Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Trust But Verify


Ok, here's a funny story for you...

Every new golf season I take my own advice and get the loft and lies checked on my forged Mizuno irons. Like clockwork! Well, this year was no exception only this year has a twist. 

After having my lofts and lies done I began playing fairly regularly. I noticed that I began to pull hook the ball or I would end up hitting the ball out of the toe that went nowhere! It wasn't every shot but on occasion, this was definitely occurring. I started thinking that maybe during the long layoff I had from the game over the winter, I just needed more practice or a tune-up lesson from the local pro. And indeed I did begin a more regimented practice routine to fix the problem. I even had the local pro take a look at my delivery, which was of no help! 

During my third round of league play, everything seemed to be going great. I was on track to shoot par when on two back-to-back holes I managed to find the club's toe. I'm talking toe when I say toe! Two shots that went straight down the middle of the fairway and very short of my intended target. I looked over at one of my playing partners on the second occurrence and asked if I did something different in my swing. He said no, but when was the last time I had my forged iron's loft and lies checked. I told him about three weeks ago. He said really? How were you hitting your clubs before you got them re-lofted? Straight down the middle with a slight draw was my response. Hum, is all he said in response. This definitely got me thinking about what was done to my clubs in the Pro Shop. 

Now here's the twist... 

I took my clubs to a trusted friend that happens to work in the golf department at Dick's Sporting Goods. I told him what was happening with the toe strikes and also told him that I had just had my clubs checked to be two degrees up, which is my spec. When we got the clubs on the machine and started measuring them, to my surprise, every club was two degrees flat. When I went in to get my clubs adjusted the last time I just dropped them off and then went in and picked them up afterward. I thought I was in good hands with the Pro Shop Wrench. Big mistake! I didn't ask any questions. I didn't go to the range to test them out. I just trusted that the guy would perform the task as required. Never again! I chalk this up as my mistake! 

The moral of this story is as the title of the post suggests - "Trust But Verify" that you are getting what you requested done to your clubs. Don't take for granted that the guy who's been repairing clubs for forty years always gets it right. People have been known to make mistakes no matter what their level of proficiency is. I'm sure he made a simple mistake when he read the service order. This is another lesson learned in my golf adventures. Next time I'll definitely make sure that what I requested to have done is done correctly. After spending money and time figuring all this out, my clubs are in great shape for the new season. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Ramblings Of An Old Golfer

 Have you ever questioned why you play the game of golf? I have, especially now that have officially become a senior golfer. I have this impending fear that I'm slowing down. I don't hit the golf ball as far as I once did in my youth. While this may be true, my golf IQ is as high or higher than it has ever been. On a good day, I can still play with the younger crowd but I sometimes hang my head when I'm reaching for the six iron and the kid that I'm paired with is pulling his nine. Is this ego or hubris talking to me? I don't know? 

I work hard at playing the best golf I can. Noticing that my distance is dropping off just a bit, I went out and bought a golf launch monitor to help in my practice sessions to improve my swing, especially my swing speed. The thing I enjoy most about the monitor is it reminds me that I have a solid swing when in tempo, displaying a very good smash factor for the speed that I do produce. Am I overanalyzing my ability to play the game of golf? Am I concentrating on the correct areas of the game to maintain and improve my golf game? 

When I was younger I got a good lesson in the game of golf. I was taught that if I could be good from the green out to a hundred to one hundred and fifty yards that I could play with anyone. The short game focus is truly the way the game was meant to be played, in my humble opinion. Lately, my focus has been on how much my drive distances seem to be comparatively speaking to my playing partners. Why should I care? I still have the ability to get up and down and play par golf. 

Today there is so much focus on stokes gained in the distance game. Statics show that the closer to the green you can place your ball, the lower your scoring should be. But is it a realistic goal for the average golfer to hit the ball as long as you humanly can? I'm not sure. But it is nice to watch a perfectly struck drive get out there, isn't it! The sad part of this equation is that over swinging to achieve this goal usually puts you in the trees or the deep stuff that leads to a layup anyways! 

After writing these few paragraphs I think I've made a breakthrough. While I will continue to use the launch monitor to eke out a little more swing speed and distance, I'm going to go back to concentrating on what truly makes my game enjoyable, the short game. I think accepting what I produce off the tee box and then working out a strategy to getting up and down is probably the right way to play the game, at least for me. I'll concentrate on swinging in tempo, hitting fairways, and getting the ball in the hole once I'm on the green. In the words of David Byrne of the Talking Heads, "Same as it ever was!"

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Purchased With Skepticism - My New Launch Monitor

 Well, I finally did it! I bought myself a new launch monitor. The reason is simple, I needed something to train with. It seems that the old swing has been slowing down a bit. I've noticed that I've been losing a bit of distance lately and I needed a way to monitor a couple things like swing speed, ball speed, distance info, and smash factor (swing efficiency). 

I know the things that I listed are fairly basic but if you don't have access to a home simulator or GC Quad, these are the basic bits of information you need to work on improving your game. The other factor for my buying the device I bought, with just the basics, is the old home front budget. I don't think the spousal unit would be up for me spending thousands of dollars on a simulator or a very expensive launch monitor. 

After reading several reviews and pricing out different devices, I came across just what I was looking for... for the best price I could find. What I settled on was the PRGR Portable Launch Monitor. It sells for under 200 dollars! I got a really great price, well below the number I just mentioned through my search efforts. Drop me a line and I'll tell you where I got it. 

Now, I can't tell you how happy I am with the PRGR. It does exactly what I was hoping it would do and it does it very well with a couple of exceptions. The exceptions are minor but they do exist. While hitting into my home net, to get an accurate distance measurement I find I must be hitting at least 10 to 15 feet from the net. I don't know why, but that is the way it works. The other glaring shortcoming of the device is on the short end of the bag. It does not cope well with full wedge shorts. I don't know if it has to do with launch angles or what but it just doesn't cope well with full wedge shots. Other than these two items, I can't say anything truly bad about the device. It does what it was built to do and does it very well. 

One of the things I like most about the devices is that it is compact, lightweight, and it fits nicely in my golf bag or my pants pocket. It's about the size of my iPhone SE which is very compact. Another thing I like about the PRGR is the fact that I don't need to be hitting golf balls to work on my swing speed. It reads the speed of the clubface using Doppler radar and provides the actual speed of the club. I find this to be very cool and convenient!  I can work on swing speed without ever reaching for a golf ball. 

The PRGR is not just a one-trick pony. You can use it to provide speed measurement for sports other than golf. It has a baseball mode as well. You can measure the speed of a baseball bat, a pitch, or even the speed of a soccer ball if you like. For my purposes though, I think it will be primarily for golf, but you never know! 

To sum things up, if you are looking for a portable launch monitor that you can take with you to the course, the practice range, or your home training net - I highly recommend you give the PRGR a try! For the price, you just can't beat it! Thanks and happy fairways!