Grouchy Golf Blog

Wednesday, June 30, 2004 at 4:03 PM

Forged Blades Redux

Having recently switched back to forged muscle-back blade (there are no truly pure blades made anymore) irons, I totally agree with Bob Tway's comment: "You have to be more precise with a forged blade," said Tway, who won the 1986 PGA Championship using cast Ping irons but now uses Mizuno's forged MP-33 blades. He explained:
With a [more forgiving] cast club you can get sloppy with your swing. That creeps into other clubs, like the driver. I think my mechanics have gotten better since I went to forged [blades]. If you look at the top of the money list, they're all playing forged [blades].
I'm a self-taught golfer who learned the game using my grandfather's old Hogan Blades. When I had become a decent golfer (14-handicap) with solid ball-striking ability, I decided that I deserved a new set of irons. Through Callaway propaganda, I became brainwashed into thinking that the best irons were designed to maximize distance with the largest cavity-back and the greatest amount of offset. So, naturally, I bought a new set of Big Bertha irons.

I was crushing the ball at first and I thought that I owned the irons of my dreams. The sweet spot felt like it was all over the clubface. The only drawback of these clubs was a tendency to produce a drawing ball flight. I worked at the range to straighten this out and it seemed fine for a while. However, I soon became aware that I was starting to hit the ball with a slight push-fade. Eventually, that worsened into a severe push-slice. I also noticed that my ball-striking wasn't as "crisp" as before and my divots were inconsistent. I had no clue what was going on and I panicked that I was turning into Ian Baker-Finch. It was inconceivable to me that my problems could have stemmed from my irons since I had believed that they were the best that money could buy.

I now realize that those forgiving super "game-improvement" irons were ruining my golf swing. The wide soles and extremely low center of gravity of the Berthas allowed me to get away with a poor swing. As a result, my once consistently solid ball-striking evaporated. The Bertha's excessively thick top-line and drastic offset wreaked havoc on my setup and alignment. This in turn affected my take-away, backswing, etc. Because these irons are designed to straighten a slice swing (the most common swing flaw for amateurs), they tend to produce a hook for a perfectly sound swing. Therefore, to hit these irons straight, you need to have a slice swing. Unbeknownst to me at the time, these irons were teaching me how to slice!

Like a house of cards, my swing collapsed and my handicap ballooned. According to Ernie Vadersen, a former top designer for Spalding and MacGregor, "Oversize cavity-back clubs allow you to play lazily, and lazy habits promote poor play." Oh how I wish I knew that before I bought those friggin' Callaways!

It took me several years to realize the error of my ways, and now I'm back to playing forged blades. With blades, I instantly feel the difference between a good shot and a bad one. The good shots feel super sweet, while the bad ones punish. This feedback has allowed me to fix many of the swing flaws that I had developed under the Callaway years.

Most people don't like blades because they believe (primarily through marketing) that blades feel harsh. Well, they only feel harsh when you put a bad swing on them. Play with blades and they will force you into a good swing.

As Vadersen says:
...golfers want better feel when they hit the ball. When you hit a ball off the heel or toe of a classic forged [blade] iron, you know immediately, without even looking, that the shot is off. That's vital information. In that respect, no cavity-back club can compare with a forged blade iron. In simplest terms, the forged [blade] club gives you more information. The way I look at it, it's like having someone help you. By that I mean, if you find you are hitting the club on the toe, the computer in your brain will actually start adjusting until you start hitting it on the sweet spot. If you're striking it on the heel, you will eventually automatically make the adjustment to make a better shot. We've learned the best teachers tend to use forged [blade] clubs for this reason. They are teaching you how to make shots, and a good forged blade, because of the information it imparts, aids in that process — a game-improvement iron in the end.
Remember, it's easy to hit a target with a shotgun, but it will never help you become a SWAT team sniper. Still, blades aren't for everybody. If you are having too much difficulty hitting them, traditional-styled cavity-back or "player's" irons will still allow you to develop and maintain proper swing mechanics. At the very least, you should have a blade or two to practice at the range to stay sharp. But I must emphasize, avoid the super "game-improvement" irons like the Callaway Big Berthas and the Nike Slingshots if you really want to improve your game.


Sunday, June 27, 2004 at 9:37 PM

Adam Scott's Swing, The White Tiger

Did you happen to watch the Booz Allen Classic at the TPC at Avenel on ABC this weekend?

Well, Tiger's almost perfect golf swing from 2000-2001 finally resurfaced. Only it wasn't Tiger Woods that was swinging the club. It was the young Aussie, Adam Scott.

Those who follow the PGA over the last several years know about the similarities between Adam and Tiger's golf swing.

Their swings are often described as "textbook." But it has always been that Adam's swing plays second fiddle to that of Tiger's.

However, it is clear as day that Adam is swinging the club much better than Tiger right now. I mean the dude from down under smoked a 2-iron 320 yards straight down the fairway on the par 4 12th. Yes, 320 yards. In fact, Adam is swinging it better than anyone else period. Why? Well Adam is doing many of the things that Tiger did in 2000. Namely, he's working with Butch Harmon. Butch is getting Adam in the perfect setup and they are obviously working on all the right things.

What about Tiger? To start, he's not working with Butch. Instead he's working on his own. Well it seems that he's working on getting worse. In his pro career, he's never been so wild off the tee as he is now. Mysteriously, he now seems to believe that the best ball flight is a slight draw rather than his natural controlled fade. Sound familiar? That's the same theory followed by his best golf buddy, O'Meara. O'Meara is best known as a two-time major winner. But soon he'll be known as the guy who ruined the best swing in golf. Well, him and his partner in crime, .

If it wasn't already clear that Butch is the best swing coach in the world, Adam has now confirmed it (along with Pavin's resurgence). If Tiger wants to regain his former dominance, he should swallow his ego and dial 1-800-BUTCHIE.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 24, 2004 at 9:25 AM

Tiger Woods = Frankie?

Tiger Woods vs. Butch Harmon

So the saga continues between the 2 most stubborn people in golf.

I actually saw the Sky Sports television Butch Harmon interview video during the 2004 U.S. Open where he says that he believes Tiger Woods is in "bit of denial."

However, Butch was simply responding to the host's original question of whether Tiger was in denial. Butch was asked his opinion and he gave it. In fact, he stated upfront and clearly that it was his opinion. I thought his opinions weren't harsh at all. I think they may appear harsh in text and out of context, but not when you see the interview footage.

Johnny Miller later commented on NBC that Butch's comments were rather benign and I wholeheartedly agree. Sports commentators are paid voice their opinions, and that's all Butch did. The last thing I want is a non-commenting commentator.

Surprisingly, Tiger took very strong offense to Butch's comments. Factor in that Tiger has his caddie Steve Williams obstruct slo-mo cameras intended to analyze swings during tournaments, raid the gallery for cameras and other acts of thugery, it really appears that Tiger is turning into Frankie from MTV's The Real World.

Once Tiger sports a lip ring and freaks out at the sight of large boats, I'll know the transformation is complete. I'll be sure to notify you when it happens.


Wednesday, June 16, 2004 at 9:52 AM

Golf and eBay

According to Golf World, golf is one of the hottest categories on eBay.

Indeed, eBay has changed my life.

Where else can you bid to play a round with Tiger Woods?

Over the last year or so, I've been buying virtually all of my golf equipment on eBay. Of course, you have to be careful of , but the convenience and savings are truly amazing.

It all started about 3 years ago when I eBayed a new Ping driver with a custom UST Proforce shaft. What would have cost me at least $300 at retail, cost me $200 delivered to my door.

4 months ago, I eBayed a set of brand new Nike Forged Blade Irons with Rifle shafts for $450 delivered. That set would have cost at least $550 at retail before tax and shipping.

Most recently I eBayed a used 34" Scotty Cameron Mil-Spec Putter for $150 delivered. It was in "almost new" condition that sold new for $250 at retail.

Of course, not everything is a bargain. I routinely see special edition Scotty Cameron Putter headcovers exchange hands for $400 and more. Yes, that's correct, headcovers worth more than the putters that they house. If you're going to spend that much money on a headcover, shouldn't you protect it with a putter headcover cover? I guess you could, but I bet those would go for at least $800. Hey, I think I just discovered my next great business idea!

Unfortunately, I still haven't been able to buy a good golf swing on eBay...


Tuesday, June 08, 2004 at 4:33 PM

Burgers, Phil, and Golf

Phil sure does love those In-N-Out burgers.

While I'm only temporarily sick of In-N-Out (I work within a block away from one), it seems that I'll always be sick of Phil "Meek"elson. In particular, I'm sick of his stupid expressions on the course.

I mean he always looks like some clueless guy that they pulled out of the gallery who was suddenly annointed golf super powers. I can see how the first time it can be considered somewhat endearing (still stretching it). But, for chissakes, when he still acts the same way after several hundred tournaments it's downright annoying.

The final round of the 2004 Masters drove me nuts, as you can imagine. But I took guilty pleasure that lost the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock on the 17th Hole in typical Phil-choke-fashion. However, not even that monumental calamity could wipe that stupid smirk off his face! What on earth will it take?

Somehow I'm sure that if the world was ablaze on its way to Hell, "Mick the Choke" will be smiling the whole way...


Tuesday, June 01, 2004 at 2:01 PM

Hello World! The Golf Gods Strike Tiger

Welcome to the first post of my golf site, Grouchy Golf. I started this site to opine about my passion. I hope that you enjoy it and maybe even learn a thing or two. I greatly value any feedback that you can provide. This site is fueled by reader comments, so please, take a couple of seconds to jot down your thoughts about anything regarding this site. Thanks, and now onto my first posting...

Golf is such a love and hate sport. Just look at Tiger Woods. For about 5 years he simply dominated the sport. I mean the dude was winning majors by double digit stroke margins! Now, due to a microscopic tweak in his swing, he's been reduced to "Good" as opposed to "Jesus of Golf" PGA player status.

As a result, everyone and their moms are dissecting Tiger's swing and trying to offer swing advice. In fact, my mom recently told me that she thinks Tiger's swing is way out of "synch" and noticed that his clubface at the top tends to be shut. She observed that on the downswing, Tiger is coming too much on top of the ball, which occasionally produces an open clubface at impact causing the ball to push right.

Jeez, I can't think of anything else that could drive Tiger to the looney bin faster. Well, that and losing to in 2 consecutive Majors.