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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. 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...
  2. Happy birthday young man - hope you hit your MacGregors long, straight and not too many times!
  3. Interesting situation - not sure why TGW doesn't offer options with Wilson. I do know you can go directly to Wilson's website and custom order any iron with your preferred shaft with length and lie alterations available. There's a possibility this may be more of a TGW thing than a Wilson thing - I'm not sure WHY it would be a TGW thing instead of a Wilson thing, but it's not that Wilson doesn't offer custom options because they do.
  4. Interesting take Sal - they've been in a steady holding pattern for a while now. The golf division isn't losing money and it is growing. Problem is Wilson's share is so small that they could grow 10% annually and it wouldn't change their position very much. As one part of the Wilson Sporting Good umbrella, I don't see Wilson Golf going away - again, it's a plus to the bottom line (albeit a small one) - but it won't return to its former glory. The competition is too good and the Big 5 spend a buttload of money reminding all of us that they're the Big 5. The status quo doesn't want to change, and the Big 5 marketing and product machines are too good. If you think about it, each of the Big 5 made their way into being the Big 5 with some kind of must-have product. Callaway burst onto the scene with the Big Bertha. For TaylorMade it was the Pittsburgh Persimmon, the Bubble shafts and their first oversized drivers. PING it was putters and then investment cast irons - particularly the PING Eye 2. Cobra has the King oversized irons and Titleist has always had the ball. Add to that their marketing machines - they've trained us to believe that if you want a long driver, you look to Callaway or TaylorMade. If you want forgiveness and playability, you go to PING; if you want innovation and creativity you look at Cobra and if you're a better player or if you want the best ball you go to Titleist. Mizuno and PXG - and to a lesser extent Srixon - have carved out nice niches for themselves, but they aren't on equal footing. Wilson is one of the challenger brands, and it really doesn't have a niche other than really good forged irons. But Srixon, Mizuno and PXG also have really good forged irons. Not sure if you've seen the big kerfuffle on Twitter over Wilson. Apparently someone in charge of Wilson's website listed their Staff Model CB irons at $142 for the set. $142, of course, is the per iron price. Apparently there was a sizable amount of people who jumped on it -- the number I've heard is about 8,000, although I have my doubts. There's no way any reasonable person would expect Wilson to honor that - they explained it was a mistake and promised to refund everyone who thought they were going to get a full set. Sloppy, sloppy mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. Some of the Twitter responses insisted that Wilson should honor the mistake and get more of their clubs in people's bags, and that it would be a big PR win and they would gain market share. That shows a remarkable lack of business understanding - market share is useless if you lose money. I had this conversation with Wilson president Tim Clarke once - market share at the expense of margin is a fool's errand and is a sure fire way to lose a lot of money really quickly. You can't cut the price and make it up in volume - the math just doesn't work -- especially when people expect you to sell them a $1000 set of irons for $142. That's just foolish. One thing you can't ding Wilson on is its products. The Staff model blades are outstanding, and the Staff Model CB irons are better than that. The D9 irons are pretty good, but so were the D7 irons -- not sure there's a ton of upgrade between the two, but both are solid GI irons. The D7 Forged irons are also excellent, and past winners of MGS Player's Distance Most Wanted. Where they stumbled is with the D9 metal woods. The D7 lineup was sneaky good, especially the driver - excellent value and an excellent no-frills driver. Not as big of a fan of the D9 lineup. Not bad, mind you, but give me a choice and I'd take the D7 every time. And every time I pick up an Infinite putter, it's hard to believe they're only $99. The Buckingham may very well be the best value in golf. Very much looking forward to the D9 forged, which should come out this winter. Wilson's making use of AI in its R&D process and as we saw with Cleveland/Srixon, it takes a few iterations to really understand how it works and how to make the best use of it. (And not for nothing, do NOT sleep on the Launcher XL irons and metal woods - they are VERY good). Anyway, enough rambling. Could Wilson pull the plug on its golf operations? It's always possible, but as long as they stay in the black I can't see it. Amer Sports new ownership group wants to grow, particularly in Asia, and golf could be an area where that could happen. Tim Clarke says there's no reason why Wilson Golf couldn't be a $200-$250 million worldwide enterprise (Right now, they're probably around $125-130 million) I think Clarke has an operation that's right-sized (meaning it's not bloated or top-heavy), and he's been in charge since 2007, so there's tremendous continuity. Do they market well? Not particularly, but as savvy golf consumers we look beyond the marketing, don't we????
  5. Been trying out the 5-7-PW demo set that Cleveland sent me. Gotta say, they are easy to get up in the air. They're different than the XL Halos - MOI is higher with the XLs, but I'd say overall forgiveness and ease is greater with the Halos. They have a super wide sole and Gliderails - so there's no real comparison. Halos are more of a super-duper game improvement club, while the XLs are solidly game improvement, if that makes sense. I was most impressed by feel - to the point when I first hit them I had to stop and go "whoa." Cleveland did a very good job with these. I agree with above comments about the toplines - a little leaner than the UHX. I'm not a fan of the blue highlights - I did like the looks of the UHX better, but Cleveland told us they intentionally made the XLs look for like a game improvement iron. The market apparently didn't think the UHX irons looked enough like GI irons. Cleveland also said UHX sales have actually ticked up in their second year. They were frankly a little disappointed in first year sales, but apparently they caught on in year two.
  6. Agree with Brian's assessment. Can't tell you how much deliberation we would go through to select testers. The one thing we had to be sure of was would the tester actually follow through and, you know, do the test and write the review. The only tool we had to determine that was forum activity - is the person reasonably active in the forum? As Brian mentioned, did they bother to complete a profile and include a picture? We also knew there were plenty of people whose only posts were to apply for testing opportunities (it's easy to check) - so basically if the only time you ever post is to apply for a testing opportunity, you're chances aren't great. Another way to seriously limit your chances is to whine or complain about not getting selected. Patience is a virtue, and participation counts. So no, you don't need 3,000 posts, but it helps your chances if you participate outside of simply applying for testing opportunities. With all that, we would make mistakes. I can remember a few instances (I'm sure you can, too @hckymeyer, when we selected testers who received the product and were never heard from again. That makes us look bad, so we have to make judgment calls. I can also say with certainty the new moderator team is carrying the torch beautifully, and is absolutely committed to making the process fair and inclusive. Ultimately, this is a community and it's here to serve as a 19th hole for golfers who enjoy talking about all things golf, and many things non-golf. I can remember applying for many testing opportunities in the old days, and not getting chosen. C'est la vie - it didn't damped my enjoyment of the community and my interaction with the people in it. I've gotten to know many of them personally and play golf with them on occasion, and that makes it all worthwhile. And when I did get chosen - to review the Cobra Amp Cell irons (was it that long ago??) - I made sure to do the best job I could. As others have said, "Pay to Play" is utter nonsense. If you want to be selected as a tester, trust is an important element. And the only way mods have of gauging trustworthiness is participation beyond applying to test opportunities. There's no "minimum post" nonsense, but since this isn't a "giveaway", activity does count.
  7. Prepare to be amazed. I've never played it - the best I can say is I've driven near Fertile several times while living outside of Minneapolis. I did play Oakview, a nice little 9-holer in Greenbush, MN once with the guys from Central Boiler.
  8. Heading to WI Tuesday to take a couple of customers to Sand Valley. Anyone played it? We're only playing one round, but I'm really looking forward to it. We're taking caddies, but the website appears fairly oblique about costs and tipping.
  9. Just started raining here on the NH seacoast - but all the reports say it won't be that bad by the time it peaks here. Hope you guys on LI and southern NE stay safe!
  10. Just bought a pair. While $249 may be steep for a pair of golf shoes, at least I can feel good about wearing them. And I'm sure to get a ribbing from the golf buds about wearing pink shoes, but it'll all be worth it.
  11. This showed up in my Inbox this week from SQAIRZ founder and owner Bob Winskowicz and as both the husband and son of a cancer survivor, it made me glad to see. Below is the press release, but I also thought I'd share the email, as it shows it not some kind of publicity stunt to sell shoes. If you knew Bob, you know he's not the type of person to do that, but you need to hear it in his words, not mine: John Thanks for the text exchange and appreciate you sharing the SQAIRZ – ACS “Take A Swing at Cancer” partnership program with the My Golf Spy team. Unfortunately we have all been touched by cancer in some way and too many of us have seen it up close and personal. In 2007, I lost my brother Jeff to an aggressive form of lymphoma. It was less than 3 weeks between his diagnosis and his passing. From a bedside seat, my parents, brothers and sisters watched as the cancer radically changed his appearance and took his life at the age of 44. That scene that will live with me forever. This past February, I was invited to the ACS 2021 Impact Makers event in Florida where several (breast) cancer survivors spoke about their battle with cancer. We were taken on an emotional roller coaster that began with a gut- wrenching diagnosis and ended with the joy of being cancer free. We heard from medical professionals who were very proud of the advancements in detection and treatment of cancer. There was an incredible, almost tangible passion for the fight and an overwhelming sense of optimism towards finding a cure. One of the presenters talked about how breast cancer effects both men and women which took many of us men by surprise. He spoke about a program called “Real Men Wear Pink” which is directed at men to raise awareness (and money) about breast cancer. I left the event inspired and highly motived to use the SQAIRZ brand/platform to create more awareness. I decided to create a men’s and women’s PINK golf shoe to acknowledge, support and promote (breast) cancer awareness, education, treatment, and cure. SQAIRZ will be donating $30 per pair to the ACS and our goal is to present a check somewhere north of $125,000 at the end of October to the ACS team. As you know, influencers, bloggers, traditional golf media, and ideally, organizations like My Golf Spy can reach a lot people. In addition to raising money, we want to utilize our relationships in golf to create even more awareness. I am not looking for a shoe endorsement or a platform to call out competitive features and benefits. All I ask is that people share the press release, talk about the ACS partnership and maybe even our corporate mission to philanthropy. The presale went live on July 27th and shoes will ship to customers by the end of September; just in time for October Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As promised, attached please find the program press release. I appreciate your willingness to share the story with the MGS team and would very much appreciate their support and help “take a swing at cancer”. Kindest regards, Bob SQAIRZ Launches Limited Edition Men’s & Women’s Golf Shoes To Benefit American Cancer Society WINDHAM, NH, July 14, 2021 -- SQAIRZ, the fastest growing golf shoe company, announced today their partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS) to increase awareness about breast cancer and breast cancer month through the ‘Real Men Wear Pink’ campaign. SQAIRZ has launched two pink limited edition men’s and women’s golf shoes emblazoned with the breast cancer awareness ribbon and a portion of sales from these shoes will be donated directly to the ACS. These new limited edition SQAIRZ golf shoes will be available to preorder on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 exclusively at https://sqairz.com/. Shoe orders have an anticipated ship date of September 30, 2021. Both the SQAIRZ FREEDOMTM ACS Golf Shoe for women and the SQAIRZ SPEEDTM ACS Golf Shoe for men are designed with the same technology that has made SQAIRZ a leader in the world of golf shoe performance. These shoes present a great opportunity for golfers to raise money for a worthy cause while improving their golf game. ‘Real Men Wear Pink’ is a campaign where community leaders around the country work to raise awareness and money to support the American Cancer Society’s mission to save more lives than ever from breast cancer. You can learn more about the ‘Real Men Wear Pink’ campaign by clicking here. When asked about his involvement with the ‘Real Men Wear Pink’ campaign and his company’s new ACS golf shoes, the CEO and Founder of SQAIRZ, Robert Winskowicz, replied, “This is a deeply personal issue to me. I lost my brother to cancer and I would do anything to prevent this from happening to another family. Whether it's breast cancer or otherwise, this is a disease that has affected so many. I’ve really come to understand through my own experiences and the many other families I’ve met that are going through the same thing, what a devastating effect this disease has on families. We are supporting the ACS because so many millions have been positively affected by their great work and the golf community can do so much to spread education, awareness, and help to contribute to a worthy cause.” About The American Cancer Society The American Cancer Society is a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. Established in 1913, the society is organized into six geographical regions of both medical and lay volunteers operating in more than 250 regional offices throughout the United States. They are a nonprofit organization, therefore they cannot endorse any commercial products. The American Cancer Society has invested more than $5 billion in cancer research since 1946 in an effort to find more effective cancer treatment treatments, uncover factors that cause cancer, and improve cancer patients’ quality of life. About SQAIRZ SQAIRZ is the fastest growing golf shoe brand and the first golf shoe designed to increase distance, balance, stability, and speed. SQAIRZ®’s patented toe design, spike positioning, specially placed comfort padding, Sta-Put laces, and other performance innovations have been proven to improve golfers’ positioning, biomechanics, comfort, balance, and stability. These innovations help golfers to consistently achieve greater accuracy as well as increased ground force connection and swing speed for greater distance. For more information, visit sqairz.com or connect with the company on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
  12. Yep - part of Golfsmith's first product line with MacGregor. Some of that lineup was very good (these irons, specifically, and a few of the putters), the rest was kinda meh, from what I've been able to find. Stumbled across this during research: ULTIMATE REVIEW! - BEST FORGED CAVITY-BACK IRONS (mygolfspy.com) The VIP irons finished a strong third in MyGolfSpy's cavity back iron review for 2010, behind the Mizuno MP-53 and the Cobra Pro CB. It's an interesting read. And here's a rundown of the 2010 lineup... MacGregor Golf Launches New Equipment Line | GolfCrunch.com
  13. It appears we've reached the predictable point in our relationship -- we're even finishing each others sentences!!
  14. Word on new irons? Whatever do you mean? All I can say is can you guys keep a secret?
  15. So the 2010 MacGregor VIP irons showed up last week - got a 4-PW set on eBay for 80 bucks. After a range session and one round, I'd have to see they're a steal. They're forged, with a regular flex KBS Tour shaft, and they're soft, silly easy to heat and surprisingly long for what one might call a traditionally lofted iron. I'll get some pix up as soon as I can, but I can say it's a really solid, nice feeling forged cavity back worthy of the name, even though it doesn't have the diamonds on the ends of the score lines or the traditional MacGregor ferrule. h/Working on the next History's Mysteries - trying to track down the back story of these babies, how they came to be and why there were no m ore.
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