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History of Positive Driver AoA


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Genuinely curious, before the advent of modern drivers like the SLDR and abundance of launch monitors did Teaching Professionals not teach players to swing up with the driver. Did it have to do with changes in the golf ball over time, did old driver design not benefit from positive AoA … I’m on the younger side and just curious about why it took so many years for this revelation.

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Before everyone had a LM, a teaching pros main goal was to help you get better at golf, not maximize theoretical distance. The older equiptment was much less forgiving so chasing distance with really low lofts didn't always pan out well. But I think you might have the relationship between modern equipment and hitting up on it backwards. With older/smaller driver heads launch and spin were more coupled than they are today, so the main way to increase launch while keeping spin down was to hit up on the ball with a low lofted head. Once launch monitors came into existence, they were able to quantify these launch conditions and see what is "optimal". Optimal is in quotes because what is optimal for distance on a monitor, isn't always optimal for actually playing golf. 

 

With modern clubs where they have redistributed a bunch of the weight (ie lower), they can get high launch without having to add more loft and still keep spin down, so there is really no need to excessively hit up on the ball and tweak your swing since the club design largely does the work for you

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1 hour ago, Teekman said:

Genuinely curious, before the advent of modern drivers like the SLDR and abundance of launch monitors did Teaching Professionals not teach players to swing up with the driver. Did it have to do with changes in the golf ball over time, did old driver design not benefit from positive AoA … I’m on the younger side and just curious about why it took so many years for this revelation.

 

That's a fantastic question of which I have no knowledge. However, back in the persimmon days there were old adages like "tee it high, let it fly", so while it might not have been known about AoA and spin rates, I think some people probably figured out how to hit it long, but perhaps not necessarily why.

 

This question also spurned some curiosity from me so I grabbed my book "Search for the Perfect Swing" which was originally published in 1968. Many technical aspects of ball flight is covered in this book (including the so called "new ball flight laws" which really aren't that new, as this book clearly indicated that the start direction of the ball is mostly governed by the face angle, and not path, but I digress).

 

On page 164 of the book (my copy was republished in 2005), it says:

 

The team's test showed that, for maximum carry, the most effective send-off angle for a good drive hit at usual speed and spin rate is, in fact, about 20 degrees above the horizontal. Yet we have already been talking freely of a good drive going off at about 10 degrees, and not 20.

 

In this contrast lies the whole key to the effort some professional make to tee the ball high and forward, and it hit slightly on the upswing, in the belief that thereby they send it further.

 

They are right. This can send it further....[omitted stuff] The real reason is simply to add a few degrees to the 10 degrees above horizontal at which a driver sends the ball off if swing horizontally through the ball; and thus to send it off nearer the best possible starting angle -- for the speed and rate of spin a driver gives the ball -- of 20 degrees.

why not just file back the fact of the driver another 12 or 13* and then hit the ball normally, leaving the extra loft to rise the send-off angle to 20*? Because it won't work out the way you mean it to. Add 12* of loft to the face, for instance, and because you make the blow more oblique, you cut by 6% the speed with which it sends the ball away AND you double the backspin. The result is a weaker and considerably more soaring shot, which falls shorter than your original drive instead of going further.

 

Increasing the angle at which you drive the ball off will add to the distance it goes only if you do it without either reducing the ball's speed off the clubface or increasing it's spin. This a player can only do by timing and positioning his whole swing so as to hit the ball with normal impact action, but slightly on the upswing, instead of at the horizontal.

 

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2 hours ago, larrybud said:

 

That's a fantastic question of which I have no knowledge. However, back in the persimmon days there were old adages like "tee it high, let it fly", so while it might not have been known about AoA and spin rates, I think some people probably figured out how to hit it long, but perhaps not necessarily why.

 

This question also spurned some curiosity from me so I grabbed my book "Search for the Perfect Swing" which was originally published in 1968. Many technical aspects of ball flight is covered in this book (including the so called "new ball flight laws" which really aren't that new, as this book clearly indicated that the start direction of the ball is mostly governed by the face angle, and not path, but I digress).

 

On page 164 of the book (my copy was republished in 2005), it says:

 

The team's test showed that, for maximum carry, the most effective send-off angle for a good drive hit at usual speed and spin rate is, in fact, about 20 degrees above the horizontal. Yet we have already been talking freely of a good drive going off at about 10 degrees, and not 20.

 

In this contrast lies the whole key to the effort some professional make to tee the ball high and forward, and it hit slightly on the upswing, in the belief that thereby they send it further.

 

They are right. This can send it further....[omitted stuff] The real reason is simply to add a few degrees to the 10 degrees above horizontal at which a driver sends the ball off if swing horizontally through the ball; and thus to send it off nearer the best possible starting angle -- for the speed and rate of spin a driver gives the ball -- of 20 degrees.

why not just file back the fact of the driver another 12 or 13* and then hit the ball normally, leaving the extra loft to rise the send-off angle to 20*? Because it won't work out the way you mean it to. Add 12* of loft to the face, for instance, and because you make the blow more oblique, you cut by 6% the speed with which it sends the ball away AND you double the backspin. The result is a weaker and considerably more soaring shot, which falls shorter than your original drive instead of going further.

 

Increasing the angle at which you drive the ball off will add to the distance it goes only if you do it without either reducing the ball's speed off the clubface or increasing it's spin. This a player can only do by timing and positioning his whole swing so as to hit the ball with normal impact action, but slightly on the upswing, instead of at the horizontal.

 

Wow that's crazy, can't imagine how the methods they did to figure out this pre launch monitors.

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I created a thread a few minutes ago and it is the same subject! Dang! So, here is my post, which I just deleted and am moving here.

 

=

 

It was probably 20-25 years ago when a club pro advised some of us to do this. Tee the ball a bit more forward in the stance, say, off the left toe, and swing up, the idea being to carry the ball as far as possible. Also, tee it up on a tall tee. Like, even a 4 inch tee! This was the first I had heard of it and he seemed to act as if it was a new way to look at driving the ball. Does that sound about right (timetable) or what did the pros do in the 'old days?'

 

As for it working, yes, it did/does but I didn't stick with it. I preferred to flight the ball lower because I suspected I would get a lot more roll. Unless it's wet/damp, our fairways around here have some firmness and you can get good roll sometimes.

 

Is this, generally, the method they teach these days for driving the ball?

 

As for 'enjoying' the flight of the ball, I much prefer a lower flight. It looks more impressive, lol. But that doesn't equate to less strokes! I recall watching John Daly one time in a little local match and he hit moon balls.

 

Who hits it high on the pro tour now? And low? I guess all of the long hitters have gone to high ball flight so they can carry trouble? I am amazed at how far big guns carry the ball... 300, 310, 320 and more. And they usually don't get much roll at all.

 

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I took up golf before LM's existed, over 30 years ago.  Also, I am self-taught, using 3 books, one being Ben Hogans 5...  That book and one by Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus were my instructional bibles that took me to 8 in under five years.  

 

Anyway, some years later, I was advised to take a set of lessons to ensure my mechanics were on the right track.  AoA was not even talked about, that I recall.  I was told to come into the ball shallow from the inside, that's about it.  It was about tee position and how high or low to tee the ball that influenced ball trajectory, and that's what I still do today.  What wasn't known was AoA and how it influences ball behavior, trajectory and distance.

 

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15 hours ago, Krt22 said:

Before everyone had a LM, a teaching pros main goal was to help you get better at golf, not maximize theoretical distance. The older equiptment was much less forgiving so chasing distance with really low lofts didn't always pan out well. But I think you might have the relationship between modern equipment and hitting up on it backwards. With older/smaller driver heads launch and spin were more coupled than they are today, so the main way to increase launch while keeping spin down was to hit up on the ball with a low lofted head. Once launch monitors came into existence, they were able to quantify these launch conditions and see what is "optimal". Optimal is in quotes because what is optimal for distance on a monitor, isn't always optimal for actually playing golf. 

 

With modern clubs where they have redistributed a bunch of the weight (ie lower), they can get high launch without having to add more loft and still keep spin down, so there is really no need to excessively hit up on the ball and tweak your swing since the club design largely does the work for you


Agreed, and to expand upon the bolded parts, "older" metal woods had higher CGs and lower MOI, meaning that mishits were less predictable/more extreme and the higher CG meant less real estate on the actual face for a "high" strike. I'd also imagine that ballspeeds started dropping off too quickly outside the sweetspot which would negate the benefits of trying to decouple launch and spin with higher strikes. Then heads got bigger and MOI increased, faces got thinner and faster outside the sweetspot, and CG started moving down. High strikes to raise launch and lower spin then became more and more viable since ballspeed was being retained, MOI was high enough to keep the gear effects from reducing spin too unpredictably, and CG was low enough to actually afford the space for the higher strike. 

I almost never tee the ball high anymore, it has just become unnecessary. I can easily and more repeatably hit the high ball by manipulating strike with a shallower faced, low CG head like the SIM and it means I don't have to change my swing nearly as much to change trajectory, which is just way more comfortable. 

 

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Not to hijack this thread - but in relation to watching pros hit moonshots (that are obviously optimal for their combo of AoA, CHS, launch angle, ball speed, spin they generate) ... might it be that people think they launch it higher because they reach a higher apex as a result of ball speed and not truly a higher launch angle (?)... sure my 'penetrating' bullet might look impressive until we find it 260yds away while the pro might be launching it the same way, but with that ball speed and low spin it rises and keeps on climbing since it was shot out of a canon (?)... or do ams in general launch it too low for the CHS, spin

ping.JPG

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4 hours ago, MtlJayMan said:

Not to hijack this thread - but in relation to watching pros hit moonshots (that are obviously optimal for their combo of AoA, CHS, launch angle, ball speed, spin they generate) ... might it be that people think they launch it higher because they reach a higher apex as a result of ball speed and not truly a higher launch angle (?)... sure my 'penetrating' bullet might look impressive until we find it 260yds away while the pro might be launching it the same way, but with that ball speed and low spin it rises and keeps on climbing since it was shot out of a canon (?)... or do ams in general launch it too low for the CHS, spin

ping.JPG

Never really thought of it that way, actually that might be the main reason lmao.

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5 hours ago, MtlJayMan said:

Not to hijack this thread - but in relation to watching pros hit moonshots (that are obviously optimal for their combo of AoA, CHS, launch angle, ball speed, spin they generate) ... might it be that people think they launch it higher because they reach a higher apex as a result of ball speed and not truly a higher launch angle (?)... sure my 'penetrating' bullet might look impressive until we find it 260yds away while the pro might be launching it the same way, but with that ball speed and low spin it rises and keeps on climbing since it was shot out of a canon (?)... or do ams in general launch it too low for the CHS, spin

ping.JPG

This chart and the one by trackman are two of the main reasons why am needlessly chase excessively positive AoA numbers. I don't think ams are out to chase peak height, mainly they are after maximum distance since the table says more AoA is better. They see -6 as bad therefore +6 must be really good, but both sides of the spectrum can be equally bad to actually playing decent golf. What the tables don't tell you is they assume center/square contact on the face, which is very hard to get when your AoA gets skewed too much in either direction

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2 minutes ago, Krt22 said:

This chart and the one by trackman are two of the main reasons why am needlessly chase excessively positive AoA numbers. I don't think ams are out to chase peak height, mainly they are after maximum distance since the table says more AoA is better. They see -6 as bad therefore +6 must be really good, but both sides of the spectrum can be equally bad to actually playing decent golf. What the tables don't tell you is they assume center/square contact on the face, which is very hard to get when your AoA gets skewed too much in either direction

Agreed on all acounts... and the fact that Ams see Long drive contests with guys teeing it up 8 inch high (or close haha) and combine that with this chart... and neglect the fact that the Long drive guys are world elite athletes also (to be able to catch the center/square relatively 'often' at that CHS)... and then they setup in a reverse K and drop the trail shoulder even more in transition/downswing and look to maximize vertical force late in the swing... deadly moves

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1 minute ago, MtlJayMan said:

Agreed on all acounts... and the fact that Ams see Long drive contests with guys teeing it up 8 inch high (or close haha) and combine that with this chart... and neglect the fact that the Long drive guys are world elite athletes also (to be able to catch the center/square relatively 'often' at that CHS)... and then they setup in a reverse K and drop the trail shoulder even more in transition/downswing and look to maximize vertical force late in the swing... deadly moves

And they need 1 out of 8 balls to land in a 60 yard wide grid, which they completely fail to do at times.

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I think with modern drivers, you can move the ball back more towards the middle of your stance and get longer distance. I'm currently in the middle of a 3 month "experiment" where I'm deliberately moving the ball back further in my stance. My mis-hits have improved dramatically (my miss was always a heel strike) and I think my ball speed has as well. Flight is obviously lower and more piercing.

 

One thing I've started trying in the last round I played was teeing it 1/2" - 3/4" higher than I normally do to try to get the impact up on the face. It feels crazy like I'm going to get a sky mark on my driver, but I haven't come close. I will say ball flight and carry/roll seemed to be increased. There have been a couple that felt "odd" and came off really high, but went a LOOOONG way! I need to figure out what happened on those and keep doing it!!!

 

 I need to ditch all the 2-3/4" tees in my bag and get some of the longer ones. It's a pain fishing around for long tees.

 

-ZA

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Chasing AoA is quixotic.

 

Adjusting your swing and/or setup that’s only purpose is to increase AoA makes controlling face/path/sweetspot more difficult. 

The lower the spin the more offline shots go.

 

Very few golfers know those two things, all they know is hit up 5, which often turns into more.

 

You improve your swing and your AoA aligns itself.  You can achieve better launch and spin numbers with a different club fitting aligning with your best swing.

 

 

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9 hours ago, MtlJayMan said:

Not to hijack this thread - but in relation to watching pros hit moonshots (that are obviously optimal for their combo of AoA, CHS, launch angle, ball speed, spin they generate) ... might it be that people think they launch it higher because they reach a higher apex as a result of ball speed and not truly a higher launch angle (?)... sure my 'penetrating' bullet might look impressive until we find it 260yds away while the pro might be launching it the same way, but with that ball speed and low spin it rises and keeps on climbing since it was shot out of a canon (?)... or do ams in general launch it too low for the CHS, spin

ping.JPG

 

4 hours ago, Teekman said:

Never really thought of it that way, actually that might be the main reason lmao.

 

3 hours ago, Krt22 said:

This chart and the one by trackman are two of the main reasons why am needlessly chase excessively positive AoA numbers. I don't think ams are out to chase peak height, mainly they are after maximum distance since the table says more AoA is better. They see -6 as bad therefore +6 must be really good, but both sides of the spectrum can be equally bad to actually playing decent golf. What the tables don't tell you is they assume center/square contact on the face, which is very hard to get when your AoA gets skewed too much in either direction


I can't remember if it was you @Krt22 that said it, but I definitely agreed when it was stated that the Trackman "optimization" chart and this PING chart have likely done as much damage as all the misunderstanding around "X-factor" with regards to the bad/wrong things taken from it. Both the Trackman and PING charts are extremely reductive and imply all sorts of bad information that people run with. 

With regards to your question @MtlJayMan, you're definitely correct in that more ball speed = more height on average. Pros are also really good at striking the ball in such a way that it launches higher and spins less, higher launch that to many ams looks like the product of too much loft (what they struggle with sometimes) but in reality is a product of optimized strike. 

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1 hour ago, Valtiel said:

With regards to your question @MtlJayMan, you're definitely correct in that more ball speed = more height on average. Pros are also really good at striking the ball in such a way that it launches higher and spins less, higher launch that to many ams looks like the product of too much loft (what they struggle with sometimes) but in reality is a product of optimized strike. 

This is exactly where I was looking to go actually… what can we draw from the optimized Pros variables (AoA, launch angle, spin - that matches up with their CHS and thus ball speed) so we can try to adapt these to our games and just not ‘try and launch it higher like Bryson’ (that brings all the bad setup / matchups / moves talked in this thread already) - with respect to those same variables and loft on our drivers…

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When I was 12 years old and starting to hit it decently, my pro told me to move it up, tee it high and hit up on it. That was nearly 40 years ago. Positive AoA completely changed my driving, and I was using a Powerbilt persimmon head with a 43 inch shaft. It transformed my tee ball and from there I started to get really good. Don't think it's that new, but back then may have been controversial. When the Bertha came out, the payoff got huge, but it still works with balata and persimmon. Maybe my teacher was just nuts back then.

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9 minutes ago, MtlJayMan said:

This is exactly where I was looking to go actually… what can we draw from the optimized Pros variables (AoA, launch angle, spin - that matches up with their CHS and thus ball speed) so we can try to adapt these to our games and just not ‘try and launch it higher like Bryson’ (that brings all the bad setup / matchups / moves talked in this thread already) - with respect to those same variables and loft on our drivers…


That ends up speeding into fundamental swing mechanics territory unfortunately, which gets pretty heavy. The general idea would be to first figure out what your version of a fundamentally sound swing is, which is a big task in and of itself, and then figure out what that swing lends itself to. Same deal with putting and figuring out what type of putter suits your stroke and your tendencies. As with both though, strike is king, so whatever gets the ball coming out of the good spots on the face is what you'll want to gravitate towards. 

To use myself as an example, I know I have a tendency to get a little leggy/squatty/jumpy with the driver, and teeing the ball high and trying to Bryson it up in the air just made those tendencies worse. I have never been one to hover the club, so starting from the ground made me feel like I needed to come up to get to the ball, which led to all sorts of manipulations and disconnections which then led to lots of thin strikes, high spin, and a general ruining of the whole point of positive AoA. It also brought the two way miss in for me a lot more if I wasn't swinging really well. The move towards being flat or even slightly down on the driver has been a universal improvement as it keeps me down/less jumpy, and I can focus on strike to change trajectory. It's the same thing DJ does, notice how low he tees the ball and how he'll still hit that 120 footer from that position. This approach however would be really uncomfortable for someone that is more in to out and up on the ball (like Rory for example) which fits into the "figuring out what your swing lends itself to" bit. This will also inform what type of driver you use and what its specs are.

The overall learnings from the optimized driver swing variables are primarily going to be related to consistency and neutrality in path, AoA, and face angle. You're rarely seeing anything extreme, pretty much everything in the low single digits in terms of degrees and dynamic loft kept within a pretty tight ~12-16* window. Once one variable starts to deviate too far then things get wonky. As an example, the very common excessively negative path (out to in) results in the need to open the clubface which increases dynamic loft (high teens into the 20's) and you get less efficiency and higher spin. 

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On 10/18/2021 at 2:22 PM, Teekman said:

Genuinely curious, before the advent of modern drivers like the SLDR and abundance of launch monitors did Teaching Professionals not teach players to swing up with the driver. Did it have to do with changes in the golf ball over time, did old driver design not benefit from positive AoA … I’m on the younger side and just curious about why it took so many years for this revelation.

 

We didn't have the technology for the revelation.  There was debate if a player could theoretically hit up on the driver at that point.  Then when Trackman discovered that not only could you do that, but it would produce higher launch/lower spin and make the ball travel further...the 'hitting up craze' had begun.  

 

And back in the persimmon and metal wood days, it wasn't particularly easy to tee it high and hit up on it.  A lot of tiemes a golfer, even a good golfer, could sky a tee shot from the tee being so high.  Now with the 460 cc heads, it's entirely much easier to avoid the sky ball with the idiot marks on your club.

 

 

 

 

 

RH

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      New Odyssey Tri Hot putters - 2021 RSM Classic
       
       
       
       
      • 2 replies
    • 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open - Discussion & Links
      Please put any questions or comments here
       
      Pat Perez - WITB @ 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
      Tony Finau - WITB @ 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
      Kramer Hickok - WITB @ 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
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      Cameron CT T-11 putter - WITB @ 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
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      Cameron cover from 2021 ZOZO Championship - @ 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
      Bettinardi covers - @ 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
      Cameron CT putters - @ 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open
       
       
      2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open - Tuesday #1
      2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open - Tuesday #2
      2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open - Tuesday #3
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      2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open - Wednesday #1
      2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open - Wednesday #2
      2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open - Wednesday #3
       
       
       
       
      • 1 reply
    • APPLY NOW: L.A.B. Golf MEZZ.1 Putter (Early Access) Member Testing! 10 Testers Needed!
      L.A.B. Golf is choosing ten GolfWRX members to receive their MEZZ.1 putter early and put their brand new product to the test before reporting back to the community about what they see. The selected testers will be one of the first to experience the MEZZ.1 from L.A.B. GOLF, their newest Lie Angle Balanced design, ahead of it's January 2022 launch!
       
      About The L.A.B. Golf Mezz.1 Putter
      MEZZ.1 is our new mid-mallet putter that’s fully CNC machined from a billet of 6061 aircraft aluminum (body) and 303 stainless steel (midsection) to create our best-feeling — and we think best looking — putter to date. It includes 10 weights (eight on the bottom, two on the sides) that allow us to individually build each putter to a golfer’s exact specifications.
       
      How To Apply
      In a post below, answer the following questions.
       
      1. City, State?
      2. Handicap?
      3. What is your current putter?
      4. Have you ever used a L.A.B. Golf putter?
      5. Why do you want to review the MEAZZ.1 putter?
      6. Do you agree to participate in an ongoing testing thread, posting reviews and photos?
       
      That's it! @labgolf and GolfWRX will choose the testers in about 2 weeks! This testing event is for good-standing members in the USA only!
       
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      • 435 replies
    • 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club - Discussion and Links
      Please put any questions or comments here
       
       
      2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club - Tuesday #1
      2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club - Tuesday #2
       
       
      Adam Scott - WITB - 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
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      Lucas Glover - WITB - 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
      Keegan Bradley - WITB - 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
       
       
       
      Gary Woodland's new Cameron putter - 2021 CJ Cup @ The Summit Club
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      Jucie wedges & Proto irons - 2021 CJ Cup at The Summit Club
       
       
       
       
      • 6 replies
    • 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open WITB Photos- Discussion & Links
      Please put any questions or comments here...
       
      Links:
       
      Harry Higgs - WITB - 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
      Ian Poulter - WITB - 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
      Corey Conners - WITB - 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
      Harry Higgs - WITB - 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
      Matt NeSmith - WITB - 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
      Doug Ghim - WITB - 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
      New Cameron Las Vegas covers - 2021 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
      New Project X HZRDUS Smoke RDX shafts - 2021 Shriners Hospitals doe Children Open
       
       

       
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