by Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page

Enough bitching about the weather. Okay, we may have a few more groans to get out, but it’s time to get down to the business of playing. I’ve hit the links twice so far this season for 9 hole rounds. I guess 9 holes is not technically a round, but we need to change that narrative. Playing 9 is fine! With time an issue, getting out for 9 holes works.

The first instance was the Friday before the ice storm, the 13th. The storm would have been more appropriate on that day given the unlucky theme of Friday the 13th. It was pleasant for early April, and I was eager to play knowing the ice and rain we’re going to shut us down for at least 5 days. I played well, within my range, a few over par. I mixed a birdie in, which is always nice. The bogeys, not so much. The score was not the point. It was getting out on the course and getting some reps in. Breaking the seal, if you will.

NEW DRIVER

The second round was the first week of league play, and it was time to test out my new driver. I used to get a new one annually, but now I do it every 2 years. It’s not necessary, because my trusty Ping i25 still performs as advertised, but I’m also on the look out for the extra yard or latest in tech. The Cobra F5 from a few years ago performs very well, and I smash it! It’s offers a higher ball flight for me, and I mix it in often. I actually like the Cobra so much, I decided to go with the Cobra F8 this year. It offers a milled face like you have in putters.

It’s a great looking club, part of the appeal. I wanted to get it tweaked, so I brought it to Woods to Wedges to use for a taping of Tee 2 Green. We were filming in one of the Trackman Launch Monitor fitting studios and the numbers were not telling too kind of a story. After a few more swings, and a corrected grip, it was determined I should try the F8+ head. What a difference! It lowered the spin rate, thus increasing the carry distance and release on the fairway. That means more distance, and a perfect fit.

ON THE COURSE

Did that perfect apply to the course? If I had remembered the adjustments made in the fitting studio it would have. I normally align to hit a fade, my preferred shot shape. My ball flight with the F5 does not match the ball flight with the F8+. The fade with the new driver is very subtle, but I lined myself up as I normally do, aiming left rough, looking to the cut the ball 5 to 10 yards. Nope!

My first three drives found wood. Bogey, bogey, and a re-tee double bogey. Yuck! That was the bad news. The good news was I was striking the ball solid, just off alignment. After adjusting, the game was back on track. Or at least I think it is. In reality, I need to work on the range outdoor range quite a bit to get my tee height and alignment committed to memory with the new weapon. That’s part of the game I actually enjoy, and part of the beauty of golf. It’s always evolving.

NEW PUTTING GRIP

One thing that I did like applied on the course was the new putting grip I’ve been working on at the home putting studio. You’ll see it on the Tee 2 Green season opening special (May 12th 1:30pm on WGRZ Channel 2) and ask to come over. Sure, but you have to bring the beer. Anyway, I tried out the paintbrush grip that I see many PGA Tour players applying these days. Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are two of the top players using it. It takes the right hand (left for Phil) out of the equation and helps keep the putter face square. It took awhile to get used to, but I got the hang of it. I’ll use the tradition grip on longer putts, but putts inside of 25 feet will see the new style and hopefully more makes.

NOTES

-I’ve mentioned Tee 2 Green TV a few times. Here are the airdates for our annual season opening show on WGRZ Channel 2.

May 12th 5:30 am and 1:30 pm, May 13th at 12:00 am, and May 20th at 12:00 am

-Tee 2 Green radio is back on WGR 550 AM, Saturday mornings from 7-8 am. I am joined by Brian Koziol and WNYPGA Professional Jeff Mietus. We have already made a few stops on our tour this year with live shows and look forward to seeing you at your club.

-Yes that is me on PGA Tour Radio on Sirius XM 92/208. I’m in my fourth year working for the PGA Tour and it’s a ton of fun. If you don’t have satellite radio, you can listen for free at PGAtour.com or on the PGA Tour App. There is a listen button on the leaderboards or click on the headphones icon.

-The Duster Challenge putting tournament is returning for its 3rd edition at Fox Valley Club on Friday August 3rd at 5:00pm. Registration and details will be open in a few weeks at dusterchallenge.com

-I’d like your help. I’m looking for the coolest golf gear that nobody knows about. Send me your recommendations to kevin@buffalosportspage.com. I’d like to test them and share with all golfers in WNY.

Hit em straight!

Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester has over 20 years of experience in media, working for stations, professional sports teams, leagues, and national broadcast entities. This experience includes being an announcer for NHL, NBA, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Hockey, and The PGA Tour. Kevin also served as the producer for the Buffalo Sabres post-game show, executive producer for a Sabres radio show, and started his own media production company, All Square Media LLC in 2008. All Square Media serves as the executive producer of the Tee 2 Green TV and Radio shows (created by Kevin), handling distribution, sponsorship sales, fulfillment, and production of the shows.

Kevin's business background extends beyond broadcasting. He served as the Director of Amateur Athletics for WNY Arena LLC (Key Bank Center in Buffalo), procuring major amateur sporting events for Buffalo, NY. The major highlights include two sold out NCAA Tournaments First and Second Rounds (2007, 2010), and the 2011 IIHF U20 World Championships (Kevin co-wrote the winning bid, and served on the organizing committee for USA Hockey). Kevin created The Duster Challenge in 2016, a local 18 hole putting competition, and serves as an advisor to WNY golf ball company, OnCore Golf.

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