This morning I had fun doing an appearance on CBS Sports Talk Radio 1700 The Champ on the Jimmy B & TC Show. 1700 The Champ is based in Des Moines, Iowa. Our subject of discussion was the Open Championship and the win by Iowa native Zach Johnson. Obviously they’re super stoked about that. It was fun to talk golf over my morning coffee with Jimmy B and TC (Jim Brinson and Trent Condon). When the podcast of today’s show becomes available I’ll post a link to it.
This was the second appearance I made on the show. Last week we did an Open Championship preview which went quite well. Tooting my own horn (beep beep), I have to mention that in the preview for the Open I expressed my doubt that Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson would make the cut in the Open. They did not. A broken clock is right twice a day, assuming it isn’t a military clock. Here’s a link to the podcast of the Open preview show.
Thanks to my new pals Jimmy B and TC for the opportunity. We will be doing the same gig before and after the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
This is a repost of a 2010 feature by my friend and Old Course caddie John Boyne, part three of three. Part one is here and two here. This piece covers the final six holes of The Old Course, and how a professional golfer should fare. Many thanks to Boynie for this great resource. ~Tony Korologos
13th, Hole O’ Cross (In), 465 yards, Par4
Now the golf course begins. This magnificent par four plays as the second most difficult hole on the course after the 17th Road Hole not only during the Championship but also day to day.
Note: This is a repost of a 3-part walk through of The Old Course at St. Andrews by my good friend and Old Course caddie John Boyne (Boynie) of Caddie Golf Tours. I asked John to give us these hole by hole descriptions for the 2010 (British) Open Championship and he kindly obliged because, well, he’s a hell of a good guy. Watch for the next two posts covering holes 7-12 and holes 13-18 respectively. Many thanks to Boynie for doing this special piece just for Hooked On Golf Blog ~Tony Korologos
The descriptions for the holes that I summarise on the Old Course at St. Andrews will be as if the golfer has found the perfect day for golf on the links – no wind!
1st, Burn, 376 yards, Par4
Should be a relatively straight forward par 4 with the tee shot heading down the widest fairway in golf – 143 yds across the walkway Granny Clarks Wynd – No excuses for missing it really!
This is without a doubt the most difficult review I’ve experienced in the 10 years I’ve been reviewing golf equipment on this blog. Why so difficult? The process and results didn’t go as I expected and I became frustrated enough that I wanted to bail on these clubs. Thanks to my friend Doug Bybee at Mizuno I stuck with them.
Mizuno JPX850 Forged Irons
For a guy who has been playing 2002 Hogan forged irons for most of the last 13 years (a couple of others went into the gamer bag for a few months here and there) switching to different irons is very tough. After playing a single brand and model for that long one is (or should be) very in tune and connected to the feel and performance of the clubs. That was one of the difficult parts of switching to the JPX-850 Forgred irons. The 850’s had a hell of a tough task, to dethrone what I believed are the best irons I’ve ever played.
Before I go into the long winded story of my experience with these irons I’ll first mention the technology and engineering involved in making them.
The irons are forged using a “grain flow” forging process. This helps add distance to forged irons that might normally be lost in traditional forging.
1025E steel billets in the head add strength and distance to the club.
The face of the club is super-thin. Thin faces mean more control, forgiveness, and distance. Weight is moved to the outside of the club increasing the clubs COR rating (meaning it resists twisting and turning at impact) and making the club easier to hit.
The 4-7 irons have a slightly different feature, the “Ultra CNC Milled Pocket.” This produces a higher launch angle and ball speeds.
I have to pat myself on the back in this section of my review. The JPX-850 Forged irons are stunningly beautiful from a purely aesthetic standpoint. I take great pride in my high quality product photos for my reviews. I have to say these are probably the best iron pictures I’ve ever shot. It helps to start with such great material!
The first part of getting the 850’s was to go through the Mizuno fitting. The fitting was a fun and educational experience. Below is a video from the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show featuring the Mizuno fitting system. It is a little old, but gives you the idea.
In my fitting I learned that the dual chicken wing granny over the top swing I’ve got may not look pretty, but it is consistent and produces a very good dispersion rate. In other words, I don’t spray them.
Doug did my fitting along with a local club fitter at my local shop here in Salt Lake City, Uinta Golf. We did the fitting off of mats on a Flight Scope launch monitor.
During a fitting like this the player will take some swings with a test club and the Mizuno fitting system will produce custom club and shaft recommendations based on the results. Then the tech will make up a test club with some of those specs for the player to try. Once again those results are analyzed and the player will also chime in on feel and such. The process isn’t long and in short order one has the specs of the “pefect club” for his swing.
The results were quite stunning for me. Where my stock Hogan 6-iron was fairly accurate and fairly long at 180-185 yards, the newly built 850 Forged with custom shaft was even more accurate. Nearly no dispersion at only 1-2 yards off center. On top of that, the average distance was 200 yards.
I was sold and very excited to get my new clubs.
Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Gap Wedge
It didn’t take long for Mizuno to custom build the clubs and get them to my front door. Less than a week. Custom everything, down to the grips. I couldn’t wait to get to the course and start firing darts at flags and racking up birdies like John Daly racks up ex-wives.
Houston We Have a Problem
Now the frustration part…
I couldn’t wait to hit these, of course. On the range the day after I got them I was shocked to find myself literally cold-topping almost every swing. The contact was so bad that sometimes my hands were going numb. When I did manage to get a shot airborne it didn’t seem to fly well. It seemed I was missing the sweet spot 95% of the time.
For many rounds over several weeks I became frustrated and disappointed in these irons. The 6-iron was not going 200. It didn’t even go as far as my old Hogans. Most shots where coming up pathetically and painfully short right.
My confidence was shattered. So was my wallet. So were my scores.
Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons
I talked to Doug and he did his best to calm me down. I was surprised to hear him tell me that I had to get used to, and adjust to these clubs. In my mind I thought they were fitted and adjusted to my swing already.
I was tempted to send the clubs back and put the Hogans back in play, but Doug kept on me and gave me some pep talks. “These are the 2nd best selling irons in the golf industry” he would tell me. “Give this new technology a chance to work for you.”
Because of Doug and everything Mizuno had done for me, I kept with them. I kept making small tweaks and trying to figure out the proper swing and proper ball position. One round “it” happened. On the par-3 9th at my home curse I picked a 6-iron for a 185 yard shot. I nailed it, right at the flag. The shot didn’t go 185. It flew over the pin, over the green, over the cart path behind the green, and over a tall tree. My best guess is the shot flew 225 yards. Unfortunately the ball rolled down behind the trunk of the tree, on a downslope, behind the world’s toughest par-3. Never before have I been as happy with a shot which had such a horrible result.
That shot told me I could hit these solid, far, and straight.
Over many rounds I started to see slow improvement in the contact and feel. I wasn’t spraying the irons ever. It was mostly a distance issue from missing the sweet spot. I started to find myself hitting a laser at a flag more and more often. Shots that were so aligned with the pin I’d have to turn my head sideways to see the pin. I stared off hitting one or maybe two in a round. As I got more and more used to the clubs my iron play improved greatly.
My swing has been subconsciously adjusting as well as consciously to the 850’s. My confidence has returned. I am able to hit “shots” when needed, like low punches under trees, cuts, draws. Iron play is now fun again and I’m really feeling the clubs without having to make deliberate changes to swing or setup.
Despite the “fitting” it took me about half a year to adjust my swing to these irons. Maybe I’m a brain dead hacker used to doing the same thing and changing my iron swing was like trying to turn an aircraft carrier? Perhaps, but I have some other ideas. I’m a cause and effect guy and over the last couple of months I’ve tried to analyze the fitting and results. Some items stand out to me which could be factors.
First, the fitting was done on an indoor simulator on a mat. I hate mats. When given the choice to warm up or practice on mats I’ll choose to go to the first tee cold. It is almost impossible for my steep granny swing to hit a bad shot on a mat. The club bounces up just right. On real grass though, the club does not bounce up like that.
Second, I was wearing a particular model of FootJoys during the fitting last winter\fall. This spring my friends at FJ send in a new model to review and the platform is thicker and wider. As spastic as my swing is that platform difference could make a difference. If they’re half an inch higher that changes all sorts of angles. My gamer driver performance is greatly affected by changing from one of those sets of shoes to the other.
Beautiful Mizuno Irons
Finally, my fitting was at a time toward the end of last season. I had a whole summer of swinging leading up to the fitting, and was probably swinging well during the fitting. Then I change irons (and shoes) in the first half of the next season, possibly introducing all sorts of factors my rusty hack game wasn’t used to.
The frustration and overly long adjustment period of time could be attributed to one or any combination of the ideas above, or perhaps it is something else I’m not thinking of. It is golf after all.
Last week I hit a super solid tee shot on the par-3 6th at one of my home courses. The ball settled in to about three feet. My long time golf buddy chimed in, “what club was that?” I answered “an eight.” He then said, “for the first time in 20 years of playing with you I can’t tell what clubs you are hitting. That shot flew like a 9-iron but went as far as a 7-iron.”
As bad as my short game is, missing a green in regulation is going to mean a bogey 50-75% of the time, despite being a great putter. I need to hit greens and let my solid putting take it from there. That puts pressure on my iron/approach game. It has taken a while but now I have confidence in the JPX-850 Forged Irons. The JPX-850 Forged are truly great golf clubs, worthy of Mizuno’s fine reputation as one of the best iron makers in the world.
I’m a bit hammered this morning. Certainly a case of U.S. Open hangover. I had expected to be getting ready to watch a Monday playoff today, the day after Sunday’s final U.S. Open round. Dustin Johnson’s stunning and heartbreaking 3-putt on the final hole nixed that great idea. Boy I feel bad for the guy. He looked like he’d seen a ghost after that 3-putt. I probably would have thrown up after that, if I was in that situation. Hell, I would have probably thrown up before each putt…
Hats off to Jordan Spieth for putting the winning number up on the board and putting the pressure on DJ to tie him. The Spieth story is becoming legendary in a very short period of time. It is quite a time in golf, with Tiger seemingly on the way out and Spieth and McIlory taking over.
Chambers Bay quickly became a very polarizing topic of discussion on golf TV, interwebs, and socials. Having been to Chambers Bay myself, and playing dozens of rounds of golf in Scotland, I’m a fan of hard, fast, brown golf. So I get what course architect Robert Trent Jones II was going after. The course’s location though, meant not just hard conditions, but Poa annua grass on the greens. We deal with Poa here in Salt Lake too. It grows faster than other grasses and has tougher leaves. So when a green isn’t 100% Poa (like Pebble Beach), it gets bumpy. It can be very frustrating to putt on greens like that and many pros voiced their displeasure with the bumps, along with their displeasure of the USGA setup. Fans see a brown course and think it is dead. They expect golf to be like Augusta National and the Masters Tournament. In reality, almost no courses have that kind of budget and with water as short as it is becoming, minimalist brown golf is the future. Plus, it is more fun in my opinion.
Chambers Bay – Click for more…
I engaged (perhaps still) in some great debates on my Twitter and Facebook pages with friends about the setup and conditions. It seems, almost like the fans or haters of Tiger Woods, that people either loved the course or hated it.
Gary Player had some pretty harsh commentary about Chambers Bay. I was quite surprised he called out RTJ like he did. Then again, he’s a golf course architect and RTJ is a competitor who just had his course featured in the U.S. Open. So I take his commentary in that context a bit:
On Sunday the greens looked to be rolling quite well. Spieth made an incredible long-range putt for birdie on the 16th which had perfect speed and dropped in on the side of the hole. No bumps there. DJ’s 3-putts all rolled nicely, unfortunately for him the first two didn’t roll nicely into the hole.
Well if the golf media wasn’t already in a Spiethgasm, they will be now. Be ready for the Spieth-slam talk, and for the ever popular “will Spieth break Jack’s major championship record?” drivel. That of course between the “hottest women in golf” and “hot wives and girlfriends” photo gallery garbage.
How can you not have a Spiethgasm though? This 21 year old kid is doing something special, and I’m glad I’m here to witness it. What’s more is he’s not an overpowering player like Tiger Woods was (yeah I said was). He’s not long, but he’s long enough. There are really no holes in his game. No weaknesses I can see. The next few years are going to be a joy to watch.
I felt really bad for DJ after the 3-putt. The look on his face was unreal. He was melting. I melted too. He’s had many chances to close out majors. Undoubtedly he has the game. He needs to overcome the pressure and mental aspects of winning the big ones and he’ll get it done.
What’s wrong with Tiger Woods? A lot apparently. After rounds of 80 (+10) and 76 (+6) he went home early. I tuned in just in time Friday to watch him DUFF a 3-wood. It was a horrid shot, so bad that I recorded it and watched it several times in disbelief. There were so many things wrong with that particular swing that it looked like a 15 handicapper.
There are many theories as to what Tiger’s problem is. A new one discussed in my golf group is his possible fear that his will be the biggest fall from the top in sports history. I don’t know what the problem is, and it is likely a combination of many many things. Physically he looks fine, which leaves the only possible solutions within the 5-inch course between his ears.
I watched Jason Day collapse on the 18th hole Saturday, a result of vertigo. Man that’s terrible and I felt for the guy. He did manage to finish the tournament but what a story it would have been had he won the tournament. A valiant effort by Day.
Rory McIlory is no Tiger Woods. Tiger was much more consistent when in his best years. Rory is super-streaky. When he’s hot, nobody can beat him. When not, he can miss cuts. McIlory showed some life in the tournament, but in the end was not a factor. No worries about his game. That’s the way he rolls.
Wow tough deal for Branden Grace (also known as “Branden Gracen” on the Fox broadcast). Standing on the 16th tee he was at -5, tied with Spieth, two shots ahead of the nearest competitors. One swing later his 3-wood goes out of bounds and kills his chances of winning. Brutal.
Fox Sports Coverage
Funny how so many people hated the Fox Sports coverage of the Open, even before they saw it. It seems those same people hated the course before they saw it in action as well. I didn’t expect the Fox broadcast to be perfect and it certainly was not. There were dozens of instances of bad camera work, shaky commentary, and technical issues.
There was a little too much talking, almost like baseball announcers who think they have to fill up all the dead space with sound. Many complain(ed) that all Greg Norman does is talk about himself. Seemed like Greg was fine to me and not this self centered personality they made him out to be.
What I did like was the drone coverage, since I too build and fly drones, mostly for flying over golf courses and shooting video and photos.
Many complained about not seeing the shots, and I agree. Fox had it tough though, having to break themselves in at such a difficult venue.
Overall I’d give Fox a C grade and I do expect they’ll analyze what they did, listen to the critics, and try to improve their product.
In the end the 2015 U.S. Open was exciting, controversial with regards to course setup like EVERY U.S. Open is, and produced a stellar leader board of the world’s best golfers. The USGA got what they wanted, a handful of players under par and a test that filtered out all but one of the top two players in the world as its champion.