December 4, 2020
The golf pros at Baywood Greens ran a Junior Fall League program that included 32 young golfers. Head golf pro Tony Hollerback said they held a weekly practice/instruction session, with Sunday matches with 2 players per side.
Congratulations to Caleb Ritchey and Gavin Rementer, who played their way into the League championship.
Anita Pettitt honored
Anita Pettitt earned her recent award as the Delaware State Golf Association’s Women’s Senior Player of the Year for 2020.
Earlier this year the Rehoboth Beach resident won the Delaware Women’s Senior Championship, the Delaware Women’s Super Senior Championship, and the Kings Creek Country Club Ladies Super Senior Club Championship.
She also tied for fourth place at Kings Creek CC’s Ladies Club Championship.
Congratulations to a fine golfer who also happens to be a very friendly and witty conversationalist.
The invention of launch monitors with advanced motion detection capabilities greatly enhanced the ability of golfers and golf equipment makers to develop improved products for better performance.
Golf shaft designer Victor Afable has been in the forefront of his industry for decades. Over 100 professional tour winners have used his VA Shafts designs, and he enjoys a great reputation among club fitters and other industry leaders.
We met at the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show last January. His relaxed, friendly demeanor nicely matched his surname.
Afable recently moved his company from Las Vegas, NV to Pinehurst, NC. He does his Research & Development work at his office and maintains a testing bay there as part of his design process. The shafts are constructed in Asia.
“It’s all about developing relationships,” Afable said, in describing his success. “You need to make sure the guys know how the shafts will work for them. It has to be a comfortable fit. For some they’re going to need a launch with more spin, and for others it’s a little softer tip section.”
We discussed my own experience. My current driver is fitted with a VA Raijin 64 Three shaft. Afable smiled at my endorsement and said club fitters give the Raijin line high marks as a good option for many golfers.
We also talked about a few of his other models. He said they sold out three different models of his Nemesys 65 composite shafts, which feature a very high balance point toward the grip end. According to the VA website, this design permits adding a bit more weight to the club head while retaining standard swing weights and feel. A heavier club head at the same swing speed usually translates into greater distance.
Afable said his Drago shafts have a “very good profile, great for all-round needs.” He said it is designed to help produce a low launch, a handy attribute for many golfers.
We also discussed the cost of his and other brands of custom shafts, often available only through club fitters. These are not stock items and can cost $300 or more apiece.
We agreed that for avid golfers who play frequently, it is appropriate to think of custom shafts as investments. If fitted correctly, they should be useful for hundreds of rounds over several years.
At the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show I had a funny and informative conversation with Damien Cuillery and Olivier Poul, two Frenchmen who proudly showed off Hello Birdie, a new virtual caddie app.
Hello Birdie is designed for Apple devices. It uses a GPS tracer along with inputs about your club choices to track your rounds and recommend how you should play. The advice changes depending on whether you wish to play aggressively or conservatively.
I met with Cuillery and his staffer Olivier Poul again at this year’s Show and enjoyed chatting about golf in general and their app in particular.
“Our customers are super happy,” Cuillery said, and there are a lot of them – 50,000 users at last count. The company is also busy making improvements, such as making their predictions even more accurate.
“For approach shots, the app always measures and recommends going for the center of the green as the default, except for the highly skilled players,” Cuillery said.
The app uses machine-learning algorithms to tailor its advice. Cuillery said the software uses Bayesian analysis to create predictive performance recommendations based on how you are actually playing, and not your handicap or average club distances. Cuillery gave an example of a golfer whose first few drives peter out at 190 yards, instead of the golfer’s usual 240. “The program is going to make suggestions based on what you just did,” he said.
I never thought I would use “Bayesian analysis” in this column, but you never know.
Other improvements include game challenges. The company is also developing a web-based dashboard with advanced statistical analysis.
The GPS part of the program is a free download, with no required connected devices. Access to the game planning advice and other elements costs $49.99 per year after a free trial period for a single course, or $99.99 per year for use with 40,000 courses worldwide, again after a free trial period.