[Continued...from Part One]
Sorry about the interruption but I had to catch my flight so I needed to do this in two parts. As I mentioned in Part 1 arrival and touring the facility was impressive as you would imagine. The golf balls used were not just ordinary ProV1 and ProV1x but also sorted by the type of shots hit so one would have pristine range balls! Read more about the tour and balls in Part 1.
Now onto Part 2. So Cliff guided me out to the range on the left hand side which has a Par 4 mock up that is about 440 yards long. Trees lining each side with a beautiful ocean view past the green (albeit in the distance). Sand traps not only beside the green but also along the fairway so one can imagine cuts, draws and working to fly the ball past each one. It was about 280-300 to fly the traps in the fairway by the way!
The center of the facility has a short game test area that allows the visitor to test one's skills by measuring your misses in inches...Cliff said if a person could go through the course and complete successfully both chipping/pitching vs. sand play they would be an average tour pro however most people are good at one vs. the other. Next to the short game test area is the wedge/iron range which has a lot of flags and banners so a person can dial in their distances from 20 to 250 yards...very cool. This is where we spend part of the day. Then on the right side of the facility is a multi use practice area with greens for putting, approach shots, mock holes etc... this was one of the most impressive practice/test facilities I have ever seen! BTW, the right side of the facility is where they do a lot of golf ball testing, in fact the day I was there, they were testing some new balls...do not ask for specifics since I did not get close to the building but you could see the balls shooting out simulating drives!
Here is a pic of the right side of the facility:
Picture of the Short Game Test Area:
So as Cliff and I approach the center section of the facility I could sense adrenaline rushing through my veins! I was actually going to get fit where the pros do! How cool could that be! So Cliff discussed how I was not to take divots one along side another but rather hit them all over the place like some golfers like do....it was very hard to do this, I am used to making a square or rectangle shape with my divots so I had to break the habit...oh well, old habits need to be broken when at the Oceanside Facility! I guess the grass there is a special blend, as you would guess, that grows back quicker this way. You could see how divots taken just the other day were barely noticeable...
I tell Cliff a few minutes later that I am warmed up and then I moved over a few feet in front of Trackman and the day officially began with shots from my current irons. Then a steady stream of various new irons were handed to me as Cliff and his associate Robert started bending lie angles, changing shaft material and weights and of course varying the swing weights and lengths of clubs. Surprisingly after all this movement it was apparent that I was still a DG X100 guy but the Modus 130 Steel Shafts were very comfortable but Cliff explained they are still very new and not really tour tested.
Here is a picture of the area we were hitting irons from in the center section:
Here is Cliff and a sampling of just SOME of the irons I was hitting:
Picture of more irons and the truck with loft and lie bending machine along with rulers etc..etc... just amazing!
Yes, they even have Titleist Tees of all lengths and configurations just for their fitting sessions! LOL
So after about two hours we shifted to the hybrids and finished there. Interesting, we discovered that I should construct my bag in configurations in this area. The first is for courses with long par threes to carry a 4 iron and a 2/3 iron replacement hybrid (913Hd 20 degrees). It was interesting when hitting the hybrids they had the infamous GD orange shafts but they did not feel or perform different for me compared to the Phenom HYB TX 100 which is considered standard stock! The other configuration we came up with is to replace the 4 iron and hybrid with two new hybrids for longer courses that have killer length par 3's and par 5's where I would play no 4 iron but rather a 23 degree 913Hd and 18 degree 913hd. So now I have two set ups going forward...very useful!
By the way during this time, we played with ProV1x and ProV1 balls checking spins, landing angles and noticed that despite my high swing speed I actually may be a better candidate for the ProV1 (not the x version!)...just goes to show how there are no absolutes this process!
Next, we then moved over to the left side of the range to the mock Par 4 hole and we concentrated on Fairway Woods and Drivers.
Picture of me discussing woods trackman data along with shafts galore behind us!
Picture of the shafts they picked for me to try...Wow!:
It was interesting relative to my driver that currently I was fitted for a 10.5 degree 913 D2 Driver with a Pro Force V2 X-Stiff shaft but as we got into the details it appears while if I hit is square it went a million miles however if I miss hit on the toe or heel the distance loss was significant...we shifted over to a 8.5 degree 913 D2 with a new Fuel 70 X-Stiff Shaft and while the golf ball when struck square went the same distance as my current gamer when mishit it went the same distance almost! Amazing, I was striking, and mis-striking, balls that were all going similar distances! Technology Wow!
They confirmed that my current 913Fd 13.5 degree Fairway wood was perfect for me however they starting playing with shafts and when I went to the Matrix Ozik Black Tie Shaft (another shaft not listed on the custom options since it is new to the approval process; the Fuel 70 was just approved that I was hitting in my driver). Wow, my shots were tighter relative to dispersion and the ball never felt so incredible coming off the club face. Again, amazing to be able to hit all sorts of various shafts in X-Stiff and heavier just for my type of swing.
We ran into lunch time and took a short break, there are a lot of restaurants just down the street so grabbing something quick was easy.
After lunch I was waiting in the lobby and look who walked in! Bob Vokey...Cliff introduced me and you could immediately tell that this was no ordinary man! Immediately we started joking and laughing...I sensed the afternoon would be very fun and special.
We walked down the hallway to a transport vehicle which took us to the backside of the center area of the facility. Basically, the other end where I did my iron testing. There waiting for us was about, or at least seemed, bags and bags and bags of wedges...every type one could imagine.
Picture of Bob and Myself:
We started off working on the gap wedge checking out my full yardages...Bob, Cliff and Robert were all there but Bob and I were interacting one on one though...Bob mentioned I was the 7th person to come through the Vokey Experience thus far on the amateur side. Bob was sharing experiences of how he works with players (all the names you would expect from the PGA Tour) to make their wedges better than what they are playing with just by the grinds...reading between the lines you could sense that he interprets and watches how I hit balls...what is easy and what is hard by varying the lies...tight, rough, soft, firm...etc... yes they have them all! We narrowed it down to the SM4 line for the gap wedge with the 12 degree bounce model. I was calling out distances that I need to hit and then by adjusting the lie we would discuss with various wedges how comfortable or hard a shot was based upon the grind of the club. We agreed by adjusting it to 10 degrees of bounce but keeping the face square that was an ideal combination for my game. We then shifted to the sand wedge (I carry four wedges; PW, GW, SW, and LW) and began the same process over. Bob began by telling me a story of how they were grinding a wedge and it took a long time but came out perfect...his assistant said..."That was a M.F.!" ... Bob said yes it is, "My Favorite", course he was referring to a popular TVD M Grind. But the M.F. did not turn out to be really My Favorite but another popular expression you can figure out...remember this, I will end the story with a cool pic of this!
So after Bob arrived at decisions on the GW and SW the real fun began. He escorted me over to the green on the mock Par 4 and I hit 50 yard shots to various pins. He initially picked a hard tucked pin behind a bunker and I asked ... "Hey, Bob how about a little love...that is a hard pin!"...he replied jokingly and laughing...thats what we are here to do, Work! The entire time we were fitting for wedges, jokes, more laughter and a light fun aurora was all around us. I can honestly say it will be a highlight for the rest of my life that I will Never Forget. Of course, I hit LW's out of different types of bunkers, green side situations such as rough, tight lies etc... We arrived at two wedges for me to carry going forward, if I am at a firm, tight course like in Arizona or Texas the E Grind was perfect for me with a thinning of the top line of the wedge. For softer courses maybe in the midwest, the V Grind (which is what Bob as his personal gamer) wedge would be my choice. So going forward like the Hybrids, for wedges I have a couple options depending on the course type.
At the end, and much laughter I was getting ready to leave and I am not sure exactly how it happened but I asked Bob to sign my hat and he basically took HIS hat off and wrote down a couple things and handed it to me.....read what it says:
Yeah, M.F. has a fun ring to it almost like I had gained a new friend... (at least in my mind...I think Bob is great with people and allows everyone he meets to feel this way, ... What a great guy!)
Overall, spectacular experience...I hope you have enjoy reading about my experience and I cannot believe the memories I have gained and of course (in my mind) a new friend out of the process! If you get a chance, take advantage of it, you will not regret it.