Monday, February 8, 2016

AimPoint Express with the Focus Band Video

Here's a video from AimPoint instructor, Stewart Craig. He is showing the Focus Band in action while a player is using a conventional green reading method versus the AimPoint Express.

Granted, I do not know much about the Focus Band at this point.  But, I did study learning and the brain periodically when I was in college.  From what I gather, the Focus Band is measuring the right brain vs. left brain use.  And when you're using the right side of the brain, the brain is more 'calm' and is using more feel and senses than the analytical, left side of the brain.  I would imagine that part of the 'goal' is to transform the analytical left side of the brain function into more automatic, right side of the brain use over time.  For instance, a person learning to juggle will use the left side of the brain heavily.  Once they start to become more natural at juggling, the right side of the brain is used.



What's interesting about this video is that it shows AimPoint using the right side of the brain and really calming down the brain whereas the traditional green reading method uses more of the left side of the brain.  That's a part of the beauty of AimPoint Express, it appeals more to the senses and feels.





3JACK

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Blast Motion Golf Sensor

I saw this at the PGA Merchandise Show and it was a hit with many of the attendees. 



They retail for $149.99.





3JACK

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Re-Learning Lateral Side Bend

I had found this golfer on Christo Garcia's My Swing Evolution YouTube Channel where he made remarkable strides in his golf game by discovering lateral side bend.

Here's an illustration from Dr. Phil Cheetham's dissertation:



In this video we see a common occurrence for all golfers that start to make a wide sweeping change in their mechanics; he started to regress and then had to re-learn the mechanics in order to get back to his old form. Dr. Bhrett McCabe describes the sequence as the 'Honeymoon Phase' when everything is working greatly early on and then one goes into a 'fog' eventually. And if they stick to it and have determination to figure it out instead of quitting or tinkering with something else, they will eventually go into the 'Discovery Phase' and their mechanics will now be even more fully integrated. I believe that is what is going on in this video. Some of it is very feel and visual related which is often dangerous in golf because what one person feels and visualizes is different from another person. But, we can at least see the process of going from the Honeymoon Phase --- Fog Phase --- Discovery Phase.

The difficult part is determining when something is not working for you and you need to move onto a different set of mechanics or if you need to 'stick to it' and be determined to figure it out. 

I may be alone in this theory, but from my experience of being a consumer of golf instruction I have found that it is best to judge the results of your good swings rather than worry about the bad swings when it comes to certain swing mechanics and philosophies.  Any time you are working on your swing, there is going to be a learning curve and that will produce bad swings and bad results.  Chances are (not always, but chances are)....if you can produce better results off your good swings you are likely onto something and it just becomes a case of putting in the repetitions and quality practice time to replicate those mechanics.  Furthermore, it may just being determined to fully understand what is going on when I make those good swings so I can fully integrate them.






3JACK

Friday, January 29, 2016

PGA Merchandise Show Review - Day 2

Wednesday is the first official day of the PGA Merchandise Show which is held at the Orange County Convention Center.  IIRC, the OCCC is the largest convention center in the world.  When I lived in Atlanta, the big convention center there was the Georgia World Congress Center and the OCCC is legitimately about 4 times the size of the GWCC.  The PGA Show is enormous, but still only takes up about 1/4 of the OCCC.
Tuesday is more about personal enjoyment of getting to hit the latest equipment on the range.  Wednesday is more about meeting old friends that you have not seen since the last PGA Show or even longer than that.  It's also much more organized and the exhibitors have better representation at their booths so you can better understand the product and have your questions answered.

Outside of putters, there was not much in the way of new and innovative equipment designs.  Instead, this year's show was about computerized technology and it's a explosively growing business.  This show had by far the most launch monitor devices, 3D motion capture and shot tracking software I have ever seen.

Personally, I like the shift because the latest driver is not likely to improve your score.  And it's not likely to improve it nearly as much as actually improving your techniques.  The only problem I see with all of this technology is that better golf goes even beyond the improvements in technique.

I see golf instruction (or any form of teaching) as a people business, first and foremost.  A teacher has to be able to read students and understand what works for them and what doesn't.  They have to be able to sense when a student doesn't understand something even if they are telling you that they understand what they say.  And they have to be able to sense when the light bulb goes on as well as find ways to make the game fun and interesting so they will continue to play and practice and progress with their game.  Launch monitors, 3D motion capture and shot tracking software does not provide that for golf instructors.

There are other potential problems with the technology, but that is the big one and it cannot be emphasized enough.  Legitimate golf improvement and quality golf instruction is not a paint-by-numbers approach.

With that said, the product that piqued my interest the most was the Ikkos.com



Ikkos is a virtual reality learning system to help accelerate learning movements and motions.  The system hooks right up to your smart phone and it consists of the user strapping a headgear that looks like the same type of headgear you would have at a 3D movie theater.  The user will play any video they want.  For instance, let's say you want to use this video to emulate Dustin Johnson's golf swing:


You would simply have this video sent to the Ikkos app and put it in the head gear and the app will play this on a loop about 30 times in slow motion.  The user will also have to use their ear buds which play binaural beats which is a sound that helps calm the brain and focus on the video.

After watching the video on loop 30 times, the user should then grab a club and put on their blacked out goggles.  Visualize the video they just saw while swinging the club in slow motion.

According to Ikkos, the process is tricking your brain into thinking that you are making Dustin Johnson's swing motion and not Dustin Johnson.

Ikkos was founded by swimming coach Sean Hutchinson in order to get his swimmers to improve their techniques.  He could not understand why students could not incorporate new techniques that were taught to them or why it would take so long to do so and after extensive study and experimentation he came up with Ikkos and it has developed vast improvements in swimmer times and has a user that won an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

The software app is free, but you can't do it without the head gear and the goggles.  However, the price is only $65!


***

Here's a rundown of the other exhibitors I visited.

Piretti Golf - Still a fine maker of putters and I was surprised because they have heavy putter weights, but their putters did not feel that heavy.

Edel Golf - Always the busiest little booth at the show and their craftsmanship is stunning.


Here's my blurry picture of Bryson DeChambeau's clubs.  


I think the only person that can hit DeChambeau's clubs are DeChambeau.  They also said the same thing about Babe Ruth and his bat.  They are extremely upright.  I'm 6'4" tall and they were way too upright for me.  They also have the Jumbo Max cord grips with the C-Taper shafts.  I'll just say it takes some strong hands to hit these clubs.  By the way, there was a great article on DeChambeau and David Edel on GOLF Magazine written by Alan Shipnuck:

http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/bryson-dechambeau-custom-clubmaker-and-teaching-pro-might-be-start-golfing-revolution?page=4&simple=1

Alan Shipnuck is becoming the Frank DeFord of golf and it's really a joy to read his articles.


Directed Force Putters



I'm always for new technology, but I could not help but push each putt with this putter.  The other issue is that the putter is such an exotic design that I'm not sure I would ever be able to line it up well.  I would not count Directed Force Putters out.  First, I tend to think that most equipment designs are really more about a club designed to fit certain swing mechanics.  I honestly don't believe that there is any club there that works best with every technique.  So, while I didn't care for the Directed Force Putter, it may work great for somebody else.

Furthermore, I do like the concept overall.  And what we find is that good concepts that create unorthodox designs often eventually turn into the same concept with more of a standard design.  So I wouldn't be surprised if down the road the Directed Force Putters turn out to look like an Anser style head.


Carbon Putters - These are just as high end of a putter as you would see from Piretti, Byron Morgan, Edel, etc.  I asked and they said they can basically do any type of customization requested.  Want a Dale Head design with a flow neck, soften the bumpers a little bit with a 1018 Carbon Steel aggressively milled with a sound slot?  You got it.


Sentio Putters


I could definitely feel a difference between each type of face and ended up liking the medium and firm faces the most.  The soft was too soft for me.  I asked them about Smash Factor readings and they told me the way they did it was to look at the COR of the face which works perfectly fine.


Foresight Sports - As far as launch monitors go, I really enjoy what Foresight does.  However, their 'booth' was more about simulators and I have little interest in them.  I will say that they are as impressive as it gets.  What I did take interest in was their Putting launch monitor.


The product is still very new and has a long ways to go in terms of what they can potentially do with it.  It's a wireless product that currently uses just 1 reflective sticker on the putter face (you can't even see it).  That allows them to measure the attack angle, path, putter head speed and the ball speed (and therefore Smash Factor).  They are planning to add another reflective sticker or two and then they will be able to capture impact location, face angle and rate of closure.  The product retails for $13K-$15K.


MySwing 3D Motion Capture - Some production problems had to be resolved as they were planning to get them out this past summer, but are now just shipping the product.



What's nice about this is the cost.  It's $200 a month with a 2-year commitment.  My friend, Peter Gauthier, heads up MySwing and said it best 'it gets golfers excited about their lesson.'  MySwing is completely wireless and easily hooks up to an iPad.  It only takes about 5-10 minutes to hook up and the sensors only weigh a few grams.  Dr. Phil Cheetham endorses MySwing.


Club Hub Golf 



I love the idea of Club Hub, but at that price you always have to worry about accuracy and precision issues as we have found over the years that a lot of club measuring devices tend to be more inaccurate than accurate.  If it's accurate, I think it's a great product.


4D Motion - I only got to check it out for a few minutes.  It's more 3D mocap design.  I don't know the details of it, but talked to friends that were impressed by it.  I'll be on the lookout for this.


Blast Motion - Heard a lot of good things about this but didn't get to check it out.


***

Walking around for 7 hours straight, I was like this when I got home:


Afterward we had the 6th Annual Tweet Up at the BrickHouse Tavern hosted by Megan Padua (www.meganpaduagolf.com) and Vikki Vanderpool (https://twitter.com/vvanderpool).

Between the Tweet Up and the Show I was lucky to meet the following people:

Grant Waite (https://twitter.com/grantwaite)
Osten Waite (https://twitter.com/OstenWaite)
Lucas Wald (www.p3.golf)
Jeff Martin (www.p3.golf)
Birgir Bjornsson
Blair O'Neal (www.blaironeal.com)
John Graham (www.johngrahamgolf.com)
James Ridyard (www.jamesridyardgolf.com)
Jeff Smith (https://twitter.com/radargolfpro)
Mario Bevilacqua (https://twitter.com/MarioBevilacqua)
Joe Mayo (https://twitter.com/TrackmanMaestro)
Brian Gay (www.briangay.com)
Rob McGill (www.rm4golf.com)
Jason Helman (www.jasonhelmangolf.com)
Jason Sutton (www.golfgurutv.com)
Chris Como (www.chriscomogolf.com)
Vikki Vanderpool
Megan Padua
Lloyd Higley (www.chicagogolfacademy.com)
Mark Blackburn (www.blackburngolf.com)
Dr. Bhrett McCabe (www.bhrettmccabe.com)
Preston Combs (www.yourpargolf.com)
Keith Handler (http://keithhandler.wix.com/keith-handler-golf)
Lance Gill (www.lgperformance.com)
Nick Starchuk (www.nrsgolf.com)
Allen Burton (www.allenburtongolf.com)
Justin Blazer (www.justinblazergolf.com)
James Hong

And after 25 years I finally got to meet up with David Orr, again.  David grew up about 15 minutes from my hometown in New York and He gave me my 2nd lesson ever back when he was playing the Ben Hogan Tour (now the Web.com Tour).  I cannot recommend his tremendous Web site (www.flatstickacademy.com) enough.  It has helped me tremendously with my putting and everybody that has joined on my recommendation has raved about the site as well.  It's great to see another former resident of the 315 make it as far as he has thru hard work, intelligence and perseverance.

I wanted to thank all of the people I listed (and those that I may have forgotten) for taken the time to speak to me.  I always learn a lot from these conversations and enjoy our friendship.






3JACK

Thursday, January 28, 2016

PGA Merchandise Show Review - Day 1 (Demo Day)

This week was the annual PGA Merchandise show at the Orange County National driving range (Demo Day) and the Orange County Convention Center. It was two days filled with exhibitors and industry professionals checking out the latest and greatest products and services in the golf world.

Tuesday was Demo Day at OCN. If you have never been there, OCN has the largest outdoor driving range in North America. It’s a circular design and almost every square foot of it is occupied by OEM’s and other companies.


If there is one complaint I have about OCN it’s that they continue to have the players hit up from the front part of the range and that part the range is not very well, so you get a lot of golfers hitting on downhill lies. And usually the lies are very tight to begin with. I would like to see them level out that front part of the range to make the experience more enjoyable for the attendees and give the exhibitors a better chance to display their equipment.

This was the first Demo Day where I drove to OCN instead of taking the shuttle over from the Convention Center. You can register at OCN and overall it’s a better deal to drive to OCN than to take the convention center shuttle. For starters, you don’t have to pay for parking and you don’t have to hear the Lee Trevino Yamaha commercial which could be used by terrorists to torture kidnapped civilians.

Anyway, the theme of the show was dictated at Demo Day. No Nike, no Mizuno and no PXG. And there really wasn’t much new in terms or driver, irons or wedge technology and designs. As far as equipment goes, it was more based around the putter. I can understand PXG not coming to the show since they are a new product. Furthermore, I would not doubt if they wanted some mystery and exclusiveness associated with their brand. But Nike and Mizuno not coming is puzzling, particularly since they do have some new product out. People ask me why they didn’t come. All I can say is that from my experience of working in the corporate world is sometimes you get a new big-wig exec that has a bug up their ass about sales being down 2% and then gets the bright idea that they need to shut down those ‘unnecessary expenses’ like the PGA Show. I don’t quite agree with that line of thought, particularly in the golf business where branding and getting the name out there is so critical. But, that’s how some execs think sometimes.

I did try out the new Hogan hybrid.


This is basically a take on the ole Adams Hybrid designs which is not a bad thing at all. Adams was arguably the best hybrid maker over the past 15 years and the Hogan hybrid performed like a great hybrid does.

Hogan also added a new line of cavity back irons:


These irons look better than I initially thought they would. I also hit their Ft Worth irons and I think they have the best feeling long irons out there. Their mid to short irons was nothing new or unique to me, but the long irons (3-iron to 5-iron) are downright superb.

I tried out the Srixon Z945’s and really liked them:


I really enjoyed Yonex’s new N1 MB irons:


This is just a different take on their Ti-Hybrid MB irons. The Ti-Hybrid MB model removed the carbon steel from inside the head and replaced it with titanium. Titanium is lighter than carbon steel, so it was creating a blade style head, but moving the CoG lower which makes it more forgiving and possibly longer as now you can lower the loft in order to offset that lower CoG.

The N1 MB has graphite inserted into the head. The Ti-Hybrid MB is a bigger and ‘fatter’ head while the N1 MB looks more like your traditional blade. In fact, it looks like the EZone MB blades which I currently game.

I did try out Ping’s new TR1966 model putter. This is basically taking the old Anser design and updating it a bit. Those old Anser’s had very light heads due to greens being much slower. This Anser head is now 340 grams. It also has a grooved faced for better roll.


Problem for me was their longest putter they had was only at 34” long. And I really didn’t care much for the feel. I preferred their new B65 model feel.

New putter company Toulon Designs was at the show. Toulon is founded by Sean Toulon, a former TaylorMade designer.


The main point being driven home by Toulon Designs is the feel of their putters. First, they have a unique milling pattern to their faces:


They also have a weighting system that allows them to change out the weights.


The concept is that between the face milling and then the weighting they can create the feel that a player prefers based on their putting stroke mechanics. I have to say that this did feel like the real deal. I tried some of their different weight makeups and did sense a different feel of the head and eventually found a beautiful feeling putter

Bettinardi had his usual gems out there. Just a great feeling and looking set of putters. However, I think many people may want to check out the Cure Putters line.


I had played with a golfer that was using their RX3 model and he really putted well with it. The RX3 is too ugly for my tastes and I think would be difficult for me to aim.


The CX3 is more of a classic model. I have fooled around with it at the PGA Tour Superstore and liked it. But, this was the first time that I got to use it on a real green. The concept is that it has a super high MOI compared to the rest of the putter heads out there. If there’s one thing that is a central theme to putters these days is the stability of the head.

Anyway, I ended up purchasing my own Perfect Putter at the show:


They usually retail for $300 and I got mine at a show price of $255. The Perfect Putter essentially rolls the ball for the golfer so they can get the true line of a putt. But, there’s plenty of drills that a golfer can use with the Perfect Putter as shown in this link:

There were two reasons why I wanted to get one:

1. It would make setting up drills much quicker and more accurately. If you do things like the string drill, it’s easy to mis-calculate the break and then you can practice the break incorrectly and start practicing poorly based on your poorly mis-calculated break. And if you calibrate the read correctly, it can take a lot of time to do so.

2. David Orr explains this on his Web site (FlatstickAcademy.com) and I think it has forever altered my putting for the better. Many golfers will have an illusion when they are putting that they are either pulling or pushing a putt based on their stroke mechanics. I started to notice this was a massive problem I had and I would unconsciously change my aim based on this illusion and therefore change my stroke to adapt to my changes in aim. I think the Perfect Putter is set up to help learn how to cope with that illusion. Again, I highly recommend checking out David’s site to better understand the ‘illusion’ and countless other facets of putting.

We had beautiful weather for it, particularly since it rained the next two days. And I had a really great lunch with Cheney Brothers BBQ. I have never tried Cheney Brothers and I will have to hit them up, again.

Part 2 tomorrow

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

FAQ on Wishon Golf's New Sterling Single Length Irons




Tom Wishon has announced his latest model of irons, the Sterling Single Length Model irons. I’ve gone over the single length irons concept a few times with Bryson DeChambeau winning the US Amateur using a single length set of irons which prompted Wishon Golf to make their own set. But, here’s some FAQ’s on the concept:


Can’t I just make every club the same length regardless of the model of irons I use?

You could, but you would find it to be very ineffective. Here’s the specs chart for The Sterling Single Length Set:

(Click to Enlarge)


The big thing is that the head weights are all the same. In a typical set of irons, the head weights get incrementally heavier as the club has more loft (which means a shorter length club). Standard sets have a spec sheet that looks like this:


This all has to do with the heft of the club. Regardless if you use traditional swingweight methods or MOI matching methods; a set that is all the same length has to have the heads all the same weight. Otherwise, the shorter irons will be tremendously heavy and the long irons will be extremely light. That’s why the standard sets have incremental weights on the heads where the longer length irons which have heavier shafts because the shaft is longer…also have lighter head weights.

The other factor is the lie angles. Wishon has the Sterling Single Length irons all at 63 degrees (roughly the lie angle of a standard 8-iron). Most forged iron heads are easy to bend the lie angles, but it’s important to keep the lie angles the same and trying to do this on some irons heads made from harder steels will be difficult to do.


Did DeChambeau have his head weights and lie angles the same? If so, how did he do it?

Yes. I believe his lie angles were also quite upright (69* degrees or so) as DeChambeau has his hands set very high at address. To my knowledge, he had this Single Length irons concept in his mind and was looking for a company that could accommodate him and Edel agreed to help.


What are the advantages of a Single Length iron set?

I don’t know for sure until I try it out myself. I do know that with a Single Length iron set the irons will be MOI matched (give or take 10 MOI points) because the components to the club (head, shaft, and grip) are virtually the same exact weight.

I would also think the face contact could improve not only because of the MOI matching, but now the swing does not have to be adjusted so much from club to club. You can stand the same distance from the ball with the same posture and over time, develop a better feel of where the ball should be when you are striking it.


So, let me get this right…if I have single length irons the MOI will match and I will be all set with MOI matching for my irons?

Not exactly. First, the irons may not *exactly* match at first. You have to remember that there are tolerances from both shaft companies and club head manufacturers. I believe Wishon’s tolerances are to have the heads +/- 2 grams from spec. And similar tolerances exist for shaft companies.

So, let’s say you are supposed to get a 4-iron head at 274 grams and a shaft that is supposed to be at 115 grams. The head may come in at 272 grams and the shaft may come in at 113 grams. That will produce a lighter MOI than the 5-iron that comes in with a 275 gram head weight and a 115 grams shaft weight. However, the differences in MOI are minimal compared to your traditional incremental length irons.

The other factor is that while this will match the MOI of the irons (or come close), that particular MOI may not be best for you. For instance, I play best with a MOI on my irons of 2,725. I may put together a set of Single Length irons and the MOI may come out to 2,675 on each club. What I would have to do is add weight to each club (roughly 5 grams) in order to get each club close to 2,725. However, it’s much easier to just add 5-grams to each club instead of having to add 2-grams to certain clubs and 9-grams to others.


What do you think the disadvantages to using a Single Length set?

I would be skeptical of the ability to control your distances. However, I watched the entire US Amateur and DeChambeau won because of his iron play and putting (he also uses an Edel Torque Balanced putter). And what was impressive about his iron play was his distance control was uncanny.

I would also be skeptical of the ball flight and just getting used to longer shaft lengths in the short irons. I used 3/8” shaft increments instead of ½” increments and have found it very beneficial on the long irons which are shorter than normal for me. So, I don’t think the long irons being shorter in a single length set would be much of an issue.

I will say this, when it comes to understanding all facets of equipment design and club fitting, Tom Wishon is by far the smartest and most knowledgeable individual I have ever encountered. I always like to say that ‘I’ve never been steered wrong by Tom Wishon when it comes to equipment’ and I would be willing to bet that any possible issues with the Single Length iron set concept has already been identified, researched, tested and accommodated for by Tom.


How long should each iron be?

Wishon states that the irons are designed to be built at 36.5, 36.75 or 37” long. He also stated that at 37.5” long it may generate too much distance on the shorter length irons. I think it largely depends on what the golfer feels comfortable with as well as the MOI of the irons.

For example, I’m tall and may feel more comfortable with a 37-1/2” shaft. But, if that produces a MOI of 2,750 which is greater than my ideal MOI of 2,725, I may want to go to a 37-1/4” shaft. If I feel comfortable with a 37” shaft and it produces a MOI of 2,700 all I have to do is add about 2 grams of weight to the head.

I think as time passes by golfers and clubmakers will start to figure out better ways to fit Single Length sets.


Why has this never been done before?

Actually, it has been done. Tommy Armour did it with a model called EQL. But, the concept was too radical and I think the marketing behind it was poorly done. IIRC, Tommy Armour’s marketing was that they believed that the 8-iron was the ‘perfectly designed club’ and wanted to make the club the same length as an 8-iron and that’s why people should buy it.

That’s not exactly convincing.

Other companies have used this concept as well, but none of them have the reputation and expertise that Tom Wishon (or David Edel) carries with them.

I’m really not sure why this was never done before by manufacturers other than they probably thought longer irons should be longer in length for distance control purposes. I would think it would be very beneficial for OEM’s because it would be better for inventory purposes and quality control.


Will you be using these irons?

I plan on giving some of them a try before I commit to anything. For starters, they are cavity back irons and I prefer blades, mostly because of the sole grinds on blades are something I am used to and prefer. I would also have to tinker around with the shaft length and shaft that would work best for me and I would have to figure out what the best Sand Wedge would be for me. Currently, I use a 52* Titleist Vokey F-Grind as my SW and a 60* Edel Digger Grind as my LW. I’m a little skeptical of using a Wishon SW which I’m not familiar with and using a longer shaft SW out of the bunkers based on experience.

I would also want to see how far I could hit the 5-iron. I use a 20-degree hybrid (and a 17-degree hybrid) that I hit about 225-230 yards and a 4-iron that I hit about 210 yards with a 5-iron I hit about 197 yards. It’s very important for me to keep that type of gapping.

Therefore I would imagine that I will start off experimenting with the 5-iron, 5-hybrid, 6-iron, the PW and the SW and see what I think.


Will they make a muscleback head?

Tom has stated that he has considered it.  I know Tom is not the biggest proponent of muscleback heads because of their lower club head MOI and I'm certain that muscleback heads are not the best sellers.  But, if the Sterling Models garner enough interest, I do not see why he would not offer a MB model.


When will these irons be available?

Sometime in March.







3JACK

Friday, January 15, 2016

Jimmy Walker Sample Analysis from 2015 Pro Golf Synopsis

It has been brought to my attention that the Jimmy Walker player analysis had been left out in 2015 Pro Golf Synopsis.  I have edited this in 2015 PGS and future purchasers as well as people that get the download link again should be receiving the edited version with Walker's analysis in there.

In the meantime, I have published Walker's analysis here.  You can find similar analysis of the other 183 players on Tour in the book. 

(click the picture to read Walker's analysis more clearly).