If you're a major golf equipment company, the Shell Houston Open surely left you with mixed feelings.
D.A. Points waited out a long rain delay Sunday afternoon, then grinded out a one-shot victory that also earned him a spot in the Masters. In his bag was a mix of clubs from TaylorMade and Ping – but most of those clubs were several years old.
Anyone who watched the tournament on TV heard the story of how Points borrowed an old Ping Anser putter from his mother. That putter, Points said, has been in his garage since about 2005. And that's just the beginning of the story of his equipment mix.
--His driver is a TaylorMade R11S. TaylorMade still lists it as a current model, though the R1 and RBZ models are newer. And if you go to the TaylorMade site, you can buy the R11S for $100 off and the R11S TP model for $200 off.
--His 3-wood is a TaylorMade Burner, which was popular four or five years ago but is now out of production. The current model is the Burner SuperFast 2.0.
--One hybrid is a TaylorMade Rescue 11, which is a 2011 model.
--Another hybrid is a Ping G10, which has been discontinued.
--His iron set consists of Ping i5 clubs, which are also out of production.
--His wedges are Ping Tour models with Gorge grooves, which are brand new.
A couple of observations:
--First, good for Points for sticking with clubs he likes and trusts.
--Second, TaylorMade and Ping might not get a lot of marketing mileage out of Points' victory with all those older clubs. On the flip side, Points proved that these clubs, though most are several years old, are still darn good.
We all get bombarded each year with marketing claims that the newest clubs are the greatest ever made – and they probably are. But that doesn't mean their predecessors are obsolete. In fact, all the big club companies have been making excellent product for years – unlike, for instance, all the major car companies.
So while there's no denying the appeal of golf's new products, everyday golfers like you and me should feel good that our couple-of-years-old sticks are still plenty good and that we shouldn't feel pressured to upgrade until we're good and ready. So if you're truly in the market for the latest and greatest, go right ahead and buy whatever your heart desires (and make sure you get a proper clubfitting from a PGA Professional to get the most out of your new gear).
But if what you have is working for you, then why mess with success?
Besides, playing his tried-and-true equipment was just one of Points' keys to success. He also worked diligently with PGA instructor Gary Gilchrist on restoring his balance and power last week, and got a special putting lesson from Lamar University golf coach Brian White.
So remember, the key to improving your game is part equipment and part instruction – and part timing.
To see a photo gallery of Points' winning clubs, click here. And to see this week’s edition of What’s in the Winners’ Bags, click here.
This week just past was one of the most unique of the entire golf season. The reason: Two big-time pro golf tours played an event at the same time in the same city.
The setting was exotic Agadir, Morocco. The European Tour staged its Hassan II Trophy at Golf du Palais Royal, while the Ladies European Tour put on its Lalla Meryem Cup at nearby Golf de'l Ocean. It happened because both were sponsored by Morocco's Hassan II Golf Trophy Association.
Neither event got much coverage here in the United States, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is just brilliant. The only thing, in my view, that could make it better would be to play both events at the same facility – and I would love to see the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour try this once, just to see how it would work.
To succeed, you'd need a big, brawny complex with two championship courses and enough room to hold all the off-course accoutrements – hospitality areas, merchandise tents, and so on. There are several possibilities that immediately come to mind.
Oakland Hills in suburban Detroit has a history of hosting some of golf's biggest events, but as a private facility its members might not want to take on the challenge. Big resorts like Pinehurst or Doral also would be excellent possibilities.
My choice, however, would be Cog Hill. It has plenty of great courses, is one of America's top public facilities, and has hosted many big events. Plus, Chicago is underserved for big-time golf these days as the BMW Championship (formerly the Western Open) is now rotating among several host venues.
The big question, to me, is whether a two-fer week would be a benefit or a disadvantage for the LPGA Tour. My hope is that it would be a plus, allowing the ladies to soak up some of the spotlight that shines so brightly on their male counterparts. The potential downside, of course, is that so much attention is focused on the men that the women would kind of get lost – I mean, what would it look like if 80 percent of the gallery was following the men and only a handful of people were following the women?
What I'd really like to see is a pair of limited-field events played at the same time on the same course – say, 60 men and 60 women, playing in alternating groups (men from the back tees obviously, women from forward tees so that the course is more to their usual 6,500 to 6,900 yards or so. I suspect the male players wouldn't like it, but the potential to expose the LPGA Tour to a bigger audience would, to me, make it worth any hassle there might be.
My biggest concern, and I say this with all due respect, is whether the LPGA Tour players could handle PGA Tour-speed greens. I have no stats to back this up, only my observations over the years, but I feel like I almost never see LPGA Tour players drain putts like the top PGA Tour players so often do. So I'd have a little trepidation sending the women out there to tackle the greens at Cog Hill or Doral when they're ramped up to PGA Tour speed.
But what a great experiment it would be, and how much fun would it be to see just one time.