The (Nearly) 40-Year Old (PGA Show) Virgin

1/27/2013 0 comments

Over the course of a man's life, certain dates just stick out as landmark events. First kiss (Beth Weckler, October 23, 1989). First date with your future wife (October 9, 1993). 21st birthday. (October 20, 1994) Wedding day (September 4, 1999) First "time" (ditto). Kids being born. First 155-hole marathon for charity (June 22, 2011). First dunk (TBD).

Then there's January 25, 2013. After 39 years, 3 months and 5 days of anticipation, I finally popped my PGA Show cherry.

The PGA Merchandise Show is golf's Super Bowl. Every January, the Orange County Convention Center is filled with golf industry insiders, buyers, reps, media, celebrities and entrepreneurs looking to see the hot products for the upcoming year. For the Average Joe like you or me, this usually means being on the outside looking in. Our only glimpse of the action is from YouTube clips, GolfWRX threads or equipment blog posts. To me, the PGA show has always looked like a magical fairyland of golf gadgetry. Oh what I wouldn't do for one of those badges.

Thanks to my good friends at TRUE linkswear and my self-labeled 'Brand Ambassador' title, I bagged a badge. It was on like Donkey Kong.

One Divot Auction

1/22/2013 0 comments
On Tuesday, I launched a fundraiser auction to support The Midnight Golf Program in Detroit. Details are below. Please support this worthwhile cause by spreading the word, bidding on an item or maybe even donating a golf-related item.

One Divot Charity Golf Auction Fundraiser for The Midnight Golf Program
  • Online auction for rounds of golf at top courses and other valuable golf-related items

  • Proceeds to support Midnight Golf, serving young men and women in Detroit

  • One Divot matching 20% of auction proceeds up to $3,000

  • What is The Midnight Golf Program?

    Since 2001, more than 1,000 young people have participated in The Midnight Golf Program. The Program teaches life skills, including personal and professional development, college preparation and giving back to the community along with learning to play golf. The young men and women come from across the Detroit area. Adult volunteers serve as mentors and golf is taught by Class A PGA professional instructors. The expectation is that the experience will develop empowered, socially responsible young adults prepared to maximize their potential. For more details, go to

    The Auction

    The online auction begins on Tuesday, January 22nd and will continue until we run out of items! The fundraiser will be operated through eBay’s Giving Works, which ensures that 100% of the sale proceeds go to the nonprofit organization (in this case, One Divot). One Divot will funnel 100% of the proceeds to Midnight Golf and will match 20% of the funds raised, up to $3,000.

    The items set for auction include (click each item to be taken to the eBay auction listing or click here to be taken to a list of all open auction items):

  • A threesome of golf with Tom Doak at Crystal Downs in Frankfort, MI

  • A threesome of golf at Oakland Hills Country Club (South Course) in Bloomfield Twp., MI

  • A threesome of golf at The Olympic Club in San Francisco

  • A foursome of golf at Ballyneal Golf Club in Holyoke, CO

  • A threesome of golf with P.B. Dye at Urbana Country Club in Urbana, OH

  • A threesome of golf at The Course at Yale in New Haven, CT

  • A threesome of golf at White Manor Country Club in Malvern, PA

  • A foursome of golf at Paramount Country Club in New City, NY

  • A signed and personalized copy of The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses by Tom Doak

  • For more information, or to donate a golf-related item for auction, please contact Jim Colton at or David Gamlin at

    About One Divot

    One Divot is a non-profit organization that, through creative, golf-related fundraising events like the Hundred Hole Hike, brings together passionate golfers seeking to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Specifically, money raised through direct donations and corporate sponsorship will go into one of two key areas:

    1. To provide support to individuals in the golf "family" who are in dire need of medical or financial assistance;
    2. To develop and provide support to "grow the game" initiatives, particularly amongst youths in traditionally underserved areas.

    One Divot's directors and other active participants are all unpaid volunteers seeking to fulfill One Divot's above mission out of a shared respect and passion for the game.

    Incorporated in April 2012, One Divot is a non-profit public charity exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.


    1/10/2013 2 comments

    One of the best golf purchases I made this offseason is a Players Club Plus pass at the local PGA Superstore here in Chicago. For $99, you get to use their simulators and practice bays as much as you want for 30-minute increments (and as long as no one is waiting, you can keep rolling over session after session). I've been able to go about twice a week since November, usually with one of my kids in tow. It's been a great way to stay loose over the offseason, spend time with the kids, and hit a bunch of golf equipment.

    The PGA Superstore uses simulators from AboutGolf ( and though I really have no idea as to the accuracy of the numbers, they seem to be in the ballpark and there are a bunch of them. Numbers and golf are probably my two favorite things, so I'm like a kid in the candy store with this software. Until I can convince my wife that we need to install one of these in our basement (it's an investment in our kids, honey!), I'll keep making the 15-minute drive to Lombard to hang out with my boys Milo, Steve and the gang who roll their eyes and graciously start setting up a bay whenever they see me walk in the door.

    Earlier this week, my buddy and fellow lefty Wego and I hit the Schaumburg store together and took turns testing out some of the demo clubs. Being left-handed, it's generally hard to test new equipment. As a result, I generally don't buy clubs that often. When trying to find Wego a driver to test out, I stumbled on a demo set of TaylorMade Rocketbladez (non-tour) irons in lefty, something the Lombard store didn't have yet. I grabbed a 6-iron in both regular and stiff shaft and took them back to the simulators.

    The Rocketbladez are the next big thing (or 'this little thing' if you follow their marketing and social media campaign) in TMAG's arsenal of clubs. Similar to the Rocketballz hybrids and fairway woods that have a speed pocket in the sole, the irons have some sort of magical flubber injected into a slot in the clubhead to increase ball speed and thus distance. The early buzz on these clubs and distance claims were almost too good to be true, though it's difficult to know what's marketing schtick vs. true performance. As details started coming out, we came to realize that the lofts are 3* strong, with lighter and longer shafts. That combination was almost guaranteed to make the ball go farther.

    So after explaining all of this to Wego, I stepped up and let the bulky, offset 6-iron fly.

    It carried 227 yards and 236 yards total. Whoa. As in Brent Musberger Whoooooa!
    Next ball: 226 yards carry, 235 yards total. 6-iron!
    The next five balls were all about the same, averaging around 225 yards. We were laughing about the distance and the ridiculousness of the all. While Wego took a couple cuts, I grabbed a 4-iron and PW to see how far those went. I hit a 4-iron 265 yards. Pitching wedge 180.

    But despite those distances, I still wasn't a believer. They felt pretty solid, but who wants to hit a pitching wedge 180 yards? I just got three new wedges for Christmas. I'd have to get two more to fill in all the gaps between 105-175 yards.

    One caveat: these demo clubs were graphite shafts. I'd never hit graphite-shafted irons before but initially thought that was all they had. It wasn't until we were leaving that I saw some steel shafted demo irons. So I vowed to come back and test them out side-by-side with one of my current clubs, a Mizuno MP-32 (these are my backup clubs. I play with old Mizuno MP30 irons that I keep out in Colorado. I got these MP32's on ebay a few years ago. I believe they have Project X shafts, but the stickers have come off so I don't know the stiffness.)

    I was able to do the side-by-side showdown earlier this evening. I don't really know what all these numbers mean, other than it's a good thing I have a decent short game! The Rocketbladez were about 14 yards further on average, with slightly lower launch angle and lower spin rates. I can miss +/- 15 yards with the best of 'em no matter what bat is in my hand.

    I'll be making my virgin trip to the PGA Show in Orlando in a couple weeks, and hope to get my hands on some of the Rocketbladez Tour irons with less offset and more traditional topline (Dustin Johnson just won with them in Hawaii). I'll be interested in comparing those numbers side-by-side. For now, my long-term marriage with Mizuno's is still intact. But the Rocketbladez are a little bit like A.J. McCarron's girlfriend. Part of me wants to take them to get wings and then to King of Diamonds after a sim session.

    Champion: Mizuno MP-32 6-iron

    Challenger: TaylorMade Rocketbladez (non-tour) 6-iron

    The Shot Chart

    New Golf Digest Rankings, America's Greatest 100 Golf Courses 2013-2014

    1/08/2013 0 comments
    The Dell Hole didn't survive, but that didn't stop Erin Hills from debuting at #10 in the 2013-14 America's 100 Greatest Public Courses

    With its February issue, Golf Digest updated its definitive list of America's Greatest 100 golf courses. You can see the full-list with write-ups on the top 100 overall and public courses below.

    For the first time, the magazine provided a glimpse at the courses in the next 100, with its "Second 100 Greatest". You can see the list here.

    For a historical perspective, check out this google document that has a list of all of the Golf Digest rankings going back to 1975.

    If you're really into numbers, I put together this spreadsheet survey (it's hosted on Google Drive, but you need to download it and open in Excel) that helps you determine which of the seven Golf Digest ratings criteria is important to you, then provides a more customized top 100 list. The survey will ask you to select amongst groups of 10 courses, based on whether you feel one group in collectively underrated or overrated relative to the other group. In the first tab, you can select the courses you've played (or paste in '1' for all rows to have the survey select all the courses).  You need at least 20 courses selected in order for the survey to work correctly. Once you're done scoring the 21 questions in the survey, the results tab provides the customized results. Please let me know what weights you come up with in the comment box below.

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