In terms of golf, 2018 was an interesting year for me. I played a lot of rounds, set out some attainable goals and fully immersed myself into the industry from a work standpoint. Career-wise, I’ve always wanted to do something related to sports, however as recently as 3 years ago I didn’t know how that goal was going to get accomplished.
Landing the Content Manager job on the eCommerce team at GolfDiscount.com has opened the doors to a career in the golf industry and allowed me to continue to harness my athletic abilities.
Testing In 2018
After working behind the scenes with Bob Gomavitz for a couple of years, the chance to take on the whole club testing process from start to finish was presented and I jumped at the opportunity.
I take club testing seriously, and my focus while testing is laser-like. I am constantly analyzing how the club interacts with the ball and the turf, what kind of flight characteristics the club and shaft combination produces, what the top line looks like and whether I like the aesthetics or not.
The main goal of testing is to determine who a club is for and how well it accomplishes what it claims to do. Not everything I test is designed for my game, but it is just as important to conduct a thorough review of a super game improvement iron as it is a players iron. My hope is that these reviews help you decide if this could be the right club for you!
The irons I game are 0.5” long and 1° upright, which makes testing standard length, loft and lie clubs a little challenging to hit. Each set of irons sets up differently and it takes a little bit of time to get comfortable to the stock offerings. However, I think it is important to test clubs in their stock state for the best side by side comparison.
This process is not without benefit. Testing has helped my overall game by giving me a greater understanding of the mechanics of my own swing. Hitting a wide variety of clubs has assisted me in better synthesizing why a shot reacted the way it did and determine where a swing went awry. In 2019, I want to better translate the heightened focus from testing to the course.
In addition to testing, I am responsible for the build out of all the custom club product pages on GolfDiscount.com. It is safe to say, my knowledge about equipment and the game of golf in general has grown by leaps and bounds this year.
On The Course In 2018
2018 has been a fun year on the course, too. At the beginning of the year, I set out a few goals I wanted to achieve: end the season as a 5 handicap, improve ball striking consistency on approach and wedge shots, make more of the putts that lower handicap players are expected to make (5-10’ putts), and seek out some tournaments and competitive settings to play the game.
I logged 79 official rounds between March and November this year and played another 20-30 rounds outside of the official scoring season. Ultimately, I fell short of my goal of reaching a 5 handicap, however I did move in the right direction and lowered my index a full point from the end of the 2017 season. The end of the season saw my handicap finish at a 7.5. My lowest low handicap index was 6.3 at the June 1st revision.
Assessing What’s In My Bag
With all this new knowledge fresh in my head, I had to make some honest assessments about the clubs in my bag, most notably concerning my irons and putter. As my goals within the game have begun to revolve more around improvement and competition than enjoyment, I needed to determine if my equipment was helping or hindering my progress.
I love the looks and feel of blade irons and heel-shafted putters, but I can honestly say that they aren’t necessarily the optimal types of clubs for my game. Though, blessed with good hand-to-eye coordination, a more compact iron has always fit my eye; and, I also prefer the solid feel of a muscle back compared to a cavity back.
Fortunately, there are quite a few irons on the market today that feature more forgiveness than a blade, but still retain the feel of a muscle back. It came down to the TaylorMade P770/P750 irons, the Callaway X Forged 18 irons and the Mizuno JPX 919 Tour irons.
In the end, the familiarity and feel of Mizuno won, and at the end of the year I placed my order for JPX 919 Tour irons. The power frame of the 919s impressed me. I liked how it limits side to side dispersion compared to the MP-68s I’ve been playing for the past 8 years. I look forward to getting to know my new irons a whole lot better this off season.
When it came time to assess my putter, I had to accept an obvious fact. While I enjoy the shape and set up of heel-shafted putters, I simply miss too many putts to keep them in the bag. After trying out a series of heel-shafted putters, on a whim I found a 2007 Scotty Cameron Studio Style Newport in our trade ins and made an impulse decision. I bought it on the spot and I haven’t looked back since.
The greatest improvement has come on putts from 4-8’. I’m nowhere near perfect in this range, but I feel much more confident sitting over these putts with the traditional-style blade putter, and consequently I’m seeing a lot more of those putts drop.
Goals For 2019
The ultimate goal of breaking par still lingers as the year comes to a close, but I know I’m in striking distance. I scared par on numerous occasions this season, including a couple of 1-over 72s on Par 71 courses. A playing partner of mine mused, “We need to become more comfortable scoring low”. This sentiment has stuck with me and I will work in the off season to mentally prepare myself to score under par. 2019 will be the year!
Playing Goals For 2019
- Work with a PGA Certified Instructor to:
- Develop a practice routine that utilizes time at the range efficiently and effectively
- Have my swing analyzed and identify the mechanics that create issues of inconsistency
- Further improve overall ball striking
- Utilize more technology like apps, sensors in grips and launch monitors to further understand my swing’s profile
- Convert a higher percentage of FIR and GIR
- End the season with a handicap of 5 or better
- Compete in larger, regional tournaments
- Break par!
Testing Goals For 2019
I’m excited to continue providing club reviews and look forward to expanding the content and information next year. I’m in a unique position where I have access to clubs, manufacturer reps, product specialists and club fitters, and I hope to leverage these relationships even more in 2019.
- Utilize a three-pronged testing approach (on course, at the range and generating launch monitor data) for all drivers, woods, hyrbids and irons
- Incorporate more interactivity into reviews, including video and more dynamic imagery
- Expand reviews to include new release wedges and putters