A good fit at a good price
Preparing for the new golf season sometimes calls for obtaining golf equipment that better matches your current abilities.
This option does not require spending top dollar on the very latest stuff. With a little experimentation, you can find a good fit at a good price.
In early February, I accompanied Mark Rath, a golfing buddy, as he traveled to the Second Swing shop on Concord Pike outside Wilmington to see about upgrading his old driver.
Rath retired a few years ago from a long career in the container industry and moved to the Cape Region with his wife Jane. He began playing golf seriously around age 12 and worked as a caddy before and during his undergraduate days at Villanova. He golfed overseas as a young Navy officer and continued his love affair with the sport throughout his long business career.
He currently carries a handicap index of around 9.8, but when playing with him, there are occasional glimpses of his former 3+ skills. This usually happens when I mistakenly think I have him beat on a given hole.
Rath keeps a mixed bag of older clubs, leading with his 2002-era, 9.5 degree TaylorMade R580 driver. It features the then-popular bright-yellow UST Pro Force 65 Gold shaft, a stiff low-torque design.
Last season, Rath struggled a bit with this club. Erratic drives put pressure on the rest of his game. He finally succumbed to my suggestion that it was past time for an upgrade, especially if he planned to continue playing dozens of rounds each year.
We met with Second Swing fitter Tyler Fuhrman, who asked Rath to warm up with his 7-iron, then establish a baseline with the R580.
In their preliminary conversation, Fuhrman confirmed that Rath sought an updated driver but was happy to test recent but not the latest models. Second Swing’s large inventory of lightly used models would fit the bill. The fact that both Rath and Fuhrman are brand-agnostic also helped.
Rath hit some nice shots with his 7-iron, matching his mid-season form with a 77-mph swing that carried the ball just under 150 yards.
However, he faced challenges matching his iron performance with his driver, fighting several hooks. A low spin rate didn’t help, causing several drives to dive prematurely.
Rath had similar outcomes with the Cobra Sub Zero driver Fuhrman gave him to test, with low-spinning shots with inconsistent carry distances. His efforts improved somewhat when Fuhrman handed him a TaylorMade M1, with more consistent carry distances but still erratic spin rates.
His best drives came with a Ping G400 Max 10.5-degree driver with a Ping Alta R flex 55-gram shaft. Rath’s attempts with this 2018 design generated far more uniform results in carry distance, club speed and swing efficiency. This made for an easy decision about making the purchase, with significant savings over 2021 model pricing.
We also spent time in the Second Swing putting area. Rath’s consistency problems with his old driver had also shown up on the putting green, so he tried a few putts under Fuhrman’s watchful eye. Rath and I chatted about it there and on the way home. He agreed to try a Rife putter I tested and reviewed a few years ago.
He liked how it felt but thought the shaft was just a bit too long for his swing. I urged him to tinker with it. Rath cut a half-inch off the steel shaft, re-gripped the putter with a spare grip he had at his home workshop and watched a few putting videos on YouTube.
The results are promising, with more tap-ins and fewer 4- to 5-footers for par. His drives on the golf course are a significant improvement as well.
Rath’s successful club-fitting experience makes me feel a bit like Dr. Frankenstein – but in a good way.
Fore the Kids Tournament April 10
A Cape Region fantasy football league will hold its first Fore the Kids golf fundraiser Saturday, April 10, at Mulligan’s Pointe Golf Course in Georgetown. Proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware.
The shotgun start for the scramble-format event begins at 8 a.m. The $100 entry fee covers the golf and lunch. Several sponsorship opportunities are available from $150 to $400.
For more information, contact Bryan Peden at bryanpedenPT@gmail.com.
At a Cape High golf team practice last week, I walked up to a promising player about to hit a 100-yard approach from the left side of the par 5 fourth fairway at RBCC.
This hole features a large pond right of the fairway from about 130 yards out to beyond the green’s right edge.
I leaned in and said, “Don’t even think about all that water. Don’t give that big pond another thought.”
He turned to me with a grin and said, “That’s what my grandpa does to me when we play.” He turned back to his ball and hit a fine wedge shot to the middle of the green.
Glad to see he is well trained about gamesmanship.