Customers weigh in on the hottest drivers, fairway woods and hybrids!
Southern California Roger Dunn Golf Shops customers to join us for a day on the driving range testing the latest golf equipment and and recording the results. We narrowed the search to seven golfers of various abilities to test clubs from nine top manufacturers at Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Orange County, considered one of the top high-end courses in the region. In this issue we look at drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, while in our next edition we will feature top irons and wedges.
With so many options in golf equipment today, shoppers can be overwhelmed with where to even begin. The beauty of all these options is that manufacturers have found ways to accommodate nearly every skill levels on the golf course. With that in mind, we gathered a group of everyday golfers to put the most popular brands on the market to the test on the driving range. Here’s what they had to say…
DRIVERS: CALLAWAY XR
THE BASICS: Speed is the driving force behind the new Callaway XR driver. An aerodynamic crown, an R•MOTO face, and maximum shaft load have created a titanium driver that reduces drag and maximizes speed through the swing.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“Looks good. Lightweight and adjustable.” – Robert Lindsay
“Gorgeous all-black club with nice distance.” – Laura Qvistgaard
“Head shape is a bit weird, but it’s easy to swing and I like the matte finish.” – Roy Giannini
“A bit on the heavy side. Impact is different, but I really like the grip and feel of the club.” – Javier Chavez
THE BASICS: First fairway wood with sliding weight for shot shape adjusta- bility. The most ad- justable fairway wood to date. New Front Track system performs like a speed pocket, reducing spin and increasing size of sweet spot.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“I like the adjustability and weight.” – Robert Lindsay
“Easy to control, forgives bad hits and swings fast.” – Javier Chavez
THE BASICS: To increase face deflection and ball speed for adding distance with a higher peak trajectory, the 17-4 stainless steel face uses a stronger H900 heat-treat- ment process, making it thin but strong. The result is more distance with the steeper landing angle to hold shots on the green.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“Very smooth, light and goes far.” – Roy Giannini
“One of my favorites, great feel on the swing and impact.” – Javier Chavez “Solid!” – John Brent
In 1968, Edwin Watts was a 23-year-old assistant professional at a municipal golf course in Fort Walton, Fla., when he was suddenly handed the head professional job. At the time, there wasn’t a great deal of golf in the region, located on the Florida Pan handle about half way between Tallahassee and Mobile, Ala. There were even fewer places to purchase golf equipment. So the young Watts decided to try and take the small pro shop that he inherited along with his new job to the next level. It worked. By the time Watts sold his company in 2003, it had grown to approximately 65 stores spread across the south eastern portion of the United States. Today, Edwin Watts Golf still bears its founder’s name, but it’s now an integral component of Worldwide Golf Shops, which purchased the chain in its largest acquisition to date in December, 2013. “Edwin thought something was missing in the area,” said Kerry Kabase, a Worldwide Golf Shops consultant who began working for Watts in 1978. “He wanted something that not only offered a good selection of clubs, but also apparel and shoes, basically a full service golf shop. that concept hadn’t really taken off yet.” Watts’ shop grew and he gradually came to the realization that a golf store didn’t have to be located on a actual golf course, but could be housed in a stand-alone building. He and his brother opened up another shop in Memphis, Tenn., and then “started picking off areas in the southeast, one at a time,” Kabase said. “It was a slow process because he wasn’t that financed, but when he had enough money to open, he did. And they turned out to be very successful.” By the time Watts sold the company to a private equity firm in 2003, it had grown to dozens of stores, Kabase said. Though Edwin Watts Golf is now part of Worldwide Golf Shops (it currently has 48 stores from Texas to Florida and as far north as Missouri) Kabase said it was a perfect marriage. And what of the man whose name is still affixed to the brand? He’s still around and still making a difference in golf. Kabase said that several years ago, a golf course in Watts’ community was about to be sold to a developer who was going to build on it. Watts got a group of friends together and decided to buy it. “They figured they would buy it themselves and keep the course in the neighborhood,” and Kabase of Shalimar Pointe Golf Club. “And it’s never been more successful.”
It was actually very ironic that we saw trains crisscrossing the US Open venue on a regular basis. I’m just glad none of them took a cue from the players Sunday afternoon and derailed.
The first derailment came from Rory McIlroy. 6 under for the day and staring at a 4 footer for birdie on 14 to go -3 for the tournament. With the reachable par 4 16 coming up as well as the par 5 18th Rory was looking to post a -5 on the board and make the players behind try to match it. But he misses the 4 footer and bogeys 15 and 17 and ends up even for the tournament.
Next comes Brendan Grace. Tied for the lead going to the reachable 16th he looks like he actually tried to hit one of the trains off the tee. His OB leads to a double bogey and his chances were gone. Jordan Speith is next. After a brilliant birdie putt on 16 to go 3 up on the field he butchers the par 3 17th and make a double bogey. He does get it back on the track with a clutch birdie on 18 to get it to -5.
But the biggest derailment is yet to come. Dustin Johnson seemed like a man among boys on Sunday.
Booming drives and seemingly hitting wedges into every par 4. His power game was in full display. It looked like he could have birdied almost every hole on the front side. But DJ has some bad memories in majors. The collapse at Pebble Beach, the wayward 2 iron at the Open Championship and of course the confusion at Whistling Straits.
He stepped to the tee at 17 on Sunday at -3 and realistically knew he had to play the last 2 holes 2 under to have a chance.
What follows are 3 of the best shots hit in the entire tournament. He hits it to 3 feet for birdie on 17, a hole no one could get close to all day. He follows that up with maybe the best tee shot ever hit in a US Open on 18. It enables him to hit a 5 iron into a 600 yard hole that lands 12 feet from the hole. I can’t remember anyone hitting 3 shots like that in a US Open with the tournament on the line. But DJ joins the derailment party and 3 putts and finishes second.
Two shots cover 600 yards but it takes 3 to go 12 feet. It just doesn’t seem fair. But the US Open usually isn’t.
Watching Tiger and FOX this weekend, I guess “strange to watch” was the first thing that came to mind. “Painful at times” was the second. And those phrases were a bit of understatements.
First, let’s talk FOX. These guys wanted in the golf game badly. 12 years at $100 million a year is the rumor of the going rate they paid the gents from Far Hills, NJ for the rights.
They’ve hired an all-star cast of announcers. Great announcers.
But, are they great golf announcers? Nope. Not yet.
Joe Buck and the Hall of Famer, Greg Norman (photo courtesy Golfweek)
“There are no gimmies out here.” Really, How many times did we hear that one on Saturday and Sunday?
“I’m Joe Buck and this is the Hall of Famer, Greg Norman.” Ok, Joe, but do you have to say it every time the camera hits you two? Thanks for the intro, but I don’t think Jim Nantz does that every time the single time they cut to him. Once a day is fine, we know who you are.
“With that putt, Johnson’s lead goes to 3.” No it didn’t, it went to 2 shots!
And, Holly Sonders interviewing Kevin Kisner after Saturday’s round with multiple questions….all about Jason Day, then thanked him for stopping by. I would have fallen out if Kisner would have ended it with, “Don’t you want to ask me anything about my round?”
But, it wasn’t just the announcers (although Corey Pavin, Brad Faxon were good, as was Juli Inkster who was rarely heard and never to be seen). The PRODUCTION was like they’d never worked a major before.
Alright, they hadn’t.
Shots of golf balls were lost in flight, images on the screen freezing up, cutting to a player 35 seconds before he hit the shot, announcers being cut off in the middle of a sentence. I’m trying to imagine what the late, great Frank Chirkinian would have done to the trailer at CBS if this was on his watch. Probably something like that fire that broke out near the course.
The shot tracers and various yardage graphics were great, but come on, guys.
So, how does FOX get better covering majors? How does Tiger get better playing in majors?
More regular tournaments!
But, that’s not as easy as it sounds. FOX wanted in this game and the only nuggets up for bid were USGA tournaments. Remember, this is the same network that wanted in college football so badly, a market that was owned by the Worldwide Leader, CBS and NBC (Notre Dame) that it did the same thing that they did in golf. Bought the rights to just a few games.
Most all of the BCS Bowl Games including the Championship Game!
Beginning in 2006, FOX did all of the BCS games (Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls leaving the Rose to ABC) and the BCS Championship Games. The coverage for a network that did zero regular season games was about the same as a network that broadcast zero professional golf and then takes on our country’s National Championship.
FOX is like the millionaire parent of a kid that wanted to go to a summer camp, but couldn’t get in because it was full. So the parent bought the camp. Kid’s in, problem’s solved.
So back to golf, with NBC and CBS owning the PGA Tour for the most part, there are no other ways for FOX to improve by taking on a few regular tour events.
But, maybe the former world’s #1 could, if ego will allow it. Personally, I just don’t see Tiger teeing it up at the John Deere or the Greenbrier. However, red alert: you’re not in the WGC Bridgestone where you’ve won 8 times, and there’s already talk that your U.S. Open exemption as a past winner runs out in 2018. The 2019 U.S. Open is at Pebble Beach and there’s already talk that you’d have to qualify if you wanted to be a part of the party.
Humble yourself, TW. Play some more. No more swing overhauls, go back to Tiger 1.0, not some other version.
And to FOX, I wish we could say do some more tournaments, but other than the U.S. Senior Men’s and the Women’s U.S. Open, there won’t be many that anyone’s really watching and engaged. You guys live on the edge, that’s what made you FOX Sports. However, PLEASE, look in the mirror and learn from your mistakes.
What would be better than watching someone lip out his tee shot on the par 4 10th at Riviera?
How about getting to talk with that man personally?
That man, Ryan Moore, joins us in this episode of GolfBetter.
Moore, a native of the Seattle/Tacoma area, gives us a preview of the 2015 US Open site, Chambers Bay, and suggests a few “must not miss spots” for visitors to hit while in the area.
He also talks about his time as a college golfer at UNLV, the state of his game and his relationship with TRUE Linkswear footwear.
You can listen to the interview on our WEBSITE, by subscribing free on iTunes or by clicking below.
Oh, and you can see that incredible shot at Riviera by clicking on the YouTube link below as well.
Tom Brassell: [Intro music 00:00:01]
[00:00:12] Welcome to “Golf Better” at Worldwide Golf Shops.
Hello everyone my name is Tom Brassell, thanks so much for joining us. We say it every time, if you’re a first time listener or a long time subscriber, or maybe somewhere in the middle of that ride, either way it doesn’t matter we are just glad you joined us.
We’re glad you joined us today, not only do we have a special guest on the phone but I have my old compadre in the studio, Kerry Kabase. Kerry, great to have you man.
Kerry Kabase: Thanks Tom. We really have a great guest. As you know, there’s a pretty big golf tournament coming up in another week and we thought it might be appropriate to have a Seattle native to come on and talk us a little bit about Chambers Bay and Seattle area, just golf in general over there.
Tom Brassell: That’s right Kerry. In addition to being a Seattle native, this year he’s won over $2.3 million year-to-date, he’s ranked 33rd in the world, and 19th in FedEx cup standings. He’s had 8 top 25 finishes in 15 events. Not to bad!
Our special guest joining us today, from our friends at TRUE Linkswear, Mr. Ryan Moore. Ryan thank so much for joining us, great to have you.
[canned applause 00:01:15]
Ryan Moore: Thanks for having me.
Tom Brassell: Hey Ryan, in addition to those accolades, I should have also said you’re the only person we’ve had on the podcast so far this year that’s lipped out an Ace at Riviera. Lipped out the albatross. How many times have you heard that one?
Ryan Moore: That was crazy. I think that might be the one time in my entire life that’s going to happen. Especially on that hole. That hole is, it’s about as tough as you can get these days. Tough to even get it anywhere around the green, let alone actually lip one out. It looked good the whole way though, I got to be honest. It looked really good. [inaudible 00:01:49]
Tom Brassell: I’m not sure how it stayed out. I don’t understand.
Ryan Moore: Then it didn’t even stay on the green, that was the great part about the thing. I didn’t even make a birdie.
Tom Brassell: Had to work to make 4.
Ryan Moore: That’s golf.
Tom Brassell: Hey but Ryan, let me take you back a little bit. Let’s go back to how you got started in the game. I remember it wasn’t, I think it was maybe 10 or 11 years ago. I was talking with the late great, you may remember him, Ron Balicki the college golf writer, and I said “Ron who do you like out there in the college game? Who’s out there?” He goes “Man, Tom this Ryan Moore kid is something else”. Does it seem like it was that long ago or does it seem like yesterday?
Ryan Moore: I can’t believe this is my 11th year on tour, that’s for sure. It feels like I’ve [had caught 00:02:32] maybe 4 or 5. It goes by pretty quick. Man those were the good days right there. Winning lots of tournaments and having fun doing it.
Tom Brassell: Tell us about how you got started in the game. Obviously, you’re from the Pacific Northwest where the US Opens going to be played. Tell us a little bit about how you got hooked on the game.
Ryan Moore: It was a lot of things. My Dad was into golf a lot, and apparently when I was really really young I would just walk around the house with a plastic club in my hand. Once I got big enough and old enough to be able to golf I pretty much begged my Dad to take me, anytime, anywhere. To a driving range, or a golf course, or whatever I could do. I got to go a little bit and I got hooked to it early on.
I played a lot of other sports. It wasn’t the only sport I played but there was something always a little different about golf. I really enjoyed it.
Kerry Kabase: Tell us how you ended up at UNLV and some of the players that you played with when you were at college.
Ryan Moore: I ended up at UNLV … it was a little bit random I guess of how I ended up there. I played my first big National Junior Golf Tournament, my first AJG event in Las Vegas. They used to have it out at Legacy Golf Course there, out in Henderson. There was something about it, I really enjoyed it there, I really liked it. It had a lasting impression on me for some reason, so when I was considering schools it was very high on my list. At the time, when I was [inaudible 00:04:07] they had a great program that was consistently a top 10, top 5 program in the country. Guys like Adam Stott had gone there, Charley Hoffmann, and Bill Lunde these guys that were out on tour. The Chris Rileys back in the day. They had a lot of guys, a lot of representation out there so I figured they knew what they were doing, they ran a good program. I ended up there. I liked it a lot better than the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools. I definitely wanted to stay more out West. Golf courses like Shadow Creek, getting to go play there everyday is not a hard selling point too.
Kerry Kabase: That’s for sure.
Tom Brassell: Ryan, tell us a little bit about your game right now. We read off some of the stats earlier. You’re 33rd in world ranking, 19th in FedEx cups, playing pretty well. Talk about that.
Ryan Moore: I’ve been having a good, I’d say a fairly consistent year. The [Frys 00:05:03] was nice getting a win back in the Fall. That gets you really high up in the FedEx cup right away. That’s obviously the way the tour works now and the way the season worked up. The big priority is getting high on that list.
I had a good week last week and have some other good solid finishes throughout the year. Now with the FedEx cup and the way it works this is the time of year you want to get it going. 3 Majors coming up and the big FedEx cup events after that. My games been, I’d say, rounding into shape, feeling a lot better. Like I said I had a good week last week, at least good first 2 days. Struggled a little bit over the weekend but sometimes you learn stuff from that, figure out what to do better the next week, hopefully that’s what happens with the US Open next week.
Tom Brassell: Probably for the first time in history, the 3 Majors that are coming up are all going to be played on links type golf courses. You’ve got Chambers Bay, obviously St. Andrews, then you’re back to Whistling Straits. That sets up good for your game.
Ryan Moore: I think so. I think I’ve learned how to pray British Opens really well the last few years. There’s a certain learning curve, it’s a very different type of golf. Certainly very different type than what we play week in and week out. There’s a lot of adjustment there. I think I’ve just learned how to approach it, for me, mentally and physically the type of shots around the green that I’ve gotten better at, more comfortable with using a hybrid or a 5-wood. Instead of relying on your [loft woods 00:06:33] so much.
Chambers and, obviously, St. Andrews are very similar but Whistling Straits is one of those sneaky ones that looks like a links golf course but doesn’t play like a links golf course at all. It’s very much still an aerial golf course. It just looks like one. It’s got those visual cues that you feel like you’re going to do hits, bumps and runs around the greens, you still hit your normal chip shots around them. Still it’s a great place, it’s beautiful and it certainly adds an interesting challenge.
Kerry Kabase: You mentioned the Majors coming up, you’re a Seattle native, tell us – our listeners who may not have heard about Chambers Bay – tell us about Chambers Bay Golf Course.
Ryan Moore: Chambers is very much a British Open style golf course. What we play on over there with the fescue fairways and greens. They’re very firm and fast. I played out there the last couple days, I think it’s rounding into shape just how they want it to. It’s going to be really really firm and really really fast for the week. The kind of thing where you’re hitting where you’re hitting 7-irons and they’re releasing 20 or 30 yards. Not 20 or 30 feet, but really releasing 20 or 30 yards on the green. You have to … What I think is interesting about that type of golf, I think that’s the adjustment and the learning curve that you have over time, is the golf course dictates more of what you have to do.
It dictates the shot you have to hit, you can’t just say “Hey, I’m going to hit a nice high cut in there”. No I have to land it 20 yards short, hit the slope, kick it around and let it roll in there. The course dictates your play a little bit more. Chambers is very much that way, there’s a lot of slopes and mounds. There’s certainly a bit of a learning curve out there just seeing where the ball bounces, where it gathers, and seeing greens that are very severely uphill, some of the holes out there. You still got to land them short of the green and run it up there, because it’s so firm if you fly it up top it bounces and rolls over the green. That’s hard knowing that there’s a huge false front, if you do come up short the ball rolls 40 yards backwards but that’s what you got to get used to and why you got to get a few rounds in.
Tom Brassell: Ryan, I read somewhere or heard somewhere – I think it was yesterday or today – somebody from Seattle saying that what this Open means to Seattle and the economy; they compared it to, even more than, the two Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl Appearances. The Win and the Appearance. Talk about what that means to your hometown. This is big stuff, first time ever.
Ryan Moore: This is huge for this area. If you would have told me 20 years ago we’d be having a US Open in the Tacoma area, not just Seattle or not Washington but really in the South Puget Sound, the Tacoma area, I would have thought you were crazy. It’s here and it’s awesome, it’s huge for this area. I think it’s very much a golf starved area, a golf deprived area as far as certainly professional golf. To get even any event up here would be great let alone for it to be a Major, for it to be a US Open. Our countries biggest professional tournament really every year. That’s huge. It’s great exposure for this area, it’s great for people to get to see how beautiful, how amazing this area is. The weather is looking fantastic for the week. If anybody’s ever been here and it’s 75 degrees there’s not a much nicer place on the planet.
Kerry Kabase: Speaking of golf courses in the area, I know you’re involved with RMG Golf Course Management. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Ryan Moore: We started that a few years back. We’ve owned one of the courses of the classics a long time. We added another golf course, Oakbrook, a great old Country Club right there, honestly about a mile away from Chambers Bay. Takes a few minutes to get around because you have to go around a big ravine but it’s right there in Lakewood. Then we have a 3rd golf course, McCormick Woods, which is out on the peninsula. We put together a program that’s making golf a little bit more affordable, little bit more accessible, but still with great golf courses in great shape. That’s what we want to pride ourselves in, having a great golf experience but having it be reasonable, making it a little bit more approachable for everybody.
Tom Brassell: Ryan if you were to play tour guide for somebody coming to the Seattle/Tacoma area for the open, name 3 things that they wouldn’t miss? It could be a tourist attraction, a restaurant, Pike’s Fish Market throwing the fish, or whatever. What would you suggest that somebody go see?
Ryan Moore: I think they have a lot of things. Really if you’re in Tacoma going out to the Point Defiance area is pretty awesome. Huge evergreen forest, you’re right on the water, there’s beaches … really just getting down to the Tacoma waterfront is pretty great. Some great restaurants down there, Duke’s would be a great restaurant to go get some Mac & Jacks, beer battered fish and chips which … Mac & Jacks is probably my favorite beverage around these parts. I like good beer and I think that’s one of the best we have to offer. What else is there? What else to do? Sorry, I’m completely spacing right now.
Kerry Kabase: All right we can get you …
Ryan Moore: You lost me. You lost me in beer. Now I’m thinking about drinking a Mac & Jacks, can’t focus.
Tom Brassell: Well let’s look down at the feet, you’re brought to us by our friends at TRUE Linkswear, some great golf shoes. Talk about your relationship with them and the brand.
Ryan Moore: That’s a company that I was fortunate enough to be one of the co-founders of. We started it a few years back in 2010, we keep growing, we’re making great comfortable, I would say a little more stylish, something you could almost wear day in and day out, golf shoes. It just keeps growing. It was, for me, it started because I wasn’t really happy with anything that with out there, anything on the market. They were uncomfortable, didn’t perform how I wanted to so we decided well let’s try and make something that’s better. Something that performs a little bit better. We came up with TRUE Linkswear and been making shoes the last few years. Making, I’d say, better and better product every year. Keeps getting better.
Tom Brassell: That’s good stuff.
Hey Ryan, before we let you go, we’ve got to put you on the clock like we do all our guests, Dustin Johnson just went on. 5 questions in 50 seconds, going to put you on the clock. You ready to go?
Ryan Moore: Whew, I’ll see what I can do.
Tom Brassell: Question number 1: What Major would you most want to win>?
Ryan Moore: I mean if I could just pick one it would be the US Open this week at Chambers Bay, for sure.
Tom Brassell: Good answer.
Question number 2: You’ve got a 4 ball match in the Ryder Cup against Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, your captain walks up to you and says “Ryan you get to pick your partner but it’s got to be a UNLV alum”, who would you take?
Ryan Moore: I’d have to go with Charley Hoffman. That guy hits ball so good it’s unbelievable and he’s fun to play with, great player.
Tom Brassell: He’s playing well.
Question number 3: Who’s the most famous person you caddied for during your days at Shadow Creek Golf Course when you were at UNLV?
Ryan Moore: Oh, Man.
Kerry Kabase: It wasn’t me Ryan.
Ryan Moore: Actually I think it was, I think it has to be. I didn’t loop very many rounds out there so, if I did I don’t think I was a very good caddy. I’m definitely a better golfer then I am a caddy.
Tom Brassell: Question number 4: Your dream foursome. If you could play with anybody living or dead who would your dream foursome be?
Ryan Moore: Man you know, I get this one every once in awhile. I have no good answer for it, I’d probably just play me and my two brothers and my Dad. For me, that’s just the way to go. It’s fun playing with my family and I don’t get to do it to often anymore so that would be it for me.
Kerry Kabase: That’s a good pick. They say that pick 3 tour players you’d like to play with in a foursome.
Ryan Moore: I’ve been fortunate enough I’ve gotten to play with some guys that other people my age haven’t. I played a [practice round 00:14:52] at Augusta with Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Charles Coody which is pretty phenomenal. Another time I got to play with Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros. Seve’s not someone that someone my age has really got to be around or play with. I’ve been so fortunate, I’ve gotten to play with all the guys that I would.
Tom Brassell: Truly legends.
Kerry Kabase: Yep.
Tom Brassell: Question number 5: We’ve gone over 50 but that’s okay. Will Tiger Woods win again on tour?
Tom Brassell: Hey Ryan, we really appreciate you carving the time out for us can you give a few final words to our listeners here on Golf Better, from Ryan Moore out in the Pacific Northwest?
Ryan Moore: I’m looking forward to the week next week. Hope everybody checks it out, tunes in, watches the US Open and appreciates this great part of the country.
[background music 00:15:47]
Tom Brassell: That sounds great. Ryan thanks so much for joining us. Good luck next week.
Kerry Kabase: Best of luck.
Tom Brassell: We’ll be pulling for you man.
Kerry Kabase: Absolutely.
Ryan Moore: All right. Thank you very much. [canned applause 00:15:54]
Tom Brassell: Take care, thanks. Okay bye -bye.
Well that was pretty cool Kerry. Not only the 33rd ranked player in the world joining us to talk about golf but talks a little bit about his hometown Seattle and plays tour guide for us a little bit.
Kerry Kabase: Absolutely, gave some places for people to look at when they’re out there next week. I think he’s right, I think this could be a really great US Open. It’s a different type of course, different type of golf then we’re used to seeing in our part of the world. Ought to be some type of tournament next week. [backround music 00:16:17]
Tom Brassell: Special thanks again to Scott Blevins and our friends at TRUE Linkswear for setting it up.
Thanks to Ryan for joining us.
Kerry thanks for sitting in and to you our listeners.
We’ll do it again next time we have another episode of “Golf Better” at worldwidegolfshops.com. So long everyone.