Yes, I bought a chipper and I don’t regret it

I know what you are thinking right now. And you may have a point, but hear me out. It won’t disappoint you.

When I lived in England, I unfortunately haven’t had much time to play golf. But when I did with locals, in 100% of the occasions, there was at least one player in the group using a chipper without hesitation.

Back home in Germany I never encountered anybody using this sort of club and honestly never had one in my hand myself. This changed a couple of weeks ago when I decided to give this thing a try. All the English people can’t be so wrong about it — when it’s helpful and useful, then it’s a reason to put in the bag.

So what I did, I purchased the top level chipper online as no local golf shop had one to show, nor to buy. Hence online I went and screened the very narrow offer of chippers out there. And this is how it went.

Continue reading Yes, I bought a chipper and I don’t regret it

Late 2020 season progress

Yesterday I went to the range with my clubs in the hunt for some answers to what’s wrong with my long game currently. As it turns out, there’s isn’t so much wrong after all.

I put my 9-year old driver, fairway wood and hybrid back in the bag, and truth be told, the balls were pretty much flying as desired. Yes, it was range only from artificial turf but the overall performance was very, very positive. Which is why I believe I neither have a club or swing problem, but more a shaft problem in my new metalwood clubs. A problem that needs some fixing in the off-season clearly.

So in the meantime my old woods are performing nicely and I also had one completely new club in the bag which I teased here very recently. No, it’s not a putter and yes, there will be more information about it very soon. But so far, I’m really happy with the purchase and the outcome in the first practice session.

So happy indeed that I enrolled for two competitions in October to get these two areas to real tournament-pressure numbers. We’ll see. #Project9 and #Break80 are back on the agenda. Not for 2020, but definitely for 2021.

My dilemma with my metal woods explained

Open and frank, my game with driver, woods and hybrids is very, very poor. Up to a point where I whiffed, shanked or topped balls. Pathetic, I know. I was better once, had lessons when it got worse, but it all was pretty obvious: irons yay, woods nay.

In the past years I made peace with my woods and as a consequence ignored them in my basement, literally leaving the long sticks at home when I left for a competition. I felt confident with my long irons, put a 2- and 3-iron in the bag and found the fairway very, very consistently.

While this was great for confidence, and shot shaping, and pace of play, it left me at a stage where with handicap 12 I figured it would be really difficult to drastically improve if I would’t be in a position to jack up my GIR rate and just be a little longer. Putting the ball in the fairway is nice, but it’s not ideal to attack the flag with another 200 meters to go.

Usually my 2-iron gets me to 180 meters effortlessly. Sometimes less, sometimes up to 200, depending on weather and turf condition. And I do appreciate that consistency, it’s just that in order to get to a single handicap, I’m urgently in need to improve with my woods and hybrids. I just need to be able to take out the driver to aim for an area of the hole that is more than 230 meters away. That was out of the question so far…

Continue reading My dilemma with my metal woods explained

Preparing the next generation; youth golf clubs

Some people might find it weird, some others will understand it, and again others might have done exactly what I’m trying to achieve: I bought my little 3-year old daughter her first own golf set.

She didn’t ask for it (she’s currently more asking for a horse actually) and she never expressed much interest in playing golf at all. Yes, she used my clubs from time to time when daddy practiced chipping in the backyard, and yes, she was quite keen to play when we hit the range the other day, but in every case I was more or less the trigger.

Sure, I never forced her to hold a club but as said, she never actively asked to play the game at all.

As a keen golfer with a clear picture that this is THE perfect family sport, I’m however interested to get her interested, too. What I will do for the rest of this and definitely next season is to take her with me to some range sessions for her to see what daddy is doing there and that other people are doing pretty much the same.

She knows what playing golf is, that you have some clubs with which you swing and that you try to get that little white ball in a small hole in the ground. Mommy is doing some fancy fitness stuff and daddy hits white balls around a field…

Continue reading Preparing the next generation; youth golf clubs

It’s time for a new GPS watch

I was and still am a big fan of my Garmin S2 GPS watch. It accompanied me on uncounted rounds of golf, always worked perfectly (in contrast to the golf shot afterwards) and definitely does the trick. Still it was time for something new.

As said, I really like my S2, there is nothing I would have liked differently when I bought it. It had everything I asked for, and frankly, all the other gimmicks with expensive color GPS watches, it just doesn’t give you any additional benefit—in my opinion.

As it ages though, it’s the second wrist band already and buying it in white hasn’t been the greatest idea in the first place. Then the battery seems to fade, and I’m lucky if I make it through 18 holes before the battery dies. The capacity is just not there anymore. And it’s a bit bulky and clumsy. Apart from these downsides it’s a brilliant watch, no question about it.

But it was time for something new. I went for even a cheaper version of golf GPS watch and bought the Garmin S10, a sleek black GPS watch with a monochrome watch face, battery for 12 hours of GPS golf mode or months in watch mode only. And it’s lightweight and black.

Ticks every boxes, what do you think?

Continue reading It’s time for a new GPS watch

GPS or laser rangefinder – that is the question

Decades ago, life was easy. Golf life, too. There were distance poles on the side of the fairway, indicating 100, 150 and 200 meters or yards. It was measured towards the front of the green and you would add a good portion to the green center or the flag, whatever you were aiming for.

In between poles you would either roughly estimate or pace out manually. These measures were of course very rough but fine for most golfers nonetheless for hundred years.

Then modern technology hit the golf course as well. Nowadays it’s common to ask for exact distances, and when I say “exactly”, I mean exactly. A margin of three meters doesn’t seem to be OK anymore – you need exact figures.

I couldn’t resist myself either, as you can imagine, so in the end I use both a laser and a GPS device. But let me explain what I think of both devices and what I believe these are targeted at. Because not every style of player would be equally happy with both devices.

Generally I truly appreciate the technology that made its way to golf as well. I also believe that, correctly used, it can drastically improve your game. But it does require some thought process and less ego—yes, I’m talking to you, middle aged male golfer.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we:

Continue reading GPS or laser rangefinder – that is the question

New clubs deserve new balls, gloves and a bag

As you might have read here, I’m the proud owner of a new awesome set of irons. I ordered my dream clubs, the Titleist CB, they were custom made to my exact configuration and finally delivered to my doorstep last week.

I have one round already in the books with them and they feel and perform just fantastic. Enough reason to treat myself with some other golf goods to really kick off the progress in the 2019 season. It’s just fair to accompany new clubs with new balls, a new glove and put them in a new bag.

Balls

For years I played NIKE PD Soft and really liked them. I had access to various Titleist products as well and used VICE in different versions, too. Both are good balls even though I have to say I don’t seriously recognize a huge difference between brands if you stay in one category, meaning comparing soft with soft with soft.

I really like the VICE Pro, especially its soft outer shell which supposedly creates more spin around the green, which I appreciate. In other characteristics I reckon this ball is pretty comparable to the Titleist ProV, but with a much smaller price tag. Buying ProVs is somewhat unnecessary not being a single handicapper I think. Staying in the Titleist brand and preferring softer feel, it was a no-brainer to go test the new Titleist Tour Soft ball. So far a very good ball indeed.

Since the latest MyGolfSpy ball test which created quite some stir in the industry, everyone knows from an independent source that soft balls are actually slow balls, meaning distance will suffer once you change from a hard ball to a soft ball. Doesn’t sound like rocket science, does it. However distance has never been a problem for me, I’m not after the next 20 meters, what I’m after is consistent ball flight and distance and a soft touch within 80 meters around the hole.

Glove

Not for the first time I ordered some new FootJoy CabrettaSof gloves, a hand-made Cabretta leather product which I love. It just feels more natural to me compared to the overly technical synthetic gloves I clearly used and tested as well. Feel is everything and I do believe I will stick with this model for a while – it’s just that you can’t buy it in every golf or pro shop.

Bag

Coming to the bag. I already own some Titleist bags; the latest two additions are currently in constant rotation, depending on reason I’m heading to the course. For training I prefer a light-weight carry bag as I don’t use a trolley on the range. For a round of golf I use a tidy 14-way cart bag with bigger pockets. This ends up in packing and un-packing golf sticks on a weekly basis, which is annoying to say the least.

Now I bought a Titleist hybrid bag. As the name suggests, it’s a hybrid between carry and cart bag. You are able to carry it, it stands properly just like any other carry bag, but it offers both more storage room and a 14-way divider at the top. I guess this is what I waited for so long from Titleist. No more early morning re-packing in the garage. Yay!

Apparel

That’s it as far as equipment goes. I couldn’t resist the other day to buy another FootJoy Chill Out Pullover with club logo on the chest. I really like FootJoy products, next to all the NIKE polos, trousers and shorts I have in my golf drawers. “Play good, look good!” If you don’t play well, don’t be bothered to spend too much on looking good and invest in some training sessions instead.

And before you ask, no it’s not yet Christmas time.

I got myself some new clubs. Titleist CB

Look at these shiny babies! Aren’t they pretty?!

I treated myself with a great new set of irons recently. A set which I was thinking about getting for years!

You might know I’m quite an Acushnet fanboy and loved my Titleist 712 AP2 for years. But then when I played less (which I think is usually the case when you get a child) I thought about trying some new irons which would fall more into the game improvement category. Jordan Spieth plays AP2s on tour and I thought weekend golfers should stick to the equipment they are supposed to use, not want they want to use.

So I moved away from my beloved Titleist irons and I believed that this was a smart move to look for something in the mass market category: Bigger head, massive sole, forgiving on all edges, graphite shaft and ready to swing the ball with less speed and still get decent distance. But distance was never an issue. Truth be told, I got fitted to the PING G400, played them for 2 years but somehow it didn’t click. Apparently they were just not for me.

If you know PING’s fitting system, you are aware of their color code system. I was recommended a Blue set, while in hindsight I strongly believe it should have been a Black for me. So already standing over the ball, it felt weird to me.

So it was about time to change something. I lacked feel around the greens, missed the forged feel of full iron shots and I also couldn’t get used to the annoying sound it produced with every shot. In other words, I wasn’t happy with them and knew we had to part ways soon.

I bought the PINGs concentrating on playability and consistency, willing to bear the ugly chunkiness of these clubs. Now it was time for something else, for something I always wanted, always strived for but didn’t go for because I believed it wasn’t for me: another set of Titleist players irons. One set I couldn’t get out of my head was Titleist’s CBs, the friendlier brother to the butter knife muscle backs MBs.

Always admiring these clubs from an esthetic standpoint, I never really considered them seriously: Small face, thin top line, thin sole, only little help around the edges and behind the small sweet spot. So it looks like it’s not for weekend golfers per se, but I wanted to give it a shot. I desperately wanted it. When I saw the mid-2019 announcement how the next generation of 620 CBs will look like in 2020, I had to buy the old 718 CBs, I just had to because they are so damn pretty. Have to admit that the weak Pound to the Euro played its part as well.

What followed after this thought was a complicated search for the right setting. I did some extensive research on shaft flexes and weight, and I want you to benefit from this process as well. So this thought process is what led to my setting:

In the AP2 I played a ProjectX 5.5 shaft with a stock Tour Velvet grip. The grip wasn’t perfect but fine. The 5.5 rifle shaft (with a 5.0 FCM) was a tad too stiff for me and ProjectX shafts generally create a more low ball flight due to their stiffer tip section. Also, the 5.5 shaft was more on the heavy side compared to the weight of the club head. With that I lacked the feel for the position of the head at the end of my shaft during the swing.

So I wanted something lighter and something that would still create a penetrating ball flight but a fraction higher than what I was used to. I had to look for another shaft manufacturer and found the perfect setup with KBS. It’s impossible to compare apples and oranges and stiff doesn’t equal stiff, but leaving all shaft section flexes aside, the KBS equivalent to the ProjectX 5.5 seems to be the KBS Tour Stiff (similar FCM: Frequency Coefficient Matching, a system based on cycle per minute (CPM) data from golf shaft oscillation tests.) This would come in a very similar shaft weight though – would certainly launch higher but wouldn’t improve the weight issue. I could go down some grams with the regular shaft or the regular+, but that wouldn’t be stiff enough for my swing characteristic. To cut a long story short, I found the perfect setup with the KBS Tour 90 Stiff.

It’s lighter than my old, lighter than regular KBS Tours, still maintain enough stiffness and create a higher ball flight with a kick in the tip section. It would loose distance due to the higher launch but would gain something back through the kick. This paired with the most beautiful forged club head on the market and the same forgiveness as in the Titleist 716 AP2, I just couldn’t go wrong.

In terms of grip I wanted to try the Golf Pride New Decade MultiCompound with its hybrid approach to cotton and rubber and I have to say it’s been great so far.

This much for setting. I had everything exclusively made for me, bought the set from 2-iron to PW and will stick to my Bob Vokey wedges, the Scotty Cameron putter and the PING G400 driver, woods and hybrid. I can say it’s a dream set come true. Maybe someday updated with the recent Titleist woods and hybrid models, but for now I’m happy with what I got from PING. I don’t use woods and hybrids much anyway—I’m more the 2-iron kind of guy.

On Sunday I took them out for the first time, had a quick range session and immediately played a tournament with them. Luckily everything felt and behaved just as expected. Happy me!

Just when you think you got it…

Last week I had such a great practice session, that I posted on Facebook that I was super happy where my game was heading. Small adjustments to grip and stance and the ball flight got much higher and—more importantly—much straighter.

That was one week ago. Yesterday I played a tournament at Golf Club Nahetal in central Germany. That was the first round after my little adjustments. On the range everything went pretty well, one or two shots off, but the vast majority was straight as I wanted them to be.

Then on the course, I don’t know why, I fell back to old habits I guess. Hooks, thins and really bad shots had been the outcome throughout the whole rubbish round. Some nice pars, one birdie but dozens of stupid shots as well. Still came out at 5th in the tournament but I hated the round nonetheless.

I’m not saying it’s my clubs’ fault but for some reason I’m really bad with metal woods of all sorts. I play PING’s G400 driver, 3-wood, 5-wood and hybrid. And all are making problems. Again, not the clubs’ fault but apparently I just can’t adjust to the swing necessary for woods shots.

Which is why I’m seriously considering to bring my old 2001 Taylor Made set back to the game!

Why, you will ask. I really liked this set, once re-gripped it and the good thing about it: it features a 3- and even a 2-iron. This may sound intimidating to some of you but as a driving iron, I really can recommend it if you struggle with woods. For me it worked perfectly in the past. Got down to a 16 handicap just using irons. That I’m still at 14 says it all I guess…

With (long) irons shot shaping is easier, getting the ball airborne in the first place is much easier and with a good swing you have decent length as well. Sure, no driver length, but putting the ball in the fairway on every damn hole really makes the difference in the long run. As least when you count strokes.

I will let you know how that goes. I’m still curious myself. Wish me luck. Or I might just get some pro sessions in.