The 2011 PGA Merchandise Show – Technology Part I
By Leith Anderson
Fitting Wedges for Bounce – the new Edel “Hand Ground” Wedges
I learned more about wedge play in one day at the PGA Show than the 55 years I have been teaching myself.
The occasion was the launch of the new Edel Hand Ground Wedge line. I’m a David Edel fan. He has taken his custom putter fitting system to an extreme which gets him deep into “artist” territory. David is one of those guys who have the golden touch. Even so, when he announced custom grind wedges, I had my doubts.
What could he possibly do better than Don White at Scratch?
It’s always the people.
Mike Adams is a legend as a teacher. His primary claim to fame – in addition to selling 700 wedges per year individually – is that he has trained more “Top 100 Golf Teachers” than any other teaching pro. He proved a good part of that at the launch.
The other talent is “JP” Harrington. JP has an impeccable resume for a wedge designer. He’s a PGA Pro. He started his grinding career at Hot Stix five years ago. He moved on to Cool Clubs and then struck out on his own. He’s been selling wedges out of his garage, earning a reputation for innovative designs and impeccable craftsmanship. Given where he’s worked and the custom jobs he’s done, you should assume that when it comes to wedges, he’s seen everything.
**Editor’s Note February 2012: After this wonderful introduction, JP never really moved to Texas with Edel as originally planned. Neil Oster is the talent at the wheel today.
The “Vision” belongs to Mike Adams. With the authority of a pro who teaches pros, Mike insists that there is only one correct way to play a wedge shot. Oversimplified, it is weight left, head left, handle to navel. The stroke is a quick wrist break, toe up. Hands go low and left at the finish. If you do that “right”, the wedge that fits will skip off the turf. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear a little “squeak”. Therein lays the vision: learn the correct stroke and then fit your wedge for correct bounce.
Using the bounce on the sole of your wedge is the key to developing a consistent short game.
Edel created a fitting system of seven custom ground wedges. The secret is a precise progression of increasing bounce angles matched to sole width. The lower the bounce, the wider sole and vice versa.
Mike’s starts by “correcting” a player’s wedge swing. The fitting is hitting balls off grass with the “right” swing. The sequence starts with the lowest bounce wedge. Take a swing. Player probably “digs”. Switch to second-lowest bounce. Player digs less. Continue until correct sound and contact are achieved.
A unique twist is a sophisticated sole grind that reveals subtle fitting details from striking a lie board. Not only is the fit achieved by hitting “correct” shots, it is confirmed by physical testing. Very slight adjustments are possible with this unique fitting system.
The Edel launch event was held at the brand new Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Golf Club at Disney. That was convenient to the location of the PGA Teaching Summit, taking place at the same time.
The new Edel Wedge line was “launched” to twenty-three of the “Top 100 Golf Teachers” who were coincidentally at the PGA Teaching Summit and Mike Adams’ former associates. Mike invited them, they came. That was the first good sign.
The format of the launch was Mike fitting the assembled pros, first swing, then wedge by bounce. Mike finished the first dozen fittings and then passed job on to his former students – themselves “Top 100” teachers. That wedge fitting clinic went on for the better part of two days. Every one of the “Top Teachers” finished the fitting and ordered their wedges. No one offered an opinion about how to do it better.
The packaging was pure David Edel. He made confusing technical specifications disappear. A set of friendly names describe the player’s stroke tendencies and are easy to remember. Just like the Seven Dwarfs: Sweeper, Picker, Nipper, Pincher, Trapper, Driver and Digger. All you need to know is your “personality” with a wedge. You don’t need to know your wedge has 59* of loft with 13* of bounce.
Packaging includes presentation. The Edel Hand Ground Fitting Set comes in a customized case that allows each head to be shown sole up, side by side. In that position, the art is on display. Just like jewels. There is a gentle progression of bounce angle and sole width through each loft. Most wedge makers offer one or two bounce angles per loft. Edel offers seven bounce angles each with a unique sole grind. The seventeen wedges in the fitting cart all look like they belong to the same family.
Consider results. The Launch event at the Waldorf Astoria sold out the available production of the new Edel wedges in one day.
The event, like the wedges, was a work of art.
Training to Improve – SAM Putt Lab
One fact reveals a lot about how the $7000 Putt Lab has been used history to date. Science and Motion has sold over 1400 systems. More than 1000 were purchased by golf professionals – mostly tournament players. For golf professionals, the Putt Lab is primarily a training device. Those are incredible numbers when you compare Putt Lab sales to the number of tournament players in the world. That’s strong testimonial for the Putt Lab’s acceptance as a training device.
That’s also a very narrow marketing niche.
Christian intends to leverage the leadership position of the Putt Lab as a training instrument to something bigger and more important. He wants to change the way golfers train to improve their putting.
The Putt Lab now includes a complete training program. The starting point is a series of skills tests that uncover the strengths and weaknesses in a player’s stroke. The software then recommends a practice regimen as well as periodic tests to check progress.
Improvement is guaranteed, but only if you do the work. The key difference is combining choreographed practice with regular testing made possible by the protocol and the Putt Lab.
The concept of “focused practice” introduced in The Talent Code is the foundation of the Putt Lab training system. We know one thing for sure: “Time is the enemy”. That goes for physical conditioning as well as constraints on playing and practice applied by job and family. The mantra has been redefined “Only perfect practice makes perfect”.
2011 PGA Merchandise Show – Action Plan – Part II
If your goal is to reduce your handicap by 30%, where will improvement come from? No good player ever bought a set of irons expecting immediate improvement. The days when a new driver really did give extra distance due to technology breakthroughs ended five years ago.
If you want to get better, you’re going to have to do it with work.
Banging balls for hours and rolling putts aimlessly around your practice green is not only a waste of time, it is activity disdained by current learning theory.
Here’s a suggestion on steps you can take to guarantee improvement.
1 – Check your technique; establish a benchmark.
Golf swing theory is constantly evolving. You can’t see yourself. Trusting your own feel is dangerous. Practicing poor technique is worse than wasting your time – it drives you backward. Be sure that you’re up to date with modern swing theory and that you’ve checked your form on video.
Golfers who try to make a swing that their body won’t let them make end up frustrated if not injured. That’s the biggest danger from modeling your swing on a tournament player’s personality.
The quickest route to improvement is employing an experienced coach supported by the latest technology. You must learn “your unique swing” by heart. Technique changes will be required. An experienced coach can evaluate your current technique, consider your physical ability and help identify skills to improve.
2 – Give your swing an EKG.
Fitting clubs to a player is more complex than matching swing speed to shaft flex. With radar you can see how well your clubs your swing. If you do nothing else with your equipment this year, schedule a test with a Flightscope clubfitter who can interpret the “rate of acceleration” graphs for you. You might find that an entirely different flex profile allows you to swing more consistently. This is a good way and reason to update your fitting.
3 – Understand your putter and your stroke.
improved putting will produce the easiest handicap reduction most players. The first step is to understand your aiming tendencies with your putter and the effect that aiming has on your stroke. Don’t be stubborn about this. Despite the fact that you think your putting as “pretty good” – faulty aiming and resulting “compensations” cannot produce the best possible results.
The Edel putter fitting system is designed to “fit for aim”. A putter is an “instrument” that must be designed to promote correct aim, to help you make a correct stroke, to launch the ball at the optimal angle to promote immediate roll. The right putter is not the one that made ten in a row at the putting corral.
4 – Take the putting test.
This is a straightforward challenge. Standards of performance are well worked out. The Science and Motion putting test will discover your strengths and weaknesses. Even good putters have weaknesses. There is a high probability that stroke compensations cause erratic results. Combining stroke analysis with the putting test is the best way to start an improvement program.
5 – Check your wedge swing – and then your wedges.
Now we know that wedges must be fitted for lie and bounce. Your wedge swing might also need an overhaul. There’s an easy check. Pick up a wedge. Take the stance you would take if you were setting up for a cute little 20 yard pitch. Check your hand position. If you have your hands set ahead of the ball you should be very happy. That means you have a lot of improvement available. Call your favorite short game specialist immediately.
6 – X-Ray your shafts.
“Consistency” has a new meaning in fitting shafts. Amazing results are coming from using radar to fit shafts by “harmonic movement”. The ability to test in new ways has led to breakthrough recommendations for shafts. The Flightscope radar tracings revealed unusually consistent performance in ultra-light iron shafts. Do not buy your next set of irons without testing 65 gram Matrix Studio and 70 gram Aerotech Steel Fiber shafts. Remember the purpose of new technology is to allow today what was impossible yesterday. Just do it.
7– Test big grips.
A common hidden swing fault is excessive grip pressure. Large, and in some cases very large grips are getting credit for improving a player’s consistency. Try a larger grip size and see if the change smooths your radar speed tracing.
8 – Balance your clubs.
Counterweights are proven to improve the consistency of swing path, face angle at impact and trajectory. Re-balancing your clubs with counterweights is the final step in tweaking for ultimate performance.
9 – Take light weight clubs seriously.
2011 is destined to be the “Year of Lightweight Clubs”. Most of the attention will be focused on sub-40 gram shafts, sub-190 gram driver heads and sub-40 gram grips all mounted on a maximum length shaft. Such drivers are not radical inventions. Clubmakers have been building that model for years. They work. Be aware, the long driver swing requires practice to master. What else is new?
Radar shows that ultra-lightweight shafts in irons frequently produce the best results in performance testing. Tell your clubfitter that you want to test 65 gram shafts in the best iron head models and see what he says. Don’t buy your next set of irons until you have tested Matrix 65 gram Studio and Aerotech 70 gram Steel Fiber shafts.
On the “fun” side, the grey market is supplying intentionally hot lightweight heads for players who don’t recognize the USGA. They go far.
10 – Plan your improvement.
I put “make a plan” in the most important position. If you really want to get better you study the problem and check the facts. Then make the plan. But don’t forget, after you make the plan you’ve got to do the work.