Archive for the ‘Parenting Athletes’ Category

Custom Clubs: Let’s Buy One

imageIn this Wednesday Waggle we will look at how to get started in custom golf clubs for your daughter. A conservative approach is best when you venture into new territory so that’s how we will approach this. Let’s buy one!

If your daughter is like our son, she will be very excited when you even mention custom golf clubs. New equipment is always fun, but Mom and Dad must maintain a sense of reality. There is not any household budget that the game of golf cannot easily exceed. So to have a plan and maintain a bit of sanity we are going to begin your girl’s adventure in custom golf clubs by purchasing just one club. (golf digest.com)

How do you decide which club to get? If you adhere to the legendary Harvey Penick’s philosophy that the 3 most important clubs in the bag are the driver, wedge and putter, you now have 3 great options. Depending on the age, strength and skill level of your daughter, she may use something other than a driver on the tee.. So you can consider customizing her main club she uses to tee off with as an option.

Ask your daughter what she considers to be the strongest part of her game. Is it driving (again maybe with a 3 or 5-wood instead of a driver), approach shots, chipping or putting? Once the 2 of you have agreed on her strongest suit, go that direction. If you’re not sure or your junior golfer is at the beginner skill level, go the putting or chipping route. The fastest way to lower any golfer’s score is around the green, chipping and putting.image

Please remember that parents of beginner level golfers can customize any and all clubs just by having them the correct length, weight and grip size. This is all you need to do for now. Maybe you could put a new grip on her putter, perhaps just a more fun color or different style. This is quite inexpensive and could have a very positive effect. It may just make putting more fun, but that means she enjoys practicing more and hopefully more balls go in the cup.

Intermediate and advanced players may take a different approach. If your girl is a good putter and chipper but is having trouble off the tee, you might want to address her weakness so she can be more competitive with her driving stats. Your family golf team will need to decide which approach is best for your daughter’s current situation. Addressing strengths or weaknesses?

S3 and our whole family got completely customized putters 2 years ago and they have made a world of difference. We all make more putts than we ever had before. These putters are totally worth the expense! So for your girl to change every other club in her bag, including what clubs are in her bag at 1 time is a big bite and not for the faint of heart. If you customize everything she will play much better, but needs to accept that it takes lots of range time to get used to the new clubs, not to mention the $ investment.

Have the family meeting today. What will the golf budget allow? Is 1 club the best path for now or can your daughter handle and will the budget support more than 1 club? The cost for doing 1 club could be from $10-15 for a grip change to $200 or more for a state-of-the-art new shaft, grip, etc. Parents be aware of the costs. It can be a ton of money and you must have a commitment from your daughter before moving forward. Customizing for beginners is basically length, weight and grips while customizing for intermediate/advanced players can mean dozens of options. It’s all fun!

See you on #1 tee looking customized… Sam

Junior Golf: Custom Clubs-Yes Or No

imageIn today’s Friday Flop Shot we will begin our evaluation of everything involved in going the custom club route so that you and your junior golfer can decide if custom clubs make sense for him.

Who can benefit from custom golf clubs? Of course here, we’re primarily talking about the junior golfer(s) in your house. Who else can we consider? Our family is full of personalities that love to upgrade everything from buying the top trim level of our cars to custom golf clubs, it’s what we do. Every golfer who wants to improve his game should seriously consider custom clubs. They are truly amazing when done properly. Please remember that custom clubs require a commitment to considerable range time to get used to them. But they are worth it! (offcoursegolf.com)

Getting back to your son, you actually started down the path of customizing his golf clubs when you had them fitted to him. Usually with beginners and lower to intermediate juniors this means making sure his clubs are the correct length and weight. This is essential and needs to be done with every junior golfer no matter their age or skill level. Clubs that are the wrong length or are too heavy, make it impossible to hit consistent golf shots. Every time your son grows an inch you need to check the length and weight of his clubs. Your PGA Professional can do this.

If your son is an improving junior golfer who expects to be competitive in elite junior golf events, junior high, high school and perhaps even college golf, you must give him every advantage possible. There is plenty of tough competition and your son needs good equipment that suits his skill level, swing, strength, flexibility and body style. Giving him the best tools means more consistent shots which means lower scores. Check out custom engraving on S3’s wedges.

So yes, our family, I, Linda and S3, believe that custom clubs are very important to playing great golf. Now understand that there are plenty of kids playing with basically factory, off-the-rack golf clubs and some of them play really well. The question always is: how much better would your son play with golf clubs customized to him? Where do you start? We’ll look at that next post.

See you on #1 tee… Sam

Junior Golf: Custom Clubs, The Remaining Ones

imageIn this Wednesday Waggle we will look at the remaining custom clubs in my bag. Previously we discussed my driver and 4-P. Now let’s look at what’s left. (golfdigest.com)

My TaylorMade Rocketbalz 3-wood, factory stiff shaft, was untouched except for a new Lamkin grip with an extra wrap of grip tape under my low (right) hand. This was more of a function of time and not really needing to do much to it since I already was hitting the club quite well. This club may end up competing with my new driver. This 3-wood goes 250-270 yards when I catch it on the screws. Yes, I like this club.

Next is S3’s and my favorite “shared” club of all time, our 10-year old Nike Ignite 5-wood with factory stiff shaft. We would move this from my bag to his depending who was playing next. There is something about 5-woods. They tend to be sweet and easy to hit. This club goes about 210-225 for me. I heartily suggest taking your junior golfer and hitting some 5-woods. This stick can easily become a comfort club that is always helpful to have in the bag.image

Now to my driving iron. It’s a tour edge exotics CB ProH head, which is a cavity back design that allows for the manufacturer to thin out the face for more rebound (speed). Full steel construction. The shaft is a Nippon NS Pro, a Japanese shaft maker that generally makes the best lighter weight shafts. It’s about 100 grams and has constant wall thickness. Basically it is a 21-degree, specialized 3-iron. I love the way it feels and just need to hit it some more to get comfortable with it. 200-220 yards looks about where the distance will fall. Driving irons are in the golf bag to provide a dependable, easier to hit club when confidence in driving accuracy is required rather than maximum distance.image

Wedges, my Cleveland wedges. Until I got S3’s previous set of Cleveland’s, I had never picked up a Cleveland wedge. Well, it was love at first sight! Immediately I knew why they had such a great reputation in the wedge community. They just feel so good to hold! Mine are REG 588, 56-14 (56-degree loft, 14-degree bounce), bent strong to 54-degrees, for more distance and the 60 CG 16 (60-degree loft and 12-degree bounce). Adam will bend this to 59-degrees when he has the opportunity. Since I now have 3 instead of 4 wedges, the strong bending helps cover the distance gaps between the clubs. Both have the matt finish to help reduce glare and both have Lamkin grips with the extra tape under the low hand. I hit the 54 about 85-95 yards and the 60 about 60-75 yards. S3 is helping me hit down and compress the ball better with these clubs which will certainly add distance. It’s fun!

That’s my bag, except for my putter. See you on #1 tee looking customized… Sam

Junior Golf: CustomIrons For Slower Swing Speeds

imageIn today’s Monday Mulligan we will look at the bulk of my custom golf clubs, my irons 4-P. Strategically Adam helped me totally reconfigure my golf bag. His initial question asking me to justify the presence of every club in my bag led to some revealing observations.

My main iron set went from 4-A (A being a wedge of higher loft than a pitching wedge but less loft than a sand wedge, usually around 52-degrees). So I had 8 clubs, TaylorMade Rocketbalz. After talking with Adam we decided to go to 4-P, 7 clubs.

My previous bag was: driver that I basically never hit, 3-wood, 3-hybrid, 4-A, 56 and 60 degree wedges and putter, 14 clubs. My new custom bag is : driver which I love and am getting used to, 3-wood, 5-wood, 21-degree driving iron (3-iron loft), 4-P, 56-degree bent stronger to 54-degrees, 60-degree and putter, 14 clubs. The main reason for the new lineup is to better cover the gaps between my clubs. For my game and S3’s game for now, 3 wedges is adequate.

 

As I get used to these wonderful customized clubs there are a couple of scenarios which may play out. 1 is that as I get used to hitting my driver, how much will I use the 3-wood off the tee?Also how much will I hit our beloved Nike Ignite 5-wood as I learn to hit the driving iron?image

Ok, my Titleist 714CB Irons feel like an extension of my arms. I truly don’t believe I have ever had many, if any, clubs that feel as good and natural as all these clubs that Adam touched. The irons are a dream to hit. I’m still getting used to them, but once I loosen up on the range they really feel sweet. The shafts are KBS Tour which gives shot versatility with a mid-trajectory. All of the iron shafts were frequency matched, which basically means the flex runs constant throughout the set with no outliers, each weighing about 110 grams raw. All of the irons were MOI matched, which basically means that the amount of inertial force required is constant throughout the set as per Newton’s second law. This is really cool stuff!image

The grips are Lamkin and we put a second wrap of grip tape under my low (right) hand. These grips feel great! I went with Lamkin for 2 reasons: first we have never had a Lamkin grip on anything in our house so it is a good time to try them and second, when you go to the Lamkin website, there’s Arnold, Arnold Palmer on the home page. Well, Arnold is my all time favorite athlete and if he is a Lamkin spokesman, I’m trying them! I love these grips! The sensitivity and feel is excellent and having that extra wrap of tape under my low hand actually allows me to grip the club with my right hand more naturally and frankly, easier.

So the question is how am I hitting them? I hit some good shots, but I am still working on getting my swing back and getting used to these clubs at the same time. There’s quite a bit going on. The main criteria was to have a mid-trajectory 7-iron go 150-160 yards. Hopefully this will be the case. These irons are wonderful to swing and beautiful to look at.

See you on #1 tee ready to stick that approach shot right by the pin… 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

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