10 February 2010

Players of hickory golf

Hickory clubs never went away but, in recent years, there has been a growth in the number of dedicated hickory players. Here is a nice article from CNN.com (OSP even gets a little shout-out in the comments section!)


04 November 2009

Are custom-fit golf clubs really any better than standard, off-the-rack clubs? Aren't clubs from the big retailers good enough for weekend golfers? Here, Tom Wishon gives some no-nonsense advice on choosing golf clubs.

Tom Wishon, on choosing golf clubs 

24 October 2009

What's in my bag?

Oftentimes, when I am out on the course with a new group, the other players are curious about the clubs I am playing with. Similarly, I get emails from time to time from visitors to the site asking me what clubs I play. There is no better testimonial to the quality of well made custom-fitted golf clubs than having people see a great drive or clutch chip or putt, and being able to pick the club up and give it a close inspection--or try it themselves right there on the golf course. Well, it is hard to do that over the internet, but I can at least tell you what's currently in my bag. One of the fun aspects of my job is testing new offerings from component manufacturers, and trying out new configurations of heads, shafts, even grips. Sometimes, out of all the testing,  clear winners emerge: those are the clubs that go in my bag.

My current set make-up consists of Tom Wishon Golf Technology (TWGT) 550C irons (5-PW), TWGT 785HF hybrid (3,4), TWGT 949MC fairway metals (3,5) , all with TWGT Inter-Flex graphite shafts (stiff); CER oil-soaked wedges (56 and 60 deg.) with Aldila VX graphite shafts, carryovers from last year's set. For my driver, my current favorite is a 10.5 degree Bang Bang-O-Matic 460cc titanium head with an Aldila DVS 65-S graphite shaft. Of course, the anchor of the bag is an Old School Putters OSPII hickory shaft putter.

At the bottom left of this photo, you can see how the wedges are starting to oxidize. This is normal, and I love it. To keep the oil-soaked (aka "oil can") wedges shiny, regularly reapply a thin coat of oil.

I like Winn grips, especially their old wrap designs. But I have Winn PCi grips on my irons and hybrids, and I am learning to love them. They're a little hard on the hands at first, but once I got used to them, I really appreciated the "grippiness" of these grips.

My choice of ball right now is the Wilson i-Wound. I don't think they make these any more, but they are still available out there if you hunt for them. Like most golfers, I have hit just about every ball there is, just by trying whatever I happen to find in the woods or pull out of a pond. But, I definitely have a preference for a soft (even buttery) feeling when I hit the ball, and a ball with medium spin and distance.

Down in Myrtle Beach, back in early April, my golfing partner and I pulled up to the tee of a par 3 and there were two balls, freshly washed, tossed next to the tee (apparently by the greenskeepers). I teed one up and hit it. I loved how it felt at impact and--perhaps more influentially--how close to the pin it landed. It was a Wilson i-Wound. I played this single ball for the rest of the round, and became a convert right there. Bought a few dozen on the Internet, and now that's my ball.

Throw in some tees, a couple snack bars, a towel or two, and that's what's in my bag.

Myrtle Beach Trip report

The Myrtle Beach Trip was a success. I don't know how many orders will eventually come directly out of it, but I feel good about it, and had a lot of fun, anyway.

I have to give special thanks to the following:

The management and staff at the Carolina Winds Hotel, for their patience with a room full of equipment and golf clubs, and their help in getting the internet conncection back online in the middle of the night.

The staff and greenskeepers at The Legends Resort. They have a first rate facility. All fifty four holes were in absolutely perfect condition!

The staff and instructors at Classic Swing Golf School, especially Ted Frick, Natalie Cruse, on-site master club maker Royce "Obi-Wan" Paulson, and their young pro Matt "Can't Quit My Night Job Just Yet" O'Neil.

Speaking of Matt's night job, the staff and cooks at Cheeseburger in Paradise kick out some killer burgers. The second night was even better than the first.

Hopefully, this will become an annual thing, especially if it can generate some business for OSP.

Japan Trip Update

The Japan trip was a qualified success. I visited several golf courses, ranges and stores in the Tokyo/Yokohama areas to demonstrate my lines of putters and wedges. It seems that, as golf-crazed as the Japanese are, they are also brand-crazed as well. The most common comment I received was "These are very nice clubs, but Japanese golfers only prefer clubs from the major brand names." So, no deals with the courses or stores, but I handed out a lot of business cards to actual golfers, and received a substantial number of hits from Japan IP addresses. I have made for and sold clubs to Japanese customers before (along with many other international customers) so I believe the opportunity is still there, and will continue with my yearly trips to the country.

Now, to the golf: While I was in Japan, I had the opportunity to play a couple rounds with local golfers. One round was at Tokyo Kokusai Country Club in Tokyo, a beautiful private course near the Yokohama border (
http://www.kokusai-net.co.jp/tkgc/, mostly in Japanese). Although it was March, and course conditions were not ideal, the weather was fine, and the course was in more than adequate conditions. The course has two sets of greens: bent grass for the cooler months, and "kosai grass" for the hotter months. We played the "BG" greens and I found them to be smooth and fast. The fairways, despite being sprayed with green food coloring, were a different story: mushy in the best places, and wetter than that everywhere else. I blame my 94 completely on the mushy fairways, although the lack of foliage in the woods might have saved me a stroke or two, so it wasn't all bad news!

The second round I played was at Ashigara Shinrin (
http://www.as-cc.co.jp/, in Japanese only) was in better shape. No food coloring to get on my pants and shoes; the fairways were a uniform coffee color throughout the course This course is stunningly beautiful in the warmer months, but it was no slouch, even in March. Severe elevation changes increase the challenge on this somewhat short course. Several of the holes offer panoramic vistas of Mount Fuji. Despite 8 pars, I couldn't break 90 on this course, what with all the ridges, dropoffs and OB stakes. Several times I hit what I thought were great drives, only to drive up and find I had blown right through a hidden dogleg behind a hill. Too bad SkyCaddie hasn't mapped this (or many other courses in Japan) yet!putters/as1sml.jpg

At both courses, the facilities were first rate. There is definitely something "old school" about having a leisurely lunch at the turn, and an even more leisurely soak in the spring-fed hot baths afterward. And the snack shack midway through the back nine at Ashigara Shinrin would put many a US golf course's clubhouse to shame--it was that nice. The view
of Mt. Fuji ,from the counter overlooking the 14th green and 15th tee, is priceless! (see photo at left)