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Equipment

7 pictures from Day 2 at Golf Digest's annual Hot List Summit

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. -- The 2015 Hot List Summit happened to fall on Halloween this year, which doubles as tester Gary Abbott's birthday. He celebrated by dressing as a back-from-the-dead golfer, which seemed apt considering the circumstances. 

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Gary knows a guy who restores and repairs hickory clubs, so he brought one as part of his costume that everyone took turns hitting. I had never tried one before, and in case you haven't either, it feels as if you're hitting a golf ball with a heavy wooden PVC pipe. The ball just kind of floats forward with no real purpose or power. It's actually better to try and thin it, but that doesn't exactly make your hands feel great. It was a stark reminder of what golf used to be, and how technology has reimagined the game.

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Speaking of reimagining things: The way Hot List testing works is relatively simple. Players test clubs, editors probe them for lots of different kinds of information, and it all gets recorded in lots of these little books, which editors manually transcribe into an online database at a later date. There are few things I hate more in life then transcribing (you should see my handwriting), so I came up with a new plan . . .

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On Thursday, I kept my laptop with me throughout the day and used it for all my note-taking, which worked out to be a real time saver. On Friday, Golf World's Equipment Editor, Mike Johnson, and Golf Digest's Audience Engagement Editor, Ashley Mayo, followed suit. I'm hoping a few more will join us on the dark side tomorrow.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: It was 90 degrees Friday in this part of Arizona, so Ashley wore a towel on her head most of the day to help cool down. Maybe it worked?

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But anyway, aside from Gary's zombie costume, the scariest moment of Hot List so far happened at about noon, when thousands of bees suddenly swarmed onto a tree at the back of the range. Someone mentioned something about African Killer Bees, which are apparently quite prevalent in Arizona. The thought of dying at the hands of some scary-sounding bees was a little too much for me, so I just tried to return my focus back to the towel on Ashley's head.

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But forget about the bees. If you're not careful, it's the golf clubs that can do the real damage. Our group of testers hit more than 10,000 balls Friday. If you're wondering what that looks like, here are the hands of Peter Lee, a veteran Hot List tester.

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When testing finally finished for the day, GolfDigest.com's Deputy Editor, Ryan Herrington, decided to host an impromptu summit of his own. Ryan's current irons are almost as old as that hickory club from earlier (not really, but they are really old), so he decided to try a few of the newer models. He was still there when I left, which seems like a good sign.

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Fitness

Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #34: Ultimate Power Circuit

There's a big difference between being "fit" and training for sport. I learned this years ago when I embarked on a training program with Athletes' Performance. Located in Phoenix Arizona, Athletes' Performance, now known as EXOS, is an off-season haven for the world's best athletes and others dedicated to wellness and a higher level of achievement. Their philosophy on performance has proven so effective, they've expanded their reach to corporate wellness, the military and beyond.

Before AP, fitness to me was doing push-ups, pull-ups, squats and anything that would help me cinch up my waistline. Just one day in their program, however, opened up a whole new world as to what it meant to train in a manner that served a purpose bigger than the human ego.

Gone were the days of sitting on a machine pushing or pulling with an isolated motion. At AP it was all about strength, explosive power, mobility and endurance. Each day was filled with a systematically crafted series of stretches, jumps, chops, twists and bursts that primed and conditioned the body to serve the purpose of winning!

One of my favorite exercises for golf is the lateral med ball throw demonstrated in this week's challenge video (see video below). Not only does it connect with the motion of a powerful golf swing, it's a great anaerobic exercise that really pumps up your heart rate.

The next time you hit the gym, think about what it means to truly train for a better performance and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

BENEFITS
Explosive Power
Anaerobic Exercise
Better Golf



Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf
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Celebrity

5 things to talk about with your buddies on the course this weekend

From sports to TV to politics (OK, so mostly the first two), we offer five hot topics that are sure to liven up your round of golf:

1. LeBron James: He's back home in Cleveland and the city has magically been healed of all its ails by the biggest Nike billboard in history! And then? LeBron played perhaps the worst regular season game I've ever seen him play in the Cavs' opener, losing to my lowly Knicks. Seventeen points, four assists and eight turnovers? We got all excited for that? That's OK. As we all know, the NBA has a season that's way too long. King James has plenty of time to figure things out. And that billboard is pretty awesome.

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Related: LeBron tops Tiger as world's most valuable sports brand

2. San Francisco Giants: Congrats. Again. The Giants are like the bizarro version of their bay-area rivals, the Oakland A's. They never seems that great until they makes it into the playoffs. Of course, it helps when you have Madison Bumgarner. At 25, he's already cemented his legacy as an October legend, helping the Giants to three titles. The lefty pitched 21 innings in the Fall Classic and allowed one run while picking up two wins and the longest-save in World Series history in Game 7 to easily earn MVP honors (he was also MVP of the NLCS). He now owns a 0.25 ERA and a 0.528 WHIP in the World Series. Ridiculous.

3. Mike Jirschele: Who? He's the Kansas City Royals third base coach (yeah, we had to Google him) who opted not to send Alex Gordon home in the bottom of the ninth inning after a wild single and two-base error by the Giants' outfield. From any camera angle, it looks like Gordon probably would have been thrown out to end the game, but what were the odds the Royals would get another hit? MADISON BUMGARNER was pitching! Nate Silver makes the case that even though Gordon's odds of scoring on the play were very low, it actually would have given the Royals a better chance of winning. We've learned not to argue with Nate Silver.

Related: MLB stars who love to play golf

4. "The Affair": In semi "what my fiancee made me watch on TV" news, I'm totally hooked by this new drama on Showtime. I say "semi" because I was going to give it a chance anyway since Dominic West, who played one of TV's all-time great characters, Jimmy McNulty, on "The Wire" is one of the co-stars. As you can probably tell from the title, it's a bit steamy and not for kids. But boy, is it suspenseful, and it's laid out in an interesting he-said-she-said manner. And it involves an affair. OK, we don't want to give too much away.

5. Taylor Swift: Love or hate her music, the young songstress' popularity seems unrivaled these days. After no 2014 music albums going platinum (selling a million copies) all year, Swift's new release, "1989," pulled off the feat in its FIRST week. And NPR actually gave it a pretty good review. There, so you don't have to feel so bad for singing along to "Shake it Off" in your car.

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News & Tours

Danielle Kang is making holes-in-one -- and winning cars -- at a ridiculous rate

If you're a car dealer thinking about sponsoring a hole-in-one contest, you might want to check if Danielle Kang is playing in the event first. The 22-year-old LPGA Tour player made an ace in the second round of the Taiwan Championship on Friday to win a car with a hole-in-one for the second consecutive week. No, really.

Related: Golf Digest's hole-in-one primer

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan was quick to congratulate Kang for the rare feat:

And fellow pro Jessica Korda offered a suggestion:

This is what Kang, a two-time U.S. Women's Amateur winner, tweeted after her hole-in-one last week at the Blue Bay LPGA, where she won a Buick Lacrosse:

But apparently, she really had her eye on the Audi A6 T2.0.

"I was actually thinking about a hole-in-one, because I've been touching that car," Kang said after. "I really wanted the car."

OK, now she's just getting greedy.

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News & Tours

Five undeniable truths we learned from the Ted Bishop Affair

Aside from the obvious -- that the presidency of the PGA is an inappropriate position from which to launch silly attacks on professional golfers, and that Ted Bishop’s ego is so enormous that he thinks he can save Nick Faldo from himself -- we learned some important lessons in the “Lil Girl” affair:

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1. Hell hath no fury like an organization disrupted. The PGA ousted Bishop not with regret, but with near-glee, because Bishop, in his zest to brand the PGA as remade, reformed and dedicated to average golfers everywhere (and be the one given credit for that) had committed at least three sins. First, he took on the USGA on the anchoring issue, arguing that average golfers should be able to use any length putter they wished to deal with the ridiculously fast greens Americans must putt on, a maverick stance supported by only some. The idea of opposing the USGA or separating weekend golf from the PGA Tour, made many others uneasy, to understate it. Second, he stood up with Mark King and Joe Beditz at last year’s PGA Merchandise Show, a kind of celebration of the industry, and declared that golf was in deep trouble and that it would take people outside the game to fix it. Some of us thought it was a sign that golf had grown up, laid its numbers on the table, and was determined to fix them (kind of like the auto industry acknowledging that perhaps there were a tad too many dealers). For others, advocates of the Trump School of Media Relations, this was just an embarrassment. How dare he! Then he was part of a characteristically unconventional choice of Tom Watson as Ryder Cup captain, leading to a lopsided defeat and player mutiny. Strike Two and a Half. One foul tweet and you’re gone. When he was fired, there was no sense of "what a shame, he was a good guy, he did so much for the sport." No, this was good riddance.

2. Golf takes itself very, very seriously. Illustrator and humorist Bruce McCall once said that “Not even Barbra Streisand celebrates itself as tirelessly as golf celebrates itself.” And when it does tragedy, it is equally committed. My wife looked over my shoulder at Golf Channel as the PGA Board removed Bishop and asked: “Did someone die?” Yes, perspective and common sense. Obviously, Bishop had to go, and what he said was dead wrong, but there was, in the PGA’s response, a solemnity that suggested the death of a Pope.  


3. The PGA is not the NFL! The removal of Bishop reflected, it seemed, the PGA's worry that it might be seen as anti-female in the vein of, say, Ray Rice. Its dour announcements were determined to show how seriously we take any slight against women: Domestic violence? Hell, we lop off fingers for stupid tweets! 

4. The Ryder Cup is officially and totally out of whack.  The fact that all this began because Ian Poulter cast aspersions on two Ryder Cup captains -- Oh my God! -- suggests that we’ve gone completely overboard in our obsession with what used to be a great exhibition. At the time of his demise Bishop was to preside over a “task force” to solve the problem of weak USA performances. Really?! Why not just send someone down to see Jackie Burke and ask him what to do? Bishop’s feeling that he had to stand up for Faldo and (his captain) Tom Watson is symptomatic of the inane importance we place on the Ryder Cup and the senseless pressure we put on anyone involved. Enough.    

5. Ted Bishop’s tweets had nothing to do with sexism in golf. Bishop’s demise was opportunity for a few columnists to remind the world of “golf’s sexism problem.” Because the PGA treated his stupidity as not a venial sin but a mortal one, it gave itself (or its allies) no chance to point out that golf is an open sport, where women may and do play a lot, just not as much as we think they should. Ninety-nine percent of clubs welcome play by and memberships of both sexes. More important, nine out of ten golfers play at public courses and some 85 per cent of all rounds are recorded there -- where women may play whenever they like. Could we make it more convenient and fun for women? You bet. But golf’s problem is not sexism, it’s difficulty and time. We’re a game run by traditionalists, mostly better players, who are committed to 18-hole stroke play (the hardest form of golf) and inanely difficult conditions, beginning with super-fast greens. That’s golf’s macho problem, not Ted Bishop’s tweets.

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Celebrity

Video: Michael Jordan calls Barack Obama a "$%*!" golfer

On Tuesday, Michael Jordan took down Keegan Bradley on Twitter with trash talk. In a video that made the rounds on Thursday, his Airness took on a much bigger target.

Related: Michael Jordan had a great time at the Ryder Cup. As usual

In an interview with his buddy and Back9Network personality, Ahmad Rashad, Jordan is asked who would be in his dream foursome. It's a pretty standard question asked of golfers and Jordan begins with a pretty standard answer of Arnold Palmer (Well, he's also quick to say Rashad would not be in it). Then, things got a bit rough.

Jordan picks Barack Obama because he's never played with him, but then changes his mind, calling the President of the United States a "hack," and "it would be all day playing with him." Rashad asks if he really wants to say that and Jordan responds, "I've never said he wasn't a great politician," Jordan said. "I'm just saying he's a shitty golfer."

Ouch. Here's the clip:

Related: NBA stars who love playing golf

The ultimate competitor as a player, Jordan famously used his NBA Hall of Fame induction speech in 2009 to take shots at everyone from players and coaches to his own sons. Considering he snubbed two people before giving two answers to this innocent question it appears Jordan hasn't lost his steely touch.

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: One simple exercise to fix a backswing like this

fitness-friday-reverse-pivot-lg.jpgTrue story: A basketball coach who is a friend of mine was trying to explain to a bunch of his kids how to take a jump shot. He told them to jump straight up as if they were standing in a phone booth without a roof. One kid raised his hand and said, "Coach, what's a phone booth?" I'll spare you the dated-technology reference when explaining the backswing, but in order to take the club back optimally, you need to avoid swaying or sliding and ending up in the start of a reverse pivot as golf instructor Dave Phillips is demonstrating here (photo). His weight is literally shifting in the wrong direction.

"The upper body winds against a stable lower body," says golf-and-fitness coach Karen Palacios-Jansen (@kpjgolf). "If there is any swaying or sliding with the hips during the backswing, the golfer will lose that coil they need to hit the ball powerfully and they'll have to make split-second adjustments in the downswing just to make decent contact with the ball."

If you want to picture what Karen is talking about, imagine you're standing in a cardboard refrigerator box and trying to rotate your upper body without touching the walls. If your body sways or slides, you'll fail.

One reason golfers sway or slide during the backswing is ineffective stabilizer muscles. Your butt and hip muscles are supposed to keep your lower body relatively still as you wind up during the backswing. Another reason is lacking the ability to disassociate movements of the upper and lower bodies from each other. You should be able to rotate your trunk with minimal rotation of your hips. 

The good news is if you're struggling with either issue and can't seem to get the club back down to the ball without a lot of excess body movement, Karen suggests you trying doing lunges while rotating your upper body. This exercise helps correct both issues. Click on the video to watch Karen demonstrate it.



Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photo by Joey Terrill) ... Read
Equipment

Cleveland's latest take on the might of light

CG_BLACK_DRIVER3.jpgAt the elite level, it seems golf is increasingly becoming a power game. That’s all well and good when you have plenty of power to burn. For average golfers, though, power often isn’t so easy to come by. In fact, Cleveland Golf estimates that average golfers, particularly seniors and recreational players, may have swing speeds 15 or more miles per hour slower than the average on the PGA Tour (113 miles per hour).

One solution that’s been offered successfully in Japan for years is clubs with lighter than traditional overall weights. Most notable has been the XXIO brand of drivers launched by Dunlop Sports, which repeatedly have been that country’s top seller, pushing well below 290 grams in total weight. That’s a good 10 percent below the weight of many typical drivers played in the U.S. 

Cleveland, whose parent company is Dunlop Sports, has been developing lighter overall weight golf clubs since the beginning of this decade with clubs like the original CG Black, a driver introduced in 2011 that weighed just 265 grams or about 60 grams lighter than some of the leading drivers in the game at the time. Now comes the new family of CG Black metalwoods and irons, all aimed at average golfers and all featuring an ultralight platform. It’s what Cleveland’s engineers call an emphasis on “increasing the average golfer’s ease of swing.”

Says Jeff Brunski, director of research and development at Cleveland Golf/Srixon, “We looked at the typical average golfer’s swing and ball-flight inefficiencies, and targeted our technologies specifically geared toward them.” 

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The new CG Black driver weighs five grams less than its predecessor, is the lightest driver on the market from a major company and features the concept of lower “swing MOI.” This refers to the moment of inertia of the entire club from head to the butt of the shaft. Instead of a measurement of how stable the club head is on an off-center hit, swing MOI is a theory having to do with how little resistance a particular club might have to being moved. For example, a sledgehammer might have a high swing MOI in that it requires more force to move it faster, but a 260-gram driver like the new CG Black might have a lower swing MOI, making it easier for those less skilled or strong to manipulate it. The concept of swing MOI was also front and center with the recent introduction by Wilson of its adjustable D200 SuperLight driver, which weighs just 268 grams. 

The new CG Black ($350; 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees), which is not adjustable, features the lowest swing MOI of any 460cc driver in company history, and includes a Golf Pride Tour 25 grip that is less than half the weight (25 grams) of a typical rubber grip. 

The CG Black line also includes a sub-300-gram family of fairway woods ($200; 15, 16.5, 18, 20, 23 degrees), which features a 24 percent lighter face that allows the weight to be distributed for higher clubhead stability at a lower total weight. The CG Black hybrids also are about 25 grams lighter than typical hybrids and come in a range of five lofts ($170; 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 degrees). 

Rounding out the new CG Black line is a mixed set of irons ($700) that includes hollow hybrid-like long irons with 1770 high-strength steel faces, two-piece middle irons with a high-strength steel face insert and traditional one-piece cavity back short irons. It features a center of gravity slightly farther back and lower than last year’s super game-improvement 588 Altitude irons.  

The full line of CG Black clubs is scheduled to arrive in stores next week.
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Equipment

9 pictures from Day 1 at Golf Digest's annual Hot List Summit

LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. -- It's October, which means it's time for Golf Digest's annual Hot List Summit. The Hot List, in case you're unfamiliar, is a wide-scale golf-equipment project the magazine undertakes that requires packing up a ton of clubs -- more than 2,000 pounds worth -- sending them to the Wigwam resort in Arizona and subjecting them to three days of intensive player testing. Keely Levins is the editor in charge of the logistics for the Hot List and is essentially Golf Digest's answer to the energizer bunny.

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Each editor is assigned two testers, and after the testers hit some shots with each club, the editors are responsible with questioning them for all kinds of information about the product. On Thursday, testers tried fairway woods, game-improvement irons and mallet putters. I was assigned Ricky Brown (cool name) and Jason Musser (cool job: he's a detective).

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But before any of that, Golf Digest's Audience Engagement Editor, Ashley Mayo, took the testers though some stretches. It's usually greeted with lots of sarcastic banter, but I think they all secretly like it. In any case, here's tester Jeff Blind strutting his stuff for the camera.

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Because the summit this year is held over Halloween weekend, an executive decision was made to include candy in the process. Needless to say, it was far more popular then that fruit over there, which remained entirely untouched throughout the day.

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Nicknames tend to arise quickly at the summit. This year, everybody's taken to calling Golf Digest's Equipment Editor, Mike Stachura, "Mr. Grumpy." He seems to quite relish the role. Here he is at the start of the day.

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And here he his towards the end, talking with our (slightly scared) rookie tester Anand Mudaliar. Still in character!

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Once Thursday's testing ended, everybody unwound in their own way. A bunch of testers went to play golf. Apparently they were too devastated at the thought of being away from each other for a few hours, so they decided to play in a ninesome instead.

Ninesome anyone?

A photo posted by Thomas_Allen (@thomas_b_allen) on


Golf Digest senior writer Matt Rudy opted for a stiff drink.

How did I finish-up? Aside from writing this blog post, I basked in the glory of my decision to have the Wigwam do all my dirty laundry. Instead of unpacking, doing laundry and repacking from a trip I was on last week, I decided instead to just bring all my smelly clothes to Arizona and hope the Wigwam did laundry. They did, which means this was probably the most clutch thing I've ever done.

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Onwards, to tomorrow!
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Weird Golf News

Weird golf news of the week: Fleet of golf carts stolen from private club

Golf carts get stolen all the time, but they're usually abandoned after being used for late-night, alcohol-influenced joy rides that wreak havoc on golf courses. Not this time.

Related: More weird golf news

According to NJ.com, eight golf carts were stolen from the Hollywood Golf Course, a private club in Ocean Township, N.J. Police say the gas-powered Club Car carts were taken sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

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The report says the thieves, who have yet to be caught, cut a hole in a chain-link fence on a dead end street. Police believe the carts were then loaded onto a trailer.

That certainly makes sense. A clean getaway on eight separate carts, particularly ones that run on gas, would have been a bit tricky.

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