What’s in Your Golf Bag?

I bet if you look in your golf bag, you will find a mix mash of clubs. Most amateur players are not loyal to one manufacturer and make no bones about it. Manufacturer loyalty is difficult given the plethora of choices facing anyone trying to purchase a new club.

Over the years, I have played Spalding, Ping, Cobra, Callaway, Titleist, and many knock off clubs. I have always searched for that right club to fix my game and sometimes I was lucky, but for the most part I searched for deals that I could afford.

The rate at which “new” technology is released is unbelievable. I find it impossible for manufacturers to produce all the innovative changes that are guaranteed to improve our golf game! It is just not possible. Not being independently wealthy, I also cannot afford a new driver every 4 months in the hopes that it will fix my game! Can you?

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The Benefits of a Golf Club Fitting

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Numbers from my club fitting.

Last fall I was fitted for my new Titleist AP2 irons and 915D, 915F, 915H. It was an awesome experience and the quality of my ball striking improved significantly once I received the right equipment. I can hardly wait for spring and to start-up where I left of last fall. The whole experience was very rewarding and I recommended it to the readers of this golf blog.

Understanding the entire fitting process is important to meet your expectations. There are many other ways to improve your game, however having the proper equipment is the most fundamental. Many amateurs, myself included before last fall, purchase equipment ‘off the rack’. It provides a 70% solution for most amateurs, but for the more avid player, buying ‘off the rack’ may not be the best solution to finding the proper equipment for their game. Continue reading

The Grateful Golfer – 2015 Year in Review

As 2015 comes to a close, I like to take the time and review my golf year. I like to objectively look at all the factors that attributed to the various ups and downs of my season. In the past, my introspective look at the past helps develop my plan for the future. In some cases, I want history to repeat itself; in other cases, lets just say that a change is needed.

To start my critical assessment, lets review my goals for 2015:

This year, I am trying something different. My goals will be tangible, realistic, achievable and results oriented. Here is what I am going to accomplish this year:

  • Win 1 golf tournament; – Achieved
  • Make the Ontario Military Regional Golf Team; – Missed by 2 spots (3 strokes)
  • Place in the top 10 at the Military National Golf Tournament;- Missed
  • Help someone become a better golfer; – Achieved
  • Play 60+ rounds of golf; and – Achieved
  • Become a scratch golfer! – Missed – Lowest handicap was 2.8

According to my direct goals, I was 50%. But as we all know, stats can lie and this is not the real story. Let me explain!

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The Duck Stays in Europe!

My 2015 golf season started off very slow. I missed the first month for work and a vacation to Europe. Neither I would change, but this slow start did have some lingering effects as the season wore on. On a positive note, The Duck stayed in Europe and I look forward to another match this year against my good buddy, Kirk!

Hopewell Rocks 2015 (55)

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick, Canada

Additionally, I missed about 1 month of golf in September due to work and a vacation to Quebec, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, Canada. Neither I would change as both were fun and I spent some quality time with my wife and best friend. These excursions definitely had an impact on my golf game this year, but not something I would have changed; special time with the people I love and sharing awesome experiences with them reminds me to why I a grateful for everything in my life!

Back to my season! As the year unfolded, I found it difficult to find a groove. I was not comfortable over the ball for most of the season and only found sparks of great play. My usual streak of 6-8 weeks of great golf did not materialize this year. I can attribute my inconsistency to lack of practice at the beginning of the year. Normally, I spend the first 2-3 weeks practicing my short game and getting my “feel” back. Unfortunately, this year it did not happen. I would rate my preparation for my golf season as poor in 2015.

As the season unfolded, my game did improve. Before I continue, I think it is important to note that all my assessments are relative to my own expectations and perceived capabilities and not meant to be compared against anyone, but myself. I shot several rounds at par and several from 2-4 over. For some reason, I found shooting a low score was not the problem, consistency was really the challenge. My scoring to 2015 would be rated as average.

ap2_714I changed equipment in July. I was fitted for the first time, and thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. I purchased Titleist AP2 Irons and 915 D2 driver, 3-wood, and 3-hybrid. I am completely happy with the new equipment. I am still getting used to how they feel and the different distances each club can produce, but I am close. Overall, my satisfaction with my change of equipment is outstanding; however, when I decide to make a wholesale change of equipment in the future, I would do it at the beginning or end of a golfing season.

There were very few low points in my golfing season this year other than missing 2 months of golf. I played some ugly golf from time to time (as we all do) but I never shot in the 90s, I never lost my sense of humor, and I never lost my gratitude for being able to play golf….period!

On a more positive note, here are some highlights of my 2015 golf season:

I played more golf with my wife than ever before. We made it to the range and links on a regular basis and it made a great difference in both our games. More importantly, I was spending time doing two of my favorite things – hanging with my best friend and hitting the links.

I was part of a team that won a 2 man scramble golf tournament. My friend Jean played very well and he was tired at the end of round from carrying me for 18 holes. It was great fun and walking away with some hardware always makes things seem better.

I played golf at some pretty nice courses in the local area – Wildfire Golf and Country Club, Keystone Links, Black Bear Ridge, Trillium Woods, Bay of Quinte Golf Club, and of course my home track of Roundel Glen Golf Course. This year Roundel Glen was in its best shape for years. A big shout out to our superintendent, Jeremy Sizer, and his team for doing a fantastic job with the course. I played some great courses this year, but the best part was the people I played with! They made playing at these courses a more enjoyable experience.

My three rounds at the Ontario Regional Golf Championship. I finished 7th and missed making the Ontario team by 2 positions (3 strokes). Over the 54 hole event, I shot 79 on all three days. Now many would think that missing the team would prevent this experience from being a highlight of 2015, but I think we need to look at what really happened. I learned more from just coming up short, than if I had made the team. I was very happy with the way I fought for every stroke and kept in the mix throughout the entire event! Playing at Regionals was a definite highlight of the year.

Lastly, the best aspect of my 2015 golf season was the people. I met some fantastic people on and off the course due to golf. My old friends are awesome! They are always there with a positive comment, to pick me up and to help correct my wayward game – I am always grateful for their friendship.

Also, I had the opportunity to interact with new positive, like-minded people who enriched my life in some way. Golf is definitely a contact sport, and each year I am grateful for the awesome people I meet and eventually call my friends.

My 2015 golf season is definitely in the books. As the snow has finally arrived, I am sitting in my house taking this opportunity to really examine my season. I met some great people and played some fantastic courses.  Keeping everything in perspective, my low points were minor bumps in the road that do not need any further attention! It is time to look to the future and start preparing for another awesome golf season in 2016.

Overall, I would rate my 2015 golf season as a resounding success!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

New Titleist Golf Clubs – 1Week Old

ap2_714From earlier posts, most of you know that I purchased new golf clubs. Well, I finally picked them up Sunday. I was fitted about 3 weeks ago and I am completely happy with my new purchase. Since picking them up, I have played three rounds of golf and hit the range twice. Everyday is a better day and contact is improving each time I swing my new AP2 irons.

My results have been very good and the are easily meeting all my expectations. My first round with the new sticks was at Wildfire Golf Course. It was fantastic! The course was in awesome shape and I plan to write a review in the coming days. It was the first time I hit my new irons and the third time I hit my new 915 D2 driver, 3-wood, and 3-hybrid. Some shots were a bit of an adventure, but when I hit the sweet spot the results were amazing. I ended up with an 82 (with 4 doubles) with 28 putts!

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Brandon showing us how it is done on the range!

Next, I hit the range to work on contact and alignment. I brought out the alignment sticks and they really helped. I was able to determine the positioning of the ball in relation to my clubs and more importantly, what it looks like when my setup was correct. I took my time to examine my feet, hand position and my head position when swinging the clubs.

I also hit the range today, (after playing 18 holes this morning) and continued to work on the same things I worked on last time. I am feeling more confident every day! The best part about the range today, besides my wife being there, was a close friend of the family joined us. Brandon, who I know since he was 6 months old, came to the range to show how to hit the ball a long way. He was using my old clubs and showed me the way to really hit them.

My second round was a 9-hole loop with my wife last Thursday. It was fantastic to play on a local course, Quinte Hills, and support a course that is just starting out. Quinte Hills is 5 minutes from our house and its relative obscurity affords us the opportunity to play 9 holes without anyone pushing us. It was very relaxing and my wife enjoyed playing without feeling rushed or that we were holding anyone up. This course is rough around the edges and the hilly terrain is a bit challenging. But overall, it is a great course for my wife and I play and enjoy the time together on the links. I shot an even par 36, but sank 3, 20+ foot putt along the way. My contact with the clubs was better and my putting saved the day. Hence the great score.

Today, I played 18 holes with my normal group. We enjoyed the warm sun and a cool breeze. Starting off 2 over after three holes, I settled down to par the last 6 holes of the front nine. Feeling confident, I walk to the 200 yard par 3, 10th hole and quickly doubled it. I was a bit frustrated, but still felt very good about my round. The next 8 holes I ended up 2 under and left 3 shots on the course. My ball striking was very good and my putting deadly. With a final score of 74, it is my best round this year and with new clubs in my hand, I feel that I am peaking at the right time.

My new Titleist clubs are well worth the whole ordeal of being fitted and purchasing clubs made for my swing. With the Regional military competition just over 10 days away, things are looking very good.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

 

Titleist Fitting for New Golf Clubs

DSCF4824Last Saturday, I took the opportunity to be fitted by a master golf club fitter. Jeff Stephenson, the Titleist Rep, took 1 hour and 45 minutes to fit me for irons, 3 hybrid, 3 wood, and a driver. He was professional, patient and extremely knowledgeable! I found the entire experience educational, enlightening, and just plain fun!

When I first arrived at Trillium Wood Golf Course, I met with the General Manager Greg Seemungal. He knew I was coming because my home course General Manager, Mike Claire, ensured all was good for my appointment. (Have to love great customer service!) Upon my arrival, Greg set me up with a bucket of balls so I could warm up prior to the fitting. The facilities at Trillium Wood Golf Course are first-rate and I highly recommend it be a golfing destination if you are in the area.

DSCF4825 DSCF4821After introductions, Jeff asked me what I was looking for from the fitting. I explained that I was a seasoned golfer, but had never been through the experience of properly being fitted for clubs. We talked about ball flight, distances, and my expectations from the new clubs I intend to purchase. Overall, I was looking to hit my irons with a slightly higher ball flight with the same or more distance. Accuracy was not generally an issue as I hit the ball straight most of the time.

Additionally, I explained that I at 53, I wanted a blade like club that was forgiving like a cavity-back club. I expected to keep these clubs for many years, so I needed them to pass the test of time. After he explained the variety of Titleist clubs available, we both agreed, that Titleist AP2 irons would be a great fit for current and future needs.

DSCF4823Next, he asked me to hit some balls so he could look at my swing. I was so nervous; I kept trying to hit the ball way too hard (as to impress everyone) and as a result either pull the ball or hit it fat. After a bit, I calmed down and started to hit the ball like normal. After about 20 balls, we decided to start with the irons. He handed me a six iron with the standard configuration. After a couple of swings, he changed out the shaft for something a bit lighter and it made a tremendous difference. I normally hit the ball about 165-170 with my 6-rion and the AP2 matched the distance, but the ball flight was higher. Overall, the results were superior and I was really pleased with the feel of the club.

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Jeff working his magic!

Next we checked the lie of the clubs. As it turns out, the heel of my club hits the ground first during my swing. I never realized this and it could explain why my ball generally misses left. Jeff applied some tape and after about 5 swings we adjusted the lie of the irons to a minus 2 degrees flat. Jeff recommends the SP95 shaft, length S300. What a difference!

Next we discussed a 3 hybrid versus a 5-wood. I was thinking about the 5-wood, but after hitting the 21 degree 915H hybrid I was sold. I hit it about 210 yards on a nice controlled ball flight. We went through the usual changing of shafts, heads and various adjustments to get me into the A1 position. The recommended shaft is the Diamana Blue – Stiff, for this club.

Greg, always teaching!

Greg, always teaching!

Next was the driver. I feel that I hit my driver very well, but generally do not get much height on the ball off the tee. With the 915D2 driver, I initially was pushing the ball every time! It was a bit frustrating because I could not figure out what was going on; that is when Greg stepped in. Greg explained how I was set up exactly where I was hitting the ball and that my mind compensates my body to make the ball go where I want it to go. Taken aback at first, I realized that Greg was absolutely right and I adjusted my alignment. Thanks Greg for the lesson!

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Fitting by the numbers!

After a couple of hits, Jeff explained about tee height, spin rate, and positioning of the club with respect to the ball on the tee. I have always teed the ball low, but no longer. Jeff explained that my spin rate when the ball was teed low was about 4400 rpm. On a windy day, this was not a good thing. Jeff then explained that by hitting the ball in the middle to slight above the middle of the club face my swing rate drops to around 3200 rpm and I achieve a much better ball flight. Also, he explained that the flatter the club head hits through the ball during contact, the less spin rate. This is something I might have to work on later. As Jeff worked his magic, my ball speed increased from 132 to about 144. Overall, I was very happy with the driver and Jeff recommended a 12 degree, Rogue Silver – stiff shaft at the standard length.

Last club we fit was the 3-wood. We saved it until last because it is my most versatile club. I hit it off the tee quite often and off the fairway just as much. My current 3-wood is very good and I like the look and feel. I found the 915F fairway wood hard to hit at first until Jeff made some adjustments. After a couple of shafts I was hitting it better off the grass. But what sold me was how well I hit it off the tee. It felt awesome and the results were exceptional! Jeff recommended the 16.5 degree, Diamana Blue – stiff shaft in the A1 position!

After about 2 hours, I felt like I was hitting the ball better than I have in years. There were a couple of things that actually surprised me:

  • The degree of my driver, 3-wood, and hybrid are higher than I expected;
  • How properly fitted clubs can make such a difference in feel and results;
  • My ball flight was very low;
  • How to lower my spin rate; and
  • How my alignment was way off.

I want to thank Jeff and Greg for a fantastic experience. Your professionalism and patience made my fitting first-rate. I never realized how much I would learn and how the right equipment provided by a professional could make that much difference in my swing. If I had realized this sooner, I would have gone for a club fitting years ago.

If you ever have the chance to work with Jeff or Greg, I would recommend you jump at it! It will be well worth your while!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links.