Three Days of the Condor is one of my favorite films and one of a very few performances by Robert Redford I’ve ever enjoyed. Redford’s character is One Guy going up against a deep state version of the CIA. In Condor, even an Alsatian assassin played by Max Von Sydow behaves more honorably than anyone at the agency.
Then came Matthew Broderick in WarGames. Then-president Ronald Reagan was so alarmed by the movie that he was inspired to create the Strategic Defense Initiative, then disparagingly referred to as Star Wars.
Today, we have Donald Trump and he’s been raised throughout his middle age on the less-artful successors to Condor, films with characters like Jason Bourne.
The Bourne films are predicated on a hero who is a true rogue…someone rejected by the very deep state agency that created him.
In film after film, this lone man against the deep state hero has become the most consistent, commercially reliable action-adventure plot vehicle of our time.
Donald Trump believes, down to the marrow of his bone, that he is Jason Bourne.
Now, the final irony.
Each of these films are the creation of the very same left-leaning entertainment industry that now despises Trump but also created Donald Trump the reality television star and, eventually, Donald Trump the viable political candidate, and now the president of the United States.
In the days of WarGames Reagan was excoriated for the SDI. But, SDI was a rational response to the general message of WarGames; that complex systems are prone to unanticipated failure, no matter how well intended the governmental agency behind the system may be. Reagan may have been wrong or misguided, but his concerns were derived from a reasonable fictional construct.
Trump is unbound by such constructs. His fantasy about a deep state, even a deep state that he is the head of, is complete.
And, we have Hollywood at least partly to thank for his certitude.
I took a photo of food (a cocktail to be sure) and posted it to Flickr yet again. I try like hell to avoid doing stupid shit like this but I couldn’t resist. The Westlake Four Seasons serves up an excellent Old Fashioned during their Thursday Happy Hour. The angle of the dark tile under the glass looked good as did the filtered light coming across the hotel’s garden. Man, it was a good drink…so good that I had two.
When I got home I was impressed by the color, the lighting of the image and just how much the camera on the iPhone 8 can do when there’s plenty of light.
I also confess that I had a pretty strong feeling this photo would have a decent shot at getting onto the hallowed servers of Flickr’s Explore. It had a lot of the qualities I think Flickr’s algorithm looks for.
First, the title is unambiguously associated with the image. In other words, I’ll hazard that the algorithm has a dictionary that includes a list of cocktails (that obviously includes the Old Fashioned) and that the algorithm could readily correlate the discernibility of the image to the title of the image.
Second, the image was sharp, saturated and unambiguous.
Third, I used tags that localized and described it completely (down to the name and location of the hotel, the exact camera used and the fact that the Snapseed image processor was employed).
So, what does all this mean? Not much. As I have said before, any notion of knowing what a proprietary and very likely evolving algorithm values will never ascend beyond pure speculation. Still, the criteria I listed about are common to every photo of mine that’s gotten into Explore. In the end, we can deduce some elements of what appear to be valued criteria but there’s no way to know all of them or even to know whether any elements of a kind of computer-generated randomness are part of the process. What I do know and say with more than a touch of irony is this; none of my photos that I consider good have ever made it into Explore.
Do you really need to know why we end up in Sacramento a couple times a year?
No, you don’t.
Just know that in the summer Sacramento is a very cool place to play golf, drink craft beers, check out local wineries and to generally chill out. Since I click all of those boxes with enthusiasm it’s pretty easy to see why I like Sacramento.
But wait, this trip found us making a quick stop in Bakersfield. How can you say bad things about a place that has streets named after Merle Haggard and Buck Owens?
The answer is, you can’t.
Turns out that Bakersfield is home to a bunch of good craft brewers. We tried to stop by Temblor (second worst name in town) but the place was swamped on a Sunday night. Impressive, but not in a hey, I really want to elbow my way through the teeming, unwashed masses of Bakersfield for a pint of suds kind of way.
So, we rolled over to Ming Avenue to check out the Marketplace location of Lengthwise (winner of worst name in town). The place is hidden at the back of a pretty nondescript mall. The vibe inside and out was very cool. Plenty of the local gentry were there watching the World Cup. First up was their Red Ale which was excellent if a tad bit more hoppy than I think it needs to be. The color is a deep, rich red with just a touch of amber.
Next up was their Razzberry Wheat. I was looking for something approximating my brother’s amazing Watermelon Berliner Weisse. The Razz was close but had a touch too much berry flavor.
Upon making this comment out loud the guy at the end of the bar said, “I was gonna warn you about the Razz; the Strawberry Wheat is much better.”
This friendly and full-bearded fellow was wearing a hat and shirt from Bike Dog Brewery in West Sacramento. I told him we’d be in town the next day and would be sure to check it out. Sadly, the WestSac brewery was closed Monday-Wednesday so we had to go to their Broadway Taproom which was fine and dandy but lacked the slight industrial grit that I feel adds the last little bit of flavor to a good beer, plus it was freezing inside.
Being on a red ale kick I tried their Klunker Red Ale which was nice on a warm evening at 5.5% ABV. It was less hoppy than the red ale at Lengthwise and a touch closer to the ideal red I’m always searching for.
My rating for Lengthwise and Bike Dog and the beers I tried is:
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.
Look, it came down to this. I could have written a long-winded tome on any of the following:
The irony of Tesla (the car company) being named after Nicola Tesla. Tesla cars run on DC but Tesla was a pioneer and proponent of AC. Why didn’t Elon Musk call his brand Edison since old Tom was so into dynamos (because he owned a company that made them) and so advocated the use of DC pretty much everywhere?
How Tesla’s marketing and party line may suggest they don’t want their buyers to operate their cars in autonomous-mode yet their wink-wink awareness is that the Tesla kind of customer is the exact kind of person who will take their hands off the steering wheel at even the slightest invitation.
How ridiculous the idea of a president being able to pardon himself is. Nixon thought about it seriously back in 1974 and got the same answer Trump would get if he really pushed the idea. Some guilty folks act as if they’re innocent but this is a guy who acts guilty because he knows he is. Amazing.
But, who wants to read and write about that dreary stuff?
Let’s look at a lovely butterfly instead…
I saw this fellow in some nice light yesterday afternoon at the Butterflies & Brews fest at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont. It was a very SoCal event and I’m glad we decided to brave the Friday rush-hour traffic to get out there.
I was lucky enough to meet Simon Brown, the head honcho at Claremont Craft Ales, and gave him an earful about excess hoppiness at the expense of overall balance & flavor that’s characteristic of IPAs from San Diego. Happily, he agreed and his Jacaranda Rye IPA was superb; love that copper color and richness that balances against the 80 IBU.
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.
That was fast. One day the green was here and now it’s gone. It’s true that a few small yellow and purple wildflowers survive but to paraphrase Shakespeare, their lease, too, is short. The loop trail was a little more dry and dusty each day and there’s pretty no one around since it’s been quite warm for the last few days. Without noticing, I nearly walked beyond the point where I took the photo of the vibrant if short-lived green when I happened to glance back. The perspective here is changed a little but it’s still easy to see how different the grasses look now that a month has passed.
It was an odd day. The sun had gone a little bit yellow as is dropped in the sky. The air had that dry dusty smell that says home to me, for better or worse.
The grasses had died but still it was beautiful.
A few strides earlier I when I came to the first full vista of Simi Valley I noticed the marvelous clouds that accompanied the hazy approach of sunset.