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GolfSpy Barbajo

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GolfSpy Barbajo last won the day on March 24 2020

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About GolfSpy Barbajo

  • Birthday 07/23/1960

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    Exeter, New Hampshire
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    Golf, NE Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Bruins, my lovely wife
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  1. Second article I ever wrote for MyGolfSpy - this distance thing isn't a new phenomenon. It's been that way forevah! Back to the Future: It has ALWAYS Been About Distance! | MyGolfSpy
  2. There are a ton of great courses all over Wisconsin, as @DaveP043 points out. Have never played Lawsonia, but hear nothing but great things about it. Sentry World in Stevens Point is less than an hour away from Sand Valley, and there are a ton of excellent courses within an hour or so of Milwaukee - I believe one of them hosted a major event this past fall...
  3. In our case, the customers were from central Wisconsin, so it was a day trip for them. Indiana is a hike, no doubt about it. And while flying may be less taxing, it'll probably be just as long if not longer if you can't find a direct flight to Madison, which is another hour and a half drive to Sand Valley. If you're there for a few days, it's definitely worth the drive. Like Streamsong, it's in the middle of nowhere so you're kind of isolated - it's about an hour drive to Wisconsin Dells where at least there are restaurants and hotels with water parks if you're so inclined. Otherwise, get a lodge at the facility and do some customer-vendor bonding.
  4. Just pulled the trigger on the 0211s @fozcycle - and I swear THIS is the year I'm going to fully commit to one set of clubs for the entire season. Really.
  5. All old stuff: '99 Hogan Apex blades, 2002 or 2003 Hogan Apex FTX progressive set, 2002 MacGregor VIP 1025 MC/MB set and the coveted 2010 MacGregor VIP cavity backs. And a really old set of Burke Tommy Armour Silver Scot irons with aluminum shafts - collectable but not playable. I tried - it didn't work at all.
  6. I was very pleasantly surprised with the Hy-Wood - it's very easy to launch and the glide rails work as advertised. There have been a couple of shots that is swear were fat but still went the full distance - Cleveland has a solid club there. And not for nothing, the driver ain't bad, either. Sounds more than a little tinny, but it goes like hell and is VERY forgiving.
  7. Just did a full fitting at their HQ in Scottsdale last week. Had some interesting (to me, at least) results... 1. Driver: nice club, loved the sound, feel and looks of it. But as any good GolfSpy knows those three items matter neither a jot nor a tittle when it comes to performance. While the Gen4 driver performed well, it did not outperform the driver I brought with me - the as yet unreleased XXIO X. They were pretty similar, so it made no sense to get one. FYI - that XXIO X is going to be a good driver for the target golfer. Based on the numbers, we didn't even bother with the 0211 driver. 2. FW: I ditched my 3 wood a while ago and decided to go with the Cleveland 18 degree Hy-Wood. It was a good decision, as 3 woods and I are definitely no longer on speaking terms. I have been gaming a Callaway 2-Deep 2-wood - never use it off the deck (low bullets) but it can be a useful weapon off the tee. The fitter made up a Gen 4 2 wood for me - WOW!. The head shape and leading edge means it might - might - be useful off the deck, but off the tee it's a monster. It's going in the bag. 3. Hybrid: I'm on again/off-again with hybrids, and the Cleveland Hy-Wood seems to be the right mix of hybrid ease and fairway wood distance for me. Kevin the fitter set me up with an 18 degree Gen 4 hybrid - another WOW moment. Really liked it. Not sure if it will kick the Cleveland out of the bag, but it will be a fun battle. Distance was spot on and ease of launch was welcome. 3. Irons: Tried both the 0211 and the Gen 4 0311P. Kevin tried like hell to get me into the Gen4 irons, but the difference between them and the 0211s was minor, with the edge actually going to the 0211 irons. We tried different shafts, and I was very surprised the "stock" Elevate 95s performed best for me. I would have liked to have tried the KBS $ Taper LIte, but according to Kevin, no one has those right now. Thanks Supply Chain! Tried the XF version of the Gen4 - those didn't do squat for me. At $77 per club, the 0211 may be the very best buy in golf. 4. Wedges: The next best buy might be the $129 forged wedges. Really liked those as well - I do like the RTZ ZipCore wedges better, but these are a strong second. Liked them much better than the more expensive milled version. And for $129? It's another no-brainer. 5. Putters: Didn't like the 0211 models at all, even though I wanted to. The Battle Ready putters, however, were a different story. We didn't do a full fledged putter fitting, but I immediately took to the Blackbird, the Gunboat and the Closer. The Gunboat was the largest head, and was stupid-stable. The Closer is a "full-bodied" blade and might have been the best feeling, but I was sinking putts like crazy with the Blackbird. I have too many freaking putters as it is, so I don't think another one is in the cards. But if it was, it would probably be the Blackbird. Or the Gunboat. Or maybe the Closer. Or maybe I have a problem. Bottom line, will be pulling the trigger on the irons, FW and hybrid. Not sure on the wedges yet, I have a crap-ton of inventory to get rid of. Anyone want some old irons? No reasonable offer refused
  8. Sitting in the kitchen of a condo belonging to my gracious Canadian hosts at Cottages of Pinehurst National - which is the location of Pinehurst #9. After three days here I'd say unless you just want to play it for the experience - and I think you should if you want to - #2 and #4 are very fair tee to green, but the greens will make you crazy. We played Pinehurst #9 today and it's very interesting and fun - the greens are a different kind of diabolical, though. Not nearly as slick as 2 and 4, but you gotta be able to read them. It's fun but a different kind of tough. My hosts suggest #'s 1, 5, 6 and 9 might fit your bill at Pinehurst. Haven't played anywhere else down here, but as others have mentioned, there's no shortage of options.
  9. I work with OEMs regularly, and they're pretty upfront about what each iteration of their products does. Some shout more loudly than others, but in my dealings with them no one has ever said THIS year's product makes LAST year's product obsolete. They have the demographic information and buying pattern information, so they know most golfers don't buy new irons every year and, believe it or not, a majority of golfers don't buy new drivers every year. So why come out with new stuff every year? Easy - you're selling to a parade. The guy who bought new irons last year probably won't be buying new irons again this year (some do, of course, but it's a minority and OEMs don't count on that), but the guy who bought new irons 5 years ago or 10 years ago is getting the itch and most likely will be in the market. Whatever innovation, enhancements or improvements may be incremental compared to the previous year's model, but it may be meaningful to the guy playing five- or ten-year-old irons. Interestingly, both Callaway and TaylorMade have morphed into two-year product cycles for the most part. The Callaway APEX is the flagship line, and that's always been on a two-year cycle, while the Epic and Mavrik lines are separate and are on alternating release cycles. 2021 was an Epic year, while 2022 will be a Mavrik year. Shades of difference perhaps, but each line has its own technology. TaylorMade goes yearly with the SIM line of woods and irons, but the P-series irons are on two-year cycles. PING and Titleist are on alternate year cycles with their various products as well. COBRA's main metal woods and GI iron lines are yearly, but their better player products are on two-year cycles. My own opinion here, so please don't take it the wrong way, but it's easy to get cynical about golf equipment, but it often leads to convenient narratives that don't entirely reflect reality. Innovation may be incremental, but that doesn't make it meaningless. And you see it in the blog's comments section all the time, but no, OEMs don't think we're stupid and they most certainly know people don't buy new stuff every year. Some do, and trust me, they're okay with that, but they realize they're selling to a parade, and the parade never really ends.
  10. Not sure you got the quote quite right. What I said - or at least meant to say - was that for companies to survive they have to constantly remind themselves what business they're really in, and ultimately it comes down to this: you can either be in the business of designing and making gear that people want to buy, or you can be in the business of trying to sell people the gear you're already making. The former means you're are focused on the customer, their wants and needs and looking to offer true innovation that will benefit the customer. That approach tends to be more market driven. The latter is more production driven and you wind up doing things the way you've always done them for no other reason than that's the way you've always done them, and hell, it's worked so far so why change? That type of thinking slowly, but surely, takes over the company while competition looks to fill the void offering something new, exciting, fun, better performing, more innovative or just plain different. The former tends to be market-focused so trends and changes in customers needs and expectations don't catch you by surprise. You tend to lead rather than follow, even though you may goof up every once in a while. For every Apple, there's a dozen Polaroids.
  11. A little shameless self-promotion here... Our recent History's Mysteries article on Spalding Golf led to an invite to appear on the Talkin' Golf History podcast with host Conner Lewis. The podcast went live late last night and if you have the time, I hope you'll find it fun and interesting. After listening to it, you can tell I'm a tad nervous since I'm talking so fast! But it was a hell of a lot of fun and Connor really knows his stuff - he has a wealth of knowledge and a ton of stories that really liven up the discussion. He's pretty impressive. Anyway, here a link to the podcast. Grab a beer and enjoy! https://share.fireside.fm/episode/whZrOd2Z+ZT1H8bGM
  12. One of the takeaways from yesterday's article on the Electric Trolley Revolution is the fact that, with cellular connectivity, companies such as Motocaddy and the rest have the ability to add whatever features to their carts that golfers might want (click here if you haven't read the piece yet). The mechanical functionality of the cart is pretty much there -- I'm sure there will be materials upgrades, battery upgrades, etc in the coming years, but the basic functionality is spot on (although Oliver Churcher did say the possibility exists for a "hovercraft" type of cart - count me IN!). So the question to you all is this: what kind of features would you like to see in an electric trolley? Do you want a bigger screen to watch football during your Saturday or Sunday rounds in the fall? Is a follow-type function important to you? Personally, I did enough illegal stuff in the 70s and 80s to make me paranoid enough, so I don't need something following me around for 18 holes, but that's just me . Since the thing has a battery, do you want a bag with a built-in cooler? Do you want shot tracking - like a built-in ARCOSS or Shotscope? The sky is quite literally the limit, so what features or apps would be cool, fun or helpful - anything that can make your round more enjoyable. Fire away - let's see what we can come up with./
  13. Thank you for all the kind words gents. This was another fun one to research and write, with a TON of info left on the cutting room floor. I found it fascinating the two Hall of Fame baseball players - Spalding and Wright - were such huge influences in turn of the century golf. And I played the George Wright course in Boston dozens of times without having a clue as to who he was. Also uncovered an interesting tidbit about Mark O'Meara playing a practice round with Tiger in 99 or so. Tiger couldn't get his ball to spin around the green like O'Meara did, and kept asking O'Meara how he did it. O'Meara basically said "watch and learn, youngster," and that he'd tell Tiger the secret if he couldn't figure it out. About a half dozen holes later Tiger looked at O'Meara and said, "it's the ball." Soon Tiger was playing the NIke Tour Accuracy (made by Bridgestone but designed by NIke) and won 4 majors in a row. And I didn't realize how involved Bobby Jones was in the business and product development end of Spalding. I knew he was a spokesman and had his name on clubs, but didn't realize he was also a VP and director of research. Also didn't realize just how big the Spalding ball empire was - Scott White was there when Spalding was making 25 to 26 million DOZEN balls a year - they were really good at it. No wonder both Callaway and TaylorMade wanted in. Callaway was given last look in the bankruptcy proceedings in no small part to their commitment to keep the factory open and the jobs in Chicopee. TaylorMade would not make that promise. I also thought White's description of the KKR management was very honest and on point. He still has the greatest amount of respect for Jim Craigie and Ed Arztz - but he did admit they didn't know the golf business the way the Spalding rank and file did. They wanted to make the Spalding business more sophisticated - which leads to, gulp, meetings - and White admitted the Spalding team wasn't ready for that. And the $1 billion pricetag KKR paid? In 1996? That's just crazy. One source, who asked not to be named or directly quoted, told me KKR really didn't do their homework and thought the purchase was done more because it was a golf company than because it was a good business opportunity. Apparently a relative of one of KKR's principals, or perhaps it was KKR itself, owned a golf resort in Southern California - I think La Quinta - and they thought there would be some synergy there. The Cisneros group was also interesting to learn about. That is one HUGE outfit. They had the rights to run Sears Roebuck, Pepsi and other huge brands in Latin America, and have eventually - thanks to that $1 billion from KKR - developed into a ginormous telecommunications powerhouse. Perhaps the biggest takeaway - from White and others - is the fact the friendships among Spalding employees from the 90s and early 2000s last to this day. They have a Facebook group and group text chats going on, they have reunions (the most recent was a COVID casualty), and the celebrate birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. They were all about the same age when they started and have watched each other, and their children, grow up and it was obvious there's still a strong bond. Got me to thinking - the loyalty you have is to people more so than a company and while companies come and go, those bonds don't really go away. And one question for @BIG STU - someone asked in the comments section and I couldn't remember. The Spalding Bird on Ball irons are #3onyour pure forged blade list. What are the Top 2? If I had to guess, it's a MacGregor VIP model and either the Wilson FG17 or a Mizuno model. Inquiring minds want to know...
  14. Happy birthday young man - hope you hit your MacGregors long, straight and not too many times!
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