said Na Yeon Choi, a nine-time LPGA winner who was doing analysis for Korean TV. “Inbee had so much pressure on her.”

After the Koreans won the UL International Crown two weeks ago, there was as much relief as joy in their ranks. Though viewed as the dominant force in women’s golf, they watched the Spaniards crowned as the “best golfing nation” in the inaugural matches in 2014 and then watched the Americans gain the honor in 2016. There was pressure on the Koreans to win the crown at home.

“There were some top Koreans who didn’t want to play, because there was going to be so much pressure,” Kerr said.

Chun got the nod to join the team this year after Inbee Park announced she was stepping aside, to allow another Korean a chance to represent their country. Chun was the third alternate, with Sei Young Kim and Jin Young Ko saying they were passing to honor previous KLPGA commitments.

Chun went on to become the star of the UL International Crown. She was undefeated, the only player to go 4-0 in the matches.

“In Gee made up her mind to devote herself to the team and played with an extremely high level of passion and focus,” Won Park wrote in an email interview. “She took the International Crown as a war in her heart. She did not play, but she `fought’ against the course, not against the opposing team . . . During all four winning matches, she gradually found her burning passion deep in her heart and wanted to carry it to the LPGA KEB Hana Bank.”

Park explained he has been working with Chun to change her focus, to get her to play for herself, instead of all the outside forces she was feeling pressure to please.

“She was too depressed to listen for a year and a half,” Park wrote.

So that’s where all Chun’s tears came from after she won the KEB Hana Bank.

“All the difficult struggles that I have gone through the past years went before me, and all the faces of the people who kept on believing in me went by, and so I teared up,” Chun said.

Park said Chun’s focus remains a work in progress.

“Although it will take some more time to fully recover from her mental struggle, she at least got her wisdom and confidence back and belief in her own game,” Park wrote. “This is never going to be easy for a 24-year-old young girl, but I believe she will continue to fight through.”