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Feherty is a Hit!

Feherty is a Human After All

I was really looking forward to seeing this and I missed the first show. But luckily I caught it when it was re-aired by the Golf Channel later in the week. I am really happy I did and I intend to watch every week. The Golf Channel has done it right with David Feherty ‘s show. This is not another gratuitous ride on a personality like Donald Trump, but a thoughtful, yet humorous romp through the human condition with golf as the backdrop. It is quirky yet informative, it is real and funny, and it is entertaining. It was a brilliant stroke to bring on Lee Trevino for the first show. He is such a delightful soul, and I learned some things about him I would otherwise not have known. (Semper fi Lee) One might think with Trevino and Feherty that it would be too much personality and they might clash, but David Feherty has been in this business long enough to know when to let the “horse run” and when to interject his humor and comment.

Feherty is More Than Golf

This is a show that it is not limited to the niche world of The Golf Channel, it would thrive on a major network channel. There is human interest and humor in it that transcends knowledge of golf – even though it’s central theme is obviously golf. Feherty brings his history of addiction, his resume as a professional golfer and golf analyst, and a lovable personality and sense of humor flavored with the slight edge of “I’ve been there, you’re not going to bullshit me” thrown in. Feherty has risen from some depths most of us could not and he is now giving at every turn. From working with the Troops First Foundation (internal link) to visiting them in country, he has become an American in every sense of the word and lives it passionately. His show could have been too silly, but thankfully it is not. Feherty is just the right mix of fun and lore…and personal example.

Make Time to Watch Feherty

Airing at 9 PM on Tuesday nights on The Golf Channel, Feherty has to become a favorite of golfers. And, as I alluded to above, the show has great entertainment value to non-golfers as well. Unfortunately, I am not sure how many non-golfers will tune in…perhaps through its ‘affiliation’ with NBC, they will advertise outside of The Golf Channel (they may be already, but I am not aware) to draw the folks in. At any rate, if you have not yet seen Feherty, tune in – I promise you will be entertained.

Rory McIlroy Wins 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional

What a U.S. Open Weekend!

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy wins the U.S. Open,  his first major, in a storm of scoring on a weakened, yet still long Congressional Country Club golf course. As I watched Rory throughout the tournament I was impressed with his poise and patience, not only on the course, but off as well. I can only imagine how many times he has answered the questions regarding his Masters back nine fall a few weeks before. Even Bob Costas’ ill-timed inappropriate question about The Masters during the championship award ceremony did not phase Rory, but who would have blamed him if it did? (Come on Bob, save those questions for the post tournament press conference!) But Rory has grown up in preparation for this moment. He has proven to be gracious in losing, and now gracious in winning. He is delightful to watch.

A Vulnerable U.S. Open Golf Course

The course was vulnerable this week. With the rough down somewhat in anticipation for hard and fast greens and then rains softening the greens during the tournament, the course was ripe for better than normal U.S. Open scoring…and there was better than normal U.S. Open scoring. Not taking anything away from Rory’s performance as he did lap the field, but there were lots of players under par (20 including Rory). Also, an accomplishment of very few in past, he was not the only player to shoot all four rounds under par – he was joined by Robert Garrigus (T3), although Rory did so with all 4 in the 60’s (65/66/68/69). Garrigus shot 70 3 times making a tough clutch par putt on 18 to make it happen.

Who Showed at the U.S. Open & Who Didn’t

Jason Day once again showed brilliance in a major finishing alone in second. We saw some small glimpses of the Sergio of old. Chappel and Garrigus were the lone Americans in the top 10 at 6 under par, T3 along with Y.E. Yang and Lee Westwood. Where was Phil, Luke and Martin?  The amateur Patrick Cantlay (pictured behind Rory), an incoming 19 year old sophomore at UCLA and the world’s number one amateur, did spectacularly carding an even par score for the tournament and taking low amateur honors.  His next amateur competitor was Russell Henley, a Georgia Bulldog, finishing at 4 over par.

U.S. Open Coverage

It was an interesting dynamic to watch the U.S. Open as broadcasts switched from ESPN to NBC then to ESPN again on Thursday and Friday. What a dichotomy of announcers and styles! I also listened to part on Sirius/XM ESPN. NBC televised the Saturday and Sunday rounds and we got our fill of Johnny Miller. I have to say, I would much rather watch and listen to Curtis Strange (he was broadcasting on radio) than Miller. Miller seemed to be manufacturing scenarios to make it more “interesting.” He was a little out of character I think in his incessant praise of McIlroy’s swing. Usually he will find something wrong somewhere.

What was NBC thinking when they edited out “under God” from the American pledge of allegiance in their tribute to American patriotism? Does that strike anyone else as a strange juxtaposition, to edit a pledge in a tribute to patriotism?! Did they think that most people hadn’t said it in so long that no one would remember it and it would just pass? The apology was lame. As if they simply mistakenly edited out the words. There is no doubt in my mind that it was intentional. What arrogance! Whoever made that decision needs to be fired. We just don’t change the words to fit our agendas…

U.S. Open Repercussions?

A thought came to me that maybe this is just the kind of motivation to bring Tiger out of his funk. Sure, he has injury, but motivation is key to recovery. Doubters of this theory would say that surpassing Jack’s major total is enough motivation. Is it? Now, after the personal failures and the inner searching Tiger is obviously undertaking to find his new self? Maybe this surge of 20-something talent will bring out a hungry Tiger. Just a thought.

Thanks Rory for a great U.S. Open showing!  You’re a great Champion.

The “Golf Boys!”

Golf Boys Debut

There are some stodgy old golf purists out there that are spewing coffee through their nostrils this morning after watching the latest video Ben Crane (and sponsor?) has put out. But it isn’t only Ben Crane  now – he has enlisted (or they have jumped on the wagon) some of professional golf’s best young players to take part in this hilariously funny, self-deprecating, and dare I say it – exciting – video.

Golf Boys Intro at U.S. Open

I get the electronic version of Golf World Magazine via email and came across this in their 6/16/2011 “Things We’re Talking About” article.  There is a great photo of the Golf Channel guys (Rich Lerner, Brandel Chamblee, and Frank Nobilo) and our 4 amigos Ben Crane , Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler , and Bubba Watson at the desk with Congressional in the background laughing it up over the video.  I clicked the link to the video of the “Golf Boys” that Golf World provided.  My first impression was, Man, I want to watch these guys play golf!  My wife watched the video with me, she is not a golfer, and she had the same reaction.  To quote the Guiness guys – Brilliant!”

Golf World – “…this is probably not a video Hogan would have made.”

Watch the Golf Boys video (below)!  Ben Crane is consistent with his wardrobe of a red wetsuit and black open face scooter helmet from previous hilarious videos.  But then there is Hunter Mahan in tights, a furry jacket, and a scraggly beard looking like a “mod squad Viking”…hey Hunter, what’s in your wallet?” And Bubba Watson, of course, Bubba is from Baghdad, Florida and in Baghdad everyone knows that denim over-alls is the way to go to get that “feel all free underneath feeling.”  If you need advice on getting that feeling, just call BR549 – Junior may answer, just ask for Bubba.  And finally, there’s Rickie.  Isn’t it most appropriate that Rickie looks like he just stepped out of a session with the Backstreet Boys?  If only his lip synching was as good as theirs – : )

The Golf Boys Video

Golf Boys for Fun and Charity

This is masterful marketing, fun, and good for charity.  Yes, if anyone buys the song “Oh Oh Oh” on iTunes, all proceeds go to charity.  Farmer’s Insurance will certainly benefit from some You Tube play – this thing has probably already gone viral.

It’s something to see these guys loose and off the course and the humor makes you want to root for them.  Now, I am not going to go out and buy an orange get up to play golf in, but I am now more of a fan of these guys than I was before.  Thanks again Ben for bringing out the best…well, the fun and personality.  Everyone knows the players work hard, but it’s good for the public to see their “other side.”

Ok, enough of the open shirt stuff golf boys, follow Ben’s lead and get a wet suit – but not too tight.

(Look for “The Making of Oh Oh Oh” with the Golf Boys on Ben‘s website:  http://www.bencranegolf.com/)

The U.S. Open is Coming Soon!

U.S. Open on Television

I do not blog for a living (some of you might say that that’s a good thing).   Yes, this is a business that I do on my free time, but of late my free time has been scarce.  Last Thursday I had knee surgery for something long overdue, a torn meniscus in my right knee.  It went well and I am recovering, and with that recovery comes some down time from my primary job that will free me to contribute as I watch this year’s U.S. Open on the couch.  I am really excited about the positive that brings to this down time from playing golf and other activities.

I love the U.S. Open

The first golf professional tournament (and only) I have ever attended was the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.  Watching the players up close is worlds away from seeing them on TV.  It was a great experience, albeit wet and muddy.  Katie and I stayed in Manhattan and rode the “U.S.Open Train” in every day for the event.  I am targeting next year’s U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco to visit once again.  I live relatively close to Congressional, but alas, priorities of life have superceded my presence there this year.

U.S. Open Story Lines

The story lines are many, to include the absence of Tiger (please let’s not dwell on this!), the rise of Luke Donald, the continuing battle for number 1, and the growing cadre of players who have closed the talent gap since Tiger’s fall and Phil’s apparent issues with performing.  Who is the favorite?  You have to like Steve Stricker and Luke Donald whose games are well suited for a U.S. Open set up.

Talking about story lines, let’s not forget Ken Venturi and his win at the U.S. Open at Congressional in 1964.  He prevailed even through his heat exhaustion and the warnings from his doctor.  It’s going to be another hot one this year, figuratively and in reality.  More later on the U.S. Open as the week goes on…

The Players’ 2011 Champion KJ Choi

I keep hearing about David Toms’ second shot choice on 16 on Sunday and I wonder, what about KJ Choi’s magical pitch shot on the same hole?  As you should know, David Toms was leading by one on Sunday in the heat of finishing arguably the “fifth” Golf Major.  If David Toms hadn’t made that putt on 18 to tie KJ for a playoff would we be talking about KJ’s pitch?  I doubt it, why is that?

I have been listening to the PGA channel on Sirius/XM during the last two days and Matt Adams (I like this guy) and his callers are discussing the Toms shot.  Now, to be fair, Adams is not second guessing Toms’ choice to try and get to number 16 green in two rather than lay up with a one shot lead…especially since KJ had to lay up because of his crooked drive to the left.  KJ left himself in an awkward spot short and left of the 16 green with a tree overhanging his line to the pin.  Callers are commenting that upon seeing this it should have been a key to Toms to layup as well with his lead in hand.  Toms never thought twice about going for it and mishit his shot slightly and put in into the water ultimately making a bogey 6 on the hole.  KJ then hit a magical “threading the needle” pitch shot to the green just skirting the rough and a trap on the right to get his ball to within about 7 feet or so.  Hit missed his putt for birdie to take the lead, but made par and tied it up.  This was the turning point!!

Of course, after Toms made an awesome birdie on 18 (from a lie in the fairway in a divot to about 20 feet and 1 putting) to take it into sudden death, KJ won with a par on the par 3 17th after Toms’ 3 putt. 

Not quite, but somewhat like the popular let down we saw at the British Open when Stewart Cink beat Tom Watson in the playoff, it seemed a ‘disappointment’ for Toms to lose to KJ Choi.  That is a shame.  KJ seems to be a terrific person and wonderful golfer who raised his game to this level on his own later than most in life.  We should be proud of KJ andhis accomplishment…and proud of David Toms in his gracious failure to win for the first time in several years, heartbreaking as it was.

Review: Golf’s Sacred Journey

I was at the movie theater a couple of weeks ago and learned about a movie coming out soon based on Dr. David L. Cook’s book, Golf’s Sacred Journey – Seven Days at the Links of Utopia. I normally love to watch the previews at the movies, but this time my wife and I finished the “Tub O’ Corn” before the previews were done and I wanted some more. (I know – it’s a pitiful thing…) About the time I was leaving, the preview for the movie Golf’s Sacred Journey was coming on. All I saw as I left was that it was a golf movie and Robert Duvall was in it (I really wanted that popcorn). Afterwards at home, my wife googled the movie and we learned it was based on the book I described above. I immediately ordered the book from Amazon.com. I knew I would see the movie and I wanted to read the book beforehand. I am glad I did.

In one day during a two-leg flight from Norfolk, Virginia to Pensacola, Florida I read the book cover to cover. There is a foreword written by Tom Lehman, acknowledgements, an introduction, the text, and finally an epilogue. As I began reading the text I was thinking, OK, here we go again with another “golf is like life” parable. But, as I moved deeper into it all the while keeping an open mind there were some clear messages that spoke to me. I had some “aha moments” that kept me thinking and the story line itself was interesting and compelling enough to keep me entertained. The messages in the book were really thought provoking for me. I reflected a great deal on them. I will read it again.

Without getting into any details, I will provide some insight into the book provided by the author himself on the cover.

“You never really know when you might meet someone who will change your life. More importantly, you never know when your influence might change another life. This book is about influence. The story is based on thousands of athletes David Cook has counseled, and the great mentors and teachers from whom he has learned, told through the lives of two characters – a rancher with a passion for teaching truth and a young golf professional at the end of his rope.”

As the book’s cover says, it is about influence. Why do we do things? What is important? A notion not from the book, but one I derived in reflecting on the book, is that oftentimes when we want to do something or cause something to happen it is the opposite of that which we initially think of as a solution that is a key in actually making it happen. Like in golf when you want to hit the high shot, you must hit down on the ball. When you want the swing to be correct, you don’t “control it,” you actually have to let it go (a very Hogan-esque idea).

Utopia is a real place. I think the two major characters are real also, only they are a compilation of individuals from the author’s life and work. Oh by the way, since I knew Robert Duvall was going to be in the movie, as I read, it dawned on me how perfect he is for the part. Think of a wiser, tamer Gus from Lonesome Dove.

Interestingly, Tom Lehman won the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek in Alabama this past weekend. It is a Champions Tour major and his third win this year. He believes in what Dr. Cook writes in this story. In his foreword he states, “Only you know your character, the person you see when you look in the mirror. Your reputation is who people think you are. Don’t confuse the two. Dr. David Cook is a man of character. I have learned from him. You will too.”

I took the messages from the book to heart and to the course last Sunday. In first application on the golf course I think I did okay shooting 74 at my home course. I found myself straying from what is really important a couple of times and the score on these holes reflected it. More importantly, I am also incorporating the messages into my life. I have made some major changes in my life in recent years and this is important I think.

The book: is it a story of golf with parallels to life or is it a story of life using golf as its form? It is all of the above. I highly recommend it. The movie: I’ll let you know.

Personality on the Tour! Thank You!

Ben Crane is a personality!  You have to go to his website and watch all of his videos – http://www.bencranegolf.com/ .

If after watching this you don’t like him – then there is something wrong with you!  He’s been getting some “talk time” on the PGA channel (Sirius XM Radio) and a few quips from the announcers during golf telecasts, but this guy should get more attention than that.  This guy is 35th in the Official World Golf Rankings for goodness sake.  We seem to be enamored with the pink and orange pants wearing “personalities” and the perfect swing crowd, but what about those golfers out there that are a little different? 

Speaking of  a little different, what about Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey – http://twogloves.com/.  Here’s a guy who finished 1 stroke behind Brandt Snedeker (I like saying that last name) and Luke Donald at Hilton Head last weekend and I had the feeling the announcing crew would rather he fell on his face than win.  He has an unusual swing (looks like he could take a divot with his right elbow), wears two gloves (hence the moniker), and was a contestant and winner on The Golf Channel’s “Big Break.”  Boy did he take advantage of his “big break.”  What’s not to love about this guy?  Maybe if he sported a mullet a la John Daly in the day he would get more love coming his way.

Here’s a call to “fan up” these unconventional players.  While Tiger is in pursuit of the perfect swing, spitting hockers on the fairway, and dropping clubs, these guys are having fun and doing the best with what they have…and doing well.

Official World Golf Rankings

This week Luke Donald lost in a 3-hole playoff to Brandt Snedeker at The Heritage Classic (Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, SC).  Congratulations Brandt!  Had Luke Donald won, he would have secured the Number 1 Ranking in the world.  But, since he did not win, Lee Westwood secured that position on the merits of the win this weekend at the Indonesian Masters.  Listening to the PGA channel this morning while driving to work, there was a lot of discussion about Westwood’s rise in the rankings and how that could happen.  How is it that Lee Westwood, playing against a much weaker field in Jakarta, Indonesia, can move to the number one spot?  This brings to my mind questions regarding the formula used for figuring out the rankings in general. 

I have been contemplating this for awhile, since Tiger dropped from the top spot.  Face it, while he was on top, no one cared how they figured out the numbers – it was readily apparent that he was number one.  Now it is not so clear who the top figure is, but apparently it’s Lee Westwood according to the Official World Golf Rankings.   Also, all of a sudden a bunch of European players have risen to the fore, how has that happened? 

tigerSo, how do they figure out where a golfer falls in the rankings?  First, check out this website of the Official World Golf Rankings as find out: http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/about_us/default.sps?iType=425

It lays out the numerical values of wins (and placings) of certain tournaments around the world associated with certain Tours.  Majors are afforded the largest and so on.  But, are the numerical values correct?  If you play a lot of second and third tier events around the world, plus place well in few PGA events, and place well in perhaps a Major or two there’s a good chance you can do well and place yourself fairly high in the world rankings.  Remember my question above about the numbers of European players rising to the fore?  Is the European Tour as strong or deep week in and week out as the PGA Tour?  I don’t think so.  It would seem to be in the interests of a European Tour player to stay on that tour and garner points in the rankings “more easily.”  Why?  Well, take a look at this excerpt from Wikipedia:

“A professional golfer’s ranking is of considerable significance to his career. For example, a ranking in the World Top 50 explicitly grants automatic entry to three of the four majors and three of the four current World Golf Championships; see table below. Starting in 2012, a ranking in the top 70 will grant automatic entry to the Tournament of Hope, a fifth WGC event to be launched that year.[7] Also, ranking points are the sole criterion for selection for the International Team in the Presidents Cup and one of the qualification criteria for the European Ryder Cup team. The rankings are also used to help select the field for various other tournaments.

Tournament Automatic entries
The Masters Top 50
U.S. Open Top 50 through 2011
Top 60 from 2012[8]
The Open Championship Top 50
PGA Championship (Top 100)see note
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship Top 64 (sole criterion)
WGC-CA Championship Top 50
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Top 50
WGC-HSBC Champions Top 25
Tournament of Hope (from 2012) Top 7

Note: The PGA Championship does not have an official automatic entry based on the Official World Golf Ranking but has invited those in the top 100 for the last several years. It makes note of its strong field by referencing the number of top 100 ranked golfers entered in its press releases. [1] [2]

The rankings are well known to those who follow men’s professional golf and feature prominently in media coverage of the sport. When Vijay Singh temporarily ended Tiger Woods’ record run as world number 1 in 2004 it was one of the most reported golf stories of the year.”

The formula is there for examination for anyone who cares to go through the “gozintas.”  Listening to Nick Faldo, he has suggested that Majors be given even greater weight than they have now.  If that were true, I would imagine that Martin Kaymer would probably still be number one.  I wouldn’t venture a guess where the shuffling would occur below that, but I am sure it would.  I personally believe the Majors should be given more weight, Faldo’s comments are on target.  Granted he is a multiple Major winner whose number one status was a topic of discussion back in his day:

“On a few occasions the ranking system has caused discussion about whether it has produced the ‘right’ World Number One. This usually occurs when the number one ranked player has not won a major championship during the ranking period, while a rival has won more than one – notably at the end of 1990, when Nick Faldo remained ranked just behind Greg Norman despite winning three majors in two years. On that occasion, as detailed in Mark McCormack’s “World of Professional Golf 1991” annual, it was also the case (but less immediately apparent) that Norman had won 14 events during the ranking period to Faldo’s 10, and when the two had competed in the same tournament, had finished ahead of his rival 19 times to 11. In April 1991, a quirk in the way the rankings treated results from previous years meant that Ian Woosnam, who had never won a major, took the number one spot from Faldo on the eve of the latter’s attempt to win the Masters for a third year in succession; as if justifying the ranking system, Woosnam – and not Faldo – won the tournament.”  Wikipedia

So, there may be some personal issues involved with his commentary, but I still think he is right.

Who is number one is not really that important to me.  I think what needs to be taken care of is the possibility of players “playing the system” to garner the much rewarded top 50- 70 spot in order to get automatic invite to the most prestigious tournaments.  How come Westwood wasn’t at Harbor Town this week?  If he were truly number one, you’d think he’d want to play against the best in the world week to week.  It seems he may have gamed the system a bit, don’t you think?

Golf Coaches and Owning Your Swing

Everyone is covering the “clash of the coaches.”  That is, the Sean Foley and Hank Haney thing.  But it is more than those two really, it’s also Brandel Chamblee and Johnny Miller, and I guess you could say Jack Nicklaus.  Lots of people are commenting on Tiger Woods’ difficulties and decision to retool his game at this point in his career, a third retooling I believe.  It is getting to the he said, they said place and is ridiculous.  Some are coming off as rich arrogant a-holes with more identity pride than common sense. 

But lets move past the “Tiger thing” for a moment and talk a little about swing coaches in general.  As quoted in the 28 March GolfWorld, Nicklaus talked about his teacher, Jack Grout, and his hands off approach during tournament prep and play. Grout believed and Nicklaus followed that a golfer needed to be in charge of his own swing.  He also referred to commentary received from Bobby Jones that “he only reached his potential after being less reliant on teacher Stewart Maiden.”  Also in the 28 March edition of GolfWorld, Jack Burke Jr.  commented in an unrelated story that  “I don’t think you can do anything well if you don’t teach it….A lot of the kids on the tour nowadays hire instructors, so they aren’t really thinking for themselves about their technique and how to improve.  They don’t trust themselves, and when things start going badly, they have nowhere to turn.  In the middle of a round, they can’t call their coach to come over and give them a tip…if the young fellas on tour now had some teaching experience, they could stand for themselves and be richer for it.  Ben Hogan didn’t have an instructor.  Neither did Byron Nelson or any of us from our generation.”  There is some old school wisdom for you.

I don’t know about instructing per se, but owning your own swing is something a pro had to do in those days, now many seem to delegate the responsibility to someone else.  Now back to Tiger – the question is however, how much is Tiger Woods “in charge of his own golf swing?”  How much influence do the swing gurus have on his changes when he changes?  Everyone knows that its helpful to have the right set of eyes on you and reinforcing commentary when tinkering with a swing.  (Although, Ben Hogan would tell you the flight of the ball says all you need to know.)  But, this is Tiger Woods and I believe he is in complete charge.  He is human and requires support and the expert set of eyes, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that he is a “product” of Harmon, Haney, or now Foley.   The problem I see here is not the coach, but the stuff between Tiger’s ears.  He seems to be on an ever present quest for perfection.  I am not sure that is not a Don Quixote endeavor, but it is in a way brave of him to  make the changes.  I’d like to see him chill out a little and have fun with his swing and his game.  I think he – and we – would be better for it.

Poor Man’s Club Fitting

When I was young and drinking (I quit when I turned 50 last year), I came up with a cocktail that is perfect for hot summer afternoons, I call it the Poor Man’s Margarita.  Great for those moments right after mowing the yard in 90 degree heat.  It’ll take the edge off the pending heat stroke, take your mind of the chigger bites, and give you another reason to be dizzy.  Oh yeah… it’s good.  The drink is made by mixing a shot of tequila in a glass of iced Fresca.  Sometimes a little more tequila than that, it depends on how many you’ve already had prior to mixing this one.  As you probably know, Fresca is a carbonated lime aid drink of sorts and tastes somewhat like, well a little like anyway, a margarita mixed with 7 up.  Yes, Fresca is still available, but you have to look for it.  Throw in an optional slice of lime and you have a perfect and easy drink for a hot afternoon, but never use salt.  Why do I bring this up?   Well, like making a real margarita can be a bit expensive and getting the right mix of ingredients can be tedious, club fitting can be expensive and tedious as well.  Like I usually opted for the Poor Man’s version of the drink, in club fitting I have also opted for the poor man’s version for my irons.  I’ll explain.

I have been doing a bit of research into the variables involved with proper club fitting.  I am not an expert, but I am a weekend golf warrior and know just enough to be dangerous and this is what I know.  Follow me here…  You’ll contact your local pro or fitting expert and get a quote for an iron fitting, driver fitting, putter fitting, or all of the above.  The costs can range from $300 down to about $100 depending upon the technology used and the fittings desired.  I’m sure there are those who will fit you for more $, but I have a place I trusted and $300 is what they charge now for the ‘full monty.’  Let’s just say you go for an iron fitting.  When you go for the fitting they will measure your height, arm length, wrist to ground distance, and the span of your hand to start the process.  This will give them a starting point for a grip size, shaft length from standard, and the appropriate lie angle.  You’ll get a couple of clubs – say 7 irons of differing makes – and hit some balls from a lie board.  Based on the marks on the taped sole of the clubs from the lie board he will refine a lie angle to your swing (assuming there is a club with the length shaft you require!).  Now that you have the right lie angle and length shaft, you’ll hit some balls to determine your swing speed which will give the pro an idea of the shaft type you require.  By shaft type, I mean should it be a regular flex shaft, a stiff flex shaft, and so on.  It can also be either graphite or steel, but for the purposes here, let’s just say steel.  Here’s where the technology comes in.  He may have a custom sensor golf simulator package that when you hit a ball will tell him club speed, launch angle, ball speed off the club face, spin rate, distance, shot shape, shot dispersion, which testicle hangs lower in the follow through, and the list goes on.  Now the pro will tell you that there are no industry standards to shaft flex.  A Ping stiff may not be a Mizuno stiff (if they are different shaft makers), that is, one may be subtly softer than another .  So, if you are getting fitted because you are looking to reshaft an existing set or order new,  he will recommend you get the shafts frequency matched and spined.  Oh yeah, you’ll also of course need shafts with the correct kick point (oh I am sorry we call it ‘bend profile’ now) so that you get the correct shot trajectory.  So now we have chosen the maker and flex of the shafts and will frequency match them.  The pro (or company you order from) will individually fit the shaft on an apparatus that attaches to the butt end extending the shaft horizontally so that the tip is free and unattached.  He will then put a standard weight on the tip, pull it down a standard distance and it will begin to oscillate.  The oscillation rate is measured on each shaft to determine stiffness.  Depending on the rate of oscillation and desired stiffness, the pro will then enter into a process called tipping.  He will cut the correct amount of shaft to length from the butt and the tip to establish the desired oscillations which will translate into the desired frequency or stiffness.  Once that is complete, he then spines the shaft.  Spining is accounting for inaccuracies in manufacturing of the shaft where stiffness may be different depending upon the side of the shaft that must bend during the swing.  He is effectively finding the spine of the shaft so that when the club head is attached, the spine is in the appropriate position.  Does your head hurt?  Do you want a stiff Poor Man yet?

Now, let me give you the poor man’s version.  You already own a set of irons, but you are not quite sure they are right for you.  Let’s take a look at a website that will help us out.  A great site for this is the PING website: http://www.ping.com/fitting/default.aspx.  They have a terrific web fitting program you can use to get you into the ballpark for grip size, shaft length, lie angle and stiffness for all of your clubs – irons, driver, etc…all you have to do is get someone to assist you in the measurements (it can be difficult to get accurate measurements by yourself).  Based on these measurements the program will recommend shaft length, grip size, and will give you a color code for lie angle –  the associated lie angle is available on the site that follows..ie…white is equal to 3 degrees upright and so on (http://www.ping.com/pdfs/PING_Color_Code_Chart.pdf).  Now if you were like me, you took the advice of a friend, bought irons off the shelf several years ago and have been playing with them since.  I bought a set of PING i3’s, black dot and standard length.  It turns out I require white dot (+ 3 degrees upright) and plus a ¼” to ½” in length.  That my friends is a great deal of difference.  Okay, so I sent my PING i3’s to PING and had them bent to a white standard (they can bend them max about 3 degrees because they are cast, not forged).  I did not change the shafts.  I have JZ Stiff which are correct for me, but a little short.  I went to the Golfworks website, purchased some simple shaft…don’t laugh…butt plugs and added ½” in length and regripped them myself with standard size golf pride New Decade Multicompound (half cords) – the size grip PING recommended.  Now I haven’t had the shafts spined, oscillated, frequency matched, tipped, dipped, or slathered in rattlesnake oil (although the rattlesnake oil sounds kind of cool) and I have been hitting these irons unbelievably well since the changes.  These i3’s are so much more satisfying to hit, and the extra length of the shaft and better fit has translated into added distance for every club!  Nice.  One other thing to note.  For every ½” you add to the shaft length, you will also add a couple of points of swing weight.  Most modern irons come off the shelf at about a D1 swing weight.  Add ½” and they will be at about a D3.  I found the difference to actually feel better.  If you are buying new clubs, but do the fitting yourself, then you can specify swing weight desired and they will manage it. 

Maybe someday I will have a more detailed fitting done and shafts frequency matched for my swing…maybe… someday.  But for now, I will try and do it or arrange for club changes myself.  So, I would at this point when I was about 28, fix myself a Poor Man’s and sip it in celebration of a poor man’s fitting well executed.  But alas, I am not 28 and no longer a drinking man so I will merely bask in the pungent odor of Golfworks’ environmentally safe grip tape solvent and dream of birdies to come.