It was really generous of GolfSmarter’s head-honcho, Fred Greene, to invite me onto the show. He does an amazing job on the podcast and makes the entire process so enjoyable for the guest. The experience made me want to do it all again, but to do a little better job.
I did the interview cold; I didn’t know what questions Fred would be asking in advance. That ramped up my anxiety factor a little at the outset but once we got rolling the interview took on a nice flow. Fred’s a real pro and a great friend to golf.
I was very pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the release of the second edition of Tony Manzoni’s classic golf instructional book, The Lost Fundamental as well as the availability of my new book, John J. McDermott & the 1971 U.S. Open.
Thanks, Fred, for providing the forum for me to share two of my favorite subjects with you and the entire GolfSmarter audience.
I can’t remember if it was 2008 or 2009 when I first met Tony Manzoni. I know I was in the desert on a golf junket and that I had picked up a local desert golf magazine that had an article on Tony that alluded to his swing theory. The article was pretty sparse, and didn’t really get to the essence of what Tony was saying, but there was just enough there to pique my interest.
Soon thereafter we met but it was years, many years, in fact, before our book, The Lost Fundamental, saw the light of day. Those many years have now flipped by as the days and weeks and months and years of the calendar are destined to and now my friend, Tony Manzoni, has moved on.
Tony battled cancer over the last few years. He fought the good fight and fought it with optimism and good humor but in the end cancer or the fates or God in heaven ended the game and now we are all left to face the world, and especially the world of golf, without him.
Yes, he had played alongside of the greats of our game.
Yes, he taught golf to movie stars.
Yes, Frank Sinatra was godfather to his daughter.
Each of these are undisputed facts but what they don’t convey is what truly matters about Tony Manzoni. In the end, as great a teacher as Tony was, as fine a player as he was, his real calling in life, his real gift, was as a lifelong student of golf.
Of course, Tony was an amazing player in his own right.
Of course, Tony coached his College of the Desert team to no fewer than five state championships.
I had the good fortune of working with Tony on his concepts many times over the last decade and each and every time I met with him in person, or when I spoke to him by phone, his mind was always on the game.
Once, I met with him in his office during a time when we were feverishly editing one of the final drafts of our book. I was reading the book, out loud, to him while Tony silently read his copy of the draft.
I was watching his hands as he read but I couldn’t figure out why he was moving them as he was..
Then I realized what was happening. Before we had gotten into the edits I had mentioned the premise of an article I had read concerning the action of the wrists during the golf swing. The writer said that only the left wrist truly hinged while the right wrist merely shifted right to accommodate that hinging action. What I was seeing was Tony working his hands to see if this was true or not.
After a while, Tony looked up and me and said, “You know, Paul…that’s absolutely right.”
Perhaps this is the final and best lesson of a true master of golf. Learning never ends. Part of being an expert is having an open mind to different ways of experiencing golf and also to explaining it. Tony had this gift. A part of it gave him the ability to relate to his young students at College of the Desert though he was many years their senior. It was easy for him because Tony was always learning, just like his players.
Tony has only been gone for a few days now but I already miss him dearly. My own golf game will surely suffer for his absence but my life will always be enriched by the echo of Tony’s ongoing presence and his passion for golf and learning.
I am proud to count Tony Manzoni as a friend and I was honored to work with him on the mission of bringing his knowledge to more and more of those who love our game.
If you would like to read more about Tony’s storied career you can read his obituary in the Desert Sun here.
I’m having a marginal golf season so I decided I needed to some find some talismans to help my game. OK, I know they’re placebos, but I am huge believer in placebos.
By the way, if you haven’t heard this podcast listen to it now and come back and look the photo and read this later: Akimbo: Don’t fear placebos
Anyway, I decided to buy some coins from the year of my birth. The quarter was a coin from my dad, so even though I carry it in my golf bag I don’t use it to mark putts since I’m always afraid of losing it.
So, this is the collection so far. None of them cost more than a dollar and I think they make a nice looking group. Now when I loan someone a coin as a ball mark and they forget to give it back I can say, “I’ll bet you have a 1961 coin in your pocket…hand it over.”
By the way, the two divot repair tools are made from real carbon fiber. Back in the day I knew a guy who made them and they are very cool. The are exceptionally light and show very little wear even though I use them all the time.
Sadly, the guy lost his access to carbon fiber and the business never took off.
It’s been a while since we’ve touched base. In that time a lot has happened at Edel Golf. You’ve relocated from Oregon to Texas. You’ve added a lot of variety to your putter and wedge offerings and really stepped it up when it comes to irons. Tell me a little about the ups and downs of the move and the development path of the new Edel clubs.
Moving to Austin, Texas was a huge move for Edel Golf, my family, and for me on a personal level. I love the Oregon coast as it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. However, running a golf club business on the Oregon coast was very difficult. Moving to Austin centrally located Edel Golf where travel was so much easier and being in a vibrant growing town centrally located between Dallas, San Antonio and Houston gave us a base to expand and grow the brand.
Another factor that made a huge impact was finding an investment group which was based out of Austin at the time. This investment group invested much needed capital and strategies that helped grow other revenue streams other than our base product line of putters. We started making wedges within the first year after moving to Texas and, through that process, we were able to develop and move into the iron category. Having once been involved with Henry Griffitts, I saw a huge opportunity in the iron market that was not being implemented with the large OEMs, not to mention the increase in bottom line revenue as a result. We knew the metal wood market would be difficult to compete against large OEMs that put millions into R&D, but also knew that we could be a force in rest of the bag with in-depth fitting systems and bespoke made irons, wedges, and putters.
I was intrigued to see that Edel has branched out into Single-Length irons. How did that come about?
As a result of machining our own iron heads, a unique opportunity arose with Bryson Dechambeau, who at the time needed to have a custom made set of single length irons and wedges. Bryson had played my putter since he was 11 years old and once he moved to Dallas to attend SMU our relationship blossomed to help him with his special needs. At the time, he was a talented player but I didn’t really see at the time his interest in single length to go where it went. I merely was trying to help a talented young player get the proper equipment to achieve his goals. What happened was a complete surprise to everyone, and I think for him as well. Not that he didn’t think or believe he could do it, just that the 2015 season was truly magical by winning the NCAA National Championship and the US Amateur. His efforts showed that his idea to play single length, which had been done before with Tommy Armour’s EQL single length clubs of the late 1980s, had teeth.
Based on Bryson’s achievements, and the knowledge obtained from trying to make the best possible club for him, gave us the foundation to take our club knowledge to develop the most sophisticated single length fitting model and product line the industry has ever seen. His efforts proved that single length could work for the best players in the world, and moved the concept from a gimmick to reality.
Single length isn’t without its issues, most of which are more mental than physical. Mental…meaning the golf industry and its players are reluctant to change. Overcoming the physical issues are nothing compared to mental change needed for players to take a great idea to implementation. It is understandable…people have been playing years with variable length golf equipment, so moving to a one-swing, single-length concept at face value seems like a huge change. It is actually not, and only simplifies an already complicated game.
Cobra Golf’s entrance into the space was a good thing for us. It showed that a large OEM believed enough in the concept to validate its merits. They also applied much need marketing that small companies like Edel Golf can’t afford. The downside was a result of a rush to market with a non-fitted product that gave many their first attempt at one-length as they call it to be less than effective, especially in the 5, 4, and 3-irons. I knew with such a new and industry-changing concept, if it wasn’t fitted without a superb fitting model and product line, the movement would have its issues. Fortunately for us, we accomplished our goal of a great head design, coupled with Paderson shaft advanced composites and truly great golf club was born.
I was also impressed to see how much work Edel has done to evolve your putter line. How would you sum up the advances you’ve made?
One advancement came about during our move to Texas was our Torque Balance putter concept that evolved into a superb putter fitting model. Torque Balance or toe up tech was a concept I developed as a result of creating a teaching aid that I thought would help golfers with over acceleration issues. It was an adjustable ball bearing system that would allow the putter head to rotate about the shaft in a 360 degree manner. If the player over accelerated the putter, the face wold rotate open and make the ball roll to the right. What I found out astounded me; putters we were making were very difficult to keep from rotating open due to the design and MOI. So, it hit me right between the eyes that regardless of my fitting process I could assemble for the player to aim and weight the putter correctly, this hidden monster of face rotation was a real problem.
Testing other putters that professed face-balance, also showed that the implied warranty wasn’t truly face-balanced. For this reason we developed a new fitting system based solely around Torque Balance or Toe UP, which was industry changing, and gave us a technical advantage over our competitors. The difficulty was making a putter that was toe up without looking funky, something I believe we accomplished.
Another inclusion to our putter line since moving to Texas was our special relationship with Pixl face insert technology. Pixl inserts are 91 hexagons with a special carriage to hold them in place, provides us the largest sweet spot in the industry. This proven technology makes the sweet spot larger because these individual Pixl’s act as independent sweets spots making off center hits roll farther than a solid face.
You know I’m kind of a wedge freak. Just think of me as Lee Trevino without the game. Edel seems to treat bounce differently than other companies. What have you learned that can help the average player’s wedge game?
Our wedge tech has also been transformative to the industry. With the help and collaboration with famed instructor Mike Adams, we developed a wedge fitting model and product line that changed the narrative for the industry. We developed concepts around a wedge with the center of gravity in the middle of the club, where at the time almost all wedges due to their design had the CG towards the heel. We did this by shortening our hosel, and scalloping heel weight and redistributing the weight more towards the toe. We created four grind patterns with heel, toe, trail, and leading edge bounce relief that made the club very versatile for different playing conditions. We developed a unique groove pattern that moved the grooves towards the toe, placing those grooves to the middle of the CG and the total face width. Making all three centers in the same spot. Another advantage to our wedge model was a 25 shaft model that allowed the fitter to change flight and spin numbers to offset launch conditions and spin values that were the result of the new groove changes implemented by the USGA and R&A. As each shaft has different weight values, coupled with length requirements each head would be hand ground to ensure proper swing weights. Our research concluded that low bounce was not advantageous for players, and through countless fittings, higher than industry standards were needed. We developed a bounce system based on width and angle to help the fitters and players achieve optimal turf interaction. So when the industry is moving to lower bounce numbers, we went the opposite direction with our average bounce being the 18 to 26 range, which may sound alarming, but is neutralized by the correct width. We were fortunate to have In Gee Chun win the USGA Women’s Open, and The Evian Masters plus countless other international events. Also, Hoo Joo Kim won the LPGA’s Pure Silk Classic.
As a result of our understanding of bounce in wedges, we applied the same attention to our iron fitting model. Since each player is unique with regard to angle of attach and lean conditions, the most important angle besides lie, was the angle of the bottom of the club that is directly being influenced by the ground. We were the first company to implement bounce angle concepts to all irons, ensure that each player would have perfect turf interaction relative to their motion. Since the shaft in a huge engine to value of the club and as a result of each shaft having different gram weights, we developed an iron that could be hand ground to achieve optimal swing weights without having to add lead down in the hosel, changing the CG. The heads are also uniquely designed to have centered CG which was not talked about until recently.
Since moving to Texas, our clubs have been involved in winning four USGA titles, two on the Web.com Tour and one on the Champions Tour. Currently we have five players using putters on the PGA Tour, and two on the Champions Tour which is quite an accomplishment for a small company. With that said, what we take a lot of pride in the large stable of quality fitters that have made huge a huge impact on the golfers of all abilities to make long-term changes in their games. Tour support is important for the sole fact it validates to the general consumer that your products are good. Our philosophy is we treat everyone as if they were a tour player. We don’t make a club different for a tour player than we do for an average player trying to get better. The concept is no different and when people are spending hard-earned money and time dedicated to playing the game, deserve nothing less than an excellent process and product bespoke made for them. We take great pride in being a steward of the game, upholding tried and true techniques, philosophies, and quality manufacture which over time will ensure our place in the industry, regardless how big we are.
Thanks, David…I’m looking forward to checking out your latest putters and wedges.
I think this was taken during the last round of golf that three of my brothers and I played at Pine Mountain Club in 2017.
Though the grasses on the course go dormant some locals play all winter long. But I think it’s better to give the course time to recover between Thanksgiving and Springtime.
The real frame was full of color of course but for some reason I liked this better in this rather severe black and white processing done with Silver Efex Pro.
The wonderful colors of Spring will be all around us when we start our 2018 season in a couple weeks. After battling a bothersome shoulder injury that pretty much gutted my entire 2017 golf season, I’m finally ready to tee it up again.
Yup, another oldie, this time from back in 2007. No, I never did qualify for the US Amateur Public Links. Coulda, woulda, shoulda…
Sorry that I couldn’t come up with a more clever title and that I had to resort to a cheap take off of a miserable movie called My Dinner with André that I hope never to see again. I know you’ve all come to expect more from me. Anyway, taking a golf lesson is a lot like going to the dentist: No one goes because they want to.
I never had any delusions about becoming a great player. My own playing ambitions are really pretty modest. I want to hit the ball solidly and I would like to qualify for the US Amateur Public Links. To do this, I’d have to shave enough strokes to get my handicap down to the mid 8s from the mid 10s.
But, I digress…
My game fell apart right around the time I got divorced, though I cannot be sure of any direct association. The horrors came on fast and hung on tight. Out of nowhere I lost my backswing. It almost felt like someone else was taking the club back for me and not the way that I wanted. It felt like the top of my back swing got lost in the woods and it quickly became impossible to find a way to start the down swing toward the ball with any kind of flow. That’s a lousy feeling. Once your back swing is lost it takes so many corrections to re-simplify that which has become all too complicated for the result to be a solidly struck ball.
Amazingly, some balls were hit solidly. Still, the entire event became so convoluted that swinging the club had become a genuinely painful process. Playing a round was possible, but not enjoyable. Practicing,however, was impossible. The feeling of physical madness that had contaminated my full swing was quickly making its presence known in simple practice swings, and shorter shots. At times, I could even feel it during chips and long puts. I kid you not…
Part of the problem is that we tend to muddle on. Golf imparts an odd mixture of fatalism and optimism. Players really believe that they can figure out their flaws but somewhere in the depths of their souls they know that other, possibly more serious, problems will always be lurking nearby.
Finally, and out of desperation, I tried a couple lessons. I was looking for someone who not only knew the golf swing but also had the conversational skills to clearly convey what he knew and also to understand what I was saying to him. So much of my life is about words yet I know that words can often get in the way. Still, words are indispensable tools in both golf and life.
I took lessons from two local guys. One is something of a local legend and the other is a humble pro from a local executive course. The legend was useless though I say that with no rancor. He was simply a guy who had decided long ago that he was going to give every golfer the same prescription. He had found his nectar and poured it freely.
The second guy was a gem of a person, though he just couldn’t get me going in the right direction. We could have talked for hours about golf and life, he was just such a fine and genuine guy. Somethaing about the evil move that had taken root in me just escaped him. He could almost see what was going on but it just couldn’t find a way to address it. It was frustrating to both of us. He really wanted to help and I really wanted to be helped. Still, he is a man that I happily count as a friend and a really good teacher of the game.
For months I tried to dissemble my swing in the backyard. I learned some interesting things. I learned that a comparatively weak left hand (the hand itself not my left hand grip) made me tend to open the blade far too quickly on the way back. I learned this when I realized that if I tried to hit chips with my left hand only I would usually shank the ball. When I focused on keeping blade square, just few inches longer, I developed a whole new feeling for the position of the left hand as it moves away from the ball. I also learned that my balance had been compromised and I have started to work to increase my lower body stability and regain as much balance as I can.
Still, I gradually became aware that the basic fault was far too ingrained for me to beat it by myself. My greatest fear was that the fault would become a permanent effect and that I’d be just another guy with a game shattering fault who just scraped it around. I had heard about Roger Gunn quite a bit over the years. He’s about my age and played a lot of competitive golf in the Los Angeles area. Roger has taught PGA Tour players and Hollywood types but would he be up to the challenge that I brought to him?
Roger teaches out of Tierra Rejada in Moorpark (you can read my review of the course elswhere in the blog) which is one of the newish breed of let’s build a golf course on a mountain type of courses that have become so prevalent in Los Angeles County over the last decade or so. Whatever your take on Tierra Rejada as a course, the have an excellent practice facility. I met Roger out there last Friday morning and I was very impressed with my lesson and with Roger.
After we shook hands and began to chat, Roger took an informal inventory of my bag. He took stock of clubs and their condition and examined their faces and soles. He reminded me of a doctor who asks you what you did over the weekend while he looks into your ears. Of course, I had to present a dissertation on my problem that would have bored lesser pros to tears but Roger listened intently and that meant a lot.
Finally, the fateful moment arrived. I have hit the ball like this for so long that I have almost gotten used to it, but it stills feels lousy and the balls flies without verve or purpose. I half feared that I would hit a couple OK and that it would throw him off the scent. I needn’t have worried.
After just a couple swings Roger began to speak about the importance of plane and path. Of course, I head heard and read the stuff he was saying a thousand times before. But, Roger gave a few simple examples that brought the essence of the problem to me clearly. For the next few minutes we worked on a very basic correction that involved him guiding the plane of my back swing. He reiterated that without the proper plane and path issues like tempo were irrelevant. His efforts allowed me to feel where the top of my swing had to be so that I could freely get the club on its way back to the ball.
A real strength that Roger has is to doggedly stay on point. When I asked him whether it might be helpful to work on my transition, he gently reeled me back into the issue of plane and said that if the plane was right the transition would take care of itself.
After my lesson with Roger I felt more than a glimmer of hope for the first time in a long time. I had a simple issue to work on that was basic to my swing. I also had an idea of how I had gone so far astray. It is well known that we all learn to play golf differently. Roger combines clear verbal instruction with an amazing ability to get to the most essential problem first. It would have been great had I found Roger a long time ago. I could have been on my way back to playing the way I know that I can a whole lot sooner. That said, golf is a lot like life. Sometimes we have to suffer through things for a new and better path to be clearly revealed. I’d like to thank Roger again and recommend him to anyone looking to rekindle their passion for the game. I’ll be working with Roger again soon.
I need to make up for lost time if I’m going to qualify for the USGA Publinx!
My sister and I have something in common when it comes to two of our closest friends. My sister’s college roomate, now a wife and mother of three and my best friend, a husband and father if two. both suffer from significant depression.
Each has issues with their spouse and children. But, I’ve identified a significant difference between the two and the difference was manifest in the one of two sentences that each of them chose to sum up their condition.
My sister’s friend says, “I just don’t want to feel like this any more.”
My buddy says. “I know there’s no help for me. This is just how it is.”
A while back, I felt motivated to share a DVD I own called Buck. It’s the now-famous story of horseman Buck Brannaman. I saw it on TV years ago and I never forgot it. It’s one of a handful of DVDs I’ve ever actually bought and I take it out from time to time just to watch a few scenes.
Now, the funny thing is that I have very little interest in riding horses. I’ve probably been riding ten times and on seven of those rides my steed was made of plastic. Still, I am fascinated with the way Brannaman conveys information. Earlier this year I went to see one of his clinics at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. It was fascinating. Now, Brannaman is not always a little ray of sunshine. But, what attracts me to his method is that it’s heavy on sensitivity and what I call, self-discovery. By that I mean that he’s not merely encouraging sensitivity toward the horse. Rather, he’s saying that sensitivity toward the horse is mandatory and that developing a sensitivity toward the horse you’re riding leads to sensitivity towards oneself and other people.
As I’m prone to do with nearly everything, I apply this to golf. Golf is nearly always taught as a prescribed method of creating a specific series of movements. Of course the golf swing is comprised of motions, so this make sense on one level. But, if you scratch the surface with the best golf instructors they will often admit that what they’re really trying to teach is a feeling that can be hard for some players to feel. I’ve even spoke to one teacher who told me he sometimes tries to trick his students into buying into a motion he thinks will create a feeling that will somehow unlock a better swing. Talk about tricky, but learning isn’t always easy and straightforward.
I’m sure you’re wondering how this applies to the first couple paragraphs. I have to admit that at the time I loaned my friend the DVD I wasn’t sure either. I just had a feeling. Now that he’s watched it I think I have handle on what I wanted him to get out of it. Some of the lessons resides in a line Brannaman refers to in the film:
Solvitur en modo, firmitur en rey.
This is Latin for gentle in what you do, firm in how you do it. Like I said, Brannaman should have been a golf teacher. I think my friend has lived most of his life believing that something done out of the gentleness of love must always be done in that same gentle way. Over the decades, this gentility-first ethos has spawned inaction and passivity where verve and action were needed. That first quote of his, I know there’s no help for me. This is just how it is rings like the very bell of negativity derived from passivity.
I think this is a heck of a difficult thing for my friend to become aware of at this point in his life. He’s gotten so good at applying this mentality to himself even though he would never prescribe it to his children. He has created a bizarre and damning corruption of the old line, Do as I say and not as I do. He has failed to see the real lesson he’s passing on to to children through his actions and his words.
My sister’s friend went out and got help because she didn’t want to keep feeling as bad as she did. She was prescribed with antidepressants and got better. Of course, science has found that people get better from depression for a number of reasons. For the fortunate, the brain’s chemistry normalizes over time all by itself. For some, antidepressants assist in the recovery of this balance. Sometimes the brain recovers from the causes of the depression, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, only with time and perspective.
But, before people get better they have to want to get better. Do we really need to talk about the connection between attitude and health?
I watched Brannaman work with a person as his clinic who told him, “Buck, I think all this leg work (in getting the horse to turn) has numbed my horse up.” Brannaman looked at the back end of her horse and said, “Well, a fly just landed on your horse’s flank and he flicked it away with his tail. If your horse can feel a fly, he can feel your knee. The question is, can you become sensitive to how your horse feels what he feels?”
Sensitivity, or what I prefer to call awareness, is what we should all be looking for. It doesn’t matter if we’re learning a new golf shot or we want to learn how to tell a horse to stop or go or we want to know how to relate more effectively to ourself or other folks. We must be aware in a way that gives us the best chance to learn what we need.
My dear friend has lost this awareness. He can’t bring himself to flick that fly off of his leg and so it’s going to keep tormenting him until he does. My sister’s friend felt the same way but she acted on her awareness that help was close by. I remember hearing Dick Cavett say that in the depths of depression the cure could have been as close as the other side of the kitchen table but he just couldn’t bring himself to reach for it.
I spend a couple hours each week talking to my friend and thinking about his plight. I try to monitor how he’s feeling without asking about it relentlessly. I try to point out options when it comes to his work and his life and his family. I encourage him to try new courses of action, new ways of doing things and different ways of thinking about his ife. He speaks frequently of his experience of what he terms existential dread and crisis.
He’s not joking…
So, I wonder about the internal force that pushed my sister’s friend to reach out for help and the internal deficit that makes my friend unable to do the same? Is optimism a prerequisite for a willingness to ask for help or even the belief that help exists? If it is, I’m quite sure I don’t know of a way to motivate optimism in anyone, even someone I know as well as my old friend. You can lead an horse to water or a friend toward help but in the end it’s up to the horse and the friend to care enough to help themselves. Ever the optimist I’m confidant my old friend will have a quenching drink from the fountain of help this year.