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  1. Like
    mynerds reacted to pete1276 in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    Hello! Thank you, I'm looking forward to swapping stories with the rest of the community.  I have noticed that there seems to be an inordinate amount of IT geeks that play golf.  It's rather curious, there must be something about golf that sucks us in.  I do enjoy the analytics involved with golf stats.  I've always been a numbers guy, and it's helped me in my professional life as well.  
  2. Like
    mynerds got a reaction from Dweed in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    Welcome from a fellow security nerd! I've wondered if my love of puzzles and patterns which connects so clearly to cybersecurity also drives my interests in golf. I'm curious if you see any connection between the two on your end.
    Welcome again!
  3. Like
    mynerds reacted to TrentMSU55 in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    How long have you been playing golf? What’s your handicap or normal score?
    I've been playing golf (seriously) since I was 23, so about 7 years. Didn’t begin to establish a handicap until Summer ‘23 and I’m currently sitting at 16.0. I hope to shave that down to 10-12 by the end of this summer. My goal is to break 90 every time out currently but typically shoot in the mid 90s.
    What do you love about golf?
    Golf is the great equalizer. Anyone and everyone can participate. People from all walks of life sharing a common bond. I love the camaraderie with the boys and with co-workers alike. Plus it’s a great way to spend time outside in nature and enjoy the beautiful scenario and passion shared by likeminded folks.  
    What brings you to MyGolfSpy? Do you already know any other Spies?
    I don't know any other Spies but have been “lurking” articles the past few years to learn more about the game and thoroughly enjoy the “best of’s”, reviews and Q & A’s. Most importantly is the date behind all of the testing that I thoroughly enjoy. 
    Where are you from? What is your home course?
    I live in the downriver community of Michigan. Trenton to be more precise. Having moved here from Port Huron, I currently do not have a home course but will find one soon!
    What are the best and worst things about golf in your region?
    Best: Michigan is a hidden gem for golf. Every year my friends and I will have multiple trips up north to check out new courses and resorts and are never left feeling unsatisfied. 
    Worst: the unpredictable seasons. Either short or little to no springs and the inconsistencies or fall. Plus, it’s really hard to pull me away from an NFL Sunday AND try and tell the wife that I will also be golfing all day Saturday.
    What do you do for a living?
    I am a Senior Account Manager for a Vending/MicroMarket and Office Coffee company. I get to meet lots of great people and work with awesome coworkers. 
    How’d you pick your user name?
    Took my name, added in my college and my sports number. Also the Titleist ProV1 Play# ball I’ll use when I can find them. 
  4. Like
    mynerds reacted to Roachinante in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    How long have you been playing golf? What’s your handicap or normal score?
    I started golfing around 20 years ago, but only really picked it up more seriously in the past 5 years. I don't have an official handicap, but I usually shoot between 100-115 for a full round of 18.
    What do you love about golf?
    I love the versatility and variety golf can provide. You can golf in tournaments or placing bets with friends, but you can also have a nice, quiet round by yourself. There are also so many courses across an entire range of difficulty.
    What brings you to MyGolfSpy? Do you already know any other Spies?
    I'm here to communicate with others who share a common interest and can provide some tips or insight.  I also enjoy seeing equipment reviews from peers rather than only professional reviewers.
    Where are you from? What is your home course?
    I am from Minneapolis, more specifically the northern suburbs. I am starting a new league this year at Victory Link Golf Course in Blaine, at the National Sports Center. Excited for a new experience after less-than-stellar conditions and service in my previous league.
    What are the best and worst things about golf in your region?
    The worst thing about golf in the north is the limited season. We get 6-7 months with the courses open, and about 5 months of that with actually decent weather. The best is that, despite the limited season, there are a ton of courses around and what I would consider a very lively golfing community.
    What do you do for a living?
    I do Quality Assurance for a pasta manufacturer.
    How’d you pick your user name?
    My username is a combination of my name, Geralt the Witcher's horse "Roach", and Don Quixote's horse "Rocinante"
  5. Like
    mynerds reacted to pete1276 in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    Hi, everyone, I'm new to the forum and I'm located in the Minneapolis, MN area.  I've been playing golf for about 20 years, but I've only been taking it seriously for the past 10 years or so.  Much like most people in this forum, I got the bug, and I decided to dedicate myself to getting better.  For the most part is has, over time.
    I currently am a 6.7 handicap, but it fluctuates anywhere between 3 and 7 depending on how I'm playing, and I play a lot of golf.  My home course is Baker National Golf Course in Medina, MN.  I have a season pass there and I play almost daily, dependent on weather.  
    I've only created my forum account today, but I've been an avid reader of MGS reviews.  I especially enjoy the ball and driver reviews.  I've become a bit of a gear head over the years and I enjoy sharing technical information with others.
    The best thing about playing golf in our region is the variety and availability of courses, and that we do get nice weather for 6-8 months of the year. There are a couple of sketchy months in the spring and fall, and the worst part is taking the long 3-4 month winter off.  I am still able to get some simulator practice in, but it's just not the same.
    As for work, I am in Cyber Security.  I enjoy what I do, it's challenging and constantly changing.  
    My username is not a very exciting story, it's one that was assigned to me when I was in college.  I've used it since, and it was fortunately available when I signed up for MGS. 
  6. Like
    mynerds got a reaction from Rob Person in Homeowners, what item did you not think about buying but ended up being useful?   
    A weird and mildly gross rule of thumb for home ownership that hasn't disappointed yet - just buy new toilet lids and don't bother trying to clean what you inherit. I don't know what the manufacturing process is for toilet lids, but they invariably have some porous spots that soak up heaven-knows-what. No amount of scrubbing will make that stuff go away. Remove the old lid, clean the toilet before reinstall, and you will feel much better about your bathroom cleanliness!
  7. Like
    mynerds reacted to MissionMan in 10 learnings about switching to a broomstick that the online reviews/instructionals don't tell you   
    A couple of months ago, I switched to a broomstick. You can see my review here, but in summary, the results have been mostly good, with some ups and downs, largely due to a lack of instructional information beyond the basic "This is how you hold a broomstick". As I went through the process of learning, I've put together some learnings on the process of switching, mostly the undocumented things that no one tells you.
    If you have any questions or other learnings you have, feel free to let me know. I'm not professing to be an expert. I'd welcome anyone correcting me on anything I posted. It's a little long so I apologise if you can't get through the whole thing or use it as bedtime reading to help yourself get to sleep.
    1. It's nothing like normal putting
    This may seem obvious to some but I didn't realise it was that different. Switching to a broomstick is hard work. I think part of this misconception is seeing the likes of Lucas Glover and Will Zalatoris switching to a broomstick with a large amount of success. We probably haven’t seen is weeks of intensive putting practice with a coach, and I would hazard a guess it’s been at least 2 + hours per day to get to a point where his putting was at competitive levels.
    Let’s also not forget that while they may have been bad by tour standards, they would still obliterate most scratch handicaps at putting. They know how to read slopes, putt up hill and down hill.
    The problem is exacerbated by the flawed perspective we get from YouTube and the internet. The problem is you don’t always get the full picture. It’s not dissimilar to photography and Instagram. We see a photographer post a photo of a beautiful location and the one before it is beautiful at a different location. It looks like he only takes beautiful pictures, but he doesn’t. Behind the average Instagram photographer, you’re seeing one of the twenty to thirty photos they took that looks amazing. You’re not looking at the other 29 which weren't as good.
    When you watch some youtuber golfer video of them testing a broomstick, it seems like it all comes naturally. you don’t see the 12 practice putts that were bad before the one that was shown. Bad putts don’t sell referral links and discount codes to putter sales, and many of these youtubers rely on referrals from discounts to help fund their channels. Bad putts make it seem harder than it is to switch to a broomstick and we’re an instant gratification culture where we want additional performance just by making a purchase.
    2. Grip is more than just comfort
    When I started putting with a broom, the initial results were really good - 28 putts good. I won monthly medal. After about a month, I made a grip change from claw to pencil because it felt more comfortable.
    What I didn’t realise was the impact of that grip change on my line. Without knowing it, I started taking the putter back a little straighter and squarer and slightly off the arc. The impact on short putts wasn’t massive, but anything beyond 4-5 foot became hit and miss and I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t think about the grip change because I didn’t expect it to have a big impact.
    When you look at which grips work for you, you have to consider the following:
        Comfort - does something feel natural. Comfort is key but not the most important.     Repeatability - can you repeat the grip consistently. If you’re going to hold your hand at a 33 degree angle with claw grip. Can you do that repeatedly, time after time after time.     Distance control - can you maintain your distance control consistently on a variety of different green speeds. It’s easy to do it on one speed, but adaptability becomes important.     Accuracy over all distances - It’s one thing to hit a putt accurately with a short 6-8 foot putt, because you can be more accurate when you’re not swinging the putter as hard. Try hitting an accurate 50 foot putt with the same grip, because accuracy when you hit the ball harder is much harder to manage. It may even result in two grips. One for under 30 foot and one for over 30 foot.     Putting arc - Accuracy is about staying on the arc and contrary to what most people think, the putting arc isn’t straight back. The biggest mistake I (and many others) have made is referring to putting as a pendulum, because pendulum assumes you take it back square on a 90 degree lie. A broomstick putter is on a 78-80 degree lie angle and that means the arc will reflect that. Only a 90 degree lie angle will result in a square putting path. I’d recommend buying a putting mirror with a putting arc so you can ensure you are taking the club back on the arc. 3. Switching won’t fix bad green reading
    When I started putting well, I started to realise how bad my green reading was (and still is). If you think switching to a broom will solve all your putting woe's, it may not. It does help fix alignment, but it won't fix bad reads. I sometimes see people say they’re bad at putting when they aren't. They're taking the wrong lines because they are bad at reading breaks.
    Before you make the decision to move, find out whether it's a reading problem on a putting problem. Find putting lines you know and try putt them from different distances. If it’s going where it should, changing putters isn’t going to fix your problem. Learning to read the greens will, or practice will. When I say practice, I mean matching putting speed to a read if you’re putting short or long. Practice putting on strong slopes on a regular basis to allow yourself to be better at reading slopes. Try different speeds to see if dying it into the hole is the right approach. Or do an Aimpoint or similar green reading course.
    4. Your putting will go from good to bad and back to good again if you give it the time
    People forget that you are dealing with years of putting that your body has become accustomed to. That means it takes a lot of practice to undo that muscle memory and develop new muscle memory. Why is that relevant?
    Putting on a practice green is easy. There is absolutely no pressure, so missing the putt has no impact. When you are under pressure, things change and you need to be able to putt from muscle memory to be consistent. You might consistently sink 4 foot putts, but imagine the pressure of a 4 foot putt where winning or losing means winning or losing $4 million like a professional golf tournament. I can guarantee you’d suddenly miss 50% of the putts you’d usually make because you’d second guess the line, be worried about putting too hard, too soft etc, instead of just hitting the ball.
    What typically happens is when you’re out in practice rounds with your buddies after 3-4 hours of practice, you’ll initially start putting well, maybe dropping to 28 putts or lower for a round because there is no pressure. Your buddies are impressed with your new putter and a couple of them might even consider getting one.
    When you play under pressure, a club competition as an example, things change. You’ll start to miss a few of the putts you’d previously get and see your score drop again to 33-35 putts. You’ll get frustrated, and feel like all the work you put into the broomstick wasn’t worth it, and you may even be tempted to sell it and put it down to a failed experiment.
    A pro could likely do it because they have conditioned themselves to play under pressure, but us mere mortal playing club golf aren’t quite at that level. They are also more adept at building a routine and probably spent 10x more time practice before they hit competitions.
    5. Don’t accelerate the putter with your bottom hand, let the weight of the putter do as much work as possible
    Broomsticks move on a big arc and have a much heavier weight. That means that hitting the ball doesn’t require much force at all. You take the putter back and you let the weight of the putter do the work, with minimal acceleration required. If you want to hit further, take a longer putting stroke. You may need some acceleration on the really long putts, but the more bottom hand acceleration, the greater the inconsistency of strike and distance control. Acceleration is hard to keep consistent. Letting something fall from a particular height gives you consistent results.
    6. Start your putt with the shaft vertical 
    Broomsticks don’t rely on a forward press. The putter shaft itself should be centre of your stance, like a clock hand at 6pm, with the shaft vertical at a 90 degree angle to the direction of the putt. That means the ball should be slightly forward of centre, about one ball length depending on the broomstick putter you’re using and the location of the shaft relative to the putter face. You want the putter to meet the bottom of the arc with the face at it’s squarest point, and with the putter travelling directly towards the target. If it’s early or later, that is less likely to be straight, but the closer you get to that arc point, the better the outcome.
    7. Your eye still needs to be over the ball
    Sometimes there is a perception that a broomstick putter results in the ball being further away from you. The location of the ball, relative to the eyes, is identical to a short putter. If you dropped a ball from eye level, it should land on top of the ball sitting on the ground. This is one of the reasons people use putting mirrors, and a mirror is just as useful for broomstick putters.
    8. You may not like alignment balls but they are great feedback tools. 
    I know some of you may not like alignment balls, but they are great feedback on what the putter head is doing. My recommendation is if you don't like using alignment balls, use them for practice. If you are hitting the ball properly, you should see the line roll end over end to the hole. If you hit it badly, it won't. That's important feedback because while you may occasional miss shots where it rolls end over end, and you got the line wrong, you'll definitely miss lots where it doesn't roll end over end, particularly in the 6 foot plus range. 
    The other area it is valuable for is gauging the accurate of your strikes on different distances. It's much harder to get it rolling end over end on a 50 foot putt compared to a 6 foot putt, and the 50 foot ones are the ones where you will miss by enough for a 3 putt. 
    9. Develop a routine specifically for you broomstick that incorporates your arms/legs/head setup
    Setting up to putt with a broomstick is a little more complex than a traditional putter. As I mentioned in a previous point, repeatability = predictability = success. Even if you repeatedly putt one degree to the left of the hole, you can plan on that by aiming one degree right. It only becomes a big problem when miss is inconsistent.
    If you want repeatability, you need to develop a routine that ensures:
        your feet are in the same position     your lead elbow is in the same position every time     your trail had is in the same position     the putter is in the same position and at the same lie angle     your head is in the same position over the ball     your shoulders are aligned to the target     the head of the putter is pointed at the target When you look at the above, it shows you how easily are small thing can go wrong. You may not miss a 3 or 4 foot Putt if they're wrong, but you could easily miss a 6-8 foot putt, assuming you get the weight and break correct. Some of those are similar to a short putter, but there are a few extra things. 
    That may seem to contradict the view that broomsticks give more consistent results, but it doesn't. The thing that makes a broomstick accurate is that if you take the putter back on line, it's more likely to remain on line for the putt. The routine is about ensuring you take the putter back on line.
    Here is my routine as an example:
        I line up a line on my ball (and hopefully a mark on the ground) with what I think is the correct line. I don't do a practice putt.      I line up my putter on the correct line, and the shaft perpendicular to the target, ensuring the putter lie angle is flat on the ground. While doing this, I line up my right foot, and have my left thumb on the top of the shaft with my left hand open, fingers straight, and left elbow pointing at the target. This ensures my shoulders are square to the putting line.     When I am happy with that, I close my left hand and position my left foot.     I lift the putting off the ground and wait for any movement to stop     I rock my shoulders to putt The above isn't as complex as it sounds, it happens naturally for me now, or more naturally than when I started. You'll hear people talk about the importance of a routine, but when you change putting styles you become acutely aware of the impact of not following a routine. Watch some of the pros like Adam Scott or Lucas Glover and you'll see how strictly they follow a routine.
    10. Just putt it
    Whilst it’s important to have a routine and getting your putting to a point where it’s muscle memory, when it comes to the course, you have to avoid overthinking it.
    Check from all sides of the hole, so you know break and whether its up or down his, pick your line, do your routine and trust yourself to putt. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on.
    Putting is one of those areas where it’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of “ do X” or ”do Y”. It’s easy to second guess yourself about whether you got the line right, or think about how you want to take the putter back. In reality, the thought we should focus on is trusting ourselves “ just putt it”. If you’re going to think of something as a swing thought to start your putt, make sure it’s something you can’t get wrong. If trusting ourselves isn’t enough, that points to a lack of practice, not a lack of thinking. Thinking about it more isn’t going to change that. The practice green will, another time.
  8. Fire
    mynerds reacted to MissionMan in Unofficial review - L.A.B Mezz Max Broomstick   
    This review initially started as a Mezz Max review, but as I wrote it, I became increasingly curious about trying a L.A.B broomstick. As a result, it ended up differently from what I originally intended. I ordered a Broomstick, and here we are, a review of the broomstick. I received my Mezz Max (standard/non-broomstick) in August 2023. The Mezz Max Broomstick arrived in January 2024 for some context.
    My putting background
    Some background on my putting: I’d put my putting in the “okay, but not good enough” territory. Not excellent, not terrible. I don’t 3-putt a lot, but I don’t one-putt as much as I should for my handicap. I also have the occasional bad rounds where my putting is entirely off, but those aren’t regular occurrences. I am good at short stuff inside 4 feet but miss a lot in the 6+ foot range. I have had days where I’ve played to my handicap and missed 6-7 putts from 6-10 feet, hence my frustration. I’ve also had days where I have missed 3-footers because I’m too tentative, and I’ve lost my confidence.
    I wasn’t expecting miracles with L.A.B, but I expected to make those longer putts at least sometimes, and before getting my L.A.B, “sometimes” wasn’t very often. Over the last 18 months, since I got back into golf, I’ve been battling to find a putter that works for me — I started with an Evnroll ER2N; it was nice but didn’t feel natural. I tried a mallet (Scotty Cameron Phantom X 11.5), which felt more comfortable than the ER2N, but I still felt like I was battling to keep my swing stable.
    I received my L.A.B Mezz Max (non-broomstick) in August 2023. I decided to try the L.A.B putter after a fellow golfer mentioned it. I did some research, like what I saw. I’ll cover the non-broomstick in the next section before I move on to the broomstick.

    The L.A.B with the black Winn grip
    My quick thoughts on the Mezz Max (standard/non-broomstick)
    Given I spent six months on the Mezz Max standard, I thought I would add a quick mini-review before digging into the broomstick review. The simple answer is if I weren’t going the broomstick path, this would be my putter. If broomsticks were banned, the Mezz Max non-broomstick would be my next choice.
    The Mezz Max helped me realise that many of my long putts missed weren't misreads; they were mis-putts. An obvious push or pull is an easy miss to identify.
    The problem with putting is that 1-2 degrees is enough to miss a putt or add enough side roll to allow for a miss. It’s also small enough for you to pass off as a misread, so it’s only really when you see it’s not a misread that you start to understand how much of a difference the putter makes.
    Why a broomstick?
    The Mezz Max was a significant improvement on my Scotty. I’ve had some fantastic days draining long putts with the Mezz Max, and I came second in our club champs. I also had the most birdies in a single round, 2 of which were long putts. That being the case, why the broomstick?
    But, as much as the Mezz Max made a huge difference, there were a few reasons I looked at it:
    My success with my L.A.B Mezz Max non-broomstick helped me realise I had nothing to lose by thinking outside the box. My success with the L.A.B made me realise I had nothing to lose by thinking outside the box. The Mezz was a good stepping stone to the broomstick because it helped me understand that a putter is not just about feeling. Balance plays a considerable part in it. It made me step out of my comfort zone and see what unconventional putters can do. My putting stroke still felt quite deliberate and contrived. This is part of why I had such exceptional and mediocre days. The L.A.B helped my alignment, but it could do a limited amount on my ability to gain adaptable distance control on fast and slow days. I may be good on one speed of green and not the other. I wasn’t getting the end-over-end roll that I saw with Broomstick putters. This showed me that my putting stroke still had a lot of work to do. When your stroke isn’t natural, and you add a line to the ball, you’re likelier to get a slight wobble. If it didn’t work, I could return to my existing L.A.B and at least know that I was headed down the right path. Without trying, I didn’t know whether I had anything to gain.
    The white headcover is better quality than the black
    Design and Construction
    Starting with aesthetics, my original L.A.B Mezz Max was a head-turner due to the sharp angles of the design. It was a love-it-or-hate-it design. I like it, but I wouldn’t say I like the DF. Modern, space age, sharp angles like a Tesla Cybertruck. The broomstick version is a head-turner for a different reason: it’s a broomstick putter, and they’re not that common or mainstream on the golf courses I play at. I live in a small town with many retired golfers where I don’t think I’ve ever seen a broomstick or armlock.
    Our local importer carries some standard broomstick configuration models in stock. I picked up a broomstick that was already in stock and ready to go. Specs were 46” with 79.5 degree lie. It came with an Accra white shaft, a black Winn split grip and a black head cover. The aesthetics of this spec are not my first choice. The length and lie angle are spot on, but the black Winn grip combo with the white shaft hasn’t grown on me. The white grip/white shaft works, and the white grip black shaft works, but the white shaft/black grip doesn’t look great.
    I ordered a spare white grip and left it off the putter for two weeks to see if the black grips would grow on me. They didn’t, so I’ve replaced it with a white. The white L.A.B grip looked much better. I appreciate this was a short-term issue with stock due to the high demand.
    In comparing the white and black grips from a usability and quality perspective, the ridge on the back of the white grip isn't something I liked. The original Winn grip has a slightly better design with worse aesthetics. As a result, if L.A.B can remove the ridge, I think they'd have a better design.

    The sharp angles of the Mezz Max are modern and remind me of a Stealth Fighter
    The construction on the Mezz Max is excellent, which I would expect for the price. L.A.Bs aren’t cheap. It’s not glamorous like some of the Scotty’s with painted inlays and bling, but it’s functional and practical. I think the Scotty approach is a little more art and collector-orientated, where this is designed with a purpose. It reminds me of a B2 Stealth Bomber. That said, I still think the Mezz Max looks a lot better than the D.F. range.
    I didn’t opt for the T.P.T. or L.A. Golf shaft upgrade. At the time, I wasn't sure if I could justify the $400 price upgrade on a TPT shaft. The construction quality of the Accra is really high. The matt finish is durable and I haven't had any marks appearing on the white shaft in 4 weeks which is surprising with general golf bag usage.
    The coating on the Mezz Max head itself is also durable. After 6 months of use on my non-broomstick, I've seen almost no marks or scratches, and I would expect the broomstick to be the same. I am not someone who is very careful with my gear so it's good to know it can take knocks without issue..
    There are two minor gripes I have with the quality of the putter. The first of these relates to the cover. For the price of the putter, I feel like it should be a better-quality cover. My six-month-old black Mezz Max cover looks frayed on the outside. I don’t think that should happen. I bought a $20 Magnetic Alixpress cover for my Scotty Phantom X, which looks far better after a similar time frame.

    Headcover wear on my Mezz Max seems a little excessive
    It feels a little substandard on the L.A.B Putters and could be fixed at a relatively low cost. Looking back, I think my Evnroll had the best headcover, followed by the Scotty (velcro), and then the L.A.B feels relatively low quality compared to the others. I’ve ordered a white version, which seems to have a better construction. I would recommend going for the white or brown if you have an option at purchase, but if you are buying a stock spec, you get black whether you like it or not.
    The second issue is the screws on the bottom rusting. My 6-month-old Mezz Max standard is already seeing rusted screws, which I don’t think should happen on a putter of this price. It’s just cosmetic, but I still don't think it shouldn’t happen. As someone who plays in some less-than-ideal weather, it’s an annoyance. I understand it's something to do with the heating of the screws, so I'm not sure if there is a way around this. Perhaps a light clear coat at the factory would avoid this.

    While purely cosmetic, the rusted screws on the Mezz Max after 6 months isn't ideal
    First Impressions
    The first thing that caught me off guard was the weight. It’s a lot heavier than I expected. I don’t mean it negatively. It’s just an observation and a surprise, not that it feels too heavy. You have some perceptions about what a broomstick will feel like, and I was expecting something much lighter.
    The broomsticks have a different feel, so it didn’t feel natural from day one. The putting stroke wasn’t terrible and not as foreign as I expected. It’s like learning to putt again, but the progression is quicker because you already know how to read the lines.
    Off the face, the putter has a soft feel, like you're putting with a softer ball. This is no different to the Mezz Max and reminds me a little of the softer feel you get with an EVRoll putter over a Scotty Cameron. The distance was easy to get used to although I was already using a Mezz Max non-broomstick so that would influence it.

    There are a variety of balls on the market that show the roll of the ball. This is just a subset
    As mentioned in the construction area, I opted for the stock configuration. In hindsight, after a month of use, I would recommend considering the TPT, if you can afford the extra cost. With the stock Accra, you can feel a tiny bit of flex. If the TPT offers increased stiffness, it'll help reduce this. I'll be clear and say the flex is only noticeable when you're holding it in a non-putting position, I haven't noticed it while putting.
    I'm not sure if this is only noticeable on the longer shafts as mine is a 46. I haven't tried the TPT, so I can't comment emphatically on whether the TPT is noticeably better or whether this is simply what longer putters feel like. I'd still rather get the L.A.B in Accra than not have a broomstick, so it isn't a make or break issue.
    There was talk that a grip would feel natural immediately. Two felt naturalish, and I bounced between those two grips before settling on the cigar grip. The elbow towards the target thing worked best for me.
    The biggest challenge with broomsticks is that it isn’t an exact science. There are videos like the one from L.A.B below, but they all cover the basics of broomstick putting. There is information like “put your top hand here” and use a couple of different grips, but Sam’s video doesn’t cover the nuances of grip strength or other more advanced elements.
    It’s not a criticism of the video itself. It’s designed to be an introductory video on using a broomstick. Still, it highlights a problem: There aren’t a lot of resources for advanced Broomstick-putting techniques to fall back on for small things. No, I'm not offering my services. I'm the last person you want to get advice from.
    In terms of the learning curve, I wouldn’t say a broomstick is more straightforward to putt with, but what I have found is that it’s easier to be accurate with, and it’s easier to get your distance right. It will still take a fair amount of work to reach a point where you are doing well. You can putt at a mediocre level quickly, so if your putting is terrible, you could match or exceed that early. Getting consistent roll on all putting lengths will take work.
    Where the Mezz Max standard/non-broomstick was easier to get immediate results because it’s fixing alignment and you already know how to swing a putter the way you did before, the broomstick needed more practice. I had the added complexity that our course tends to let the greens go a little longer to protect them during December/January holiday traffic. Playing slow greens with long putts can be challenging for accuracy with a broomstick if you’re starting. The short answer is to let the putter’s weight do the work and focus solely on keeping the putter aligned in the forward swing. Don’t try to accelerate the putter on the downswing. You will get more speed out of the putter with a long controlled pendulum putt and a centre hit than forcing it and having an off-centre hit.

    The Accra shaft does an excellent job
    Once you get to grips and feel more comfortable, it’s much more consistent in distance than a conventional putter. If I know the line, I can get five putts within a foot of the hole on a 30-foot putt. I could not get that consistency on lag-putting previously.
    The second thing I’ve noticed is the consistency of the ball roll. When you look at the ball roll end-over-end in this Lucas Glover video at 3:31, I didn’t get that with a conventional putter. I sometimes had it with a conventional putter, whereas I almost always get it with my broomstick.
    What does it mean in real terms? My first outing with the putter was a Saturday club comp. It arrived midday on the Friday, so I had an hour or two and then decided to give it a go. 32 putts on the day, not a bad outing for a first day.
    My second outing was a little better, 30 putts for the day. It was more in line with what I was expecting. The third outing got even better with a 28-putt day.
    The negatives of broomsticks
    There are two negatives with the L.A.B broomstick:
    Firstly, there is still the issue of social stigma. There is still some negativity to broomstick putters. When you show up with a broomstick, people seem to think you’re a clueless pro wannabe or a useless putter. Most of these elements disappear when (or if) you putt well, and the stigma turns to genuine curiosity. I’ve had some people who look at you with complete disdain. Most naysayers have conservative views of golf as a traditional game yet seem open to gaming newer driver head designs that give them a 30-yard advantage. Ironic? As we see more P.G.A. wins with broomsticks, we should start to see greater acceptance levels. Secondly, good luck getting a grip changed. With broomsticks not being commonplace, five places I went to were too scared to swap my black to white grips because they were worried about damaging the grip or the shaft. They had never done a broomstick before. Some offered to ship it off to other stores with a week's turnaround before I found someone capable of doing it.
    The white L.A.B grip looks much better
    Longer term view
    It’s been a month since my broomstick arrived, so what’s a longer-term view relative to my Lab Mezz and Scotty? I’m a broomstick convert. I’m keeping the Mezz Max standard/non-broomstick and selling my Scotty. I’m not expecting the L.A.B non-broomstick to get much work, but I’ll keep it as a backup in case there is a change of rules.
    With a bit of work, my lag putting is now as good as it’s ever been. I’d say my putting has gone from a weakness to one of the strengths in my game. I still have the occasional off day, but that’s typically more about misreading greens.
    My putting straightness had previously improved with the arrival of the L.A.B non-broomstick. But distance control was a challenge, and I would bounce between 28 and 35 putts depending on the green speed. The broomstick has filled the gap in my distance control. I can easily shift between varying green speeds and maintain my distance control, provided the practice greens are similar to the course. As someone who plays regularly on a public course, we occasionally find our greenkeepers mowing the practice greens and playing greens on different days, making practice before comps a nightmare. We've even had them mowing greens midway through a comp, believe it or not.
    One of the things the broomstick exposes is a realistic understanding of how bad you are at reading greens. I don’t think I understood how bad I was at reading greens until I started putting well enough to know I was hitting the ball exactly where I wanted.
    After all of that, where am I now?
    Saturday comp 13 Jan - First outing 32 putts Saturday comp 20 Jan - Second outing 30 putts Saturday comp 27 Jan - Third outing 28 putts Saturday comp 03 Feb (monthly medal) - 28 putts I'll note that for monthly medals at our course, it's back tees with the pins are tucked away in pretty difficult spots. The greens are cut much shorter than normal, so 28 putts on the day is really good. We had some greens where the balls rolled backwards if you didn't reach the hole. I also won the monthly medal with a net 68 in tough conditions.

    The bad days are still going to happen...
    So, I’ve just been telling you how amazing the L.A.B is, and now I’m saying that's not the case. How does that work?
    You probably saw Byeong Hun An miss a 6-foot putt in the playoffs. That’s the kind of thing we’re talking about. He wouldn’t have reached the playoffs if he wasn’t putting well. Rory McIlroy 3-putted from 2 feet, so it’s not a L.A.B problem. It’s a good and bad day problem. If the bad days are your every day, then that’s a problem, but you could occasionally find off days.
    The key is to look at average putts over multiple rounds, not expecting the putter to miraculously solve the days where you sunk 16 beers the night before, and your breath smells like jet fuel, or just slept badly. My average putts are now down to around 30 putts or less a round.
    Well, the problem with putting is that there are three elements to consider:
    The Putter Technique Green reading The broomstick may help make #2 easier to get the technique consistent, but you must still have the right technique and read the putt.

    The grooves on the putter face give it a soft feel
    When I miss a putt on my broomstick, it's usually because I’m trying to force the right hand. My stroke becomes inconsistent. Given it’s only been a month, I know that will become more natural in time. My backswing doesn't feel quite as smooth as I would like, but that will improve.
    You are also going to have bad green reading days. I’ve had days (non-comp) where I am misreading the amount of break or the speed, and the putter isn’t going to help you there. Green reading depends on moisture, grass length, grain direction, etc. Let’s be honest: most of us aren’t good enough to get it right most of the time, let alone all the time.
    I’ve enrolled in an Aimpoint class in the coming month, so that should help me with my green reading, assuming they can teach me.
    Some lessons I've learned on my short journey with a broomstick
    Let the weight of the putter do the work - don't force the swing with a broomstick putter. Focus on keeping the putter on the arc on the backswing and let the backswing and weight of the putter do the work. If you force it and try hit the ball, you’ll have off-centre strikes and shorter distances. You have to invest the time to relearn how to putt to get your putting consistent. Broomsticks won’t solve a lack of putting practice. Grip isn’t just about comfort (added Apr 2024) - Over time, I shifted from one grip to another only to find myself pulling the ball slightly. It wasn’t immediately noticeable so I went through a couple of weeks of off putting. It impacted the 5 foot plus stuff. Essentially it meant I wasn’t taking it back on the arc and broomstick putting is all about the arc on the backswing due to the weight of the putter. It’s important to make sure the grip you use takes the putter back on the arc, and results in both consistent and accurate putting. While one grip may feel comfortable, it may not be accurate.   Practice with alignment balls if you can - Getting your roll right gives you an immediate cue on how well you are striking your putts and how straight the pendulum is. Wobbles on your putting stroke mean you have work to do. I used Srixon Z Star divide as a putting ball while practising as I found they are one of the best balls to see the roll with a Pro V1 ball feel. Try the Qstar divide if you want something harder to compare to a Pro V1X. Practice mats are great for getting used to your stroke, but nothing will beat being on greens where the speed isn't consistent. You will have to work it out on your own until there are some advanced broomstick resources on the web. We need Adam Scott to do an intermediate and advanced series with L.A.B to get some learnings from a Broomstick veteran.
    Srixon Z Star have a similar feel to a Pro V1 so I've used them for putting practice and practice rounds
    As you’ve already gathered, I’m really impressed with my L.A.B broomstick, I was already a believer in what L.A.B were trying to achieve after I got my Mezz Max standard putter, but the broomstick has been a real eye-opener for me. I'm glad to see the success they are starting to achieve in professional golf because it's an organisation that deserves the credit they are getting.
    L.A.B putters aren't going to suit everyone. Broomstick putters are niche and may be intimidating for those who haven't considered them. The L.A.B aesthetics may not be everyone’s choice. I like them, but I also heard someone once say they are the ugly baby only a mother could love. That said, you'd be crazy not to try them, even if it's only the Link.1. The benefits could be substantial. and what looks better to you? A good-looking putter or a good-looking scorecard?
    My wife may disagree with my sentiments for financial reasons, but I consider my L.A.B purchases a worthwhile golf investment. I don't feel nervous when I stand over longer putts in comp, and I have greater confidence in my ability to drop putts in the 8-10 foot range. Now I expect them to drop, even if they don't.
    The next thing on my radar will be to test with the TPT shaft. That's probably the only change I would consider right now. On a side note, I would love to see a collapsible broomstick for travel because I feel like I couldn't use a rental short putter anymore if I travel for business and rent clubs. That's really starting to get into first-world problems.
    I used to think broomsticks were only for people who had the yips, but I've realised it's just another tool, and different tools suit different people. Much like the difference between an iron, a hybrid, and a wood, they're all just different ways of getting to the same hole, and some golfers are different than others. Some PGA players can't use hybrids because they hook them. I put this in the same territory.
    My only question is what will happen when I arrive at the Team Titleist Golf Day with my broomstick. Will I be shunned and treated like an outcast? Will the other players even talk to me? I've already converted a friend to a broomstick, so I won't be alone.
  9. Like
    mynerds reacted to clinder34 in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    Hey all! Been a long time stalker of mygolfspy and just recently trying to get more engaged in the discussions! 
    How long have you been playing golf? What’s your handicap or normal score?
    I started playing golf 27 years ago, when i was 3 years old. My pops would take me out and drop a ball and i would basically play hockey with it until it went in the hole. Now fluctuate between a 4-7 handicap. 
    What do you love about golf?
    I love getting outside. I love that you compete not just with the people around you but with yourself. 
    What brings you to MyGolfSpy? Do you already know any other Spies?
    I dont know many spies, but i have been following MGS for a long time, looking at their recommendations and notes pretty frequently. 
    Where are you from? What is your home course?
    I live on the westside of cleveland and have a home course of Oberlin Golf Course
    What are the best and worst things about golf in your region?
    Best thing: its a pretty close nit group - lots of great people playing golf in cleveland. The worst part is the winter. 6 months of terrible weather. 
  10. Like
    mynerds reacted to THuge in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    Hi all, my name is Tim and I am a PhD Candidate at Marquette University in Milwaukee, doing my best to golf as often as I can between writing dissertation chapters! 
    How long have you been playing golf? What’s your handicap or normal score?
    I have been playing golf for almost 25 years now, since my dad and grandpa took me for my first outing to Hilly Haven Golf Course near Green Bay. I played and took lessons from age 5 to 14, before focusing on baseball exclusively (big mistake, should've stuck with golf). After college I began playing more frequently and now try to play nearly every week if I can. Right now I am around a 12 handicap but feel like that could go down quickly if I can get my shots from within 100 yards more consistent.
    What do you love about golf?
    I love golf because it is the great equalizer in sports. Size and strength don't always matter. Age doesn't matter. It is a game for anyone and everyone, whereas other sports, like basketball, football, etc., require some sturdy athleticism. Golf is also one of the few sports one can play at any age and has great accessibility. It is a lot more difficult to try and go play baseball again as a 30 year old then it is to go hit some golf balls at a course or driving range. I also love the opportunity to get a good walk in nature, having something to work at consistently and try to get better at every day, and spending time with friends and family who also golf.
    What brings you to MyGolfSpy? Do you already know any other Spies?
    I came to MyGolfSpy recently because I have been getting more interested in the technical aspects of golf products (thanks Trottie) but also because I would love to do some product testing and dive deeper into the nuances and intricacies of golf coaching and the golf swing. Not sure if I know anyone on here!
    Where are you from? What is your home course?
    I am originally from Green Bay, WI, Go Pack Go, but currently live in Milwaukee with my wife, and our dog and cat. I don't have a home course, but I frequent the Milwaukee County municipal courses mostly, especially Currie Park Golf Course.
    What are the best and worst things about golf in your region?
    There are two amazing parts about playing golf in the Milwaukee area. One, when the weather is nice, it is perfect golfing conditions. Nothing beats an early morning 9-holes, walking with a few other folks, and taking in a sunny spring/summer/fall sunrise. The second part are the municipal courses that Milwaukee County and neighboring Ozaukee County offer. They are affordable yet maintained really well and have amazing staff and greenskeepers who love what they do. Milwaukee County is also home to Brown Deer Golf Course, which is where Tiger Woods made his Pro debut at the now-extinct Milwaukee Open in 1996.
    The worst part about golfing in Wisconsin is the winters. It is painful not being able to get out and play with the snow on the ground! 
    What do you do for a living?
    I am currently a PhD candidate, but after graduation I am looking to either teach at the university level, or will be pursuing a career in the government as a policy analyst/writer.
    How’d you pick your user name?
    Old high school and college nickname.
    WITB Image attached and in the signature!

  11. Like
    mynerds reacted to RocketRobertson in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    How long have you been playing golf? What’s your handicap or normal score?
    Got serious about golf about 8 years ago while stationed in Guam, The Air Force Base had an amazing course on the cliffs of the pacific, you paid based on rank (lower rank, cheaper golf) and me and my buddies would go play 18 w/ a cart for $18.
    What do you love about golf?
    The Challenge, the camaraderie, the discipline.
    What brings you to MyGolfSpy? Do you already know any other Spies?
    came on to try to be selected as a tester (fingers crossed)
    Where are you from? What is your home course?
    Minneapolis, MN. Im a member of a program called the Public Country club which costs a monthly fee but allows for free or significantly reduced green fees at over 100 local courses. I probably play Columbia, Links at Northfork, and Meadowbrook most often
    What are the best and worst things about golf in your region?
    Very accessible public golf scene in Minnesota. Winter sucks.
    What do you do for a living?
    Recently retired, worked as an accountant before getting my doctor wife pregnant so now I'm home raising our two girls and working on our golf game.
    How’d you pick your user name?
    its my name. 
  12. Haha
    mynerds got a reaction from Rob Person in MyGolfSpy Forum: How To Be A Tester Guide   
    This hasn't worked for me yet. My wife said it's fine to play but my boss said "get back to work and stop calling me honey or you're fired."
    Guess I'll keep trying!
  13. MGS
    mynerds reacted to GolfSpy_APH in MyGolfSpy Forum: How To Be A Tester Guide   
    Really encourage any and all to give this thread a read. We really want to be able to select as many new testers as possible for each opportunity, but also need just a little on your end to get involved and help give us an idea for what type of review you will be capable of!
  14. Haha
    mynerds got a reaction from Cfhandyman in MyGolfSpy Forum: How To Be A Tester Guide   
    This hasn't worked for me yet. My wife said it's fine to play but my boss said "get back to work and stop calling me honey or you're fired."
    Guess I'll keep trying!
  15. Haha
    mynerds got a reaction from Splatt in 2024 Masters Pool Sponsored by Titleist and Vokey Wedges   
    Cut: +3
    Top Amateur: Christo Lamprecht
    This will be entirely unnecessary as I am planning on being the top of the bell curve here, but rules are rules! Good luck everyone!
  16. Like
    mynerds got a reaction from MH15 in Cheap push cart suggestions   
    Are you locked into Walmart brands? At that price point, I would recommend the Caddytek pushcart from Costco ($150 at time of posting). I feel like the 3 wheel is easier to push and has more maneuverability than its 4-wheeled counterpart.
    It’s been my workhorse and I’ve recommended it to others who’ve similarly enjoyed it. 
    If it’s Walmart-only, the Costway 3-wheeled cart without the seat looks similar to the Caddytek and seems like it could be a good buy.
  17. Like
    mynerds got a reaction from GolfSpy_APH in Swinging Skepticism: Decoding Claims of AI in Golf Product Development   
    Thanks for dropping this in here. I've spent the better part of several weeks along with a smarter-than-I colleague playing with some club performance data to see if we can evaluate the validity of some AI claims with the proverbial cold, hard data. One of the early lessons from this thread for me was not to post any half-complete stories, so I'm holding off until the work is fully baked. More to come soon on this front!
    I do think the TRUEGolfFit was an early instantiation of what people would think of if they were to try an imagine an "AI Golf Fitting". I think the cloud-enabled launch monitors have a wealth of data available to them that would facilitate some VERY interesting experiments. If anyone has an in to Rapsodo or Trackman's user data lakes, please let me know 🤣.
  18. Like
    mynerds got a reaction from Rob Person in Swinging Skepticism: Decoding Claims of AI in Golf Product Development   
    Thanks for dropping this in here. I've spent the better part of several weeks along with a smarter-than-I colleague playing with some club performance data to see if we can evaluate the validity of some AI claims with the proverbial cold, hard data. One of the early lessons from this thread for me was not to post any half-complete stories, so I'm holding off until the work is fully baked. More to come soon on this front!
    I do think the TRUEGolfFit was an early instantiation of what people would think of if they were to try an imagine an "AI Golf Fitting". I think the cloud-enabled launch monitors have a wealth of data available to them that would facilitate some VERY interesting experiments. If anyone has an in to Rapsodo or Trackman's user data lakes, please let me know 🤣.
  19. Like
    mynerds reacted to MOSologist in Midwest: MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, WV   
    How long have you been playing golf? What’s your handicap or normal score?
    Been playing on & off most of my life. Handicap currently is at 13.8.
    What do you love about golf?
    It gets me outside, and something non-work related to obsess over (lol)
    What brings you to MyGolfSpy? Do you already know any other Spies?
    I've been lurking for a long time reading up reviews/opinions on different products and figured it's time to join. I don't think I know any other Spies.
    Where are you from? What is your home course?
    Ann Arbor, MI. I don't really have a 'home' course but tend to be at Pine View & Rustic Glen a lot for quick/cheap rounds during the week.
    What are the best and worst things about golf in your region?
    Best: Tons of courses. Worst: Winter (aka a long offseason)
    What do you do for a living?
    Digital Marketing/Merchandising in the music & sneaker industries.
    How’d you pick your user name?
    It's been my online nickname for ~26 years now. Originally it was based on creating a Mos Def fan site, now it's tied to "Marketing Oriented Services"
  20. Like
    mynerds reacted to brogies in Swinging Skepticism: Decoding Claims of AI in Golf Product Development   
    Callaway (and other companies) already saw the benefit of using AI to drive value in different areas because, as you mentioned, they've been doing it for a few years now. The reason they've marketed it so heavily this year is because of the AI buzz that was generated when ChatGPT came out and blew everyone's mind about what AI and an LLM can do. 
    When it comes to golf equipment, AI in the short-term will be able to help companies make equipment more efficiently, more quickly, and at a lower cost. But don't forget that regardless of if a company is using AI or not in their product designs and manufacturing, all companies still have the same constraints, both from a scientific standpoint and a USGA product conformance standpoint.
  21. Like
    mynerds reacted to GolfSpy_APH in Swinging Skepticism: Decoding Claims of AI in Golf Product Development   
    Wasn't quite sure where to drop this article, but thought this thread was a good place to start!
  22. Like
    mynerds got a reaction from brogies in Swinging Skepticism: Decoding Claims of AI in Golf Product Development   
    Navigating the Hype
    Callaway has been using AI to design products for years. Yet, it has only appeared in their product branding now. Is that because the newest generation of AI design is revolutionizing club design, or is it because appending “AI” to the name of anything will improve sales?
    A fair response one might have is, “who cares?”
    What first brought me to MGS and what kept me coming back was the commitment to combat hype with trustworthy, honest reporting. MGS was created in response to companies putting marketing over the performance of their products, and I’ve seen that mission valued within the forum community as well. My intent isn't to make a mountain out of a molehill, but to challenge what could become or may already be a marketing gimmick. AI is the hottest marketing term in the world right now. If golf companies are going to put “AI” on their products, is it based in truth or hype?
    Callaway – Ai Smoke
    First out of the AI gate here in 2024 is Callaway with their Paradym AI Smoke line. As @Tony Covey MGS pointed out on the main page, Callaway has involved AI in their club development since at least 2018 during development of Flash Face for the Epic Flash Driver. Since its release in 2019, we’ve seen the Mavrik, Big Bertha B21, Epic Speed, Epic Max, Rogue ST, Great Big Bertha, Paradym, Paradym X, and now the Paradym Ai Smoke. In that time, the two major AI contributions to the drivers were focused on refinements to the original Flash Face and the Jailbreak Speed Frame.
    On the iron side, the story appears to be much the same. The first AI-designed irons began with the Mavrik line’s “Flash Face Cup”. Since then, we’ve seen AI optimize for the development of the Big Bertha B21, X Forged CB, Apex MB, Apex 21, Apex Pro 21, Apex 21 TCB, Apex 21 DCB, Rogue Epic Max Star, Rogue ST Pro, Rogue ST MAX, Rogue ST MAX OS, Rogue ST MAX OS Lite, Great Big Bertha 23, Paradym, Paradym X, and now Paradym Ai Smoke.
    The fact that Callaway incorporates AI into their development process is indisputable. In the past 5 years and across dozens of products, they’ve demonstrated and promoted as much. And here we are 5 years later with the first Callaway products to stamp that AI badge onto the product itself.
    So what’s changed?
    From what Tony tells us, Callaway believes the real magic isn’t the 15% chassis weight reduction from the Paradym but in the “Ai Smart Face” technology. Also per Tony, the creation of the Ai Smart Face is a product of Swing Code, AI Face Optimization, and Micro Deflections. Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these to identify what the real innovation(s) might be.
    Swing Code
    Callaway boasts that the Ai Smoke has the “World's First AI Smart Face™ designed using real player data.” That "real player data" is called “Swing Code” and is a set of 1,040,000 data points from 250,000 swings collected from Callaway Fitting Centers. Swing Code data “consist of swing speed, club delivery, and face orientation just prior to impact.”
    There are a few ways to interpret these numbers. If we look at how the Swing Code is presented for the Ai Smoke Max, we see four bullets:
    Uses most of the face Swings 90-100 mph Has a slightly upward attack angle Has a path that’s slightly out-to-in with a face slightly open to that path The other 3 driver models, 4 fairway woods, and are presented with the same Swing Code structure (the irons are not marketed paired with a structured Swing Code categorization. More on that later.) If each swing Code is actually: 1) impact location, 2) swing speed, 3) angle of attack, and 4) club path and face orientation at time of impact, then we get four points of data for 250,000 swings and you get 1,000,000 data points. That matches pretty nicely with the marketing materials, with 40,000 data points remaining. It’s possible that remaining data assigns each swing with an individual, and that the total number of people to have been fit by Callaway is 40,000. It’s also possible that there are 40,000 different combinations of impact location, swing speed, angle of attack, club path and face orientation, depending on the level of fidelity of each data point.
    It would be a little surprising for there to only be four data points per swing available. Another way to interpret the data is that there are 1,040,000 data points per swing, captured as part of those four principle components. The biomechanics of a swing are complex and, given the wealth of data that’s provided by at-home launch monitors, I wouldn’t be surprised if a single swing contains that much data.
    Aside from the raw number of data points, one thing that raises an eyebrow about Swing Code is that 250,000 doesn’t seem like a particularly large number of swings. I haven’t been to Callaway for a fitting so it’s possible that their fitting process is uniquely lean. Based on how many times I swung a club during my fitting experiences at Club Champion and Golf Galaxy though, I’d expect a much larger number of swings at Callaway’s disposal. Perhaps they need to expand their data sets to their Top Golf venues…
    Let’s take a step back though - is Swing Code new? During the launch of the Mavrik irons back in 2020, Popular Science reported that Callaway had gathered twenty years-worth of data from their networked fitting centers. Are we to presume that Callaway hasn’t been using that data over the past 4 years of product development, or that the Swing Code is based on a different collection of data from their fitting centers? Or is it more likely that this data has been used since the development of Flash Face, and the innovation this year is that the data was given a name?
    If “World's First AI Smart Face™ designed using real player data” just means “this is the first year we’re referring to Flash Face as AI Smart Face™” then color me disappointed.
    AI Face Optimization
    Is the AI Face Optimization cause for excitement? Quoting Tony again, “When AI arrives at the optimal solution, Callaway can make and test physical parts. It’s the equivalent of testing 50,000 faces when, historically, they’d be able to test fewer than 10.” Well, yes and no. Yes, AI allows Callaway to test tens of thousand virtual prototypes instead of being limited to the less-than-10 physical prototypes. But Callaway has leveraged this virtual prototyping process for at least the past 5 years. The process isn’t new for the Ai Smart Face. So maybe something else has changed. 
    The first Flash Face was developed from 15,000 iterations for the Epic Flash. Tony reports that’s dropped down to ~12,000 iterations for subsequent releases but increased to 50,000 iterations for the Ai-Smart Face. Callaway claims “the difference between the 5,000th iteration and the 50,000th is roughly a 60 percent decrease in downrange dispersion area.” That’s interesting, but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison between Flash Face and Ai Smart Face. What we really want to know is the decrease in downrange dispersion between the 12,000th and 50,000th iteration.
    Unfortunately, we would need to know what the learning curve looks like to know the benefit of upping the iterations from 12,000 to 50,000. It’s possible that learning curve doesn’t plateau until the 45,000-50,000th iterations in the same way that it’s possible that it plateaued between the 10,000-12,000 iterations. Without additional insight, we can’t know. I don’t think the decision to provide dispersion control metrics between 5,000 and 50,000 is malicious. I suspect it was deliberate though, and I further suspect the dispersion control numbers are significantly less impressive if looked at only between12,000 and 50,0000.
    Optimizing for Irons
    I mentioned earlier that the Smoke Ai irons are not marketed according to Swing Code in the same way as their woody counterparts. We get a little bit of a peek behind the curtain with Brian William’s comments to Golf WRX: “It starts with the work we did on Swing Codes specific to irons, and they’re very different. You don’t see quite the exaggeration that you see on woods around path and face angle. What you do see is wide variations in speed, and we saw that players with speed and players with slower speeds had fundamentally different outcomes.”
    This is a fascinating insight to me, and I think speaks to the credibility of their learning process. I read Brian’s comments to say that when their model tries to optimize for irons, they find that outcomes are predominately driven by swing speed alone. Callaway could market their clubs with the same criteria as their woods to make their fitting criteria seem more sophisticated, but they instead market based on ball flight, speed, and forgiveness. They’re not optimizing based on path and face angle, and they don’t claim to. Kudos to them there.
    The last aspect of the AI Smart Face technology is Microdeflections. As best I understand, microdeflections refer to the specific pattern that was output from the AI optimization process after it was instructed to optimize for tighter dispersion control. Given Callaway’s historical performance in most wanted testing, you might reasonably assume that this is the first time they’ve attempted to optimize for something other than distance 😉.
    Callaway has been claiming increased forgiveness and faster ball speeds across the face due to AI optimization since the Mavrik and its SS20 Flash Face improved on the Epic Flash. And yet, the Mavrik’s top performing variant in the 2020 Most Wanted found not much forgiveness and a shot area not among the best. The Epic Max and Epic Max LS performed much better in 2021, but the Epic Speed was near the bottom of the pack in forgiveness. The Rogue ST line took a step back in 2022 but Callaway saw a return to the top 5 with Paradym X in 2023. Perhaps ironically, Callaway’s AI optimization has been unforgiving in maintaining forgiveness in their products from year to year.
    Flash Face Reincarnate?
    Overall, the new Ai Smoke line feels less like a paradigm shift and more of a new coat of paint on a largely proven, incremental process. I haven’t seen anything to indicate that this isn’t just another iteration of the Flash Face technology, but perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Callaway is unquestionably a leader of implementing and marketing AI in the development of their products, but we shouldn’t (and honestly can’t) expect a radical new approach from year to year.
    Almost none of the radical breakthroughs in AI last year that turned it into such a hot marketing term have anything to do with how Callaway might be analyzing and designing their clubs. Realistically, they might have purchased more compute power, slightly improved their models, or simply run their simulations for 4 months instead of 4 weeks to realize a slight performance improvement.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if this year ends up being a return to the mean as a relatively underperforming year for Ai Smoke given the success of the Paradym X last year and the historical back-and-forth that MGS has seen from Callaway products.
    I look forward to the performance metrics in the 2024 Most Wanted list, specifically for the Max D. If Ai Smoke was successful in optimizing its AI Smart Face based on player need, then the Max D players who “use the whole damn face” should have the most forgiveness in their hands without sacrificing too much in terms of accuracy and distance.
    One last note
    Callaway’s procurement of their first $5 Million supercomputer to develop the original Flash Face was lead by Dr Alan Hocknell. Interestingly, Hocknell left in 2022 after spending 24 years with the company and joined Acushnet, parent company of Footjoy and Titleist, as their VP of Advanced Research and Innovation in 2023. I am curious to see what Titleist comes up with in the near future, and whether a supercomputer is on their procurement roadmap.
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