Randolph Engineering Aviator

Like a few million other guys my age, I grew up with the legend of American Astronauts. But, even though I respected guys like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin it was the Mercury and pre-Mercury guys like Chuck Yeager and L. Gordon Cooper who really got me going.

Cooper was regarded as the best pure stick & rudder guy of the Mercury era and he held the record for lowest heart rate during take off of any of the Mercury or Gemini astronauts. Now, maybe that just meant that Cooper was dumb but it always seemed like seemed like tough & unflappable to me. More than anything, the guy just looked like an American pilot and I’m sure Cooper very much saw himself as a pilot first and an astronaut second.

Anyway, the man had style.

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And, the thing is, I needed new sunglasses. Like needed…like I lost one of my go-to shades. I looked around for a current version of the cheaters Cooper wore back in the day and I came up with Randolph Engineering.

What? Sunglasses that are made in the US?

I know; totally crazy. I’ve owned French sunglasses, Italian sunglasses, German sunglasses and doubtlessly many pairs made in China. But, unless I had (and surely later lost) an old pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers from back in the early 80s I’m pretty sure I’ve never owned a pair of US-made shades until now. Who knows? Maybe Ray-Bans were already made off shore even back then.

Sure, I could have maybe scoped out a better deal online but I decided to go old school and cruised over to the local Randolph stockist right here in the West Val. The optometrist owns a pair of Randolphs himself and said that he brought the line in because he thought the idea of US-made sunglasses was cool, as do I.

There are a lot of options but I chose to ignore most of them and confined my choices to frames: flat black, matte chrome or bright chrome. The black, even though it’s my default color choice in everything except cars, kind of hid some of the contours of the frame. The bright chrome rocked out loud but since I do not I passed on those shiny beauties. The matte chrome shows the frames off nicely so I snatched them up.

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The Aviators fit me beautifully and they fairly scream quality as well as faultless fabrication and assembly. You can truly feel the pride of the people who made them and that’s worth a lot to me. I was a bit uncertain about the straight temples but my doubts evaporated once i slipped them on.

It got me wondering, why do they make curved temples when straight is so dang comfy?

Randolph makes the Aviator in three sizes and I found the middle size to be just right. My final justification for the buy was the fact that the Aviator can be used with prescription lenses. Someday, but not today, I’ll need prescription lenses to navigate the highways and byways of California and when I do I’ll be set with my Randolph Aviators.

The more I think about it, the better value the Randolphs are. When you factor in the US manufacture and the lifetime warranty they cross into the realm of how do they manage to sell them for the price? In fact, I may end up with another pair if I’m not careful.

If you find yourself short a pair of sunglasses, do yourself a favor and check out the Randolph Aviators. I am digging them and I’m a very hard man to please.

 

 

Randolph Engineering Aviator

Thinking about cameras & a quick review of the Road Runner Bags Camera Strap

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about cameras.

Me? I love a good used camera. First of all, they’re cheap. I bought my Nikon D300 for $200. I mean, was there ever a better value in the history of the world? Second, I tend not to worry about used cameras. I always make sure the stuff I bought has seen some actual use. That way any bumps and bruises are easier to regard as marks of character rather than evidence of carelessness on my part.

The sad news is that my Fuji X100 gave up the ghost; very disappointing. Or, to channel our 45th president; sad. If I were given to complain (and I am) I would say that it’s pretty dang disappointing that Fuji is unable to fix what they regard as a professional camera that’s little more than a handful of years old. I ended up in the funny spot. Fuji could either ship back my pretty much useless X100 or I could pony up some cash and they’d sent me a brand-spankin’ new X100T.

Fine, fine, fine…here’s my credit card number.

Thing is, I knew I wasn’t going to keep the X100T. I’m kinda soured on the Fuji thing at least for now. Eventually, I may get myself another small mirrorless camera with a 1″ or m4/3 sensor but for now I’ve decided to simply toggle between my aforementioned D300 and a battle-scared old Panasonic LX3.

Sure, I used to own an LX3 (and later and LX5 and an LX7) but this little camera has me enamored for some reason.

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The mighty LX3 and its new Road Runner Bags strap in olive & black…yes sir!

This little camera rocks hard. I picked it up well-used over at Fred Miranda for $55. Nearest I can tell the little fellah has over 100,000 clicks on the odometer and it works perfectly. Heck, I even bought a second Panasonic battery for it; yup, I’m going all out. The neat little Leica lens is quite sharp over its entire range and the focus and metering are spot on. If Panasonic would upsize this exact camera with the same zoom range and a 1″ sensor I’d buy it.

The cool olive & black Road Runner Bags strap was supposed to be for my repaired X100 (sniff, sniff…) but I put it on the LX3 out of spite for Fuji. Like another favorite company of mine, Courier Ware, Road Runner isn’t much on self-promotion. The strap doesn’t even have their name anywhere on it…just a small label that says, Handmade in California. The webbing that Road Runner uses is very smooth on the skin and their form-follows-function-factor is admirably high. Road Runner Bags is a neat little company. All their stuff is made right here in Los Angeles and they certainly did a fine job with their first camera strap. I’m hopeful they’ll continue to work on more bags and straps for all the two-wheeled photographers out there on the streets and trails of Los Angeles.

Check their website out today and buy something.

Anyway, I enjoyed the Fuji because it was so easy to bring along. I disliked the Fuji for the same reason everyone else did. It was rather fussy, sometimes inscrutable, and the focusing was always marginal and then it got worse. How does that even happen? I also found the X100 rather fragile feeling. I don’t know if Fuji got it right with the S or the T or the F. All I know is Fuji’s naming convention for the X100 series is going to be tough for whatever follows the X100F. I’m not off Fuji forever; then again, maybe I am.

I can’t quite get my brain around how some folks are able to get along with an iPhone as their sole camera. Of course, I wear a wrist watch. Still, I do see the appeal to less is more when it comes to cameras. With the departure of the X100 and now the sale of the X100T I’m left with the LX3 and the D300.

Both of them suit me just fine.

Thinking about cameras & a quick review of the Road Runner Bags Camera Strap

One strap, one bag; Crumpler & BBB

Man, talk about bored. Bored is the only possible motivation to write about a camera bag and a camera strap.

There you have it; I’m bored.

First the strap. You all know the Crumpler name. You know the make nice stuff, especially their somewhat unusual bags. But, did you know they made a nice strap, too?

No, not their lackluster and bulky Industry Disgrace. Today I’m talking about their very lightweight (and somewhat light duty?) Popular Disgrace. This 2.5 centimeter strap is da bomb for a lightweight camera like my aged Fuji X100. Its magic resides in its simplicity, and also the perfectly textured neoprene that covers the conventional strap material.

I hike a lot with the X100 so it spends a lot of time slung across my back. The neoprene has just the right about of traction and just the right amount of slip (dare we call it, perfect coefficient of drag). The strap material underneath is quite stout. It would be totally suitable for a larger and heavier camera, if the neoprene section were a tad wider.

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Me? I don’t like heavy cameras. My old Nikon D300 is as heavy as I can stand. That’s what keeps the X100 nearby so often. If you have an X100 or any other lightweight camera you might want to check out the Popular Disgrace, if you can find one.

In case you’re one of those folks who find camera bags slightly less dull than camera straps, I have a good one for you. The Bare Bones Bag (BBB hereinafter). I’m being kinda charitable to the folks at Figital Revolution. They’re not really the ones who’ve done the heavy lifting (stitching?) in the creation of the BBB. The real work was done by the hard-core, hard-asses at CourierWare.

For those of you who are even more bored than I am (come on,  you’re reading this aren’t you?) feel free to check out my review of yet another CourierWare bag here.

No, you cannot stuff a lot of shit into the BBB.

And, no, the BBB is not possessed of a great deal of padding. Heck, my version of the bag doesn’t even have a velcro closure for the top.

And, yes, the BBB may be able to pass as a purse, assuming that the woman who’s carrying it is good looking enough.

Still, for me it’s just dandy for carrying the (wait for it) Fuji X100. It holds that, my beater Panasonic LX3, both their chargers and spare batteries, my faithful Benchmade knife and a lot (but not too much) other crap. There’s a touch of padding in the bottom of the bag but the rest of the bag is just plain (if very high quality) waterproof 1000 denier Codura nylon.

If you’ve been living under a rock you may not be aware that CourierWare makes a superb bag. They are light yet totally bombproof and guaranteed for life. The care and quality of the stitching is beyond reproach. Now, the truth is that I’m not even sure that you can buy the damn thing. I got mine used and you’re never getting mine, believe me.

But, if you have a load that’s the right size for it, and if you can find one, the BBB cannot be beat. If you value function and give not one shit about style, it may be the bag for you. If you need a larger bag, check out the CourierWare website. CourierWare’s owners, Diana & Eric, are amazing, salt of the earth kind of folks and they’ll make the bag of your dreams.

 

 

One strap, one bag; Crumpler & BBB

Role Audio Sampan Music Box Review

In the beginning, there were speakers, big speakers in the corners of a living room, and the sound was good. The problem was that having a pair of Altec Voice of the Theater speakers meant for a severe intrusion into the typical living space found in an American home. But, for the next forty or so years, we coexisted with big speakers and big amplifiers and managed to enjoy our music despite the fact that our speakers weighed as much as a golf cart.

Thank goodness for the internet.

The internet has brought us a great deal of convenience along with everything else, both wanted and unwanted. For someone who works at home as I have for most of the last thirty years the ability to get proper music off of the internet proved to be elusive until very recently.

Bluetooth audio was OK but the sound quality of even the best bluetooth speakers is still marginal. Think of the the sound of AM radio when you think of bluetooth audio. Still, Americans want it all even as their living spaces get smaller. Fortunately, WiFi gives us the potential to get a little closer to the sound we want and the Role Audio Sampan Music Box takes full advantage of WiFi’s promise. The Music Box is a 42 by 5 by 4.5 inch box that sits happily behind my Mac on my faithful (though plain) 62 and 31.5 inch Ikea work table. Its slender, stealthy black enclosure looks sharp against the light red faux veneer that Ikea does so well.

For most of my review period, I’ve used the Music Box with my new Chromecast Audio which is very cool indeed. If you’ve yet to buy one you owe it to yourself to try one. It’s a little miniature hockey-puck-shaped device that sets up in a breeze and has proven very reliable. It’s the opposite of obtrusive.

I also used the Music Box directly from my CD player as a kind of resolution reference point. Lastly, I used the Music Box directly from my trusty 64 GB iPhone 5 and an ancient iPod I have laying around. In any case, a wired connection to the Music Box is simple. You can also use a stereo mini plug on the front or traditional left and right RCAs on the back.

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Chromecast Audio atop the Music Box…Photo courtesy of Role Audio

I wasn’t really thinking about testing the dynamic capabilities of the Music Box when I first hooked it up, but the music playing seemed to demand it so I figured I’d crank the little guy up just for fun. Wow. The Music Box can play quite loudly and without a hint of strain. The benefit of matching a speaker’s design to the 100 watt amp is clear.

Still, I ramped things down for a few hours. The Music Box had just bumped its way across the country all the way from North Carolina and it seemed wise to let it settle in before doing any careful listening.

First up was Jim Steinke’s Finland Road Song from his Playing by Heart CD (Blind Guava Music OWR 0077). This is an amazingly well recorded HDCD of some superb solo guitar music played by a little-known virtuoso. The tracks are unique for their ability to capture transient attacked without a trace of electronic artifact. Through the Music Box the sound is clear with a great sense of presence to the plucking of the guitar strings.

The Sampan Music box should not be thought of as just another desk-top speaker. Its voicing is far more sophisticated and resolving than that and on this point I think mentioning a little set up care is in order. First, even though it sounded good when I sat closer to it, I try to stay at least 3 feet away from the speaker when I am putting forth an effort to listen carefully. Second, I find that the vertical listening axis is somewhat important. A little rearward tilt makes the upper mids sound more integrated with the lower treble making voices more natural.

Speaking of vocals, one of my critical tests for the Music Box came on Call it a Loan from Jackson Browne and David Lindley’s Love is Strange record (Inside Recordings INR5111-0). A couple minutes into this track there is a brief but exceptional bit of harmony between Browne and Lindley. David Lindley is singing in full voice, which he does rarely but always to great effect. A good speaker like the Music Box can at once separate and define each voice, letting the tones and timbres stand apart, yet blend sweetly in harmony. The voices need to sound at once as one and separate and the Sampan Music Box pulls this trick off nicely.

More of the this rare brand of musical integration is heard when I play Iris DeMent’s Broad Gold from her record The Trackless Woods (Flariella Records CD-FER-1006). The first part of the track blends DeMent’s voice in its lower range and piano. With the Music Box, her voice never seems pushed forward or pulled back. The presentation is solid, stable and musical. It’s easy to forget the gear and lean back and enjoy.

The Sampan Music Box remind me of my B&W P7 headphones except that my head doesn’t get tired when I listen the music box. It has the same crisp, clear ease to its sound and superb integration. Everything is there and easily discerned. I regard both devices at once as a reviewer’s tools and wonderfully musical components anyone can enjoy.

The simple fact is that you could easily build a main system around the Sampan Music Box. In any configuration it has the capacity to come very close to the dynamic ease you’re used to hearing from traditional two-speaker stereo systems that are far larger and cost far more. There’s very little from a musical standpoint it can’t handle, and handle with ease.

If you simply want better sound in your office or den, or if you finally want to get rid of those huge Altec Voice of the Theaters your wife has been threatening you about, do yourself a favor and give the Music Box serious consideration.

No matter how you use the Sampan Music Box you will be amazed by the quality and quantity of music it can bring into a room and your life.

Role Audio Sampan Music Box Review

Rosemark Putter Grip Review

I first heard about Rosemark grips from Jim Grundberg at SeeMore. I’ve learned to take Jim’s tips very seriously when it comes to putting. Still, I have to say that my initial response was luke-warm at best. But, then I took a look at the Rosemark website and gradually my interested piqued. Good putting is art and science. Sometimes it can seem as if these qualities are in short supply when it comes to new products. But, when a product finally comes along that works in both realms, at the same time, the results are always exciting for me and for the rest of the market.

Jim was also kind enough to introduce me to Rosemark’s Mark Cokewell. I can’t help myself; I always wonder why someone would get into the golf business, especially these days. Mark Cokewell told me, “I am by profession a pilot. I started in the golf business by entering a contest on the Golf Channel called Fore Inventors Only. I had an idea for a long putter that was a face on design and used a one arm pendulum stroke method. There were no grips available that worked for my putter so I designed one. The shape had to be stable for use one handed either right or left. It had to be 26 inches long so it would reach from the armpit to the palm of players’ hand with a straight arm. And it had to be able to square the putter with one hand / arm. So I started by mapping the hand to see how it would naturally fold around a grip. My putter was called the Krutch because it anchored in your armpit. As it turned out I got quite a positive response to my grip and in 2012 had two players on the Champions Tour sign contracts with me to play my grip. J.L. Lewis and Keith Fergus. At the end of 2012, the USGA proposed ruling out anchoring and that put an end to my putter. In late 2013, I re-tooled to make my grip for standard putters.

In may of 2014 I brought the grip onto the Champions Tour and got good play by several guys including Kenny Perry and Colin Montgomerie. In 2015 I took my grip to the PGA and LPGA tour and did very well. In 2015, Colin Montgomerie won the Senior PGA at French Lick with my 1.25 grip. Lydia Ko started playing my 1.52 MFS grip at the US Women’s Open. She has won two majors with it, eight tournaments, and a Silver Medal in the Olympics. Russell Knox won the Travelers this year with our 1.25 MFS grip.”

I would describe that as one heck of a lot of success, especially when you consider the hit Cokewell took with the USGA’s anchor ban earlier this year.

The Rosemark grip was compelling to me for at least three reasons. First, is the use of the six-sided, patented shape. The second is the use of the silicone beads for good grip and the third is the wonderful smoothness of the microfiber. According to Cokewell, “We feel like the greatest benefits to our grips are the ability of the player to relax the tension and maintain full control of the putter throughout the stroke. And, be confident that the putter will remain square even with a light grip pressure.”

I consider myself a better than average putter. My results come from a good amount of hard work and devotion to the SeeMore approach to putter design and use. That said, when I’m under the gun and putting for par, my grip tension increases. If I’m on top of it, I can throttle it back. But, that is a kind of second-guessing when you think about it. I can find myself wondering what the proper level of grip pressure is, especially if the putt is meaningful.

The Rosemark grip minimizes my tendency to ramp up pressure. The putter always feels secure in my hands, especially over the ball. Again, it feels like the cross sectional shape and the two different textures work at once to encourage a constant and light grip. What a simple recipe to making more putts.

Just as important, but not often talked about, is a grip’s feel at impact. I’m a feel and sound junkie. That’s why I prefer my old brass SeeMore head to my new stainless steel SeeMore. It’s not better, but it is different. Some putter grips tend to deaden sound and feel. I hate this. It serves only to break down the putter’s connection to the guy doing the putting; me.

When it comes to the materials Rosemark uses Cokewell said, “The MFS microfiber silicone is the result of us wanting to offer a more durable and washable grip to our customers. We made our grips, originally, in the industry standard (think SuperStroke) PU material. This material has some excellent benefits and we do offer our 1.25 and 1.52 grip in this material, but it gets dirty quickly and tends to lose its tackiness. It’s also not very durable in hot humid weather areas. Our MFS material lasts twice as long and resists dirt better so it stays tackier longer. Plus it’s washable. It has excellent durability in all weather. We are working to improve its playability when cold and wet as the silicone stiffens a bit when cold.”

My older Rosemark has gotten some very heavy use over the last four months and it still looks and feels great.I requested the second grip to compare its feel to the older grip.You can see from this photo that the black has faded a touch, but the feel is identical to the new blue grip in the photo.  I would say that usual care is in order. Keep your putter out of the trunk of your car and the Rosemark should last you a very long time.

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I asked Cokewell if Rosemark had plans to get into grips, beyond grips exclusively for putters. He said, “Rosemark is working on a material that would completely change the grip market. It’s in early development and of course it’s a secret at this point. If we’re able to make it work we will expand to all grips not just putter grips.

Soon, we will have samples of our new Elite grip which will be 13 inches and weigh approximately 60 grams. We’re very excited about this grip. Several pros have had input in this grip design.”

Again, I want to thank Jim Grundberg at SeeMore and Mark Cokewell at Rosemark for turning me on to a product that has already helped my game. Like Mark Cokewell says, “Putting is stressful enough without fighting your equipment!”

I couldn’t agree more. You owe it to yourself to try a Rosemark grip over the off season.

Your game will be better when the new season arrives.

Rosemark Putter Grip Review

Edel Golf: A Master Putter Maker in the Wooded Wilds of Oregon

Readers are forgiven if they have yet to hear of Edel Golf. David Edel is a very different breed than the average teaching pro, club fitter or putter maker. Our initial correspondence hit on a lot of subjects that won’t be brought into this article, but suffice it to say that Edel is one of the most interesting and forward thinking men that I have come across in the golf industry.

In a world of copycats, of the both subtle and overt persuasions, Edel is the kind of guy who is always on the prowl for a better way of doing things and is willing to travel some hard roads to reach his destinations.

The golf industry needs guys like him to maintain its vitality. Let’s hope his work is well rewarded…

PC: What are some common mistakes that golfers make when they buy putters off the rack?

David Edel: First off, the most common mistake buying a putter off the rack is not knowing where it aims. All putters aim differently. Some vary more than others, but none are equal. The buyer should first know how their current putter aims. Based on this knowledge they can look for something that either cures their aim bias, or matches it. Matching it, as the stroke is biased to that aim. If you do not want to change your stroke, then find a putter that matches it. For example, if you aim eight inches left, then don’t buy a putter that aims dead center, because your stroke will not match your aim. It would not seem logical to play with something that aimed you crooked, but most do. Our studies have concluded that only four in a hundred can aim their putters dead on, while fifteen out of hundred can only manage to aim within the hole (two inches off center) and with loft issues. Dead on meaning for average speed greens the laser at 6 feet is center cut and six inches off the ground (2.5 deg loft)

When someone buys a putter that they want, it may not be what they need. Grabbing a putter off the rack without understanding how the putter aims is harmful. With simple lasers and a mirror, you could check and see “Does this putter aim well?” I have people in the fitting process say, “ I aim this putter really well.” or “That line helps me aim.” and I evaluate them and they aim a foot left. So what people want to believe and what they do are often very different.

PC: As a follow-up, can these buying mistakes lead players to develop poor putting technique?

David Edel: Yes, poor putting technique is related to many factors. Some are directly related to the putter and some not. Putting can be broken down to what we call the Triad: Aim, Path, & Speed. What you do with those three things relates to ready greens and execution. If your putter aims a foot left, then you better make compensation a foot right. Sometimes this is done with path, or speed. Path pushing to the right, or speed –hitting it harder to take a higher line. The player starts to get multiple factors compensating for erroneous aim. This can set into sub routines like: If I forward press my hands, take it inside, or I go to a short back stroke and accelerate.

Compensation is the only honest thing that we do, and many try to go against what they know they need to do. Like, if you aim right, you better take is outside on the backstroke, have a long backstroke short finish, or close the face manually. But our friends or teachers say, “We better fix that outside move.”, yet they don’t fix the aim or even understand were they aim. Many say, “So what if you aim at address, you may not be there at impact.” My thought is…no kidding Sherlock.

But, our studies have shown that a reduction in the standard deviation of a putter stoke reduced by 38% in 19 of 22 categories. With areas improving up to 63% immediately after the fit. If you start from a better place then chances are you will return to that place. Putting is similar to the full swing, yet much less dynamic. The inclined plane is the boss. It is possible to move the putter during the stroke to the same place it started. If the putter does not aim correctly or has other factors like poor weight, length, lie, loft, then the mind will work away from those issues.

PC: What do you think most players understand better, their full swing or their putting stroke?

David Edel: I am not sure players understand the swing. I think they have an understanding of what they need to do to get the job done, but understanding the full swing or putter motion, I am not sure. I have been a PGA member since 1994 and a pro since 1990, and have worked with some of the best teachers in the world. I think I have a really good understanding of full swing motion, but I still think I don’t know anything.

We’re talking about people and that is the issue. Every person processes information differently than others. I think the missing link in most people’s games stems from lack of basics. Understanding the laws of physics of how the base golf motion works and other basics like how the mind works and processes information. People get so caught up in methods like One Plane or Stack and Tilt etc. Not that those are wrong, but if you work for a while on a concept and jump to the next, that’s sure to cause confusion. Like if you play a putter for two months and switch again and again, each has multiple distinctions in playing characteristics, and the players develops a habit of grabbing for something when it hits the fan.

PC: What affects the player more, the putter design or how well (or poorly) he has been fit for the putter?

David Edel: I think it is important to understand the word fitting as it relates to putters. There are three forms of fitting as I see it:

Static
Dynamic
Effective

Static fitting is measuring a persons lie angle, length, loft to name a few. It deals manly without motion, figuring out general variables that influence set up. Many companies have offered a system that deals with this form of fitting.

Dynamic fitting evaluates via monitoring systems the movement of the putter,body, and makes changes in the putter to alter impact. Systems like SAM, Tomi, and Icub have complex systems designed to evaluate the motion of the putter and give great data. Video based systems are also used during dynamic fitting. My perception of this form of fitting is to change variables so they produce the correct impact position. Often instruction is involved and it can be difficult to distinguish a fitting from a lesson.

Effective fitting is a process that is more interactive with player. Effective meaning true angles like 4 degrees loft, processed and changed to an effective angle like 2 degrees. Effective angles are terms used by fitters to describe what the player does with the club to change the true angle. Effective fitting is a process and or system that allow the fitter to accommodate the player’s personal perceptions during the fitting. If I put a mallet in their hands and they aim it more right and I combine it with another variable and it elicits a different response, then that’s effective fitting.

We also incorporate dynamic variables like length, head weight, loft, counter weight, shaft flex, and grip type to their value to speed control. So if you aim in correctly, and can control speed more precisely, then your probably going to have much cleaner path. Also, being able to feel your path better.

That is what I call effective fitting, and that is what we do at Edel Golf. So my answer to your question is yes. Design or shape of a putter can be a preference, but is more an obligation as it relates to aim. Some people want an Anser style head, but aim it totally left. What they want and need are totally opposite. Depending on the style of the fitting process, getting fitted may not apply to desired result. Education is paramount for people to make informed decisions.

PC: What led you to build your putters in a workshop where you live?

David Edel: What led me to build putters where I live is simple. There are huge stores of German stainless here. No, seriously, I grew up here. I have family businesses here. I left teaching the full swing to dedicate myself to making putters. Getting started was a slow process. I started making my first putter in late 1996. Everyone told me not to do it, that it was too difficult. I obviously did not listen. I built a small workshop next to my home here on the river. I ran my family business during the day, and when I had free time or made time, I made putters.

It could be the worst place to have a putter business, and for this reason I am trying to move to Ft. Worth, Texas. We have done a lot of good work here, mostly developing and prototyping products etc., but for people to come directly and get a fitting is very complex. I am looking to develop a large facility that incorporates manufacture and has a large inside putter studio with a monster putting green. A place to do schools and educational seminars, etc. Someday…hopefully soon.

PC: How do the professional players you work with putt differently than amateurs?

David Edel: Professionals do not putt all that differently than good amateurs. Some amateurs putt better than pros. Tour players are a different animal. The difference lies manly with speed control. Professionals have more time to practice speed control. Most professionals aim left. I think this is predisposed to the putters they choose. Most professionals and good amateurs select the same styles of putters, mainly Anser or blade style putters. A lot of high handicap amateurs aim right, which is mostly to do with poor set up fundamentals. Lack of routine. I believe the full swing and the putter swing is governed by the same laws, so if the putter and fear set is “don’t go left” then the motions are often the same.

PC: Which other putter makers do you respect?

David Edel: I think I respect anyone that can make a living at making golf clubs. It is hard to do. There are so many variables to contend with, namely money. Big companies have the advantage, because they have clout. Small guys like me are using your own finances to make world-class product. My advantage is the willing to do what the big dogs do not. I think what Mr. Cameron has done is incredible. The machine he has developed deserves respect. Karsten Solheim is the man. That guy did it all. We are all posers. T.P. Mills was the father of making tour quality unique custom putters. I remember the waiting list times were 6 to 8 months for a putter. That is great. Tom Slighter has a nice following. He is making really nice custom putters like how you want it. Curt Curry started the custom fitting/Aim process so I have to say he is in there. Kevin Burns has come up with some nice designs. He sure had a nice run.

I have to say that I think what we are doing is a continuation of a lot of past knowledge. I don’t make the best putter in the world. That is hard to quantify. I think we configure the best putter in the world. When you can get past the Circle T hand stamping stuff, or this tour player uses this or that, and get into “it’s different, but I can aim it.” then hands down I think I offer more to people than any other maker past or present.

Besides, we hand make every putter for each player. We have over 50 million combinations to manufacture on a daily basis. That is custom. There is big difference between custom and handmade. Nothing is hand made. I hand machine putters, but they can take two days to make. Everything is CNC with lots of handwork involved. hope that does not sound cocky, that is not the intention. The fact is I do not know anyone who is doing what we do.

PC: I have to tell you how refreshing it is that you recognize Karsten Solheim. It’s getting to be that people are all to willing to believe their own press releases. Everyone is so quick to tell you about their designs but all too often their designs are Solheim’s. It is the design equivalence of plagiarism so it doesn’t sit well with me at all. Which other putter designs (either modern or classic) do you admire?

David Edel: I really like the Karsten Anser style head. I can’t use it, but I think it has a great profile. I liked Kevin Burns and T.P. Mills/Anser style heads. Those looked clean. I think less is more. There is too much shit on putters these days. Between colors, funky shapes, lines, and weight ports it is total confusion. That stuff should aim, right? People get lost in all that geometry and most of the time cannot hit a barn with their aim. The Bullseye is hands down the best aimer. Pretty simple design. Rueter did a great job with that one. The Two Ball works for some, but is not for everyone. I wish I came up with that one from a financial standpoint.

PC: Are you working on anything new right now or working to refine your fitting technique?

David Edel: We are always working on something new. Since I have been developing new fitting systems and methods for the last 11 years, our focus has been very different than much of the industry. This focus has enabled us to think about a new box. I have had relative ease getting some patents, because the line of thinking opens different doors. We are working on redefining the fitting model and fitter education. Creating school formats for people to get all three sides of the Triad (Aim, Path, Speed = Reading Greens) going. People do not want putters. They want results. I think the group that we have working together is going to change the face of putter fitting and instruction.

We have come out with a new putter called Variable loft Vari-loft. It has removable face technology with weight ports. Combined with aim value, this is a huge asset to the refined player. These putters take a combined machine/hand effort of over 11 hours to manufacture. When a player is educated on how to use it, it is hands down most versatile putter out there. Since few know about the value of what we do, our attention is focused towards education. Making new designs to keep up with large manufactures is not the solution. Figuring out how to inform players of other options, getting past bias, and overcoming objections from the current power structure is objective #1.

PC: David, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I must say that your candor is refreshing and I hope this interview helps a few more people to find you and take advantage of your amazing ability to help their games. Is there anything we haven’t covered, or anything you’d like to add in closing?

David Edel: We are very proud of our product and process that we have developed. My head styles are very basic and classic. The fact is we offer so many variables not because it sounds big, but people need them. Our fitting process allows for us to individually analyze each variable as it relates to the next. When the total package is put together, then it’s yours and yours only. We seldom make the same variation twice, something is always different. 95% of your thought happens at a subconscious level, and we build a putter that aims using the 5% of your conscious and its interface with the other 95%.

Aim is the one solid tangible that you can triangulate your game from. From aim you can evaluate your path, speed, and the combination of all three is your technique. If you’re confused get fit. If you’re happy, stay away. One saying that I have always loved is, “I you don’t need a haircut, then don’t go to the barber.” If you’re reading this, then you’re probably looking for help. We’re here if you need it.

Edel Golf: A Master Putter Maker in the Wooded Wilds of Oregon

Titleist DT TruSoft Review

Earlier this year I struck gold and bought two dozen TaylorMade Project (a) at 40% off.

I love that TM ball; soft, plenty of spin and the sucker flies.

I finally ran out last week and I decided to try the new Titleist DT TruSoft at $21 a dozen at Golfsmith.

The cover didn’t look right to my eye at first. It was a tad too white and a little hard looking compared to the Project (a) but I decided to play it anyway.

Now this is a very, very good cheap golf ball.

Titleist-DT-TruSoft-Golf-Balls_Default_ALT10_550

If your irons balloon on you from time to time, this ball will surely flatten your ball flight. The Project (a) seemed to fly high on pretty much everything but not so the humble little DT TruSoft.

This little white sucker likes to fly low!

The spin off the driver would seem to be a little less than the TM which is fine by me. Carry and roll seemed about the same, maybe a little longer. Who knows?

There seems to be proportionally more spin with the mid to short irons than the driver. It feels soft around the greens but not that mushy kind of soft you get from other low compression balls. My sense is that Titleist really did get the combination of the cover and the core just right with this ball. I’m a stickler for the sound of ball off the putter face. If it’s too clacky, I won’t play it. This cheap little Titleist sounds excellent off the putter; crisp but not clack.

I actually prefer everything about this ball over the more expensive NXT Tour but the look of the cover. By the end of the round I even got used to the look of the cover. It’s not really bworse, it’s just different. And, the cover appears to be pretty durable. I used one ball for 18 holes and once I cleaned it I couldn’t tell it from the new ones.

Anyway, you may want to check this ball out.

Titleist DT TruSoft Review