BILLY BELL ENDS WITH A BANG

The Billy Bell Cup is a fantastic way to start paying golf after the COVID-19 delay. The event concluded on Friday with 4 different teams winning their divisions.

The Senior division had arguably all the best senior players in Northern California, including perhaps the best senior amateur in the world in Jeff Wilson (2018 USGA Senior Am Champion, 2018 California Senior Am champion).

The first round ended with the Wilson/Barsotti team leading by one after a 66 on a perfect day, especially the smooth and amazing greens at Del Rio CC. Having shot a solid 67 with partner and long time friend Joey Ferrari we ended up in 2nd position and paired with the strong team of Wilson/Barsotti for day two.

Not that the other teams behind us were out of it, but with very tough pin positions, making birdies hard to come by. Joey and I started out with dreadful bogeys #1 and #3 with two three putts. The match went back and forth until we made a par on the 13th hole to go up by one. Both teams birdied the par five 15th hole and headed to the tough uphill 16th hole. Jeff Wilson decided to launch a driver well up the upslope of the hill and with a tough lie and angle he hit a stelar shot to 10 feet and converted to pull even with us.

What happened on the 17th hole is what can happen when you’re tied for or in the lead with the extra pressure. After everyone had missed the green on this tough 189 yard downhill par three, I hit a shot pin high but well right on the fringe. My first putt was decent leaving me a 3 foot par putt that slid left to right. With Joey away and putting for par from about 20 feet, I decided to go first and knock in the putt with Joey still in the hole (for less pressure). When I get over my putts and as I take the putter back is when I make the final decision on eyes open or closed. In this instance I went eyes closed and shoved the putt badly right. Instead of just marking my 1 foot par putt, I just walked up and missed that as well. I never did hole out on this important hole.

Joey then with a tough downhill 20 footer left his first putt 3 feet short, and like me missed the downhill slider to card us a team double bogey. Fortunately for us, Jeff and Todd also made a team bogey, leaving us one back with 18 left to play.

On the short 18th hole the Wilson/Barsotti team hit poor tee shots, with my partner down the middle and just short of the green we had a good chance to get that one stroke back. Both Wilson and Barsotti missed the green, and with an amazing chip to one foot, Joey gave us a great chance, and it looked like we may have a two shot swing and a chance to win outright on 18.

Wilson out of the bunker hit a quality shot to 5 feet above the hole. Barsotti hit a chip that ran off the front of the green. Todd then calmly rolled in the 20 footer from off the green to save a par for his team. After Joey knocked in the one foot birdie put we were all tied and heading to sudden death.

We went to the #1 hole on the Bluffs course a par five of about 520 yards. I was the only one to hit the fairway and had 230 left to the far left tucked pin. After pulling my shot left, I was left with a very difficult over the bunker shot which I clunked into the bunker. With Joey making bogey, the only chance we had would be a up and in from the bunker and a miss from Wilson from 10 feet for birdie. My bunker shot rolled 5 feet past the pin leaving me with a tough sliding left to right putt that would need to be holed if Wilson didn’t end the playoff with his own birdie putt. With Barsotti already in for 5, Wilson hit a gentle putt that just grazed the top of the cup leaving the door open for me to extend the playoff.

My two pals Mike Staskus and Jason Anthony were watching the playoff and predicted to Joey that I would miss the putt (Jason) and Mike said 50/50. When you have a putt that ends your run, the pressure is quite extreme. All you can do is breathe and in my case try to determine what method I’ll use, eyes open or closed. With eyes closed I was delighted to see my ball rolling purely into the center of the cup giving us new life after a very poorly played hole.

On the second playoff hole a par three playing only 129 yards both Joey and I had short birdie putts of 18 and 15 feet. After the Wilson/Barsotti team made par, my wonderful partner rolled in the winning putt to secure our second title in this really fun and well run event.

I guess I can now say that I’ve won my last two tournaments, with the Florida Azalea win coming in March. But what’s up ahead is going to be the big test. I’m entered to play in the NCGA Stroke play at Poppy Hills in mid July against all the kids and mid ams, walking only for three days in a row, and then later in July I was kindly given an exemption to compete in the California State Amateur at the wonderful Torrey Pines golf course the site of the 2021 USGA Open.

I have a lot of physical improvements to make to have any chance of being competitive. I don’t expect to win either event, my goals are to make the top 15 in the NCGA Stroke play, and make match play in the State Am (top 32 out of 156 players make match play). So it time to amp up the reps on all fronts, and stay off the devilish sugar cravings that plague me:)

Stay tuned for how I’m going to get fit in 3 weeks to compete at the highest level possible at age 61.

ABOUT THE BILLY BELL CUP

Started in 2017, this 36-hole four-ball stroke play event is named in the honor of one of the West’s most prolific golf course architects, William Bell, who designed DRCC’s original eighteen holes, Oak and Bluff in 1947. There will be three flights: Open (18 years and older), Senior-Amateur (55 years and older) and Super Senior (65 years and older). Open to mid- amateurs within an index 7.4 or lower and seniors with an index 9.4 or lower. Maximum of 60 teams, 20 per flight.

TPC HARDING PARK SITE OF THE 2020 PGA Championship

Since the reopening of TPC Harding Park, I’ve had the pleasure to play it twice. What I love about Harding is the history I feel while playing it, and the vistas on the back nine of Lake Merced and The Olympic Club across the lake.

This will not be a 7500 yard course for the 2020 PGA Championship, but will provide a good test for the best players in the world. The first time I played the course I hit about half the fairways off the tee and struggled a bit with the deep and thick rough. But because the tees are well forward I was always able to get my deep rough second shots to the green with short iron shots.

On this Glorious Thursday last week it was warm (about 70 degrees) with light winds and firmer fairways. My initial prediction of the winning score in this years PGA was 8-12 under par. After my round on Thursday where I shot a 65 from the blue tees that included a hole in one on the par three 3rd hole (8 iron from 156 yards) I have now adjusted that prediction to 12-16 under par.

But keep in mind those of you that know Harding, the pros play par 5’s 9 and 12 as a par 4 in the PGA Championship. So my rounds of 65 would have been -5 not -7. Also I drove the ball in the fairway making the course very short from tees that put the total yardage at about 6700.

Yes the fairways are very narrow, and the firmness will allow tee shots to bound into the rough, BUT those that put the ball in the fairways will have many opportunities for birdie on these super smooth and very puttable green surfaces. There are birdie holes abound with the short par 4 holes #1, #5, #8, #15 and 16. And the long hitters will even make the signature 18th hole a short iron as they chew off Lake Merced to reach land on the other side making this a short par 4 hole as well.

Remember the longer hitters can fly the ball 280-310 yards in the air. The air at Harding by the Pacific Ocean can be quite dense, thick and cool. But on a day like Thursday last week, the ball is going to fly far allowing these pros to go LOW.

This time around the course I did see some workers moving some things around, and putting up some tents. I heard the locker room for the players will now be the Merchandise tent to allow players to properly social distance themselves. There will be NO spectators, but what about the hundreds of volunteers needed for scoring and ball location in the rough? I would imagine that most of those volunteers will still be needed.

I really hope that the 2020 PGA Championship comes down to the 72 hole.This final hole has a lot of risk vs reward associated in how much of the Lake are you willing the cut off. During the WGC at Harding when Daly and Tiger played off, they both hit wedge/sand wedge into this green after bombing tee shots that carried over 300 yards in the air. The prevailing wind is behind the player on this tee shot typically.

In early August typically San Francisco experiences deep and thick fog, especially close to the coast. So my prediction is the weather will play a big part in this years event.

STAY TUNED

THE PERFECT ESCAPE

During these unprecedented times golf has become a very necessary way to escape all this craziness. Again this is intended to be a golf blog, but I just can’t get my arms around why we have groups like ANTIFA making our great country look pathetic to the rest of the world.

We all have our political views and beliefs, but its hard to refute that these well funded groups are causing irreparable damage to our country. How can other nations look upon us a global leader when we are completely out of control.

Golf has provided us a temporary escape from these trying times. Today I wanted to share one of my most favorite places on planet earth. Its a location where I can see the entrance into the Bay, the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, and three other world class golf courses Harding Park (Site of the 2020 PGA Championship) SF Golf Club and Lake Merced.

Take a quick look

My escape

Today at 1:40 I am again playing golf during this mini heat wave. But today I am playing Harding Park which is ramping up for the PGA Championship in about 2 months from now. I’ll have some video of some of the signature holes. The rough is very high and nasty, so I’ll be lugging a few extra balls with me.

Harding Park is a public golf course and well worth playing while on the west coast. Stay tuned on my upcoming video and what you should see during the PGA Championship at Harding in August.

Stay Tuned

UPDATE ON Helius Medical

I know this is suppose to be a golf blog, but as many of you know I have made some recommendations in the past. Some have worked, and HSDT has been my one big black eye, but is HSDT dead money or is it time to re-think averaging your cost, or buying the stock now at $0.50 a share.

The management team at Helius Medical Technologies have made some mistakes, but in the end it came down to just one member of the FDA approval panel that thought more data was needed for approval. But was that conclusion really fair to the company and investors?

I say NO it was not fair, especially now that we have learned this same individual has been the lone blocker for other companies looking for approval. So what now?

I have learned much more about this company than I previously knew, and have a different view of it now as an investment. I’ll share just a few examples of this. I did not fully understand why Helius was originally targeted for MS not TBI. But when the Army funded a multi million dollar study on TBI, the company started in that direction as the Army was interested in its use for those in the Army with TBI.

But my original introduction to Helius was through Montel Williams at a dinner where he flat out said that the PoNS device had literally cured his MS, which now allows him to enjoy skiing and other activities he was not able to partake in prior to the PoNS device treatment. So why did the company go to the FDA with a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) application when clearly the MS market is much larger, and has a better chance at getting Insurance reimbursement?

The answer is they intended to get the TBI approval first and then quickly apply for MS. So when the TBI application was denied, the company had to pivot and look at the best course of action. The two links below are related to the upcoming application that will now be submitted for MS, not TBI and for good reason. MS is a degenerative condition and falls under the COVID-19 condition of “high risk” which is why the company has been granted a fast track approval process once the application is filed.

The data that will be used in this MS application is relatively old (from two small studies in 2011 and 2017), but the new data coming out of Canada is quite compelling (see bottom video which clearly shows the PoNS effectiveness)

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/helius-medical-technologies-inc-announces-110510573.html

So what happens now? The company will soon file its application with the FDA (the stock may rise a bit on this news) and then the FDA will fast track the application, which makes sense since they are already familiar with the device and have previously deemed it safe.

My bet is on Helius getting its approval, which will finally put the PoNS device into motion to help millions of people with not only MS and TBI, but many other neurological conditions as well.

The stock HSDT will either be ZERO, or somewhere north of $5 a share, and maybe even $100 one day after the product is rolled out globally. All of the patents and protections are in place, it will be a matter of commercialization and execution at that point.

One last thing to consider, I also learned that the PoNS device is far superior to the current leading drug that is used for MS. BUT this drug has a side effect of weakening the immune system, which during this period of COVID 19 is not a good idea to use.

I am a risk taker, this is currently a Canadian penny stock that typically has a slim chance of success. But after further investigation I believe this PoNS device will finally get its entry into a multi-billion dollar marketplace and make all of us proud. This is more about the woman in the video above, and the improvement in her life now after using the PoNS device. This product will help millions of people that suffer from MS.

I WANT TO BE APART OF THAT

Stay Tuned

BUYING NEW CLUBS CHAPTER 2

In addition to the information I provided to you in the previous post, I failed to mention that many of the retailers now do offer 90 day money back (or shop credit) after you purchase your new equipment.

I however am not up to speed on what happens if you buy directly from the manufacturer or a golf club. If you have custom fitted clubs, it makes it difficult for the wholesaler to sell the equipment without taking a sizable loss.

These major golf outlets all offer the 90 days guarantee on any golf equipment you buy, but make sure you understand all the rules associated with this guarantee.

  1. Golf Galaxy
  2. Worldwide Golf
  3. Golf Mart

Are just a few of the big ones that offer the guarantee.

Stay Tuned

PROPER CLUB FITTING

Getting the right club fitting is not easy and can be an expensive exercise in frustration. You could go to 5 different club fitters and get 5 different recommendations on clubs and shafts.

What is the solution? You usually don’t know how good the club fitter is. You may ask a few questions, like how long have you been fitting golfers? When was the last time you calibrated your launch monitor? What special arrangements do you have with club manufacturers where you may get special pricing.

You can spend upwards of $5,000 on a complete set of clubs.Club fitting’s are usually off a perfect lie on artificial turf, and typically your numbers will be better than what you’ll get on the course. The most important consideration in a club fitting is getting the proper shaft. With so many choices available it can be confusing and difficult to get the right shaft for your swing speed and swing path. Your swing speed will be more critical in determining your shaft, while your swing path will more important when deciding on a driver with different loft options.

Go to https://proschoicegolfshafts.com/tour-ad-iz-wood-shafts/

scroll down too Fitting and see how your club head speed matches up with the shaft stiffness recommendation. I think most club fittings put golfers into shafts that are too stiff once the player gets out into the elements with cooler temperatures and wind. If your shaft is too stiff you’ll lose distance and control, and have trouble launching the ball. There’s a lot of good information on shafts here, take a look. As well as a locator that will give you the club providers closest to you.

Why then do so many golfers get fitted, hit it great into the net, spend the big bucks, and experience massive disappointment when they hit their course. It’s too late then, the purchase has been made and the check has cleared.

So what are your options in making sure this doesn’t happen to you?

  1. Most Golf Clubs have demo clubs that can be borrowed for a day or two. Take advantage of hitting the clubs you are about to buy on the course, compare the results to your current equipment. Take 10 balls, 5 with a certain numbered ball with your old club, and then 5 shots with the new equipment. What a lot of players find is the new equipment does not deliver results that justify the large investment.
  2. Like buying a new car, when you drive it off the lot, its value just dropped 15-30%. The same applies with golf clubs. There’s a massive online second market for new and used clubs. You can spend a lot less buying slightly used clubs to try first. Always ask what the return policy is, see if you might have 30 days to try the equipment
  3. Don’t make a big buy decision off just one fitting session. Our bodies change daily with our flexibility and club head speed. On Thursday you may get fitted for an X shaft, and on Saturday a weak S shaft, so get on the launch monitor twice before making a big purchase. Make it a condition of the fitting if you are paying for it, that you want a quick re-check to make sure your numbers stay consistent over a few days

When looking at numbers over a few days, also make sure that you ball spin rate is consistent. You don’t want to buy expensive new equipment that gives you good distance, but a high spin rate. It will kill you in windy conditions. Spin rates are very important to consider especially when buying a new driver. You should be closer to 2000 not 3000.

Having been fitted for clubs over the last 30 years using the greatest and latest technology I often find that the new seasons clubs being introduce do not perform as well as my older clubs. Club manufacturers need to sell new equipment to stay in business, and every year they are challenged with introducing new equipment and then paying their PGA Tour team of players to play with that equipment so that you and I will see how great they hit it, and in turn buy that new equipment. Don’t fall into that trap, buy what is best for you and your game. Be patient when buying clubs, as the price of most newly introduced equipment goes down in price over time.

Stay Tuned