Time to give thanks The motto and mission of the golf professional is to impact and do what you can to grow the game. I have always tried to be as good to the game as it has been to me. There are many hopes and dreams I have yet to make a reality, but there are quite a few accomplishments I am proud of during my almost 20 years of employment in golf. I have covered many outlets and worn many hats in my profession, including serving public and private courses, club fitting, teaching, coaching, retail, marketing, customer service, and now…….writing. I am grateful for all the opportunities and the good people that put their faith and trust in me over the years, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that have yet to come. I am first thankful for an amazing wife and best friend who knows for me to be at my best, I have to play this great game as much as I can. You have to practice what you teach and preach, and put the time in to be the best player you can be. Playing often and playing better makes you a better teacher, a better fitter, a better employee, and an asset to the game. I am thankful for all the wonderful people I have met and relationships I have built over the years because of golf. It is a tight-knit brotherhood and community, and we all have to have a couple screws loose to love such a complicated game. I am thankful for the opportunities I receive to play some incredible and famous courses, some that may be considered “bucket-list.” I have played Torrey Pines, Oakmont, Muirfield Village, Firestone, Pete Dye Club, and Valhalla to name a few. To be able to walk the same fairways and play the same shots as the all-time greats is what makes our game so unique and wonderful. I can’t replicate Jordan’s game winner at the Garden, or Ken Griffey Jr.’s game saving catch in center-field; but I can hit the same chip shot Tiger hit at the 2000 PGA, or the same drive Nicklaus hit at the 1972 U.S. Open. I am grateful for getting at least one season in coaching a men’s high school golf team during my time in Kentucky. One season only because I moved back to my home in Ohio. We enjoyed a season that included 3 tournament wins, an undefeated conference record, two seniors going on to play at the collegiate level, one playing in the state championship, and a number of school records. I am also thankful to get the chance to write this blog. I’ve always enjoyed writing, just wasn’t sure if I was good at it. I still don’t know. It can be difficult to put your thoughts on paper, or screen, and I struggle with the occasional mental block. But I sure hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. Be grateful and give thanks for the things you have in this life, and don’t worry about things you don’t. If you have a roof over your head, food on your table, and family and friends by your side, you’re doing better than some people. A bag of Callaways or Pings in the garage is nice too. This is the time of year to help those less fortunate. Aside from donating clothes, money, or food; give someone your time. Share a moment. Serve a meal. Give a hug and lend a smile. It may do more than you think. There is a lot we can do and achieve during our time on Earth, and the one thing we should all do is leave an impact.
My trip to Callaway Speaking of gratitude and being thankful, last week I was awarded the pleasure of representing Golf Headquarters and being a guest of Callaway Golf in San Diego for a couple of days. They jam-packed the 48 hours with a bevy of bucket-list activities including touring the Carlsbad headquarters, playing a round at Torrey Pines, and playing the Links at Petco Park – home of the San Diego Padres. More on that in a moment. Our visit to Callaway HQ consisted of touring the R & D (Research and Design) facility for clubs and balls, the sales team, their TV and radio studios, and the Pro Tour department where they service all of their collegiate and pro tour players. Our tour guides were some of the company’s lead engineers and smartest minds. We met Vijay, who is currently they rock star on Callaway’s campus. He invented graphene, which is the patented material infused inside the Chrome Soft golf ball. We were lead to the golf ball testing site by a gentleman who has a PHD in aeronautics. He was working on planes before he joined Callaway. So when I tell customers on the sales floor that these top golf manufacturers have scientists that used to work for NASA designing equipment, I’m not joking. The testing site featured a glass 10×15 glass booth, and in it an engineer sat surrounded by screens, graphs, and monitors projecting barometric pressure and other conditions. Outside the booth is a state-of-the-art pressurized air cannon that shoots the golf balls into a heavily padded wall about 30 yards away. Every few feet there is a camera that reads the ball speed, spin rate, launch angle, etc. of the ball as it passes. Pretty awesome stuff.
Mention a must play course in California and 99 out of 100 people are going to say Pebble Beach. But thanks to Tiger Woods winning 8 times on the course and playing host to the Farmers Insurance Open for years and the U.S Open, everyone also knows Torrey Pines. Next to Bethpage State Park, probably the most famous municipal course in the world, and due to the views of the Pacific Ocean, we’ll call it Pebble Beach Lite. We played the North Course which underwent a renovation a few years ago, and plays host in the first two rounds of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open in January. Due to that fact, it is cart path only from now until the tournament is over. The course was also a little moist thanks to a couple days of unheard of rain in SoCal, but the day we played it was 66 and sunny. The course was immaculate and the rough was brutal. The greens were solid and smooth, but not unfairly fast. I guessed they were probably running about a 9 or 10. You can see the ocean from almost every hole, and a few holes on the back 9, like 10 and 15, seem to just end into the blue abyss. Both courses were packed, a group on every hole. But Torrey is a well-oiled machine. We never waited nor held anyone up. The service was top-notch and the pro shop is huge. Aside from the coastline views, there was some pretty spectacular scenery in the sky overhead as well. Every 20 minutes or so, twin fighter jets would roar over your head giving you goosebumps as they passed. San Diego is a military town with many bases nearby. We were enjoying playing with our toys, but they were showing off with theirs. America!
As gorgeous and phenomenal as it was to play Torrey Pines, playing the Links at Petco Park may have been equally as exciting. How many of us have sat in the stands watching a baseball game and wondered how cool it would be to hit a golf ball from home plate over the center field wall, and what club you would use? Well for a few weeks during the offseason in San Diego, you can do just that. Callaway sponsors the Links at Petco Park, now in its third season. There are 9 greens painted on the field, each with a hole cut and pin, and a colored 6 foot circle painted around each hole. A tour-guide or caddie leads you around the park to each tee, so you pretty much get a behind the scenes tour of the stadium as you play. You get 2 balls at each tee and you take the better of the 2. Hit it on the green, you get par, hit it in the colored circle, you make birdie. At each tee sits a sign that reads the calculated yardage with slope, and what color hole you are hitting at. The tee boxes are scattered throughout the stadium and you tee off from spots like the upper deck, the scoreboard, and yes; home plate. There’s even a putting contest set up in the dugout.
Callaway has some big plans for 2020, including a golf ball that is projected to make a big splash. That is all under wraps for now until the PGA show in January. I have seen the new line of woods and irons and we will help unveil those once they hit the USGA’s conforming list in the next couple of weeks. Please keep an eye on this blog and all GolfHQ social media.
RSM Picks Recap Golf is a crazy, unpredictable game, and at times making picks for who you think is going to play well is like throwing darts. Two of my picks last week missed the cut at Sea Island in Matt Kuchar and Kevin Kisner, even though both have stellar records there. Brian Harman not only made the cut, but he was in the hunt until his final round 71, and he finished t-14 at -12. The PGA Tour takes a week off to give thanks and then it’s Tiger’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, followed by the President’s Cup.
Tyler Duncan WITB (What’s in the Bag) Happy Holidays to Tyler Duncan as he won his first PGA Tour event at the RSM Classic with a birdie on the 2nd playoff hole to defeat tourney favorite, Webb Simpson. After finishing 25th in the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour standings, his 2020 schedule had no guarantees. Now he’ll resume the season in January with full status and sitting 11th on the FedEx Cup points list. He made 18 pars on Saturday, but shot 65 to get into the playoff. Let’s look at the full bag of Titleist clubs he used for his first win.
Driver: Titleist TS2, 9.5 degrees, Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Blue Tour Spec 6X
3 Wood: Titleist TS3, 15 degrees, Shaft: Aldila Rogue Tour Green
Driving Iron: Titleist U500, 2-iron, Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 95X Hybrid
Irons: Titleist 718 AP2 (4 – PW), Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (50 degrees), SM8 (54 and 60 degrees) Shaft: Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100
Putter: Scotty Cameron 009M
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet
Enjoy the game, each other, and Happy Thanksgiving,
Written by Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional
Published and Design by Craig Walton