How a driver fitting unlocked power and playability

Fitting makes a difference. It really does. Sometimes, though, it takes a little time for the golfer to see, and experience, the payoff. For Lionel Go (Age: 55/Hdcp Index: 7.4), patience was a virtue. Shortly after receiving a custom-fit driver this …

Fitting makes a difference. It really does. Sometimes, though, it takes a little time for the golfer to see, and experience, the payoff.

For Lionel Go (Age: 55/Hdcp Index: 7.4), patience was a virtue. Shortly after receiving a custom-fit driver this spring, he injured a nerve in his back and shoulder. “The injury really crushed my game,” said Go, who used to work as a health and safety professional in commercial construction management. “I lost yardage through the bag and my swing was in disarray. It’s unfortunate because I was playing quite well with the new driver.” Following a period of rest and rehab, Go was back to full strength and his golf game took off.

Lionel Go

Prior to the injury, Go went through a driver fitting at Club Champion’s headquarters near Chicago. He worked in tandem with Patrick Hudock, one of the company’s Master Fitters. While the session was taking place, Hudock used the TrackMan launch monitor to collect comparative data (below).

“Overall, I was pleased with the [fitting] experience,” said Go, who’d previously never been custom-fit for a driver. “Patrick was friendly and very knowledgeable. We tried more than a half-dozen shafts and four or five clubheads. Each combination had a noticeable difference in total weight, swingweight, and sound.”

Diving into the data was also part of the appeal. “I’m a numbers guy, so it was neat to see data beyond carry distance, such as spin rate, height, smash factor and launch angle,” said Go, who serves on the board of two not-for-profit arts organizations.

The good vibes have carried over to the golf course. “I love how the new driver [Titleist TSi2 with Fujikura Motore X F3 5R graphite shaft] has a weightier feel compared to my previous gamer. It gives me lots of confidence knowing what the clubhead is doing throughout my swing while keeping me from overswinging. The TSi2 also has a nice, muted sound that fits my ear and looks fantastic—not flashy but oozes style.”

We’ve equipped Lionel’s clubs with the Arccos Caddie shot-tracking system, a collection of sensors that record relevant data while playing on the course. The output confirms that he’s stepped up his driver game since making the switch. The following comparisons are based on 22 rounds played through mid-to-late summer.

The distance numbers steadily increased as Go played more with the custom-fit club. “I’m 55, so the idea of ‘going after it’ with my driver is a fading memory. But, the idea of committing to a good, solid swing AND gaining 15-20 yards with a high, penetrating, mostly straight ball flight suits me just fine,” he said. In addition, the Strokes Gained stat improved by 0.12 per shot (equates to a 1.5-stroke improvement per round with 12 drives).

However, statistically, he’s hitting fewer fairways with the new club. But don’t be misled. “I’m so much more comfortable with it [new driver] than my previous gamer,” said Go. “There are some qualitative reasons to argue that this stat doesn’t tell the whole story. I had one pretty reliable ball flight—high draw—with my old driver. I’d play for it regardless of the hole layout. My misses were either a low snap hook or big push. When either miss happened, it was usually way off the fairway.

“With my TSi2 driver, I have lots of confidence over the ball. The flight is primarily straight or a slight draw. But the true advantage is the ability to play a fade. It gives me a whole new opportunity to work my drive in either direction if the hole demands it. So, I might be missing slightly more fairways, but they’re less-penalizing misses.”

Not surprisingly, Go’s strong play off the tee is contributing to lower scores. After starting the season with a handicap index of 7.4, the number rose to 8.6 while playing with the old driver. Since making the gear change, his index steadily dropped to 5.8. In fact, Go’s approaching his personal-best handicap index, 5.4, which occurred “a very long time ago.”

Pretty impressive for someone in his mid-50s.

Minjee Lee captures the 2022 Aon Risk Reward Challenge—and $1 million prize!

It’s been a storybook season on the LPGA Tour for Minjee Lee. The 26-year-old from Perth, Australia added two titles to her collection, the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica and Cognizant Founders Cup, plus four other top-10 finishes. The …

It’s been a storybook season on the LPGA Tour for Minjee Lee.

The 26-year-old from Perth, Australia added two titles to her collection, the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica and Cognizant Founders Cup, plus four other top-10 finishes. The two-time major winner also earned the Rolex Annika Major award, which is given annually to the LPGA Tour player with the best cumulative finish in the five majors. She wasn’t done yet. Lee, the fifth-ranked player in the world, most recently captured the Aon Risk Reward Challenge, the season-long competition spotlighting the best decision makers on Tour. Lee joined Scottie Scheffler from the PGA TOUR, taking home the Aon trophy and $1 million prize.

Winning the Aon Risk Reward Challenge required grit, strategic preparation, savvy decision making and impressive execution.

Lee led the race to $1 million for much of the summer and fall. But, Atthaya Thitikul, the world’s No. 2-ranked player, and Xiyu Lin, the 19th-ranked golfer, gained ground late in the season, which set up the climactic three-way duel at the season’s final two regular-season tournaments.

A quick refresher: One hole per Tour event is earmarked for the Challenge. The players’ two best scores on the hole count toward the year-long competition. The player with the lowest cumulative score under par throughout the season captures the winner-take-all prize.

Aon, a leading global professional services firm, created the Aon Risk Reward Challenge alongside the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour in 2019, and, each year, the company awards the equal $1 million prize money to the winner across both Tours.

The penultimate tournament on the LPGA Tour, the TOTO Japan Classic, was held at Seta Golf Course. The Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, No. 13, is a 476-yard par-5. Two bunkers hug the right side of the fairway while a half-dozen others protect the front of the green. After the tee shot, players and their caddies must make a decision to go for the green in two or lay up: hitting the green in two means a putt for eagle but missing the green could result in a tricky long-bunker shot. On the other hand, laying up to a specific yardage might be the better choice, with the possibility of sticking a short-iron approach close for a realistic birdie opportunity. Navigating complexity, and making better decisions, is exactly what Aon helps clients’ do every day.

In Round 1, Lee recorded an uncharacteristic bogey on No. 13 while Thitikul, the 19-year old phenom from Thailand, made birdie. Lin didn’t play in the event. But she’d get her opportunity the next week.

Both Lee and Thitikul made birdie on No. 13 in Round 2. After hitting driver into the fairway, Lee chose to go for the green in two, a strategy that she relied on throughout the year. In fact, she went for the green 57% of the time on Aon Risk Reward Challenge par-5s, with a success rate of 44%. One reason for the high rate of success? She hit a remarkable 84% of the fairways on the Challenge holes. This time, the 5-wood shot into the green wound up 25 feet from the pin. Lee was able to secure the two-putt birdie and regain a foothold on the championship.

In Round 3, Lee made birdie with a good up-and-down from 40 yards while Thitikul recorded a par. The stage was set. Thitikul needed an eagle on No. 13 in the final round to tie Lee for the top spot. Starting the round on the back nine, Minjee parred No. 13. A couple of hours later, with the Aon Risk Reward Challenge hanging in the balance, Atthaya settled for birdie. For the week, both players posted scores of -2 (two birdies) in the competition.

Lee had fought off the nearest challenger in dramatic fashion.

At the beginning of the [TOTO Japan Classic] week, Lee’s caddie asked if she wanted to know the different scenarios for winning. “I didn’t want to know,” she said (chuckling). “But I got tagged on Twitter about the scenarios so I already knew what the possible outcomes would be. Regardless, I was going to do my very best. That’s always my mindset.”

Neither golfer played in the final regular-season event, the Pelican Women’s Championship, in Belleair, Florida. That meant Xiyu Lin’s performance would determine the 2022 Aon Risk Reward Challenge Champion. She needed two eagles on the Challenge hole to win the title. A very tall order, but not impossible.

At Pelican Golf Club, the 529-yard par-5 14th hole took center stage. The Challenge hole has fairway bunkers that narrow the landing area off the tee, bunkers well short of the green, and one bunker tucked directly in front of the putting surface. Lin made rock-steady decisions and executed her plan but could only muster a pair of pars.

Minjee Lee, also an Aon ambassador, had captured the most-tightly contested Aon Risk Reward Challenge yet. (Fellow Perth native, Hannah Green, was the 2021 champion.) “It’s great what Aon is doing [same prize for the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour winners]. There are not many opportunities where we get to play for the same type of money. This closes the gap and is life-changing money that Aon puts up,” Lee said.

Jennifer Bell, Chief Executive Officer, North America at Aon, gets the final word. “The equal support of the PGA and LPGA Tours underpins our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. That’s what we’re all about. So, we’re excited to congratulate Minjee on joining Scottie Scheffler as this year’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge Champion on the LPGA Tour,” said Bell. “Minjee demonstrated the clarity and confidence needed to make better decisions in the moments that matter most. This season really came down to the wire, and we are thrilled to award Minjee with the Aon trophy and $1 million prize.”

Learn more about the Aon Risk Reward Challenge here.

Khamzat Chimaev to launch a new way for fans to invest in his career through royaltiz

Fans worldwide invest a lot in their favorite sports stars, following along and becoming part of the wins, the losses, all the highs and the lows. And now, thanks to a groundbreaking opportunity created by royaltiz, that meaningful connection can …

Fans worldwide invest a lot in their favorite sports stars, following along and becoming part of the wins, the losses, all the highs and the lows. And now, thanks to a groundbreaking opportunity created by royaltiz, that meaningful connection can come with a lucrative scenario.

Royaltiz is the first of its kind platform where fans can invest in famous sportspeople and earn yield based on their income.

Here’s how it works.

  • All talents sign an exclusive 10-year contract with royaltiz in order to launch their unique ROY on the platform.
  • Each such ROY entitles its holder to the yield, which is calculated as a portion of the talent’s income and paid out monthly!
  • Generally, the more the talent earns, the better the yield per ROY will be.

They win, you win.

The unprecedented peer-to-peer investing concept has already gained a massive amount of traction, with over 100 talents—from boxers to footballers, rugby standouts to tennis players, and more—sharing their financial success with the 100,000-plus community members.

Overall, nearly $6 million in new funding has been raised.

At the front of the talent growth, is an exciting list of UFC and MMA fighters, 15 of the sport’s best who have increased in value anywhere from 1.5x to even 13x.

And the proof is in the profits:

Petr Yan – #2 UFC Bantamweight class. Yan was introduced at $1.99 per ROY; the price has skyrocketed to $4.40.

Sean Brady – #8 in UFC Welterweight class. Brady was introduced at $1.99 per ROY; the price has increased to $4.35.

As expected, all fighter introductions on the platform have sold out in seconds. And the next star set to launch on the platform will not be an exception—in fact, he might be the shining example of ROY success.

Entering the royaltiz ring…

https://www.instagram.com/p/CkdLfNyIQF8/ 

That’s right. Khamzat Chimaev, arguably the most prominent UFC star, has signed an exclusive contract to launch ROYs available only on royaltiz, a 10-year deal that ranks as the biggest introduction to date.

Are you ready to capitalize on his financial success?

The launch is happening on November 22 at 1 p.m. ET, and the ROYs are expected to sell out instantly. That means getting an early spot on the waitlist is a must for fans looking to take advantage of the perfectly timed investment—one that launches just before Chimaev potentially becomes the UFC welterweight champion.

And signing up now also creates an additional perk. Royaltiz is offering one FREE random talent ROY, worth up to $40, as soon as you make the first purchase.

Not a bad investment today for the superstar financial success of tomorrow!

Golfweek’s Best: Gamble Sands

Gamble Sands, the centerpiece of Brewster, Washington, is located on 115 acres of fine fescue grasses designed by renowned architect David McLay Kidd. Here, golfers enjoy the feeling of pure golf with panoramic vistas, and the beautiful Cascade …

Gamble Sands, the centerpiece of Brewster, Washington, is located on 115 acres of fine fescue grasses designed by renowned architect David McLay Kidd.

Here, golfers enjoy the feeling of pure golf with panoramic vistas, and the beautiful Cascade Mountains and Columbia River meandering through the distance on every hole. There are no distractions – no airplanes buzzing overhead, no traffic noises in the background – just you, your playing partners and golf the way it’s meant to be played. It’s little wonder why the course is ranked No. 19 on Golfweek’s list of Best Courses You Can Play in the United States.

QuickSands is a 14-hole par-3 short course – where holes range from 60 to 160 yards – that is available to play from May-October for as many as eight at a time. Grab four clubs, your putter and take an entertaining stroll along a creative experience that provides nothing but good vibes. The property also has a 100,000 square foot Cascade Putting Course, a wildly shaped putting adventure that sits on a bluff high above the Columbia River Gorge. It’s inspired by the Himalayas Putting Course at St. Andrews and McLay Kidd’s goal was to allow golfers and non-golfers alike to use this to enjoy the game together. It’s a perfect spot for all the family.

HONORS

Best Courses You Can Play 2020-22(No. 1 in Washington)– Golfweek

Top 100 Courses You Can Play 2021(No. 19)– Golfweek

Best Resort Courses 2021(No. 16)– Golfweek

Greatest American Public Courses 2021(No. 35)– Golf Digest

Top 100 Courses in the U.S.(No. 61)– Golf Magazine

AMENITIES

The Inn at Gamble Sands was designed to create a lodging experience that is as comfortable and memorable as the golf course. The spacious accommodations and relaxing spaces provide a respite for those seeking peace and quiet, while having the ability to explore the many outdoor attractions found in this unique corner of Washington. The Danny Boy Bar & Grill is the perfect gathering place for both golfers and causal diners. With large garage-style doors that roll open to see the golf course and practice green in the foreground as well as views of the Cascades and Columbia River Valley on the horizon.

One (surprising) time players can benefit from a custom-fitting session

Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. After being custom-fit for a driver early in the season, 70-year-old Bob Radin has a new lease on his (golfing) life. “I had back issues the past three years. My swing speed has slowed, and the new driver …

Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. After being custom-fit for a driver early in the season, 70-year-old Bob Radin has a new lease on his
(golfing) life. “I had back issues the past three years. My swing speed has slowed, and the new driver compensates for it with a more flexible, lower-kickpoint shaft,” he said. “And, the clubhead is hotter with a larger sweet spot than my 7-year-old, custom driver.”

In addition to the loss of speed, the retired dentist had accuracy issues with his old club. “I’d tend to miss to the right of the target, or hit a duck hook,” Radin added. “That’s no longer the case with my new club.”

This just goes to show that a quality custom-fitting session can make a big difference for players bouncing back from injury or who’ve previously been custom-fit.

Bob Radin

In March, Radin went through the driver fitting at Club Champion’s headquarters outside of Chicago. He teamed up with Drew Koch, one of the company’s club fitters. Koch used the TrackMan launch monitor to collect comparative performance numbers during the session.

Radin, who began playing golf at age 44, came away impressed. “The entire [fitting] process was data driven. It’s interesting to see the differences in performance for my swing, with all the name-brand equipment,” he said. “The [new] clubs are all very good, but for my swing dynamics, one combination really stood out. I suppose that holds true for everyone.”

We outfitted each club in Radin’s bag with the Arccos Caddie shot-tracking system, enabling us to gather valuable on-course data in real time. The chart below summarizes 20 rounds played through mid-to-late summer.

Statistically speaking, he’s hitting five percent more fairways with the new club. “The dispersion on off-center hits, which are the majority of my shots, is narrower, so a greater number of balls are in play,” Radin said. Even more impressive, the average drive travels 19 yards longer than before. “I definitely have more confidence off the tee. And, shorter second shots mean there’s a decent chance to par every hole.”

Besides that, Radin’s “strokes gained” figure with the new stick is better off by 0.18-strokes per shot. That’s more than a two-stroke improvement (based on 12 drives) per round.

The upgraded driving is contributing to lower scores, too. Radin’s handicap index dropped this year from 17.3 to 14.1, which is the equivalent of four to five strokes per round. “I’m considering new clubs next season,” he said, referencing the rest of his bag. “My current set is five years old and I wonder if a new fitting, and technology, would give some improvement. After all, the rest of my game is better because the drive is setting up the hole.”

Good idea, Bob. It’s worth a shot. Or four.

BOYNE Golf keeps giving golfers reasons to return

In a 1961 Sports Illustrated profile , Everett Kircher, the visionary founder of Boyne Resorts, described the rapid and unlikely growth of Boyne Mountain Resort, the ski destination he founded in 1948. “We’re big because we think big,” Kircher said. …

In a 1961 Sports Illustrated profile, Everett Kircher, the visionary founder of Boyne Resorts, described the rapid and unlikely growth of Boyne Mountain Resort, the ski destination he founded in 1948.

“We’re big because we think big,” Kircher said.

The story was titled, “Mountain Out of a Molehill,” a reference to the fact that Kircher had taken a Northern Michigan hill with 500 feet of vertical drop, called it a mountain and turned it into a wildly popular ski resort with onsite lodging, restaurants, bars, a skating rink and other activities. The legend goes that Kircher bought the initial 40 acres for Boyne Mountain from a farmer who decided the land was too steep for planting. Kircher agreed, but generously offered him $1 for the land, then set about building his resort. That was Kircher – always thinking big.

Evan Schiller Photography, 15th Hole at Crooked Tree

“Guys like Everett are from a generation that thinks differently,” Kircher’s friend Warren Miller, known for his popular ski films, said upon news of Kircher’s passing in 2002.

By the time SI ran that story in 1961, Kircher had already opened his first golf course, a nine-holer, in a bid to turn his Northern Michigan resort into a year-round destination. A few years later, he recruited Robert Trent Jones Sr. to build The Heather, which opened in 1966 at his second resort, The Highlands at Harbor Springs. Kircher wasn’t just creating more reasons for his guests to return and summer jobs for his employees. He had ignited a golf building boom that reshaped the Northern Michigan landscape.

These days the region is known as “America’s Summer Golf Capital,” which doesn’t seem the least bit audacious given the options created by Kircher, his children (who inherited their father’s go-for-broke style), and the developers who followed his lead. Summer golf in Northern Michigan is idyllic: sun-swept 80-degree days, with courses styled by the game’s top architects, spread across terrain from the shores of Lake Michigan to hillside vistas at places such as Boyne Mountain and The Highlands that look like something out of the Berkshires or Rockies. 

BOYNE Golf is at the center of the region’s golf scene, with its three resorts and 10 courses (including the three configurations at 27-hole Bay Harbor Golf Club). To this day, the resorts are anchored by The Heather, whose timelessness was reflected in the fact that the National Golf Course Owners Association honored it as the 2019 Course of the Year. In a sense, The Heather set a template for the rest of Boyne’s courses. Kircher, over Jones’ objection, insisted on a lake in front of the 18th green because he needed it for winter snowmaking. (To this day, Kircher’s local rule is emblazoned on a tee-side bench: “Tee shot in lake – free drop.”) Now every 18th hole at Boyne – with the exception of Crooked Tree Golf Club, which Boyne purchased – is fronted by a water hazard.

Bay Harbor Golf Club, The Links No. 7. (Photo courtesy of Bay Harbor Golf Club)

The lakeside Bay Harbor Golf Club, probably Boyne’s most photographed course, is an example of the Kirchers’ vision and opportunistic style. In the mid-1990s, Everett Kircher’s son, Stephen, was exploring the purchase of the historic Ramona Park Hotel in Harbor Springs when a developer called and asked him to look at an abandoned cement plant with three miles of frontage on Little Traverse Bay. 

The property’s appeal was obvious; Stephen Kircher envisioned creating “the Pebble Beach of the Midwest,” which might strike golf purists as sacrilege, but there’s no denying the many breathtaking moments as you make your way around the property. At the time it was being developed, Bay Harbor’s Links was the most expensive nine-hole course ever built – “but the end result was worth every penny,” Kircher recalled. 

“Bay Harbor is spectacular, especially the Links and Quarry nines” said Dave Pugh, a Golfweek course rater who brought a group of 12 golfers from Canada in the spring. By design, Arthur Hills created three nines that each reflect entirely different architectural genres – from the Links’ sprawling fairways and giant bunkers to the target-oriented Quarry to the Preserve, which cuts through the lakeside hardwood forest. (Here’s your pro tip when visiting: Book all 27 holes. While the Preserve doesn’t have the eight-figure views found on the Links and Quarry, some staffers consider it the best test on property. And if you really love the eye candy, make the short drive across Charlevoix Avenue to Crooked Tree, a fun hillside layout with panoramic views of Lake Michigan.) 

Boyne’s three Northern Michigan resorts – the company now operates resorts in other states – are spread across nearly 10,000 acres, and there are plenty of surprises along the way. Take the Arthur Hills Course, a big, muscular design, lined with soaring pines that never feel as if they impinge on the broad fairways. (Locals have dubbed No. 10 “The Stadium” because the trees line the entirety of the hole.) And then suddenly we found ourselves on the 13th tee, looking at a drop of more than 350 feet from tee to green. Like others, I’m sure, I found myself marveling at the subtle brilliance of Hills’ design that created such a memorable experience, as well as the views across the top of the tree line. 

Arthur Hills. (Photography: Daniels and Roberts)

“I thought it was quite dramatic with the elevation changes,” said Debbie Waitkus, who visited in August for the Golfweek Women’s Rater’s Cup. “We were at a ski resort and it felt like that.” 

There are similar moments back at Boyne Mountain. When The Alpine Course was built in 1971, an inspired decision was made to have players make a 10-minute, 1.2-mile cart ride up the hill to the first tee. (The same is true for the neighboring Monument Course.) This might seem excessive, but the payoff comes when you reach 1,200 feet and feast on the views of Deer Lake. It’s true mountain golf, with the slopes impacting approaches and putts. And the setting is absolutely charming. On the 12th, we had to yield to a deer on its way to the apple tree just left of the green. 

Experiences like we had on The Alpine Course always remind me of the key criterion Golfweek’s raters must address when assessing courses: the walk-in-the-park test. I’ve always regarded it as the most important criterion, and more of an emotional than subjective reaction. How much did you enjoy the experience? How much do you want to return? 

Based solely on that criterion, BOYNE Golf gives its golfers plenty of reasons to keep coming back. 

(For more information on BOYNE Golf, visit https://boynegolf.com or call 855-688-3286.) 

Report card: Eagles make the grade after defeating Vikings in Week 2

Report card: Philadelphia Eagles make the grade after defeating Minnesota Vikings in Week 2

The Eagles are off to Washington after an emphatic 24-7 home win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Jalen Hurts had his best game as a pro, while Jonathan Gannon and his retooled defense rebounded with a masterful performance against Justin Jefferson and the Viking offense.

Darius Slay was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance against Justin Jefferson.

With the focus now on the Commanders, here are the grades for Week 2.