I’ve said it many times before and I’m going to say it again. The BEST thing about running this blog is not the gear or the golf, it is the cool people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Case in point here is my pal James Lepp, founder of Kikkor Golf. You may know James for his “awesome” golf accomplishments, winning the NCAA Individual Championship in 2005 and most recently was the runner-up in Golf Channel’s Big Break Greenbrier.
James made his “saucer pass” golf shot famous on Big Break Greenbrier. The Saucer Pass came about as a result of James’s hockey background combined with a need to find some way of improving his short game. In the video below from the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show, James shows us the saucer pass as well as the cool new Kikkor saucer boxes.
I tried the saucer pass in the setup shown in the video and let me tell you the saucer chip-pass it is FAR from easy. In fact, while aiming at the big box on the left, I toe-shanked it into the box on the right.
Golf. Skulls. ‘Nuff said. Tattoo Golf is one of the best. Over the years I’ve reviewed a ton of Tattoo Golf gear and loved every item. Not only does their golf gear have skulls on it, the quality and style is brilliant. My pals at TG have become good friends over the years and I do what I can to support them, knowing what it is like to be an entrepreneur in a tough, tough industry.
This year I visited Tattoo Golf as usual for a video interview at the PGA Merchandise Show. The new polos look killer. Very stylish and classy, but still have skulls. Well played…
I’m happy to present an interview with Miura Golf’s President Adam Barr. You may remember Adam from his years as a broadcaster with Golf Channel. In this interview we discuss Miura and specifically the Miura New Wedge Series which I just reviewed in the previous golf blog post. I do my interviews in nine hole segments; nine questions. Today’s course of choice is the New Course at St. Andrews, designed by Old Tom Morris and opened in 1895. That’s why the holes are so short…
Hole #1 – Par-4 – 336 Yards
TK: Adam, thanks for taking the time to do nine with Hooked On Golf Blog patrons today about Miura and the New Wedge Series. We will start with some background. Tell us about Miura for those who are not familiar with the company.
AB: 336? Can I hit 3-wood? Actually, I want to hit as much club as possible here. Miura is a family company in Japan. Founder Katsuhiro Miura, an expert in club forging and grinding for more than five decades, and his two sons forge the world’s finest irons, wedges and putters at our company’s one factory and forge in Himeji in central Japan. We also have a full line of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids designed by the Miuras and made under their supervision. Mr. Miura is to club grinding as Julia Child was to cooking or Isaac Stern was to the violin — far and away the world’s master.
Miura New Wedge Series – click for review
Hole #2 – Par-4 – 367 Yards
TK: What does Miura do differently than other golf club manufacturers that sets them apart?
AB: Instead of forging the entire golf club head, including the hosel, at one time, we forge only the heel-to-toe portion first. This prevents the grain from being stretched up into the hosel area. Forging the whole head at once would increase the chance of little bubbles and voids in the grain of the steel, and that could lead to “clanky” impact. Instead, the heel-to-toe portion — the business end of the head — is forged with perfect grain structure, and the hosel, made of the same steel and perfectly straight, is welded on by a special process called spin forging. The seam is finished off, and the club operates as if it were always one piece. You can see a demonstration of this on our YouTube channel in this video.
The resulting grain structure in the club head is more comparable to a jar of sand than, say, a jar of marbles. That’s the crucial element in the otherworldly feel of impact in a Miura club.
Hole #3 – Par-5 – 511 Yards
TK: You were a golf journalist at GOLFWEEK and then a broadcaster at Golf Channel for a while. What was the transition like going from golf media to being president of a golf company?
AB: Well, it’s no longer a deadline world. On the corporate side, there are more concurrent projects going on; you push the boulders a little further up the hill each day. It’s not as frenetic as media, for sure. But there are similarities: my primary job is to communicate, with all that entails — knowing your audience, making the message compelling, adjusting to circumstances, being responsive and following up. So overall, media was good training for the corporate world. And the fact that I can make the company videos doesn’t hurt.
Hole #4 – Par-4 – 369 Yards
TK: Being a Japanese company, what are the challenges you’ve had to face working for Miura?
AB: Naturally, there is a language barrier. I have studied some Japanese, but my abilities are very rudimentary. The key challenge is cultural. The Japanese — most Asian cultures — simply do business differently that western cultures. Patience is vital; meetings can involve long silences, but this doesn’t mean things aren’t going well. But on the whole, we have been able to bridge language and cultural divides to form a very satisfying relationship. I like being around the Miuras; I always learn something, and they’re also fun to play golf with.
Hole #5 – Par-3 – 180 Yards
TK: I had to chuckle when I found out that the name of the new wedge series was, “New Wedge Series.” What’s the deal with the name? No model numbers?
AB: Nah. We tend not to stand on ceremony about such things. We simply called it that to differentiate it from our Old Wedge Series.
Hole #6 – Par-4 – 445 Yards
TK: The New Wedge Series has some unique lofts, all odd numbers. What is the story there?
AB: Well, of course, they’re all bendable back or forward to even lofts if necessary. But we found out from our dealers that in most cases, it’s easier to gap wedge sets that have odd lofts. With many of our pitching wedges at 47 degrees standard loft, the odd lofts work out well in most cases. But if they don’t, dealers can adjust.
Mirua New Wedge Series – click for more Miura photos
Hole #7 – Par-4 – 356 Yards
TK: Having played this wedge now for a while, I can attest to the bounce of the club. I can’t quite explain it, but it seems to get under the ball perfectly, even on tight lies. On my old wedges some took too much turf and some bounced too much. Tell us about the bounce of these wedges and their design.
AB: The overall sole design is something the Miuras spend a lot of time on, both in the design stage and in prototyping — naturally, because of its importance in turf interaction. The bounce gets a lot of refining as the dies are made because we understand that golfers play over a lot of different kinds of turf, so we need to come up with a shape that will get the junk out of the road on the way to impact but not bump the leading edge up into the belly of the ball.
Hole #8 – Par-5 – 481 Yards
TK: A friend of mine keeps saying “Japanese Steel” every time I hit my wedge. Is there a difference between the materials used in these wedges or Miura’s clubs in general, versus other golf clubs? How about the shafts too?
AB: No significant differences in the steel we use….it’s more a matter of what we do with it, as mentioned above. The steel is low-carbon, meaning 4 percent or less. That keeps the steel strong enough to hit a ball with, but still malleable enough to bend for loft and lie — all without being brittle. As for the shafts — we have models we like, but that choice is really up to the authorized dealer/fitters and their customers. Our clubs are almost all custom fitted, so any number of shafts can end up in them.
Hole #9 – Par-3 – 225 Yards
TK: Thanks for spending some time with us today Adam. What can we look forward to in the future from Miura?
AB: As for product plans, I can’t divulge yet. But as for communication, much more in addition to the stepped-up pace we began two years ago when I started. We began a concerted social media campaign on the usual outlets early in 2012. We started gathering a golfer database too; golfers can sign up for news about Miura and golf equipment in general by going to www.MiuraGolf.com and using the sign-up box on the home page. And I’m available for questions and comments any time through our website: info @ miuragolf . com. I answer every one; I’m pretty sure I’m the only golf equipment industry exec who does.
Belly putters are the rage. Some big PGA Tour players have seemingly resurrected their careers by switching to belly putters, like Adam Scott, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els. Other younger players have succeeded right out of the gate with bellies, like Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson. Today I’m doing my best attempt at a review of the Boccieri Heavy Belly Q2-M belly putter. I say attempt. Read on.
Boccieri Golf’s Heavy Putter Q2-M – click to zoom
Boccieri Heavy Belly Q2-M Overview
First lets discuss the Q2-M model. This model is available in standard and belly lengths from Boccieri, as are all of their putters. The head is a traditional heel/toe weighted toe-droop blade with a plumber’s neck hosel. The head has a full shaft offset. This is a very good setup for me personally with regards to regular length putters.
The putter is “heavy” in that a 200 gram weight is inserted in the butt end of the shaft. If you haven’t tried a Heavy Putter before, you should. The extra weight makes it very hard to jerk the putter or break the wrists, two sure ways of putting poorly. The heavy weight promotes a smooth and straight stroke. (more…)
I had the chance to participate in a conference call with David Feherty and Hank Haney (Tiger Woods’s former coach) yesterday, hosted by Golf Channel. Next week marks the beginning of new seasons for both of their shows. Haney will premier at 9pm ET and Feherty at 10pm ET on Monday the 27th of February.
I asked Feherty about his upcoming show of course, but as “any question” was welcomed in this format I slipped in a couple of other questions as well. Hope you enjoy. Please note: spelling or word mistakes are from the transcript service, not my typing. For instance, Feherty called 10 at Riviera a “crap” hole, not a “crab” hole! I like crab hole though…
TONY KOROLOGOS: David (Feherty), your show has been extended by a half an hour, so what are you going to be doing to fill up the extra time? Are there any new wrinkles, formats, changes, surprises that we can watch for in that extra 30 minutes?
DAVID FEHERTY: Well, we found that the interviews and the subjects of the interview were often so compelling that it was extremely difficult to get the essence of what they said into 22 minutes of programming and a half hour show.
Leading up to the new season we extended the Tom Watson and Johnny Miller interviews, the Lee Trevino one was already an hour, and there were several more that should have been an hour. Greg Norman was an hour. We just felt it’s a better format, and that we can get more out of it.
Having said that, there will be other elements that we can use, some characters that I hope to introduce to the show, correspondents. Not unlike what John Stewart has done at the Daily Show. I’ve got a character called Dr. Phyll, that is searching for a drug that will help you play golf. And if he finds it, I’ll be really pissed off, because I looked for it for 20 years.
Hamish McGregor is my rules expert who will be answering rules questions. Things like that.
TONY KOROLOGOS: Hank, in working with the pros, do you feel like the new groove rules for the wedges really changed any part of their game or has really affected the game right now? Did you have to change any techniques or did anybody have to make adjustments at that point is this?
HANK HANEY: I don’t feel that it’s changed anything, to be honest with you. I don’t see any difference in the way players are playing the game. I think maybe we’ve seen players increase a little loft on their most lofted wedge. You were kind of seeing that already with some players using 64° wedges.
But that would have been the only probably minor adjustment that you might have seen a few players make to add a degree or two extra to their most lofted wedge to stop the ball a little quicker. But I don’t see that it’s done anything at all to be honest with you.
TONY KOROLOGOS: This past weekend the playoff hole 10 at Rivera is a short little par-4 and barely 300 yards, 310 or something like that. We saw three of the very best TOUR players try to play that hole and only one guy actually hit the green in regulation. Another great short hole I think of is 12 at Augusta. Do those holes show us something? We talked about how the ball is too long and length is such a problem and all of this. Is there something to be learned from those short holes like that which could help the game rather than worrying about scaling the ball back or making golf courses longer?
HANK HANEY: Well, I think one thing you’ve seen a certain trend in golf courses in the last year, and particularly the way they set up tournaments is everyone is intrigued by the short par4. You see the USGA is doing it with their tournaments, trying to make a hole, if it’s possible, a drivable hole. It does go to show you that a golf course doesn’t have to be long to be difficult.
By the same token, to be a real test of golf, you want to have to hit ball of the shots. In order to do that, you have to have length, and you have to have the ability to stretch the course out, because the ball does go so far now.
DAVID FEHERTY: You get holes like number 10 at Rivera, and continually I sort of disagree with my colleagues when it’s considered to be one of the finest short par4s in the world. It’s not. It’s a crab hole. But what it does, it brings out the best and the worst in the best players in the world. But it doesn’t have to be any good to do so.
The 17th at Scottsdale, or the 15th at Hartford, it’s drivable, but it’s just so fiddly and tricky. There is no real way to play it properly.
For instance, yesterday, if one of the players I mean, I said that I felt that four could win having watched the 18th, which might be the toughest hole on the golf course. Two of them birdied it to get into a playoff.
The tenth hole, even though it’s a 5iron and a sand wedge, you can’t hit the sand wedge on the green. It’s such a steep pitch and it’s so narrow. Everything about it is just so wrong, that it turns out right for television, because it makes the best players in the world look like idiots at times. I think that’s what makes it so attractive to the viewer because they think to themselves, I could do that. Where the reality is, no, they couldn’t. They’d make 11 there.