Force = Mass x Acceleration Drivers these days are big, light, long, and faster than ever. Aerospace engineers, literally, are designing golf clubs. The aerodynamic shapes of today’s drivers are designed to created less drag and speed up at the bottom of the swing through impact. This, along with the combination of a longer and lighter shaft, has some manufacturers boasting that the average player is picking up 5 – 6 mph of swing speed just by switching clubs. But there is a fine line between too long and too light. There is an apex that you can reach to where you actually begin to swing the driver slower because it’s too light, or you have trouble hitting the sweet spot because it’s too long.
The average length driver on the PGA Tour is 44.5”. The average length driver on the floor at your local golf shop is 45.5”. Why you ask? The easy response is because Johnny High Handicap is going to swing the longer driver faster. Let’s take the average golfer with a 92 mph swing speed. I give them a 46” driver and they swing it 96 mph but consistently hit it on the heel. But they swing the 44.5” driver around their average speed of 92, and they mis-hit it less. Which one is going to carry farther? Self high-five if you said the shorter club.
Swing-weight is a way to measure a club’s total performance weight counting the grip, shaft, and head. The average total weight of a driver is usually around 300 grams. Some of the brands are putting out superlight models weighing around 275 – 285 total grams, again to be swung faster. There is a peak you can reach when a club becomes too light and actually impedes your speed and distance. Let’s say at 300 grams your speed was 105 mph, and with a 285 gram model you maxed out to 108. That could be 10-15 more yards. But when you swung the 275 gram club your speed dropped to 103 mph and your control went haywire. A good example would be a bowling ball. I’m going to throw a 10 lb ball down the lane much faster, but I’m going to get the explosive impact I need to knock down more pins, and have more control with a heavier ball.
DJ bows out Here we go again. Dustin Johnson is the first highly world ranked player to drop out of a possible appearance at the Olympics this summer. DJ cited the condensed schedule with the FedEx playoffs and fear of the Coronavirus outbreak. Four years ago in Brazil it was Zika virus that caused some players like Rory McIlroy to drop out. What will it be next time? Malaria? Swine flu 2.0? It’s difficult for the fan to relate to passing on the opportunity to represent your country in the Olympics, specifically 5 months early. The top 3 Americans in the official world golf rankings after the British Open will be given the Olympic berth, and with DJ out, the three players as of today are Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, and Patrick Cantalay. Brooks has already stated that he is 50/50 on going to Japan. Next guys on the list are Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, and Tiger Woods.
Zinger delivers a zinger NBC golf analyst Paul Azinger is the latest target of a social media tirade after some comments he made on air Saturday and Sunday of the Honda Classic. All Paul did was tell the truth or say whatever most people believe anyways. But he’s getting hammered for it. When setting up the final round of the event, lead commentator Dan Hicks threw the conversation to Azinger and asked what leader Tommy Fleetwood had to do to win on Sunday and what pressure he may be feeling. Fleetwood has become a household name over the last couple of seasons, even in the US. He has contended in a number of majors, won 5 times on the European Tour, and was crowned the 2019 Race to Dubai Champions; the Euro tour’s version of the FedEx Cup. “These guys know you can win all you want on the European Tour, the international game and all that, but you have to win on the PGA Tour,” said Azinger. “They all know that, and Tommy knows that. It puts a little added pressure on him to come here and prove that he can make it as this level.” Well Fleetwood was a bridesmaid once again. He stood over his 2nd shot on the 72nd hole, a par 5, needing eagle to win or birdie to force a playoff. He rinsed his second shot right of the green and finished 3rd. So maybe the pressure was felt, but it was the right shot to hit. And with the crosswind it was a tough one at that. A lot of people within the game, mostly media types, have backed Zinger, saying most people including players feel the same way. And of course twitter hero Ian Poulter had to get in on the action.
Lee Westwood also took offense, and Azinger even mentioned it on air Sunday. “I’ve won in 19 different countries over 4 decades,” said Westwood, “this is disrespecting a lot of people!” Lee has 44 career worldwide wins, but only 2 victories on the PGA Tour. Case closed? Does that not prove Azinger’s point a little more? Colin Montgomerie is one of the greatest European Tour players in history, having won the Order of Merit money title 11 times. But he never won a PGA Tour event or a major. Azinger never apologized, which he shouldn’t, but he did further clarify what he meant. “I wasn’t trying to be malicious or disrespect anyone, but players choke for 2 things: money and prestige. And the PGA Tour has the most of both.” I totally agree with Paul and don’t see any ill intent either. He wasn’t saying he didn’t respect their accomplishments or their games. He just knows how bad players want to win on the best tour in the world, against the best fields, on the best courses, with the highest purses. There are a lot of European players that hold part-time status on both tours. They play the minimum required events overseas for Ryder Cup points, but they live in the US, and probably played in college in the US. Poll the entire European Tour anonymously, and ask if they’d rather win the Honda Classic or the Oman Open……
Stat of the week: The average handicap of all golfers across the globe is 16, and that hasn’t changed in 50 years. People are playing golf, but nobody is getting better. Get an expert club fitting. Take a lesson. Practice. You owe it to yourself.
Arnold Palmer Invitational Picks Last week was tough as the Bear Trap showed its teeth, but I faired ok. Grillo missed the cut but Talor Gooch finished 15th and Billy Horschel finished 28th. On to Bay Hill to honor the King at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Winner Rory McIlroy Sometimes you have to go with the obvious pick and not try and get cute. Rory has a career scoring average of 69.40 at API with a win and two top-6’s since 2017. Oh, and in his last 6 events he’s gone T3-Win-4th-T3-T5-5th. Will contend Tommy Fleetwood Tommy T is as cool as a cucumber and I don’t see him letting last week get him down. Keep knocking on the door on tour, and sometimes it opens. Sleeper Harold Varner III HV3 has been asleep but is starting to wake up. He always seems to play well here and showed signs of good form at Honda.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Written by Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional
Design and Published by Craig Walton