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HOT LIST 54 NEW IRONS

Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority

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A MOTIVATE PUBLICATION

THE #1 GOLF PUBLICATION

L O O C PLAY DER UN E R U S PRES XANDER SCHAUFFELE


Tee Sheet how to play. what to play. where to play.

▶ slam dunk Welcome to Michael Jordan’s new course in South Florida. 22

The Starter

30 Better Than Yoga Golf Digest 50 Best Fitness Trainer Jennifer Fleischer guides you through poses made for the game.

8 Royal St George’s Golf Club The R&A hope to stage the 149th Open Championship in Sandwich in July as planned.

34 Swing Science Why 7-degrees down is magic.

Play

by max adler

12 Get Set Here’s a motion drill you can practice indoors. by mike kinloch

by ron kaspriske

16 David Leadbetter The secret move top pros make for more speed.

20 Butch Harmon The correct address positions, from driver to wedge. 22 Architecture Michael Jordan’s new course in South Florida, Grove XXIII, is a nod to Shinnecock Hills. 26 A Beginner’s Guide to Topgolf Why this is the biggest thing for gof in the Middle East for more than 30 years.

36 What’s In My Bag Lexi Thompson is preparing to retire 9-year-old irons. with keely levins

Features cover story 38 Xander on Zen Recent success has taught me a lot about playing cool under pressure. These methods will work at every level of golf.

54 Stay & Play The Radisson Hotel Group has Dubai’s best courses circled. the hot list (part 2) 56 Game-Improvement Irons 62 SGI Irons 66 Players Distance Irons 70 Players Irons

by xander schauffele

by kent gray

18 Chipping Clinic Whenever I make a swing change, I adopt it into my chipping technique, too.

28 Journeys Kris Ventura’s path to the PGA Tour wound through Mexico, Norway and Oklahoma.

42 Mid-Year Musings Officials hope to complete the disrupted 2020 MENA Tour season in October-November.

by tiger woods

with keely levins

by kent gray

4 golfdigestme.com

52 Perfect Posture How to improve your ball striking and eliminate back injuries. by ben cannon

by derek duncan

14 Swing Sequence Inside Jordan Spieth’s swing restoration.

by dave shedloski & john huggan

with ron kaspriske

by kent gray

10 Golfers We Like Professional surfer Evan Geiselman admires the dignity and classiness of golf.

44 What Pros Really Think We go inside the ropes with fun, tough and silly questions.

Cover photograph by Dylan Coulter


Where will your career path take you?

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Editor’s Letter

“Practice physical distancing and social kindness.”

04/20 editor-in-chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer managing partner & group editor Ian Fairservice editor Kent Gray art director Clarkwin Cruz editorial assistant Londresa Flores photographer Mustufa Abidi instruction editors Mike Kinloch, Jack Woods, Luke Tidmarsh, Joe Way chief commercial officer Anthony Milne publisher David Burke general manager - production S. Sunil Kumar assistant production manager Binu Purandaran

KENT GRAY kent.gray@motivate.ae • Twitter: @KentGrayGolf / @GolfDigestME EMEMBER HOW we were just talking about the rival body threatening the established order of professional golf? How our most immediate concern was sourcing a UAE broadcast of Tiger’s green jacket defence, not if there would be a Masters in 2020 at all? How none of us gave a second thought to heading out for a bash ourselves? How our world has changed in a flash, an unfathomable month during which an invisible adversary has declared war on the rules of social engagement and the global economy. Our once very comfortable way of life. The tough part is the rules seem to change, sometimes hour by hour and definitely country to country. For a collection of people who self-police a set of ancient rules on fairways the world over, it is especially tough playing matchplay against a feisty opponent that doesn’t play by any rules at all. You don’t need anyone telling you that these are extraordinary times or to theorise how golf, much less life, will look like when the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon but then golf editors aren’t qualified to comment on pandemics, seismic stock market shocks or the human psyche. What is indisputable is that we are in the midst of the game of our generation’s lives. For now, at least, we can still get out and play the game for a lifetime socially. Most sports aren’t so fortunate. I won’t be wasting a single opportunity to hit the links because if the past month has taught us anything, it is that nothing is guaranteed tomorrow.

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This is an challenging time for the game and those employed in it. We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the industry across the Middle East and urge you to help where you can. How? For starters, heed official government advice but continue playing when you can, maybe even on your own. At the very least don’t share a cart, do putt with the flag in (and leave it hands free) and keep a safe distance at any post-round debrief. It’s not social distancing, that sudden and unsuitable entry into the global lexicon. The current situation rather calls for physical distancing and an increase in social kindness. In a golf context that means remembering the teams from check-in to bag drop and everywhere in between when you play. Throw them a big smile and a thank you if you can’t afford a small tip that could save a job. It also means ensuring we get off the sofa and out onto the course to support the region’s big professional events when the European Tour and Ladies European Tour inevitably resume. Never again should any of us take live, top-level sport on our backdoor for granted. At Golf Digest, we’re combining our editorial resources globally to ensure content that is relevant to these crazy times. This month’s issue, for example, is heavy on tuition, the brand’s very DNA. Now more than even we have time to practice or memory bank useful tips for tomorrow. We are clearly all in this together. Thankfully golf is a great distraction to help us get through a life-altering experience. Stay safe, keep swinging and look out for your family and friends.

GOLF DIGEST USA chairman & editor-in-chief Jerry Tarde editorial director Max Adler executive editor Mike O’Malley, Peter Morrice general manager Chris Reynolds managing editor Alan P. Pittman design director Ken DeLago playing editors Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Jordan Spieth

Head Office: Media One Tower, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE Tel +971 4 427 3000; Fax +971 4 428 2270 Dubai Media City: Office 508, 5th Floor, Building 8, Dubai, UAE Tel +971 4 390 3550; Fax +971 4 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: PO Box 43072, UAE Tel +971 2 657 3490; Fax +971 2 657 3489 London: Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER, UK, E-mail: motivateuk@motivate.ae

GOLF DIGEST USA (ISSN 0017-176X) is published monthly by The Golf Digest Publications, a subsidiary of Advance Publications Inc. Editorial and executive offices at 20 Westport Road (PO Box 850), Wilton, CT 06897-0850. Telephone: 091-203-761-5100. Copyright 2001 by The Golf Digest Publications and Touchline Media (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. GOLF DIGEST and HOW TO PLAY, WHAT TO PLAY, WHERE TO PLAY are registered trademarks of Advance Magazine Publishers Inc. Printed in USA. Contains material reprinted by permission from GOLF DIGEST® Copyright© 2001, The Golf Digest Publications ® is a registered trademark of The Golf Digest Companies. GOLF DIGEST MIDDLE EAST is the exclusive Licensee of Advance Publications.

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Game of our Lives

THE GOLF DIGEST PUBLICATIONS chairman & editor-in-chief Jerry Tarde international licensing director Edward Klaris international editor Ju Kuang Tan


Royal St George’s Golf Club The R&A hope to stage the 149th Open Championship in Sandwich in July as planned by kent gray

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“We are undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of our plans to stage The 149th Open at Royal St George’s.” oyal St George’s Golf Club holds a special place in Open Championship folklore as the first club outside Scotland to host the game’s oldest major. JH Taylor became the first English professional to win what was then the 35th Open in Sandwich in 1894, spearheading a decorated list of claret jug winners at the fabled Kent linksland including Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen, Henry Cotton, Bobby Locke, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman and, most recently, Darren Clark in 2011. Royal St George’s is scheduled to host its 15th Open from July 16-19. In the uncertain times created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen if the pictured par-3 6th hole, ‘The Maiden’, is an ever popular viewing spot or if the towering dunes remain fan free. The R&A were at least forging ahead with plans to stage the 149th Open as

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we went to press despite the postponement of the 2020 Masters and U.S. PGA Championship. “Looking to our professional events this summer, we are undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of our plans to stage The 149th Open at Royal St George’s and the AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon, which are four and five months away respectively,” the R&A said in a statement last month. “This includes examining a range of scenarios for staging the championships, with our focus on proceeding as planned, as well as considering other contingency options available to us.” Added Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A: “These are difficult times but we are bearing in mind our responsibility for what’s right for golf and most importantly for society.”

Photograph by David Cannon/Getty Images


Play Wave of Fortune Evan Geiselman enjoys a life of golf and surfing

VAN GEISELMAN IS ON THE SURFER’S equivalent of the Korn Ferry Tour. He’s spent the past three seasons grazing the edge but not quite dropping into the World Surf League, where you get the ultimate prize money, endorsements and glory. That dream nearly ended in 2015, when a barrel on Oahu’s famous Banzai Pipeline brought down Geiselman, snapping his leash and slamming him unconscious into unforgiving coral. If not for the immediate and brave rescue by a fellow surfer, Andre Botha, he wouldn’t have lived. “It gave me a better understanding of what to be grateful for,” Geiselman says. “To appreciate my family, my friends, my girlfriend every day.” Part of that renewed love of life involves playing more golf—which pairs nicely with the surfer’s life of traveling to sunny coastlines around the globe. When Geiselman is home in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., he’s a regular at the town’s Donald Ross-designed muny, where the skins games draw more than a few mini-tour players. “I’m usually donating,” he says, “but it’s fun to try to make a birdie and steal a skin.” Geiselman, 26, got into golf eight years ago, when his sponsor invited him to ride along in a cart and take some swings. “It captured me right away, how it humbled me in ways I’d never imagined,” he says. Now he’s a dangerous 5-handicap who shot 73 in his first rattlebottom event, the annual Iron and Sand, which combines golf and surfing. “Didn’t win the overall but walked away with $2,500 cash, which was nice.” Geiselman, who counts Rickie Fowler and Sam Ryder as golf buddies, feels the game “is just the total opposite of the surfing lifestyle— which has a lot of degenerates. The dignity and classiness, I find refreshing. . . . Don’t get me wrong, surfing is my love and passion, but golf’s not far behind.” —MAX ADLER

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“The dignity and classiness [of golf ] I find refreshing.�

Photograph by Robert Snow


Play Backswing with Michael Kinloch

WATCH THE VIDEO â–¶ Mike brings this lesson to life at golfdigestme.com

Photographs by Mustufa Abidi


“The feeling you want is that the chest and arms move the club away together.”

Get Set

Here’s a motion drill you can practice indoors o help complete the correct backswing movement and the swing in general, a lot can be accomplished without hitting balls. Instead, you can practice motion drills to help enforce the correct movement patterns that are required for a function-

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al swing. This can be done at home, during your warm up or interspersed throughout your practice session. One that I use frequently creates a good feel and movement for the backswing. It is done by taking your golf posture and holding the club over hand with the top hand and under hand with the bottom hand. The hands are about shoulder width apart. The club will hang under the shoulders with the shaft parallel to the target line. The feeling you want from this start position is that the chest and arms move the club away together, each hand staying opposite their respective chest and shoulder. This feeling continues as the body spirals the club up and around to the top of the backswing. My preference in the swing is to maintain good width on the backswing so this is the feel I am looking for as I complete the movement with the lead shoulder under the chin (above right). I want to feel that at the top of the movement I have maintained the space between the shaft and my chest that I had in the start position. When done correctly, this gives a great feeling of how the body moves the club to the top of the swing and how the rear shoulder and arm should feel when it gets there (left). The shoulder should be sat down and loaded at the top of the swing. Really concentrate on how this move feels as you perform it, then try to mimic the sensation when you make a golf swing. Avoid lifting and pinching the shoulder as you practice the movement as this will move the arm and club into a poor position (inset left). The more correct repetitions you make of the movement, the easier it will be to carry that sensation into a golf shot and out on to the course for lower scores. Michael Kinloch is Head Professional at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club’s Peter Cowen Academy Dubai. golfdigestme.com

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by the numbers 26 / 6-1 / 175 Dallas driver Titleist TS3 (10.5 degrees) average drive (2019)

294.7 yards clubhead speed 114 miles per hour

Jordan Spieth Still in the Works W

HAT DOES IT look like in

the middle of a swingrestoration project? Jordan Spieth can tell you: “I had gotten long and a little quick, and my grip had drifted very weak,” he says of his former swing. “The face was open, and I had to flip it at impact to try to square it.” The result? A two-year victory drought and some ugly numbers in the strokes-gained stats that Spieth focuses on. The three-time major winner and his swing coach, Cameron McCormick, have gone back to basics, starting with the grip. “Every year since I was 14, my grip would get weaker during the season, and I had to fix it in the offseason,” Spieth says. “But it got to the point where I just didn’t adjust it back enough.” As mechanical changes go, turning the hands 4 degrees to the right isn’t complex. But bringing the new grip from the range to the course has been bumpy. “I’m going in the right direction, but it’s taking some time,” he says. “This isn’t anything new. I’m just getting back to what I always did.” —MATTHEW RUDY

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REMEMBER THE BEST

KEEP TILT IN THE TURN

▶ “You look down on your grip all the time, but you don’t register slight changes—even when you hit balls nearly every day,” Spieth says. “Keep track of how your grip looks when you’re playing your best, and use that as a reference when you practice.”

▶ “We’ve all tried to get a little more speed by turning bigger. But you need it to happen the right way to get something out of it,” Spieth says. “It has to happen within your posture, so your left shoulder will be lower, not level, with the right.”


Swing Sequence Play

SQUARE IT EARLIER

LETTING GO

▶ “I’ve always been a low-rotation player. I get the face square early in the downswing and maintain it through the ball,” Spieth says. “With a stronger grip, I’m more stable through impact. I don’t have to twist the club or flip it to make the ball fly straight.”

▶ “My left elbow doesn’t look like some other players through the ball, but for me, it’s a sign that the club is square longer in the throughswing,” Spieth says. “I’m feeling less like I have to steer it now. I can just let it go. The results will come again.”

Photographs by J.D. Cuban


Play BioGolf by David Leadbetter

“When the left shoulder stops, there’s still some work to do.”

A Little Extra The secret move top golfers make for more speed he closer you examine tour players’ swings, the more subtleties you’ll discover. One such move is so indiscernible in real time, you have to replay it in slow motion or see a 3-D rendition to verify what’s happening. But it is happening, and it’s a big reason the best players can generate so much speed when they swing down into the ball.

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When you think of coiling during the backswing, you probably think it’s the rotation of the upper body against a stable lower body. But that’s only part one of how a tour player coils. Part two happens near the top of the swing, and it’s hard to see. As a good golfer’s lead shoulder (left for right-handers) stops rotating away from the target and the torso dips a little toward the ball, the right shoulder keeps coiling. If you thought of the shoulder girdle as one unit across your upper body, you might be surprised to know you can dissociate one side from the other. The left shoulder resists while the right shoulder continues to move. Many amateurs turn the shoulders together in the backswing and downswing, leading to swing-path issues that cause them to hit slices and pulls.

As you near the end of the backswing, you want the pectoral (chest) muscles on your side of the body farthest from the target to continue to stretch (above) while the rhomboid and scapula muscles on that same side of the upper back contract. A good drill to rehearse this dynamic action is to make a backswing, stop at the top, and then try to coil a little farther with your right shoulder. If you feel your pectoral muscles on the right side really stretching, you’re on your way to learning how to make this secret power move. —with ron kaspriske david leadbetter is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.

Photograph by Dom Furore


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Play TW

Chipping Clinic Which technique is best? The one that produces solid contact BY TIGER WOODS

the lowdown ▶ Read your chips like a putt ▶ Go with whatever produces good contact consistently ▶ Only change your technique if the lie forces you to

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“My short-game motion is a miniature version of my full swing.”

MY WEDGES

OME PLAYERS VIEW chipping and pitching as separate entities from the full swing. They have their full-swing feels, and they have their short-game feels. I’ve never thought of it that way. My short-game motion is a miniature version of my full swing—same grip, same rhythm, same release pattern. I like to have a continuous feeling in my hands through the bag, no matter if I’m sending a driver or nipping a short-sided spinner off a tight lie. It’s just easier for me to stay consistent that way. That’s what it’s all about: Find the technique that gets you making solid contact most often, and stick with it unless, in rare cases, the situation forces you to do something different. You might think you have to mimic tour pros’ short games by learning a bunch of shots. There’s no need. When I went through my short-game woes a few years ago, to fix it I got back to the basics and focused on simply making solid contact. You should do the same. If your chipping is poor, you’re wasting a ton of strokes. Because my chipping motion is tied to my full swing, it has changed as I’ve worked with different instructors over the years. At one point, I held the shaft more vertical and used a weaker grip. Then I switched up and my hands were lower at address than they are now. For me, getting comfortable with a new chipping motion has

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always been one of the hardest parts of a swing change, but it’s vital. When chipping, my angle of attack is shallower than I’d recommend if you’re looking for more consistency. It’s probably easier to get good contact with a steeper motion, especially if you don’t have as much time to practice as I do. But being shallower is a big reason I can play so many different short-game shots. Coming into the ball on a shallower path allows me to hit short shots with hook spin. Everyone can hit a cut-spin chip with a steeper angle of attack, but not many players feel comfortable shaping it the other way. But having that hook-spin chip as an option means I can let the golf course, not my limitations, dictate what shot I’m going to hit around the greens. Although I recommend you stick to the chipping style that gives you the most confidence, you still need to evaluate what you want the ball to do during your pre-shot routine. Take a few extra seconds to decide exactly where you want to land the ball, then visualise how it will perform once it’s on the green. I’ve seen amateurs get lazy and not read a chip like a putt and then seem surprised when it doesn’t snuggle up next to the pin. Be attentive. Once you’ve picked a specific landing spot, focus on contact. — WITH DANIEL RAPAPORT

▶ When I first came on tour, we all played balata balls that spun like hell. You really couldn’t chip with a 56- or 60-degree wedge very much, because if you nipped it, the ball would land and stop dead. Now balls spin less, and greens are typically faster than they used to be, so I use my TaylorMade Milled Grind 56- or 60-degree wedge on more than 90 percent of my chips (I don’t carry a gap wedge). And the grind on them allows me to create different shots. I have a pretty severe “C” grind, meaning there’s less bounce on the bottom of the club near the hosel and the toe than there is in the middle. This lets me lay the club flat when I want to hit a high, soft shot, or set the heel off the ground when I want to hit a low spinner.

Photographs by J.D. Cuban


Play Tee to Green by Butch Harmon

Setup Shortcuts What changes at address from driver to wedge T TAKES ZERO athletic ability to set up to the ball perfectly every time. What it does take is knowing the correct positions and having the discipline to get them right. Let’s start with the driver. Set the clubface square behind the ball, then take your stance so your feet are wider than your shoulders (right). Play the ball off your front heel, with your weight 50-50. Your head should be behind the ball, and the shaft should be neutral, not leaning forward or back. Now, want a tip for extra power? Flare out your back foot for more turn on the backswing. See the next page to learn how to set up for irons and wedges.

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—WITH PETER MORRICE harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.

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Photographs by J.D. Cuban


fairway

iron shot clubface Square stance Shoulder width ball position One ball inside the front heel weight 60-40 on the front foot posture Head over the ball shaft Leaning slightly forward ★ bonus tip for solid contact Set more weight on your front side.

greenside

chip-and-run clubface Square to slightly closed stance Very narrow ball position Off the back foot weight 90-10 on the front foot posture Head in front of the ball shaft Leaning well forward ★ bonus tip for better feel Chip with your normal putting grip.

sand

bunker shot clubface Open stance Shoulder width ball position Off the front instep weight 60-40 on the front foot posture Head behind the ball shaft Leaning slightly back ★ bonus tip for extra loft Open the face and grip with the thumb of your glove hand on top of the shaft.

masters thesis ▶ i was coaching Tiger when he won the 1997 Masters, his first major as a pro, by 12 shots. It was an amazing display of golf, and it confirmed what I already knew: Tiger was a coldblooded winner. But soon after, he started looking at pictures from that week and didn’t like that his clubface was shut at the top. He thought that limited the shots he could hit. He wanted to fix it. My first reaction was, the change would take serious time. I told him 1998 could be a struggle, but he was focused on doing it. So we set out to improve the swing that won the Masters in a runaway. Tiger was never satisfied, always wanted to get better. In 1999, after the changes, he won eight times. As my father used to say, patience is overrated.


gutter credit tk

A former citrus grove in South Florida is transformed into a private oasis.

â–ś match disruptor The drivable par-4 16th plays hard along the canal.


Courses

Play

Michael Jordan’s Playground The NBA great’s new course, The Grove XXIII, is a nod to Shinnecock Hills

gutter credit tk

by derek duncan

“See that field over there?” Bobby Weed says, pointing toward a few hundred acres of grassland abutting a distant tree line. “That’s my ocean.” Weed is standing outside the nearly completed clubhouse at The Grove XXIII, the uber-exclusive golf course he built for his client, NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan (it opened in the fall of 2019), explaining how Shinnecock Hills became the inspiration for the design even though this particular site—formerly a citrus golfdigestme.com

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Play Courses

The “collection architecture” celebrates the centripetal force of gravity. ▶ wet & wild The brutish par-4 12th (left) and the par-3 13th (below) playing toward the “sea.”

grove near Hobe Sound—is South Florida flat and unambiguously landlocked. “We started to gradually raise this land where the clubhouse is, and as we did, we realised we had views across the whole course,” he says. “We could see everything.” The vastness of the property and the sandy, grass-covered spaces between the holes reminded Weed and senior design associate Chris Monti of the famed U.S. Open venue on Long Island. A visit to Shinnecock to double-check their instincts confirmed the idea. The logic works. Seen from the patio, The Grove XXIII’s holes spool and unspool against the open backdrop of undeveloped pasture—the sea. And from the golf course, the clubhouse is never out of sight, a modernist stand-in for Stanford White’s omnipresent, wood-framed landmark. The Grove XXIII (the Roman numeral represents the number Jordan wore with the Chicago Bulls) twists in an ingenious double-helix routing that can be played in four nine + nine combinations, and in shorter three- to six-hole loops. The key to the

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flexibility is the clustering of greens and tees, and a crossover junction after the fourth and 13th holes. Walking off the fourth green, for instance, play can continue on at the fifth, or it can switch over to the 14th and finish in the opposite direction, so each nine can be broken into sections. In fact, it’s possible to play continuous internal circuits without ever returning home, enhancing the likelihood of ongoing presses, overtimes and emergency holes. Architects love to work with nature’s broken lines and irregular shapes, but little of that splendor existed here. Each hole was cajoled and massaged using fill from a chain of lakes that Weed transformed into a marshland habitat. Jordan’s primary requirement that the course play fast and firm with features that produce dramatic matches gave way to broad fairways that glide over dips and swales and melt into low-slung putting surfaces. Watching players putt or bump 7-irons onto greens from 20 yards makes Weed giggle. In an era when nearly every new and remodeled course bears a naturalistic or

faux-historical aesthetic, The Grove XXIII skews clean and contemporary, all short grass and sophistication. Weed’s “collection architecture,” rife with hollows, depressions and shallow scoop bunkers that gather shots, celebrates the centripetal force of gravity. There’s certainly nothing pacific about the 15th and 16th, two holes that can quickly flip matches. The first is a par 3, drawing diagonally over a ridge of moguls to a partially blind green kicking everything rightward into a deep chipping hollow. The other, just 260

in American golf: long, deadstraight hazard lines that play like inverted versions of the stone walls at North Berwick in Scotland. “We kept asking ourselves if we were overdoing it [hitting across the canals],” Monti says, “but then we’d cross to the other side, and it was a better hole from over there.” Architecture’s best rule is: Use what’s there. Sometimes that’s a perfect landscape, a Shinnecock Hills with wild grasses, sand ridges, a distant bay. Sometimes it’s Florida citrus land, a pasture and

photos: L arry L ambrecht

yards from the regular tees, features a strand of central bunkers separating routes to the hole and a convex putting surface that moves chips and putts in irrational directions. Although limiting in some ways, the old, agricultural property did offer an unexpected bonus in the form of two deep irrigation canals bordering the north and eastern boundaries. Weed notched slender strips of tees atop the high banks on the opposite sides, using the canals as the rarest of features


THE HOME OF STORYTELLING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

“MY BEST FRIEND IS A PERSON WHO WILL GIVE ME A BOOK I HAVE NOT READ” ABRAHAM LINCOLN


Topgolf Dubai

A Beginner’s Guide to Topgolf Founded in 2000 by American twins Steve and Dave Jolliffe as a way to spice up their driving range practice sessions, Dubaibound Topgolf now operates at 58 venues around the globe and entertains more than 15 million people annually. n arguably the most significant development for the game in the Middle East for more than 30 years, Topgolf is coming to Dubai. The Emirate has been home to the region’s first grass course since 1988, and is the trailblazer once more with a three-level, 60,000sq foot Topgolf Dubai in development at the Emirates Hills venue off Sheikh Zayed Road. The Dubai venue is the largest international Topgolf, and brings a slice of Vegas to the Emirate along with its famous party atmosphere to the royal and ancient game.

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Played to the backdrop of music in a souped-up, floodlit driving range, players hit microchipped balls to targets where accuracy and distance are rewarded in a series of different points scoring games. Results are instantly flashed up on bigscreen TVs in climate controlled hitting bays where participants also enjoy food and beverage. It promises a much-needed participation boost for the game in a region where golf doesn’t come cheap. Whereas traditional forms of the game can be an intimidating experience for newcomers, non-

golfers have flocked to Topgolf given its less formal, family friendly and fun first ethos. If you’ve never tried Topgolf, here’s a summary on what’s going on inside venues aroud the world: ●●

what is topgolf dubai?

The venue will feature a threestory driving range with multiple dining outlets, bars and hospitality spaces. The range is populated by over 90 bays which you group can rent by the hour. Each bay is essentially a private driving range tee with a waiting staff. Six can play at a time.

●●

what skill level is required? If you’re a skilled

golfer, the games present a novel if accessible challenge. But if you’re new to golf, intermediate or not very good, it’s stress-free because it’s an all-inclusive environment.

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what sort of games do you play? Topgolf offers multiple

game options but the most popular is simply called “Topgolf.” It’s basically a driving-range with target practice. Players aim at one of several enormous targets scattered around the range. The more accurate your shot and the farther away the target, the more points you scoret. ●●

can you bring your own clubs? The serious golfer can

bring their own clubs, although the venue does provide clubs that are suitable for all ages and abilities which are included with the bay fee.

●●

when will it open?

Watch this space. Anyone can keep up to date on the latest developments by following the Topgolf Dubai Instagram page @TopgolfDubai


THE MEDIA BRAND OF CHOICE FOR AVID GOLFERS

golfdigestme.com GolfDigestME


Journeys Play

“I asked the doctors to postpone the surgery. They just laughed.”

kris ventura pga tour age 25 lives oslo, norway palm beach gardens, fla.

Kris Ventura Playing Q school after an appendectomy

Everything we did was to get better at golf, and everyone wanted to play on the PGA Tour. We won the national championship in my fourth year. After I graduated, my plan was to make the Korn Ferry Tour.

i struggled mentally trying to monday-qualify on korn ferry. Then I caught a break and received a sponsor’s exemption into the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by Synnex Corporation. Something clicked. I shot 16 under in the three-round event, finishing T-3. I earned enough points to guarantee starts and set my schedule. Finally a little relaxed, I won twice in four weeks. I finished the regular season fourth on the points list and got my PGA Tour card. My family came for the ceremony. It was the first time I’d seen them in seven months. My youngest brother had grown half a foot, and his voice was completely different. Time can pass quickly on tour.

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played for the european side in the Junior Ryder Cup in 2010. We lost to a team that included Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. After, we all went to Celtic Manor to watch the real Ryder Cup. I remember being in awe of the crowds, the thousands of people chanting. That was the day I said to myself, This is what I want to do. I’m going to do everything I can to play against these guys.

I

my dad is mexican and my mom is norwegian. They met when my mom studied in Mexico as a college exchange student. I was born in Puebla, which is a big city about two hours south of Mexico City. When I was 2 or 3 years old, the story goes, golf came on the television, and I picked up a wooden kitchen spoon and started swinging. My parents weren’t golfers, but they bought me a set of plastic clubs for Christmas that year.

when i was 12, my parents decided we were moving to norway. Mostly to be closer to my mom’s family, but also, in part, for my golf. I told them they could go without me, that I’d stay in Mexico with my cousins. I’d developed more of a life there than my younger brothers. Of course, they weren’t having it. I was going to Norway. ●●●

i played with my grandpa a bit, but i never got any proper instruction. None of my friends played. But our family lived near a course, and our extended family shared a weekend house that was near a course. Both were residentialcommunity courses where it was easy for a kid to play alone. I entered local tournaments and got pretty good fast.

my parents enrolled me in a sports high school in oslo. Learning a new language while overcoming my shyness was tough, but I loved hanging out with athletes. Everyone was so focused. I had classmates going to the Olympics. I saw the discipline it takes to make it. Even though you’re young and not that mature, you can still control decisions—like what you eat and how much you sleep—that improve your performance.

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when i was 6, i traveled to virginia for the u.s. kids world championship. My mom cried when I made the putt to win my age group. All these people told me I had the potential to be great, and I think it was the first time my parents understood what I was capable of. But the cost to really do it right, to travel to all the most elite junior tournaments, was getting too expensive.

Photograph by Jensen Larson

the norwegian team covered the expense of travel and coaches. Of course, golf in Norway has its drawbacks. For six months, we hit indoors. But we’d go to South Africa or Spain each winter to get on grass. Overall, moving to Norway was great for my game and our finances. ●●●

i didn’t know much about oklahoma state when i committed. It proved to be a continuation of the top-athlete mentality of my high school.

i played well in the pre-qualifying events. But 10 days before the final, four-round qualifying tournament, I woke up in the night with a terrible pain in my side: appendicitis. I asked the doctors to postpone the surgery two weeks. They just laughed. As I lay recovering, all I could think about was this tournament that was supposed to launch my career. If I withdrew, my chances of getting status were nonexistent. ●●●

i didn’t touch a club until the day of the practice round. With the incision, I couldn’t make a full swing. My body was stiff, and I hit my driver about 250 yards and crooked. Every swing and every time I bent to read a putt was excruciating. The challenge was as much mental, thinking through the pain, trying to find a swing that could score. I’m proud that I finished, but two under beat only a couple guys in the field. I’d never felt more exhausted.

at first, all i thought about was keeping my card. But looking at how much money you make each week can drive you crazy. I’m now focusing on what I can control: eating well, sleeping well, practicing well. If I believe in what I’m doing, I can live with the outcome. That’s the approach I took when I had no status, and I need to regain that. I don’t want to look back and think, I could’ve done this; I should’ve done that. ●●●

life can get lonely on tour. Except for a few times when my girlfriend came out, I’ve traveled by myself. Some weeks I’ve eaten dinner every night with Viktor Hovland, who was my high school and college teammate. His company reminds me how much I miss the team environment, where you’re practicing with people who really care about you and want you to do well. ●●●

i like working hard. Having the opportunity to show you have what it takes and pulling it off—that’s as good as it gets. —with keely levins

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“Before or after a round, these moves will give your game a boost.” Better Than Yoga Poses designed with golfers in mind BY JENNIFER FLEISCHER

ANY OF MY CLIENTS who play golf have asked me if they should be doing yoga. My short answer: Sure, why not? Yoga is great for improving flexibility and strength, while relieving stress. But my longer answer is that if you’re interested in enhancing your golf game at the same time as those yoga benefits, there are better moves you can do. In fact, I’ve built a whole program for Golf Digest Schools that was yoga-inspired but is much more sport specific. The “Better than Yoga” videoseries is at golfdigest.com/betterthanyoga. To give you a taste of what it’s all about, turn the page for four exercises that look like yoga, feel like yoga but are supercharged poses for golfers. Give them a try. They’re a great warm-up if you’re playing today. —WITH RON KASPRISKE

M

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Core

Play

Photographs by Nathaniel Welch


Play Core

◀ a st r etc h es yo g a i n sp i r at i o n

Downward Dog

b o dy fo c u s

Hamstrings, mid-back

key p o i n ts

Start on your hands and knees and push up, driving your pelvis toward the ceiling. Extend through your mid-back and press into the ground equally through your feet and palms. (top left). Next, grab your right calf with your left hand (left), hold for a few seconds, then return to the pike position. This exercise will help you stay in posture when you swing—reducing fat shots— and improves your ability to separate movement of the upper and lower bodies. That’s key for generating power and swinging with good sequencing. Do two sets, five reps, each side.

▶ to rq ue l unges yo g a insp iration

Crescent Lunge

bo dy fo cu s

Thighs, hips, mid-back

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k e y p oints

Step back into a lunge position with the left knee just above the ground (near right). Extend your arms out to your sides so they are parallel to the ground, and rotate your torso clockwise until your left arm is aligned with your right leg (far right). Keep your lower body still and repeat this 90-degree rotation three times before standing up and starting another rep. This exercise trains the combination of upper-body mobility and lower-body stability, which is needed to generate torque in the golf swing. Do two sets, five reps always rotating toward the lead leg.


◀ si n g l e- l eg d r i v ers yo g a i n sp i r at i o n

Swan Dive

b o dy fo c u s

Hips, hamstrings, calves, abs

key p o i n ts

Stand and lift your right knee until the thigh is parallel to the ground, then reach your arms to the ceiling, pressing your palms together (left). Next, slowly bend

forward from the hips while extending your right leg behind you as your fingers drop toward the ground (above). Hold for a few seconds before returning to the standing position. (You can use a golf club if you need additional support.) This pose improves lower-body strength and flexibility and mimics the hip-hinging mechanics and ground-force production needed for more swing speed. Two sets, five reps, each leg.

▶ k ick- o ut stretc h e s yo g a insp iration

Thread the Needle

bo dy fo cu s

Shoulders, lats, adductors

k e y p oints

Start on your hands and knees (small photo, right), and extend your right leg out, planting the foot nearly flat on the ground. Drive your hips back as you move your left arm under your right and across your chest, touching your right knee. This stretch improves shoulder and upper-back mobility, which will help you swing on plane. The kick-out stretch trains your adductors (inside thigh muscles) to help prevent swaying when you swing. Do two sets of five reps, each leg. jennifer fleischer, one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Fitness Trainers in America, is based in San Francisco.

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Play Swing Science

The Facts of Attack Testing shows how to get the most from your irons BY RON KASPRISKE

Illustrations by Todd Detwiler

F YOU’RE NOW pulling a 6-iron out of the bag where you used to reach for an 8, your lack of power likely has something to do with your angle of attack, says Gene Parente, president of Golf Club Laboratories in San Diego. “If you want your irons to perform better, you probably need to hit down on the ball more,” he says. It’s a conclusion reached after Parente did some testing, calibrating his golf-swing robot to hit iron shots off the ground from three angles of attack at two different swing speeds (80 and 92 miles per hour). Parente found that hitting down on the ball at 7 degrees, which is typical of a tour pro’s attack angle, would give the average golfer 10 to 23 more carry yards with a 7-iron and 16 to 26 more total yards. The other two angles tested were -1 and +2, common amateur approaches into the golf ball with an iron. “If you’re swinging a 7-iron 80 miles per

I

hour, that roughly translates to a 92-mph driver swing speed,” Parente says. “And if you hit a ball at that speed with a 7-degree downward angle of attack, you’re going to carry it 10 yards farther than if you catch it clean with a 2-degree upswing.” And that’s 10 yards with a lower trajectory and less spin, meaning better accuracy because the ball is less susceptible to weather (see the chart for more details). For years golf instructor Bobby Clampett has been telling students to strike down on the ball with their irons, and continue swinging downward until the club reaches its lowest point about four inches in front of where the ball was at impact. That’s what tour pros do, and it’s the reason they can hit 7-irons 200-plus yards. “A 7-iron for them is like a 4-iron for an amateur,” he says. On the next page, Clampett will give you advice and a couple of drills to turn your +2 or -1 into a -7.


You don’t have to swing harder to pick up 26 yards. avoid shortcuts ▶ If you want a more downward angle on iron shots, you could move the ball back in your stance, narrow your stance, or swing with more weight on your lead foot. But Clampett says those things won’t help create the type of compressed iron shot the robot was making. Instead, he says work on a more athletic move with your lower

body that allows the club to lag behind the arms and the body’s rotation toward the target. A great way to train this move is to grab a medicine ball, simulate a backswing and through-swing, and toss it forcefully toward a target. “The heavier the ball, the more you have to rely on your legs and core muscles to throw it,” he says.

create compression ▶ Having a flat lead wrist as the club meets the ball with the golf shaft leaning forward is key to getting a quality angle of attack and a swing bottom in front of the ball, Clampett says. To feel what you need to do to compress irons off the turf the way tour pros do, put a medicine ball on the ground and set your club directly behind it. Without using your arms or hands, make the ball move toward your target with the club. This teaches you how to use body rotation and leverage from the ground to power your swing.

swing path matters

80 mph

▶ Gene Parente set the robot to hit shots that were no more than a couple of yards off line, but the swing path changed depending on the angle of attack. For the +2 and -1 degree attack angles, the club was moving out to in by as much as 5 degrees, but the -7-degree swings had the club moving in to out in relation to the target by as much as 3 degrees. Interesting considering the widely held notion that an in-to-out path creates a shallower angle of attack. Clampett says you can still hit down on the ball significantly if you swing in to out, so long as the path is propelled by body rotation and not simply chopping down on the ball with an arm-dominated swing.

a ngle of at tack

c a rry ya rd s

tota l ya rd s

l aunch a ngle

b a ll spin

+2 -1 -7

143.8 150.7 154.3

150.5 159 166

26.3 ° 22.9 ° 15.3 °

6,615 rpm 5,695 rpm 4,747 rpm

148.8 154.3 172.1

154.1 160.4 180.4

27.1 ° 24.8 ° 15.5 °

8,079 rpm 7,421 rpm 6,532 rpm

92 mph +2 -1 -7

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Play Equipment

What’s in My Bag Lexi Thompson driver

story 11-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including one major, the 2014 ANA Inspiration. travel partner 2017 was a really hard year. It put me in a way I never thought I’d be in life. I was volunteering at puppy stores when I met Leo, my Havapoo. I needed a change, something, and he’s been a lifesaver. I travel with him, and he’s there to greet me when I get back to my room. He’s amazing. Heading into this season, I feel optimistic— and independent. —with keely levins

club

yards*

driver

255

3-wood

240

3-utility

215

4-iron

190

6-iron

175

7-iron

165

8-iron

155

9-iron

145

PW

135

47˚

125

50˚

115

55˚

105

60˚

85

* carry distance

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specs Cobra King F9 Speedback (9º set to 7.5º), Fujikura Ventus Blue 60x, 45 inches. ▶ My loft is low, but I swing from the inside and hit up, so I launch it high. I always test drivers in the wind. I need to see that driving flight on good shots and mis-hits. Looks matter, too. If I don’t like the shape, I’ll rule it out. I’m switching to the Speedzone soon.

fairway wood/utility iron specs Fairway: King LTD, 13.5°, (Lexi Blue), Graphite Design GP 6S shaft. Utility iron: Srixon Z U85, 3-iron, 20° ▶ I hit the 3-wood off the tee a fair amount. I can launch it lower than my driver so the wind doesn’t affect it as much. I have a bit more control over it, too, so I can rely on it in situations where I need to hit a fairway.

lucky bugs ▶ I’m superstitious. I wear ladybug earrings and keep these charms in my bag. If I’m chasing after something, it’s probably a ladybug. I pick them up, make a wish and blow them away.

irons specs Cobra S2 Forged (4-, 6-iron through pitching wedge), Project X 5.0 shafts. ▶ Cobra doesn’t make these anymore, but I fell in love with them from the start, and I’ve been playing this same model for nine years. I’ve even kept extra sets at my house. This is my last set, so I’m testing the new King Tour. I’ll get them in this season, but it isn’t easy to change when you love something.

wedges

dottie’s dot ▶ My ball is the Bridgestone Tour B X. Dottie Pepper told me to use a dot at the 2013 Solheim Cup and focus on it once I had my read and speed. It keeps my eyes still.

specs Cobra King, V Grind, 48° (bent to 47°), 52° (bent to 50°), 56° (bent to 55°), 60°; Dynamic Gold S200 shafts. ▶ I kept getting the 125-yard shot but didn’t have a club for it. I don’t hit many long iron shots, so I took out my 5-iron, made my 4-iron slightly weaker to lessen the gap, and put the 47-degree wedge in. It’s been great to have a full-swing club for that distance.

putter specs Evnroll ER2, 34 inches, custom “reverse torque” Evnroll shaft, WinnPro X 1.18 grip. ▶ There are so many putters out there, and I’ve tried a lot. Sometimes it’s a mallet, sometimes, like now, it’s a blade. I’ve been using this one for a year. It’s all about confidence. The thick grooves on the face give it a quicker, steadier roll for me. I love how it comes off the face.

tips from tiger ▶ I noticed my hands were shaking during rounds, so I called Tiger and he asked what I eat on-course. He said to add these peanut-butter-andbanana sandwiches on wheat bread. I eat half of one every three holes to keep my energy constant.

Photographs by Jensen Larson

thompson: david cannon/getty images • sandwich: belchonock/getty images

age 25 lives Coral Springs, Fla.


“I’ve been playing this same model [of Cobra irons] for nine years.”


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38 golfdigest.com | month 2019

Photograph by First Lastname


XAN DER ZEN â–¶ KE E P YOU R COM POSU RE

ON

IN THE CRITICAL MOMENTS

Photograph by Dylan Coulter

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F PRACTICE AND PREPARATION were all it took to prevent nerves on the course, tour players would never get rattled. We hit a ton of practice shots and spend hours and hours preparing, and we have teachers and trainers and mental-game coaches sharing all kinds of sophisticated improvement techniques.

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Still, it’s been a process. I learned from a young age that my tendency was to really choke the grip during a big moment. I’d tense up in my hands, which would then tighten my forearms, and I’d try to rip one as hard as I could. But when your arms are tense, your swing doesn’t perform the same as normal. It’s like when you’re playing in bad weather, and your hands are a little wet or your grips are a touch slippery. You’ll squeeze the handle too hard, and the clubhead won’t release. You’ll block it right of the fairway on one drive and then try to twist the club shut more and wind up hitting a big hook left of the fairway on the next one. Now

you’re on the next tee in a panic because you aren’t sure which direction the next drive is heading. You start to swing defensively, trying to steer the ball instead of winding up and letting it go. That’s why grip pressure is something I check before every shot now—full swings and short game. I pay specific attention to how the club feels in my hands, and I’m always trying to match it to what I would feel if I were hitting a practice shot on a Tuesday. Just the ritual of feeling the grip in my fingers and making loose swings is relaxing. It reminds me to keep my jaw loose instead of tight and clenched, and my shoulders and neck fluid and flexible.

▶ under pressure Schauffele fell just short of winning the 2018 Open Championship, but the experience taught him how to handle nerves much better.

Being more in touch and aware of what your body is doing is a different strategy than what you hear from some players or performance coaches, who describe “going blank” as the goal under pressure. I want to be aware, because awareness means you can be more in control instead of just getting carried along. For example, I actively monitor my pulse when I play, because that’s usually the first indication that you’re feeling more pressure. As tension starts to build, it translates

david cannon/richard heathcote/stan badz via getty images

But even with all that, I can tell you that nervousness and excitement are still there. Those feelings are a big reason I love to compete— to test myself on the very highest level. How do you do well on those tests—whether they’re Sundays at major championships or a weekend match that’s really important? You don’t have to be a superhero and pull off shots you’ve never hit before. Your goal should be to put yourself in position to play as close to your regular game as possible. That’s what I did in the final round of the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie, when I was in the final pairing with Jordan Spieth. I made some nervous mistakes early in that round, but I got more and more comfortable, made some birdies and was tied for the lead with Francesco Molinari late. I ended up making a bogey on 17 and tying for second (Molinari won). That might seem like a failure, but for me, it was an awesome learning experience, and proof that I had it in me to play my regular game in a very tense moment.


into a faster heart rate. Be mindful of that. A smartwatch or fitness tracker can monitor it, or you can take your pulse by counting the beats for 15 seconds and multiplying by four. Mine is usually around 100 beats per minute when I’m playing, but it can get up into the 140s as things get amped up. Knowing when your heart starts to race means you can take steps to deal with it. I do that with a breathing technique that slows things down. Focusing on how you breathe also gives you a process to occupy your mind, making it harder to dwell on things that would make you more nervous. Anybody can breathe better, and it’s something you can work on right now. Inhale through your nose for a full four seconds, and feel the air go down to your solar plexus. Exhale through your mouth, making sure you keep your jaw relaxed. The time element is key, because if you start to breathe too quickly, you’ll hyperventilate—which just ramps up your pulse. Whenever I walk onto the tee, get to my ball or start the process of hitting a putt, I’m using that breathing technique to keep my heart rate under control. Just

‘A N Y BO DY CA N B RE AT H E B E T T E R , A N D I T ’ S SO M E T H I N G YO U CA N WO RK O N RI G H T N OW.’ like my pre-shot routine, that routine stays the same no matter if it’s the second hole on Thursday or my approach with a one-shot lead on the 17th hole on Sunday. That’s important, because if you change from what you normally do in

bigger moments, you’re just reinforcing the nervousness you might feel. All shots aren’t the same, obviously, but the closer you can get to treating them the same, the closer you’ll get to letting your shot-making, not your stress level, determine the outcome.

A few months after the 2018 Open Championship, I got into position again to win at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China. The 18th hole called for a fade—the opposite of my preferred shot shape, especially with the driver—but this tee shot didn’t bother me. Why? I had made a point to play it from that tee on Tuesday and Wednesday during practice rounds. I wanted to make sure I was comfortable with it so I could trust it when it counted. On the last hole of regulation, I hit a great tee shot, cutting it off the edge of a dangerous bunker to set up a birdie that got me into a playoff with Tony Finau. Then I had to immediately go back and hit that tee shot again in the playoff, so I went through my routine and played a little video in my mind of the fade I had just hit. Even with pressure mounting, I pulled it off again and made another birdie for the win. Test passed. —WITH MATTHEW RUDY

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MENA TOUR

MID-YEAR MUSINGS officials hope to complete the disrupted 2020 mena tour season in october-november

T

he mena tour deliberately took 16 months between the end of its seventh season in late 2017 and the start of its eight edition in February 2019 to redesign the regional developmental circuit. A further refinement was the decision to condense the current 2020 schedule into essentially three months between late January and mid-April, allowing members the chance to kick-start their year in the Middle East’s best weather before spreading their wings around the world. The MENA Tour suddenly fitted perfectly into golf’s global landscape – until the world suddenly wasn’t the same courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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With travel around the G.C.C becoming increasingly challenging, the MENA Tour’s leadership took the decision on March 5 to postpone the final six events of the 11-tournament season until OctoberNovember, reintroducing a mid-summer break as was previously the case. Only time will tell what professional golf, much less global sport, will look like come late 2020 and beyond but two things are certain; the MENA Tour deserves praise for acting so decisively and continues to work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure a smooth resumption when things get back to the new normal, whenever that is. In the meantime, here’s five mid-season takeaways from the 9th edition of the MENA Tour by Arena.

1

1

langley leads What’s $704 between professional golfers? For David Langley (pictured above), it’s a potentially priceless sum. The 25-year-old Englishmen went into the enforced break atop the Order of Merit (OOM) standings, edging compatriot David Hague to a start in the European Tour’s €2.5 million Trophee Hassan II as a result. At the time of press, the June 4-7 stop in Morocco wasn’t among those postponed by the European Tour meaning Langley, the 2017 Open Championship silver medallist (for low amateur honours), has a shot at quickly adding to the $25,499 he’s banked in his five MENA Tour starts this far. The Stokenchurch pro will take


plenty of confidence (if not recent form) to wherever his golf travel takes him next after capturing the season-opening Journey to Jordan 1 Championship before finishing 11th and runner-up in Egypt and Oman respectively. Langley then did just enough to hold off Hague for the Morocco spot after Hague won the Royal Golf Club Bahrain Open before finishing 33rd to Langley’s 38th in the Journey to Jordan 2 Championship, the final event before the postponement. $704? A huge sum in the mini-tour scheme of things.

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gill (just) sneaks in The MENA Tour’s remit is to provide fledging professionals opportunities at the next level. Unlike David Langley whose aforementioned European Tour start in Rabat is up in the air, countryman Bailey Gill at least got to play the Oman Open before the coronavirus shut down golf worldwide, the reward for winning the MENA Tour’s Ghala Open in Oman a week earlier. Rounds of 77-70 meant the 22-yearold English lefty missed the cut at Al Mouj Golf but the big-time experience was no doubt priceless. Gill will resume the MENA Tour in 6th place on the OOM.

3

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al kurdi has company After Josh Hill’s breakout 2019 campaign including worldwide fame after winning the Al Ain Open, Shergo Al Kurdi has dominated amateur headlines this season. The Jordanian 16-year-old become the first amateur from the G.C.C. to earn Official World Golf Ranking points after his gusty runner-up finish to Langley at the J2J#1 Championship in late January, a huge step towards realising his 2024 Olympic Games dream. But watch for Arjun Gupta (pictured No.3) in the second half of the season. The Dubai-based Indian is second to Al Kurdi in the amateur OOM and will be buoyed by his 4th placing at the Ghala Open. Gupta’s fellow Els Club Dubai rangerat, Toby Bishop, is another cursing the coronavirus enforced pause after a rich run of domestic form. Bishop, 7th in the MENA Tour amateur OOM, signed for a course record 62 en-route to winning the EGF’s Saadiyat Beach Open before capturing The Els Alliance and then leading the Trump Dubai Open before COVID-19 trumped everything.

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great determination Sadly lost in these tumultuous times was the MENA Tour’s trailblazing agreement with the European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA). It was set to showcase four players with an official World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) and a handicap

1) 2020 journey to jordan leader david langley. 2) bailey gill teed it up on the european tour courtesy of the mena tour. 3) arjun gupta has ground to make up on amateur oom leader shergo al kurdi. 4) george groves, the wr4gd no. 1, in action at the dp world tour championship, where he lifted the edga dubai finale trophy last november; 5) englishman david hague is second behind langley in the oom and eyeing the arena championship at ayla golf club, the mena tour’s destination partner in aqaba, jordan.

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of 4.4 or less at the Ras Al Khaimah Open (Tower Links G.C.), the Northern Emirates Open (Al Hamra G.C.) and the Al Ain Classic. Those events were among the six postponed. Here’s hoping the EDGA players are among those on the tee when the MENA Tour resumes.

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smooth resumption A doff of our cap to the administrators worldwide trying to piece professional golf back together again in these extremely uncertain times. The cryptic scheduling puzzle is no less challenging for the MENA Tour who had sourced a series of European, Asian, Challenge and Alps Tour starts for

its best 2020 performers, invites on tours now in a state of flux themselves. Those are complications for another day though. For now, the great news is a determination to get the MENA Tour by Arena back on its feet as quickly and as safely as possible and heading towards the season-ending $100,000 Arena Championship at Ayla Golf Club, the circuit’s Aqaba destination partner. “We are in touch with the members and updating them on a regular basis. The logistics are being tied up right now. We are looking at the window of October-November. The Tour is talking to the venue partners and will release the dates as soon as possible,” the tour said in a statement. A resumption, in any shape or form, will be a grand statement of intent. Photographs by Joy Chakravarty


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Photograph by First Lastname


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Our Survey Asks Fun Quest?ons, Tough Quest?ons & Silly Quest?ons by Dave Shedloski & John Huggan

Photograph by First Lastname

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you get to choose one tour pro to be on your side in a bar fight. who are you picking?

Ernie Els Jason Kokrak Scott Stallings Gary Woodland Ricky Barnes Tony Finau Brooks Koepka Grayson Murray Shawn Stefani Andres Gonzales Charley Hoffman Dustin Johnson Jamie Lovemark Robert MacIntyre Phil Mickelson Rory Sabbatini Vijay Singh Henrik Stenson

27.5 10 7.5 7.5 5 5 5 5 5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5

comments “I’d probably pick myself

because I’ve been in a bar fight.” . . . “I can definitely think of a few caddies I’d want on my side.” who is the funniest guy on tour?

Tim Herron Jason Bohn Kevin Kisner Pat Perez Henrik Stenson Chesson Hadley Phil Mickelson Boo Weekley Lanto Griffin Colt Knost Russell Knox Eddie Pepperell Carl Pettersson Harold Varner III Johnson Wagner

17 11 11 11 11 6 6 6 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

comment “I can’t say myself;

I still have some dignity.” will rory mcilroy ever win the masters to complete the career grand slam?

Yes No

89 11

comments “It’s not inevitable. Ask

Ernie Els and Greg Norman.” . . . “Yes— one million percent.” . . . “He’ll win it when people stop asking if he’ll win it.” will tiger win a major in 2020?

No Yes

60 40

comments “I want to say yes,

but I think the odds are against him.” . . . “I told my wife [before 2019] that he’d never win again. How good am I at predicting these things?” Illustrations by Eddie Guy

photographs: els (stan badz/pga tour) • boxer (sensorspot) • mcilroy (ian macnicol) • herron (maddie meyer)

will tiger woods win a major this year? Will he still be competitive at Augusta National when he’s 60? Will Rory McIlroy eventually win the Masters to complete the career Grand Slam? Who’s the funniest player on tour? How often have you seen a player break a rule and try to get away with it? We posed these and other questions to 46 PGA Tour players, and their answers (and comments) might surprise you. Note: Some players didn’t answer all the questions. Might have been the ones about marijuana and performanceenhancing drugs.


gutter credit tk

Photograph by First Lastname


gutter credit tk

48 golfdigest.com | month 2019

Photograph by First Lastname


will tiger woods be competitive in the masters until he’s 60?

Yes No Don’t know

%

46 26 28

comments “Some guys, like Jack

[Nicklaus] and Freddie [Couples], proved it can be done. If Tiger’s healthy, yes.” which major does tiger have the best chance of winning this year?

Masters PGA at Harding Park Open at Royal St. George’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot

88 12 0 0

comment “You would have to think

he still has a chance in every major.” tiger has an eight-footer to win this year’s masters. do you take:

Make Miss

100 0

woods: mike ehrmann/getty images • beard: westend61 • richelle and aaron baddeley: fairfax media via getty images

60-64 65-69 59 or better 70 or worse

%

which season would you rather have?

One win, but it’s a major Three wins, but no major

95 5

comment “Come on,

we all want the major.” christina kim turned in lpga caddies for sharing club selection. does that happen on the pga tour?

Never Often Rarely Sometimes Don’t know

30 4 4 4 57

comments “Everyone knows you

can’t do that.” . . . “Happens all the time but really makes no difference.”

if you had a tee time tomorrow at the course where you learned to play, what’s your best estimate of what you would shoot?

have you witnessed someone break a rule and try to get away with it?

77 20 3 0

comments “I wouldn’t break 60 unless

I putted really well. But I can say that about anywhere I play.” . . . “I wouldn’t be trying too hard.”

%

what’s the longest time you’ve gone without swinging a club since you’ve turned pro, not counting injuries?

Yes No Not sure comments “Too often, sadly.” . . . “It happens most often when they drop closer to the hole than they should after hitting into a hazard.”

52 24 24

36 24 21 19

Several weeks A week Several days A month or more which major would you most like to win?

Masters Open Championship U.S. Open PGA Championship

77 16 7 0

what is the best majorchampionship venue?

Augusta National Old Course at St. Andrews Pebble Beach Muirfield

74 13 8 5

who has the best-looking wife/ girlfriend on the pga tour?

Richelle Baddeley (Aaron) Kristy McLachlin (Parker) Dowd Simpson (Webb) Allison Stokke Fowler (Rickie) Melissa Jones (Matt) Gabby Woodland (Gary) Ashlie Reed (Nate Lashley) Ashley Perez (Pat) Annie Spieth (Jordan)

22 17 17 13 9 9 4 4 4

eddie pepperell was dq’d last year after he ran out of golf balls on the course. how many do you have in your bag at the start of a round, and have you ever been close to running out?

Six to nine 10 or more

60 40

comments “Mac O’Grady used to have

18 balls and number them 1 through 18 to have one on every hole.” . . . “I was close to running out once. I gave too many away and then hit two in the water at the last. I finished with one.” . . . “A lot of bad things might happen. I ain’t running out of golf balls.” . . . “I have three sleeves. If that’s not enough, I probably don’t belong out there.” best player of all time?

Tiger Woods Jack Nicklaus Other

70% 30% 0%

comments “Until this last year, I

thought it was Jack.” . . . “Jack might have more records and has the major record, but Tiger played the best golf.” . . . “Why does it have to be either or? Why can’t we just say they’re the two best?” golfdigestme.com

49


%

how important is it to you to win an olympic gold medal?

Like winning a nonmajor Not as important as winning a nonmajor Like winning a major

50 42 8

comments “Eventually that’s the

fifth major.” . . . “Not quite a major, but better than any other event.” should the players championship be considered a major?

No Yes

78 22

comment “Only if all past Players

champions are credited with a major.” favorite hole at the players championship?

Par-5 16th Par-3 17th Par-4 18th Par-5 second Par-4 fourth Par-5 ninth Par-5 11th Par-4 12th

30 25 20 5 5 5 5 5

least favorite hole at the players championship?

Par-3 17th Par-4 12th Par-4 18th Par-5 ninth Par-4 sixth Par-4 seventh Par-3 eighth Par-4 10th

30 22 22 9 4 4 4 4

comments “Seventeen is the best and

the worst hole.” . . . “Eight is one of the worst par 3s I’ve ever seen.” do you miss johnny miller?

No Yes

67 33

comment “Is yes and no

a good answer?”

Yes No

51 49

would you miss brandel chamblee if he were off tv tomorrow?

No Yes

%

do you like the idea of fans being able to hear what you and your caddie are discussing as you prepare to play a shot?

Yes No

61 39

comment “Two years ago, I’d have said

yes. But he’s gotten way better and backs up his opinions with good stats.”

comments “I’d be OK with it—no one

can understand my caddie’s accent.” . . . “I’m afraid they’d hate me because of all the swear words.” name a course that has never been the site of a u.s. open but would be a good test.

Pine Valley Spyglass Hill Cypress Point Muirfield Village Point O’ Woods Quail Hollow Sand Hills Harding Park L.A.C.C. North (2023 site) Pinehurst No. 4 Quaker Ridge Seminole TPC Sawgrass Trump Bedminster Yale Don’t know

18 8 5 5 5 5 5 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 33

what current player would make the best future commissioner?

Stewart Cink Charley Hoffman Davis Love III Phil Mickelson Paul Casey Jim Furyk Peter Malnati Mark Wilson Don’t know

Often Occasionally Rarely Never

12 12 12 12 6 6 6 6 28

37 34 17 11

comments “It kind of depends where

you are. At home is more often than on the road.” which shot would make you more nervous?

Ryder Cup opening shot Six-foot putt for bogey to win a nonmajor comment “Heck, any length putt

to win would make me nervous.”

50 golfdigestme.com

8 92

how often are you recognised off the course?

do you miss gary mccord and peter kostis?

%

does cbd help a golfer?

93 7

Yes No Don’t know

25 19 56

is marijuana performanceenhancing in golf?

No Yes Don’t know

8 4 88

how prevalent are performing enhancing substances on tour?

A little Don’t know

7 93

what percentage of amateurs you see in pro-ams are playing clearly inferior equipment?

Most Some Not many Don’t notice

24 8 8 60

how often do you watch pga tour events on television on weeks when you’re not playing?

Not too often Fairly regularly Never Almost all the time

42 33 14 11

comments “I’ll watch every minute I

can.” . . . “The kids have it on, so more than I would like.” who will win the ryder cup this year at whistling straits?

U.S.A. Europe Tie

60 37 3

you have to choose where to play your last round. which do you pick?

Augusta National Old Course/St. Andrews Cypress Point Pebble Beach Loch Lomond

62 14 10 10 4

how often does a pro-am partner tell you a golf joke you’ve never heard before?

Rarely Never

60 40

what’s more embarrassing?

Hitting a shank Four-putting

67 33

comments “A shank is way worse.

Now you don’t know where the next shot is going to go.” . . . “Shank by far. Sometimes a four-putt might be four good putts.” . . . “I’ve done both.”


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POSTURE WATCH THE VIDEO ▶ Ben brings this lesson to life at golfdigestme.com

improve your ball-striking and limit injuries with these posture tweaks by ben cannon

D

ELIVERING 40 LESSONS a week at a facility as busy as The Track, Meydan Golf, you see people from all walks of life. With our location being so close to the heart of Dubai’s Downtown district, it’s not uncommon for clients to arrive straight from a busy day chained to their office desks. Few amateur golfers realise the extent of the damage our normal day to day lives can have on our posture. It’s vital we have both a sound understanding and physical ability to create the ideal golf posture to first prevent injury and ultimately encourage accurate and solid ball striking. The golf swing is essentially a rotational motion around a central column – that central column being your spine. The better the position and the angle of your spine at address, the better it will be throughout the swing, especially at impact as the torsional forces being applied to your body throughout the swing can put pressure on the back if an unsuitable posture is used. Statically the two most common injuries picked up by golfers are in the lower back and wrist. Here, I want to talk specifically about how your pelvis plays a vital role in producing an athletic posture and preventing lower back issues.

52 golfdigestme.com


PERFECT Typically, club golfers present with one of two posture types. These are:

c-posture

C

-Posture (bottom, left) occurs when a lack of pelvic tilt causes the upper body to bend to address the ball. Your shoulders are slumped forward at address and you have a definitive roundedness to your thoracic spine (mid-back). This results in a loss of posture and a flat shoulder plane which makes it difficult to rotate fully in the backswing and often leads to an early extension.

s-posture

S

-Posture (bottom, right) is caused by creating too much arch in the lower back / pelvis at setup. This puts abnormally high stress on the muscles in the lower back and leads to a loss of posture and reverse spine angle. This in turn puts the lower body out of position on the downswing and will affect the sequence of motion in the swing.

So, what can you do if you struggle with the either the C or S postures? To find a neutral posture give this a go: p e lv i c t i lt s i n g o l f s ta n c e find neutr al 1. Get into 5 iron Posture 2. Cross your arms 3. Arch your back (S-Posture) 4. Flatten you back (C-Posture) 5. Arch your back again 6. And then find neutral hip bar hinges This (pictured right) is a great drill to help improve your pelvic position and feel the proper set-up posture, with a good hinge from your hips and not from your spine or knees. • Position a club across your hips with your thumbs on your hip joints. • Get into a neutral posture and bend forward from the hips, not the lower or upper back. • You will feel as if you are pushing the golf club back and tilting from your hips.

w -t u r n s This drill is perfect for golfers that have a C-Posture and tend to lose their posture during their backswing. • From starting posture, place a club behind your back so that your arms form the letter W. Make some smooth slow swings focusing on keeping your shoulders back as you rotate. This is a great drill for those golfers in C-posture and gives them the correct sensation for a good setup position and keeping a good spine angle as they rotate. Posture is very important in our day to day lives. In golf, a few tweaks to your posture could go a long way to not only improving your game but also reducing the risk of injury.

Ben Cannon is PGA Golf Professional at the Meydan Academy By Troon. Photographs by Mustufa Abidi


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54 golfdigestme.com

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City For visitors keen to experience the No.1 course in the 2020 Golf Digest Middle East Top-10 Courses ranking, Radisson Blu Dubai Media City is a perfect base. Karl Litten’s fabled Majlis layout, home to the European Tour’s annual Dubai Desert Classic each January, is a short taxi ride away. You can also savour night golf under the floodlights of The Faldo, the Majlis’ sister course at Emirates Golf Club, or test your game at a course designed by another of the game’s biggest names, The Montgomerie. With the shopping & nightlight of Dubai Marina a mere hop and skip away as well as award winning Italian restaurant Certo and Sports bar ICON on site, Radisson Blu Dubai Media City has it all. @RadissonBluDMC


“Radisson has the other half of a memorable Dubai stay and play luxuriously covered.” Park Inn by Radisson Dubai Motor City With a replica race car bolted to the ceiling in the lobby, motor racing art at every turn and views of the final bend and down the home straight at the Dubai Autodrome from most rooms, the theme of the Park Inn by Radisson Dubai Motor City is unmistakable. But this is a hotel for golfers as much as for the dedicated petrol head. Dubai Hills Golf Club, Jumeirah Golf Estates, the Els Club Dubai, Arabian Ranches Golf Club and Trump International Golf Club Dubai are all within 15 minutes of the hotel. With the hotel offering special packages and great rates at the courses it is the perfect place to stay with a group of friends or just your favourite foursomes partner and comes with the added bonus of Motor City’s plethora of cafes and restaurants on your doorstep. @ParkInnDubaiMotorCity

Radisson Blu Hotel Apartments Dubai Silicon Oasis If you are looking to combine some world class golf with business or have friends based within the northern confines of Dubai, the Radisson Blu Hotel Apartments Dubai Silicon Oasis are a great option. With more spacious rooms for a family, in-room cooking facilities, a supermarket and restaurants within easy reach and IMG Worlds of Adventure only 10 minutes down the road, this is a perfect location for a family-friendly golf escape. With famed Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, Arabian Ranches and Dubai Hills Golf Club all about 20 minutes away, golfers are spoilt for choice. Ask for a balcony view of the Burj Khalifa – a top spot to soak in the shimmering nightlights of Downtown and debrief the days golf. @RadissonBluDubaiSilicon Visit radissonhotels.com/en-us/destination/united-arab-emirates/dubai for more information. golfdigestme.com

55


IRONS game—improvement

in association with

▶ packed with forgivenes s and p ower, t h e s e c l u b s w i l l h a v e y o u p l ay i n g b e t t e r i n n o t i m e . w e c o n s i d e r e d 1 9 m o d e l s ; 1 3 m a d e t h e l i s t. c a l l away epic forged

RRP AED 10,465

verdict The Epic Forged was designed to deliver distance in

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★

look • sound • feel

★★★★½ demand

★★★½

new ways using an old-school material—stainless steel. But even without the use of multiple materials, these irons have more than enough technology to justify the price. For the first time in a Callaway forged iron, the cupface design extends through the pitching wedge. Completing the distance-driven package is the stock shaft, Aerotech’s Steelfiber FC. com m ent “They hide the stuff going on behind the head nicely. A half-club longer than what I play. Hits high bombs.” Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

c a l l away mavrik

RRP AED 4,165

verdict The objectives are speed and launch in the long irons;

look • sound • feel

speed and spin in the middle irons; and spin and launch in the short irons. To achieve this, the company relied on artificial intelligence to produce a new cupface that has different face designs for each iron. The use of tungsten encased in microsphere-filled urethane allows for centre-of-gravity positions that help you launch the ball high despite strikingly strong lofts.

demand

com m ent “Feels like an explosion in your hands.

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★

★★★★½ ★★★★★

Clean at address with enough offset to frame the ball.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

cobra

king speedzone • one length

look • sound • feel

verdict Cobra took design cues from fast automobiles and focused on five properties: weight, stability, power, feel and spin. Perhaps most notable is the unusual step of removing three grams of weight from the topline in the 4- through 7-iron. That leaves a channel in which two thin strips of carbon fiber are placed to keep the structural integrity of the topline intact and the removed weight is repositioned low to help ball speed and launch angle.

demand

com m ent “High ball flight and long. Great numbers

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★

★★★★½ ★★★½

on the launch monitor. Super forgiveness.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

listed alphabetically

RRP AED 4,565


GAME—IMPROVEMENT IRONS

mizuno

jpx919 hot metal

RRP AED 4,165

look • sound • feel

verdict A combination of unique materials and design has led to a forgiving, powerful iron in an attractive package. Helping achieve this is a complicated one-piece casting of Chromoly 4140M—a highstrength steel alloy—that allows for a face with plenty of rebound for more distance. The sweet spot was positioned half a millimeter lower than the JPX 900. Doing this allowed for stronger lofts in the 4- through 7-iron for more velocity with a similar launch angle.

demand

com m ent “Control on all shots. A good iron for the aspiring

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★★★

player without being too difficult to hit.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

ping

RRP AED 6,195

g710

verdict Ping used modal analysis to identify undesirable

look • sound • feel

frequencies, then applied an epoxy behind the face to damp them. The maraging-steel face creates a metalwood-like face flex, and tungsten in the toe and shaft boosts the moment of inertia to mitigate the loss of speed on mis-hits by more than 5 percent compared to the G700. The Golf Pride grips come with Arrcos shottracking sensors. The black color is modern-age cool.

demand

com m ent “The two-tone face frames the ball nicely, and the

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★½ ★★★★

black disguises the length from heel to toe.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

pxg

RRP AED 12,950

0311 xp gen3

look • sound • feel

verdict PXG hasn’t been shy about creating irons with distinct characteristics. The 0311 XP is its latest example. Perhaps the most technologically ambitious club in its line, a dual polymer core addresses two needs: A high-strength outer polymer provides support for the thin, flexible face, and a softer, high-rebound inner core increases face loading at impact. The generous sole provides more effective bounce to prevent digging.

demand

com m ent “The feel is like a players iron, but they’re so stable

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★½ ★★★

on mis-hits. It’s like autocorrect for golf shots.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

tay l o r m a d e

RRP AED 9,495

p790 ti

verdict Building off its P790, the company went with an all-

look • sound • feel

titanium construction that includes a 9-1-1 titanium-alloy body and a machined 6-4 titanium face insert backed by a urethane foam that allows the face to flex. The lighter titanium structure enhances ball speed and allows for the use of massive amounts of tungsten. That lowers the centre of gravity by as much as two millimeters compared to the P790, allowing for stronger lofts to produce more yards.

demand

com m ent “These look really sharp. The feel is light,

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★

★★★★½ ★★★½

and it’s an easy swing through impact.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

listed alphabetically

Photographs by Dom Furore and Ben Walton


in association with

tay l o r m a d e

RRP AED 3,995

sim max

verdict Producing ball speed with a towering launch in an

look • sound • feel

iron that feels good and looks great is fairly complicated. To increase ball speed, the “speed bridge” structure in the back cavity accommodates a flexible through-slot, and a thinner face than the M6 has more flex and saves up to six grams. A vibration damping system runs from heel to toe—substantially larger than on the M6— and channels provide flexibility throughout the damper.

demand

com m ent “The sound is muted in the perfect way.

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★

★★★★½ ★★★★★

It’s not a cannon explosion, but there’s feedback.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

titleist

RRP AED 4,445

t300

verdict Having a beautiful face design is, well, great. But it does

look • sound • feel

little good if typical players can’t get results. The T300 iron zeroed in on that dilemma. That meant producing a high moment of inertia iron (which mitigates the loss of ball speed on mis-hits) with a face structure built for speed. To accomplish this, a larger cavity-back design was used with a silicone-polymer core backing the centre of the face. That returns more energy to the ball on off-centre shots.

demand

com m ent “Super easy to hit the long irons. Turf interaction

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★

★★★★½ ★★★★½

is never grabby. It’s as if the sole has Teflon.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

clevel and

RRP AED 3,095

launcher uhx

verdict Everyday players have a hard time getting on speaking

look • sound • feel

terms with Mr. Green in Regulation. These irons narrow that gap by providing an easy-to-use structure. The set uses two constructions: a hollow, utility-iron design in the long irons (4- through 7-iron) and a more traditional cavity-back design in the 8-iron through gap wedge. The hollow irons not only are uber-forgiving but also use a variable-thickness cupface to provide additional yards.

demand

com m ent “I have a hard time creating enough spin with my

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★½ ★★★

long irons. These irons gave me a lot of help with that.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

honma

RRP AED 5,700

xp-1

verdict A brand well known in Asia, Honma is making an effort

look • sound • feel

to break into the U.S. market. Seeking the appropriate combo of power and precision, the XP-1 uses traditional looks with meaningful game-improvement tech. The combination set includes hollow irons in the 4- through 7-irons with tungsten weighting low toward the sole for higher flight. The rest of the set, up to a 48-degree 11-iron (yes, an 11-iron), are traditional cavity-back designs.

demand

com m ent “A satisfying feel. Familiar, but powerful.

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★ ★★

Long irons easy to hit. The ball gets up in a hurry.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

golfdigestme.com

59


in association with

GAME—IMPROVEMENT IRONS

tommy armour 845

verdict The Tommy Armour 845 name still has cachet, making

look • sound • feel

this a welcome revival. Cast from 431 stainless steel with a thin L-shape face insert (to assist shots struck low), steel weighting with tungsten powder is placed low to make it easier to get shots in the air. The sole’s pre-worn leading edge assists turf interaction. The standard set makeup is 5-iron through gap wedge, a smart idea because most players don’t want or can’t hit a 4-iron.

demand

com m ent “Tasteful design. I felt in charge of this club.

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★ ★★

There’s an ability to shape it while staying in control.”

tour edge exs 220

verdict When distance is your priority, there’s no reason to disguise

look • sound • feel

it. The EXS 220 irons don’t even try. A hollow-cavity construction is used in the 4- through 7-irons. Those irons also use a forged cupface with a web-shape, variable-thickness design that enhances the sweet spot in every direction from the centre of the face. The EXS 220 borrows the ramped sole design of its EXS predecessor in which a raised middle section helps the club move through the turf.

demand

com m ent “The middle irons had a mid ball flight, and shorter

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★½ ★★

irons were an appropriate high trajectory.”

t o u r ta lk : g i iro n s mixed marriage

▶ iron sets on the PGA Tour are seeing more breakups than a divorce attorney. The majority of tour players now have sets that feature two or more models of irons. This includes replacing long irons with a utility iron, and the practice of playing iron sets that can be easily interchanged depending on the playing conditions or course setup. At times Phil Mickelson has used four models in his iron set. The takeaway for everyday players is that the majority of tour pros believe getting the most out of their iron game means using more than one type of iron, and perhaps you should, too. Like relief pitchers and nickel defenses, the iron set in golf is one of specialisation. —emj

matthew lewis/getty images

Tour players are splitting iron sets with frequency. Should you?


IRONS super-game—improvement

▶ these irons make the game easier and more fun. a n d i s n ’ t t h a t t h e p o i n t o f p l ay i n g ? w e c o n s i d e r e d 1 7 m o d e l s ; 1 2 m a d e t h e l i s t. c a l l away

RRP AED 5,250

big bertha

verdict A longtime darling of higher-handicappers, Bertha, with

look • sound • feel

its oversize clubhead, thick topline and generous sole, continues to perform well in an increasingly competitive category. Despite the venerable name, this iron has the modern power of a wraparound cupface that provides a distance boost for players who often need one. Tungsten weighting positioned low in the cavity lowers the centre of gravity, making it easier to get shots airborne.

demand

com m ent “Overall proportions of the head are nicely balanced.

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★½ ★★★★

Distance is impressive and consistent.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

c a l l away

RRP AED 4,165

mavrik max

verdict Technologies found in drivers eventually make their way

look • sound • feel

into irons. In this case, that meant using artificial intelligence and the “flash face” cupface idea from the company’s Epic Flash and Mavrik drivers for this set of irons. That led to unique face designs for each iron that produce flex in just the right spot. The use of tungsten suspended within urethane infused with tiny air bubbles delivers the feel players of any ability can appreciate.

demand

com m ent “Compared to other clubs, this hides the technology

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

well. The face feels soft on all kinds of hits.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

clevel and

RRP AED 3,095

launcher hb turbo

verdict When a study shows average golfers hit the green from 150

look • sound • feel

to 200 yards one-fifth of the time, it’s an indication those players need help. Cleveland’s solution is a full hybrid-like set designed for high launch and forgiveness. Though the irons don’t lack for speed— thanks to a high-strength steel face—distance wasn’t the main goal. Instead, the focus was on ease of use through a centre of gravity that’s six millimeters lower than a typical cavity-back iron.

demand

com m ent “Good ball flight and trajectory. The sensation

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★

off the face was complete with a flush feel.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

62 golf digest | issue 2 . 2020 listed alphabetically

Photographs by Dom Furore


in association with

cobra

f-max airspeed

verdict The players using irons in this category typically swing a

look • sound • feel

little slower than average. That makes generating speed imperative. The F-Max irons address that through a lighter overall club weight (including a lighter midsize grip) that’s designed to make shots fly faster, farther and higher. An undercut cavity puts the iron’s weight low and wide across the sole, assisting launch in the long irons. Higher lofts throughout further help get the ball up.

demand

com m ent “The clubhead appears in alignment when looking

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★★½

down on it. Less weight lets you swing really fast.”

cobra

RRP AED 3,995

t-rail

verdict Cobra has a tradition of producing helpful equipment for

look • sound • feel

those who need it most. The company builds on that legacy in a meaningful fashion by using one of its most proven design features: The Baffler rails on the sole assist launch while plowing through the turf. The 4-iron is a conventional hybrid design, and the 5-iron through pitching wedge use a hollow, hybrid-like body with a forged face insert made from a springy 455 steel.

demand

com m ent “The rails and proportion of the club make it one

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★

that works in any lie. The face felt taut like a trampoline.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

tay l o r m a d e

RRP AED 3,995

sim max os

look • sound • feel

verdict This iron is proof you can offer higher-handicappers plenty of help while avoiding a club that looks like it belongs in a carpenter’s toolbox. Though the head is oversize and the sole is wide, the overall shape is pleasing. TaylorMade continues its use of a sole slot to boost ball speed on shots hit low on the face, but the neat feature is the “speed bridge” structure supporting the topline of the iron, providing needed stability for the fast-flexing face.

demand

com m ent “The sole slot is a stand-out feature. It will entice

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

players who don’t want a clunky club to try it.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

tour edge

hl4 triple combo

verdict Golfers using irons in this category often have a single

look • sound • feel

requirement: Get the ball in the air. Tour Edge’s Triple Combo set addresses that need. The set starts with the 4- and 5-iron slots filled with matching HL4 hybrids, the 6- and 7-iron are HL4 ironwoods and the 8-iron through pitching wedge are cavity-back HL4 irons. For those who have a second requirement, such as cost, the company’s focus on affordability is appealing.

demand

com m ent “The distinct different designs through the set

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

gutter credit tk

★★★★½ ★★★★ ★★½

Photograph by First Lastname

get you the right amount of help for the job.”

golfdigestme.com

63


SUPER- GAME—IMPROVEMENT IRONS

wilson

launch pad

verdict User error is a common problem among high-

look • sound • feel

handicappers, and Wilson makes a strong effort here to mitigate that and build some player confidence. To do that, the hollow, hybrid-like irons focus on the bottom of the club. Specifically, a progressively wide sole is designed to make turf interaction feel like hitting off a mat, thus reducing the number of chunked shots. A slightly raised leading edge also helps you from hitting shots fat.

demand

com m ent “The clubhead wanted to get down and stay down

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★½

through the shot. As such, turf interaction was great.”

x xio

eleven

RRP AED 5,995

verdict Most sets in this category tout reduced weight, this one

look • sound • feel

talks about adding it—or at least redistributing it. Though the overall club weight doesn’t increase, engineers reduced the weight of the shaft by four grams and moved it to the butt end. Doing so raises the balance point of the shaft, bringing it closer to the hands. This is to help the hands get in the proper position at the top of the backswing, promoting a more efficient swing.

demand

com m ent “It’s explosive off the face. Not completely effortless,

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★ ★★½

but noticeably lighter and easy to swing.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

tour edge

exotics exs 220h

verdict Hybrid-like iron sets are Tour Edge’s specialty, and

look • sound • feel

the company plays to its strengths here. The completely hollowbody-construction set is made from 17-4 steel. It’s built for max forgiveness with a high moment of inertia and low, deep centre of gravity thanks to significant perimeter weighting and a wide sole that also helps improve turf interaction. It’s a set that can turn a super chopper into a serviceable member-member partner.

demand

com m ent “Looks and performs like a beast. Long, straight

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★

★★★½ ★★

and easy to hit. The sound is like a low growl.”

wilson verdict Eschewing hybrids for all irons, Wilson produced a set

look • sound • feel

that can help the high-handicapper and the player trending toward a sub-20-handicapper. The company’s “power holes”—slots with polymer that promote face flex—remain, but some were removed from the topline to improve aesthetics and a third row was added on the 4- through 7-irons. The thinnest face ever on a Wilson supergame-improvement iron provides extra pop.

demand

com m ent “A good, firm feel to the face. The progressive

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★ ★★★★ ★★

listed alphabetically

offset provided confidence at address.”

warren little/r&a via getty images

d7


in association with

x xio

RRP AED 6,419

x (2020)

look • sound • feel

verdict Primarily known as a premium brand, XXIO also excels at producing clubs that help the less skilled. In this instance, it does so by using a springy, high-strength steel face insert. That insert goes all the way to the lower portion of the face to provide more punch where most iron impacts occur. A channel around the inner perimeter of the face fosters additional flex. A feathery 59-gram graphite shaft helps golfers who need more clubhead speed.

demand

com m ent “Like the shape and finish—classy. It has the muted

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★ ★★

sound of a more traditional blade.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

t o u r ta lk : s g i iro n s

webb simpson’s pro-am lessons Less shaft weight, larger heads can improve your results, he says ▶ webb simpson plays a lot of golf with everyday golfers in proams. When asked what he believes is the biggest mistake amateurs routinely make, Simpson doesn’t hesitate. “They use clubs that are too heavy,” he says. “It’s not that they’re weak, but most don’t have the proper golf muscles to swing the clubs they’re using.” The folks at Cobra Golf agree. In conducting some tests to guide the design of its latest lightweight super-game-improvement irons, Cobra found that by reducing the graphite shaft weight from 60 grams to 55 grams, players swung the clubs about one mile per hour faster, which equates to a distance gain of roughly two yards. In addition to lighter shafts, Simpson is in favor of everyday players using larger clubheads. “I see a lot of mid- to highhandicappers using very smallheaded irons,” he says. “They need to realise they’re going to miss a lot more shots than those hit solid. I mean, there are plenty of days I’m missing shots, too.” —emj

Photograph by First Lastname

golfdigestme.com

65


IRONS players

▶ looks, feel, work ability and performance are e s s e n t i a l t o a g r e a t p l ay e r s i r o n . t h e s e d e l i v e r . w e c o n s i d e r e d 2 3 m o d e l s ; 1 4 m a d e t h e l i s t. c a l l away apex pro 19

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½

look • sound • feel

★★★★½ demand

★★★★

RRP AED 6,965

verdict The key story behind the Apex Pro is the addition of a cupface to a forged 1025 carbon-steel frame (the previous Apex was a single-piece forging). The cupface design, in which the iron’s face plate wraps around the sole and topline, is used in the long and middle irons (through the 7-iron) to enhance springlike effect across a larger area of the face. The result: more ball speed. com m ent “Effortless power. The secret must be the little

biceps in the back of the club so you don’t need to use yours to get the ball moving.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

cobra

king tour

look • sound • feel

verdict Improvements in materials and manufacturing allow clubmakers to go beyond what they’ve done before. This iron is proof of that. The King Tour irons are made from a blend of 17-4 stainless steel and 304 stainless steel to provide a softer feel while maintaining durability. That material is then manufactured using an ultra-precise metal-injection-molding (MIM) process, marking the first time a full set of irons has been made this way.

demand

com m ent “The turf interaction was perfection. I could hit

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★

a low or high shot without even thinking about it.”

mizuno

jpx919 tour

RRP AED 4,515

verdict Iron design hinges on metallurgy and manufacturing,

look • sound • feel

but at some point the engineering has to match the aesthetic. With an increase in tour use in recent years, Mizuno has used player feedback to drive the design of this iron. That meant a thinner topline with a slight bevel. This allows more weight to be added in the toe and the sole, providing more forgiveness than a typical players iron—something golfers of all levels can appreciate.

demand

com m ent “An ideal head shape: The topline is thin without

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★

★★★★½ ★★★

being intimidating. Centre hits had a luscious feel.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

66 golf digest | issue 2 . 2020 listed alphabetically


in association with

mizuno

RRP AED 5,425

mp-20 mmc

verdict The company’s “grain flow” forging process produces

look • sound • feel

some of the best-feeling irons in the game. This model uses another Mizuno technology in which titanium is forged into the back cavity. In this case, two pieces provide a smooth centre-of-gravity progression throughout the set. Also, a lighter titanium muscle in the long and middle irons combines with tungsten low and toward the toe to provide stability on off-centre hits.

demand

com m ent “The look says you’re a player. The weight in the sole

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★★½

makes it simple to get height on shots.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

ping

RRP AED 5,320

i210

verdict Ping has long pursued meaningful forgiveness in players

look • sound • feel

irons, so anyone wanting to jump-start their game might consider the i210. A large, wide port for the elastomer in the back provides perimeter weighting to help your mis-hits. That elastomer also helps absorb vibration. The 431 stainless-steel casting (a softer steel than traditional 17-4) includes milled grooves that change throughout the set to create more consistent spin in a players-friendly shape.

demand

com m ent “The hat trick: The long irons have punch, the

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★

★★★★½ ★★★★

middle irons stay up and the short irons are scoring magic.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

ping

RRP AED 3,995

iblade

look • sound • feel

verdict The ultra-thin face provides a powerful strike, but better players demand more, specifically feel and forgiveness. The former is addressed by using soft 431 stainless steel for the clubhead and adding an elastomer insert that runs from heel to toe in the back cavity. Stability gets a boost from a tungsten block in the low toe. How significant is this iron? It’s the first in the history of the Hot List to earn a gold medal four consecutive years.

demand

com m ent “Very sharp. No-frills look. Gets through the turf

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★ ★★

well and even works with my semi-competent swing.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

pxg

RRP AED 12,950

0311 t gen3

look • sound • feel

verdict PXG is a company that caters to one of golf’s most exclusive market segments, but golfers willing to pay a premium for their irons demand uncompromising performance. Key to achieving that in this iron is the addition of a new interior design in which a soft polymer inside reduces unwanted vibrations while transferring more energy into the ball. The face has a channel around the internal perimeter to create more rebound.

demand

com m ent “The looks have a certain cool factor. Emits a thump

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

gutter credit tk

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★★½

at impact and rockets toward the green.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

Photograph by First Lastname

golfdigestme.com

67


PLAYERS IRONS

tay l o r m a d e p760

RRP AED 6,195

look • sound • feel

verdict Better players often find the right combo of looks, feel and forgiveness by mixing their iron set with two or more models. TaylorMade hopes to eliminate that need with the P760. The 3-iron through 7-iron are a hollow, multiple-piece design with a forged 1025 carbon-steel body and a thin steel face insert with foam inside to support the face. The short irons are single-piece forgings made of 1025 carbon steel that maintain the compact shape.

demand

com m ent “The turf interaction was exceptional, but what

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★½ ★★★★

I liked most was the consistency from club to club.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

titleist

cncpt cp-02

verdict For the past decade, Titleist has put a lot of effort into

look • sound • feel

making irons for better players. This one even further distinguishes itself. The face is forged, and its L-shape is similar to the company’s T-MB and AP3 irons. But the CP-02 gets additional power from an extremely thin face made from a unique steel alloy the company refers to as “super metal.” The hollow-construction irons also use generous amounts of tungsten to improve off-centre hits.

demand

com m ent “Love the new-age design to the back. When you

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★

★★★★½ ★

hit it pure, it delivers a lower, powerful trajectory.”

titleist T100

RRP AED 6,195

look • sound • feel

verdict The forged T100 replaces the popular AP2 irons, so it was logical the company would rely on the input of players such as Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth for this makeover. The result is a new shape that includes reduced offset and a thinner topline. The T100 still features plenty of heat thanks to a thin face design (just 1.8 millimeters thick on the 3- through 6-iron) and loads of tungsten in the middle and long irons to promote a higher launch.

demand

com m ent “I like how it cradles the ball at address. The feel

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

is so smooth. Hardly felt like I was making contact.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

tr20v

look • sound • feel

verdict An effective mix of classic craftsmanship and modernplayer desires. The blade length for this one-piece body with a cavity-back design is slightly shorter than the TR20P model. The topline and sole, however, are modestly wider, offering a comforting look at address and extra help when you take too much turf. Not to be overlooked is Golf Pride’s +2 grip, where the bottom portion is larger to reduce tension in the lower hand.

demand

com m ent “These are hot. Trajectory penetrates the wind.

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★½ ★★★★ ★

My mis-hits weren’t penalised too badly, either.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

68 golf digest | issue 2 . 2020 listed alphabetically

RRP AED 6,475 Christian Petersen/Getty imaGes

honma


in association with

miura cb-301

verdict Miura doesn’t change an iron design for the sake of an

look • sound • feel

update. That’s why this is its first forged cavity-back iron in eight years. The company’s legendary workmanship remains, but in a more forgiving, higher-launching package despite marginally stronger lofts. That’s made possible by tweaking the weight inside. Mass has been moved to a section in the bottom of the club, creating a lower centre of gravity to get shots higher.

demand

com m ent “A shotmaker’s club. You can hook and fade these.

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★½

★★★★½ ★

If you want feel and workability, these are for you.”

s r i xo n

RRP AED 4,499

z 785

verdict The company is well-regarded for its ability to produce

look • sound • feel

sweet-feeling, one-piece forgings, and this club continues on that path. Made from soft 1020 carbon steel, additional mass is located behind the centre of the face for better energy transfer at impact. The shape of the clubhead is more compact in the short irons, and the sole features a higher bounce angle toward the leading edge that tapers to less bounce on the trailing edge.

demand

com m ent “The sole is so good you almost can’t chunk the shot.

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★

Catch it a little thin, and it still delivers a nice strike.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

titleist

RRP AED 6,195

620 cb

verdict The 600 series dates back two decades, but enhancements

look • sound • feel

borrowed from the 718 CB, while mostly subtle, are meaningful to better players. It starts with a refined sole that’s designed to improve turf interaction through a pre-worn leading edge. The guts of the clubhead include co-forged high-density tungsten in the heel and toe of the 3- and 4-irons to help players get shots airborne with those hard-to-hit clubs.

demand

com m ent “Best part was the feel. Baby soft. Everything felt

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★

★★★★½ ★★½

like it stayed on the face, then it would launch high.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

t o u r ta lk : pl ay e rs iro n s

accept all the help you can get Henrik Stenson’s irons assist his superb ball-striking ▶ some people have an issue asking for help. Everyday golfers should not be among them. Just ask Henrik Stenson. The talented Swede has used Callaway’s Legacy Black irons since 2013 and knows the benefits of forgiveness, even in a players shape. “At address, it looks like a traditional blade, but it’s thicker on the bottom with a bit more forgiveness,” he says. “You don’t need to make the game harder than it is. Pros make it look easy at times, but it’s a game of small margins, and if the technology helps you save a few yards on your miss, it’s worth it.” —emj golfdigestme.com

69


IRONS players—distance

▶ i f y o u ’ r e a b e t t e r p l ay e r i n n e e d o f a ya r d a g e b o o s t, t h i s i s y o u r c a t e g o r y. w e c o n s i d e r e d 2 2 m o d e l s ; 1 5 m a d e t h e l i s t. c a l l away

RRP AED 6,965

apex 19

verdict The original Apex iron enjoyed a three-year run as a top

look • sound • feel

seller. Given the enhancements, expect a similar run with this club. The body is forged from 1025 carbon steel and expands the 17-4 stainless-steel cupface—where the face wraps around the top and bottom of the club to create more flex—up to the 8-iron. The cupface brings a distance benefit to a wider portion of the face with more consistency, especially on shots struck low.

demand

com m ent “Impact felt like a trampoline. Soft and responsive.

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

Incredible forgiveness. Love the looks, too.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

c a l l away

RRP AED 4,165

mavrik pro

verdict The Mavrik name goes to the heart of company

look • sound • feel

founder Ely Callaway’s innovative thinking. This club brings a fresh approach to iron design, starting with the use of artificial intelligence to create a unique cupface for each iron throughout the set. The purpose is to bring the kind of distance golfers in this category want. Further helping that endeavor is the use of strong lofts, including a 43-degree pitching wedge.

demand

com m ent “Gosh, that was easy. Turf interaction was

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★

exceptional. Distance was off the charts. Great launch.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

cobra

RRP AED 4,999

king forged tec

verdict The changes from its predecessor are subtle, yet

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★

look • sound • feel

★★★★★ demand

★★½

noticeable. The muscle-back shape hides the fact the head has a hollow construction for extra ball speed. A metal-injected tungsten toe weight allows the centre of gravity to be in line with the centre of the face to boost distance. A One Length option and the Cobra Connect grip sensors that provide player analytics through the Arccos round-tracking system remain. com m ent “That flushed sound and soft feel at impact is terrific. You can tell shots would land soft and hold greens.” Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

70 golf digest | issue 2 . 2020 listed alphabetically

Photographs by Dom Furore


in association with

mizuno

RRP AED 3,995

jpx919 forged

look • sound • feel

verdict Details matter to players using irons in this category. An example is Mizuno infusing boron into carbon steel to make the steel more durable, thus allowing for a thinner face and better weight distribution to assist shots hit off centre. A cut-through slot in the sole (covered by a welded strip of steel) creates more flex over a larger area of the face. It also allows for a deeper undercut cavity that creates a lower centre of gravity to help boost height on shots.

demand

com m ent “A reassuring look at address. This is like a road

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★

★★★★★ ★★★

grader in turf interaction. It’s in charge of the ground.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

mizuno

RRP AED 5,915

mp-20 hmb

verdict The MP-20 HMB mixes two kinds of iron designs within

look • sound • feel

the set: hollow, two-piece clubs in the long and middle irons (through the 8-iron) and a partially hollow construction for the 9-iron and pitching wedge. The secret sauce in terms of feel is a chrome-plating technique used in a 1987 set of blades developed for Tommy Nakajima in which an underlayer of copper is used to enhance the usual double-nickel chrome plating.

demand

com m ent “The back doesn’t have much cavity, but it’s easy

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★½ ★★★

to get in the air. As easy to shape as any blade.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

ping

RRP AED 6,150

I500

verdict Iron technology for today’s better players deftly balances

look • sound • feel

two pressing needs: precision and power. The good news is that Ping has a solution that addresses both in one iron. A hollow body and high-strength, maraging-steel face allows for five times the face flex at impact compared to a standard cast iron. That leads to distance increases, because not only does the ball launch faster off the face, but the face bends in a way that launches shots higher.

demand

com m ent “You can feel the forgiveness. Has a consistent

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★½ ★★★½

sound at impact on mis-hits as well as pure strikes.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

pxg

RRP AED 12,950

0311 p gen3

look • sound • feel

verdict The company’s Gen2 irons were super cool, but the polymer inside the clubhead, although it produced a nice feel, dissipated energy at impact. PXG solved that issue with a new formulation that’s firmer on the outside and softer on the inside. The result is a face that deflects as much as two times more than the Gen2 model, and more flex means more yards. Those nifty weights in the back are still there to assist centre-of-gravity location.

demand

com m ent “The club feels appropriately weighted, not too light.

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

gutter credit tk

★★★★½ ★★★★★ ★★★

It’s easy to swing and keep on path.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

Photograph by First Lastname

golfdigestme.com

71


PLAYERS—DISTANCE IRONS

tay l o r m a d e p790 (2019)

RRP AED 5,795

verdict A surprise hit two years ago, the goal with this update is to

look • sound • feel

boost performance without sacrificing feel or the aspirational look. It starts with a thin, forged, steel L-shape face insert (1.6 millimeters thick) for more face deflection. The use of tungsten also changed the design from a disc low and toward the toe to an internal bar situated low and stretching from heel to toe across the impact area, helping get the ball in the air, especially with the long irons.

demand

com m ent “The epitome of this category. The feel of a players

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

iron with controllable distance and good feedback.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

titleist t200

RRP AED 6,195

look • sound • feel

verdict Titleist’s 718 AP3 was its first foray into the playersdistance category. This is an admirable follow-up. A high-strength steel L-shape face provides plenty of pop, particularly on shots struck low on the face. The real hero, however, is the “max impact” spherical structure. Made from a lightweight silicone polymer and situated directly behind the impact area, the structure supports a thin, flexing face across a broad area.

demand

com m ent “Easy to hit it high or keep it low. Maneuverability

performance

★★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★ ★★★★★

★★★★½

is so strong. A winner in all areas.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

ben hogan ptx pro

verdict When you put the Ben Hogan name on an iron called

look • sound • feel

Pro, you’d better deliver. Hoganites need not worry. The long and middle irons are hollow with a high-strength, maraging-steel-alloy face insert, and the short irons are a solid construction of co-forged 1025 carbon steel with titanium cores of various sizes. The idea is to selectively replace the steel with lighter titanium to shift the centre of gravity upward on the short irons.

demand

com m ent “They look like classic Hogans but have that sizzle

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★ ★

off the face you want. A soft feel, too.”

honma tr20p

look • sound • feel

verdict This iron is targeted at serious golfers in the scratch to 12-handicap range, and it should find interested players among that audience. The pocket cavity with tungsten creates a lower centre of gravity, making it easier to launch the ball. Stronger lofts combine with a soft forged L-shape cupface to produce force with feel. A visually pleasing package features a shorter blade length from heel to toe than the TW747P iron it’s replacing.

demand

com m ent “You can feel the face flex at impact, but it doesn’t

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★½ ★

give the harsh feel you sometimes get with that.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

listed alphabetically

RRP AED 6,475


in association with

mizuno

jpx919 hot metal pro

look • sound • feel

verdict It used to be that Mizuno had to overcome a couple of perceptions when it came to its irons: that its clubs were strictly for low-handicap players and that those clubs, while great for shotmaking, lacked power. The creation of the Hot Metal Pro model changed that. A high-strength steel alloy creates a thin, fast-flexing face for the kind of distance normally found in irons with a cupface or sole slot. A perception-changer indeed.

demand

com m ent “I like that the help is visible. A lot of weight behind

performance

★★★★½

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★ ★★★★

★★★½

the sweet spot produces an incredible feel.”

s r i xo n

RRP AED 4,499

z 585

look • sound • feel

verdict Don’t let the sleek exterior fool you. This is more than enough golf club to keep up with your buddies. A high-strength steel face insert provides plenty of zip at impact, aided by an interior channel that acts as a slot around the entire face. Not to be overlooked is the revised V-shape sole, which features a higher bounce angle toward the leading edge that tapers to less bounce on the trailing edge—good for those with a steeper angle of attack.

demand

com m ent “The sole grind powers through the ball aggressively.

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★★ ★★

Could hit climbing draws with long and middle irons.”

Demo this club at eGolf Megastore, or buy online at egolfmegastore.ae

titleist

cncpt cp-01

verdict If you’re going to charge $4,000 for a set of irons, you’d

look • sound • feel

better push the boundaries of materials and performance. That starts with a hollow-body design with an ultra-thin face using an unnamed steel never before used in golf. High-density tungsten— up to 50 percent of the club’s overall weight in the long irons—is placed in the heel and toe to improve forgiveness and stability on off-centre hits and to help shots launch higher with less spin.

demand

com m ent “The ball really jumps off the face; maybe on the

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★★ ★★★½ ★

futuristic side, but I like the new look.”

tommy armour 845 forged

verdict “It’s a serious fact that players who need every bit of help

look • sound • feel

in scoring often are hopelessly handicapped by their clubs.” Tommy Armour said this, so it’s fitting that the Armour brand would make an iron that doesn’t fall into that description. A players shape with a thin topline and a little offset belies the power created by a highstrength steel L-shape cupface. Forty grams of tungsten in the toe enhance stability on off-center strikes.

demand

com m ent “There is effortless power in these. The loud crack

performance

★★★★

i n n o vat i o n

★★★★½ ★★★½ ★★

at impact makes you feel good about your swing.”

golfdigestme.com

73


Play On Tour

Undercover Caddie I’ve been fired 17 times . . . so far RABBING A BAG on a professional tour means you’re perpetually on the hot seat. I’ve been carrying for nearly two decades, so I’ve been charred good and proper by now. That doesn’t make getting consumed by the flames any easier. ▶ I’ve been lucky to partner with 18 players on the PGA and developmental tours, four of which were longtime appointments. I’ve also been fired 17 times—and among my friends, that’s on the low end of the spectrum. Find me another profession, outside of working for the Cleveland Browns, with that type of turnover.

G

The majority of the time, the breakups are amicable, and done in person. I consider myself friends with almost all the players I’ve worked for, and though there were some strong emotions from both sides when it came time to disband, I get it. This is a business, and they’re making a business decision. Plus, you don’t want to burn any bridges. I’ve had two guys toss me aside after a month’s work, only for them to circle back within the year, one of which ended up sticking for five seasons. There have been callous

74 golfdigestme.com

splits. In the early 2000s, I was trying to get my guy to hit an 8-iron on an approach at the 71st hole. He was adamant that 9 was the play. I strongly, but respectfully, said he needed to club up. He went with the 9; his ball came up short of the green, and he couldn’t get up and down. That bogey dropped us out of the top 10. He fired me after signing his card, claiming he needed someone “who has faith in me.” Hey, I had faith—faith that his 9 was the wrong club. Another player gave me the boot because he didn’t like me

socialising with other players. He did that via text after we’d almost won the week before. He’s a noted caddie killer, so you tell yourself not to take it to heart. But man, it took all the reserve I had not to fire back with profanities. Why does it happen so often? The simple answer is, we’re collateral damage when a player’s game is going bad. We’re easier to swap out than dealing with a swing modification. This is especially true when a player is younger and his agents or parents have control—too much, many times—in his decisions.

Clearly I’m the reason Little Bobby is missing cuts, not the fact he’s got the temper of a 12-year-old. In other instances, players just need a switch of scenery. We spend six, seven days a week with our players, often for seven hours a day. That’s not counting dinners, off-course functions or just hanging out. Again, I’ve been on good terms with most of my players, but sometimes you just get sick of each other, particularly when you’re not playing well. When you do get fired, you immediately send out the word you’re available, through caddies, players, tournament officials. This is not the time for pride. The worst, and we’ve all done it, is going to a tournament without a bag, just hoping your services are needed. That’s a darkness you don’t know unless you’ve experienced it. You’ll take anything— anything—tossed your way. A player might have a reputation for cycling through caddies, but each week working is a chance to hit the lottery. You’re not throwing away that ticket. And each new bag is a temporary gig. At least, you have to view it that way. You pray that you’ll find success, even the smallest slivers of it, while navigating every missed putt or poor shot with trepidation. Of course, there are the rare times when caddies decide to call things off. We’re still humans, after all, and can take only so much abuse. My favourite story involves a buddy who has since moved on from caddieing. He was with a hotshot out of college on the then-Web.com Tour, and the kid blamed every shortcoming on his caddie. In their third tournament together, my buddy had enough, told his player where he could shove his putter, and walked off the course. He was feeling mighty proud. Finally, a win for the caddies. That is, until he realised his car keys were still in the bag. Talk about the ultimate walk of shame. —WITH JOEL BEALL

Caddie illustration by Michael Waraksa

head: jose luis pel aez inc./getty images • ask golf digest: ron barrett

“Each week working is a chance to hit the lottery.”


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Golf Digest - April 2020