The old adage is: Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. But sometimes, good - or even great - isn't the goal. Perfect is.
Take Rick Baird, a member of the PPA. The PPA - otherwise known as the Professional Putters Association, the orgainization that puts on tournaments around miniature golf - known by many (by the brand name) Putt-Putt.
In 2007, Baird was the PPA Player of the Year. That's pretty good. But it's what he accomplished in 2011 - and only now getting the full press it deserves - that really boggles the mind. Baird acheived perfection. That's right. He scored an 18 in a round of miniature golf. 18 up - 18 aces. It's only been done three times...ever.
Moreover, the story of Baird's perfection is brilliantly told through the lens of a Grantland mini-documentary - which also details how nearly impossible the math says it is to accomplish what Baird did that day. They also use a brilliant animation to show each hole and the putt that went in. Really well done.
I actually tried to imagine the pressure that goes through one's mind as they step up to a geometrically devious golf hole with no real architectual ryhme or reason to it - with the goal being, "let's make history." Every year, someone is going to have a putt to win the Masters. Every two years, a putt at the Ryder Cup will feel like the whole world is watching. But this was really a putt that might not be seen again for a generation. Amazing.
So this is a couple of years old - but it's new to me, so it's news to me. Congratulations Rick Baird. You weren't simply good that day...not even simply great. You were perfect.
You can follow John Kim on Twitter at @johnkim
As we all know, golf has many intricacies. One of those comes from the most important pieces of equipment you need to play the game -- your clubs.
Did you know that your clubs weren’t always numbered? Instead, they had names like the "mashie" and the "niblick." In fact, not only that, but clubs didn’t always come in the complete sets that we have come to know today.
We wondered: When and how did the transition from named clubs to numbered clubs come about?
We turned to golf historian Fred Beltz for an explanation.
"Prior to 1850, when the golf ball used was the feather ball, almost all golf clubs were wooden," explained Beltz, a member and Club Historian at Oak Hill Country Club, site of three U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships (including 2013; Beltz is the co-historian of that tournament), one Ryder Cup, a Senior PGA Championship and two U.S. Amateurs. "They were rather delicate, long-nosed and swung with a relatively flat swing; if irons were used at all it would have been as a trouble club where the situation would have damaged the early wooden 'play' clubs."
Right around 1850 and with the advent of the gutta percha ball (a "guttie"), Beltz told us, is when irons began to take on a more important role, "partly because hitting a 'guttie' was akin to hitting a rock and the wooden play clubs were too easily broken. Partly too because of Allan Robertson, a very early golf professional, who developed a highly successful short game using irons which was quickly imitated by other competitors."
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At this point in time, clubs were unmarked and neither named nor numbered. Instead, they were referred to more by their usage.
"A 'cleek' for fairway shots and a 'rut' iron for trouble shots," Beltz said. "As irons became more popular and the number of club makers increased, there was a need to differentiate who made the club for marketing reasons and also to differentiate the more subtle differences as the number of irons in the bag (if a bag was being used) multiplied."
At the end of the 19th century, not only were the usually recognized names for clubs (putter, to niblick, mashie niblick, spade mashie, mashie, mid-iron, spoon, brassie and driver) in use, but then all sorts of utility clubs became common -- the jigger, the sammy, the chipper, the lofting iron, the sky iron, semi-putter and many others.
Beltz told us that up until the 1920s, players accumulated their clubs as a collection of what worked for them and obtained them from various club makers. Players bought and used what worked and the club names were more of a guide than a precise statement of loft and weight, with one club maker's mashie more similar to another club maker's spade mashie and so on.
"Back in the day when you might stop at a rummage sale to find a dozen hickories in an old canvas bag there might be three, four or five club makers represented -- there was no such thing as a 'set of clubs,'" Beltz said.
In the early 1920s, Spalding began to market their Kro-Flight brand of “related” clubs where there was a defined relationship of loft, weight and shaft length from one club to the next, Beltz explained.
Quickly other club makers like MacGregor and Wilson picked up on this trend and began selling their version of related -- or "sets" -- of clubs. By 1925, the idea of “matched” sets where the flex properties of the clubs were also matched hit the market and with it the idea of buying a “set” of clubs took hold.
"It was important for club makers to express the differential between each club, as well as to express the cutting edge technology that the matched clubs offered," Beltz said. "Their solution was a numbering sequence for the irons, but not wanting to alienate the more traditional buyer both the club name and number were stamped on the club. It was even a common practice to number the putter as the '10' club. During the quarter century between 1915 and 1940 the named clubs became name/numbered and then just numbered.
"For whatever reason, this phenomenon was even slower with the woods and finding fairway woods labeled as brassie and spoon even into the middle of the 20th century was not uncommon," Beltz added. "There was a clear trend to make the clubs look alike and look like a progression from less to more loft but other than that, the trend with fairway woods was very slow."
Beltz's guess is that brass sole plate on the woods is what helped perpetuate the name. It wasn't until woods became 'metal woods' that the names began to fade away -- with the very popular exception of two particular clubs.
"The driver has always been the driver due to the machismo associated with its name and the putter (except for a short period in the mid-1920) has always been the putter -- no machismo there, Beltz said. "So your guess is as good as mine!"
Fred Beltz resides in Rochester, N.Y. and is host of the Heritage Classic, an annual hickory golf outing at Oak Hill. Beltz is also a partner in the financial services firm Beltz Ianni & Associates.
Check out some of the best irons for 2014:
adidas Golf announced this week the launch of the company's new pure 360 footwear collection -- the next generation of adipure footwear. The collection features clean, classic silhouettes, ultra-flexible outsoles and premium materials aimed at allowing the foot and body to move in the way it was naturally meant to from the ground up.
adidas Golf footwear designers utilized its thinnest and softest leather combined with innovative construction technologies, highlighted by poured polyurethane (PU) injected directly into a revolutionary new puremotion outsole to provide ultimate cushioning and unmatched comfort.
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Dustin Johnson, adidas Golf Tour staff professional since 2007, first played the new pure 360 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
"Walking as much as we do out on tour definitely takes its toll," said Johnson, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour. "Once I started wearing the pure 360, I immediately felt the incredible comfort and feel more refreshed at the end of my round. Not only do they look great, they're the most comfortable shoe I've ever worn."
For unrivaled stability, designers gathered critical tour player feedback and incorporated a newly designed external heel cage paired with a new tour performance last for 360WRAP support in the midfoot and heel. The outsole of the pure 360 features proprietary puremotion technology that allows the golfer's foot to move more naturally during play. The totally redesigned thintech outsole features swing plane traction and a new midfoot cleat to create even more grip and stability.
"Our tour athletes know what they need in their footwear to perform at their highest level," said Masun Denison, Director, Global Product marketing, Footwear at adidas Golf. "We've listened carefully to their feedback and combined it with new material technologies to create a premium shoe that we're confident will resonate with both tour players and amateurs alike."
Available now, pure 360 is offered in four colorways: Black/Running White/Samba Blue; Running White/Silver Metallic/Slime; Tan Brown/White/Dark Solar Blue; and Running White/Running White/Metallic Silver at an MSRP of $250.
For more information or to view the entire pure360 footwear collection, visit adidasgolf.com.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
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