Instant Classic: Cleveland Golf Driver a Beautiful Behemoth

As a guy who grew up playing woods made of a strange substance called wood, I find many of today’s drivers unappealing to the eye. There’s only one form a driver should take, and that’s pear-shaped.

Cleveland Classic Driver

Drooling yet?

So my heart skipped a beat when I saw Cleveland Golf’s new Classic Driver, due out early next year. Mahogany finish. Brass-colored face “insert” and sole plate. The word “Classic” scrolled on the crown as an alignment aid. Even a black leather head cover in a shape the company calls “RetroBarrel.”

Cue Homer Simpson drooling sound.

In a word, this is one gorgeous golf club. But that’s the end of the Cleveland Classic’s similarities with its ancestors. (You know, the ones made from trees.) The Classic maxes out the USGA volume allowance at 460cc, about three times the size of a persimmon driver head. Its face is massive – the deepest on the market, according to Cleveland. And off-the-rack models are powered by an ultralight Miyazaki graphite shaft.

While it’s not yet for sale to the public, the Classic has already been tested on Tour. In fact, 2011 Rookie of the Year Keegan Bradley used it en route to winning (with Brendan Steele) the Franklin Templeton Shootout last weekend.

Bradley, who strikes me as the traditional type, instantly fell for the club’s old-school aesthetics. “When I looked at the new driver, honestly, I loved it,” he gushed. “I love the gold face on it… You look down at the face and the thing that you focus on is the sweet spot. I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s gonna change the way drivers are made.”

Of course, Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade et al will have something to say about that. In fact, TaylorMade just introduced its new wood lineup, which carries a decidedly non-traditional name: RocketBallz.

May the best club win.

 

 

Golfer Wins $10K Ham and Other Headline News

October 7, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

Cruising the web, perusing some favorite sites, using our golf-dar to identify random news items upon which to opine.

It’s relatively quiet, aside from a certain player’s return to action (if not form) after a two-month layoff. We did uncover a few stories worth noting, however, including a contender for the title of: Best. Headline. Ever.

Saltman wins body weight in ham for hole-in-one

When Elliott Saltman, a Scottish pro best known for his three-month suspension on charges of cheating, aced the third hole during the first round of the Madrid Masters, he won something better than a new Cadillac or BMW. He won his weight in cured Spanish ham.

Scottish golfer Elliott Saltman

Elliott Saltman

This fellow is no shrimp -- Saltman tips the scales at 240 pounds --  and this is no ordinary ham. Saltman’s hunk of hog is reportedly worth €8,000, or the equivalent of about $10,600.

“This is going to last me until next Christmas,” Saltman told Reuters, “nevermind this one.”

For that matter, he’s got enough to carve out a nice emergency ham, Homer Simpson style.

Can’t wait for Cantlay

American golf fans, desperately seeking one of their own to challenge the world’s top young guns, may have their man: Patrick Cantlay, the 19-year-old wiz kid from UCLA.

Already verging on household-name status thanks to a brilliant summer, Cantlay added another notch to his belt in the first round of the Frys.com Open. Paired with Tiger Woods, Cantlay breezed to a 2-under 69 while Tiger struggled to shoot 73 in his first competitive round since August.

It was nothing new for Cantlay, the NCAA player of the year as a freshman, low amateur at the U.S. Open, and owner of the PGA Tour record for lowest round by an amateur (60, at the Travelers Championship).

Cantlay will return to UCLA for at least one more season at the collegiate level. Hopefully, he’ll soon challenge Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Ryo Ishikawa et al for world supremacy.

Worst shot in golf? The shank tops them all

Golf Digest recently asked readers to name their most frustrating shots. Not surprisingly, the shank was the “winner,” beating out the humiliating whiff, soul-crushing yip and humbling top.

We didn’t vote, but agree that the shank is the worst of the worst. Unlike a whiff or a top, the hosel rocket often ends up unplayable. And while the yips are equally hard to shake, there’s an easy way around them: just pick it up and call it good.

If your partners/competitors complain, ask them if they really want to watch you miss another 2-footer. The yips are contagious little buggers.

Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: Deutsche Bank

September 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

Who’s the fresh-faced fellow winning another golf tournament every time you turn around?

Webb Simpson wins Deutsche Bank Championship

Webb Simpson

That’s Webb Simpson, an emerging young talent on the PGA Tour. (Not a drone from sector 7G.)

Simpson, eh?

Yep, Webb Simpson claimed his second victory in three weeks by outlasting a stellar cast at the Deutsche Bank Championship. The guy’s developing an appetite for trophies to rival Homer Simpson’s (no relation) taste for donuts.

Simpson’s recurring theme is one of several that keep popping up week after week. (See: Els, Ernie; putter, long.) Herewith, our Golf Clap winners and Silent Treatment losers from the Deutsche Bank:

Golf Claps

  • Webb Simpson: More like thunderous applause for the genteel North Carolinian. With a final-round 65, Simpson zipped past the likes of Luke Donald, Jason Day and Adam Scott, then took out Chez Reavie in a playoff at TPC Boston. Simpson is now the unlikely leader of the FedEx Cup race heading into the final two events.

As for the gratuitous Simpsons reference each time Webb wins… Get used to it. It’s all the excuse we need to flog our all-time favorite show.

  • Ernie Els: Once again, the Big Easy was staring at FedEx Cup elimination. Once again, he survived to play another week, his 72nd-hole birdie securing spot No. 68 in the 70-man BMW Championship two weeks hence. If he keeps living on the edge, Els’ nickname may get revoked.
  • The long putter: Simpson’s wand of choice added another feather to its cap; four of the past five Tour winners have wielded extra-long putters. This week, ever-experimenting Phil Mickleson joined the belly brigade en route to a 10th-place tie – and proving that you really never know what Phil will do next.
  • Thomas Bjorn: A shout-out across the pond to the 40-year-old Dane, who won for the second week in a row on the European Tour. Considering he’d all but disappeared a few years back, you might say Thomas has been Bjorn again.

Silent treatment

  • Bubba Watson: The big lefty spit the bit on Monday, stumbling to a 74 after leading through three rounds. A two-time winner in 2011, Watson made seven bogeys before redeeming himself with an eagle on the last. He wasn’t alone among faltering leaders. Scott started hot, then staggered home with a par-free 37 on the final nine.
  • Nick Watney: No one sank further than Watney, whose 11 on the par-5 second hole was the centerpiece of a closing 80 – and a 49-spot tumble down the board. That’s gotta hoit.

Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: Wyndham Championship

August 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

“D’oh!” – Homer Simpson.

“Dough!” – Webb Simpson.Webb Simpson

That’s dough, as in a $936,000 check the latter collected for winning the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. Cash is sure to keep rolling in for the talented 26-year-old, whose victory looks like the first of many.

Simpson – Webb, that is – had been building up to his moment all season. He carried a pair of runner-up finishes and a slew of top-25s into the event, which he calmly won with a bogey-free 67 on Sunday.

He’s now earned more than $3.6 million in this, his third full season on Tour. Something tells us he won’t be working at the nearest nuclear plant any time soon.

On to our weekly round-up of those we applaud, and those who left us appalled:

Golf Claps

  • Elongated putters: Here we go again. By using a belly putter, Simpson became the third consecutive winner relying on a flat-stick that doesn’t fit traditional dimensions. Long putters were once considered a last resort for aging pros with shaky hands and achy backs; not anymore. Simpson (26), PGA champ Keegan Bradley (25) and WGC-Bridgestone winner Adam Scott (31) are a long way from the Champions Tour.
  • Carolina golfers: Simpson was raised in Raleigh and played college golf at Wake Forest. Third-place finisher Tommy Gainey hails from the “other” Carolina – Bishopville, S.C., to be exact. Carl Petterson, a Swede who played at North Carolina State, tied for fourth while Tar Heel State standard bearer Davis Love III posted a solid T12. Nothing like a little home cooking.
  • Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and William McGirt: Your final qualifiers for the FedEx Cup are a pair of three-time major champs and… Some other guy. McGirt is a Tour rookie with just one top-20 all year, but he slipped into the 125th and final spot with a T52 showing in Greensboro. By the way, McGirt is from Fairmont, N.C.

Silent Treatment

  • Ernie Els: Yep, the Big Easy lands on both lists this week. The silence is for Els’ final-round 72, a 2-over dud that dropped him from contention to a tie for 30th. Gotta say, we miss watching that Sinatra-smooth swing when things get tight on the weekend. Here’s hoping Ernie regains his form soon.
  • Justin Leonard: The longtime stalwart played his way out of the FedEx Cup with a bogey on the 72nd hole. Good for McGirt, bad for Leonard, a 12-time winner who missed the playoff series for the first time since its 2007 inception.
  • The two-gloves look: Sorry, Tommy Gainey, but the only thing worse than watching a pro wield a long putter is watching one wear a pair of gloves. Looks like you’re about to grab a hot pan from the oven.

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