Friday, April 17, 2015
It felt slightly bittersweet going to my last lesson at Angeles National. the package deal was for 4 lessons causing major changes in my swing and I wanted to keep the momentum rolling with more and more lessons to refine things further. Alas that was not to be today but still, this may have been the most useful lesson of them all.
John is a great teacher and he doesn't try to shoehorn you into one cookie cutter swing. Instead, he works to get you a swing thought that you identify with and can take forward. On my own, I say my swing is 50% on being on target with power and 50% having big misses. The lesson was definitely needed to sharpen up the misses and also getting some last swing thoughts to make everything solid.
John really worked with me to come up with swing thoughts to make it happen. Boy did it! My 3 iron hybrid, I usually hit 180-190. Today it was 190 with a roll out to about 230, which is insanity.
The real challenge now is to replicate this and do it all the time on the course I think I have the tools now to do some damage on the course and not just to worm families. I owe it all to John and can't wait for my next lesson!
Saturday, April 11, 2015
In what is slowly becoming an annual tradition, I have decided to post my ramblings on The Masters golf tourney throughout the day. Today is Day 3, Moving Day!
7:35am: And we're baaack!
Its 7:35 in the AM here at Z-ReGripped and you are here with your host talking about all the latest Masters news and notes. Man in the box, get back in your BOX!
Moving day, the day you have to go low and get yourself in position for Sunday. I think Na might make a move today as might Lefty. Will it even matter if Jordan puts up another score in the 60s? Who knows but that is half the fun, not knowing, let's get it on. Back after these messages.
8:00am: Coverage online and on TV is currently not happening. Of course I am spoiled after the last few days, I want my Masters and I want it NOW! Still there is always tracking the live leaderboard of the Masters: http://www.masters.com/en_US/scores/index.html
It reminds me of the olden days where instead of sending reporters out of town to cover a sports event, there would be updates communicated back to the studio by wire and then the play-by-play people would make up a story to go along with it. Right now, I am watching Stricker go low, from plus 2 to even. He is tearing up the course and I think playing by himself (or playing with the club marker Jeff Knox who beat Rory one year during a round).
8:20am: The last few days I have been highlighting some Masters gear I would love to have (tumblers and shirts) but alas I am not there at Augusta to shop nor do I want to pay triple (!?!) the price on the re-sellers market. Today my wandering eye is focused not on something Masters-specific but something worn at the Masters, specifically Jordan Speith's purple golf shirt.
For some reason I am drawn to purple in my golfwear and this shirt is as purple as it gets. Of course, Jordan pulls it off better than I do. In a true testament to the power of this tournament, almost all sizes in this shirt are sold out.
Under Armour is an interesting brand I know them mostly for layering clothes but they have really expanded in the golf space and they are THE primary brand for Jordan and just inked a new 10 year deal with him. http://espn.go.com/golf/story/_/id/12205320/jordan-spieth-armour-sign-10-year-endorsement-deal
Most pros look like a NASCAR car out there with various logos on various body parts by Jordan is all UA and I can't blame him with such a snazzy shirt like that one.
9:00am: Nothing too much to report at this point. Just watching the telegraph. Stricker has dropped back a bit, Fowler is going low but still has 13 shots to make up most everyone else is hovering around their starting numbers. So to pass the time, I am looking up everything about Augusta Georgia.
Like someone who dreams what they would do if they won the lottery, I am dreaming how I would spend my time in Augusta if I got tickets to the tourney. Research restaurants (TBonz and Frog Hollow here I come!), checking out hotels and potential courses to play in the area. What is really striking to me is how FAR away Augusta is from everything else.
On the Georgia/South Carolina border, the town is really not close to anything save Columbia, South Carolina but it looks like a pretty town with a river and it goes without saying, a world class golf course.
9:30am: And we finally have live golf (and not just Golf Channel's "Live From" telecast)! We are off with a whizbang start with the actual footage the marker I mentioned above, Mr. Knox!
I just love the idea of Knox, a club member who is an amateur that will play with the pros if there is an odd number who make the cut. He can play as well! It is a great nod to the club's amateur roots having been founded and guided by the greatest amateur Bobby Jones.
10:15am: What would Augusta be without its stone bridges, its azaleas, its creeks? I don't know but I think it would be a shame if we couldn't see these things at least once a year.
In other news, moving day gets off in earnest with Rory eagling the 2nd hole and Mr. Fashion Rickie Fowler going to -4. Of course, this is all hearsay because the front 9 is still grossly under photographed. Its all about the back side, the 12th, the 13th, the 15th, etc. The Masters website is amazing in coverage so why not throw us a front side bone?
11:15am: Moving day is happening in earnest. Rory is making birdies, Tiger is making birdies and I am waiting for someone to make me a pimento cheese sandwich. The depressing news is that even with moving up, up, up most of these guys are still 9 or 10 shots back.
One cool thing about Golf Channel's coverage of the Masters is that you get a real sense of the practice facilities there which look top notch. So many options for putting and chipping along with the normal driving range. The Augusta National complex has a lot going on other than just Amen Corner. There are 10 cabins, a par 3 course on the other side of the 10th hole, etc.
11:30am: What would Masters golf coverage be without Twitter? The running commentary as a counterpoint to the CBS coverage is welcomed and one of my favorite parts of the tournament. Here are some people you should be following over the weekend:
No Laying Up
12:10pm: FINALLY! The Masters is on TV. Not just any TV, I have suffered through Time Warner and Comcast for so long, I finally got DirectTV and so glad that I did. DirectTV offers enhanced features
and also all the featured group pairings and special channels that you get online. I don't mind watching golf on my laptop but now its time to put it up on the big screen!
12:30pm: The announcers are trying their best to hype up moving day and then Jordan goes and birdies the second hole. I think if Jordan birdies all of the par 5's, he will be uncatchable. That being said, I called earlier today that Lefty might make a move and he is off to a super hot start with 3 birdies in 4 holes. Lefty has had a down couple of years but you know he still has elite golf left in him. Might it come out today?
1:15pm: Jordan looks like he is holding it together, making a birdie on a beautiful putt as others on the first page of the leaderboard are hitting ok to terrible shots (Rory looking at you with those tee shots). I am switching back and forth between CBS coverage and the Amen Corner just in time to see Adam Scott sink another birdie with that ridiculous long putter of his. He clearly plays better with it so what is going to happen when the ban against such long putters takes effect? Maybe retire?
2:00pm: There is an adage on the PGATour, "horses for courses". You have Bubba, who is a good player but looks like an elite player at the Masters (most years, not this one). The opposite is also true. Lefty has yet to win at a US Open course (while the courses rotate the set-up of the rough, green speed, etc. is similar). Given how Rory has played the Masters over the years, you wonder if the course and him will ever get along. I haven't seen the same amount of mishits from Rory at other courses, he seems to save them for Augusta National. He is supremely talented but not unique in this respect. Greg Norman was one of the best golfers of his era and yet could never get across the Augusta finish line. It's still early days, Rory is only 25, but I just don't see the same competitiveness for him on this track.
2:30pm: Jordan has had an up and down day. 2 bogies but 2 birdies. Even still, he has a multi-shot lead on the field which belies the fundamental truth that a tournament is 4 days. What you do on Day 1 is just as important as Day 4. The famous saying is that the Masters doesn't start until the back 9 on Sunday but in order to get to that point you have to lay the groundwork on Thursday and Friday and Spieth certainly did that going 14 under. Of course, it helps when you make birdies on the 12th.
3:10pm: The shadows are getting long on Augusta National. Jordan continues going up and down with 2 birdies and then a bogey. Still he is 2 under for the day and well clear of the field. Lefty is doing his best to keep pace and I expect him to make a real charge tomorrow. Like so many great players, if their game lets them down it is putting and Phil's putting has been on this week. We will see if they turn up those under-green heaters for Day 4 and make the greens faster.
4:00pm: Day 3 is in the books, where do things stand?
- This is Jordan's tourney to lose. He is playing lights out and has been for some time. I was super impressed by him last year when he battled Bubba and while he was seemingly gripping it too tight and in 3rd gear in that final round, he has been in 5th gear since day 1. Sure he had a terrible last 2 holes but I think he grinds through it tomorrow.
- Lefty has come back from the dead. The putter is working and that is making him confident in the rest of his game and his irons and driver are being struck super well.
- Rory, what else can be said? This is not your tourney, just work on your game and get ready for Chambers Bay.
- Garcia is having another ho hum major. The guy has elite talent but in the big show just can't close the deal.
- I was surprised by Keopka. The guy hits it super long and won this year which I thought would open up things but has been derailed by injuries. Once he is fully healthy, I bet he will be a force.
That is all folks. I am climbing a mountain tomorrow, a decision I initially rued but I think Jordan gets it done tomorrow. He is a great golfer and a great person and I will be rooting for him on the hillside!
All images poorly photographed from Masters.com/CBS are their property and their use herein is for commentary and criticism purposes only and no rights are claimed to the copyright thereto.
Friday, April 10, 2015
In what is slowly becoming an annual tradition, I have decided to post my ramblings on The Masters golf tourney throughout the day. Today is Day 2, Masters Part Duex!
6:45am: Goooooood morning Golf-blog-o-verse! Its is Masters, day 2. Not quite day one but it will be a woman soon and become "moving" day tomorrow. Speaking of moving, it looks like Ernie Els, the Big Easy himself, continues to move up the early leaderboard going to -6 through 4 holes today. Its fascinating to me that some of the longest hitters in the 90s (Freddie, Ernie, DL3) had the easiest looking swings. Nowadays the bombers seem to "look" faster through the ball (whether more torque, more swing speed, more coffee).
7:15am: In today's installment of schwag I am salivating over is a Masters t-shirt. Usually you don't associate t-shirts with the Masters. Collared shirts, jackets, standard Bushwood club fare is what I associate with the tourney but this shirt is great. Faded lettering, the recognizable slogan and of course that great green and gold color scheme.
Again, the markup on the resell market is crazy which again brings home the premium of actually being there at the Masters but that goes with out saying.
8:15am: Caddies earn their paychecks that is for sure. Lugging around clubs for at least 4 days (including practice rounds) making sure they have yardages down, the slope down, etc. I am a big fan of caddies. One of the things caddies have to in Augusta is go after the wayward balls in the azaleas and pine straw leading to rather humorous pictures like this:
Kevin (Stadler), your ball is THIS way!
8:45am: Jordan (my main man) Speith (trademark pending) is FOUR shots clear of the field, picking up right where he left off yesterday and is currently at -10. Woods had the lowest combined score at AGNC at -18, might we see a record fall?
9:30am: Rory is getting ready to tee off but the breaking news here is that Rory likes see-through pants?
Is this what brings all the girls to the yard? Rory have some decency!
10:00am: Now my focus narrows to Jordan as Featured Group 2 comes on the live feed. He impressed the heck out of me last year at the Masters, hanging tough with Bubba. He was gripping it hard on that Sunday and couldn't mount the challenge but with two recent wins, dollars to donuts he finishes it off this weekend. No rain is forecasted for the weekend so scoring conditions should hold up.
11:15am: The Jordan Speith show continues.
15 birdie, 6 stroke lead. I am happy for him but even happier for me who picked him to win in several pools so maybe I will be the big winner come Sunday night. Do any of you enter online contests?
12:00p,: Is this the most intimidating tee shot in all of golf. The narrowness of the trees, the compressed feel of the gallery? I consulted the magic 8-ball and it said "Yes". Proof positive to me!
12:45pm: Crazy stat, the par 5 13th hole has yielded 8 eagles this week so far only through a round and a half. I know these guys are long but wow does that seem to be an easy hole. I know the greens are super slick, there are creeks and bunkers but man that is an easy hole (I would probably shoot a snowman on it).
1:45pm: Rory alert. Those see-through pants are not doing him well as he is currently one shot above the cut line. The highest ever score that won the Masters is +1 and Rory is currently sitting at +3 and 17 (that's right the Number 1 player in the world is 17) shots behind Speith. Quite an interesting comparison for both.
2:30pm: Random thoughts from Amen Corner:
- For some reason I think an "e" switched places in Charl Schwartzel's name.
- I know the pros have to be comfortable with being watched but it must be nice to have several holes (whether tee boxes or by Rae's Creek) where there is no audience and actually nature and pine trees. I cant imagine this place with no one there but golfers but I think it would be even more awesome.
-Rory walks fast around the course. In watching an Arnie documentary, he walked fast as well. Should we be looking forward to a drink named after him.
-I see a bunch of divots still remaining on the fairway. Do the caddies not replace them?
3:45pm: We are nearing the end of day 2. Amazingly a lot of the course is clearing out. So many stands empty and people leaving. I have never gone to Augusta and this tournament would be THE one tournament I want to go to at some point. If I was lucky enough to get on for one day, I would stay till the bitter end, until they pried my hands from the gates fronting Magnolia Drive.
Day 2 Wrap Up.
- Very sad that Freddie will not be making the weekend. Awhile ago I recall him saying he only has a few years left at a high competitive level at the Masters and after making so many cuts and placing so well so often, is this the start of the decline?
- Some big time names missed the cut this year. Holmes, Snedeker and BillyHo all missed the cut.
- Who other than Speith has a chance this weekend? Well, Hoffman has put together two solid rounds and sits second. Kevin Na tied with the best round on Friday and he can really play lights out so look for him to make some noise. From the back of the pack, I would keep my eye on Lefty. He is hitting it well for once and has the length and the short game to be a real factor in the weekend.
That's it for me. I am going to do it all again tomorrow on this Bat Channel (hopefully doing the Batusi).
All images poorly photographed from Masters.com are their property and their use herein is for commentary and criticism purposes only and no rights are claimed to the copyright thereto.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
In what is slowly becoming an annual tradition, I have decided to post my ramblings on The Masters golf tourney throughout the day. Today is Day 1, opening day!
6:30am: I am awake! Amazingly. Its tougher following East Coast golf when you live on the West Coast but I feel I should be rewarded for my Masters mania by having actual Masters coverage to watch rather than "Live From" on Golf Channel. I like most of the guys who cover the masters for GC but show me some actual golf!
7:00am: Ahhhh there we go. Live coverage from Amen Corner!
The Masters gives you lots of different coverage options in this modern age, you can follow "featured" groups of golfers, particular holes (15 & 16) or my favorite, Amen Corner. The Amen Corner coverage takes you around 11 through 13 on Augusta which are some of the prettiest and iconic holes on the course.
7:30am: My annual tradition of whether to buy Masters merchandise kicks off in earnest. The Masters has iconic schwag which until recently you could only buy at the course. Because this is the Internet age, there are whole websites devoted to finding you schwag like http://www.mmogolf.com/ and there is always ebay. First up on my hem/haw list, tumblers which have Masters badges in them. Limited edition and expensive to begin with, much less the markup on the secondary market!
7:45am: Amen Corner is now featuring a group with Larry Mize. If you win the Masters, you get to come back to the Masters no matter how old you are. Each year the masters is kicked off by tee shots from older luminaries of the game. This year, Palmer, Nickalus and and Player hit the first tee shots http://www.pgatour.com/news/2015/04/09/photo-gallery-big-3-tee-shot-masters.html It is this continuity, unlike any other golf tournament that makes the Masters special. Where you see the past and also the future with all the amateurs that are invited to play in the tourney.
8:30am: One classic scene you will always see at the Masters are golfers and their caddies digging deep on the yardage books.
Each caddie gets a yardage book when the arrive at Augusta but that is just the beginning as caddies and players really have to play the course and get items dialed in for how they are going to get around the track. No GPS at Augusta National as far as I know. There is a fascinating interview with a caddie and his yardage book here which you should definitely check out: http://www.augusta.com/masters/story/masters/yardage-book-playing-book
9:15am: Masters coverage starts in earnest as the coverage expands to holes 15 and 16 as well as 2 featured groups. Today your choices are following Bubba or Dustin Johnson/Adam Scott. I went with the Aussie, I really like Scott's game and he is currently -1 for the tourney. Still, he uses a putter that is almost as tall as he is which takes him down a few points in my book.
10:15am: Fun fact, 3 of the top 5 golfers currently at the top of the Masters have last names that start with H (Hoffman, Henley and Haas). Other non-H's near the lead at this point are Rose, Casey (everyone's apparent darkhorse this year) and Lefty. I am not sure what this all means at this point, early days. The course seems like it is giving up birdies so if you are going to go low, better do it today. Rain is forecasted all week for Augusta Georgia but with these conditions you better have some birdies or an H in your name.
10:30am: Ben Crenshaw reaches Amen Corner. I have much respect for his career and especially what he has done at Augusta National but I felt like his daytime talk show was a little ill advised: http://starsmedia.ign.com/stars/image/article/860/860268/gentle-ben-the-simpsons-20080317042632011_640w.jpg
11:45 My Masters favorite and perhaps favorite PGA golfer (now that Freddie is on the Champions Tour) Jordan Speith is off to a rollicking start 2 under after 4 holes. Jordan got so close last year and he is on a roll winning a tournament and being in the Top 5 in the last few tourneys.
12:15pm: First shot out of the pine straw! I love that aspect of Augusta much in the same way at Pinehurst. Due to my terrible driving habits I have often found myself in pine needles, mud, squirrel's homes so I always like see what the pros do with that type of lie.
2:00pm: It was great to see my golf hero Fred Couples at the Masters. He isn't having the best day currently +5 but he is always in the hunt in almost any Masters he enters. Fred was and still is one of the most popular players on Tour and I know everyone was rooting for his shot into the par 3 12th to stay out of the water and it did and he won the tourney. It isn't the Masters without Freddie.
2:30pm Tiger Time on the Amen Corner Feed (I have given up on the featured groups and also cant watch on TV #firstworldgolfproblems). I was never a fan of Tiger, I didn't like his personality on the course and I was never drawn to what he was doing. Of course I respect what he has accomplished and was certainly the most dominate player of his era and one of the best of all times. Some people just rub you the wrong way ya know? Like anyone watching NASCAR I tuned in to see if he would put it into 5th gear or spectacularly flame out in a car crash.
2:45pm: So far Tiger is showing what I think will be the bellweather for his future career. Lousy shot on 11 followed up with a good shot and a par save. 12, in the water, followed up with a good shot and escaping with a bogey. Birdie on a par 5 and call it a day for Amen Corner. Up and down hanging around the cut line. When will then be now? Soon. https://awarebrain.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/spaceballs.jpg
4:20pm: And that's a wrap! Jordan (my man!) leads by 3 strokes after day 1. Surprises? Els and Mickelson near the top of the leaderboard. McIlroy with a pedestrian -1 is rather par for the course, he has not had a good 2015 so far other than the win overseas. I don't expect him to kick into gear until the British Open. The dark horses of Haas and Casey are still in it. Expect at least one of them to contend on the weekend
Come back for Day 2 tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel!
All images poorly photographed from Masters.com are their property and their use herein is for commentary and criticism purposes only and no rights are claimed to the copyright thereto.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Everyone knows the big guy brands in golf, Ping, Callaway, Titleist, etc. But what about the small shops, the little guys (and gals)? Here is my ongoing series devoted to companies and people you might not have heard of doing great work.
I got excited about Snell Golf possibly being BETTER than other golf balls after My Golf Spy released their best direct-to-consumer rankings with Snell Golf on top. Snell Golf was founded by Dean...wait for it... Snell who thought be could make a better golf ball. He had a head start more than most because he was involved with golf ball research at Titleist and Callaway before founding his own company. This guy has the bonafides does he have the goods?
The ball looks sharp, a large-ish logo but I am cool with that. The balls I received had both single numbers and double numbers. There doesn't seem to be a place on the website to customize the numbers but once that option happens, I would love me some double 33's (easier to identify when lost in the weeds ;)).
Snell makes 2 balls, the Get Sum which is 2 piece ball and the My Tour which is a 3 piece ball. I have this great little par 3 course right near where I live that doesn't have a lot of foot traffic so I decided to take both balls out and play each hole with each ball.
Each ball feels great coming off the clubhead, there is no real difference between the balls in terms of feel or perceived compression, which is fascinating since they are constructed so differently.
(believe it or not the picture above is a spinback off the green)
You could see this on chip shots as well where I could actually pick up the rotation of the My Tour whereas the Get Sum ball tended to run out more.
In either event, I have never seen balls "dance" on the green like these. There was hopping and stopping. Bouncing forward when needed and spinning back when also needed. You can get some english on these balls no problem.
In fact, this english almost led to my first hole in one ever. Par 3, hit a gap wedge slightly short, the My Tour ball spun forward and allllllmost got in the hole.
I also did some putting tests with the balls.
Usually I find that the direct-to-consumer golf balls have a harder feel on the green thus making speed a tougher thing to control. The Get Sum does have a harder feel to it but I enjoyed the contact I was getting with my Odyssey putter and didn't think I was blowing it by the hole. The My Tour ball on the other hand "felt" a little heavier and definitely softer coming off the face. For me, I think I rolled it slightly true-er and more accurately with my stroke than the Get Sum but truly these balls are so close together. So much so that this was my putting dispersal with both balls from similar places on the green.
I was really impressed by these balls. The Get Sum is probably the best 2 piece I ever struck and behaves like a mid-market 3 piece and at a $20 price point is pretty sweet. The My Tour is right up there with my TaylorMade Lethals or ProV1's in terms of responsiveness and feel. Which is crazy because it is a 3 piece and the Lethal is a 5 piece ball and costs about $15 less.
The final question is, would I put either ball in my bag? The answer is an overwhelming "yes"! I really like the Get Sum ball and will continue to tool around with it but the My Tour ball is by far and away my favorite and will now be my go-to ball in the bag. I only have a few sleeves of the My Tour, so I am going to have to stock up (especially when they get the 33's going) but I am now a believer in Snell and a believer in these balls. Believe it!
If you want more information on Snell, please check out here: www.snellgolf.com
I was provided these balls for review purposes. I really liked this product and my thoughts are my own but this is the Internet, take everything with a grain of salt and learn from it what you can. I do not receive anything if you purchase these balls, it is just my opinion. Thanks!