Have you seen the latest Rick Shiels review? Maybe you watched a recent golf vlog from Golfholics? If you’re a tech nerd and love crunching launch monitor data, I’m sure you’ve seen TXG.
The quality and amount of information we can find on the internet is mind-numbing. You can find at least five different driver reviews per YouTuber per year. That could be over 50 reviews if you dive into the time-suck that is the internet.
If you’re not an avid golfer, you may wonder why someone would spend 5+ hours watching reviews on a golf club. You may not realize that it’s a $500 investment for most modern drivers. To me, you should spend as much time as possible to research the expenditure of that kind of money.
If you are fortunate enough to find a fitter you trust, and that fitter is brand agnostic, in my opinion, that is the better way to spend time. Assuming that you find the best equipment possible for you, what can you expect as far as a game improvement? How many strokes can properly fit clubs give you?
As a professional fitter, I will never promise a stokes-gained number. As a golf equipment salesperson, I am going to betray my cause. Whatever you spent on the new equipment, however good your fitter is that money is better spent with proper instruction.
My only caveat to that statement is woefully fit clubs. If you swing 105+ mph with your driver and have a Soft Regular shaft, no instruction is going to make that mix consistent.
If you don’t have the extra funds for new equipment or a professional instructor, the most common fallback is YouTube personalities. For me, the best instruction personalities are Peter Finch, Chris Ryan, and Me and My Golf.
The question at hand is whether or not watching these fantastic golfers will help improve your scores because that is what matters. The old maxim “Practice makes perfect” is complete garbage. The concept is reliable, but in reality, “Practice makes permanent.” Practicing the wrong move just ingrains bad habits.
If you practice a new drill that Peter Finch says will fix your issue, and you implement an adverse change, you are now practicing to get worse. The more tech-savvy golfer can video themselves and make sure that “feel” matches “real.”
That is the advantage of a professional instructor. They are there to prevent you from poor practice, and to provide drills that correct your issue. We all need to practice, but it should be the best possible practice.
A simple way to answer the lead question is this; It depends. If you can learn visually, which I can not, then YouTube golfers are a fantastic resource. If you are like me and need to be physically corrected when you find a flaw, don’t buy a $500 driver, buy possibly ten lessons.
We are working on several new and exciting things at the golf course, and I never know what to blog. New tech, new equipment, new renovations all seem exciting. I spend most of my days pushing paper and talking with the golfers to make sure we hear their excitement and their concerns.
Recently we have ramped up our pruning and chopping down of trees. It’s the season for these general clean-ups because the grass is relatively dormant this time of the year. In a Central Valley summer, we need to water and mow our fairways twice a week; as you can imagine, this doesn’t leave much time to do anything else.
I’ve mentioned in articles that one Eucalyptus tree can drink as much as three gallons of water an hour. As you can imagine, the more trees we have, the more expensive it is to water as well as the fact that we need to prune and maintain the trees for them to be as healthy as possible.
Heavy branches can be dangerous as they self prune and fall. Overgrown trees can harbor several pests included stinging insects and rodents. That on top of shading grassy areas that need sunlight to live, which creates dead spots on the course where you have bare lies and tree branches preventing you from advancing the ball.
That is the crux of the issue; can all this cutting and pruning make the course “too easy.” Our 15th hole is a medium length par 4, a soft dogleg right, right around 400 yards, and is currently the #4 handicap hole. That means our members believe it is the fourth most difficult hole to play. The massive amount of trees on the right side of the hole and strategic bunker placements make this hole easy if you find the fairway and less so from the rough.
With over twenty trees taken out and a completely new look of manicured Silver Eucalyptus, the hole is inarguably more beautiful. However, from the tee box, you no longer have a feeling of dread of getting trapped in the trees with nothing but a punch out as an option.
My counter to this argument is that you still have to hit a brilliant shot to get out. Most likely, a soft fade around a tree, with enough height to still land it softly on the green. It’s not a “gimme” type of shot. As a public course, we want our pace of play to be steady and three minutes searching for a ball and a disaster shot after finding it only slows the course down. Play a round of golf and let us know if the more manicured course has lost its bite.
As with all our blogs and articles, let us know what you think in the comments.
How important is launch monitor data?
All the pundits on Golf Channel and YouTube try to sell us on the idea that we can’t be a good golfer without data. You will never hit it long or straight unless you know your AoA (Angle of Attack) or your FTPR (Face to Path Ratio) or any other extreme data point. We see these magical orange boxes, and strange grey things with “Photovoltaics” and “Doppler Radar,” flashing lights, and buttons. Beep, blup, boink! And yes, scientific progress goes boink!
Dynamic loft, spin loft, and static loft, what do they mean? As a custom golf club fitter and lover of golf tech, we can pull the layers back on all of these terms and what they mean to the average golfer. My question is if you play a round of 18 and have to grind out an 89, do these mathematical formulae help or hurt? Your static loft on your Mavrik Max seven iron is 30 degrees; you flip your wrists before contact and add loft, creating an additional dynamic loft of two degrees. You now have 32 degrees of loft at the impact on a club that generates less spin than others so the ball flight is penetrating and doesn’t spin up, so very little spin loft added. Granted I am using round numbers to prove the point, how much did that information help?
The other side of this argument is this. That was on swing one, and the standard deviation could be something like 5 degrees either way, just on the dynamic loft. Now we add path and face angle and the deviations of those numbers. Unless you can consistently provide similar numbers with minimal deviation there is a very limited purpose for $20,000+ launch monitors. Personal Launch Monitors are a different category and may serve a purpose with drills and training; the same for data-driven tech like Arccos. Data is not intrinsically bad.
I do club fittings here at the golf course, and our Professional Instructors teach on the driving range. We have no plastic mats to hide mistakes, and no net to hit into, just blue sky and green grass in front of you. If I hand you a seven iron custom built for you, you can watch the ball flight and how it lands on the range. If you doubt it’s better than your current club, we can go out to a known distance and hit into an actual green. I have taken a customer to the 150-yard marker on our tenth hole and pulled out the laser rangefinder to test all kinds of products. You hit three balls from 158 yards out, back pin today, with your club and 2 are short. I hand you the latest and greatest custom fit super duper seven iron, and you put two on and one close. Does it matter to you that one iron had 600 more rpm or that the new iron launches 1.5 degrees higher?
The same situation with the new golf ball, you can argue all day that the Titleist Pro V1 is the best ball ever, and it is #1 in golf, but maybe you should be playing the Mizuno RB Tour or the Srixon Z Star. It could be that you are a Pro V1 player not a V1X player. Let’s find a good wedge distance and test 5 of each on the green you play on. Maybe you are correct and the Pro V series is #1 because of performance, not the billion-dollar marketing budget. Perhaps Tiger Woods is right and Bridgestone is the best ball in golf, then again maybe you need to play a ball that suits your price point and feel, and stop worrying about what Tiger, Phil, or DJ play.
I am a tech-head, and I love gadgets, we do have a SkyTrak Launch Monitor at the course because data does have value. In my opinion, though, after I stopped using Arccos and SkyTrak to “fix” my golf game, it became more enjoyable and magically when its more fun you improve. In summation, if your instructor or club fitter can’t help you without a launch monitor, maybe they don’t understand the game as much as they should.
The Value of Golf
With the holidays upon us and the New Year right around the corner, everyone I know is counting the money we have for the small things in life. As biased as I am about golf, even I have to freely admit that golf is a luxury, not a necessity. My only qualifier to that idea is this, so is every other sport.
When I talk to parents about getting their kids into sports, I’m told that golf is far too expensive. Of course, I would never tell anyone how to spend money, or where the value of their money is; however, facts are facts, and golf is no more expensive than the major sports played in Tulare County.
We have an amazing baseball/softball community, and soccer is almost as popular as football, but we could never argue these sports are less expensive than golf. With the average Easton baseball bat priced at $300 and a fielder’s mitt averaging $150, how can we argue about price?
Football is easily several hundred for our kids in a year, and soccer is the same. That is unless you become competitive and travel. Travel teams are one of the best ways to test our children’s abilities against the best possible competition and explain why Tulare County constantly sends teams to the national stage in multiple sports.
Travel teams are also a major expense to families and have created a perpetual need to fundraise. Entry fees, lodging, food, and the other costs involved in entering a weekend-long tournament can stop an athlete from competing before they start.
What does all of this have to do with GOLF! With golf specifically, nothing. With the argument that golf is too expensive, everything!
For less than the price of a premium bat, you can get a full set of youth clubs; for less than the price of a midrange fielders mitt, you can outfit your child in the latest golf apparel. If you are not in Tulare where we don’t charge anyone younger than High School age for range balls during the day, there are still plenty of programs for your child to learn to love golf.
Youth On Course is a program for kids between the ages of 6-18 years old and allows members to pay $5 or less to play golf on 1,200 courses all over the United States. For more information on this program, please visit www.youthoncourse.com. We at Tulare Golf Course not only fully support their mission to grow the game, but we are also a Youth On Course member.
We have small leagues locally that can give your child a real competitive environment to grow in. Unfortunately, Tulare Golf Course hasn’t found the right person to help lead a youth team for this league. You can contact Steve Maaske at Exeter Golf Course for more information.
For less than $500 annually, your child can play golf, a sport they will be able to play for the rest of their lives. If they grow to love the game, the opportunities for scholarships are less impacted then the other sports I’ve mentioned, which could be considered a return on your investment. I don’t recommend any athletics be geared as the only way to make it to higher education, it steals the fun out of the sport, but it is a nice potential side benefit.
Golf is also one of the only sports where Grandpa, Grandma, parents, and children can all play on the same field at the same time. You don’t have to yell from the sidelines when you are right next to your child, supporting them, and showing them the values of being a good sport, and the importance of integrity.
The value of family playing together and spending time together is greater than any other thing golf can offer, and hopefully, when you are a grandparent, we can host you and your grandchild for a round of golf.
We have all fallen victim to the winter blues. Wet, cold, foggy conditions in Tulare County stop most of us from coming out and playing, nevermind taking time to practice on the range. As the days get shorter it may be more difficult to come hit a bucket after work, or spend just a little bit of time on the putting green figuring out why you keep missing those three footers.
The internet is filled with all manner of gadgets to help you keep up with you swing at home. Nets, simulators, foam balls, things with strings and VR coarses all to help you keep things dialed in. All the gadgets in the world will never duplicate the beauty of mother nature and hitting a ball of grass; then watching it climb through the air, turning ever so slightly as it begins to descend.
We have added lights to our range in an effort to help extend our range season, and hopefully keep the rust off through this winter. We can’t stop the rain, and the Tule fog will always roll in, but maybe we can stop your handicaps’ annual climb back up. The lights will be on starting at dusk and stay on at least until 9 during the fall. We haven’t experienced a cold winter with the lights yet, so we will have to work that out as time goes by.
Have you ever hit at night on a lit driving range, or do you plan on visiting us and trying it out?
Why should you consider custom clubs?
Media is pushing today’s golfer to buy the biggest and best and usually most expensive equipment available. If you’re like me, you watch Youtube reviews and read golf-related articles. Most of the media is fair and reasonable; however, as with all advertising, it’s sell, sell, sell! If you haven’t noticed the average price for a driver has passed $500 now for the top 4 manufacturers, and a premium putter is $400+. The only question a golfer should think, “Is this product going to help my game?”
The short answer is “No,” “No, it will not save you strokes.” Unless they are suitably fit clubs, that suits your swing.
I have fit hundreds of golfers and can tell you; I would never doubt the improvement golfers, of all levels, can experience. As with all things, buyer beware! Finding a talented fitter you can trust is a little bit like finding a car salesperson or tax guy you trust. Personal recommendations and past experiences are the best way to find the right fitter for you.
Education is the basis for any learned skill, whether that skill is learned by doing or by learning specific knowledge that applies to your trade. A great fitter not only needs to physically fit as many as people as possible to hone the craft, but they should also immerse themselves into the data. An excellent resource for anyone interested in getting fit is TXG: Tour Experience Golf; they have a fantastic YouTube channel.
Now that you’re informed. The basic idea of the fitting is to find a club that works with your swing so that you don’t have to adapt. Much like you adjust a car seat when you borrow someone else’s car, it’s not because you are an F1 driver, it just makes things easier.
So please comment about good or bad fitting experiences. If you have any questions for our fitters, we would love to answer any questions you may have.