5 min read


Hello Golfers,

What. A. Weekend!

All of us here at the Starter Shack had to take a collective nap after the first four holes of the final round of the PGA Championship. Lead change. LEAD change! Lead CHANGE?! LEAD CHANGE!

Could You Break 100 at Kiawah? No, You Couldn't

Watching the coverage of a major tour event, such as the recently contested PGA at Kiawah Island, always gets us thinking:

“How would we fare playing this course, especially as the professionals experience it?”

This is a difficult question to answer as the variability of golfing skills not only at the Starter Shack, but the golfing public in general, is quite varied. Suffice to say that the wind savaged, nearly 8000 yard behemoth in South Carolina low country would be more difficult to navigate than wearing banana underpants into a monkey whorehouse:

  • Ultra long forced carries (both tee shots and approaches)
  • Bunkers littering the complex & abundance of “natural areas” adjacent to the holes
  • Massive undulating, raised green complexes
  • Ceaselessly changing course conditions with howling breezes

This course is set up to test, frustrate and identify the world’s best over four days.

Even playing at its “non-championship” back tees at 7356 yards, a scratch player would could average 77 strokes a round at the Ocean Course (a calculation based on only their 8 best scores over 20 total rounds!) The slope rating of 153 (!) should give serious pause to any bogey golfer plunking down the $500 green fees looking to “get their money’s worth” off the back tees.

If you don’t believe us, check out Eric Anders Lang of Random Golf Club struggling around the front and back nines. A synopsis for those with ADHD or don’t have 50 minutes to waste like we do:

  • Lang is a good player (handicap of ~ 6)
  • Goal to break 90 off the back tees (“basically 17 bogeys and we’re good”)
  • Finished +17 (front nine), +10 (back nine), total score of 99
  • “I’ve just got no game in this wind, man!” — The elements are tougher than the course!
  • Kiawah takes the life out of him like a chimichanga from a back alley food truck

So next time you watch the golf gods on TV and think, “yeah, I can probably do that”....no, you probably can’t, and that’s OK.


  • 16 Golfers: how many pros finished under par at the PGA Championship
  • 31 Under Par: the combined score of those 16 golfers
  • 65 Golfers: is how many ended the PGA Championship even par or worse.
  • 330 Over Par: the combined score of those 65 golfers.
  • 24 Shots: the amount of shots between Phil and the golfer in last place (Brian Gay).
  • 73% Scrambling: you're thinking it's Phil Mickelson but it's actually Harry Higgs who led the scrambling stat.
  • 46% Scrambling: T66 is where Phil sat with his scrambling but his win can be easily explained...
  • 3.22 SGA: Phil gained 3.22 strokes on the field from tee to green.

So You Wanna Be A PGA Pro?

Everybody’s always looking to improve their golf game. It’s a pursuit as old as time. But what about plying your trade as one of the handful of the world’s best golfers?

An article produced a few years ago assessed the difference between the scratch player at your club (the “best player you know”) and a touring professional golfer (this is likely even more drastic in today’s world).

  • It took into account scoring average and increased course difficulty (i.e rating)
  • Calculated a PGA Tour Player has a +5.5 stroke handicap advantage

Breaking this down further (strokes gained per round as individual categories):

  • Driving (2.5 strokes); 33 yards+ difference in driving distance!
  • Approach Shots (1.5 strokes); less GIR due to longer distance approach shots
  • Short Game (0.5 strokes); leaving putts an average of 1 foot longer on each hole
  • Putting (1.0 strokes); longer putts and 38% more three putts overall

The overall conclusions in a nutshell:

  • Just attempting to make the PGA Tour -> need a minimum solid +3 handicap
  • Making an actual living on the PGA Tour -> minimum +5 (or better) handicap

“Your local aspiring professional’s golf game is a lot like a vintage VW Beetle; really great in and around home, but generally pretty shaky on a road trip”.

A touring pro, by definition, tours around to different courses, conditions, etc., all with the side circus issues of the actual travel involved.

While it sounds trite as part of the old PGA Tour tagline, it is no joke when they say “These Guys Are Good”.

Tips...From The Tips

  • Wind Ball: Ask 100 pros how to play in the wind and you'll get 100 different answers. We thought we'd give you two simple answers that you can visualize and take action on. Gary Woodland likes to keep the logo of his glove facing the target as long as possible. Darren Clarke's number one priority is controlling the height of the ball.
  • Muuuud baaaaaalllllll!: How does it really affect your ball flight…here’s a 457-word article that we explain in 32. If mud is on the left side of the ball it will curve right and vice versa. If mud is on the point of contact with the club…it won’t go as far.
  • Bump & Run: if you're taking bump and run lessons from anyone other than Tom Watson you're doing it wrong. Here he teaches us to putt with our 5 iron...makes sense since our actual putter doesn't work.

Brands We Love

Penfold Golf — established 1927

It's all in the details. Penfold has come out of hibernation without much fanfare, even with silky drops like their Heritage Sunday Bag. A bag that provides flair and creativity while capturing some warm tones of nostalgia. A waxed canvas construction, accented with full-grain (supple) leather provides ample durability. Embroidered Penfold Man main pocket logo—nice. Criss-cross club separators—sweet. This is a great bag that will take the attention away from our double-cross-pull-hook-slice...yes, we can actually pull that off with a poser-like finish.

*not a sponsored post

Golf Term

All cylinders firing on go! —  a very long winded way to explain a golfer in the zone.

He's walking down 17 fairway with an 18 shot lead...all cylinders are firing on go!

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