Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What to Look For: 2018 Waste Management Open

The Tour comes back to the loudest hole in golf at TPC Scottsdale: 

From Wikipedia:

The Phoenix Open began 86 years ago in 1932 but was discontinued after the 1935 tournament. The rebirth of the Phoenix Open came in 1939 when Bob Goldwater, Sr. convinced fellow Thunderbirds to help run the event. The Thunderbirds, a prominent civic organization in Phoenix, were not as enthusiastic about running the event as he was, leaving Goldwater, Sr. to do most of the work in getting a golf open started.

What makes the Phoenix Open special is that in general, the course is not well received by the players. Prior to the renovations by Tom Weiskopf the course was often thought of as a bomber’s course that lacked imagination. Weiskopf put in some changes to take the bombers’ clear advantage away, but it’s still not very well received because of the location of waste areas and some really cruel shots.

In fact, the world famous 16th hole is one of the most bland par-3’s you can find on Tour.

But, what makes top Tour players come to Phoenix is the fans. You’ll never get to experience a crowd like the 16th in your life. And the attendance over 4 days is likely to hit close to 500,000. It’s the fans that make this a special experience and it’s the fans at Scottsdale that coronate the beginning of the PGA Tour season.

With the renovations, the course is more about a complete driving performance. The rough is negligible, but the waste areas take something away from the bombers. From there, mid length approach shots will separated the contenders from everybody else.

17 and 18 are excellent finishing holes (both are critical holes on the course) and the 16th has the atmosphere that’s like no other.

Projected Winning Score: -15


Jordan Spieth +800
Hideki Matsuyama +1,000
Rickie Fowler +1,100
Justin Thomas +1,400
Alex Noren +3,300
Tony Finau +3,300


JB Holmes +4,000
Ryan Palmer +5,500
Kevin Streelman +12,500
Lucas Glover +15,000


Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Week That Was: 2018 PGA Merchandise Show (Part 2)

On Wednesday is the first official day of the PGA Merchandise Show. One has to go to the Orange County Convention Center to appreciate how enormous it is. It’s the largest convention center in the world and as enormous as the PGA Merchandise Show is, it may only take up about 1/8th of the entire convention center. OCCC actually expands across International Drive and the enormity of it (did I mention it’s enormous?) is something to behold.

What I do is I go to the Web site before the show and go thru the list of all of the exhibitors. I then look at the ones that I’m not familiar with and I check to see what they are about. If it’s something that I may be interested in I click on them to my ‘favorites.’ They web site used to compile them all together for you in either alphabetical order or by the order of their booth number. The site no longer does that for some reason, so I had to create a spreadsheet in Google Sheets and then I just carried my phone with me and went to the booths I wanted to go to.

You really don’t need to list the large OEM booths in your ‘favorites’ because you will spot them. Places like Titleist, TaylorMade, Callaway, Ping, etc. are really something incredible for an exhibit booth. Travis Matheiu’s booth had a pool table, DJ and was giving away free beer. But the reason why the favorites list is important is that it’s easy to forget about those lesser known companies that really have something great to offer. This is how I found MySwing Golf and Ikkos over the years.

Let’s get this out of the way…this was a very good, solid PGA Show. I don’t think it quite lives up to the 2011 show, but I wouldn’t argue too much against that. You had so much new stuff that had yet to be released where in years past stuff had been released months before the show. I really think OEM’s and tech companies need to be cognizant of that because by releasing it before the show you really kill off the hype and interest in the product.

There was a real buzz about TaylorMade M3 and M4 along with the Callaway Rogue, the Thin Ply Technology shafts, the Ping G400 Max driver, the Titleist SM7 wedges, the new Scotty Camerons and Trackman’s latest upgrade that not only track’s short game and putting, but now has impact location:

I think this helps better justify Trackman’s pricing which is in the $25k range while competitors are closer to the $10-$12K range as Trackman has more functionality now with a robust system that can provide full swing, short game and putting data along with impact location. The major advantage in terms of functionality that I see from Trackman’s competitors at this point would be FlightScope’s acceleration profile which is a great product for shaft fitting.

The focus with radar/sensor systems seems to be trending towards putting. And while there were some interesting products, SAM Puttlab is still the top machine out there in my opinion.

Their latest edition provides so many countless upgrades and can replay overhead views of the putting stroke. That’s where I saw longtime friend and fellow 315 refugee, David Orr ( doing a presentation.

David was doing the SAM Puttlab presentation on a putting surface, that I assume was a PuttView surface. They can alter the slope of the putt and in David’s presentation they changed it to flat to 2% breaking right to left in about 10-15 seconds. What I found interesting was that I could not notice the slope change and that’s why it’s so important to feel the break using your feet instead of your eyes. And I think that’s one of the issues I have with reading putts…I will read them with my feet, but the peripheral vision can greatly misinterpret the slope.

One of the things I checked out was The Most Important Stretch in Golf:

The MISIG is a bit of an exercise and swing training tool in one. For the better players I think it’s more designed for exercise. I was going to buy one, but it was one of the first booths I visited and they had a great PGA Show price of $60 (normally it’s $90). I didn’t want to carry it around and when I got done with the Show I forgot to go back there and purchase one. The benefits I see for it is that I have problems with my right scapula and it often leads to elbow issues and when I tried the MISIG, it really started to loosen up that scapula. I also think that using it for your non-dominant side is a helpful stretch as well. It comes with 3 different bands to provide different amounts of resistance.

Next to the SAM Puttlab was 4D Motion. My issues with 4D Motion in the past was mostly their avatars were not very good, but that has much improved. You’re seeing a lot of 3D mocap companies learn from each other, but I still feel that MySwing Golf with 3Jack Blog reader, Peter Gauthier, is still a step ahead of everybody. Now MySwing has variable options for products with different price points. MySwing has always been very affordable, but now it’s even more affordable depending on what product you choose. Here’s a link with their different products available:

It should be noted that the big thing MySwing has integrated is a force plate system so not only can you get the body motion data, but the pressure data as well.

Also by the SAM Puttlab was my good friend Scott Fawcett ( and his DECADE golf data. He’s now certifying instructors which is a great thing to see. We discussed how my findings in 2017 Pro Golf Synopsis were in line with what he has researched as well. But Scott’s work is so advanced in terms of visuals and understanding of what really goes into an effective golf strategy. Everybody in golf likes to use the old say ‘everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face’, but failing to plan is really planning to fail. And you can plan for when you take that right cross to the chin just like you can plan when you pipe a 300 yard drive down the middle of the fairway.

I’m glad to see that Scott is getting his work out there because you would be amazed at how even Tour players get talked out of strategy that is really common sense over time of playing competitively. Things like not understanding that if you’re 70 yards closer to the hole…you’re generally far better off than having your ‘money yardage’ into green. And if you’re not…then you simply need to work on your short game because you’re leaving strokes out there.

But, I feel that proper strategy off the tee and on par-5’s is normally more offensive minded than defensive minded. And I think with so many players being way too conservative off the tee they are not letting their talent shine and they are not allowing themselves…to be themselves. It causes frustration to grow and can make playing the game very bland. So anybody that really knows the mathematical strategy to the game and can convey that to golfers I’m fully on board with.

One of my favorite booths that I was looking forward to was the GolfMechanix booth.

GolfMechanix is the cream of the crop when it comes to golf club fitting tools and tools for OEM’s. I was hoping they would have the Golf Head Center of Gravity Locator Machine on display:

They didn’t due to the size of the machine. But I was told it measures the 3 dimensions of the Center of Gravity with relation to the longitudinal (height), latitudinal (east-west) and how far forward or backward in the head the CoG is located. I think this is what real product reviews and testing are missing…giving facts and details about clubs and determining how those properties will affect the ball flight instead of basing everything on the looks and how the reviewer happens to be swinging the club that day.

Problem is that CG locator machine is very expensive ($5k+). I did get to see the Shaft machine that can find the spine as well as flex zone profiling (bend profiles of the shaft):

That retails for $730 and I think it’s a great product for a fitter that can afford to get plenty of shafts and then test them and find more affordable alternatives for their golfers.

I did get to hit the Thin Ply Technology shaft at their booth. The shaft felt fine, but the issue I had was the lack of comparison to other shafts to see how it performed. I got on Trackman and my swing was lousy as I was hitting balls with sneakers on, my feet and legs were sore from walking so much and I hate hitting into nets (kills my swing). My average club speed was 109 mph, but with a +5 to +6 degree upward attack angle. I was getting too much right pelvic tilt and secondary tilt, which is a common problem when I’m swinging poorly and it causes high attack angles, high dynamic lofts and thus, high spin rates. My average carry was about 270 yards, but the spin rates were were around 3,000 rpm’s. Again, I wasn’t swinging it well for numerous factors, but that’s a big goal for me in 2018…get the attack angle down a little to +2 to +3, decrease the dynamic loft and lower the spin rate to the 2,300 or less range. I figure that the current swing (again, I didn’t swing it well) was probably costing me about 3-6 mph of club speed and probably close to 10 mph of ball speed.

And that’s why I decided to go over to the FlightScope and purchase the FlightScope Mevo.

The Mevo, as many of you already know can track the following:

Obviously, it does not have attack angle and dynamic loft numbers. But, I can use it to look at vertical launch, club speed and spin rate numbers and get a better understanding of my progress with the swing. I also believe that it’s a good training tool for club speed as it’s easy to get lazy with club speed if you don’t train with something that measure it.

I also plan to do some club fitting with it. I know my 5-iron isn’t not properly gapped as it only goes about 4 yards further than my 6-iron. But, I can also do some tests with golf balls, drivers, and hopefully put myself and my friends into some better equipment fits. They had a deal at the show where you could get the Mevo for $450 instead of the typical retail price of $500.

Before I made my way over to Fujikura I tried out the Halo Neuroscience ( booth. This is one of those companies that I researched on the Exhibitor List on the PGA Show web site before I made my way over.

A couple of years ago I was really high on Ikkos’ CopyMe Golf. And I still think it was a good concept that helped my game quite a bit. The issue with CopyMe Golf is that it is based on the visuals you see from golfers or whatever model you want to copy. And often times what you think you see on video isn’t exactly what is happening.

For instance, you may see a golfer getting their lead wrist into flexion in the downswing (ala Jon Rahm) and think that all you need to do is actively get your lead wrist into flexion. But, in reality there are easier ways to do that instead of consciously trying to get the lead wrist into flexion.

From what I’ve been told from the Halo Neuro people the head phones do not play any music or binaural beats (unless you want them to). They have pads that stimulate the motor cortex of the brain to help you more quickly develop whatever you’re working on. I tested it out and you could start to feel it tingling on your skull. And you can change the amount of sensation with their app.

I don’t know if it works or not, but I do believe they have a 60 day guarantee. They retail for $750, but if I could get even better improvement than what I got from Ikkos, it certainly would be worth it. The other problem I had with Ikkos is that I switched over to an Android phone and while Ikkos has an app for Android, the thing never works. It appears that Ikkos is basically giving up on the golf concept and focusing more on using it for swimming training anyway.

Lastly, I hit up Fujikura. Fujikura is usually in their own room and not out in the exhibition floor. It’s a no frills approach with nothing but a water cooler, some tables and chairs and Fujikura dealers can come in and have a one-on-one talk with people like Director of Tour Operations Pat McCoy, Vice President Alex Dee and President David Schnider. This room allows for Fujikura to communicate with their dealers more effectively. It’s a laid back setting, you don’t have to worry about all of the noise and people having to stand while talking to you, and all of the distractions that come with the Exhibit floor. It’s a time to deal with questions and concerns their dealers have.

The great news is that there is a lot of great things on the horizon for Fujikura and they were explaining some things to me that we will go into when I take a trip out to Southern California and visit Fujikura this Spring. I hope to have the experience done in a vlog format so people can best understand what Fujikura is doing and also show the fitting process with their ENSO machine. One of my highlights…for me anyway…was getting the chance to talk in depth with Alex Dee as I’m a huge fan of his work and understanding of shaft technology and how to develop shafts. I am a firm believer that Fujikura is the greatest graphite shaft company in the world. Nobody has more of a variety of shafts with different properties that can fit and has the ability to have made great shafts.

After that I attended Preston Combs’ ( and John Dunigan’s ( get together dinner at Kobe Steakhouse which was excellent. The following people were there:

Denny Lucas (
Lloyd Higley (
Brendan Kennedy (
Mike Manavian (
David Orr (
Lucas Donah
James Ridyard (
Nick Chertock (
James Hong (
Rob McGill (,_Rob_McGill.aspx)
Jason Sutton (

And many others that I unfortunately cannot remember at this time. It was a good time for all and again…the reason why it’s always worth it to go to the PGA Merchandise Show.


The Week That Was: The 2018 PGA Merchandise Show (Part 1)

It was good to go to the PGA Merchandise Show this year after taking last year off. Even if the show is underwhelming, the time spent meeting old friends for once a year and meeting new people and people you have talked to over the internet, but not face to face is what will always make going to the PGA Merchandise Show worth it.

Tuesday is Demo Day. However, I got to play golf at Reunion Resort as the guest of Howard Glover along with his instructor and my Atlanta instructor, Ted Fort ( We also played with one of Ted’s students Dan McMurrian.

This was the first time I have ever played Reunion. I’ve played almost every quality course open to the public in the Orlando area, but Reunion has remained elusive because you either need to be the guest of somebody or be staying at Reunion. Mr. Fort beat us all shooting 71 while I shot 74 and Ted continues his dominance over me in the Official World Golf Rankings. I was fairly pleased with my ball striking outside of my short irons. My putting is a glorified dumpster fire at this point. Mr. Glover was kind enough to spend some time with me on Wednesday at the show to explain some putting mechanics and how to allow gravity to take over in the thru stroke as he once struggled with that as well and is now a really great putter with a superb putting stroke. Honestly, if I had his putting I probably would have shot 67.

Ted showed me his custom putter from It was a thing of beauty. Black Lab Golf allows full customization of their putters and made him a Saber Tooth model that is face balanced, but has no shaft offset. Tough to find that combination from putting OEM’s.

The Palmer course was very nice. I always felt that as popular as Mr. Palmer was, he was a very underrated course designer. I think he was one of the best course designers in the world in the past 30 years. He made this design fairly easy, but it was far from boring and it featured the typical Palmer features of greens that sit down below and penalizing golfers that are above the cup.

I have only played the Palmer course at Reunion, but I have been to the two practice ranges a bunch of times and have eaten at Reunion. It’s really a fun, comfortable place to hang out and I would advise anybody looking to take a trip to Orlando to take a look at Reunion as a place to stay.

Afterward, I went to Orange County National for the Demo Day. I arrived there at about 2pm. The range was packed as it always is. However, there was not as much in the putting department on the putting greens as there has been in the past.

Wilson Staff had a big tent. Their new driver looks awesome and they are returning the popular show Driver vs. Driver:

I was glad to see this come back. While Wilson Golf is a large corporation, I admire their willingness to take a risk with this concept because it could mean not only making a breakthrough product, but it also is a great way to give back to the golfing community. Having worked in corporations and crunching the numbers on proposed projects…most companies never take that risk as they have shareholders to answer to if the project fails. But, that type of mindset will never advance a company if they are too afraid of ever taking a loss in hopes of creating a better product.

I don’t think the Wilson Triton driver sales did all that well. Although the golfers that have one that I have talked to swear by it. But what Driver vs. Driver did was create more brand awareness for Wilson and that is the biggest issue for Wilson. This survey results on brand perception from MyGolfSpy is a great example:

That’s why I scoff at the excuses I hear from ESPN apologists about ESPN’s ratings going down due to online streaming, etc. While I don’t quite buy into those excuses…the bigger issue is ESPN’s brand image is horrible right now and in order to improve revenues and ratings…it requires the company to restore their brand image and eventually the revenues and ratings will come along. That’s the main job for most CEO’s…it’s not the financial aspects…it’s really about the brand and its image with consumers. Kudos to Wilson Golf for understanding that and being willing to take the risk to try and improve their brand’s image and contribute to the golf community.

I also think it’s great that they are having Rick Shiels on as a panelist. I’m not a big fan of how club reviewers review clubs on YouTube. But, Shiels has nearly 270,000 subscribers on YouTube. And he is closer to being on the same wavelength in terms of knowing what serious and semi-serious gear heads want in a driver.

The problem with Demo Day was that:

1) It was windy and dusty. Wind and dust makes 3Jack’s sinuses go bad

2) The products you wanted to see this year, everybody wanted to see. That meant long lines to wait to hit.

3) The clubs are not going to be fitted for you and you would have a better chance of being struck by lightning while winning the lottery than you would finding an X-Stiff shaft.

So I got to see the new M3 and M4 drivers from TaylorMade, but didn’t get to hit them at Demo Day. I also got to see the new High Toe wedge from TaylorMade, which looks like they aped it off Edel:

It also has a channel on the sole like the Edel Digger Grind. The channel is not as deep. It essentially has 12* of bounce as I was told by a TaylorMade rep.

We are starting to see an influx of Japanese OEM’s coming over to the US market, so we had Yonex, Honma, Epon and PRGR at Demo Day. I really like their new RS driver

The feel is very similar to the old Wishon 919THI driver.

I also tried out the Miura 52* K-Grind.

I used to own a 56* K-Grind and I really loved it. However, I switched to a 52*/60* setup and at the time Miura didn’t have a 52* K-Grind. The 52* wedge is a bit of a difficult find for me because it’s mostly intended to maintain a proper yardage gap from the PW. But, I also will need it occasionally from the sand, around the green and to hit half swings from 60-90 yards out. Thus, it has to have some of the grind features to be able to hit short game shots with it while not losing any yardage of full swing approach shots.

I was a little leery when they came out with the K-Grind in 52* because it only has 7* of bounce. But those channels on the back of the sole really smooth out the interaction with the turf. The only thing is that I was really impressed with Titleist’s SM7 designs.

The SM7 feels great. The turf interaction is good and I could hit a variety of different shots with their wedges. Generally, the SM7 was well received.

After that I went to a few other tents and tried things out. My golfer’s elbow was starting to act up and so many of the shafts…between being too short, too light and too soft, didn’t really fit me. And my feet were tired and I wanted to get prepped for Wednesday at the Convention Center.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What To Look For: Farmers Insurance Open

The Tour comes back to San Diego for the 66th Farmers Insurance Open.

Torrey Pines was created in 1952 and the architect was William F. Bell. The Tour will play 1 round at the North Course and 3 rounds (if the player makes the cut) at the South Course.  The North Course is significantly easier than the South Course which plays to 7,698 yards.

The South course was later renovated under the guidance of Rees Jones.  Rees Jones loves enormous courses.  If Augusta is say...Wrigley Field...Torrey Pines is Comerica Park.

This is a polarizing course on Tour.  The sightlines are beautiful and many players absolutely swear by the course and the others swear at the course.  Driving is difficult because the field average will be only at about 50%.  The length of the course makes for difficult approaches and the greens are slow and very undulated

Projected Winning Score: -19


Jon Rahm +700
Rickie Fowler +1,000
Hideki Matsuyama
Jason Day +1,800
Gary Woodland +4,000


Bud Cauley +5,500
Patrick Reed +5,500
JJ Spaun +9,000
Trey Mullinax +25,000
Sang Moon Bae +30,000


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What to Look For: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

The Tour returns to Palm Springs for the 58th CareerBuilder Challenge (formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic). This has been a long time Pro-Am event. For years it played second fiddle to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but it used to not be that far behind given Mr. Hope’s popularity and Palm Springs being much closer to Hollywood and with usually better weather than what Pebble Beach would have the following couple of weeks in Northern California.

This is probably one of the most difficult events to project winners because it’s a birdie-fest and it often comes down to a wide variety of players that just happen to hit their irons well and putt well that week. It’s an extremely low scoring event as the courses are fairly wide open with little fairway and the ball travels further in the high elevation. But more critically to the low scoring is the extremely receptive and flat greens. This event usually posts the closest field average proximity to the cup on Red and Yellow Zone shots as well as short game shots around the green. That means more birdie opportunities and more chip ins.

Projected Winning Score: -23


John Rahm +800
Brian Harman +1,400
Kevin Kisner +1,800
Webb Simpson +1,800
Phil Mickelson +2,200


 Patton Kizzire +2,800
Zach Johnson +2,800
James Hahn +5,000
Blayne Barber +20,000
Nicholas Lindheim +20,000


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

What to Look For: The 2018 Sony Open

The PGA Tour starts their first full field event of the year at the Sony Open at Waialae CC.

The Sony Open was originally called the Hawaiian Open since its inception in 1965. It has been played at Waialae Country Club in every event.

Waialae CC is based in Honolulu and is a Seth Raynor design that was built in 1927. Raynor used a wide variety of design concepts and that has led to him being a very popular designer by golf architecture enthusiasts as some of his more well noted designs include The Carmago Club, Chicago Golf Club, Fishers Island, Old White TPC, Country Club of Charleston, Yeamans Hall and the Yale Club.

I’ve played a few Raynor designs and have generally been underwhelmed by them. Probably the most common concept I see out of Raynor designs is that he liked to take away the driver off the tee and loved elevated greens, neither of which I am a fan of. Donald Ross wasn’t afraid to take the driver out of a player’s hand, but he usually made it more of a gamble that if a player did hit driver and hit a great shot they would be rewarded. I never liked elevated greens because I don’t like the inability to see where the ball ends up with relation to the flag. I always thought one of Arnold Palmer’s brilliant design concepts is that he prefered to design greens that settled down at the bottom of the slope and that added to the beauty of the hole.

A couple of years ago Waialae received some anonymous votes by PGA Tour players for worst course on Tour. I actually like Waialae, but I can concede some of the disdain for the course as some holes have that patented Raynor extreme doglegs that force large curvatures off the tee and do not allow for driver. I think that wide angle doglegs are perhaps the worst design concept in all of golf course design.

But, what I like about Waialae…other than being in a great location and being an old school course…is that it does not favor bombers. It may favor short hitters with good wedge games a little too much, but in general it allows for a wide open variety of styles that can win here.

There’s a wide variety of shots that need to be hit and it’s almost impossible for anybody to hit a lot of fairways given how narrow they are and how the wind tends to blow. This forces a lot of brilliant rescue shots to save par and you should see a lot of birdies, but a lot of bogeys that can pop up at any time.

Lastly, the last Critical Hole on the course is the par-5 18th hole.

Projected Winning Score: -23


Jordan Spieth +500
Justin Thomas +800
Brian Harman +2,000
Zach Johnson +2,800
Daniel Berger +3,300
Webb Simpson +3,300


Kyle Stanley +7,000
Keegan Bradley +8,000
Chris Kirk +9,000
Chad Campbell +25,000


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What to Look For: Sentry Tournament of Champions

The start of the 2018 year on the Tour kicks off with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. This is the 64th year the Tournament of Champions has been on Tour and the Tour has been playing the Plantation Course at Kapalua since 1999.

The Plantation Course was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore. It’s the only par-73 on Tour and plays pretty much like most Crenshaw & Coore courses play like, wide ope with plenty of very scenic views with rolling contours, particularly close to the green.

The course is well respected on Tour because it doesn’t beat anybody up and the views are tremendous. It also helps that the participant have all won in the past year on Tour and there is no cut line. Most participants will arrive a week earlier and check out Hawaii with their family or their girlfriend. They will often end up paying for their caddy’s expenses as well as a favor for coming over for such a pricey plane ticket and a job well done the previous year.

The course is not only wide open, but you will see perhaps the most roll of the fairways of any course on Tour with oftent imes seeing 80+ yards of roll on tee shots. The cuorse stress long and short iron approaches. And while it yields a lot of birdies, it also stresses short game shots around the green.


Jordan Spieth +600
Justin Thomas +600
Dustin Johnson +750


Hideki Matsuyama +1,200
Marc Leishman +2,000
Wesley Bryan +15,000