Jose Maria Olazabal.
I haven’t heard anything about him in a long time, I hope he is in good health regardless of all else. If so he could have a big resurgence next year.
I’m surprised no one in this forum has brought this up yet, the impending U groove ban; because the way golf is played on the PGA Tour is about to change dramatically. It is my opinion that this is going to change the swings and equipment we see on TV, as well as the names on trophies and atop the money list more drastically than any one rule change in our lifetimes. WHY? and HOW?
The U groove ban is designed to bring flyers back to the tour, plain and simple, and believe me it will. Flyers occur when a shot from light to medium length rough does not compress as fully as the player intends and the ball shoots off the club with less spin and on a more parabolic flight than they desire because too much grass is caught between the clubface and the ball at impact. Thus the shot often flies 10-25 yards longer than anticipated and even if the player accounts for this the ball still lands so shallowly and hot, with little spin that it will bound past the target and more than likely into a spot that is very difficult to recover from. This will be a much bigger problem than it has ever been with the new V grooves and a solid core ball which by design already spins much less and travels more parabolically than the wound balls of old. Combine this with the light, perimeter weighted clubs and the upright swings, shallow angles of attack of modern tour players in search of distance at any cost and the result is gonna be a lot of guys looking for nine irons 10 rows up in the stands…
I’m pretty confident that if every tour player were polled on what their keys to scoring were, distance control on approach shots would be a close second behind only putting percentage inside 10 feet. Thus with the new grooves and the 2 1/2 inch rough that they are playing from about 6 or 7 times a day, this is now a big problem. All of the sudden the stat that no one has cared about for almost 10 years, fairway pct. is gonna mean something again. This should be music to Lag’s ears. This time next year, there are going to be a lot more steel shafted, heavier drivers in the bags and the swings are going to start to change too. Percentage wise, it is going to once again be better to be 170 in from the fairway than 135 from the rough. .The pins today are closer to the edges than they have ever been, and every player is playing percentages, until now the U grooves meant more birdies from closer even if in the rough. V grooves mean more birdies from further back but in the fairway. Way more bogeys from the rough, and those are obviously the killer. The entire approach to shotmaking has to adapt, and that will mean flatter, more controlled swings and equipment to match.
Which brings me back to Ollie. His swing is hurt more by Titanium than any I have ever seen. I hope he dusts off his old persimmon driver and has a great year, no matter what he uses he is still the best with the 5 iron down through the wedges I’ve ever seen with my naked eye. A few years ago I caddied for a friend who qualified for the Nissan in the Monday Class A qualifier and Tuesday afternoon JMO was next too us for about an hour and a half on the range. I was mesmerized. He started with the wedge hitting all baby fades, like 20 per club, one by one all the way through the 2 iron. At the end there were nine piles of 20 balls 12 yards one behind the othe straight down the range. Back to the wedge and now baby draws, same trajectory as the fades. Nine more piles all like 25 feet to the left. After he left I took a look at his divot pattern, and perfect is not a good enough term. To this day I’ve never seen a session as impressive. Until I saw the drivers, I really wanted to cry. Everywhere, no control of the fight or traj, I wanted to rip it out of his hand and throw it away. If there is anyone who would be helped by having to lay back for control it is Ollie. Go get 'em!