First Hit: Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815 and Double Black Diamond Drivers

Some golfers need a driver with a low center of gravity, while others need a driver with a higher center of gravity. Callaway’s two new Big Bertha Alpha drivers are designed to help both types of players.

The Big Bertha Alpha 815 ($449) and Big Bertha 815 Double Black Diamond ($499) use two distinct shapes and three forms of adjustability to help golfers dial in the launch, spin and shot shape that will give them maximum distance. They’ll be in stores November 13.

The hallmark of the two new drivers is the inclusion of Callaway’s Gravity Core technology, which allows golfers to adjust each driver’s center of gravity (CG) lower or higher in the clubhead.

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It works like this: Insert the Gravity Core with its heavy side down (closer to the sole) and the driver will produce less spin. Position the Gravity Core with its heavy side up and the driver will produce more spin.

More spin? “Who needs that,” you might be saying.

According to Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s manager of performance analysis, plenty of golfers.

Callaway debuted the Gravity Core in its 2013 Big Bertha Alpha driver. While it wasn’t as popular as the company’s 2013 Big Bertha driver, it was an important fitting tool for many golfers on the PGA and European tours.

“If 90 percent of the players were in the low-CG position, we’d say, ‘we don’t need this mid-CG position,’” Gibbs said. “But the split was about even. That validated that there was value in having this Gravity Core.”

It’s not just better players, however, who can benefit from a higher CG.

“Some people need a little big higher CG in order to generate enough spin,” he said. “And if a player tends to contact the ball high on the face, they tend to lose ball speed with a low-CG club.”

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The new Big Bertha Alpha 815 brings the Gravity Core to a driver that is much more forgiving than the 2013 Big Bertha Alpha. It’s built on a 460-cubic-centimeter chassis that’s similar to the 2013’s Big Bertha driver, with a large profile at address that boosts its moment of inertia (MOI) to make it more forgiving.

The Big Bertha 815 also has a Forged Composite crown that makes it surprisingly low spinning for its level of forgiveness — unless the Gravity Core is in the “up” position, that is.

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The Double Black Diamond has all the technology the Alpha 815 has, but as its name indicates it was designed for experts. The low, forward CG position that allows it to be so low spinning also makes it the company’s least forgiving driver for 2015. In other words, golfers should steer clear of the Double Black Diamond if their main goal is to improve performance on mishits.

According to Gibbs, the Double Black Diamond is about 100 rpm lower spinning than its predecessor, the 2013 Big Bertha Alpha, and it adds more forgiveness to shots hit high on its face. That’s partly thanks to the company’s new RMOTO technology (also used in the Alpha 815), which is a new geometry on the inside of the club head that allowed engineers to remove about 3 grams of weight from the face and place it lower and deeper in the head to improve MOI.

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Visually, the Double Black Diamond has a rounder, more opened appearance at address that should resonate with better players.

Enough talk, where are the numbers?

I had a chance to test the Big Bertha Alpha 815, the Double Black Diamond and Big Bertha V-Series drivers at Callaway’s Ely Callaway Performance Center in Carlsbad, Calif., on a Doppler Radar launch monitor to see just how different the three drivers would perform.

Each of the drivers was hit with the same shaft and had nearly identical measured lofts. Each driver was also tested with the same shaft, a Mitsubishi Rayon Second-Generation Plus-Series Diamana White Board 70TX at 45 inches.

Testing process: I hit about six shots with each club in the following order: V-Series, Double Black Diamond and Alpha 815. I then hit about five more shots with each club and they were hit in the same order. The outliers – those one or two shots that were radically different from the eight or nine other shots – were then deleted to create these averages below.

The Numbers

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The numbers explained

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Don’t walk away from this story thinking that the Double Black Diamond is Callaway’s best driver for 2015 because of my experience. What’s important is to notice the distinct performance of each head.

V-Series

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V-Series is Callaway’s most forgiving 2015 driver, with a CG that is higher and more rearward than the other drivers in the line. For most golfers, this will translate to more consistent ball speeds across the face, but it will also contribute to the lower launch and higher spin that I saw in my testing.

Alpha 815

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This will likely be Callaway’s most popular driver, both at retail and on the professional tours, because of its balanced design. My numbers show its ability to launch the high with a fairly low amount of spin and still retain a high level of ball speed on mishits.

Double Black Diamond

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Most golfers won’t be a fit for a Double Black Diamond, but when they are the results will be fantastic. With nearly identical builds, the Double Black Diamond was an average of 9 yards longer than the V-Series thanks to its higher launch and lower spin.

How did they perform on mishits?

I saw a ball speed variance of 4.4 mph with the Double Black Diamond. That doesn’t sound like much, but it was by far the worst of the three models. The Alpha 815’s ball speed variance was a mere 3.3 mph, while the V-Series was just 1.7 mph.

Shafts and Specs

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The Alpha 815 driver will be available in lofts of 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees and comes stock with Fujikura’s Motore Speeder 565. The Double Black Diamond will come in lofts of 9 and 10.5 degrees with Aldila’s Rogue Silver 60 shaft.

Don’t like those offerings? Callaway is offering the following 13 shaft options at no upcharge:

  • Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara 42
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara 52
  • Matrix Ozik White Tie 50
  • Aldila Rogue Silver 60
  • Matrix Ozik Black Tie 70
  • Fujikura Motore Speeder 565
  • Fujikura Motore Speeder 665
  • Fujikura Motore Speeder 765
  • Second-Generation Mitsubishi Diamana  S+ 62
  • Matrix Ozik Red Tie 60
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki ZT 60
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki Z 50
  • Aldila Tour Green

The Alpha 815 comes stock with 7-gram and 1-gram interchangeable heel-and-toe weights, while the Double Black Diamond comes stock with 5-gram and 1-gram weights. Moving the heavier weight to the toe of the club will create more fade bias, while moving it to the heel of the club will create more draw bias.

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Both drivers also use Callaway’s new Opti-Force hosel, which is slimmer than previous versions yet is still compatible with 2013 driver models. It’s 3-degree range of adjustability (2 degrees up, 1 degree down in 1-degree increments) also includes two independent lie angle settings: neutral and upright (more draw bias).

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Click here to see what GolfWRX Members are saying about the new drivers in our forum.

Golf analyst crashes Mercedes on live radio

We’ve heard ad nauseam, “Don’t text and drive.” Well, there should be a new P.S.A. (public service announcement) reminding everyone “Don’t analyze the Ryder Cup on live radio television while driving a Mercedes.” Not as succinct, but saving lives isn’t all about having a good slogan.

On Monday, Melbourne Radio personality Mark Allen was discussing his thoughts about the 2014 Ryder Cup and Tom Watson’s coaching strategies on a live-call with Australian Sport’s Entertainment Network’s Kevin Bartlett, when he allegedly rear-ended a vehicle while driving. The collision was audible, and Allen’s reaction was pricelessly casual.

“Oh! I’ve just crashed,” Allen says in the audio recording. “I’ve just crashed, K.B. I’ve just crashed the car.”

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Allen, a former Australian golfing professional, avoided incriminating himself on the airwaves and assured he was chatting “hands-free” while relaying his expert opinion. This will serve as a warning shot to all radio experts and analysts — don’t conduct call-in interviews while operating an automobile, especially a Mercedes-Benz! Or, at the very least, drive in the slow lane at a safe-following distance on a speakerphone or bluetooth.

The REAL lesson here, however, is that no one discusses Captain Tom Watson’s decisions publically and escapes unscathed — if only the accident happened before Team USA’s press conference, maybe Phil Mickelson would have avoided the media firestorm.

Leaked: Full Nike 2015 Equipment Line

Those of you making a new equipment wish list will love this: a leak of all of Nike’s 2015 products, which includes many things we expected and a few things that we didn’t expect.

Regulars in our forum knew that there were three new Nike drivers: the Vapor Flex, the Vapor Pro and the Vapor Speed, and we assumed that new fairway woods and hybrids were coming in 2015 as well. Nike also announced the release of three new Vapor irons in August. What we didn’t know, however, was that Nike would bring radical new wedge designs called “Engage” and two new lines of Method putters.

Take a look at our screen dumps of the new clubs and specs below (you can click on the images to enlarge them), or click this link for the whole shabang.

2015 Nike Vapor Drivers

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2015 Nike Vapor Fairway Woods

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2015 Nike Vapor Hybrids

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 2015 Nike Vapor Irons

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2015 Nike Engage Wedges

Nike 2015 Engage Wedges

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2015 Nike Method Putters

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Titleist 915 Drivers, Fairway Woods and Hybrids

Titleist 915 Drivers, Fairway Woods and Hybrids

The one thing that kept Titleist’s 913 drivers from winning more awards in our 2014 Gear Trials Club Test was their tendency to spin too much, but that shouldn’t be the case with the company’s 915 line.

The new models include what Titleist calls an “Active Recoil Channel” — an extremely wide, deep slot on the front of the club soles that extends across the entirety of the clubface — that not only lowers spin, but raises launch angle and ball speed on off-center hits as well.

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Here’s how it works. The Active Recoil Channel allows for more deflection of the clubface, which then creates more “recoil” into the ball, particularly on shots hit low on the face. According to Dan Stone, vice president of research and development for Titleist golf clubs, the Active Recoil Channel also causes the golf ball to compress in a different manner, which creates less rotational energy. That causes shots to leave the clubface with less spin.

“We began incorporating Active Recoil Channel in the prototype phase about four years ago, but this kind of technology requires a lot of fine-tuning if you’re going to do something that’s different, as opposed to making a cosmetic or marketing change,” Stone said. “By adding significant technology for speed and spin without sacrificing MOI, we think we’ve done something very special that nobody’s done to this point.”

That’s a bold claim.

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The one drawback of the Active Recoil Channel? Its structure adds mass to the front part of the sole, which moves a club’s center of gravity (CG) forward. That lowers a driver’s MOI, or moment of inertia, which is a measure of a club’s ability to retain peak ball speed on off-center hits. But Titleist had a fix for that.

To boost the MOI of the 915 drivers, Titleist cast the bodies of the clubs from an 8-11 titanium that’s lighter than the 6-4 titanium that was used to make the 913 drivers. The crowns were also made thinner (Titleist claims its 0.5 mm consistent crown thickness in the thinnest in the industry), the toplines and leading edges were tapered and certain low-stress areas inside the heads were thinned. The weight saved was then placed low and deep in the driver heads to give the 915 drivers an MOI that’s comparable to the 913 line.

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Above: The blue areas represent where Titleist removed weight from the 915 drivers. The purple areas represent where that weight was redistributed. 

The final change to the driver heads was the addition of what Titleist calls its “Radial Speed Face,” which includes a 6-4 titanium variable face thickness insert with thinner heel and toe sections than the 913 drivers to maximize ball speeds on shots contacted in those areas.

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Above: The purple areas indicate spots where Titleist thickened the faces of the 915 drivers. The light blue areas show where Titleist thinned the faces. These changes allow the club faces to have a more uniform, maximum spring-like effect across the face. 

The 915D2 has a pear-shaped, 460-cubic-centimeter profile. It’s designed to launch drives with about 250 rpm more spin than the 915D3, and has more forgiveness and draw bias than the 915D3.

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The 915D3 driver has a deeper, pear-shaped face and measures 440cc. Its design encourages more workability, so it does not have the draw bias of the 915D2.

The 915 drivers ($449) will be available in stores on Nov. 14. They come stock with five different shaft options:

  • Aldila Rogue Black 70
  • Aldila Rogue Silver 60
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana D+ 70
  • Mitsubishi Diamana S+ 60
  • Mitsubishi Diamana M+ 50

Titleist’s stock driver length is 45 inches at D2-to-D4, although custom builds and other shafts are available through the company’s custom department. Both models include Titleist’s SureFit adjustable hosel, which is compatible with prior models and offers a 2.25-degree range of loft and lie angle adjustability in 0.75-degree increments.

  • 915D2 Lofts: 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 12 (RH), 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 (LH)
  • 915D3 Lofts: 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 (RH), 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 (LH)

The stock lie angle of both drivers is 58.5 degrees.

915 Fairway Woods and Hybrids

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Like the 915 drivers, Titleist’s 915 fairway woods and hybrids use the company’s Active Recoil Channel to lower spin and add ball speed on all shots. Titleist also gave the clubs new, hotter faces — 455 stainless steel in the fairway woods and 465 stainless steel in the hybrids — to make them even faster.

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  • 915F (175 cc): Up to 3.5 mph faster than its predecessor. The 915F averaged 200 rpm less spin and 3 yards more carry distance than the 913F in Titleist testing. It launches slightly higher and is slightly higher spinning than the smaller, more workable 915Fd.
  • 915Fd (160 cc): Up to 3.2 mph faster than its predecessor. The 915Fd averaged 150 rpm less spin and 3 yards more carry distance than the 913Fd in Titleist testing. It launches slightly lower with slightly less spin than the 913F.

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The 915 fairway woods ($269) come stock with five different shaft options:
  • Aldila Rogue Black 80
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana D+ White 80
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana S+ Blue 70
  • Mitsubishi Diamana M+ Red 60

915F Lofts: 13.5, 15, 16.5, 18, 21 (RH and LH)

915Fd Lofts: 13, 15 (RH and LH)
The stock length for lofts of 13.5, 15 and 16.5 degrees is 43 inches, the stock length of the 18-degree is 42.5 inches and the stock length for the 21-degree is 42 inches.
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  • 915H (118cc): Up to 4 mph faster than its predecessor. The 915H averaged 250 rpm less spin than the 913H and carried about 6 yards farther on average in Titleist testing.
  • 915Hd (107cc): Up to 3.3 mph faster than its predecessor. The 915Hd averaged 150 rpm less spin than the 913Hd and carried about 6 yards farther on average in Titleist testing.

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Compared to the 915Hd, the 915 H will launch about 0.7-degrees higher with about 120 rpm more spin.
The 915 hybrids ($249) are available with four stock shafts:
  • Aldila Rogue Black 80
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana D+ White 80
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana S+ Blue 70
  • Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana M+ Red 60
915H Lofts: 18, 21, 24, 27 (RH and LH)
915Hd Lofts: 17.5, 20.5, 23.5 (RH and LH)
915_D2_Heel_Tech_Hero_Mesh_1212x2100_300_CMYK 915_D2_Sole_Hero_1367x2100_300_CMYK 915_D2_Toe_Face_Hero_2100x1739_300_CMYK 915_D2_Toe_Tech_Hero_Mesh_1566x2100_300_CMYK 915_D3_Sole_Hero_1094x2100_300_CMYK 915_D3_Toe_Face_Hero_2100x1785_300_CMYK 915_Driver_High_MOI_Technology_1320x2100_300_CMYK 915_Driver_RSF_Technology_2100x1629_300_CMYK Titleist 915 Drivers, Fairway Woods and Hybrids 915_D2_Player_Profile_1320x2100_300_CMYK-296x300 915_D3_Player_Profile_1320x2100_300_CMYK-270x300 915_F_Heel_Tech_Hero_Mesh_1416x2100_300_CMYK 915_F_Sole_Hero_1094x2100_300_CMYK 915_F_Toe_Tech_Hero_Mesh_1655x2100_300_CMYK 915_Fairway_Ultra_Thin_Face_Technology_2100x1653_300_CMYK 915_Fd_Sole_Hero_1094x2100_300_CMYK 915_Fd_Toe_Face_Hero_2100x1813_300_CMYK 915_Fwy_Bouquet_1890x2100_300_RGB 915_F_Player_Profile_copy_1106x2100_300_CMYK1 915_Fd_Player_Profile_1081x2100_300_CMYK1 915_H_Heel_Tech_Hero_Mesh_1068x2100_300_CMYK 915_H_Player_Profile_991x2100_300_CMYK 915_H_Sole_Hero_1094x2100_300_CMYK 915_H_Toe_Face_Hero_2100x1695_300_CMYK 915_H_Toe_Tech_Hero_Mesh_1846x2100_300_CMYK 915_Hd_Player_Profile_1005x2100_300_CMYK 915_Hd_Sole_Hero_1095x2100_300_CMYK 915_Hd_Toe_Face_Hero_2100x1695_300_CMYK 915_Hyb_Bouquet_1890x2100_300_RGB 915_Hybrid_Ultra_Thin_Face_Technology_2100x1554_300_CMYK

Tiger Woods to open a sports bar in Jupiter

Tiger Woods may not currently own his swing, a concept he may strive for without a coach going forward, but he is set to become an owner of a new sports bar and restaurant in South Florida starting in December.

The restaurant and bar, The Woods Jupiter: Sports and Dining Club in Jupiter, Fla., is expected to become one of the hotspots of Jupiter’s new downtown development, Harbourside Place. The sports bar will certainly attract the local PGA Tour-player crowd that lives in Jupiter #JupLife.

“I’ve been watching Harbourside Place’s development since it broke ground more than two years ago, and know that it is the perfect location for my sports and dining club,” Woods said. “I look forward to enjoying my restaurant as much as I hope the public will. I envision a place where people can meet friends, watch sports on TV and enjoy a great meal. I wanted to build it locally where I live and where it could help support the community.”

The Stanford-alumnus is a well-known fan of the Oakland Raiders, L.A. Dodgers and L.A. Lakers, which could clash with the locally supported Miami Heat, Florida Marlins and Miami Dolphins.

The 14-time major champion is certainly hungry for major No. 15, but Woods will apparently resort to eating bar food at his new eatery in the mean time.

Mickelson’s bashing of Watson could be his most important media stumble

Phil Mickelson’s recent comments about Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson are the latest addition to Mickelson’s greatest hits. And whether you thought Phil was right for speaking his mind in response to a direct question, or you think he was out of line, likely depends on how you feel about “Phil being Phil.”

The thing is, for as much as Mickelson is criticized for his comments, there’s sometimes a lot of value in what he says — and his Ryder Cup comments about Watson could end up being the most valuable of his controversial statements through the years.

Sure, there were regrettable moments such as his claim that Tiger Woods was using inferior equipment and texting commissioner Finchem from the fairway in 2012 to complain about fans having phones. While you might not agree with his comments, you should acknowledge his willingness to speak his mind on topics such as his tax situation in California and making the case that Ryder Cup players should be paid. As wrong as you think he might have been, what other high-profile Tour player would ever say such things?

That brings us to Mickelson’s criticism of U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson in the post-event press conference, while Watson sat just a few seats from the disgruntled veteran.

Here’s the full transcript of what Phil the Thrill had to say (note: he jumped at the chance to answer a question posed to his entire team).

Q. Anyone that was on the team at Valhalla, can you put your finger on what worked in 2008 and what hasn’t worked since?

PHIL MICKELSON: There were two things that allow us to play our best I think that Paul Azinger did, and one was he got everybody invested in the process. He got everybody invested in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their pod, who — when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod. In my case, we had Ray Floyd, and we hung out together and we were all invested in each other’s play. We were invested in picking Hunter that week; Anthony Kim and myself and Justin were in a pod, and we were involved on having Hunter be our guy to fill our pod. So we were invested in the process. And the other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us, you know, how we were going to go about doing this. How we were going to go about playing together; golf ball, format, what we were going to do, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well, we had a real game plan. Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. And I think that, you know, we all do the best that we can and we’re all trying our hardest, and I’m just looking back at what gave us the most success. Because we use that same process in The Presidents Cup and we do really well. Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.

Q. That felt like a pretty brutal destruction of the leadership that’s gone on this week.

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I’m sorry you’re taking it that way. I’m just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best. It’s certainly — I don’t understand why you would take it that way. You asked me what I thought we should do going toward to bring our best golf out and I go back to when we played our best golf and try to replicate that formula.

Q. That didn’t happen this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Uh (pausing) no. No, nobody here was in any decision. So, no.

The buried lede in this widely reported story: While the form of Mickelson’s comments may have been inappropriate, they amount to a brilliant stratagem: getting those invested in the process talking about Paul Azinger’s winning tactics in 2008 and the possibility of bringing Azinger back as a captain.

Thus, Phil took a gamble and did something entirely ill advised, yes. However, if the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2016 under Paul Azinger or a coach employing his pod system wins the Cup, Mickelson fans and foes alike will return to Lefty’s press conference as the origin of the winning effort.

Should residency requirements play a role in the Ryder Cup?

Another Ryder Cup loss has most of American golf shaking their heads and asking a collective “why?”

There is a tendency to overlook the bigger picture here, but the bottom line is still rather clear. The balance of power in professional golf has clearly shifted. Europe seems too much for America to handle right now, just as Great Britain & Ireland was no match for the U.S. from 1927-1979.

This is not the first time such an imbalance has existed. When golf first came to this country in the late 19th century, the U.S. was a virtual babe in the woods and all the professionals were Scots or Brits. Then, in the mid-19th century, the U.S dominated everything. It has clearly ebbed and flowed.

It got so one-sided by the 1970s that Jack Nicklaus suggested Team GB&I be expanded to include the entire continent of Europe. It was a good idea then, but perhaps not now. The face of professional golf has changed dramatically in the last 25-to-30 years to include great young players from all over the world. On face value right now, it seems as lopsided as yesterday’s 16.5-to-11.5- final score.

In 2008, the U.S. dominated Europe 16-11 under Captain Paul Azinger in the Ryder Cup, but it appears to have been an anomaly, really. Azinger’s success with his “pod system” ignited our current discussions about different captains and their different strategies. Here’s the problem, though; Europe keeps producing better players. That’s why they’ve won five of the last six Ryder Cups (and 11 of the last 15).

With nearly 750 million people in some 50 countries, Europe’s advantage has become obvious. The sheer numbers are against the U.S. (it has about 315 million people) in this now truly one-sided affair, and the era of U.S. dominance is gone and may never return. That’s why I’m for changing to format.

Because of the ideal weather conditions in many areas of the United States and the superior golf course and practice facilities, many of the players on the European team reside in the U.S. Perhaps the joint Ryder Cup committees might suggest a residency requirement, not just a birth one? Or maybe a player’s tour allegiance might have some limitations on it? If a player decides to play the PGA Tour full time, should he be allowed to compete against the U.S. in the Cup? These are just a couple format changes that may ultimately have to be considered if the current trend becomes more permanent.

It’s true that absence of Tiger Woods (injury) and Dustin Johnson (personal reasons) may have made a difference, but somehow I don’t think so. It seems lately that whatever the U.S. comes up with, Europe finds a way to top it. The Euros seemed more determined, less intimidated and freer in their play styles. “Beat the big U.S. dog” seems to drive them harder and their cream rises to the top, while the U.S. curdles.

Your thoughts?

Why do low-handicap college golfers miss left?

As instructional tools evolve, we as teachers are better armed with technology that helps us become better instructors. The video feature on my Trackman helps me to better understand the dynamics of impact and the issues of faulty positions throughout the golf swing. While there are always idiosyncrasies that players can make up for at different times during the golf swing, it seems like I continually see some of the same swing flaws. In this article, I’d like to discuss an issue I tend to see in most low-handicap college golfers who are trying to become scratch or better.

With today’s style of “grip it and rip it,” we have seen the evolution of the grip — what once was more neutral has now become stronger in efforts to hit the ball greater distances. These stronger grips help to deloft the club at impact and with the higher ball speed players, this can mean prodigious distance shots with all clubs. The second thing these stronger grips can promote is a larger face-to-path relationship (as we’ll discuss below), which moves the ball on a stronger right-to-left ball-flight pattern, which for most players — not all — tends to create more distance.

While this is all good, sometimes this stronger grip can be the root of an issue in the golf swing that causes the ball to begin at the target and miss it a touch left. This is always a concern for these college players in tournaments when trying to access back left pins with bunkers, water, and out-of-bounds just left of the green. We have all “tugged” this type of shot starting the ball too much targetward, thus when it begins to curve, it’s gone.

Now as we have all seen before, the perfect impact dynamics look something like this to hit a push draw:

Image 01

The ball begins in the direction of the face and curves away from the path. Thus, when the face angle at impact is between the path and the target as shown above, the ball will begin to the right and curve back to the pin.

Now, back to the grip and why it can become an issue with a stronger grip for the college kids.

CollegePlayersFace2

This player has today’s normal grip, which shows between two to three knuckles on the left hand at address. This grip places a slight “cup” in the left hand at address. Whenever this “cup” is lost on the way back, the club face tends to shut as you can see in the photo above. Now the face is NOT brutally shut, but it is a touch more closed than I’d like to see for this right-to-left player at this point in the golf swing.

From here, the club face remains shut at the top and into delivery, almost mirroring the same club-face position I showed you on the takeaway earlier. When this happens, you are in trouble as you will see in a second.

CollegePlayersFace2

As discussed, this player has begun with today’s stronger grip and shut the face on the way back, to the top, on the way down, and now is trying to deliver this slightly closed face through impact. From here, you will see that the problems begin in regard to missing the ball a touch left.

The player’s swing dynamic look like this, which will cause a draw that starts at the target and moves farther left:

Image 04

His path is from in-to-out at 5.7 degrees, but the club is basically reaching impact in a square or target-ward condition. Whenever the face is pointing AT the target during impact with a rightward path, you will see the ball begin at the target and move farther left (with centered impact) as shown by the ball flight screen at the bottom right of the photo above. This slightly shut face upon impact increases the face-to-path ratio to 5.6 degrees, meaning the face angle at impact was almost 6 degrees left of the club’s path. This gives us a 12.7-degree spin axis.

Whenever the club and the face point different directions, you will tilt the ball’s spin axis and the ball will curve, and in this case, it’s going left of where this player wanted the ball to go.

Note: this is NOT a path issue, it’s a FACE issue. Because of the stronger grip, the club moved into a shut condition from the takeaway through to impact leaving this player to fight a draw that starts at the target, which always misses to the left of the target.

So what is the fix?

As the teacher, I could weaken the grip slightly or keep the “cup” in the left hand the player established at address into delivery. I could even try more radical solutions, like raising the vertical swing plane at impact, decreasing the dynamic loft, leaning the shaft more forward at impact.

However, before we go crazy, we should try to monitor the face, making sure it’s not moving into a shut condition during the swing. If the student cannot feel the face condition doing this and it still remains too shut into impact, then I am forced to do one of the above things in efforts to put his club into a more consistent delivery and impact condition.

The key for these lower-handicap players is to fix the things that are easy to fix before going off on a complex mechanical tangent that will take time and “sweat equity” on your part.

2014 Louisville Cardinal Invitational Photos

GolfWRX is live this week from the 2014 Louisville Cardinal Invitational in Simpsonville, Ky., hosted by the University of Louisville at the University of Louisville Golf Club, which will play as a par-72 measuring 7,036 yards for the event.

The Invitational is a 36-hole stroke play event consisting of 16 teams, including Louisville, Southern Illinois U., Louisiana Monroe, Western Kentucky U., Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati, Murray State, Dayton, Stetson, UT Martin, High Point U., Western Carolina, U. of New Orleans, Eastern Kentucky, DePaul and Austin Peay State.

Last year, Louisville’s five-man team took home the team title, and will be looking to repeat this year as the host university. J.T. Poston of Western Carolina was 2013′s individual medalist, posting 9-under par for the event to win by two shots.

Check out our photos from the 2014 Louisville Cardinal Invitational.

Sunday

2014 Cardinal Classic: Sun. Pt. 1
2014 Cardinal Classic: Sun. Pt. 2
2014 Cardinal Classic: Sun. Pt. 3
2014 Cardinal Classic: Sun. Pt. 4
2014 Cardinal Classic: Sun. Pt. 5
2014 Cardinal Classic: Sun. Pt. 6
2014 Cardinal Classic: Sun. Pt. 7

Special Galleries

The University of Louisville Golf Club: Hole-by-hole photos

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See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in the discussion thread!