Archive for January, 2016

Junior Golf: Custom Clubs For Slower Swing Speeds

imageIn this Friday Flop Shot we are going to take a look at my clubs, the clubs Adam custom-made for me. When Adam went home to Australia for a month over the Christmas break, he had 6 sets of clubs to customize and I am thrilled that he included my clubs in that group.

Why are my clubs of interest to your junior golfer? There are a couple of major reasons: first-my swing speed is about 10mph lower than S3’s. His swing is 105-110mph and mine is 93-97mph. There is a dramatic contrast in our clubs. My son is a college athlete in great physical shape, quite strong, extremely flexible and a 2-handicap. For being north of 60 years old, I am in great physical shape, reasonably strong, quite flexible and expect to get back to regularly breaking 80 in the near future. (Offcoursegolf.com)

The difference in our swing speeds is important, but only 1 of many factors involved in making custom clubs. So the second reason my clubs are important to your young golfer is to show the dramatic contrast in clubs with 2 different people. Please understand my point here. Having golf clubs custom-fitted to your youngster is a very complicated task and requires the best PGA club fitter you can find. Ask around. Probably 1 or 2 names will come up more than once.

I had quit hitting my driver because there wasn’t 1 in our many golf clubs that felt good in my hands. Adam, after being with me on the range several times and playing a couple of rounds with me, had a definitive plan. The new length would be 44.75” with a men’s regular shaft and a weight and kick point that fits my swing. Here you see the Fujikura Speeder67 Evolution R-Flex shaft. The head would be my current, but unused, Rocketbalz head, 10.5 degrees. Feeling I needed more loft, Adam said he could add loft to the head, ultimately getting it to 12 degrees. He has since stated that increasing my driver loft is his finest piece of artwork in all of his custom golf club efforts, and it is totally invisible to anyone looking at the head. Weighted tape was added to the bottom of the Rocketbalz head as Adam felt it just needed a bit more weight. And when I asked about the tape, he said to leave it on.

The driver grip is an orange Lamkin grip with an extra wrap under the low hand. This club feels great when I pick it up. It’s an extension of my arms. My natural shot with a driver is a fade and right now I’m hitting a slice, but things are coming around. One of the things Bubba Watson says about shortening the driver is that you hit more balls in the middle of the face. That is certainly true, even with me! So as I fine tune my swing, doing the couple of things I need to do to get consistent with this club, I am having a blast. I am certain this will be a very dependable club for me and 1 of my favorites. It’s hard to put into words how great this club feels!

See you on #1 tee, ready to hit the big stick… Sam

Junior Golf: Specific Custom Irons

imageIn today’s Wednesday Waggle we will finish going through S3’s newly customized golf clubs. All we really have left are his driving iron and Cleveland wedges. (golfdigest.com)

As we review this whole process, let’s remember that it started with Adam asking S3 and me: “Why is that club in your bag?” The 1st time you’re asked that you may find yourself stumbling a bit during your reply. “I like it. I need it. I hit it great!” And those replays are all kind of in the ball park. Really clubs should be in your bag that will give you the best opportunity to hit good shots. What does that mean? You need to have clubs that cover the gaps between clubs. You don’t want to go from a driver to a 4-iron. There is a gap between the max distance of the 4-iron to the minimum distance of the driver. You see the point.image

Adam is a big fan of driving irons so S3’s clubs now go driver, 3-wood, driving iron, 3-iron, etc. so he has his distances properly covered. The new driving iron/utility club is a Srixon Z U45, 20-degree head with a Mitsubishi Diamana shaft and a Golf Pride Multicompound grip with a second wrap of tape under the low hand. In S3’s words, “Driving iron flies real well and feels sweet coming off of the face.” He’s still figuring out the distances with these new clubs, but let’s just say this driving iron goes a long way, distance updates in future posts.

imageNow let’s go to some scoring clubs, his Cleveland wedges. His 56-degree and 60-degree went to the spa and got complete makeovers! Since we are going from 4 wedges to 3 wedges, they were bent to 54 and 59-degrees and they were also stripped and regrooved. The stock Cleveland shafts were replaced with True Temper DG Spinner shafts. Grips were replaced with Golf Pride Multicompound grips with an extra wrap of grip tape under the low hand. And Adam did some beautiful cosmetic engraving on the back of each wedge. Sammie loves them! “Dad, I get a ton of spin!” Yes, indeed!

Let’s summarize: every club except for his putter was changed: driver-new head, new shaft. 3-wood: new shaft. Driving iron: added to bag-new head, new shaft. 3-P irons: new heads, new shafts. Cleveland wedges: heads regrooved and stripped, new shafts, bent to stronger loft. There was additional loft and lie adjustments previously mentioned. Is your head spinning? Is there any way for you to keep this straight? Oh, and all these clubs have Golf Pride Multicompound grips with a 2nd layer of tape under the low hand. Things to consider.

See you on #1 tee, tell me what you have changed with your clubs lately… Sam

Junior Golf: Custom Irons

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan we will take a look at S3’s custom irons. He’s only had them since January 17, so he is still getting used to them. And everything about them is very different from his previous set. (photo jenlefforge.com)

Adam, our club designer, has a very clear and organized thought process as to exactly what clubs should be in a given player’s bag and once he has a grasp of a golfer’s swing and type of game he has, Adam can come up with a specific plan to customize what’s in the golf bag and again, today we are talking about S3’s irons. Sammie (S3) is about 5’ 11” and 160 lbs. As a college golfer he is strong, in great shape and has way above average flexibility. His swing speed is in the 105-110 mph range. His GHIN is basically 2, a 2 handicap. These factors and his style of play determined the selection and customization of his irons.

imageLet’s start with his main iron set. S3 bought some Mizuno MP14 blades, 3-P, from a good friend of ours. The shafts were replaced with TrueTemper Dynamic Gold S400’s built to current standard length. These Mizunos were adjusted to 1-1.5* upright on standard and are also adjusted to 1* weaker lofts than modern standard. Being more upright allows a better fit to S3’s body and swing and having a weaker loft means less distance which in this case is not a bad thing. 1 of Adam’s goals is to have specific distances between each club. There is a great method to all this.

Please keep in mind that Linda and I are not PGA professionals and we are passing along our experiences to hopefully help you and your junior golfer in this wonderful journey. Now here’s something really cool that I had never heard of: frequency matching. As I understand it, when you buy a new set of clubs the shafts are not frequency matched from the factory. And to do it to those clubs would mean removing the head and grip, perform the frequency matching on each shaft and then replace the head and the grip. Well this would be crazy expensive. The time to most cost effectively do frequency matching is when the shafts are bare. Shafts within a set of clubs can vary greatly as to their flex. Frequency matching allows a skilled clubmaker to get every shaft within a set to flex the same, meaning it feels the same and gives the player confidence and consistency. So S3’s Mizunos with the Dynamic Gold S400 shafts are frequency matched, very cool!image

As of this morning, Sammie is still getting used to these Mizunos. The change from his previous irons is massive. He went from semi-beginner clubs, RocketBladez, to traditional blades which are for very highly skilled golfers. And the new clubs are shorter, more upright and don’t go as far. But they are consistent from one club to the next because they are frequency matched! Oh well, he’s young and can handle it! (photo eBay.com)

See you on #1 tee with a consistent set of irons… Sam

Junior Golf: Custom Clubs Part 2

In today’s Friday Flop Shot we will begin S3’s evaluation of his completely custom golf clubs. He and I both had our clubs totally redone with the exception of our 3-woods (new grip tape and grip only) and our putters which were custom made for us by Adam in 2014, and they are amazing putters, by the way! (offcoursegolf.com)image

So on Tuesday, S3 played 18-holes with these club without ever hitting 1 range ball. Ah, to be 21 again! I asked him, “How was golf today?” His words: “Golf was okay! Shot 76 with totally new set. The driver was crazy good! And the wedges were pretty cool as well. Driver has lower flight but very minimal movement and goes a mile! Driver competes with Travis (1 of his college teammates) 315 (as in 315 yards) roughly.”

Adam believed that S3 was too strong for his old driver, a TaylorMade R-1, stiff shaft, 10.5 degrees and the shaft was flexing too much resulting in too much ball movement and every now and then an errant tee shot. Frankly over the years, S3’s fairway hit stats have been very good, but his infrequent poor tee shots cost him too many strokes. So the goal with the new driver was 1st to reduce the movement and improve accuracy. Increased distance would be a bonus.image

imageWell folks, it’s party time for the new driver! For years, S3 has averaged 285-302 yards with his driver and this is very competitive in high school and college golf. If this 315 yard average holds up over time, and there’s every reason to expect it should, this is a huge increase in distance! And it means Adam was exactly correct. I’ll say it again folks, Adam, AJ, is a true genius at this stuff. Once he has a grasp of your swing and your game he can recommend what clubs you should have in your bag.

What is S3’s new driver and how is it different from the old 1? I’m so glad you asked! OK sports fans, it’s a TaylorMade SLDR 10-degree head with a Fujikura Exotic X-stiff shaft, shortened ½ inch from his R-1 shaft. The head was pre-owned and the shaft, tape and grip are new.

So the new driver is a big hit! Looks like S3’s fairway stats will be going up! And he’ll have shorter approach shots! We’ll talk about the new irons on Monday.

See you on #1 tee and I’ll show you some custom clubs, oh yeah…. Sam

unior Golf: Custom Golf Clubs

imageIn today’s Wednesday Waggle we will begin our series on custom golf clubs. While this subject may be a bit advanced for you and your son, there are many concepts and facts that can be useful now and in the future. Let’s have some fun!

One of our great pleasures of S3’s college golf career is getting to know his teammates. AJ is from Melbourne, Australia and has become like another son to us. He is a club designer and maker in Australia and is an excellent golf swing analyst as well. Last fall AJ offered to build some custom clubs for S3 and me during the 2015 Christmas break. Being familiar with both our games meant that AJ only needed to have some discussions with the 2 of us to settle on a game plan for building our custom sets. (golfdigest.com)

The basics are where we started. And parents I recommend you ask this very question to your junior golfer: what clubs do you have in your bag and why is each club there? Wow, what a question! Simple and complicated at the same time! It is likely neither you nor your child can answer this question other than saying that the clubs fill in the gaps between the shortest and longest clubs. In theory this is a pretty good answer.

AJ kicked this up a notch. For instance, S3 and I each had 4 wedges in our bag and AJ considers this inefficient and that 3 wedges, for us at least, is plenty. And then there is the area between 4-iron and driver where there are dizzying combinations of clubs. I mean, S3 was driver, 3-wood, 4-iron. I was driver, 3-wood, 3-hybrid, 4-iron. And we now have newly designed and totally thought through combinations.

This whole custom club thing came about partly because S3, through a bizarre set of circumstances was using irons that were pretty much for beginners and he’s roughly a 2-handicap. So his irons were hurting his game and his driver was close, but not quite what he needed. And I was also playing with beginner’s clubs and really I need clubs for about a 10-handicap, age appropriate, of course. I did not hit either of the drivers I had access to because they were too long, wrong heads, wrong shafts and I couldn’t hit either of them for beans.image

So here we are, S3 and me with totally customized drivers, driving irons and 4-P irons. I’m talking new heads, new shafts, new type of grips and even a different amount of tape under the grip. We just got them yesterday so I’m sure S3 is hitting his today, but I can’t get to the range until tomorrow. Happy for him, sad for me. Counting the minutes until tomorrow. 3-woods and additional wedges are for now, pretty much unchanged except for grips and grip tape. (photo of my new Lamkin grips)

We’ll get into the details in the Friday Flop Shot. See you on #1 tee looking customized… Sam

Junior Golf: Warm Core

In today’s Monday Mulligan we will wrap up this series on keeping warm. The previous few posts have focused on keeping hands, feet, ears and head warm so that your daughter can execute good golf shots in chilly, cold or wet conditions. Nothing is more miserable than being cold or cold and wet as a golfer of any age, much less a junior golfer.image

Now let’s look at keeping your daughter’s core warm. Her core is basically her torso and we will include the back of the neck and her sternum. Keeping her core warm means warm blood will be flowing to her extremities. This is a major 1st step in keeping her warm from head to toe. A lot of blood flows near the back of her neck so having an insulated collar helps keep this blood warm. Many people have an internal thermostat basically on the upper part of their chest on the sternum. The ¼-zip jackets are designed to be unzipped to cool off or zipped up to warm up. This can be a great advantage for your daughter since being too warm and sweating can end up being as bad or even worse than being too cold.

Layering your daughter’s clothes is critical here. Start, we’re talking upper body here, with a base layer. Use heavier base layers for colder weather. Tip: a long-sleeve hot weather hi-tech shirt can work as a lightweight winter base layer and if the temperature warms up, you girl will likely be more comfortable than if she put on a heavy base top. Add a golf shirt over the base, then put on the fleece or windbreaker or whatever is necessary to get her round started.

Caution! The majority of jackets, sweaters, vests, etc have no wind or water protection. You must buy your daughter a quality rain/wind jacket that states waterproof and windproof, not just water/wind resistant. Our family has Nike and FootJoy, but there are a number of quality name brands. Buy these tops made specifically for golf. They will allow for the athletic range of motion required to hit good shots. This should be your 1st outerwear top purchase.

imageThere is another great clothing options. This includes wool and fleece vests and sweaters which have windproof liners. Since wool and fleece to a degree are water repellent, when they also have the windproof liner, your daughter can have some very nice options for both weather and fashion. For Christmas I got a lined lamb’s wool sweater in intarsia grey mix from proquipgolfusa and it fits great, looks great and is super comfortable out in the weather. Proquipgolfusa has some beautiful women’s vests in lined fleece. Check them out. At a college tournament in Arkansas, the guys in the host country club pro shop told us that their members said the warmest and best piece of golf wear on the rack was the FootJoy lined golf sweater. So parents, there’s something to this lined sweater/vest movement.

Remember, layering is the key. Always buy the very best name brand golf wear that you can afford. Our phrase around the house is stick some 20’s ($20 bills) in a sock until you have enough.

See you on #1 tee, looking warm… Sam

Junior Golf: Warm Dry Feet

In this Friday Flop Shot we will discuss the second most important piece of equipment for your daughter. Properly fitted golf clubs are, of course, the most important item in her golf inventory. But what we are talking about today is, with many parents, not given the attention and respect these critical items deserve.image

During golf practice and tournaments, your girl spends a lot more time putting 1 foot in front of the other than she does swinging a golf club. Parents, help your daughter appreciate and respect her feet. Shoes that are not golf shoes and ill-fitting shoes hurt your girl’s ability to hit good shots. Lack of traction, lack of lateral support, being too high above the ground all can show up in shoes that are not specifically designed for golf. (photo offcoursegolf.com)

Take your daughter to the nearest store that has at least 3 different brands of golf shoes and start trying them on. Write down the exact make and model number of the ones that fit and that she likes. If the price is above your budget buy them online during a sale. The selection becomes much larger once she starts wearing adult-sized shoes. Never buy any make or model of golf shoe that she has not previously tried on.

imageLinda, S3 and I have pretty much worn only 3 brands of golf shoes over the last 16 years: Adidas, FootJoy and TRUE linkswear. Adidas Tour 360 or similar models selling for around $200.00 are by far the ones we have bought most often and they are fabulous golf shoes! S3 is currently wearing spikeless FootJoy Contour Casuals and he loves them! Linda and I are currently wearing the TRUE linkswear zero drop, barefoot technology golf shoes which we find very comfortable. We always buy waterproof golf shoes. Wet feet are not your daughter’s friend on the golf course. (photo eBay.com.au)

imageCotton socks in our house are not for golf. I only wear them in hot weather to the range or if I am riding in a cart. There is no good reason for your daughter to wear cotton socks when she is walking in a golf tournament. The high tech socks available today provide a much higher level of cushion, comfort, hygiene, foot health, wicking and temperature control than any cotton or cotton blend can ever come close to. Buy several pairs of these and double check that your daughter likes them and will wear them without complaining. The 1st time she has trouble in an event from wearing the wrong socks, she will be much more amenable to your advice. Look for polyester or polyester blends or wool blends. Today’s wool is not as itchy as before.

Happy feet are a must to play good golf! Cushioned, dry, cool or warm as the temperature dictates is what you want for your daughter’s feet. Buy her proper golf shoes and socks today.

See you on #1 tee with comfy feet… Sam

unior Golf: How To Stay Warm

imageIn this Wednesday Waggle we will show you some ways to keep your son from getting cold. Playing competitive golf involves dressing appropriately for the weather conditions. Cold weather involves more advance planning than hot weather since in the cold, temperatures can go up or down or stay the same throughout all 18 holes. (photo golfdigest.com)

My Dad used to tell me about hunting that once your feet got cold, you were done. The discomfort, lack of concentration and increased movement were not conducive to a productive hunting session. And it’s very similar with golf. With proper socks and golf shoes it’s likely your son’s feet won’t get cold particularly after he has walked a few holes carrying his bag. What can quickly get cold and potentially ruin the round is his hands, ears and head.

Warm hands are a must! Cold hands mean no feel and no feel means no good golf shots, period. There are some cold weather golf gloves, but our family, including S3, has never used them. Here are the items your son needs for warm hands: at least 2 dry spare regular golf gloves, at least 2 large heat packs (keep at least 6 large heat packs in his bag), a pair of the big golf mittens-we have Nike and they are great-and a pair of the wetter is better style golf gloves. And all of these need to be in his golf bag when he tees off.image

S3 and I played in a high school fundraiser scramble with some friends in February a few years ago. It was on a Sunday so we headed to church with a 37-degree temperature forecast to rise to the mid-50’s by our tee time. There was no time to retrieve more clothes since we had to rush from church to the course. The temperature never moved from 37-degrees and it was cloudy, breezy and humid. And we were dressed for 55-degrees! Yes, we froze to death and were uncomfortable and shivering for 5 hours. But we played pretty well because, you guessed it, S3 and I had heat packs in our bags so our hands were somewhat warm. And our warm hands helped our bodies be not quite so cold-an added benefit of having the heat packs. A similar situation will occur during your son’s junior golf career. Be prepared! Note every golf course will sell out of heat packs very fast! Don’t plan on being able to buy heat packs at the course. (photo underarmour.com)image

Now the ears and head are much simpler to keep warm. Choices, depending on your son’s needs are: cap-wool, fleece, corduroy or at least heavy cotton, beanie/stocking cap or headring which keeps just the ears warm. S3 has a lightweight fleece Under Armour stocking cap which he absolutely loves! His head and ears get cold so in winter weather he always wears this to start his round and usually takes it off after a few holes. I prefer the headring and Linda loves the more traditional stocking caps. To get additional protection from the wind, buy models with the metal/wind barrier technology. They are worth spending a couple of extra dollars.

See you on #1 tee looking warm… Sam

unior Golf: Stretching In Cold Weather

In today’s Monday Mulligan we will explore 1 of the most neglected and overlooked aspects of sports, including junior golf. Being an athlete means being athletic, being able to perform at a competitive level in your given sport. There are a number of physical aspects involved in competitive sports so let’s take a look at the 1 that Linda and I believe needs much more serious attention. (photo jennleforge.com)image

Perhaps you have noticed with your daughter and her junior golf friends that there is little or no visible stretching. About all you see is 30 seconds or more of token effort on the range or on the tee box. Did the girls do extensive stretching prior to arriving at the course? Our experience is few, if any, junior golfers ever do proper stretching exercises. Even in high school, S3 and his teammates pretty much refused to stretch in a meaningful way.

Why is this? There are a couple of reasons. First, by the time your daughter gets into high school you can’t be overseeing every minute of her life. She needs to be learning how to be independent, getting ready to leave the nest. So about all Dad and Mom can do is suggest that she do some stretching. You know, the kids just aren’t interested. Or secondly, your daughter has not suffered the frustrating consequences of being injured.

How does this change? Sadly it usually only changes as a result of a serious muscle pull or similar injury. Here in South Texas we call temperatures cooler than 50 degrees,”muscle pulling weather.” My friends and I just don’t play golf in these temperatures. Junior golfers and college golfers, however, play in this weather a lot. And they stretch a bit more because the cold weather makes them feel more stiff. And the extra layers of clothes require more effort in order to make consistently good swings.image

For cold weather stretching your daughter can do the same stretches she does when it’s warmer, just do them more slowly and do more of them. To freshen her routine find a video of Miguel Angel Jimenez doing his stretches. These can be done in golf attire at the golf course and they, while appearing slightly different than what you see in the gym, have been deemed to be very effective. They are also refreshingly fun to do or at least attempt to do. A couple of them are much more difficult than they appear. Or just do a web search for golf stretches. You’ll find a ton of resources from the Mayo Clinic, Adam Scott, Greg Norman and more. Maybe by presenting stretching as fun your daughter will show more interest. Try something. The benefits of proper stretching are well documented. (photo thegolfclubgame.com)

See you on #1 tee looking stretched-out and limber… Sam

Junior Golf: A Tougher Answer

In this Friday Flop Shot we are going to discuss the tougher answer, the answer at the other end of the spectrum from our previous post. A response that will certainly surprise, if not stun and shock, because no parent seriously considers this as the answer they will get from their son when they ask, “Why do you play golf?” (photo offcoursegolf.com)image

“I play because you/Dad/Mom want me to.” After you swallow hard and catch your breath, what do you say to this? There are at least 100 parental responses and you can get great information from psychologists, sports psychologists and a myriad of books on this and related subjects. Linda and I are passing along our experiences with S3 and some of his golf teammates during his junior golf and college golf careers.

Dad and Mom, what is really important here? You and your son must be clear as to why he plays junior golf. If he has a passion for the game and is serious about pursuing it, his and your path takes a specific course. If he is a casual player and likes playing with family and friends now and then, his and your path is totally different from the path of the passionate pursuer of junior golf.IMG_0052

Age plays a role here too, as very young, say under 10 year-old players, may not really know why they play the game except that it’s fun. They may develop a serious passion for the game at some point. If however, your son is in junior high or high school and is a casual player, he may likely remain a casual player.

Parents, your role for the passionate junior golfer has major responsibilities which include commitments of time and money. Your role with the casual junior golfer is less structured and mostly catch-as-catch-can going to the range or playing a round or 2.

The key today Mom and Dad is ask the question! Until you know why your son plays golf you don’t know how to support him.

See you on #1 tee…looking like you’re enjoying yourself… Sam

%d bloggers like this: