All posts by Matt

Recycled vs Refurbished Golf Balls vs New Golf Balls – The Truth

There's a bit of a stigma attached to both recycled and refurbished golf balls. While that stigma may be valid particularly against the refurbished balls but there's a bit more to it.

We'll dive into the issue together in this article and we'll take a look at 

  • What's the difference between refurbished and recycled?
  • How do they refurbish a golf ball?
  • What are the pitfalls of recycled, refurbished and new golf balls?
  • What's the performance difference between the three?
  • How your priorities affect your buying decision

Pre-loved golf balls good, golf balls with face-lifts, not good

Recycled vs Refurbished Golf Balls vs New Golf Balls 

Difference between refurbished and recycled golf balls

In essence, you're getting a golf ball that looks brand new but is a second hand ball that has been stripped of some of the outer layer and repainted. 

A recycled ball on the other hand is a ball found on the golf course and resold in the condition that is was found. The seller will more than likely clean it with some soapy water and a towel but you're getting a ball that hasn't been altered other than by nature.

How do they refurbish a golf ball?

The refurbishment process in a nutshell

Refurbished golf balls are sandblasted by the company that purchases/finds the, In the sandblasting process, a fraction of the cover is stripped away to remove all exterior scratches. After the sandblasting process, they then paint the cover with a glossy finish and restamp the ball with the desired brand and model.

What are the pitfalls of recycled, refurbished and new golf balls?

Recycled golf balls

There's not too much wrong with recycled balls. If you buy them from a reputable seller, you'll get a decent collection with five out of every fifty being a bit scruffy but still playable.

The only real issue with recycled balls are the ones that have been burned by fire or have their cover chipping and peeling away. Otherwise the difference for the average golfer is negligible.

Those yellow blemishes on the golf ball? I've never found them to affect my performance. If every shot you're playing counts for $20,000 like a professional, it would be something to worry about.

A lot of guys complain about other peoples Sharpie markings or corporate logos on recycled golf balls. But if you're buying used golf balls, that's like getting free ice cold beer and complaining that it's not your favorite brand. Just take it and run!

Refurbished or refinished golf balls

There's something untrustworthy about these balls.

In general, you're getting a recycled ball that's been made a bit smoother with sandblasting and a new coat of paint plus a new stamp of the brand you're looking for. 

Now is that ball with the Pro V1 stamp on it, really a Pro V1? In other words, did they sandblast and repaint another brand and trick you into buying a fake Pro V1 by stamping it with Pro V1? Those are the questions I ask myself which means I don't recommend playing refurbished balls.

New golf balls

The only problem you're going to have with new balls is the price, especially if you lose a few!

What's the difference in performance?

New balls perform best and as advertised.

The refinished and repainted covers of the refurbished golf balls wear off and reveal the worn out old cover underneath pretty quickly. In terms of performance, they'll perform similarly to a new ball if they're not too old or too waterlogged, but how can we know what condition they were in before they were repainted? And is that Pro V1 really a Pro V1?

recycled vs refurbished golf balls vs new golf balls

Before refurbishment -> after refurbishment -> after 4 holes

Recycled balls perform very well and it's easier to see what condition they're in before you hit one! You'll noticed immediately if the cover has been worn away by the sun or water. In general, with the huge demand for used golf balls, lost balls don't spend too long in the water or the woods. There's always someone finding them and reselling them so you can bet on them performing very close to a new ball. 

Which one should I buy?

Which one you buy all depends on your priorities. 

Are you a new golfer? It's best to get second hand golf balls and anything will do. Lost Golf Balls are a reputable company.

Are you a high or mid handicapper who doesn't lose many balls? Buy new and get the best you can afford to maximize your performance. Check out my guide for high handicappers here and mid handicappers here.

Does the thought of losing an expensive or new ball make you tense up and hit poor shots? Downgrade to a lower priced ball or buy used.

Do you need the best performance possible and have unlimited funds? Buy the best new balls you can.

There's no right or wrong answer really but I urge you not to be suckered into buying refurbished golf balls.

Conclusion

I hope I've convinced you to avoid playing refurbished golf balls and are more comfortable teeing it up with a second hand ball that's merely been cleaned with some soap and water. Don't overthink it - if you like new balls play new balls. If you want to save a few bucks and you're prone to losing a few, feel happy in your decision to play second hand!

Biggest Collapses in PGA Tour History

We all have tough days on the course but it gets a lot tougher when you're playing for a living and trying to win majors. The pressure must be unbelievable. 

Sometimes that pressure gets to even the best. Here's a collection of some of the most unbelievable meltdowns and collapses in golf history. 

biggest chokes and collapses in pga tour history

Jordan Spieth - 2016 Masters

No one likes to see bad things happen to nice people and Jordan seems like a really nice, nerdy guy. I've played a replica hole of the 12th at Augusta and believe me it's difficult. 

All that carry over water with a small green guarded by bunkers front and back with maybe 10 yards of landing space. With the pressure of a major over your head, that landing area gets smaller and smaller. 

This little set back didn't keep him down for long. He may have lost the 2016 Masters with this meltdown, but he got past it and won the British Open in 2017.

Phil Mickelson - 2006 US Open

Mickelson was leading by two after 15 holes and on the 18th he was a shot ahead of Geoff Ogilvy, but on the tee of the 450-yard par-4 he made a terrible swing, a push-slice that bounced off a hospitality tent waaaay left of the fairway.

What happened next was a series of mistakes more fitting of an 18 handicap. Trying to cut a three-iron around a tree he instead hit it into the tree trunk, the ball rolled right back to him. On the next one, Mickelson over cut it, flying the ball into a buried lie in the left greenside bunker, leaving an almost impossible shot.

Minutes earlier he was about to win the US Open. Suddenly he needed to get up and down just for an 18-hole playoff. Mickelson's long bunker shot came out hot and rolled off the green - his chip for bogey never had a chance.

Greg Norman - 1996 Masters

He's won the British open twice but must surely have the most top 5 finishes at the Masters without a victory. The poor guy really wanted a Masters green jacket but just could never quite pull it all together. 

In the 1996 Masters, he had his best chance, going into the final round with a 6 shot lead over Nick Faldo. He even shot a course record 63 on his way to the lead on Sunday morning. When it was over, Norman turned his 6-shot overnight lead into a deficit. 

If I had the ability to cry, I would probably cry during this one.

Mark Calcavecchia - 1991 Ryder Cup

Needing to just keep his ball dry after Montgomerie stuck his in the water, 'Calc' did the unthinkable. Montgomerie also made a great decision on the putting green. This is a very undermentioned meltdown.

Jean van de Velde - 1999 British Open

I'll never forget this one. I watched the entire day's coverage right up until the end of the 17th hole but switched it off because I figured, oh well, it's settled. I went out to the grocery store and came back about and hour later to find the British Open still on and there was a Frenchman in the water without any shoes on!

I missed the entire meltdown. But I've watched it 100 times since. All you needed to do was hit 4 pitching wedges!

Dustin Johnson - 2010 US Open

He may have had a meltdown in 2010 and been suspended for performance enhancing drugs like cocaine, and had a few "liasons' with other players' wives, but he is still one of the best out there and can hit a long ball. Plus he's with that Gretsky lady so I'm sure the meltdown below isn't even on his mind. 

If he was playing while on his performance enhancers, he might not even have any memory of it at all.

Tiger Woods - 2015 Memorial

Not really a meltdown but it's always reassuring to know that even the greatest, most revolutionary golfer the ever live can put up an 85. Just like you and me.

Hunter Mahan - 2010 Ryder Cup

Haven't we all had a little chip with a carry halfway between us and the pin? Usually it goes two ways, either 6 foot past or chunk it short. With all those people surrounding him and the pressure of a nation's expectations, his heart must've been in his throat.

I always put myself in these situations o the course and imagine the shot's for a major or Ryder cup win. And if I were Hunter, I would've done the same thing. Painful to watch and imagine that stomach dropping feeling.

Jason Day - 2015 US Open

Jason Day literally collapsed. What appears to be an attention seeking incident or even a half-hearted attempt at escaping the US Open, is actually someone suffering from Vertigo. 

Not quite sure what vertigo is, but it doesn't look fun.

Golf in Thailand – 12 Things You Must Know

I'm sure you've heard some stories about Thailand and yes, they're all true. But the untold story you might not have heard is how it's a golfing mecca.

As a golfer, you're immediately looked at as the upper echelon in the Land of Smiles and everything about the golfing experience in Thailand oozes regal style and decadent exceptionalism. ​

From the moment you enter the gates, you feel like a boss. When you leave again, you realize why so many people claim golf is the sport of kings. In Thailand, they do it properly. You very often never even touch your bag until you unload it back at your room.

If you're planning on playing golf in Thailand or are just curious about what it's like, keep reading because there are a few tips to make it more enjoyable. Let's get on with it...

1. You're required to take a caddie

Caddies are always local Thai girls, usually in great shape

In Thailand it's compulsory to take a caddie and the price is usually about $10 paid to the cashier when you pay your green fee. 

If the course requires a cart, you'll need to have a cart as well as a caddie. The caddie is always compulsory and it's expected that you tip them too.

Important tip: 300 - 400 Thai baht ($10-$12) is an acceptable tip and you pay her after the round when she hands over the bag into your possession. If after nine holes, you'd like to change your caddie, don't be shy to do it. You'll pay half the caddie fee to the cashier again and have your new caddie waiting on the 10th tee. You're then free to tip the new caddie accordingly.

2. Caddies are all ladies

Always armed with a smile and a sense of humor

All caddies are Thai ladies and I've had them ranging from 17 years old to 57 years old. And yes, I can confirm they're generally good looking. In fact, courses often stipulate they need to be trim and wear make up!

In the years I've played golf in Thailand, I've never had an unpleasant caddie on the bag. It's best to remember that these ladies don't play golf but use their experience on the course to help you with distances and reading greens but only one out of five will be really proficient. 

So have fun, crack some jokes and SMILE. A relaxed smile is currency with Thai people and whatever you project, they'll mirror directly back at you. Make the five hours together with them fun and you'll really enjoy your game.

3. You'll probably never drive a golf cart here

Thailand: caddies without drivers licenses are insured but you aren't!

Golf courses insure the carts with the condition that only the caddies drive them. I'm sure they've seen too many of those golf fail videos in real life.

4. You'll probably never touch the ball either

I once played a round where I didn't even touch the ball

Don't be surprised if all you do is  swing the club and then walk between shots.

Here's what the caddies do (and this is no joke):

  • Tee the ball up for you and pick up the tee afterward
  • Mark the ball on the green and replace it by lining up the arrow to your line
  • Take the ball out of the hole and take it to the next tee for you
  • play
    Won't allow you to even touch the pin
  • Massage your back and shoulders if you appear remotely sore
  • Hold your beer while you swing

Of course, like me, you can tee it up yourself and retrieve it yourself from the hole. But if you do drink a little too much swing lube on the course, the caddies are great at lining up the chyron on the ball to the putting line and instructing you how to hit the putt.

5. Five and six-balls are normal

Hello five and a half hour rounds!

It's quite normal to see six carts or twelve people (golfers and caddies) walking the fairways in front of you. Sit back, relax and enjoy the sun because fighting it will only hurt you.

6. A group of 18 people isn't unusual

On weekends, you'll routinely see six golfers in a flight with one caddie and one fore caddie - 18 people!

The fore caddie isn't to find the ball and speed up play. She's there to watch to make sure the other players aren't cheating. Let's just say as delicately as possible, some guys bring some money to the course and the game gets very intricate so the occasional leather wedge could win a few bucks.

7. Don't expect to play through

Stuck behind a four, five or six ball means you'll be there the whole day. Golf etiquette regarding playing through hasn't been discovered in Thailand yet so bring a book or take nice long stops at the multiple drinks stations on the course.

8. Locker rooms are luxurious

Fit for a king

Golf is for the elite here. Club houses and locker rooms are huge, ostentatious and scream "money". You'll receive what feels like a brand new towel, a large locker for your stuff and all the soap, powder, gel, deodorant and creams you could need. Hell, some courses give you toothbrushes and cotton ear buds. 

9. Flip flops are acceptable in the club house

We won the annual pairs competition - check out the footwear!

Remember when you quickly learned that you need to wear closed shoes and remove your hat in the club house? Not here. Anything goes: sports shirts and flip flops are common.

10. There's water....everywhere

Bring a lot of golf balls. Between nine and all 18 holes will have water in the form of a lake, pond, river or stream on them. Thailand isn't known for it's droughts which means...

11. Every course is in immaculate condition

The immaculate King Gems 16th: a replica of Augusta's 16th hole

There's always someone working on something on the golf course and with the low minimum daily wage ($10 per day), it's no surprise.

Some courses even stipulate that the caddies need to do one day per week of weeding on the fairways. They'll sit in a group and groom the fairway gossiping with each other. They smile and wave as you walk by and they're happy, so none of the usual politically correct western "poor them" attitude applies here. 

12. Every course has a resident stray dog

The resident security guards of Royal Gems on the left and Royal Bangpoakong on the right

In Thailand it's forbidden to put down stray dogs which means there is a LOT of them. So with the cities so crowded and full of undesirables, some dogs prefer to retreat to the quiet life on a golf course. It's a slow life and quality of sleep is much better.

Conclusion

From the moment you pull up to the bag deposit to the time you leave the course, you're treated like a god. Keep a smile on your face and embrace the "sabai sabai" lifestyle of Thailand and you'll want to come back to this golfing mecca again and again.

Top 5 golf course I highly recommend in Thailand:

  1. Black Mountain - Hua Hin
  2. Thai Country Club - Bangkok surrounds
  3. Siam Country Club - Pattaya
  4. Banyan Golf Course - Hua Hin
  5. Alpine Golf & Sports Club - Bangkok

How to Be the Guy No One Wants to Play Golf With

This is the guide to show you how to be the ultimate solo golfer - a Jack Reacher of sorts. Roaming from course to course looking for a game before just walking off into the sunset, onto the next course.

Follow these principles and you too can be a lone wolf eternally looking for that elusive wolf-pack.

It can be a very rewarding lifestyle: endless rounds as a solo flight, just you, the course and no one - not even a caddie. And when the weekend rolls around it's always refreshing to have a new four ball every week instead of a boring regular game with the same old guys you've known for the last 8 years. Golf also becomes a lot cheaper when there's no one to buy drinks for after the round. Keep reading to find out how you too can attain this life.

Become the Jack Reacher of golf with these easy to develop habits!

"It's always best to push your partners to the limits of their patience" - No One

Principles of the Lone Golfer

Know the rules well to help others understand them whenever you can

"I noticed you telling John to keep his spirits up after he missed that 3 footers. That's giving advice and therefore breaches Rule 8-1." is an example of something you could say to help the guys out in your group to better understand the rules. Penalize them the required number of shots and wait til the end of the round to tell them. This game is nothing without rules.

The rules do get complicated so it's always great to have someone in the group who knows the whole book by heart to point out instances where the other guys unknowingly commit breaches. They'll value your input and remember your helpfulness for eternity.

Caveat: knowing the rules and following them are two totally different concepts and just because you know them does not mean you need to actually play by them. 

Be perpetually SHOCKED by your poor play

Everybody hurts....sometimes

It's always best to lie and pretend that you shot 75 in your previous round to cover up for the impending 100+ you're about to shoot. And make sure you tell everyone in the group more than once because people are skeptical and the more you repeat it, the more they'll believe you. Even if they played with you in the last round.

Include lots of putter drops, hands-on-head freeze frames and an "I can't believe I hit that shot" or two to really drive home the point an convince them.

Offer free golf lessons on the course

Everyone loves free stuff especially pointers and tips on the golf course. But people are shy to ask for your expertise because of Rule 8-1 governing shot advice, so take the initiative and offer some tips to your partners when they duff a chip or yip a putt.  

It's just the right thing to do because we're all born PGA pros, we just didn't get the same opportunities as those guys.

Wait for the green to clear on all the par 5's

It's always polite to let the group in front finish putting in case you really catch one from 290. Most of the guys you'll play with are inconsiderate and will hit up to within 100 yards of the green! You don't want to take a risk in this situation - it's always better to wait even if your 3 wood tops out at 200 yards.  

Learn to throw your clubs

Throwing clubs is the ultimate stress relief. You need to learn how to do it though. Rory McIlroy and Sergio have text book form below:

It's pretty much a waste of time if you're not going to throw the club into the water or out of bounds. You never want to actually have to retrieve a club - once you throw it, it must stay gone. You do need to lead with the hips and come through with the arms later though to get enough distance to get the ball into the middle of the drink.

Breaking clubs is not an option because once again you still have it in your possession and the shame of putting it back in your bag is unbearable. Unless you break them all, leave them right there and storm off the course. That's powerful.

My personal hero, Mr Roy McAvoy didn't do it quite right but close enough:

Use your rangefinder even on putts

Rangefinders are awesome, there's no denying that but where the real benefit comes is inside 40 yards. There's nothing more valuable than knowing you have exactly 31.5 yards instead of guessing it's 32.

Particularly useful is knowing how long a putt is so you can accurately recount the distances to your wife when you get home. You bought the rangefinder, use it.

Always hole out, get full value for your green fee

Never pick up your golf ball

It doesn't matter if it's a one-footer for a 10 or you're lying 8 on the fringe, this game is not a joke. Any insinuation that you're holding up play should be ignored because you paid your green fee and you need to get full value. 

When you use this technique in conjunction with "don't play too quickly" and "be perpetually shocked at your bad play", you'll multiply your results.

Forget how to count past 5

When you hole out and your marker asks how many, 5 is always a good number. You can use 6 if you think you took 10 or more shots. 

In general though 5 has a good ring to it. If anyone questions your score, look back at the tee box and slowly count each shot with a running commentary with the argumentative chap. When it appears your score is closer to 8 or 9, say "oh yeah I forgot about that" but never apologize. We're never sorry on the golf course. Sorry is for weaklings.

Remember to use as many cliches as possible

Memorize this list and use it where appropriate. Golfers absolutely love this stuff:

  1. Drive for show putt for dough: Use this after someone hits a long drive and makes a bogey after 3 putting. Another good one to use is "Nice drive, nice five". If you want low handicapper friends, they love this one.
  2. Never up, never in: This is one of those that is not obvious to everyone. Sometimes people don't understand if you don't hit the putt hard enough, it won't go in the hole.
  3. You lifted your head: The all-time classic. This one never gets old and despite the problem usually being a change in spine angle, no one has time for that long winded technical stuff. You lifted your head is so much simpler.
  4. When someone knocks the ball off the tee, always say "one". If you don't say it every time it happens, you will have bad luck for 17 years.
  5. When someone hits it fat, you're not Captain Obvious if you say "You hit the big ball before the small ball". It's always polite to let other golfers know exactly what went wrong in case they don't get it first time.
  6. You're standing to close to the ball after your follow through: really helps a golfer know they have more potential than they're displaying and is incredibly motivating.
  7. Whenever someone is still away/out on the putting green: "the 3 saddest words in golf... you're still away/out."

Start smoking cigars ASAP

Make your mark with a cigar cloud

If you want further reaching notoriety, this is a great technique to get a wider audience of golfers not to play with you so you can scale up your mission. We all have an inner-Miguel Angel Jimenez, so let him out to play.

Allow other players freedom to look for their own ball

You never want to insult a golfer by searching for his ball in the long rough. Most guys overestimate how far they hit the ball and you don't want to be the guy who searches in the more realistic area of the rough for his ball.

Imagine if you found it, how would that look? You'd firstly be showing he hits it like a girl and secondly, he would have to play from that awful lie. It's always better to stand in the fairway and politely shout-ask if they've found it yet. If not, play your shot to speed up play and wait for the rest of the group to catch up.

Don't play too quickly

No one wants to rush on a leisurely Saturday or Sunday. It's all about relaxing and since you've paid the same green fee as everyone else, it's always best to make it as relaxing and enjoyable for yourself as you can. 

With strict adherence to the rules you should always wait for the person furthest from the hole to play even if he can't find his ball. 

Rushing and playing ready golf is new-age nonsense and little do most people know, the saying is not "a good walk spoiled", but actually "a very long leisurely walk spoiled". That's your new motto.

Try to never mark your ball on the green

Most of the time the ball doesn't really need cleaning anyway so there is actually no point in marking it. Usually the coin glints in peoples eyes and when you use a copper coin, it gets lost on the green anyway.

People complain if you use a tee peg and they don't like poker chips. It's not worth the effort of bending down and perhaps pulling a sciatic nerve. If anyone has anything rude to say, just putt your ball first, problem solved.

Learn the best place to stand when someone hits

Only stand directly behind the golf ball

There is only one place to stand behind any golfer playing his shot - right behind the ball. Nowhere else.

Keep your phone on loud and answer every call & text

You're an important person and a busy person cannot go without their phone. In the updated Rules of Golf, they decided they need to move with the times and golfers with mobiles take preference over golfers hitting the ball. Who knows, you might be from MI6 or the CIA.

In other words, you're more entitled to answer the call on someone's back swing than he is to be making the back swing. Offer mulligans every time it happens if they hit a bad shot.

Your face should express your negative internal emotions

It's always okay to express your emotions

A common theme throughout this guide is the fact you've paid the same green fee as everyone else, you are allowed to do whatever you want - it's your party.

Whether you're having a bad day, hit a few in the water, took a 10 on a par 3 or just can't buy a putt, sulking is by far the most effective way to let others know how poorly you're playing. Most people are totally unaware of another players' performance so it's always a good reminder to walk far ahead of them and answer their chit chat with one or two word answers. Throwing in a down-turned mouth and making threats to never play golf again are cherries on the top.

No one likes a guy who is happy when he's playing badly. It's just weird.

Search for free balls...all the time

Who doesn't like a free Pro V1 or Chrome Soft? Golf becomes an expensive game when you need to buy golf balls. The solution? Always carry a golf ball retriever and fish those balls out the pond.

It's also a good idea to hit it into the woods every now and then and go find yourself some little treasures. Try to find two balls per hole and you'll never pay a cent for golf balls again.

Time your first step off the tee at the top of a backswing

The quick-step just at the top of the guys swing is an excellent way to keep him alert and ready for anything. It takes some practice but if you get this right, you'll really have some great interactions on the golf course.

Some weirdos might find it distracting for some reason but as mentioned already, we never apologize on the course. If anyone mentions your quick-step, you should do it on the next tee just to show you didn't mean anything by it.

Pink and white are the only two colors to wear

You should never wear any other color on your body at the golf course besides pink and white. I mean belts, shoes, socks, caps, gloves, pants, underpants, shirts, undershirts, sunglasses, everything. You can mix and match your clothes, but like the great car manufacturer, Harrison Ford said "It can be any color as long as it's pink and white"

Gloves Velcro should be ripped on someone's backswing

If your quick-step is a bit delayed, taking your glove off on their back swing is generally the only time you should be taking off your glove. There's just no time in a 5 hour round to be taking it off after everyone has hit or between shots. That's ridiculous and if you've hit a bad shot, you're more entitled to rip the Velcro on someone else's swing. 

Standing on someone's line on a 3 footer is fine

Modern golf shoes don't really do anything to the greens anymore so don't go to all that unnecessary effort of avoiding people's lines on the green. They'll probably miss anyway so whatever.

Betting on the golf course is illegal so not paying up is okay

It's highly unethical and immoral to bet on a golf game and if you find you're on the losing end, it's always best to drop the bag in the car, retrieve your bag from the locker and go home immediately.

If you win, you should stick around for a drink after the game but once you have your winnings, you should leave ASAP in case they order another round and they expect you to waste your hard-fought winnings on alcohol. 

Best Golf Travel Bags for Airlines With Wheels– Hard and Soft Cases

Ever left your clubs at home on a trip and rented a set? It's not the same, is it?

We've all heard the stories in our fourball of the guys brand new custom-fitted driver shaft snapping on the flight back home. And all the airline offered him was a few paltry dollars based on the light weight of the club. 

On top of that, who loves carrying a golf bag around looking for a check-in counter, then retrieving it and carrying it away from the baggage reclaim, praying nothing's broken? That 'fragile' sticker they put on it means nothing to baggage handlers, that's for sure. 

Those days are over my cautious golfing friend.

I've traveled thousands of miles (on full service and budget airlines) with my golf clubs and have never had a single one broken. Even with a travel bag, I take extra precautions.

In this guide, I'll not only show you which are the best golf travel bags for airlines, but I'm going to show you how to pack a bag so you never ever have broken clubs. Plus, wheeling your golf back around the airport looks way more swanky than lugging it on a shoulder. Take your clubs everywhere!

Enjoy your flight knowing your clubs are safe and easy to wheel around

Key features of a golf travel bag

  1. Weight is important because some airlines restrict the weight of sports equipment. Do you travel low-cost or full-service most of the time? Check airline rules - generally 50 lbs total is about the norm for sports equipment.
  2. Wheels make moving the bag around so much easier than carrying so I've featured only wheeled bags here. I struggled for too long with a carry travel bag.
  3. Side pockets are great for accessories, clothes and golf shoes. 
  4. Hard or soft cover can mean the difference between adding your own padding or not.
  5. Some manufacturers offer very generous warranties that even cover your clubs!
  6. Some bags come with built-in locks while others need padlocks.
  7. TSA will check certain bags and some do come with TSA locks otherwise purchase a TSA-approved lock from Master.
best golf travel bags for airlines

Best Golf Travel Bags for Airlines

  1. SKB Deluxe ATA Hard Cover (best value travel bag, includes superior guarantee/warranty)
  2. Club Glove Last Bag Soft Cover  (most spacious - used by Tour pros)
  3. CaddyDaddy Constrictor 2 Soft Cover (lightweight budget option)
  4. Sun Mountain Club Glider Meridian Soft Cover (easiest for check-in queues)
  5. GTB Caravan 3.0 Soft Cover (best bang for buck option)

*All of these bags are compliant with airline policies. The only thing to remember is the weight restrictions and to double check the airline policies to ensure once the bag is packed, it doesn't exceed maximum weight - usually around 50 lbs.


SKB Deluxe ATA Golf Travel Bag

A Sherman tank with a million mile warranty

The SKB Deluxe Travel Case is built like a bomb shelter. When Kim Jong-whatever loses his mind, get one of these and get inside it!

American-made quality with TSA lock

The American-made SKB Deluxe is made of molded polyethylene which makes it not only dirt and moisture resistant but extremely strong. So strong in fact, that the manufacturer offers $1500 club coverage and a million mile guarantee on the case.

With that sturdiness and strength comes a bit of extra weight though and at 18 lbs, the SKB travel bag isn't light. With your bag loaded inside, you might have enough airline weight allowance for a pair of golf shoes.

You'll be able to put pretty much any bag in here but it works especially well for stand bags and cart bags. It's a tight fit for larger cart bags and staff bags but with a bit of effort, it'll hold it all. The inline skate wheels make wheeling this solid structure around very easy.

There are three locks on the bag and keys are included. A TSA lock is included which is fantastic because this bag is a magnet for TSA and will be checked. It's always best not to put too much loose stuff in the case because the ever reliable TSA will reliably lose it for you.

One of the other areas that could be improved actually, are the locks. They could be made of a material more in-line with the sturdiness of the case but are made of a hard plastic. They do however work very well. 

This is easily the best hard case golf travel bag on the market.

Pros
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    Extremely strong - probably the last travel bag you'll buy
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    Fits even tour staff bags
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    Incredible $1500 club coverage and million mile warranty
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    Comes with TSA approved lock
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    Water and dust resistant
Cons
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    Heavy at 18 lbs
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    TSA magnet - don't put too many loose valuables inside

Club Glove Last Bag

Trusted by Tour pros and comes in 16 colors

Did you know the Club Glove travel bag is the most used travel bag by professionals on Tour?  Neither did I but that's why it 's priced quite a bit higher than others. Or maybe it's the lifetime warranty. Or the executive looks. Or the fact your clubs won't break inside of it?

Like an overprotective dad except lighter weight

Club Glove have made this bag of resilient Cordura which is way more durable than nylon and even though this bag is about 10 lbs, it protects the hell out of your clubs. Regardless of the type of bag you use, it can hold even a big Tour bag and two pairs of shoes. There's just so much space and with the light weight, you have 40 lbs to stuff everything you can into your golf bag.

It's made in the USA and includes high quality YKK zippers and ITW Nexus buckles and if you know anything about zippers and clasps, these are the highest quality. Placing your clubs inside the bag is easy and once you zip it closed, you can then connect the buckles for a tight fit without any club rattle. The inline skate wheel system is sturdy and not likely to break off like the Samsonite's do.

There just isn't any soft cover golf travel bag that comes close to this which is why it's the best golf travel bag for airlines because no matter what those handlers do with it, your clubs are well protected. 

If you want to add another level of club safety in a soft cover bag, take a look at the Stiff Arm and for TSA approved locks, you can't go wrong with a cheap Master lock

Pros
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    Very roomy inside 
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    Excellent zipper and clasp system to keep clubs from rattling around
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    Lifetime warranty
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    Extra padding around where the club heads go
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    Only experiences 2 breakages per year OVER ALL PGA and LPGA tours
Cons
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    Very pricey

CaddyDaddy Constrictor 2 

Lightweight budget option for stress-free packing

The CaddyDaddy Constrictor is a good budget option if the previous two models in the guide are a bit steep for your tastes. Hard cover bags are pretty difficult to store because of their bulkiness and the Constrictor 2 just folds in half and takes up about the same space as a carry on bag.

Lightweight and plenty of room

The bag is only about 8.5 lbs which means you have 40 lbs to play with so with your clubs, you can add your golf shoes and all the balls you could possibly lose in 5 rounds. And with the ample space inside the bag, you really can go wild even if you have a Rodney Dangerfield Caddyshack bag. The two extra pockets on the outside give you even more storage space.

Very convenient is the bag stands up straight with a golf bag loaded inside. Now this is a soft cover case and while the protection is quite good around the clubs, I'd recommend reading my packing guide at the bottom of the page to ensure your clubs stay safe. Or you have the option of the North Pole to keep the force away from breaking your driver shaft.

Pros
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    Very well priced
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    Lightweight for more opportunity to smuggle alcohol home
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    Loads of storage space internally and externally
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    Consistent and repeatable performance around the greens
Cons
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    Internal strap not the best for holding clubs in place
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    Reinforcement around your clubs is advised

Sun Mountain Club Glider Meridian

Easiest to wheel through check-in lines

Excellent for travelling families

From the golf bag specialists, Sun Mountain, the Sun Mountain Club Glider gets top marks. There is a second set of wheels besides the standard inline skate wheels which are easily retractable so the bag stays in the wheeling position by itself.

The little wheels on the foremost wheels pivot and take almost 100% of the weight off your hand and arm so you can guide the Club Glider Meridian around with total ease using a single finger.

That's a major advantage when you're also wheeling around a couple kids and your wife's cosmetics case! No need to keep picking it up and moving it while navigating to check-in.

Some things that could be improved are the amount of padding around the clubs, and perhaps the external pockets extending outward and not pushing into the interior of the bag. A minor grip is needing to put the legs back getting on an escalator and pull the out as you approach the top.

Space-wise the Sun Mountain has enough space for your bag, a small carry on and golf shoes. There isn't nearly as much space as the Club Glove and the material isn't as durable as the Cordura used in the Club Glove. There's a one year warranty on the Club Glider Meridian travel bag itself but not on your clubs which the SKB does offer at a lower price point.

Overall, a nice bag that will need a bit more support around the club heads but there is no easier golf travel bag on the market that is this easy to wheel around.

Pros
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    Sole focus here is to wheel your bag around super easily​​​​
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    Four wheels turn the bag into a trolley on its own - easy for check in
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    Takes weight off your arm and with carabiners can be used to attach other bags like a train
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    Excellent color options
Cons
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    Main zipper isn't designed for a lock
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    External pockets extend inward not outward
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    Not much padding around clubs
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    Heavy at 15 lbs

Golf Travel Bags Caravan 3.0

Super value for money very under budget

Good option if you travel occasionaly

Excellent external pockets and riveted handles make the Caravan 3.0 extremely high value. There is little difference between this bag and the Constrictor 2. The weight is similar and the setup is almost identical.

There's plenty of space inside to pack everything you could need on your golf trip. The two pockets on the exterior easily fit one pair of golf shoes each. While this bag isn't going to last forever like an SKB or Club Glove, it's a great budget option if you don't travel extensively with your clubs.


Tips on packing your golf bag safely

This is by no means pretty, but it is effective. If you don't want to buy a travel bag or you want a soft cover travel bag, you can do this.

  1. Clip on your club cover and unzip to let it hang loose. It's easier to do the final step if you put the cover on now.
  2. Unscrew the driver head from the shaft and put the shaft into the bag with the clubs. If your driver doesn't unscrew, go to the next step.
  3. Put your woods and hybrids upside down into the bag. Be sure to put some old socks on the heads to prevent scratches.
  4. Bunch the shafts that are sticking out the top together and put your umbrella in the bag to act as a splint for more support.
  5. Turn your irons in so the toes are all facing your woods' shafts and bunch them all together and wrap a towel (or two) around the whole set.
  6. Once the towels are tightly wrapped around the club heads, zip up the club cover.
  7. Put the driver head and wrench into a jacket and place it in a secure pocket.
  8. Use cellophane wrap and masking tape to wrap it all up for a budget version of the airport service

Conclusion

Simply put, the best travel bags are expensive and they're expensive because they last. An SKB hard case will serve any golfer well and for the price, there is little reason to get a soft cover travel bag for airlines. If a hard cover bag is not ideal and storage becomes a pain in the butt, the high-priced Club Glove is virtually indestructible and protects your golf clubs amazingly. For those who don't like lugging a golf travel bag around by a flimsy handle, the Sun Mountain makes travel easy. These three are essentially the best golf travel bags for airlines hands down.

how to break 100 in golf

Breaking 100 in Golf – How to Break 100 Featuring an Actual Beginner

Getting hooked on golf is a terrible terrible thing! You want so desperately to improve every single round and when you do, you expect every shot and round to be the same but it never is!

In this guide, I want to help you if you're want to know how to break 100 in golf.

Too many guides out there don't really show you the actual way that a beginner or 100+ shooter plays, meanwhile some pro is telling you to do this and do that without seeing it in reality. 

So what I did was try help my brother in law, Brian, break 100 and I recorded as much of it as I could on film.

But you wanna know the best part?

We intended to do it after just ONE driving range session and FIVE minutes of chipping. I didn't want him to be hindered by swing thoughts or complicated ideas. I just wanted to focus on course management and thinking like a golfer. That's pretty much all you need to break 100 and if you already shoot 100-110, you can easily break 100 very quickly. 

We also video recorded the majority of his shots and we'll use these further down the page to illustrate the concepts you need to break 100.

A bit of Brian's background is important at this point to put this task into perspective.

About Brian

  • Lowest score 121 - average score unknown because of picking his ball up on so many holes
  • Pain in his left wrist, forearm and shoulder from swinging made him always want to leave the course after 3 holes
  • He hadn't completed 18 holes in since 2012 due to the pain in his arm from swinging
  • When he did play 9 holes, he would pick his ball up after eight shots 7 out of 9 holes

Sounds like an impossible task right? Well truth be told, we didn't break 100 first time out. Brian shot 105 and that's amazing - 16 shots off his best score! With some extra work on bunkers and putting and Brian can easily shoot in the 90's.

But what was even more amazing than finishing every single hole and actually posting a completed scorecard? ​​Brian enjoyed 18 holes for the first time in years. Why?

Because I showed him how to think like a golfer and use good habits and solid fundamentals. And you'll learn these things if you keep reading this guide. That's the main point of this guide, to show you how to better think your way round the golf course.

First things first - fix the basics

I was so confused every time Brian told me about the pain in his left shoulder and arm when he swung a golf club. He never wanted to play golf because of some mystery 'pain'. I actually thought he just didn't like me.

So I forced him to go to the driving range one fateful Sunday.

For the life of me I couldn't see what he was doing wrong because his swing is quite good especially for a beginner who hasn't taken lessons. But then I saw it...

He was setting up to every shot like it was a chip shot, standing far too close to the ball. In the left picture below noticed how cramped he was at setup. He fixed it very quickly and after a few adjustment hits, Brian was A for away.

First we fixed the pain by standing the right distance from the ball

The simplest drill to fix distance from the ball issues

This little trick will tell you if you're the right distance from the ball. You can do it on the range, just before you hit your shot or whenever you're feeling a bit cramped and it's how we fixed Brian.

Place the top of the grip on your front leg about an inch or two above the kneecap and where the club head rests on the ground is where the ball must go.

This works for every single club from driver to wedge.

Place top of grip 2 inches above the kneecap - it's that simple for every club

Here is a video to help understand this little drill to ensure you're standing the correct distance from the ball.

With Brian swinging with no pain, we hit about 20 more balls on the range and went home and meditated on the changes we'd made. Aummm....

Double check your basics

You can either purchase Ben Hogan's book on fundamentals or watch a great series of videos on Youtube right here. The book is essential reading for all golfers while the videos explain the same concepts for you for free.

If and when you have the basics sorted out, let's get into the meat and potatoes.

Meat and Potatoes

Basic Strategy to break 100 fast

I'm not going to bore you by telling you it's easy - just make 9 bogeys and 9 doubles. Yeah we all know that, but it's not realistic to expect you to score like a machine. Brian certainly didn't but there are ways to work around your game and maximize your strengths and practice your weaknesses to make some pars and minimize the triple bogeys! These are outlined below.

Avoid water hazards and out of bounds

You'll find out by reading further that the strategy of hitting shorter but straighter tee shots will keep you from going into bunkers in the fairways as well as not being able to reach the deadly out of bounds and water hazards. We'll also be hitting more short irons and wedges which are easier to control so it makes it very difficult to blast or slice them into the wet stuff.

Par 3's

If you're playing off the correct tees, you can reach these in one shot. If you can either hit the green or be chipping from green side, you're going to be making pars and bogeys here maximum.

Long par 4's

These appear tough. But let's simplify them by saying we hope to be on the green or around the green in three shots.

A 420 yard hole is only three shots of 140 yards. Can you hit a 140 yard shot straightish? Yes you can! The reason you get into trouble is hitting a long club off the tee because you think it's a long hole and you need a boomer.

With this tactic of getting on or around the green in 3 shots, you don't need more than 150 yards off the tee and any club you have that goes further and straight is a bonus!

Short par 4's

These will be easiest to make bogey on by being around the green in two shots. You might sneak in a few pars! If you're not in a position to hit a 7 iron onto the green with your 2nd shot, I still say you should split the distance in two and hit two wedges onto the green.

Par 5's

Tee shots and 2nd shots need to be in play without penalties on these holes. Those two shots are important because most danger on these holes are 250 to 300 yards from the tee. Once you get past those two shots and have 200 to 250 yards into the hole, you can hit the green in 4 shots and target bogeys and at worst double bogeys.

Hit one club off every par 4 and 5 tee

This club needs to go 150 yards or more and reliably straight. Brian likes his 3 hybrid. Pick whatever club you really feel great hitting off the tee with full confidence. It's totally your game.

Split your approaches into two or three shots

Split that 250 yard approach into two EASY shots

Avoid putting yourself in danger off the tee is the first step and the next step is to assess your approach and divide it into smaller shots. If you have 200 yards left to the green, two pitching wedges of 100 yards is much more reliable than a fairway wood and a 20 yard pitch from the rough or a bunker shot. Let's simplify this game. Look at the diagram above, it illustrates the strategy for all holes. Control and simplicity!

Video of Brian's round using all the concepts in this guide
Pre-game mental prep and admin

Play from the correct tees

It's always a good day to break 100

Be realistic with your game and if you need to move up a tee box, that's alright. Most courses have color defined tee boxes. A quick guide to know if you're playing the correct tees:

  • You can reach three out of four par 3 greens quite easily
  • Most par 4's are under 400-420 yards
  • You can reach the fairways from the tee on almost every par 4 and 5

When it seems like every par 4 is 420+ and you're in the rough before the fairways on solid shots, you should move up a tee box.

Only count your score right at the end

Tell your playing partners that you don't want to know your score after 9 holes and don't keep track of it. 

Keeping track throughout the round will put more pressure on you. Imagine you find out you shoot 48 on the first nine. What's going through your head the second nine? All you're going to be thinking about is shooting that 51 to shoot a 99. Forget it all! Just play and count later!

Know the distances you hit your clubs

Are you sure you want the pitching wedge?

Your perfect 7 iron goes 170 yards, right? That's great but what distance does your 7 iron go MOST OF THE TIME? That's the distance you need to use as a gauge for all your clubs. The distance they go MOST OF THE TIME.

Pulling the right club is essential and in this plan, you're swinging easy and not looking for more distance at all. We want to improve accuracy and consistency through shorter shots into the greens. If you hit your pitching wedge 160 yards once, please don't use it as the norm, because you're going to be in a lot of front side bunkers! A golf rangefinder like the ones in this guide I wrote can help you. 

Relax and remember no one cares if you're bad 

It sucks when you're trying to break 100. You think everyone's impatient and waiting for you and your shots all the time. 

The truth is, we don't care about your score. We enjoy hanging out with good-humored and fun guys who enjoy the game and make it a blast on the course. There's only one thing other golfers in your group don't like and that's when you "cannot believe you hit that shot" or "cannot believe you missed that 6 footer". It's best not to stand with hands on your hips or head looking flabbergasted on every second shot.

Hit your shot, and then walk to play the next one without too much theatrics. It's the incredulity expressed at a bad shot that slows down play and annoys lower handicappers. Have fun, keep moving without rushing your shots and everyone is gonna love you 100%.

Check your ego at the dressing room and leave it there

I won't be giving you tips on hitting long bombs here. Just practical advice that you can genuinely use if you stay disciplined out there on the course. Leave the driver at home. Remove problem clubs for you. Hell, you could break 100 with half your clubs if you wanted to. But resist the temptation to hit shots that are low percentage and high risk. Is it glamorous? No, but it's reliable and it can help you break out of that scoring barrier.

The shots you need to break 100

You need these shots to be able to avoid penalties like out of bounds and dropping the ball at the water hazards. The driver is alway the main culprit getting 100+ shooters into trouble and messing up the scorecard.

1. No drivers allowed - use any club that goes straight, 150 yards or more

Pick anything you like - whatever you can hit really consistently from the tee onto the fairway. Whether it's a hybrid, 6 iron or 7 iron, I know you have one club in your bag that you hit straight! 

Like Brian did in our experiment, leave the driver at home. He says that it's the sole reason he would need to pick up his ball after exceeding his maximum on each hole because it gets him into too much trouble. He loves his 3 hybrid and he used that off the tee most often.

We really want to stay in play off the tee. We don't want to be hitting our second shot from the ladies' tee or reteeing after hitting it Out of Bounds. Our goal is to break 100, not audition for Bubba Watson impersonations.

2. Solid 6, 7, 8, 9, PW and SW

We don't need your clubs to go far. We just need them to go straight and to the distance you determine through practice. This plan doesn't focus on increased distance but rather it focuses on splitting the course up into smaller shots to get you to score 99 by swinging easy and hitting it straight. You never really have to smash the golf ball with this plan but you do need to know how far you hit it.

By solid, I mean learn your distances and shot shape. Learn how much your ball fades or draws and aim for that shape when you're on the course. If you fade, aim left. If you draw it, aim right. By knowing your distance, you'll select the right club for each shot and be more likely to hit the green than be short.

3. Bump and run chip shot

The basic bump and run shot is a chip shot where you get the ball onto the green as soon as possible and let the ball roll up to the hole. I like to use a pitching wedge, but have used as low as a 7 iron. 

4. Short pitch shot that goes anywhere on the green

Sometimes we leave ourselves tough shots inside 50 yards. These are hellishly difficult and get more difficult when you put too much pressure on yourself to hit it close. Your sole focus should be to just get it on the green.

Pick a club like a sand wedge and focus on just hitting the green. It doesn't matter where it goes on the green, just get it on somewhere! Sometimes that even means hitting 30 foot right of the hole intentionally to avoid a bunker between you and the hole. More on this further in the guide.

5. Two-putt from everywhere

We'll find in the videos below this is a key concept. When you do hit a green, you want to two putt everything over 10 feet and try hole your short putts. Three-putts are what we want to eliminate and if you can just eliminate the three-putts while keeping the ball in play off the tee, you'll find your scores drop quickly!

How to practice these shots

You actually don't even need THAT MUCH practice. You just need to practice the basics really well. Two hours at the range and two hours on the chipping and putting green a week and you can break 100 within two weeks. The biggest improvement is going to be when you combine your comfort on these shots with the strategy outlined in the next section.

Driving range for your tee and approach shots

You want to mix up your hitting on the driving range. You need to groove your main shots like your tee shot and your favorite iron as well as your wedge by hitting twenty of them in a row focusing on swinging easy. But you also want to 'play a round' on the range as if you were on the course. So you envision every hole you're playing and use the appropriate club for the imaginary distance to the green.Our subject, Brian did this:

  • 20 x PW; 20 x 6 iron; 20 x hybrid off the tee
  • Played 9 holes on a golf course in his mind. Fairways are decided by you before the shot, between markers on the range for example. Greens are generally the 100, 125 or 150 markers on the range. Pretend you're on a course for more mindful practice.
Concentrate and take your time

Remember on each shot to take your full pre-shot routine and focus on swinging easy. There's no need to try murder every shot as hard as you can. Concentrate on making a very nice, easy, Ernie Els style swing. Don't just beat balls for 20 minutes and go home with blisters and a dented ego.

This range session should be anywhere from an hour to two hours. Really be conscious of how it feels when you hit a good shot. 

Top tip: As silly as it sounds, when you hit a great shot on the range, pretend to put the 'fairy dust' of the shot into your hand and deposit it into a pocket in your golf bag so you'll have a supply of good shots in the bank to bring out when you need one on the course. Sounds stupid, but it works.

Short game practice on the practice greens or at home

If you get it in the fairway off the tee, putting is the easiest way to drop your score

For short putts, you can use a rug or get yourself a piece of artificial turf. You can putt the ball into table legs, big coffee mugs or small plates. You must only focus on keeping your head down forever and hitting the ball into your target from 7 or 5 or 3 feet away depending on available space.

I have a step-by-step guide to putting right here. Try to hit the practice greens for two hours per week. One hour putting and one our chipping. 

Lag putt to 3 feet and be lethal at 5 footers

What I worked on with Brian while we were on the course was the lag putting. You probably have an issue controlling the distance of your long putts. 

So what I did with Brian was make him look at the hole while he swung the putter back and forth to get the feeling of how hard to hit it. He showed immediate improvement and when he gets lethal inside 6 feet by following my advice in my putting guide, his scores, and if you follow the advice, yours too will drop.

The best bump and run chipping drill

Take your chipping club of choice: it could be anything you like. I used to use a 7 iron when I started playing but now I use my pitching wedge exclusively as my chipping club around the greens. 

Pick a spot on the chipping green where you want your ball to land. Put a large coin or poker chip exactly on the spot you want the ball to land. Try land your practice chips on the coin/chip. This is the secret to chipping. Learn your trajectory and how the ball runs out and then adjust where you land the ball. Pick a spot on the green and land the ball on that spot. There's nothing else you need to focus on!

What Brian and I learned

  1. Blue tees were the wrong tees. They measured 6550 yards while the whites measure 6250. This was an oversight by me and recommend he plays off the white tees in future.
  2. Hitting a good tee shot is as important as chipping and putting. Choosing a reliable club that will get you in the fairway and not the water or OB will exponentially increase your chances of breaking 100. Hitting your 2nd or 3rd shot from the ladies' tee will hurt you.
  3. Chipping and putting is vital. Chipping is not as complicated as you think. All you need to do is be aggressive enough to get the ball ANYWHERE on the green and then two putt from there. No need to get cute or try chip it in every time. Sometimes the best chip is one hit away from the pin, avoiding the bunkers or water between you and the pin.
  4. Two putting from distances over 12 feet is essential. Meanwhile, draining your 3 to 6 footers is as important. Practice these by putting on the practice green from 20 feet or longer and try get the ball consistently within 2 or 3 feet of the hole. Practice 3 to 5 footers placed around the hole until you can drain them with ease. TOP SECRET: keep your head down forever! Brian and I didn't go through putting together but he improved over the round as I showed him.
  5. Avoid bunkers at all costs. Leave yourself full shots into the greens and not the 30 to 75 yard pitch shots that are so difficult. Here is my guide to bunker shots.
  6. Don't use your low wedge from the fluffy rough. The club goes right under it and results in 20 yard shots. Use a sand wedge with more bounce. 
  7. Don't feel rushed by other people. Just play your game and if anyone behind you is on your butt, let them play through. Brian was a bit frazzled on the 11th hole because of some guys hitting balls within 40 yards of us. It affected his game later on. Keep up with the group in front of you.
  8. Swing easy. Don't try to smash any of your clubs. This strategy to break 100 doesn't call for maximum power. It calls for finesse and control of yourself. You just need to get the ball in play and break up your approach shots into shorter shots. Smashing the ball results in freshies, slices and bladed shots.
  9. Have fun! Don't count your score. Enjoy talking to your partners and have a great time. By being relaxed, you'll break 100 easily. 

Conclusion

You're equipped with everything you need to break 100 now. You have the swing, you have the game, now it's time to just use your brain! Go out there and do it!

Ten Golf Facts That Aren’t Always True

We've all heard the conventional wisdom and 'facts' handed down to us from generation to generation. Some of them are true but there are a lot that guide golfers down the wrong path.

Here are 16 golf facts that belong in the pages of National Enquirer.

10 Golf facts you don't need to believe

1. Drive for show, putt for dough

Basically this means putting counts way more than driving the ball. Learning to putt will shave strokes off your score very quickly but if you're taking 7 shots to get to the green, what difference does it make if you one putt from 20 feet every hole?

If you struggle with the driver and can't hit a fairway or you lose balls out of bounds, why not scale back and get yourself a fairway wood or hybrid? They're much easier to hit than a driver and with the extra loft, you might find you get more carry and distance with them than your driver. 

>>> Check out my guide on breaking 90 - there's a video of me hitting 6 iron off every tee <<<

2. Pros only swing at 75%

One look at Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson and you can see this isn't true. 

Here's Bubba swinging out of his shoes

3. You can't hit it long if you fade it

It's true you can't hit it far is you SLICE a ball but a fade is one of the most sought-after shots for it's consistency and accuracy off the tee. Dustin Johnson switched to hitting a power fade off the tee in 2015 and annihilated everybody and in fact picked up distance.

Guys like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka can all hit it extremely long with a fade. You know who else was a fader? The great Jack Nicklaus. 

Learn how to hit a fade like Rickie Fowler here

Here;s Brooks Koepka smashing one with his power fade:

4. Practice makes perfect

Practice is essential to get better at pretty much anything but it needs to be perfect practice. Going to the range and beating out 40 balls in 20 minutes is going to do nothing for you. Missing 3 foot putts for an hour on a putting green will just kill your confidence. Flapping your wrists around at some chip shots on the chipping green only ingrains bad habits.

Instead, practice mindfully. Actually think about what you're trying to do and what you're trying to achieve by doing it. And then remember the feeling of doing it when you get it right so you can take it onto the course.

On the driving range, practice the basics. Practice alignment to the target by placing a club on the ground to align your feet and club to. When you hit balls, work your way through an imaginary round in your head, envisioning the holes you're playing and hitting the appropriate shots even the 20 yard pitches. 

Keep your alignment fresh at the range

Get into a practice bunker somewhere, anywhere and hit balls until you can get out in one. But please check out my bunker guide here so you practice it correctly. I love bunker shots and I've used this technique since I was 12.

Putting is important and often neglected so when you get a chance, maybe an hour or two per week, go hit some putts and take a look at my guide to putting here. I especially love short putts inside 6 feet where you just ram it home.  It took quite a few hours of practicing keeping my head down forever and having the confidence to go with less break and hit the putt firmer. You can do it too.

5. All putts break toward the water

I've been the victim of this one and the one where the ball always breaks toward the burnt grass on the edge of the cup. I've even had caddies tell me it has to break toward the water even when I knew it didn't!

While the drainage system might want to use slopes toward water, read your putts carefully and never rely on this old wive's tale!

6. Ball above your feet, aim right

Yeah, we've all been standing there with the ball at knee level and of course first thing we do is aim 10 yards right of the green, because it's coming out left for sure!

And we're soon chipping from 10 yards right of the green! I can count on one hand the number of times I've hit the ball way left off this lie. And a lie it is!

7. Back spin is created by 'pinching' the ball against the ground

'I'm pinching it against the ground but it's not spinning'

I used to believe this so strongly that I started taking a 2 pound divot out of the earth on every approach shot! I left craters in the fairways because I thought I was creating more spin. And guess what, I started getting less and less spin.

The USGA has a great video explaining how back spin is actually created and it's simple. It's just the friction between the club face with grooves and the golf ball. That's it! More back spin comes from a steeper angle of attack. Check out the video here.

8. Humidity means heavier air and less distance

Growing up I played most of my golf at altitude. Obviously the thinner air at 5000 feet did lead to bigger distance for me but moving to South East Asia, I expected that the humidity would mean the thick moist air would suck up my golf ball without any distance.

While I can't talk about cold air humidity, I can honestly say I have never hit the ball as far as I do here in Thailand and Malaysia. On a typical 93° F (34° C) day in the tropics, I can pump a drive 320 yards right next to the ocean. No altitude at all. Perhaps it's the extra warmth but it's humid here as anyone can tell you.

Golf Digest agree that good players looking for more distance want shirt-soaking humidity in this article.

9. You're lifting your head

This is 100% true for putts - you can lift your head and miss the putt. I am a strong advocate for never ever lifting your head on putts especially inside 10 feet. Just listen for that rattle! But for everything else...

For shots from tee to green, "hey man keep your head down" isn't really good advice.

We 'top' the golf ball because we change the angle of our spine during the swing. You'll notice you normally hit topped shots when you try hit it too hard. If you look at any golfer, the turning of the shoulders and arms and hips bring about a turn of the head along the target line. It's almost impossible to "life your head" on a golf shot when swinging at speed.

Here are two videos clearly explaining the problem: 

10. The average tour pro hits up on the ball with the driver

Actually the statistics show the average pro hits down on the ball. 

-1.3° angle of attack (Trackman.com)

Does this mean you should hit down on your driver? Not exactly! Notice the average swing speed of the driver is 113 mph for a pro so that extra speed allows them to get the ball up in the air with a low lofted club like the driver. The reduced launch angle also gives them more accuracy swinging at those crazy speeds.

For the average golfer who swings 85 to 95 mph, you want to be hitting up on the golf ball to increase distance and carry. Ideal launch angle can be anywhere between 14 and 17 degrees for us mere mortals. That's why I always say go for the driver with more loft (11 degrees to 14 degrees) and if you still can't hit the thing in the fairway, get yourself a beautiful four wood with loads of loft and forgiveness!

How Many Degrees is a Sand Wedge?

There are only two lofts for a sand wedge. 

  • 56 degrees 
  • 58 degrees 

I'll tell you which one I use and why and how you can incorporate either one into your bag depending on what is going to lower your scores.

Whether you use a 56 or 58 degree sand wedge will depend on a couple of things:

  • How you prefer to set up your bag
  • Your skill level

How do you prefer setting up your bag?

Since we can only have 14 clubs in our bag, it's best to decide what type of make-up you would like.

Here are two examples of a bag make-up, one wedge heavy, one woods heavy.

Both options work, it just depends on your preference and priorities in your game.

4 wedges (my old choice)

1 Driver
1 fairway wood
3 iron to 9 iron
PW (48°)
GW (52°)
SW (56°)
LW (60°)

Putter

To keep gaps between lofts consistently 4 degrees, this is a nice setup to hit the ball consistent distances. Most iron sets nowadays come with a 4 degree difference in loft between clubs so adding wedges that fit into that takes the guesswork out of approaches inside 120 yards.

This setup is great because if you can master a quarter, half and three-quarter wedge shot, you have 16 shots in your wedges alone. If playing better wedge shots inside 120 yards is going to save you the most shots, then you should use the 4 wedge setup. 

If you think the longer game is where you need some help, I suggest what I switched to...

3 wedges (my new preferred choice)

1 Driver
1 fairway wood
1 hybrid (or extra fairway wood)
3 iron to 9 iron
PW (50°)
GW (54°)
SW (58°)

Putter

I realized I don't need all that choice with wedges and I can get consistent distances between clubs by using three.

So I replaced all my wedges and use only 3, leaving space for another longer club. I alternate between a 2 hybrid and a 14 degree fairway wood depending on my mood. Sometimes I even remove my 4 iron and put both wood and hybrid in my bag. I hardly every hit a 4 iron so I am happy to leave it at home.

I did this because I want more options off the tee than a driver and 4 wood. That's where I could save some strokes. I usually hit a 3 iron on tight holes and a mis-struck 3 iron has made me lose too many shots to remember. So now I have a driver, 2 fairway woods and a hybrid as alternatives!

The 58 degree wedge acts as a sand wedge from the sand and I can open the face to get the same action as on a 60 degree lob wedge. 

What's your skill level?

A 3 wedge set will be best for almost all players to give you an extra club in your bag other than a wedge. Yes we do hit most of our shots inside 120 yards but you don't need 4 clubs for that. You just need to practice with the ones you have.

But sometimes there are sand wedges that are made for certain shots that people struggle with. In particular the sand! I know how difficult playing out of it can be unless you know the technique and practice practice practice. Check out my guide to getting out of the sand here.

There are numerous wedges out there created with fat and heavy soles to be used only in the sand. The best options can be found in my guide here.

If you're a high handicapper who doesn't necessarily struggle with the sand but want to find great wedges, check out this guide on your options.

But if you're a mid handicapper, I have a great guide to finding a great wedge here

Conclusion

I highly recommend the 50 degree, 54 degree and 58 degree setup and I love both the Cleveland RTX cavity back wedges and the Mizuno wedges.

For beginners and those struggling from the sand, I recommend the Cleveland C and S wedges as your go-to wedges. 

Best Golf Irons for Mid Handicappers 2019

Ah, the mid handicap zone. Without a doubt, when I'm choosing my betterball partner, there's no better man than a mid handicapper!

You hit the ball straight down the fairway, you can chip, you can putt and you can make those amazing pars and birdies at the perfect moment. Mid handicappers are always in the prizes and I play a lot of golf with mid handicappers. 

What I've noticed though is hitting greens is often a concern especially as the holes get longer. We all want to hit longer with our irons but also we want it to go straighter to make more of those coveted pars and birdies. With modern technology, the best golf irons for mid handicappers make it WAY easier to hit straighter and longer.

What is a mid handicapper, actually?

Rick and I winning the pairs tournament as mid handicappers (we wear flip flops after golf in Asia)

A mid handicapper is a golfer who plays off a handicap between around 7, 8 or 10 up to about 17 or 18. That means you can generally break 90 every other round or shoot in the 80's every round. It's a wide range but the goal is always the same, break 90 consistently or break 80.

There's no hard and fast rule on the classification of low, mid and high but we all know roughly where we fall.

When should you buy new clubs?

I have two theories for when the right time is to buy new golf clubs.

Situation 1: IMPORTANT - You look down at your clubs and you don't LOVE them

Half your clubs are irons and you'll use them for more than 50% of your shots on the course so when you look down at them and you don't LOVE them, then there is a serious problem.

If you've seen my Youtube channel, you'll know I am all about that mental game. If you look down at clubs that fill you with confidence, you've won 70% of the damn battle!

There is no award for the guy who struggles with clubs he dislikes to prove it's the workman and not the tools. They say a bad workman blames his tools, but I say a master craftsman knows when to replace them!

If you look at a picture and LOVE the look or hold a club and LOVE the way it feels, I will bet you that you'll hit that club like a boss, immediately. Our brains are very powerful and in golf, it's especially important to be comfortable over the ball. If you're not loving your irons at address, I really suggest replacing them. Now.

Situation 2: Yours are old and out of date

Now, I don't believe most of the BS lingo and catch phrases the manufacturers throw at us every few months with the latest and greatest. But one thing I can personally confirm, is that anything made in the last 6 to 8 years is far superior to anything prior.

Modern irons have been designed to launch higher than ever. For example, an old 6 iron's loft was maybe 28° so it was easy to get it in the air. With modern technology, they've been able to reduce that loft to 25° or 26° so you get more distance but at the same time the ball still launches at the same angle as the old 6 irons. That means you can get them landing a few yards further with an improved trajectory into your target.

They've also made shafts lighter to get you swinging faster and improved the club faces of the new irons to increase the sweet spots so you hit it longer and straighter even off mis-hits, very often not knowing the difference between a good strike and a bad one. 

Top Choice for Mid Handicappers:
Taylormade M4 irons

Taylormade make such easy to hit clubs that even when you're not trying, they're a breeze to hit. The latest iteration is an improvement on their most popular line, the M2. Much sleeker in design and more formidable ball-striking.

Best Golf Irons for Mid Handicappers


Taylormade M4 Irons

Best irons for mid to high handicappers

The M4 upgrade of the M2 irons is a much sleeker, more professional looking club.

But don't be fooled into thinking this is a club only a pro can hit - in fact it's almost effortless to get the ball up in the air and on target. It's difficult to hit a ball far off target with the M4s which brings real meaning to game improvement iron. The sweet spot is so big that it's difficult to distinguish when you hit it badly.

Of course, there is some distance loss and some deviation from your intended line but you'll be around the green hitting easy chips instead of getting yourself way right or left of the greenside bunkers, short-siding yourself.

Longer irons in the set have a deeper cavity back with a small hollowing behind the face to get more distance and forgiveness on center and mishit strikes. They come standard fit with a light weight shaft to make swinging them effortless despite the aggressive and thick top line of the club. 

The lofts are stronger in this set and keep in mind the SW is 54° when picking your wedges to go with the set. You might consider a 58° to round off the set to give yourself a good loft gapping.

You will probably see a distance increase but it will be due to the more upright lofts and less to do with other variables. They can decrease lofts on the clubs because they've produced them so well to come out higher and easier to get off the ground. Simply amazing technology that just wasn't around years ago.

Pros
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    The ball goes straight and in some cases reduce shot shapes to baby fades and draws
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    High-launching and glides through the turf
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    Crisp sound at contact
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    Lofts of the clubs printed on the bottom so you can buy the right wedges and hybrids!
Cons
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    Not for finesse - more for power and accuracy
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    If you have a wedge set already, consider that the PW in the set is 43.5°; AW is 49° and SW is 54°

Cleveland Launcher CBX Irons

Game improvement irons to forgive mid handicappers

They're way more famous for high quality wedges made for mid to low handicappers, but Cleveland have designed a set of irons aimed entirely at the average mid handicapper to boost distance while at the same time dishing out ample forgiveness.

The Launcher CBX irons give the best of both worlds by making it easier to hit longer irons and have more control over the shorter clubs.

While not massive on Tour as much as when Vijay and David Toms played for them, Cleveland have remained a favorite among us mere mortals especially the easy to hit drivers. 

The top line of the club is quite hefty but the offset in the longer irons looks minimal so it looks very professional. A V-shape sole promotes the club moving through the turf to give rock solid hits even if you hit it a little fat. 

The Cleveland CBX irons have a much larger cavity back in the long irons for more forgiveness and a larger sweet spot and as you progress to the shorter irons, the cavity back reduces for a more control-based feel to knock it close.

Most golfers notice an increase in distance anywhere from half a club to a full club with this set and it could be down to the stronger lofts. Cleveland actually engrave the degrees of loft on the sole of the club - a nifty idea indeed. 

Pros
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    Very good for players who hit it toward the toe
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    The ball goes straight and in some cases reduce shot shapes to baby fades and draws
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    High-launching and glides through the turf
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    Crisp sound at contact
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    Lofts of the clubs printed on the bottom so you can buy the right wedges and hybrids!
Cons
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    Matte finish means scratches are much more pronounced.
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    Not for golfers who want to shape the ball flight

Mizuno JPX 900 Irons

Best for mid handicappers fed up with their muscle backs and wanna shape the ball

The upgrade to the Mizuno JPX 850 is forged and has a more U-shaped sole for less digging in the turf interaction. As always, Mizuno forged irons are buttery soft but what's normally reserved for the better players is available to anyone now.

You'll be able to shape the ball both ways with these. there are a lot of mid handicappers who were once single figures who still like a fade or draw into a tight pin. There's still hope out there my good man!

What's special about the Mizuno JPX 900s, is that one you move south of the double digit handicap, you'll still be playing these clubs. They're timeless in design and with all the latest technology coming out being not-much-different to the previous one or two years, these will serve you a long time. 

They have the look of professional style clubs with more forgiving and bigger clubs heads in the long irons and more compact shorter irons for precision shots. They have a tiny bit of offset so if you prefer a more classical style head but with massive forgiveness, the Mizuno's cater to you.

Most Mizuno users are Mizuno users for life and you'll very rarely find a second hand sets being traded in by someone who hates the clubs.

Pros
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    Soft buttery forged iron feel and sound
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    They moved weight into the edges of the club face for more forgiveness and ball speed
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    Classic design and look at address appeals to purists
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    Shot-shapers will love this iron
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    It's a Mizuno, very little can be wrong
Cons
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    Not nearly as forgiving as some of the irons like M2, M4, Rogue and Cobra F7
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    Matte finish to the clubs is classy but over time, will wear off

Callaway Rogue irons

Super distance with professional golfer looks

The Callaway Rogue irons are aimed at mid handicappers and they've made these irons as close to a true point-and-shoot as you'll find. 

The face flexes and rebounds more than previous models which results in a much longer ball. Some golfers find a gain in distance of one club. What's more is that you have a choice of sets where you can choose which clubs to include in your set and Callaway has been well-known for this customization.

The sound from the club face is crisp and clean. Differentiating between mishits and sweet strikes is a little difficult but when the result ends up where you want it, that's a minor complaint. When we're all looking for more accuracy and greens in regulation, the Callaway  Rogue irons deliver with effortless smooth strikes from the entire club face coupled with a high and straight ball flight. 

Are they miracle clubs? No, but if you have a smooth swing and are a well-grooved and consistent mid handicapper, these are the perfect clubs to start getting closer to the number 79 with a bit more distance and better direction.

Pros
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    Best value for money mid handicap clubs
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    Point and shoot straight hitters
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    Suited to mid handicappers specifically
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    Distance increase after upgrading
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    Look very executive
Cons
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    Not for fast swingers (95+ mph with driver)​​​
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    Mishits are difficult to gauge from feedback on forgiving club face

Srixon Z 585 Irons

So easy to hit

The Srixon Z 585 irons might not be on your radar, but they should be. This range has been aimed at the mid handicapper who likes shot shaping and forgiveness in one package. The best part is they will last you even as a low handicapper. I went on a recent trip to South Africa and the number of guys playing these was amazing. Every fourball had one or two bags of Srixon z 585's.

You can see me playing the back 9 with them here.

The clubs have a formidable but not bulky sole as well as a deep cavity back to help shift the center of gravity lower and move the sweet spot down in the face to get even crisper contact on the ball. 

Srixon have made these clubs look easy to hit when you look down at them, but they're not oversized at all. If you're worried about your clubs looking very chunky, these ones will quell your fears.

If you can get them with the NS Pro shafts in them, you'll have a great time with these clubs.

If you want to save a few bucks, the previous model is almost as good. The Srixon Z 565 are superb. 

Pros
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    Consistent performance across the face 
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    Light and easy to swing 
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    Low center of gravity and lowered sweet spot for easier crisp contact
Cons
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    Honestly, not much!

Cobra King F7 Irons

Best for low hitting mid handicappers

Cobra King F7 irons are definitely game improvement irons but have a much more mid-sized club heads. The top line when you address the ball is not as chunky as most game improvement irons. Like with most of the new irons in this category, they've made the club face thinner to promote more ball speed off the flexible face to hit it longer. 

The best part is they are a model or two old, so you can pick them up for really cheap both new or used. Find your preferred shaft stiffness and order online for major savings!

You can see Tshepo using these irons in my video here.

Progressive hollow design gets shallower further into the set

Longer irons in the set have a more hybrid appearance with a hollow area behind the entire face and as you go through to the short irons and wedge, the cavity reduces in size. You can expect to improve those mid irons greatly with the design of the cavity back. They're far more forgiving than other golf clubs. 

Progressive hollowness through the set

The lightweight of the clubs can help your swing speed enough to prevent you from moving to softer shafts.

Pros
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    Progressive hollow cavity back design for forgiveness
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    Mid sized club head more palatable than most game improvement irons
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    Very light for increased swing speed
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    One of the highest flying irons
Cons
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    Hybrid look might take time to get used to 
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    Just want to go dead straight - you won't be able to shape them much

Taylormade M2 Irons

Easy to hit for any level of mid handicap

Taylormade have gone the extra mile with the M2 Game Improvement irons. They’ve created a hollow Speed Pocket behind the face to make the face flex and give you more distance anywhere you hit it on the face.

The sweet spot is so wide; it extends over almost the entire groove area so when you mishit the ball it still goes a long way and straight as an arrow..

Taylormade's M2 set has been specially designed to increase the height of your shots. The short irons get up quickly and mid irons are so forgiving, you'll think they're wedges. With that increase in height, the ball comes down soft to stay on the green and give you more birdie and par putts.

Easy to hit and the ball flies high

Balls launch high when you hit them and the wide soles help to get under the ball especially in deep rough to get your golf ball moving toward the green and out of the weeds. The heavy perimeter weighting means you can swing it and trust the club to do the work for you. There's no stress wondering what's going to happen next.

Taylormade has designed the M2 iron set with forgiveness in mind. They're extremely accurate irons and with the offset hosel, cavity back design, they tick all our boxes. The M2's are one of the best mid handicap irons on the market.

Pros
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    Massive sweet spot to hit it pure every time
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    Easy to hit the ball high in the air
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    Mishits go an unusually long way
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    Low stress clubs you can trust on every shot
Cons
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    Pricey
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    Looks very busy and less classic

Titleist 718 AP3 Irons

For the mid handicapper on the cusp of breaking 80

Titleist made these irons heads bigger than the AP1 and AP2 range so they appeal to the mid handicapper a little bit more. Though to be fair, the top line of the club is not so FAT, but quite thin and definitely appeals to the eye of someone who likes a more classic iron rather than the beefy game improvment irons out there.

They look a lot more like a "players" iron but they have the backs of a mid handicapper iron where there is a hollowing out and a small cavity in the back. The result is more forgiveness and also some additional distance.

So many players are getting these and the best part is they will serve you well as a mid handicapper and you won't have to get new clubs when you eventually become the single digit handicapper you're striving for.

Pros
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    Very professional level looking clubs with semi-game improvement characteristics
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    These are clubs you can keep into single figure handicap and beyond
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    More distance and accuracy
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    The superior feeling telling people you play Titleist irons
Cons
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    Pricey
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    NOT for most 18+ handicapppers

What's the difference between irons for mid handicappers and low handicaps?

Mid handicapper irons should:

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    Contain at the longest, a 5 iron, and go through to pitching wedge and maybe sand wedge
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    Be cavity backed for a wider sweet spot on the face
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    Have perimeter weighting to increase the sweet spot
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    Have an offset hosel to promote a straighter ball flight

Most sets nowadays don't come with a 3 or even a 4 iron because they're difficult to hit and are usually replaced by fairway woods and hybrids to complete what should be the best golf clubs for mid handicappers.

On the other hand, low handicappers often get the impression they need to upgrade to a professional style golf club. Which leads onto the next point....

Which clubs to avoid!

Low handicap golfers believe they need a more 'professional' style of club so they upgrade to a set of musclebacks or blades. Avoid any golf iron that has "muscle back", "MB", "blade", "Tour", "players irons" or "pro" in their name unless you really LOVE them! Generally I don't think anyone who plays less than 3 times a week or isn't off a single figure should buy blades. 

But as mentioned above, if you LOVE them and BELIEVE they will improve your game, guess what! They probably will, just through positive association.

The main characteristics of these types of irons are GENERALLY the things we don't want when looking for the best golf irons for mid handicappers:

  • Contain 3 and irons (difficult to hit)
  • Have no cavity back and are solid metal on the back of the club (reduced sweet spot)
  • Most of the weight is located behind a tiny sweet spot
  • The hosel is not offset because these golfers shape it both ways (easier to slice if you slice)

Guide to what makes the best mid handicapper irons


How mid handicapper irons can help your game

When you hit more greens, you're going to love going to the course. Once you know where the ball is gonna go, you'll aim at your target with confidence. And when you hit it closer, you'll make more pars and birdies and in the end drop that mid handicap into the single digits.

To do this, the best mid handicap golf irons need to:

  1. Get the ball into the air high and handsome with little effort
  2. Land softly on the greens
  3. Be very forgiving particularly on mishit shots

There's just no need to go get yourself a "player's iron set" or a muscleback or blade club because it's expected of you as you get better. The technology out there is so powerful now, while the musclebacks have remained almost identical since Arnold Palmer was a young guy.

Buying a set of irons is a big investment in yourself and the improvement in your game with a set of mid handicapper Game Improvement irons will be dramatic. There's no need to handicap yourself further with a smaller more concentrated sweet spot unless you're playing 5 days a week. But let's face it, most of us mid handicappers are out there once a week when we get to escape our wives and girlfriends.

Make it fun!


What makes a set of irons forgiving for mid handicappers?

Two things: shafts and club head design will define the best golf irons for mid handicappers.

Shafts

There are two types of shaft for your irons – steel and graphite. Graphite is popular in drivers and hybrids. For irons, the extra weight offered by steel gives golfers a better “feel” than graphite.

Graphite can help with distance and should be looked at if your swing speed is very low. The reduced weight of the shaft can help you pick up a few more mph in swing speed and with that, more distance.

As a general rule, steel shafts are the best option for the vast majority of golfers and a Regular flex is going to be the best for most golfers based on swing speeds. 

Tips for shaft flex based on 6 iron swing speed and carry distance
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    X Flex  - 6 iron swing speed 90 mph and carry 175 yards
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    Stiff (S) Flex - 6 iron swing 80-90 mph and carry 155 - 175 yards
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    Regular  (R) Flex - 70-80 mph and 130 - 155 yards
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    A Flex - 60-70 mph and 100 - 130 yards
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    L Flex - Less than 60 mph and carry under 100 yards

It's always best to go get tested and get advice from a fitter or a local pro to truly maximize your purchase to your requirements.

Club Head Design

There are 2 club head designs: 

Muscleback vs cavity back

    • Muscle Back/Blade irons - used almost exclusively by low single digit handicappers and professionals
    • Cavity Back irons - this is what we are looking for and the most forgiving irons ever have all been cavity back. 

    How cavity back gives extra performance to mid handicap over 'players' irons

    Perimeter Weighting

    Cavity back irons usually have perimeter weighting, which is just a jargon term to mean they hollow out the back of a muscle back iron and put that spare metal around the border of the back of the club.

    Jargon explained

    The perimeter weighting thus adds more weight behind the ball on off-centre strikes.

    A muscle back iron the pros use has the majority of its weight mainly behind the TINY sweet spot. If you miss the sweet spot on a muscleback, the pain that shoots up the club into your fingers is stunning!

    The cavity back iron with perimeter weighting has a massive sweet spot because the face is encased with reinforcement through the perimeter weight.

    Moderately Wide Sole

    The wider sole lowers the clubs center of gravity which means more weight can get under and behind the golf ball on your shots. This produces an arching high ball flight even on mishits.

    The extra beef on the sole will improve shots where you hit the ground before the ball too. That extra weight will “bounce” off the ground instead of digging into the earth like a thin sole would.

    ​For newer golfers, it's better to have a really really fat sole but for mid handicappers we are looking for a moderately fat sole. Those Super Max Game improvement irons don't work as well because mid handicappers have much more skill to be able to already get the ball airborne.

    Offset Hosel

    According to club designer Tom Wishon, “Offset is a design in clubheads in which the neck or hosel of the head is positioned in front of the face of the clubhead, so that the clubface appears to be set back a little from the neck of the club.”

    “The more offset, the farther the head's center of gravity is back from the shaft. And the farther the CG is back from the shaft, the higher the trajectory will be for any given loft on the face. More offset can help increase the height of the shot for golfers who have a difficult time getting the ball well up in the air.”

    Offset vs Standard hosels

    The most forgiving irons on the market are going to have offset hosels. The low handicappers playing blades or muscle backs have such skill to square the club face at impact, they don't need the offset. The offset encourages a draw and reduces workability of the club to hit fades. Highly skilled players want to hit the ball both ways.

    Avoid irons with 'Tour Preferred', 'Tour' or 'Pro' in the name

    These are for low handicap and professional players. You'll get there one day but for now they wouldn't be a wise investment. It would be like starting a video game on Expert setting from the beginning. These 'Tour' clubs are not the most forgiving irons as you can imagine.

    How to Hit a 30 to 75 Yard Golf Shot

    How is it possible such a little shot can cause so much grief for so many men? A man can make a golf ball travel 400 yards in two shots but give that same man a shot inside 75 yards and you see some tragic things!

    I'm sure you've also seen countless guys blading balls over the green or hitting fat shots that don't even reach the green. You may be one of them. I know I was. So what's the big deal?

    There's no carry over water, there's no long carries to hit the fairway...it's just a little shot but it's the shot no one wants to talk about. But it's time we talked about it, so just how do you hit a 30 to 75 yard golf shot? 

    I'm going to outline how I went from totally sucking at this shot to being lethal in only 2 practice sessions:

    • Technique to play the shot from 30 to 75 yards
    • Controlling the distance
    • Which club to play it with
    • How to practice it

    By the end of this guide, I hope you'll be able to do it! By the way, the best way to avoid these shots on the course is to follow my system for breaking 90.

    Pick one to start with and master it

    Key concepts for hitting pitch shots inside 100 yards

    • The club you use is up to you. There's no firm and fast rule. I personally use 53° and 58° wedges
    • You need to align your feet to the left of the target
    • Keep your weight more on your left side to stop yourself falling back to scoop the ball
    • Have your sternum directly over the ball
    • Put the ball in the middle of your stance
    • Don't use your arms to try scoop it - you need to turn your body with the shot and have your arms follow your body
    • Keep your arms closer to your body for body rotation - close your armpits against your body
    • Hit down on it but take a shallower divot - it'll be shallow automatically because you rotate your body
    • Distance control is achieved through the length of your back swing and the wedge you use

    Technique for 30 to 75 and 80 yard pitch shots

    Mark Heinneman explains how to hit these shots really simply in the video below. I don't enjoy videos by Tour pros who try tell you how to hit shots because while they're good at them, they don't know how to elaborate clearly and simply to mid and high handicapper golfers. This video is excellent below:

    A similar concept (with a little drill) is shown at the Golf Channel website here.

    Another great explanation in this video from Rick Shiels:

    How do I control the distance from 30 to 75 yards?

    I like to think of where my back swing must stop and then swing through the ball like a normal shot. You won't generate full shot club head speed with a shortened back swing and that by default will make the shot go a shorter distance EVEN WITH A FULL FOLLOW THROUGH.

    Rick Shiels explains clearly how to control your distance with the wedges

    I like the idea of the clock system in these videos. I use it and have used it for years. I've changed the clock to be a percentage for me. I hit my lob wedge 100 yards in full swing so I stop my back swing at 40%, 75% depending on the distance because 40% is of 100 yards is 40 yards. So the percentages and distance line up perfectly.

    Here is the guru of the short game Dave Pelz giving us another explanation. With some awful music in the background

    Which club should I use?

    I use my 53° and my 58° wedge. On full swings, the 53 degree goes 115-120 yards while the 58 degree goes around 100.

    The 53 degree is good for inside 90 yards where there is a lot of space on the green before the pin. I use the 58 degree for inside 90 yards where the isn't much green to work with.

    Start practicing with your sand wedge and perfect that. Then move onto your other clubs. It's better to be lethal with one club than average with two or three.

    Now it's my turn to put these principles in practice!

    In the video below I took the lessons from this guide and implemented them. I just really sucked at this shot for too long. Now I'm hitting them within putting range and making more saves than ever.

    Some things were not perfect such as ball position and sternum over the ball, but since then I have started doing that and in just this one session I got 80% to where I wanna be.

    I love this Mizuno 58° wedge I used for the video. The Footjoy WeatherSof is perfect for hot humid days like the one out there on the range in Malaysia and really keeps it's grip.

    How to practice these shots

    Step 1: Go to a practice facility or your local course where there is a green made for pitching. If you don't have that, get to a grass driving range. Worst case scenario is an artificial turn driving range but it will do. Pick one club you'd like to work on. Don't try it with all 3 wedges you own - you'll just confuse yourself.

    Step 2: Pace out the distance to the hole 30 yards, 50 yards, 70 yards. Some places will have distance markers for you.

    Step 3: Put a head cover under your left armpit and keep it there throughout your swing to keep your armpits tucked in and get your body turning. We don't want to use just our arms here. 

    Step 4: Hit balls from each distance and consciously take note of where your back swing is ending on each distance. Pro-actively put that feeling into your brain so you can remember it on the course. It's vital to be mindful when practicing otherwise you get onto the course and forget what you taught yourself. 

    Don't worry too much about flight control and super spin on these pitch shots just yet. Worry most about distance control and shot setup. Once you have those fundamentals, you can play around with making the ball spin or hitting lower shots into the greens. 

    Conclusion

    So how to hit a 30 to 75 yard pitch shot? Follow the fundamentals in the videos above and then practice it until you feel it in your bones. Always be conscious of yourself when practicing and be mindful of what you're doing and how it feels so you can replicate it on the course. 

    I know it sounds stupid, but when you hit a good one, physically take the "fairy dust" after the shot and put it in your golf bag or your pocket while on the range or practice facility. It genuinely works!

    Enjoy!