Grouchy Golf Blog

Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 10:15 PM

Viewer Mail: Hottest Driver?

Grouchy Golf welcomes your grouchy golf observations. If you have a grouchy golf observation that you would like to be posted on Grouchy Golf, please email it to the address in the sidebar. Remember, all submissions become the property of Grouchy Golf. Submissions chosen for publication may be edited for length and clarity.

The following story was submitted by a grouchy golfer named Tom. Tom's tale involves a do-it-yourself golf club customization to one of the hottest drivers on tour, the TaylorMade R7 Tour Preferred (TP). Yes, it is possible to make this driver even hotter. Thanks Tom!

One Sizzling R7 Driver!

Ok, so here's something you don't see every day. My friend (his identity shall remain a secret, as I have promised him that) owns a TaylorMade R7 TP retail driver. While he likes the driver overall, he strongly disliked the tinny sound it made at impact. He decided to stuff cotton into the weight holes to try and deaden the sound. But after doing so, the cotton compacted, and he ended up with about 20 little pea-sized cotton chunks rolling around in his clubhead. It sounded like peanuts in a jar!

What he did next is the interesting part. He deduced that, since there was no way to retrieve the cotton pellets and cotton was flammable, it would be clever to pour a little gasoline into the weight holes and let the cotton soak it up. Then, he could light it and burn the cotton into noiseless ash. Here is where the trouble starts...

I think he poured a little too much gas into the holes because when he lit it, flames shot out about 6 inches from all four holes, scaring the living $hit out of him! He dropped the club immediately and it landed head first onto the driveway (at least he was smart enough to do this highly technical procedure outside), leaving big scrapes on the crown. When he thought that the fire was out, he picked up the driver by the head only to feel the sharp pain of hot metal searing his fingertips. In knee-jerk reaction, he dropped the club again, scratching up more of the clubhead!

After a momentary fit of rage, he collected himself and tried to think through the situation. He decided to play it smart and allow the club to cool off before he picked up the club. Staring at his nicked up baby, he wondered if he could buff out the scratches in the paint. Well, those concerns about scratches soon became irrelevant as the paint started peeling off the clubhead before his very eyes! It turns out that there was still a bit of fuel inside the clubhead that continued to burn as my friend waited for it to cool. The smoldering fuel heated the clubhead so much that it peeled off most of the paint!

But there is a bright side to all of this - the procedure to burn away the cotton worked, and there are now NO more rattles in the head!!! When he phoned me and told me this story, I just about peed myself laughing, which prompted him to hang up the phone on me. I will try to be more consoling in the future...

Golf Grouch Comment: That's one way to smoke your driver! Who knows, maybe an engineer at TaylorMade will read this story and turn it into the next big thing in driver technology: RPD (Rocket Propelled Driver). Tom, tell your friend that he'd better apply for a patent pronto!

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Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 11:35 AM

Nike and Disney Sitting in a Tree...

The PGA Tour recently announced the completion of new television agreements for the 2007 through 2012 seasons. The big surprise was the omission of Disney-owned ABC and ESPN. While I think that it's a big blow to the PGA Tour and to golf viewers, it's an even bigger blow to Nike.

Why Nike? Well, it appears that Nike has been using Disney to trumpet Nike Golf. Visit the golf section at ESPN.com and you'll see instructional videos featuring Hank Haney, Tiger's coach and a member of Team Nike. Watch a major televised golf event on either ESPN or ABC and receive commentary from Nike pitchmen Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger. After watching Tiger "suck it back" with a wedge during a recent telecast, Azinger remarked:
Look at that, how do you back that up? It's amazing to watch. But you know, like I've said it plenty of times – he's got a golf ball that will spin like that, but it also goes a mile…it does everything he needs it to do and he's thrilled with it…
You would have thought that Nike made some kind of magic golf ball. Zinger, have you ever heard of the Titleist Pro V1?

Interestingly, the Nike-Disney relationship may have come as a result of one Mr. Tiger Woods.

Both Nike and Disney were among Tiger's initial corporate sponsors. Under the Disney deal, Tiger is required to make appearances in televised events on ABC and ESPN. Apparently, Disney wanted a much bigger deal, but was deterred by Nike. According to Ross Nethery:
Early on, Tiger was considering a deal to promote Disney’s theme parks, as well as help boost ratings at Disney-owned ABC and ESPN by playing in special made-for-TV events. Nike reportedly didn’t want the Disney name to outclass its association with Tiger, so the package ended up being all about the exhibition appearances, with no pitching of theme parks involved.
The possible conflicts of interest arising from such associations are problematic to say the least. How can we be assured that a media company will remain fair and objective when they maintain strategic relationships with companies and individuals? Does Disney-owned media give favorable treatment to Tiger Woods? Conversely, does Tiger Woods give favorable treatment to Disney? Remember Tiger's boycott of CBS commentator Peter Kostis? How much of that incident was due to Peter's association with a Disney competitor?

Does the same apply to any other Nike sponsored athlete? Now that Michelle Wie is on Team Nike, will she get the Tiger treatment? It wouldn't surprise me if Disney goes full-bore after LPGA television rights to support the latest Nike prodigy. Whatever happens, I sure hope that remains on TV somewhere...


Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 10:05 AM

Golf Tips - Ball Position

As I have stressed before, proper golf fundamentals are the key to a solid and repeatable golf swing. I've already covered the , and now I'd like to address ball position. There are a couple of different teachings in this area and I've experimented with most of them. The one that has worked the best for me is the Jack Nicklaus method of ball position.

According to Jack, "I play every standard shot with the ball in the same position relative to my feet. That position is opposite my left heel."

Butch Harmon offers a nice explanation:
...ball position is very, very important. That's why I like you to think of a constant ball position. Always position the ball off the logo on your shirt. If you don't have a logo on your shirt, position the ball in line with your left breast. The only thing that changes is the width of your stance - - where your right foot widens out farther the longer the shaft of the club gets.

If you think about it, if I was hitting a wedge shot, it would look like the ball was pretty much in the middle of my stance. Yet, if I was hitting a driver, you would have thought that I moved the ball way up in my stance. But really nothing has changed. All I've done is widen my stance out for the different clubs. This means that my alignment stays the same and my shoulders stay square the target line...
I used to try to play everything from the center of my stance, but the constant ball position method worked much better for me. In fact, it is the preferred method amongst professional golfers. According to studies done by ModelGolf, tour players actually do move the ball in relation to the front foot from the 2-iron to the 9-iron, but the movement is so small that, for all practical purposes, the ball position in relation to the front foot remains almost constant.

Remember, ball position off the left heel doesn't necessarily mean forward in the stance. As you use longer clubs, your stance widens, so the ball moves progressively forward in the stance. Conversely, as you use shorter clubs, the ball moves progressively back in the stance. For example, ball placement for a PW would appear near the center of the stance because the stance is so narrow (and sometimes open).

Here are some pics of David Leadbetter and Nick Price demonstrating the ball positioned off the left heel with varying stance widths. Notice in the large picture that Leadbetter is actually holding a club right where Butch recommends that you position the ball - in line with the logo on your shirt!

This picture captures Nick Price's ball position with a 9-iron:

Here's his position with a 3-iron:

Notice in each case, Nick's ball position is approximately the same distance away from the left heel. This is very similar to .

How does this compare to your ball position? If you are having problems with your ball-striking, it could be simply a flaw in your ball position. Try the constant ball position method as it could yield amazing results for you!


Thursday, January 05, 2006 at 9:15 PM

Don't Rain on My Parade!

My city is the home of the world-famous Rose Parade. During my lifetime, it has never rained on our beloved parade. In fact, it's been over 50 years the last time it rained on the Rose Parade. That amazing streak ended January 1, 2006 as 3 storms pounded the Los Angeles area. Still, the parade went on, with die-hard fans camping out the previous night to secure the best viewing spots.

Camping out to watch the Rose Parade is an annual ritual for many parade enthusiasts. I can't relate since I can simply roll out of bed and walk a couple of blocks to see it in person. Usually, the weather is nice and I can enjoy the parade in leisurely fashion. However, I hate the rain almost as much as the Wicked Witch of the West. With this year's weather, I didn't even bother waking up in time to watch the parade live on TV.

I have a similar reaction when it comes to golf. You have to pay me for me to play golf in the rain. Golf in the rain is just miserable. Not only is everything wet, but freezing temperatures and strong winds usually accompany those little droplets of hell. I remember when I lived in Philadelphia, my friends and I would play in the rain on the cusp of winter in a desperate attempt to get in that one last round of the season. I'd try to protect myself with layered clothing, a rain suit, winter gloves, etc., but it always seemed that my efforts came up a little short. I'd still get wet and cold, each and every time. Just thinking about it sends chills up my spine. On top of that, all that winter gear restricted my swing to the point where I wasn't really playing golf. What the heck was I thinking?

Now that I have moved back to California, I don't anticipate being so golf-deprived that I feel forced to play in the rain. But sometimes, it happens. Such was the case the first time I played storied on a weekend golf trip with 3 of my friends. We had descended upon this golf Mecca from all over the country: LA, Philly, NYC, and Phoenix. We pulled a few strings to reserve 2 coveted tee times for that weekend. Needless to say, we were going to play no matter what.

As I expected, those jealous Golf Gods took notice and sent some rain clouds our way. About 20 mins. before our tee time rain started falling under a subfusc sky. In defiance, we gritted our teeth and marched to the first tee. But the Golf Gods arranged a special deal with Mother Nature to unleash the worst weather upon us short of a tsunami. We were forced off the course after several holes.

It was one of the lowest points of my golf life. Was our super golf weekend going to be washed away by the rain? Was all of our effort and careful planning all for naught? We huddled by the fire in the Lodge pondering the situation. I thought about drowning my sorrows in a glass of Glenmorangie. But after about 45 mins. the rain stopped! The sun even shot a couple of rays through the thinning clouds.

We immediately scrambled to the first tee to get in as many holes as we could. Thankfully, we were the first to arrive and the starter told us we could start wherever we wanted. We tore up our old score cards and began anew from the 1st tee. It turned out that the rain washed away the other golfers and we finished our round in under 4 hours. It was like having Torrey Pines all to ourselves!

So sometimes, the rain can be a blessing in disguise. But mostly, it's not.