Custom clubfitting now touches every corner of the game (and still has room to grow)

In the beginning, there was the golf club, and it was pretty good—good enough, at least, for 15th-century Scottish shepherds swatting balls beside the sea. But then the gods of industry created better options, transforming crude equipment made from wood and leather into shiny implements of iron, brass and steel.

And golfers looked upon this and thought, Wow, cool.

Generations came and went, begetting more advances, and with them new design materials and marketing-speak, so that soon the eager player, gazing across a landscape filled with carbon fibers and adjustable clubheads, was left to ponder questions both exciting and confusing. Which shaft flex and kickpoint are best suited to my swing speed and path? How to tweak the loft and lie to get the most out of my driver, given my angle of attack?

Among savvy consumers and equipment-makers alike came the growing understanding that unless you had a handle on that and other data, shelling out for new sticks didn’t make a ton of sense.

In this dawning light, the modern clubfitting industry was born. Today that industry touches nearly every corner of the game, from big-box stores and pro shops to the practice range on the PGA Tour. It has changed how clubmakers manufacture, retailers sell, shoppers buy and golfers perform. Yet it still has ample room to spread its reach.

Market research shows that despite increased awareness of the benefits it brings, roughly one-third of avid golfers (defined as those who play eight or more rounds a year) have never been fitted for clubs. Across the general population of golfers, the percentage of clubfitting virgins grows.

That less skilled players are often less inclined to get fitted is ironic, since they tend to reap the most rewards. According to Mark Timms, founder of Scottsdale-based clubfitter CoolClubs, a 30-handicapper put through a fitting shaves an average of seven strokes from his score.

Timms got into the business nearly 30 years ago with a custom-club shop in Connecticut. Even back then, it mystified him why anyone would buy a golf club off the rack. Given the evolution of clubfitting since, to say nothing of the spread of consumer education, he’s baffled all the more that people still do so today.

“There’s just so much variance out there, even within the same model of club,” Timms says. “It’s why you can try your buddy’s driver and love it, and then you get the same one for yourself and you can’t hit it. Why would you buy a club like that? You wouldn’t buy a suit without trying it on.”

CoolClubs operates at the high-end of the clubfitting market, a boutique sector occupied by a handful of companies, including Hot Stix, Club Champion, GOLFTEC and True Spec Golf. (True Spec and GOLF are operated by the same holding company, 8AM Golf.) To set themselves apart from their competition, these operators emphasize such factors as the sophistication of their technology, the expertise of their fitters and the personalization of the experience. For example, at GOLFTEC, which has 200 locations around the world, many clubfitters are certified PGA teaching professionals, so studio sessions double as lessons. Fitness work is part of the process, too. One of True Spec’s calling cards is its brand-agnosticism. Name the manufacturer or the component; True Spec carries it but plays no favorites. Of the 30,000-plus possible combinations of shafts, clubs and grips, its staff will analyze the numbers, then custom-build the clubs that fit you best. Data is king.

This was not a service offered to King James IV of Scotland, who commissioned the first known set of custom clubs a little more than 500 years ago. Nor was it available in the 1950s to the famously fastidious Ben Hogan, who preferred to have his clubs set at atypical lofts, with their heels ground down so the face lay open, in hook-prevention mode. As recently as the 1990s, clubfitting remained a rarefied practice, out of sight and mind for the average Jane or Joe. Elite players used it, as did manufacturers for R&D. But even for Tour pros, what passed for clubfitting was often just a game of educated guesswork; they hit a lot of clubs until they found the ones they liked. In those days, a lot of clubfitting depended on tools—lie boards, stickers, slow-eyed cameras, dim-witted computers—that are now about as current as persimmon heads.

At True Spec, the variety of shafts are on the wall and off the hook.
STEPHEN DENTON

But as with so much else in golf, what started at the Tour level progressed at light-speed and filtered down. Among the first to notice was Karsten Solheim, who helped bring customization to the masses by placing colored dots on his clubs to indicate lie angle and shaft length, which now sounds almost quaint given the trail that technology has blazed. When today’s top fitters test a shaft, for instance, they don’t just measure flex or find the kickpoint. They gauge the load and torque at hundreds, if not thousands, of points between the hosel and the butt end. The other engines of their business are bleeding-edge launch monitors that track speeds, spin rates and flight paths with military-grade precision. The growing affordability of these machines, which have plunged in price to roughly $25,000 (down from $125,000 in the early 2000s), has further thrust high-end clubfitting into the public sphere by making it a viable business.

Launch monitors: They’re not just for test labs anymore.

Of course, all the major manufacturers have them, too. Customization is central to their business, not only in the fittings that they offer and encourage, but also in the equipment that they develop. The market demands it.

“Clubfitting has had an enormous impact on what we do,” says Josh Talge, vice president of marketing for Titleist clubs. “When you look at things like moveable weights and adjustable hosels, those are massive nods to fitting.”

Of Titleist’s direct iron sales today, some 75 percent arise from custom fitting. The more the better, as equipment-makers see it. It boosts the odds that folks who buy them will really dig their clubs.

This dynamic is part of a positive-feedback loop in which market forces drive consumer interest and the other way around. Golfers are increasingly interested in fitting, and the industry is ever-more prepared to provide it, not only at high-end studios but at a growing number of big-box stores and pro shops. As fewer golfers buy clubs off-the-rack, traditional retailers have scrambled to adapt.

As a clubfitter might say, some other telling trends show up in the data. A recent annual survey by New York–based Sports & Leisure Research Group found that golfers today are 48 percent more likely than they were in 2012 to believe that the right equipment can improve their game. With such bullishness comes a greater willingness to break out the wallet. In that same survey, projections point toward a 25 percent boost in per-capita equipment spending in 2019.

Clubfitting doesn’t get all the credit; its definitive impact is hard to quantity. But it has helped crystallize consumer convictions.

“That’s one of the benefits of a high-end fitting studio, like a True Spec or Club Champion,” says Sports & Leisure president Jon Last. “The majority of recreational golfers might not understand terms like kickpoint or moment of inertia, or the specific engineering of what makes equipment better, but a fitting can help them put a number on it. Their convictions are affirmed by what they see.”

SOURCE:  golf.com

A master plan: Exclusive look inside the days that led to Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters victory

Tiger Woods started talking about the importance of taking “baby steps” even before he won his first Masters, in 1997 by 12 shots when he was 21. He was lifting from the Earl Woods playbook. Improvement is incremental. It requires time and effort. You gotta walk before you can run.

In 2017, Tiger’s back was so bad that not only did he sit out the Masters for the second consecutive year, he told Gary Player at the Champions Dinner that his days as a competitive golfer were likely over. But one year and one spinal-fusion surgery later, he played his 21st Masters.

At that 2018 Masters, parts of his game were good and parts were works in progress. He had moved beyond baby steps, but he was riding a bike with training wheels. He finished in a tie for 32nd.

The good news for Tiger, by the end of that week, was that he knew what he had to do. He wasn’t happy with his driving game. He wasn’t happy with some of his equipment specs. He wasn’t happy with his strength and stamina. Tiger Woods with a list of things he’s unhappy about is a happy man. He lives for what it takes.

By April 2019, he liked the 14 clubs in his bag, right down to their shafts. (Critical.) He liked his driving game. He was stronger and fitter. A window was open. He could see that. When you’re 21, you think that window will stay open forever. When you’re 43, you know better.

SOURCE: GOLF.COM

Our Precautions Against Coronavirus (COVID – 19)

Your health and safety are our top priority at Cypress Lakes Golf Course and our team is actively monitoring the impacts of Coronavirus (COVID – 19) and its impact on our community.  We are also taking the recommended steps to help prevent any outbreaks in our area.

Please know we are still fully operational for our Members and guests and we encourage you to take full advantage of our array of amenities.

As always, we encourage and promote healthy lifestyles for our Members, guests and staff.  We ask that you please stay home if you are not feeling well or have symptoms similar to that of COVID – 19.

Listed below are the steps we are taking to protect our members, guests and staff:

  • We are cleaning the restrooms and wiping down all door handles with disinfectant multiple times a day.

  • We are wiping down steering wheels, seats, handles on all golf carts before and after each round.

  • At this time we are not aware of any outbreaks in our area but are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves and will notify you immediately if anything changes.  In the meantime, please come and visit our beautiful club and take advantage of everything that Cypress Lakes Golf Course has to offer.

 

Simple steps for getting your hands on right

I see a lot of amateurs approach the golf grip with a lot of tension. Many are holding the club too tightly. I notice it most when they try to waggle. The movement looks stiff and short.
To swing correctly, the right amount of grip pressure—and where you apply it—is important. You should feel the club being supported by the last three fingers of your left hand (above, left). Those fingers should grip the firmest. My longtime teacher, the late Stan Thirsk, used to remind me to keep the club in the fingers of my left hand and never let it slip into the palm.
In the right hand, the middle two fingers do most of the work. The forefinger and thumb of the right hand should feel relaxed. In fact, I’ve seen many great players, including Ben Hogan and Fred Couples, practice with those two fingers clear off the club (above, right).
Back to waggling. With softer grip pressure, your waggle will be looser and will help relax your hands and arms. During the swing, the right hand should be free enough to fire the clubhead through the hitting area.
When it comes to your golf grip, how tight is too tight? Here’s an exercise: Next time you practice, try backing off with your grip pressure until the club is almost falling out of your hands. Then firm it up just enough so you can control the club. That likely is your ideal grip pressure. Will it feel lighter? I’m guessing it will.
Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.
SOURCE:  GolfDigest
Learn how to turn back, not sway.
Let’s talk about hip turn. James Kinney, one of our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers and Director of Instruction at GolfTec Omaha, says that from the data GolfTec has collected, they’ve found lower handicap golfers have a more centered lower body at the top of the swing. Meaning, they don’t sway.
If you’re swaying off the ball, you’re moving yourself off of your starting position. The low point of your swing moves back when you sway back, so you’re going to have to shift forward to get your club to bottom out where the ball is. That takes a lot of timing, and is going to end up producing some ugly shots.
So, instead, Kinney says you should turn.
“When turning your hips, you are able to stay more centered over the golf ball in your backswing and the low point of your swing stays in the proper position, resulting in consistent contact.”
To practice turning, Kinney says to set up in a doorway. Have your back foot against the doorframe. When you make your lower body move back, your hip will hit the door fame if you’re swaying. If you’re turning, your hips are safe from hitting the frame.
Remember that feeling of turning when you’re on the course and your ball striking is going to get a whole lot more consistent.
SOURCE:  GolfDigest

Wet lie? Here’s how to play it (and when to drop)

Use your bunker technique to escape almost any sloppy condition

Everybody has seen the tour player roll up his pant legs and get down into the hazard to try to play a ball that’s partially submerged.

Luckily, most situations aren’t quite that dire — but you do need to know how to account for a wet, muddy lie around the green. If you don’t, you’re going to hit more than your share of fat or bladed shots.

The secret? Don’t let the leading edge of your sand wedge get caught up in the muck, says short-game guru and 50 Best Teacher Stan Utley.

“Out of fear, a lot of players swing too easy, which will usually cause you to duff it,” says Utley. “From these lies, you should be thinking about playing a standard bunker shot.”

To do it, you need to unhinge your wrists aggressively on the downswing while keeping your right palm pointed upward — the key to keeping the bounce on the bottom of the club aimed at the ground. If you swing too slowly or let your wrists turn over, you’ll catch the leading edge in that wet muck and you’ll probably move the ball ten feet.

The feel? Like you’re skipping a rock across the surface of a pond.

Speaking of wet, how deep is too deep when the ball is partially submerged in water? If a quarter of the ball is above the surface, it’s possible to get it out–but you’re going to get wet. Wear rain gear, and swing hard.

SOURCE:  GolfDigest

A happily retired Suzann Pettersen talks about her Solheim Cup-winning putt and walking away from pro golf

Suzann Pettersen can boast of having one of the most epic retirements an athlete could imagine. Chosen, controversially, as a captain’s pick for the 2019 European Solheim Cup team, the 38-year-old Norwegian got her game back in shape after taking nearly two years away from competitive golf. During that time, she and her husband welcomed their first child, Herman. On that September Sunday at Gleneagles, Pettersen’s singles match against American Marina Alex was the last on the course with Europe and the U.S. tied 13½-13½. Both golfers had birdie putts, and when Alex missed hers from 10 feet, Pettersen’s six-footer had the entire three-day affair riding on it. When her ball fell in the cup, Pettersen dropped her putter, clenching both fists and threw her head up towards the sky. Her teammates and fans rushed the 18th green. When the mayhem eventually subsided, and the European team came into the media center to discuss the thrilling afternoon, Europe’s hero announced her retirement from professional golf, ending a 19-year career.

Roughly two months later, Pettersen sat down with Golf Digest the week of the CME Group Tour Championship to relive the historic moment and look back on her impressive career that included 15 LPGA Tour wins, two majors, nine Solheim Cup appearances and four Cup wins.

SOURCE:  GolfDigest

6 Tips For Taking Your Kids Out On The Golf Course

How to keep your kids and the groups around you happy on the golf course

The thought of taking a group of kids out on the golf course is a lot more daunting than taking them to the driving range. But don’t let that fear deter you. There’s a way for kids to get around the course in a completely acceptable amount of time and not bother other groups in the process.

We spoke to Erika Larkin, one of our Golf Digest Best Young Teachers and the Director of Instruction at The Club at Creighton Farms in Aldie, Virginia.

Larkin not only teaches a lot of juniors, her two young children are also golfers. If anyone has some strategies on how to successfully navigate a group of juniors around a course without making the group behind you antsy, it’s her.

Here are Larkin’s 6 tips for taking kids out on the golf course:

Looks for lulls in the action

When you contact a course, be clear and tell them you’re coming with junior players and are looking for a quiet time. “The staff should know the ebbs and flows of traffic and be able to tell you a good time so you won’t be too rushed when playing with your kids,” says Larkin.

Keep it short

There’s no harm in walking off the course before 9 – in fact, it can be the best thing you can do. Larkin says, “Depending on the age of your golfers, 5 or 6 holes may be plenty. Finish when it’s still fun and it leaves your kids wanting more.”

Again, keep it short

But this time, keep the yardage short. Create your own course and tees as needed in the fairway. Larkin suggests, “6 to 8-year olds should play from 50-150 yards out on any given hole. Nine-11 year olds maybe 180-250 yards, and 12-13 year olds play from forward tees.” There’s no need for kids to go out and play full length courses. Making their own course for them within the larger course gives them the thrill of being on a course, while keeping it manageable.

Shawn Thorimbert
@shawnthorimbert

Put your own game aside

As the adult, don’t plan on being able to think about your game. “Instead of focusing on your play, focus on setting a good example in attitude and etiquette,” says Larkin. “You’re filling the job more of a caddie than of a player for this round.”

Create time-saving games

“Add in fun twists like a “hand wedge” from the sand if they don’t get it out after two swings,” says Larkin. Or if they’re struggling on the green, instate a “magic putt.” Little things like this will keep it light and limit frustration for your group, and the groups around you.

BETTER WITH AGE

Don’t make it purely individual

Play a scramble or shamble. Introducing kids to the course doesn’t mean they have to play their own ball. “Playing a scramble will keep everyone moving and make the experience more team oriented,” says Larkin.

SOURCE: GolfDigest

Matthew Wolff, Joaquin Niemann, Cole Hammer among 20 golfers to follow in 2020

It’s obvious that Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm and Tiger Woods are five of the best golfers on the planet. Anyone who casually follows the game or engages in the sport can tell you that much. But what about when you step outside the star and superstar realm and get a little past the most obvious contenders in this sport?

What do you find at No. 50 in the world or No. 100 or even past that? With 2020 quickly approaching and another calendar year of golf on deck, I thought it would be fun to throw 20 names at you to watch in 2020. These are in no particular order in terms of ranking, but they’re 20 guys who have a chance to take a leap (or two leaps) into stardom in professional (or amateur) golf at the start of the new decade.

Let’s jump in.

1. Matthew Wolff: Probably the most famous of this group, and he already has a win. It might be unfair to include him on a list of folks you need to know more about because I don’t know how much you already know about him. But his intangibles are off the charts and probably more impressive than anyone else on here. I could not be more in.

2. Xinjun Xhang: Blew away the competition in the Korn Ferry Tour regular season this year. He’s already earned significantly more money in the fall than he did in his entire previous season on the PGA Tour combined.

3. Ben An: This is all you need to know about Ben An and his game.

Most golf beginners would begin their journey with a mid-iron or wedge, but An was the opposite as he started with one of the hardest clubs – the 1-iron. “I liked the 1-iron, that was the first club I used,” An said. “I remember it was a club with an old-school green colored grip. It just felt fun for me. I still remember it although I was very young then.” [PGA Tour]

4. Tom Lewis: The former stud amateur came over and won the Korn Ferry Tour Championship by five after his highest-ever finish at a major championship (T11 at The Open). Currently No. 53 in the world, which is his highest ranking ever.

5. Abraham Ancer: Stole the show at the Presidents Cup, but the reality is that he was playing quality golf long before that. Starred for a while at the 2019 Players Championship, finished second at The Northern Trust and top 10 in his last PGA Tour events of the fall.

6. Joaquin Niemann: Just turned 21 and has almost matched his age with his tee-to-green ranking on the PGA Tour. Certified stud.

7. Sungjae Im: The real breakout star of the Presidents Cup. Im might be a superstar, and he has the kind of game that’s going to go on and on and on and on. All the way up to 34th in the world, and I could see him in the top 20 this time next year.

No Laying Up

@NoLayingUp

Sungjae Im is an assassin. That guy might make $50 million on tour.

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8. Scottie Scheffler: There’s a little Spieth in there in terms of the amateur career and walking in the same footsteps. He doesn’t get the same shine Spieth ever did though, but he’s going to have a good, long career.

9. Corey Conners: The best ball-striker you’ve never heard of. He was ninth (!!) from tee to green last season.

10. Bernd Wiesberger: Did you know that Bernd Wiseberger is ranked ahead of Rickie Fowler in the Official World Golf Rankings? I bet you did not know this factual information.

11. Jazz Janewattananond: Introduced himself at the PGA Championship this spring, and likely played himself into the Masters by rising into the top 50 in the OWGR by Dec. 31. He’s currently No. 45 with two weeks to go (the top 50 on Dec. 31 get in).

12. Collin Morikawa: Elite iron player. I don’t know that he has the juice to hang with Wolff and Hovland long-term, but I’m extremely excited to watch him try and play his way into that.

13. Erik Van Rooyen: Come for the joggers, stay for one of the 50 best in the world.

14. Harry Higgs: Won on the Korn Ferry Tour last season and finished second at the Bermuda Championship this fall. He made $540,000 in the fall and is getting close to earning his 2021 card.

15. Robert Macintyre: Finished sixth (!) at The Open at Royal Portrush and had four other top-10 finishes to close out 2019. Still just 23 years old.

16. Takumi Kanaya: The No. 1 amateur in the world and the No. 222 player in the world overall. It’s not often you see that combination, but the 21-year-old is winning legit pro events and nearly even took the Australian Open a few weeks ago.

17. Viktor Hovland: Vegas shouldn’t even offer odds on him winning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Would be like letting Kyler Murray be a rookie next year.

18. Cole Hammer: Another Texas stud. Took down Wolff in the match-play portion of the NCAAs earlier in 2019 and is currently the No. 2 amateur in the world. Right amount of swag, tons of game and a great pedigree. Here for it.

19. Victor Perez: He’s won an official event in each of the last four calendar years. His fall was outstanding as he took the Dunhill Links and then nearly won in China (WGC event) and Turkey (European Tour Rolex Series event). Might be a Ryder Cup threat.

20. Justin Harding: He was the “one of these things is not like the other ones” golfer in the top 15 at Augusta in April. Last year was the first time in his career that he’s played all four of the majors in a calendar year, and he made the cut at three of the four including that impressive T12 at the Masters.

SOURCE:  CBSSports

The 9 most interesting golf equipment stories of 2019

Any time a year comes to its conclusion it offers the opportunity to reflect on what occurred over the preceding 12 months. As it relates to the golf equipment scene on the professional tours, 2019 had no shortage of newsworthy stories. Hot drivers and the methods used to test them continued to be a controversial topic, specifically at the Open Championship where there was a visible split between some tour players and the governing bodies over the protocols used. Spicy drivers, however, were only a fraction of the equipment news. Players breaking clubs, losing clubs, using too many golf balls or not having enough of them caused confusion and consternation among those involved. And then there were the numerous equipment escapades of the “Golf Scientist,” Bryson DeChambeau. With that, here’s a look at our top golf equipment stories of 2019.

Driver testing at the Open Championship
Driver testing is a behind-the-scenes process that is usually a non-event. That changed when a handful of the 30 players who had their clubs tested prior to the Open Championship at Royal Portrush in July saw some fail the test. Among those players was Xander Schauffele, who went public with his displeasure at the process. Schauffele’s beef that it was selective and needed more discretion was legitimate, but the testing brought to light the fact that some drivers being used on tour that were originally “legal” were unintentionally becoming nonconforming over time due to usage. Soon thereafter the PGA Tour implemented mandatory driver testing at several events, with a few drivers caught speeding at the Safeway Open. To what extent there is an issue remains to be seen, but it’s a story to follow in 2020.

Bryson DeChambeau’s many changes
You can’t have a list of top equipment stories without Bryson DeChambeau. Normally known for having all his irons the length of a 7-iron, DeChambeau became more focused on other aspects of his equipment in 2019. At the WGC-Mexico Championship, DeChambeau changed to Bridgestone’s Tour B XS ball and waxed on about the effect of atmospheric conditions on a golf ball. Prior to the Masters, he changed all the shafts in his irons and wedges. Later in the year, at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, he put graphite shafts in all 14 clubs, which is believed to be a first for a PGA Tour player. Finally, at the Hero World Challenge, DeChambeau put into play a 4.8-degree driver. And what about the One Length irons? They hardly got a mention with everything else going on.

Bryson DeChambeau
David Cannon

Eddie Pepperell running out of golf balls
OK, we’ve all been there. Out on the course enduring a rough patch and worrying about running out of ammo. Heck, Tiger Woods nearly did it at the 2000 U.S. Open. Unfortunately for Eddie Pepperell, the worst fears actually came true during the third round of the Turkish Airlines Open in November. In rapid fashion, Pepperell launched balls into a pond until his bag was empty, and he was ultimately disqualified. Said playing companion Martin Kaymer, “Eddie hit his shots to the green, then came over to tell us he had run out of balls. He did not ask if he could borrow one [allowable if the same model]. It did not look like he wanted to play. He did not putt with his putter on the third hole; he putted with a wedge. So there was a lot happening. I have never seen anything like that before. I only watched it on television, in ‘Tin Cup.’ This is the first time I have seen it live.” Us, too.

RELATED: The 21 (yes, 21!) most painful rules incidents of 2019

Russell Henley runs afoul of the one-ball rule
While Pepperell was DQ’d for not having enough golf balls, Russell Henley got an eight-stroke penalty for using too many. After the second round of the Mayakoba Golf Classic in October, Henley dug into his bag to get a few balls to sign and hand out to fans. In doing so, he noticed he had accidentally used a ball other than a Titleist Pro V1x during his round—a no-no under the PGA Tour’s one-ball rule that requires a player use the same make and model of ball throughout a round. Henley went to a rules official and explained he had used the different ball for four holes. The penalty: two strokes for each hole, turning his 69 into a 77 and a missed cut.

Steve Stricker’s venerable sticks, unusual endorsement deal
Steve Stricker went back in time—in golf equipment terms, way back in time—in putting his old Titleist 755 Forged irons, a set that debuted in 2006, in the bag at the Memorial. Stricker used the clubs a few weeks later to win the U.S. Senior Open, saying, “I’ve been trying to find some clubs and equipment that I like, and so I went back to an old set that feels really good. That’s part of it, too, I think. I’m swinging at it a little bit more confidently, feeling good with what I have in my hand.” Stricker’s putter is a golf artifact as well, an Odyssey White Hot 2 he first played at the 2006 Shell Houston Open. Two days after winning the Senior Open, Stricker signed one of the most unusual endorsement deals in golf with Odyssey. The pact called for no signage on his hat, bag or anywhere for that matter. Just that he continue to use a putter nearly 15 years old, which is right up his alley.

Steve Stricker
Stacy Revere

Harold Varner busted for assembling his driver on course
Harold Varner’s Players Championship got off to a rough start when, prior to his opening round, his driver cracked on the practice range. As such, Varner started his round with 13 clubs and intended to have another driver brought out to him, allowable under the rules. But Varner wanted to use the same shaft that was in his gamer. This too is allowable so long as the assembly of the club takes place off the course. That’s where things went wrong. After leaving the shaft back at the tee, hoping to have his agent pick it up and assemble the club before bringing it out to him, a walking scorer took the shaft out to Varner on the course. When the driver head was brought out, too, the club was assembled on the course in violation of the rule, costing Varner a two-shot penalty.

RELATED: Golf World’s Newsmakers of the Year for 2019

Tommy Fleetwod’s eBay bargain putter
Like most golfers going through a rough stretch on the greens, Tommy Fleetwood was ready for a putter change at the Omega European Masters in September. The new putter, however, turned out to be an old putter that his caddie, Ian Finnis, purchased off eBay for £90 ($109) in January. It was a birthday gift for Fleetwood, who used a similar model growing up. Fleetwood put the Odyssey DFX 2-Ball Blade in play and needed just 21 putts in the opening round. He continued to play well the rest of the week, finishing T-8 to earn the equivalent of £45,674—a pretty good return on Finnis’ original investment.

Tommy Fleetwood
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Patrick Reed snapping wedge over his knee at the U.S. Open
Varner’s broken driver was an accident. Patrick Reed’s demolition of a wedge at the U.S. Open was intentional for all the world to see. On the final hole of his second round at Pebble Beach, Reed hit a pitch shot long from behind the green then flubbed his next shot. That’s when Reed went full Bo Jackson (or Henrik Stenson) and snapped the shaft of the wedge over his knee. Reed somehow went on to get the next shot close enough to make the putt for double bogey and make the cut, but he needed a new wedge for the weekend.

FOX Sports: Golf

@GolfonFOX

Patrick Reed snaps his club over his leg on No. 18… 😳

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Lost clubs of LPGA Tour players
It was a rough year for the transport of clubs used by LPGA Tour players. In February, en route to the Honda LPGA in Thailand, a number of players including Paula Creamer, Sandra Gal, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Brittany Lincicome had their sticks fail to get to their destination on a Cathay Pacific flight. In March, In-Kyung Kim learned her missing clubs were actually up for sale on eBay after supposedly being lost on an American Airlines flight. In July, Ryann O’Toole’s clubs failed to make it to France for the Evian Championship. When pleading her case to a British Airways agent, the agent ignorantly asked, “Can’t you just use a rental set?” And in September, two Solheim Cup players, Angel Yin and Shadoff (tough year for her) had airlines lose their fully-loaded travel bags. Luckily all the players were eventually reunited with their clubs.

SOURCE:  GolfDigest