PRESS PASS
Mark Sheftic 
 
Locals Steinmetz, Sheftic and Ingraham in PGA Championship
Thursday, August 12, 2010
By Joe Logan

Three of the top sticks from the ranks of the Philadelphia PGA Section are in the field of this week’s final major of the year, the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

 

They are: Rich Steinmetz, 38, head from at Spring Ford CC in Gilbertsville; Mark Sheftic, 35, teaching pro at Merion GC in Ardmore; and Stu Ingraham, 50, teaching pro at M Golf Range & Learning Center in Harrisburg.

 

All three are good enough and sufficiently experienced that it’s not out of the question that any or all could survive the cut, even if the odds are against it.  Twenty club pros are in the field.

 

For Ingraham, a former PGA Tour player, this is his sixth trip to the PGA Championship; he made the cut in his last two appearances, in 1993 and 1996.  For Steinmetz and Sheftic, this is their second trip to the PGA.

 

Here’s a story on Steinmetz; here’s one on all three.


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Might as well be me 
Just call me Old Fart
Monday, August 9, 2010
By Joe Logan

I reached a watershed moment in my golfing career over the weekend.

 

No, I did not make a hole-in-one.  No, I did not win the club championship.  No, I did not break 70 or even 80.  I added a second hybrid to my bag.

 

I realize, of course, that officially makes me an Old Fart.

 

It’s one thing to carry a single hybrid; that’s not necessarily un-manly; but two hybrids is definitely Old Fart territory. 

 

When hybrids first appeared on the scene a few years ago, most better golfers eyed them with curiosity, ambivalence, suspicion, even scorn.  Over time, many golfers opened their minds and their wallets and eventually took the hybrid plunge.

 

This was back when even weekend hacks generally still carried 3-irons and even 2-irons.  (Years ago, for a brief time, I even carried a Ping Eye-2 1-iron; among golfers, nothing says badass like a 1-iron. It’s been so long ago I forget whether I wrapped that 1-iron around a tree or threw it in a lake.)

 

I finally bought my first hybrid three or four years ago, after plenty of golfers already swore by them and equipment companies were even coming out with entire sets of hybrid irons.  My first hybrid was 19-degrees, killing two birds, or clubs, with one stone.  I got rid of my 4-wood and my 3-iron.

 

Although I’ve tried a couple different brands of hybrids since then, I have continued to be a 19-degree man, allowing me to remain loyal to and confident in my 4-iron. 

 

At least until about a week or so ago, when I noticed that two or three 4-iron shots were as, well, not as crisp and solid as they might have been.  In point of fact, the ball flew off the club like a sickly pigeon.  Didn’t sound good, feel good or look good.   

 

I swallowed my pride and drove to my neighborhood big box golf chain store.  Soon enough, I was running my fingers across the smooth, metallic underbelly of a 21-degree hybrid.

 

"Can I help you?" asked a nosey clerk, who had clearly snuck up on me.

 

"No," I  said, dropping the hybrid like a 12-year-old caught looking at Playboy.

 

When the nosey clerk was gone, I fondled the 21-degree more.  Not only did it have more loft, the shaft was shorter.   I knew that meant more control.  I could no more walk out of that store without that 21-degree hybrid than an addict could walk away from the front door of a crack house.

 

I played my first couple of rounds with "21" over the weekend.  I love it.  I hit it like a 4-iron, then I choked it down an inch and hit it like a 5-iron and, I kid you not, choked it down even more and hit it like a 6-iron.

 

But that was too much, too far, too quick.  I refuse to be one of those stooped-over old geezer farts you see pulling a pull cart, dragging a bag with putter, SW, PW, 9, 8, 7 and nine variations of hybrids and woods.  I will not be that guy.

 

At least not for now, not until a 23-degree hybrid catches my eye.

 

 


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Jay W[8/11/2010 5:22:38 AM]
Over the last few years I have changed my set mix from a "standard" setup of driver, 3 & 5 wood, 3 - PW, GW & SW to driver, 4 wood (17 deg), hybrids (19 & 24 deg), 5 - PW (47 deg), GW (52 deg), SW (56 (deg) & LW (60 deg) and have brought more consistency to my scores (i.e. more in the lower 80ís and less often blowing up into the 90ís). So, I prefer to think of myself as getting wiser as I get older (early 50ís) and not as "getting more flatulent".
Jason W.[8/10/2010 7:22:56 PM]
Joe - Itís not how, itís how many. Donít count your hybrids, count your strokes.
The Muni Golfer[8/10/2010 9:52:43 AM]
Iíve had as many as 3 in the bag, but right now it is just 1. But, before the end of the golf, I think there will be at least 1 more to keep it company...
Steve[8/10/2010 5:23:12 AM]
Geez...I found an old Ping 9 Ti wood/metal in my garage recently and itís now in my bag. What does that make me?
Ed[8/9/2010 6:22:38 PM]
Iíd feel bad for you if I didnít have three hybrids.

What killed Pike Creek GC
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
By Joe Logan

When Pike Creek GC in Wilmington closed last week after 35 years, I posted a news story but I didn't properly mourn the death in the family of golf.

 

I hadn't played Pike Creek in years, since it was Three Little Bakers.  I remember as a pleasant surprise of a golf course – an unassuming, delicious little gem.  As I noted in this positive review in the Inquirer, there was a time when the course did 40,000 rounds a year.  Not bad.  Unfortunately, those days were long gone.

 

If you want to know what killed Pike Creek, and what will kill other courses if they don't take care of business, check out this finger-pointing eulogy from Brad Myers in the Wilmington News-Journal.


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Sautter solo local to make cut at U.S. Senior Open
Saturday, July 31, 2010
By Joe Logan

Bill Sautter is the lone local survivor at the U.S. Senior Open.

 

Sautter, 54, teaching pro at Philadelphia Cricket Club, shot a second-round of 7-over 77, for a 150 total and made the cut on the number, 10-over.  His card and stats are here.

 

Amateurs Chris Lange (75-78, card) Buddy Marucci (76-82, card) and Mark Battista (91-81, card) missed the cut.


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Bill Sautter 
Sautter shoots 73, leads locals in U.S. Senior Open
Friday, July 30, 2010
By Joe Logan

Of the four locals in the U.S. Senior Open, only one, amateur Mark Battista, shot himself out of the weekend during Thursday’s first round at Sahalee CC in Seattle.

 

Battista, 50, a former Moorestown, N.J. resident who now lives in Rancho Mirage, Calif., shot 21-over 91, leaving him tied for 154th, last in the field.  Here is Battista’s card and stats.

 

The best round by a local was the 3-over 73 by Bill Sautter, teaching pro at Philadelphia Cricket Club, who is tied for for 29th.  His card and stats are here.

 

Amateurs Chris Lange, 55, from Bryn Mawr, and Buddy Marucci, 58, from Villanova, shot 5-over 75 and 6-over 76, respectively, leaving them tied for 55th and 68th.  Here is Lange’s card and stats; here is Marucci’s.


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Buddy Marucci 
Locals to watch in U.S. Senior Open
Thursday, July 29, 2010
By Joe Logan

There are three locals to keep an eye on in this week’s U.S. Senior Open, four if you count a former Moorestown, N.J., resident who still returns to the area several times a year to compete in tournaments.

 

Best known among the locals is amateur Buddy Marucci, 58, from Villanova, who captained the U.S. Walker Cup team to victories in 2007 and in 2009 at Merion GC, his home course.  A two-time Walker Cup player himself (1995 & ’97), Marucci is also the 2008 U.S. Senior Amateur champion and runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 1995 U.S. Amateur.

 

This is Marucci’s third U.S. Senior Open; he missed the cut in his two previous efforts, in 2006 and 2009.

 

Chris Lange, 55, a real estate agent from Bryn Mawr, is a three-time Philadelphia Amateur champion, two-time Philadelphia Mid-Am champion and winner of the 2004 Philadelphia Open.

 

A member of Overbrook GC and Pine Valley, Lange is playing in his fourth U.S. Senior Open.  He missed the cut in his three previous appearances, in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

 

One local club pro made it into the field: Bill Sautter, 54, teaching pro at Philadelphia Cricket Club, who is playing in his second U.S. Senior Open.  He missed the cut in 2009.

 

Sautter didn’t start playing golf until he was 30, long after he was a two-time All-America in soccer at Temple and after he retired from a career in professional soccer.

 

Also in the field is amateur Mark Battista, 50, a Moorestown resident for eight years before moving to Rancho Mirage, Calif., in 2006.  A member of the Philadelphia Publinks, he returns to the area several times a year for PPGA events.


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My new weapon of choice 
My new driver and me
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
By Joe Logan

After three days of recuperating from my brush with heat exhaustion, I was up and about yesterday, rarin’ to go.

 

I was feeling much better, thank you, but the real motivating factor was the unexpected arrival in the mid-afternoon of the new custom-fitted driver I ordered three weeks ago.  The FedEx guy no sooner pulled away than I was out the door and on the range, tipping over a large bucket.


In 45-plus years of golf, I’ve never had a custom-fitted driver.  My putter is bent to my specs and, a year ago, I took my irons in to have them bent to the proper lie and loft to fit me.

 

But drivers?  No.  I’ve played the field, aimlessly flitting from driver to driver, a steady succession of off-the-rackers -- new and used -- that worked, semi-worked, worked for a time or didn’t work at all.  I have to admit, it has been a failed strategy.

 

I finally sprung for this new driver because it came down to two choices: start hitting more fairways or quit the game for the sake of my blood pressure and my sanity.

 

My problems date back to a year or ago when, for no good reason, I suddenly couldn’t drive the golf ball.  What had always been one of the strengths of my game and somehow become my Achilles heel.  The longer it went on, the worse it got, and my self-confidence spiraled out of control.

 

On the tee, I would stand over the ball with an electrical storm going on in my head.  The result: my first shot would generally sail OB right; on the reload, I’d over-compensate and snap hook it left.  Even if I could find that second ball, I’d be lying three in the left rough, usually under a tree limb, with a long approach shot.  You can only endure that for so long before you begin spending your evenings sitting alone in the dark, brooding.

 

Desperate for a fix, I have gone through every driver in my considerable basement stash: TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist, another Callaway, Cobra, my son’s Callaway, a newer Titleist.   Each one had a little different shaft, different flex, different loft, different torque, none of which were actually fitted to me.  And none solved my tee ball problem.

 

Several revelations finally convinced me to bite the bullet and spring for the $400 custom big stick.  One was playing a recent round with a golf writer pal from New York who was in town for the AT&T at Aronimink. 

 

This is a guy who I have seen plumb the depths of misery and self-loathing like no one else on a golf course.  On any number of occasions, I have witnessed this man lying on a tee box, writhing in agony, often over another wayward tee shot.  And yet, there he was a few weeks ago, pounding tee shot after tee shot down the middle of the fairway, smiling and whistling as he went.

 

What happened?

 

He showed me his new, custom-fitted driver.  Made all the difference in the world.

 

My other justification was, hey, you hit a driver 14 times during a round.  Your tee shots are the foundation, the underpinning, of your entire round.  Along with the putter, the driver is the most important club in your bag.  Rather than waste time running through more ill-fitting, off-the-rack and out-of-the-bin drivers, why not spend the money once and for all to get one custom-fitted.

 

Three weeks ago, I did just that.  I went to my nearby big-box golf outlet, found a Fitter Guy and admitted I was powerless over my affliction.  "My name is Joe and I can’t hit a fairway," I confessed.

 

He nodded with understanding sympathy.

 

Soon, I was pounding tee shots into a net, as Fitter Guy and I studied the flight paths and patterns on the Fitter Machine screen. My last driver was a Titleist, which I liked, even if it didn’t like me back, so I opted to find something in the Titleist family of drivers.  It really is a matter of preference; every major manufacturer has an array of shafts and heads to suit your needs.

 

We quickly determined that my driver swing speed is consistently in 90-93 mph range, meaning I still just barely need a stiff shaft.  It was also clear that my tee shots were leaking to the right.  I like to think of it as a Jim Furyk power fade, although I don’t know who I think I’m kidding.  Anyway, to compensate, I needed a shaft with a low torque.

 

Next, we needed to take into consideration launch angle and backspin.  I’ve hit a low ball all my life.  My natural swing is also a little steep on the steep side, especially with a driver.  Fitter Guy had me try a half-dozen or more different combinations of shafts, lofts and head compositions; then we compared the various ball flight data to determine which was producing the best results for  me.

 

Answer: Titleist 909 DComp, 10.5 loft, with Matrix Xcon5 shaft.  The idea was to create a club that helps me hit tee shots higher, with less distance-robbing backspin, while also helping me control my rightward leak.

 

Yesterday, the club showed up and I could not wait to try it out. After a dozen or so 9-iron shots to loosen up, I gingerly unsheathed my new weapon.  I was a little apprehensive as I stuck the first tee in the ground; this first shot with a new club is a lot like a first date.  First impressions matter.

 

My initial swing was a little tentative but I could not have been more pleased with what I saw: the ball sailing dead-straight and higher than my usual tee shots. 

 

I hit another, and another, and another, and each was as good as the last.  I was deep into the bucket before I hit my first truly lousy shot, a big banana ball that could not be blamed on the club. By the time I got to the bottom of the bucket, I was berating myself for not doing this sooner.  

 

Today, I plan to get in a late-afternoon round, my maiden voyage with the new lumber. I know that this new driver is not going to solve all my problems.   I will still miss fairways, I will still hit low screamers.  The game of golf will find ways to test our budding relationship.  But deep down, I will know that my new driver and I are made for each other.


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Eleanor[7/30/2010 7:27:22 AM]
I trust you will bring it to the member/guest next weekend in Durham and blow everyone out of the water. Should I warn Cole you have a new weapon or do you want it to be a surprise?
The Muni Golfer[7/28/2010 9:46:53 AM]
Joe, good luck with the new driver. Hope it works out weel for you. I was at the range last night also hitting balls with a new TaylorMade R9 driver. Bought it slightly used, so itís not custom-fitted, but I think with work the head and weights Iíll get it dialed in.


 
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