Ninth Time’s A Charm — The 2017 JSO


Zero Buckles Became Two Buckles

Darkness falls on Pickering Valley.  The nuclear cooling towers, which had cut a striking contrast against the blue sky earlier in the day have faded into the shadows.  One car remains in the parking lot.  The employees have left for the day.  Any cart returned at this point will be done under the famed Pickering “honor system.”

Four men, gladiators bruised and buzzed after 5+ hours of intense competition, roam the hillside adjacent to the 18th fairway.  One of them, who bears a striking resemblance to D.M.C, cannot find his golf ball.


My Adidas.

What if the World Series went into extra innings in game seven every year?  What if every football game ended with a Music City Miracle?  What if there was a sporting event that made Justin Leonard’s putt at the 1999 Ryder seem mundane?

For those of you that know the history, for the ones who eagerly await the 10th anniversary full length documentary feature that will hopefully win Sundance in 2019, it will come as no surprise to you that the JSO came down to the 20th hole.  For those of you who are idiots, a golf course is 18 holes.  How did we get to this point?

A lot of credit is given to Coors Light for its role in this event, but I’d like to take a quick moment to offer a stern tongue-lashing to the beer distributors of Pennsylvania.  After surviving a skunked 30 on JSO day several years ago, the beer situation hit a tenuous new low this year when it was discovered a mere hours before tee-off that our cooler pack had been compromised.  Thirty six silver bullets that would never leave the chamber?  Enough to bring a tear to your eye.  Luckily, JSO headquarters is only about a mile from Phoenixville’s only drive-thru beer distributor, and we moved on with our preparations, but we expect the same level of excellence from the distributors as we demand from ourselves.  Let’s keep the Coors cold, OK people?  Blue mountains.  That is all.

We had a great pre-game meal thanks to Lancaster Brand meats and it’s probably time to mention the weather.  Easily the “nicest” day in JSO history, the temperature checking in at a frigid 78 degrees with glittering sunshine.

So, while we prefer to sweat uncomfortably through our jorts, the rest of the area was busy jamming Pickering (relatively), which is always a good news/bad news scenario for the event.  We love the eyes, but also tend to prefer room on the course to operate under our unique rules and outlook.  Luckily, we’d booked a tee time.  ONLINE!  And, believe it or not, online at Pickering does not mean showing up and getting “in” line.  They have a computer in the pro shop now.  Saw it with my own eyes!

On the first tee we found out we’d be running a rematch of last year.  DMC’s partner, filling out the rosters this year would be:  JnCo


Leg Holes Wider Than They Appear.

When you play 9 JSO’s you still get nervous, but there is a rhythm that develops, a familiarity with the scenarios.  You understand that you will probably hit the first green and then 3-putt it for bogey.  This happens every year.  The hole will probably be someone’s back yard before anyone makes a 2-putt par there.

The first unexpected twist of the day came on two, when the defending champs both 3-putted, allowing us to halve the hole with a bogey.  The traditional closest/furthest shotgun had to be performed on the 3rd tee, because the Pick was just so crowded we had to keep moving.  Haven’t these people heard of Kimberton?  Unreal.

Over the next two holes JnCo got it percolating like he tends to do on the front nine with a net birdie win on #3 and then a hugely clutch par snake on #4 to maintain a one-up lead.  I would say in 9 JSOs, which is over 650 holes of combined golf for the four of us, we’ve probably made less than 10 putts over 15 feet.  This was one of the most momentum sustaining that I can remember.

We went ahead a lost the 5th hole despite a perfect drive and arrived at the fabled putters only 6th in desperate need of the shrubbery if you catch my drift and staring at a 2-hole deficit.  This is where we let the first group of the day play through us.  They were relieved, but then one member of the group hit a cold top off the tee that couldn’t have gone more than 10 feet.  We all laughed heartily.  Imagine getting laughed at, on a golf course, by the JSO crew.  Clear low-point for that guy who probably stopped on the way home and bought a bowling ball.


Perhaps You Can See This Ball Leaking a Bit Left.

JnCo got into a bit of trouble off the tee and that allowed us to nip back a hole on 6 despite making just a double bogey.  A hole later on 8, we impressed some local fisherman with a birdie and squared the match.  But, on 9 DMC threw a dart in there “water tight” and made a birdie of his own.  Onto the turn and the halfway house order one down.


That Straight Left Arm Tho.

We spent an inordinate amount of time at the turn this year.  One member of the group was waylaid in the locker room for some time.  Don’t think he took a shower, but needless to say, another group played through us here.  They also were very bad at golf, but you know, sober and possibly slightly terrified.  A new halfway house employee posited, “You guys aren’t from around here, are you?  I can tell by the way you dress.” Well, yes, and no.

Always a great time to thank Lance as an official sponsor of the JSO.

The 10th hole requires you to play your worst shot off the tee and if you want to feel pressure, have your partner hit the green first.  Before we teed off, our mantra was “two balls on the green,” kind of an obvious rallying cry along the lines of, “boy I hope this parachute opens.”  Well, the ugliest and most nervous 9-iron of my life found the putting surface and we easily won the 10th hole (gets more narrow every year) to pull back to even.  ALL SQUARE, EIGHT TO GO.

You ride the Coors Light like a wave all day.  It’s hurting you, it’s helping you, your results are plotted on a coordination/intoxication/confidence three axis graph and good luck deciphering that, but the point is, there are ebbs and flows to the level of play.  Our opponents definitely experienced an ebb around this time and without much great golf we actually took the lead after the 12th hole with a routine par.  But, like alcohol through the liver, shots would emerge through the trees on 13th and the tide turns again. Back to ALL SQUARE FIVE TO GO.

We introduced a beer mulligan this year.  Each player, during the first 15 holes was allowed to redo a shot if they drank a beer.  Maybe we forgot about it, maybe the opportunities didn’t present themselves, but everyone took their beer on the last hole and I believe the only one it helped was….


Is That a Male Romper?

Male Romper was able to redo a chip on 15 that allowed us to stay tied and then both teams opted for beer par on 16 which left things ALL SQUARE TWO TO PLAY.


Lost The Hole.

I was talking about Coors Light tides earlier and by this point I was out to sea.  No lifeguard on duty.  Someone with a tennis racket could have beaten me on 17 and we were unable to salvage a halve.  At this point I am starting to think about taking another loss and I’m in a general bad mood, thinking about holes I blew earlier in the day.  ONE DOWN ONE TO GO.

It’s amazing to me how much the 18th green is like the 1st.  The 18th is a much longer, much tougher hole, but the green is the 1st’s savage twin.  It’s enormous.  You usually three putt it.  You get the idea.  The idea of having to make par on 18 to stay alive is a daunting thought, but we got a ball in the fairway and Romper took over from there, making our most clutch putt of the day to put the pressure on–when the matching putt didn’t drop, it was just another JSO with extra holes.

We tied the 16th with pars, after another nervy 2 footer by Romper and that circles us back to the beginning.  In the dark, hole 20, looking for DMC’s ball to keep them alive. We never found it, or maybe we did and didn’t realize it?  But the penalty was too much overcome and when we made par again on 18, the buckles officially changed hands.  What’s better, the feeling of winning or the nervous excitement on the 1st hole when you don’t know if you’ll win or lose?  I’m not sure.

Monster post-game shout out to my wife who drove us into town for our post-round dinner at Pepperoncini’s as usual.  Though, personally, I’d be open to changing locations. I did not have it, but the pasta served with the chicken parm looked in a word–unfortunate.

Thanks to Brown’s Cow, the owner of which we met and learned about his story as we coaxed some ice cream down to line the stomach.  Thanks to our Uber driver Kenya, who picked us up in a beautifully appointed ’05? Tahoe with cozy leather seats and then talked Game of Throne theories for our 5 minute drive.

Thanks to Graceyyyyyy for showing up at the 1st tee, Pickering, Coors Light, Levi’s, our new friends at VANS, 80s hip-hop and of course, Adidas.  We’ll see you next year.  TEN.


And, of course, Happy Holidays.  

Post was not proofread.  Please alert me of all typos through the US Mail.


JSO 2016: We’re Going to Need More Peanut Butter



These Frickin’ Guys.

In the year that has passed since the last JSO, the formatting here has become a complete nightmare.  But, in the spirit of continuity and making one archive for sports history, I will press on.  Hopefully, the three of you can read this without aborting back to your snapchat stories and Tinder matches after a few sentences.

JSO 2016.  We’re probably a couple more years away from this melding into Halloween and attempting some adult trick-o-treating after the round.  This year we had: Michael Phelps and Woodstock ’94 up there.  They prevailed over Santa Claus and G.I. JSO–pictures to follow.

After a well-grilled lunch our day started this year at Phoenixville’s only drive-thru beer distributer.  I imagine selling beer in Phoenixville numbs you to reacting to people’s outfits, general states of mind, etc.  And, we got absolutely no reaction out of the guys in there.  I think only one of them was an actual employee.  The others were just hanging out, in lawn chairs, at the drive-thru beer distributer.  This is one of the most coveted retirement positions in Phoenixville, I would imagine, along with throwing horse shoes all day, or possibly just hanging around watching football practice.  Just in case you wanted an opinion on beer, these guys were available and they have YEARS of experience.

Pickering Valley was very deserted this year.  The fear that the course may be closing soon, falling to the siren song of luxury carriage house developers is becoming real.  But, by the time we got to the first tee there were some people making the turn and others showing up, so we got a few reactions.  One guy had his ~13 year-old son with him, and offered a nervous, “have fun guys.”  I imagine there was a long, “don’t be like them when you grow up,” talk on the putting green before they headed out.

Course conditions?  About what you’d expect at the Pick.  A nice mixture of burnt out areas and soft, spongy greens.  A diabolical combination.  The legendary green surfaces got the better of me on the very 1st hole as I had what may be the first 360 lip-out in Pickering history.  For those unfamiliar with golf you usually need a sharply cut cup, or at least fast greens to achieve one of these.  Pickering has…neither.  But, the ball spun out none the less, we settled for a halve and I had a fairly ominous outlook from that point on.

My mood after said putt:


Probably not Cheery Enough to Moonlight as a Mall Santa.


Moments later, G.I. JSO and I were on the 2nd tee shotgunning a beer.  Rules are rules…but we would take what would be our only lead of the day with a routine par on the 2nd.  The remainder of the front nine was played with a Ryder Cup level intensity as the match stayed at all-square through 7 holes.  I believe we put in our collective worst effort ever on the inimitable “putters only” 6th hole as double-bogeys were good enough for a halve.

haas ptter

Did You Know Michael Phelps Golfed Left-Handed and Used an Odyssey?


A nice shot of the shrubbery around the 6th tee.  Verdant!

The match turned on the 8th hole when Woodstock ’94 and Phelpsy made a savage eagle despite hitting their tee shot in a pond.  I won’t hurt your head trying to explain how that is possible, let’s just say it flustered us enough that we completely filled our drawers on nine and limped into the turn 2-down.

Halfway House order: Grilled Cheese crackers, Peanut Butter Honey Crackers, Traditional Toast-Chee, Chips, 12 Coors Lights, 4 waters, a peanut bar, and “all the hot dogs” (ended up being 4 hot dogs).  Our grand total was a 1 transaction record for the woman working the counter.  You’re welcome, Pickering!  Hope that can sustain you until August, 2017.

The back nine featured both teams absorbing jabs and two great shot points that somehow did not impact the outcome of the holes.  The play by 15 had gotten a little rough around the edges as the 2nd group of the day decided to just bypass us and skip ahead.  It doesn’t sound bad until you realize that only two groups teed off after us all day.

The shot of the day was struck on 15 by Michael Phelps.  Certain holes provide certain advantages for different players at the JSO, such is its charm, and 15 is supposed to be a hole where I have some advantage.  You have to play the entire hole with one-club, and as the alleged golfer in the group this is supposed to help me out and in the past I have achieved great success on 15, but not this time around.  As I chunked my 8-iron approach, Phelps carved his 3rd on the green and made the 5 (net 4) that pushed the squad back to 2-up.  With beer par on deck, and three holes to go, things seemed bleak.

Out of the kindness of his heart, I assume, or maybe there was literally no room for another drop of liquid in his stomach, Michael Phelps opted out of beer par this year and I did a sneaky one around the green that allowed us to get back to 1-down with 2 holes to go.  Another thriller unfolds.

For those coming back year after year perhaps you remember that on 17 I hit my tee shot off a water bottle.  This year, I hit a stunning drive off the bottle, but before that we wanted to see if I could hit one off JSO’s canteen.  Something like this:


Everything looking seamless here.

End result:  The ball ended up on that tee box in front of me, the dented canteen made it about halfway.  Hey, you try it after beer par.  But, the shot off the bottle went brilliantly, we made a birdie and stayed one behind headed to 18.

Eighteen is the only real hole at Pickering.  Par is a good score and we were hoping a par could get us to extra holes.  Another playoff?  Nope.  Woodstock stepped up in his tie-dyed jeans that didn’t fit and calmly (drunkenly?) coaxed in a 3 footer for the tie on the hole and the overall win.  Another year in the books.

Once again we’d like to thank Pepperoncini Phoenixville for being the official host of the after party.  No Cranberries covers this year, but still that perfect, creepy, festive atmosphere and moderately over-priced “Italian” treats.  I’d like to thank my wife for allowing me to participate in all the activities this year while she watched the little denim bundle of joy.  And for a parting shot…


We had what has now become the traditional ice cream finish to the evening.  Nothing settles the stomach like a sundae or a milkshake.  So, we’re at Brown’s Cow, Phoenixville’s old time malt shoppe (author’s license on the extra p), and Phelps says to the young dipper,

“I’m just going talk out loud about what I want and you tell me if it’s possible.”  To their credit they did a pretty good job of satisfying the request that included peanut butter swirl ice cream and peanut butter sauce, BUT about halfway through his dish he had to go up and request more peanut butter.  You can never have enough.


See Everyone Next Year.





A Denim Dynasty.

These Two Clowns Win Again.

                                     These Two Clowns Win Again.

For the sake of historical documentation, and in case anyone is awaiting to payout their JSO Fantasy Pools, please enjoy the recap of the 2015 JSO:

The Outfits:

I hear a lot of, “Where do you come up with this stuff?”  The answer seems to be mostly, “Ebay,” and/or “South Street.”  I like to rate outfits based on how uncomfortable they make me.  Believe it or not, this was not the most uncomfortable year, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t reach new ground.  We had,

Country Music Apollo Creed:

Has Never Seen Rocky. Really.

Has Never Seen Rocky. Really.

Dee Brown Up There in his “Pumps”:

These Game Worns are Now Probably Back on Ebay.

                                These Game Worns are Now Probably Back on Ebay.

And, The Fowler Brothers:


Actual Brightness.

The Rundown:

Incredibly smooth year from a logistics standpoint.  We’d like to thank Superior Bev of Phoenixville for stocking Apollo’s Jack’s Cider in cans which allows him to appease his made up gluten allergy and allows us not to break the 2nd rule of Pickering Valley–NO GLASS BOTTLES!

Also, after a summer of suffocating heat and humidity, we’d like to thank Mother Nature for once again being on the home team.  Never had a full rain out, and the high 80s low humidity on Saturday felt refreshing and was often referred to as absolute prime, “drinking weather.”

An unprecedented level of tension surrounded this year’s event after “17-Gate” from a year ago and a call for a rematch. The general consensus was that the rematch would have to come about organically on the first tee, but then the two of us showed up in the same outfit (not planned) and it just seemed to make sense.  Thus, we willingly broke a rule of the JSO for the first time.  Perhaps karma for the losers.

We received a warm reception in the parking lot, two gentleman in particular were really feeling the patriotic vibe, and the “If Golf Was Easy, It’d Be Your Mom,” t-shirt created a lot of photo requests.  Unfortunately, our old friend behind the counter was not in attendance. We fear he may have left to take the lucrative Head Pro’s Position at Waltz’s Golf Farm.

The only other change this year was, of course, the ceremonial first tee-ball, which was struck in appropriately formal attire:

Right Down the Middle.

Right Down the Middle.

The Pick was a little crowded this year, which led us to having to let a few groups play through to keep it social, the first of which was a grandfather/grandson(?) combination that we horrified on the 3rd tee.  Were they playing through or running for their lives?

The theme of the day was incredible golf.  The level of play, with no sacrifice to the drinking was outrageous.  The 4th hole was tied with birdies.  On the famous equalizer, Putters Only #6, Apollo Creed struck a prodigious blow for America in the war on Terror and knocked his putter a good 200 yards just over the green.  Perhaps even more surprisingly, he was able to take only two more shots from there for a historic par.  It put his team 2-up after 6.

The holes 7-10 have emerged in recent years as what I’d like to call the Refreshment Stabilization Zone.  During this stretch the body is catching up to the influx of liquid goodness, and sometimes things can get a little. strange.  Especially for Dee Brown.  The pumps were extra slick on the 8th hole as Dee took two tumbles, which led to zero Great Shot Points, but still somehow was a birdie–the Fowler Bros halved.  Again amazing golf.  Nine was more of the same as two more birdies were made, one an improbable 12-footer after a pop over the tree and a topped tee-shot.  A net birdie is still a “3” on the card, and the winners turned 1-up in a glittering 35.

Halfway House Order:

  1. 12 Coors Lights
  2. 4 Waters
  3. 3, 4, 5  6 hot dogs
  4. Assorted Lance Crackers
  5. (1) bag Potato Chips
  6. Candy

The Eagle and The Deja Vu:

After pulling even, we were again victims of JSO history as Apollo Creed nearly drove the cozy 12th green and then fell ass-backwards into his 70-footer for eagle.  The first eagle in the history of the JSO, and a timely one for the Freedom Fighters as they’d go on to lose a ball on 13 and generally fall apart before which 16–which has become their strategy.  This of course brings us to Beer Par–#16.

Perhaps you remember as a dedicated follower of the JSO that things unraveled for the Fowler Bros on 16 last year when they opted not to match a beer par and lost in extra holes.  WELP, this year we decided to at least make a run at Beer Par, at the very least thinking we’d incapacitate 1/2 of our opposition.  One Beer-Birdie later, our 2-up lead had been cut in half.

The Water Bottle Tee Shot Owes Me One.

The Water Bottle Tee Shot Owes Me One.

The seventeenth was halved and after two decent shots on 18 I had two putts from about 40 feet to win the JSO and I failed miserably with a 3-jack and I’ll be sitting on that for the next year.  Tough to swallow even after a lot of solid shots and putts throughout the day.  The playoff took us back to 16, which as I type this is obviously a jinxed hole for the Fowler Bros.  The stink of Beer Par must still be on the teebox for the playoff…and this year we fell victim once again to the silky left-handed putting stroke of Dee Brown and had to watch a celebration on the 19th green.  Ouch.

Post-Round Coverage:

Big shout out to Pepperoncini’s in Phoenixville for unknowingly becoming the host of the JSO After-Party.  Three Years running.  This year we were blessed with tremendous live entertainment as the musician played all our requests as we shouted them out (politely??) from the dining room.  This included a stirring rendition of Zombie by the Cranberries.  You had to be there.

See Everyone in 2016.

See Everyone in 2016.

2015 Golf Equipment Guide.

Hate to Say It...

Hate to Say It…

First blog post since before the NFL playoffs.  How did they turn out by the way.  This would have been a niche post back when people actually visited the blog, and now I’m mostly just doing it for my own amusement.  I do love golf equipment.  Even if I never actually buy any of it…



A G30 For All Occasions.

A G30 For All Occasions.

Callaway has a campaign out there right now called “Pathway to Distance,” the thought being that there are only a few ways to gain distance with the driver and they have a driver for each category.  I hate to parrot advertisements, but there is some truth to what Callaway is saying.  We are running out of ways to get longer with the driver.  The spring of the face has been maximized.  The size of the club head has been maximized.  So, the bad news could be, if you have an R11s, or a G25, or 910D3 and you hit it consistently with low spin you probably aren’t going to find much distance in a new driver.  The only way to gain distance anymore is by reducing the spin for a high spin player, or to give a vastly more forgiving club to someone who is not a consistent ball-striker.  For me, that puts drivers into two categories.  Easy to Hit and Low Spin.

Easy to Hit Rankings: 

  1. Ping G30 Standard & SF Tec
  2. Callaway XR
  3. Nike Vapor Speed
  4. TaylorMade Aeroburner
  5. Callaway Big Bertha 815

Ping took a really forgiving driver in the G25 and improved on it with the G30.  I can’t honestly say I’ve seen the turbulators add a lot of club head speed for many golfers, but the performance across the entire face of the G30 is remarkably consistent.  The SF Tec head, which stands for Straight Flight, is a draw-biased head that will help slicers a good bit more than any hosel adjustment.  Elsewhere, the Nike Vapor lineup has some of the best feel I’ve felt on a driver in years, and the Aeroburner is a no-frills, non-adjustable offering that with remind you of the originall RBZ.

Low Spin Rankings:

  1. Callaway 815 Double Black Diamond
  2. Ping G30 LS Tec
  3. Nike Vapor Pro/FlexFlight
  4. TaylorMade R15
  5. Callaway XR Pro

Note 1: These rankings are based not on my preference, but on the ability of the club to reduce spin for a golfer who makes no other changes.

Note 2: The rankings omit the still unseen Titleist 915 D4.  The Titleist 915 D2 and D3 are both very good drivers, but don’t quite make either list.  Neither is the most forgiving and the D3 cannot compete spin wise with some of these other options, but the drivers would still fit many players.

Taking away spin is all about sacrifice.  How much forgiveness can you give up?  What about launch angle? I prefer the drivers on the lower portion of this list and the 915 D3, because I launch the ball quite low.  The G30 LS Tec launches like a low knuckleball for me and rolls for days, but I don’t carry it anywhere.  But, take someone who easily launches a driver at 13-16 degrees and the club can turn into an absolute cannon for them.  The Double Black Diamond is the least forgiving head on this list by a margin in my opinion, but if you must reduce your driver spin, it is a must try.  And, TaylorMade is back this year with a much better line of drivers.  The R15 has all the positives of the SLDR, but is much easier to hit for a mid-handicapper.

Sleeper Driver of the Year: Nike Vapor Flexflight

If you happened to stumble upon this post from last year, you would have seen me touting the Bio Cell Plus as last year’s surprise driver.  For me, it was one year ahead of its time.  Very low-spin, but not impossible to hit.  This year’s Cobra offerings, the Fly-Z series, is still quite good,  but perhaps suffers from comparisons to the Bio Cell, which felt like a real jump in technology.  So, this year’s Bio Cell for me is the Nike Vapor Flexflight.  I picked this driver up with almost no expectations.  There is no bigger Nike equipment hater, so I wasn’t surprised to not like the decal on the head or the stock shaft offering.  Then I hit the club.  It feels like you are crushing it–every time.  It launches easier than the Ping, or the Bertha and keeps the spin lower than the R15.  It’s not markedly longer than any other driver, but for me it was a lot easier to get my best hit out of it.  Put it, or any of the Vapor family in the running is all I am saying.

Oh Mizuno, You Little Devil.

Oh Mizuno, You Little Devil.


Irons fall into more categories than drivers.  There are the true blades, which I don’t review, because I’m not good enough to play them and if you are you don’t need any help.  There are the small cavity backs, the game-improvement clubs and then the category which I call, “Big Ole’ Bag of Hybrids.”

Player/Poser Irons:

  1. Mizuno JPX 850 Forged
  2. Callaway Apex Pro
  3. TaylorMade RSI TP
  4. Nike Vapor Pro Combo

Mizuno has always made great irons, but many of their offerings had always been a bit penal for me. Please see my failed MP-14 Experiment of 2003, and they tend to only offer one game-improvement club that was too far on the other end of the spectrum for my taste.  So, while the MP-15 is a great iron and the MP-4 is a leading blade, I’d never have them even if I was about to spend $1000 on irons. The 850 Forged is a different story.  Small enough to feel like you’re playing a real Mizuno, but you don’t immediately lose 20 yards if you’re 1/8″ off the sweet spot.  Plus, Mizuno has a great shaft program going, where you can pretty much get anything you want–short of Steelfiber–for no upcharge.  The Callaway Apex line is a carryover from last year, but still a must try for anyone who wants forged distance.  The RSI TP and Vapor Pro Combo are both EASILY longer and more forgiving than the AP2 and feel incredibly solid as well.

Game Improvement Irons: 

  1. Callaway XR
  2. Ping G30
  3. Titleist AP1
  4. TaylorMade RSI 1
  5. Nike Vapor Speed

I had a conversation with a Callaway rep a couple weeks ago and we were talking about the stronger lofts of modern clubs.  The constant refrain on these news clubs being, yeah you hit your pitching wedge____yards, but it’s 44 degrees!  What they told me is that while the decreased loft does add distance, they are fitting trajectory windows.  If you picked up an 845 PW (48 degrees) and and G30 PW (45 degrees) you would likely hit them on a similar trajectory.  A 48-degree modern club would go straight into the air.  So, for game-improvement sets, the stronger lofts are a good marketing tool, but also a bit of a necessity.  Which brings me to the Callaway XR.  It’s a 44 degree PW!  But, I’ve never seen people consistently gain distance with a club as much I’ve seen with this one.  If you want to hit the ball longer, this is your first stop.  I have no doubt it’ll be the iron of the year and continue TaylorMade’s woes.  The rest of the clubs on this list are all good, almost laughably good on mis-hits, and you really couldn’t make a bad decision with any of them.

Big Ole’ Bag of Hybrids:

  1. Callaway Big Bertha
  2. Cobra Fly-Z XL
  3. Ping Karsten
  4. Various Adams Discontinued Sets

No real advice here.  Pick your price point, and try out those hybrids.  A good mid-priced option if you can find a set around is the Callaway Edge from last year.  Very easy to hit/high launch.  Unfortunately discontinued.

Titleist Makes an Appearance.

Titleist Makes an Appearance.

Fairways and Hybrids:

I’d love to see people get a little less distance oriented with these clubs.  Consistency and trajectory are so key.  A 3w going 260 is great, but how much of that is roll?  How often is that hybrid going a mile left?  Unless you cannot hit a driver, I wouldn’t use distance as a deciding factor on a fairway wood.  Also, the 3-wood is becoming a bit like the 3-iron for average to below average players.  A lot of them would be better off going to something with more loft, a 4 or 5-wood.  This can also save you money or save you some room for an extra wedge.

Overall Fairway & Hybrid Rankings:

  1. Titleist 915
  2. Callaway XR
  3. Ping G30
  4. Adams Tight Lies
  5. TaylorMade Aeroburner

Titleist gets the nod here for taking a big step forward from the 913, while also offering two different shapes and a mix of stock shaft offerings that should fit most players.  This is a nice feature, even though, I am tired of hearing, “Is that a real white board?”  If you have to ask….Anyway, the 915 brings competitive distance and ball speed to the always reliable look and consistency of Titleist.  If you are thinking distance the XR and AeroBurner are both very long and high swing speed players should not be scared off by the Aeroburner line–try the TP shaft.  Ping and Adams offer incredible forgiveness and easy to launch options.

If You Must Try Something New.

If You Must Try Something New.

Putters & Wedges:

All the counterbalancing, large grip stuff just feels a bit like a gimmick to me with the putters.  People are always desperate for something new in this category, though, and that’s probably why I’ve seen the Odyssey Works line take off.  They are nice putters, but I don’t know, maybe I’m just a doubter from way back on the putter.  If you want to try something new for your short game, aside from inserts and groove technology, you should track down an Edel fitting location.  If you end up buying any clubs, it’s going to cost you a good bit, but the fitting itself should be eye-opening.  Edel uses a totally different way of fitting a putter that might open your eyes even if you don’t buy a club.  The wedge system is a lot more simple, but equally intriguing.  It can take you one step past, “Give me the TOUR GRIND!”


I think that’s it for now, feel free to leave any questions, especially about older or more affordable stuff…

This Is Where We’ll Leave You.

Hope Everyone Had a Nice Holiday.

Hope Everyone Had a Nice Holiday.

Seen a lot of Christmas cards over the past few days–sent some, opened some, addressed a few.  It made me go back and remember getting Christmas cards as a kid.  Maybe my parents were more popular than I am now, or maybe the practice has fallen slightly out of favor, but we used to get a lot of Christmas cards.  I took this as an opportunity to open mail.  I really liked getting mail when I was a kid, mostly because I never got anything.  It was a novelty to be able to open ANYTHING.  On most Christmas cards I used a technicality.  The card would be addressed to the whole family, or I would make this distinction on my own and open anything that came in a red or green envelope.  I’d be very excited looking at the cards, I’d tear into them, and then I’d ask one of my parents, “Who’s this?”  Anyway, when you are a kid the idea of opening Christmas cards is a lot more exciting than the payoff.  Now, the opposite may be true.  A card might sit on the counter for a day or two, but when I get around to opening it, I usually know who it’s from and I’ll say, “WELL ISN’T THAT NICE.”


Final week of NFL Picks coming for the regular season.  This was not our most dedicated year.  The picks have been mostly the coin-flip you’d expect, though with a good week Big Dub could secure another title and have one of our better winning percentages.

NFL Pick ‘EM Standings:  

  1. Big Dub, 35-24-1
  2. DC, 33-27
  3. Kraft, 40-39-1
  4. Grossy, 37-38
  5. Nichols, 36-38-1


Big Dub:

  1. Green Bay (-7.5) over Detroit
  2. Carolina (+4) over Atlanta
  3. Houston (-9.5) over Jacksonville
  4. Buffalo (+5) over New England
  5. San Diego (+2.5) over Kansas City



  1. Pittsburgh (-3.5) over Cincinnati
  2. San Francisco (-6) over Arizona
  3. Baltimore (-9.5) over Cleveland
  4. Carolina (+4) over Atlanta
  5. Chicago (+6.5) over Minnesota



  1. NYJ (+5.5) over Miami
  2. San Diego (+2.5) over Kansas City
  3. San Francisco (-6) over Arizona
  4. Detroit (+7.5) over Green Bay
  5. Indy (-7) over Tennessee



New York Giants (-3) over Philadelphia.  This is how it ends for the Eagles.  The slide will be complete.  If you want to see a team come out flat, I’d suggest keeping your eyes on the Birds.  It’s not like the Giants are playing for a playoff spot, but I think they’ll take the opportunity to kick a division foe while they’re down.  Today is the first day of a very long winter in Philadelphia.

New Orleans (-4) over Tampa Bay.  Now that Tampa is officially out of the race for the NFC South–they are eliminated, right????–I think they can move along with this NFL version of tanking.  I’m sure individual Bucs will play hard, but there’s really no need to win this game and lessen their chance at getting yet another QB.

New York Jets (+5.5) over Miami.  WIN ONE FOR REX!  I heard that Ryan has cleared out his office, which I imagine simply involves dumping the empty candy wrappers from his desk drawers into the trash.  But, everyone knows Buddy’s boy is fired and since I think the players probably like the Cussin’ Foot Craver a good bit, they’ll be able to send him off with a win against the Dolphins who are one hell of an average football team.

Atlanta (-4) over Carolina.  Winner take all, BITCHES!  I’m looking for the NFL to be embarrassed here, so I think the best case scenario is that Atlanta wins and then gives someone a tough game (possibly wins) in the opening round.

Steelers (-3.5) over Cincinnati.  Spite pick for the Bengals nipping me last week.  I don’t see Andy Dalton winning two games in a row like this.  With the #3 seed and a home game at stake, I think the Steelers can summon what they need for a win here…

Santa Let Me Win A Few…

My How We've Fallen.

My How We’ve Fallen.

I don’t expect people to play board games anymore.  If you are under 20 the whole concept may be foreign to you.  I think many board games were designed to waste as much time as possible and we now have 17 second attention spans.  It’s tough to get people to carve out an afternoon for one of the classics. But regardless of the game, or the time commitment, some people just don’t want to play.  I think that makes them slightly odd and poor sports, but FINE–don’t play.  I can live with that.  What can’t I live with?  Someone playing Damn You Autocorrect.  I don’t know what the rules are, I don’t care about the objective, this is how I know that games are never going to be what they used to be.  I’m not above laughing at an autocorrect, but it’s no game.  It’s the equivalent of sitting around reading Buzzfeed aloud. If someone breaks this out at your holiday gathering you have my permission to take them to jail.  Not Monopoly jail, real jail.


NFL Pick ‘EM Standings: 

  1. DC, 31-24
  2. Big Dub, 30-24-1
  3. Grossy, 36-34
  4. Kraft, 37-37-1
  5. Nichols, 34-35-1

Well, our two leaders both took the week off last week–a commendable and effective strategy.  If they don’t pick some losers, they’ll be tough to catch.  We’re also still just a bit on the wrong side of QUEST .500.  Ten games to go…


Big Dub:

  1. San Diego (+1) over San Francisco
  2. Pittsburgh (-3) over Kansas City
  3. Atlanta (+6) over New Orleans
  4. Green Bay (-11.5) over Tampa Bay
  5. Dallas (-3) over Indianapolis



  1. Philadelphia (-7.5) over Washington
  2. Green Bay (-11.5) over Tampa Bay
  3. New England (-10.5) over New York Jets
  4. New York Giants (+6.5) over St. Louis
  5. Buffalo (-6.5) over Oakland



Detroit (-8.5) over Chicago.  Things are pretty bad in Chicago, but are they Jimmy Clausen bad?  As one of my dear friends asked, “Is he from the pickle family?”  He might as well be.  This is Chicago’s chance to let their team know exactly how pissed off they are about this season and the Bears are going to oblige by getting throttled.  I’m just not sure if Cutler will come off the bench after Clausen’s 7th turnover.  Maybe just a few direct snaps to Neal Anderson.

Atlanta (+6) over New Orleans.  All NFC South games should be pick ’ems, and not televised.

St. Louis (-6.5) over New York Giants.  I’ll try the Rams as a favorite again, because I am a dolt. Someone out there is trying to tell us that the Rams are going to win some games comfortably, but given their offense, that rarely happens.  I think the G-Men are saving everything for next week, and Bad Eli leads the charge to an ass-kicking.

Indy (+3) over Dallas.  I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller, I wish I had a girl who looked good I would call her.  I would play ghetto games.  Name my kids ghetto names. Little Mookie. Big Al. Lorraine.

Denver (-3) over Cincinnati.  The Bengals stink.  I stand by it.

Get Your NFL Picks. Free as Always.

Need a Bit More than 51% Winners to Afford This Bad Boy.

Need a Bit More than 51% Winners to Afford This Bad Boy.

The new golf clubs for 2015 are slowly starting to creep to the market.  November was big and then after the new year we’ll see a blitz of new woods and irons from most of the major equipment manufacturers.  It should be an interesting year as the golf business lagged severely in 2014 and many consumers started to lash out at the likes of Taylormade and their short product cycle.  Taylormade has a new guy calling the shots and things are supposed to change, but that didn’t impact a new iron launch last month and the new woods coming in January. Can you say Aeroburner?  Probably not.

Since many of the few readers of this blog are golfers, I thought I’d quickly summarize all the new gear (since I’ve hit all of it), and then get to the much less valuable information–the NFL picks.

New Woods:

Titleist 915 Series:  The 915 series will be familiar to golfers with two driver offerings and two head shapes in the fairways and hybrids as well.  The 915 is Titleist’s 1st club with any type of “slot,” utilizing what they call the Active Recoil Channel “ARC” to increase ball speed and forgiveness.

Thoughts: The ARC definitely seems to give the distance a boost in the hybrids and fairways.  Titleist has never had the hottest or most forgiving faces, but these clubs take a positive step in that direction.  For the drivers, the spin has come down on both heads and the D3 feels a lot more tolerable on mis-hits than past iterations.  They’ve also mixed up the shafts a little in the stock options. I’m personally a big fan of the Aldila Rogue Silver and in combination with the D3, it’s among my favorite drivers available.  A good head that highlights the importance of finding the right shaft for you…

Callaway Big Bertha Series: Callaway has two new versions of the Alpha.  The 815 and the 815 Double Black Diamond.  I don’t know why it’s called that, either.  The fairways and hybrids for this series, which I’ve seen, but aren’t available may end up stealing the show–especially for better players.

Thoughts:  For the average player, I’m not sure Callaway has improved upon the x2hot, but the regular 815 does provide an interesting lower spin option that still offers some forgiveness.  The Double Black Diamond has an incredibly deep face and stout body that might appeal to good players, but won’t be for everyone.  It’s a club targeting a limited market.  I wouldn’t pick this club up unless you can break 80 and hit your driver at least 270 yards.

Taylormade R15 and Aeroburner: The SLDR gets an update with the R15 and the more forgiving line moves from the Jetspeed to the Aeroburner.  Taylormade has gone back to the white head as the primary offering and the Aeroburner driver is NOT adjustable.

Thoughts: The 430 CC version of the R15 is a good loooking club and the two weights on the sole (as opposed to one for the SLDR) give a players countless setup options.  It is a little disconcerting to see such inconsistency from Taylormade, though, as they are now back to white heads and you probably won’t be hearing nearly as much about ‘lofting up’ this year.  The Aeroburner has a massive speed pocket that gives the club a bit of a dead “hit” in my opinion.  It’s a hot face, but for my money the company has not improved on the original RBZ for your average player.

Coming Soon:  Nike Vapor, Cobra Fly-Z.  

Definitely looking forward to the Fly-Z as the Bio Cell+ remains as one of my favorite drivers.  If Cobra has improved on that club they will certainly have a winner.  Nike’s new offerings should be worth a look. They’re no longer red and if Tiger can turn his game around that should drive sales–at least a bit.


Nike Vapor Line.  The Vapor line (pro/combo/speed) is slanted a bit toward better players.  Like Titleist, there’s really only one offering for a bogey golfer and that’s the Vapor Speed.  In fact, the iron bears a striking resemblance to the AP1 at address.  It is physically long (+.5″ over standard) and quite forgiving as well.  Could be a player if people give them a shot.  The Vapor Combo is a great looking iron that will be competing in a crowded market for better players, but Nike has not been able to crack into Titleist’s and Mizuno’s market share in the past.  If you are looking at MP-15s for example, the Vapor Pro Combo might be worth a look, but I doubt many people will look.  The Vapor Pro will have an even smaller market.

Taylormade RSI 1&2.  Again, think AP1 and AP2.  The technological change here is the “face slots” which create what the company is calling a “floating face.”  It’s supposed to be the most forgiving iron ever made on heel and toe hits.  For the first time in a while Taylormade is not talking about more distance, but the clubs are still plenty hot.  If they stick around for a few more months they should sell pretty well as both clubs are long and incredibly easy to hit.  The RSI 2, in particular, is a great feeling club and would be a great option for a 6-12 handicap or a lapsed better player who still likes a compact head but needs a bit more forgiveness.

Callaway Big Bertha.  The graphite set that comes with hybrids checks in at $1299.  The idea here is that Callaway has put their hybrid technology into irons.  They claim to be two clubs longer (than something).  The club is physically long and the lofts are quite strong, but there is something to the hybrid technology in the face.  If you can stand to look at them, they are quite long.  Personally, I can’t stop hitting them fat and hate the way they look, but if you aren’t good and have money to burn…give ’em a shot.

Coming: Callaway XR, A new offering from Ping (i30?), Cobra Fly Z.

*Also of note for iron shoppers, Mizuno is offering free shaft upgrades on custom orders.  With the exception of steelfiber and possibly the Nippon Pro Modus, you can get the irons for the base price with any shaft, KBS Tour, C-Taper, Project X, etc.  For any high speed player this can turn out to be an incredible bargain.  And, the new clubs, out for some time now live up to the Mizuno standard.


NFL Picks:

Pittsburgh (-2) over Atlanta.  The Falcons got their doors blown off for three quarters last Monday night.  They’re on a short week.  They play in the worst division in the league.  Julio Jones might be hurt. Don’t take this pick an endorsement of Pittsburgh.  Take it more like I hate the Falcons and every game on the slate this week.

Carolina (-3) over Tampa Bay.  If you think I’m going to pass on a chance to bet on Derek Anderson, you are SORELY mistaken.  Any start could be D.A.’s last.  Let’s sit by the fire and remember the golden years.  Remember when D.A. was in Cleveland hooking up with…(can’t think of a Browns receiver)? Those were the days.  D.A. can beat the Bucs in relief.  It can and will happen.

Green Bay (-5) over Buffalo.  Is this a Bills line?  I don’t care, because last night was a big old Rams line and they messed themselves.  There’s no fixing a horsebleep offense and that’s what Buffalo has.  It may not be vintage Green Bay, but they hardly need anything electrifying to beat the Bills by a score.

Philadelphia (-3.5) over Dallas.  If you know me, you know I have this thing where I say “this is the game,” or “this is the season.”  Sometimes it’s a joke.  Sometimes it’s not.  No joking here.  This is Philly’s season.  They can go from great progress to total waste of a year in 4 quarters.  I happen to think the Eagles match up well against Dallas and don’t think the REVENGE will be as much of a factor.  The whole idea that division teams always split is mostly crap.

New Orleans (-3) over Chicago.  How could you stay away from this tire fire on Monday night?  Easily the two most disappointing teams in the league battling it out.  You have to be demented to pick this game.  I’m demented.  Could be close, could be a blowout either way–who knows?  Who cares?  I think Chicago, to their credit, is SLIGHTLY more dysfunctional.  Dare you to argue.