Yes, it’s true: 2019 will be here before we know it. In order, to get ready for yet another new golf year, I thought I would go to an expert, Andy Fisher, the Head Pro at The Kansas City Country Club. Below are Andy’s thoughts, suggestions and recommendations on a variety of subjects.
First up: The new Rules of Golf that go into effect on Jan. 1. “Most of the rule changes are designed for the everyday golfer, not the tour pro,” said Andy. “The USGA had two major goals: Simplify the rules and improve the pace of play. Bottom line, the new rules should be easier to remember and understand and they should keep you moving along.
“For example, you won’t have to pull the pin when putting; the ball drop is from knee height; your ball will be considered lost if not found in three minutes instead of five; you won’t be able to take relief on the opposite side of a red penalty area; you will be allowed move loose impediments in a bunker; a local rule will allow you to take a drop near where the ball went out of bounds with a two-stroke penalty instead the time-taking, stroke-and-distance penalty, and there won’t be a penalty for a double hit.” (Editor’s Note: To find all of the rule changes, go to: http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/major-changes/major-changes.html)
Okay, I know that the rules of golf are important, but what I am really interested in is playing better golf. “Well, you aren’t alone,” said Andy, “but the question is: How do you get better? Fitness is important, right? That’s something you can really focus on during the winter months when you are here. The average middle-aged-and-up country club golfer, has a short backswing, which means he isn’t fully rotating his core. That is due to inflexibility. A player that lacks flexibility can’t possibly have a rhythmic and balanced swing. Start stretching.”
If you would like to work on your flexibility and your swing at the same time, Andy has the latest and greatest in that department, the SuperSpeed Golf Training System (www.superspeedgolf.com). Actually there are seven variations of the system that range from the golfer who is consumed by distance to a set for the Pee Wees.
According to the website, “The Senior SuperSpeed Golf Training System is the perfect way to add up to 30 more yards to your drive! Coupled with our complimentary online video instruction series, this system will help you increase the speed and power of your golf swing by 5% to 8% in as little as 4-6 weeks of regular practice. As we age it becomes increasingly difficult to create rotational power in the golf swing. Adding overspeed training to your program will help increase stability, flexibility, and improve speed, power, and consistency in your golf swing.”
“I really believe in this program. It’s amazing! Seriously!” said Andy. “It’s the latest version of swinging a heavy club, but the emphasis is on swinging properly and swinging fast. Go to the website and look at the videos. Or come by and see me for a demonstration. I will walk you through a session.”
Now, just in time for Christmas, the Toy Department – Equipment.
According to Andy, the 2018 sales breakdown at our club for single clubs was: 30% drivers, 25% wedges, 25% putters and 20% all others, but primarily hybrids and fairway woods. “Without a doubt, the biggest impulse buy is a putter. That would be true at virtually every country club in America.”
So which equipment companies are hot? “On the (PGA) Tour, Titleist is the leader in golf balls, wedges, irons and putters (Titleist owns Scotty Cameron),” Andy said. “At clubs like ours, Callaway dominates in drivers, fairway woods and hybrids. Country club players are going with Callaway because of the company’s emphasis on lighter-weight clubs. It goes without saying that most club players aren’t as fit college and pro players, so that is why Callaway is doing so well here and other peer clubs. Lighter-weight clubs should result in an increase in swing speed without any loss of control.”
With equipment options from proven companies such as Titleist, Callaway, Ping and TaylorMade, what is Andy and his staff recommending? “Peer influence here is really big,” said Andy. “If the ‘right’ few guys are getting an extra 10 yards with a specific new driver, then we will see a dramatic increase in sales of that driver. I guess that means I should do more target marketing. Of course, I am old school and still believe it is best to try out different brands before making a decision.”
If you would like to be a trend setter versus a follower in 2019, then what driver should you be considering? “Callaway’s new driver and wood line is the Epic Flash. It’s replacing the Rogue,” said Andy. “However, it won’t be coming out until February. It’s being kept under wraps, but Callaway has high hopes for it.
“I am very excited about the two new drivers from Titleist – TS2 and TS3. They are amazing performers. The TS2 is a lighter, ‘speed first’ driver, while the TS3 is for players with a higher swing speed. Last year the Rogue (from Callaway) was our bestselling driver. It will be interesting to see who the winner will be this year. Titleist should be right there. Their drivers will enhance your ball speed and we have them right now.”
What about putters? “A lot more people are going with the mallet style with a big grip versus a blade because of the ‘high moment of inertia,’ which means the putterhead doesn’t want to twist at impact,” continued Andy. “A mallet is designed for a straight back and straight through putting stroke. The big grip helps take the hands out of the stroke. Putt with your shoulders, not with your hands.”
While we all acknowledge that both physical fitness and up-to-date equipment are essential elements in keeping our golf games in reasonable shape, Andy has one BIG TIP that everyone should remember: “Fundamentals. Fundamentals. Fundamentals. Better golfers have a solid, repeatable swing,” said Andy. “Unfortunately, it is easy to get into bad habits. For example, too many golfers allow their set-up and alignment to vary. My suggestion is to come to one of us (a teaching pro) on a regular basis. Don’t allow poor fundamentals to creep in. I compare it to a routine car maintenance. We usually see guys after their transmission goes out. Instead, see us for an oil change, before the real trouble happens.”
Now that you have the blueprint for your 2019 golf game, don’t forget about your golf attire. You certainly want to walk to the first tee in style this coming year. As one of our fashion-forward members says, “Style is a reflection of your personality and attitude. I really do believe that when you dress well, you are giving yourself the best chance to play well.”
In 2019, Andy will continue to depend upon the Peter Millar line for Christmas and throughout 2019. He is also bringing in two new lines that he expects to sell well -- Stitch and Greyson. “During the fall and winter months, navy, grey and earth tones sell the best,” said Andy. “Going with layers is the best way to stay warm and many of those pieces look great off the course.”
(L: Stich’s waterproof sweater. R: The new line from Greyson.)
It’s cold and snowy here in Kansas City, but thinking about golf, Christmas and a New Year never gets old.