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Meet the Writer: John Ziemer

[By new WiscoGolfAddict author, John Ziemer – equipment reviews and commentary on everything golf]

There are so many people out there who love the game of golf. Golf is not a cheap game, whether you are picking up a bag of clubs from a rummage sale, or going out and buying all of the latest and greatest technology. Every single year, sometimes a couple of times a year, major golf companies release new technology. With the time 18 holes can take and our busy day-to-day schedules, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to then go out and test all the latest equipment. Hopefully I can help save you some of that time, by giving you my unsponsored opinions.

I have been playing golf for 18 years, since I was 14. I’ve played many different sports.  When I was young, baseball filled the majority of my non-snow months in Wisconsin. I had swung golf clubs here and there and taken a couple of YMCA golf classes, but golf didn’t start consuming me until just before high school. My grandfather used to replay a par 3 at our local Muni in Appleton. Playing that hole over and over with him is where the love I have for this game grew. My first full set of clubs by Dunlop (driver through putter) lead me into tryouts for my high school team. From then on, the competitive game of golf has consumed me.

A little run down of my current equipment and what it replaced:

CURRENT                                                                        PREVIOUS

Driver – Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero 9.0º            Driver – Titleist 915 D3 9.5º

(Shaft – Aldila Rogue Silver 70 X)                            (Shaft – Aldila Rogue Silver 70 X)

3 Wood – Callaway 816 GBB Alpha 16.0º                3 Wood – TaylorMade SLDR 15.0º

(Shaft – Aldila Rogue Silver 70 X)                            (Shaft – Fujikura Speeder 77 X)

Hybrid – Callaway Apex 3 20.0º                                Hybrid – TaylorMade SLDR 21.0º

(Shaft – Aldila Rogue Silver 70 X)                            (Shaft – Fujikura Speeder 82h X)

Irons – Callaway Apex Pro 4-PW                              Irons – Mizuno: 4,5 – MP-53; 6-PW MP-63

(Shaft – Project X 6.0)                                                 (Shaft – Project X 6.0)

Wedges – Titleist SM5 50º, 54º, 58º                         Wedges – Titleist SM5 50º, 54º, 58º

(Shaft – Project X 6.0)                                                 (Shaft – Project X 6.0)

Putter – Scotty Cameron Select Newport 2.5        Putter – TaylorMade Ghost Spider S

Ball – Callaway Chrome Soft                                      Ball – Callaway Chrome +

Shoe – Footjoy DNA                                                      Shoe – Footjoy DNA

I am always looking to be a better player. Although equipment doesn’t make you a great player, it can help you be a better player. I love to test new equipment for look, feel and also what kinds of numbers it produces. But if it doesn’t improve where I am, then I’m not buying it. All golfers have different swings, feels, and looks. Hopefully my equipment reviews will help you find a good place to start, based on what type of golfer you are.

Like Paul told you in a previous post, and as you can see (above), my current driver is the new Callaway Epic. My next post will be a more in-depth look at that driver. In my initial testing, my carry distance increased so dramatically I knew it had to go in my bag. The feel off the face was the best I have ever felt. More to come soon!

Our 3,593-yard six-hole layout at the inaugural North Hills "Cross-Country Club"

North Hills “Cross-Country Club”

This weekend’s been surprisingly warm in Wisconsin, and the near future looks like it will heat up even more with sun and 50’s next weekend.

Could this be the start of the 2017 golf season? For my friend John and me, yes. I saw several guys walking the course with clubs yesterday, and today a few out for leisurely walks. North Hills sets up “winter greens” before the first snow, which involves converting one of the least used tee boxes on each hole to a temporary putting surface to keep players off the greens in case the course becomes golf-able during the off-season.

The wind was howling today! While my weather app told me it was 27 mph from the west, I’m sure the gusts were much stronger. John and I met up at my house, walked to the sixth tee and mapped out potential cross-country holes. When greens are off the menu, it’s all about finding hole layouts that will be as interesting as possible, and I think we did a great job with that.

According to the Wisconsin State Golf Association’s BlueGolf website, the longest a single consecutive hole can be at North Hills is 1,458 yards if starting from the fifth tee and going to the ninth green. We started on the sixth, though, and played to the right-side sand trap of the second hole.

We chose the second hole as our first destination for several strategic reasons:

  • There are four possible routes over the Menomonee River, making strategy for how to cross key
  • The cluster of trees behind and along the second tee that requires you to hit your approach up three or down 16

While our first hole was only 1,063 yards as the crow flies, it played more like 1,085 if going up the third fairway, or 1,107 if going up the sixteenth fairway and then over the trees behind the second tee boxes to the bunker right of the second green.

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Our 1,063-yard par 8-ish first at North Hills “Cross-Country Club”

We both teed off hoping to hit huge, high cuts over the tree line right of the sixth fairway, but the wind got the better of us and pushed our drives down six. We both then played great fairway woods over the tree lines toward the fifteenth tees, and played up that hole. We were both hitting great cross-wind shots and each played up the sixteenth fairway before heading straight right toward the second green.

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John’s third shot from in front of the 15th hole tee boxes

John got me by a stroke or two, so he got to call the next hole. For the second hole of the day, we played from just off the second green to the blue/white tee box on eleven. The shot here is over trees no matter which route is taken, and I hit a gem over several tree lines with a long, high cut. John hit the dreaded straight ball, setting up an interesting angle in to a tight temporary green. We both took fives on this 346-yard par four.

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The par four 2nd hole at our North Hills “Cross-Country Club” – 346 yards with all kinds of tree trouble

My favorite cross-country hole at North Hills has always been this one: The black tee box on eleven over the tree line that separates the tenth and 18th holes up the 18th fairway. This sets up an awesome “Road hole,” goading players to bite off as much of the tree line as they can with the risk of hitting the woods if it’s not carried.

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The North Hills “Cross-Country Club” Road Hole

With the eighteenth green off-limits, we chose the tiny alternative tee box to the side of the first hole tees. If the greens at Old Macdonald average 14,600 square feet, this one is closer to 150. I hit a solid approach shot and won the hole 4 to 5.

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The minuscule green on our par four 3rd

Our next hole was our first par three from just left of that temporary green to the temporary green that is usually the women’s tee box on ten. John lasered it at 131 yards, with one really big, really tall tree to carry – and, again, a green that was less than 200 square feet.

The wind was at our back, and John hit a beautiful high fade that sailed over the green in to the ninth fairway. I took note and hit a gap wedge that hit the up-slope of the tee box/temporary green and bounced all the way over the green! It was an easy, short next shot, though, and both John and I hit our approaches close and took threes.

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Par 3 from the alternative tee on one to the ladies’ tee on 10


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Our 131-yard par three fourth

Here’s where the round got interesting…

The course’s distance almost maxes out if going from this temporary green to the women’s tees (small and elevated temporary green) on five, measuring around 1,341 yards.

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The par 10-ish fifth at North Hills “Cross-Country Club” – only 1,341 yards

The distance is nothing compared to the challenge of finding a route to that green! The fourth hole at North Hills, a short, picturesque and narrow 490-yard par five, is only made tighter by having to find a way in between the tree lines that doesn’t begin at the fifth hole tee box.

John’s tee shot from the tenth went toward the first hole, while mine had a sharp cut and stayed in the tenth fairway. It would have been a remarkable tee shot if we were playing the tenth, but we weren’t.

John and I were taking completely different routes for a few minutes – he was playing toward the third hole tee boxes and down that fairway, and I was playing down the tenth, across the seventeenth toward the sixteenth, then across that tree line to the third where we finally met back up.

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My options for crossing the Menomonee River (completely blind) from just right of the 3rd hole fairway. See a shot you like? I don’t!

In case you want an idea of how difficult a shot it is crossing the Menomonee River from the third fairway over the fourth tee box:

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I hit a low punch just left of the fourth tees, leaving as clean of a shot as can be hoped for over the river, up the hill and toward the fourth hole green area that leads to the fifth hole tees.

I hit my first bad fairway wood shot of the day, topping it in to the river from position 1-point-something. Ouch.

John kept hitting big three-woods and then a great chip shot under the trees and on the green. Meanwhile, I hit two trees dead-center before hitting a lower punch shot to the fringe. Here was my path:

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My shots from the ladies tee box on ten to the ladies tee on five – great start, poor finish!

Our final hole of the day was from just left of the ladies’ tee box on five to the women’s tee/temporary green on six. The wind was perfectly at our backs, so the plan was to aim toward the half-way house behind the thirteenth green, hopefully leaving a clean wedge between the trees.

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Our sixth hole at North Hills “Cross-Country Club” – 300-yard par four


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The par four 6th hole cross-country tee shot

John got a little snappy, then hit a ridiculous shot over several tree lines that wound up just past the temporary green. I hit an amazing drive, then hit a crappy wedge that wound up just left of John’s nearly perfect shot. A +2 handicap, he somehow found a way to beat me on our last hole even with my dramatically better tee shot! Some day I’ll beat him…

All good times to come to an end. John forgot to take the baby seat out of his car, and my wife had Johnsonville bratwursts in the slow cooker. It was time for us both to go home.

John, a graphic designer, put together this diagram of our hole layouts for the day, including each of our [circuitous] routes from tee to green:

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Our 3,593-yard six-hole layout at the inaugural North Hills “Cross-Country Club”

One of the best things about playing at a private golf club is the pace of play, and today was fantastic – “we practically had the course to ourselves.” We did, although we saw a handful of folks out hiking the cart paths.

I came in to the day with the tee shot from the eleventh tee heading toward the 18th green being my favorite cross-country hole, but I think now my new favorite is from ten to five. There are so many demanding shots that I can’t wait to try it again.

Cross-country golf is great, but I’ll admit I’m most excited for the regular season to get here.

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Golf Ball Display Cabinet Project, Part 2

In my previous post, I went over some of the early stages of my golf ball display cabinet. In this post, I’ll go over how I actually finished it.

I have already gotten a handful of emails and texts about the project – it turns out I’m not the only one out there who thinks this is a cool addition to the house!

A lot of golf ball display cabinets feature a green felt backboard, but I wanted mine to be a solid black to avoid taking any attention away from the focal point of the piece: The logo golf balls. I spray painted it teal and allowed it to dry before applying the dark wood stain.

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The frame was assembled using 45-degree angles at the corners (using a mitre saw), and here is where it became evident I need some more tools. Specifically, a nail gun and corner clamps would have come in huge.

Without corner clamps or a nail gun, I wood glued one corner at a time, using scrap wood blocks to ensure 90-degree angles at the edges. After allowing the wood glued corners to dry, I put four small finishing nails in to each corner – two on each side of each corner.

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With the frame assembled, I re-sanded the sides and all visible areas again, especially the edges to bring out the natural, rustic wood look that I like. Kelly and I are both big fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ show Fixer Upper, which gave me my vision for the overall appearance of my project.

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I again sanded and attached the back using wood glue and nails. The pine wood I used was slightly bowed, so the backing did not attach as smoothly as I would have liked but I got it close.

Looking back now, I would have attached the shelves to the back prior to attaching the back. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Finishing the shelves was next, and let me say it’s a long and arduous process! A drill press would have been incredibly helpful at this step, as using a hand drill for all 203 tee holes presented at least 203 opportunities to make a mistake.

I used a chalk line to mark where the drill holes would go – slightly toward the front of the finished/visible shelf edges and with 2″ in between each tee. Measuring the distance from each side that would make sure the tees all lined up vertically took a while, but ended up requiring the first hole to be drilled just under 5 cm in from both the left and right sides.

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Sand over the shelves after drilling them make sure the surfaces are smooth. Also, flip over each board to make sure the drill bit did not go through the bottom. If it did, use putty to fill the hole and wait for those to dry. Once dried, I spray painted the shelves the teal color and allowed them to dry.

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After drying, I sanded down the shelves again and then stained them, allowing the wood finish to dry.

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Next? You guessed it: More sanding.

Sand down the shelves after the stain is dry, and especially sand the edges to bring out the natural wood underneath. Sanding this time will bring out some of the teal under-cover, and make the wood look vintage and, thus, cool.

Next, get the tees that will be used in the display and find something effective for cutting them down. It took a lot of trial and error in this part of the project, but the best tool I could find was a wire cutter and the tee length that I settled on liking best is ~ 3/4″.

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Cut the tees down just under an inch each and using a sheet of sanding paper sharpen the bottoms so they’ll slide straight in to the tee holes. Try to make sure they are all straight up and down; this will be tough to fix later.

When all the tees are rudimentally in the holes, there are a couple of options for setting them. The one that I used was taking a hammer (a mallet would have been better) and pounding on them until they were all the same height above the shelf, and fit snugly. Another option is to use a hand-clamp, but after a couple of cocktails on Saturday night I had a hard time getting the clamps to put the tees in straight and went back to the hammer.

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It took a while to get the distances down for the shelves. Most important, of course, is that each shelf has enough space for a ball to fit comfortably underneath the shelf above it. I wanted to have a little extra space on the bottom shelf to have slightly longer tees, but looking back on that decision it really didn’t add much appeal.

Above the taller first shelf, the other five were spaced to be around 2-3/4″ apart from one another. The important part here is to make sure you like how it looks when they’re mounted, so avoid any nailing until you know you have the spacing that you want.

I made a mistake here and start wood gluing and then nailing in the shelves right away – the shelves look alright, but could have been spaced a little more effectively.

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Always make sure to wipe off any excess wood glue whenever binding the boards – this will be awful to clean later. Put weights or heavy objects on top of them to let the boards set securely, and when they are dried it will be time to get some finishing nails through the sides.

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When everything is dry, flip the board over so the backing is face up, and using the chalk line mark half-way through the height of each shelf where nails will be pounded in. The scrap boards shown below were screwed in to the corners earlier to help keep the corners and the back board tight.

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After the nails are pounded in, the project should be just about finished!

The last step for me was affixing a french cleat to the back frame. The french cleat I got from Home Depot was ~ $15, has a 200-pound weight capacity and was super easy to install. One piece screws in to the frame (make sure it’s centered perfectly), and the other screws in to the wall – make sure to get at least two of the wall screws in to studs – the side attached to the frame will then sit on top of the wall side, and can be moved laterally (like the old tv wall mounts that are flush to the wall)).

Finally, 32 hours of work later, my project was completed and on the wall. The last thing left to do was put some golf balls in the display… I’m at 130 now, and have room for 73 more. Mission: Accomplished.

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The last issue I had involved golf balls falling off the tees – I was able to remedy this with small pliable adhesive circles from Michael’s. They actually ended up being the exact diameter of the tees, working out perfectly.

Have you ever had the urge to take on a cool golf project? If so, what is it and how did it turn out? I’d love to see pictures of other golf enthusiasts’ projects!

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Golf Ball Display Cabinet Project, Part 1

I am a guy who loves projects, and who especially loves learning. With my wife set to be out of town for 5 nights – way longer than I’ve ever been away from her since we met, I needed a project to occupy my time alone at the house and found one: A 203-ball golf ball cabinet.

My brother and his wife got me my first ball cabinet about ten years ago for Christmas, and for the past five or so years I’ve had to find a course to take out every time I played something new. It had gotten to the point where I was taking out really good golf courses, and with the basement being my man cave where I’m allowed to decorate with lots of great golf stuff, I figured a new ball cabinet was the perfect project.

My previous project was refinishing our master bedroom built-in cabinets, which involved a ton of sanding, staining, new hardware and plenty of careful brushwork along the carpet-line. It turned out well enough that Kelly has allowed me to continue my tinkering.

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Being a novice wood worker at best, I did not expect it to be an easy project, but I also did not expect it to take 32 hours! On day one, Saturday, I picked up wood from Home Depot and went to my buddy John’s (who will start writing for WiscoGolfAddict in the coming weeks!), where he made all the cuts for the box to come together. John has an awesome wood working setup, including a mitre saw, table saw and all the other essentials.

When I was picking up the tools from Home Depot in Germantown, the wood guy said to me, “Why the hell would you want to display golf balls? That doesn’t even make sense.” I said because I love golf and I have a ton of balls. He again said it seemed silly and made a comment to the guy who makes all the cuts on their huge wall saw (not sure if that’s an accurate name for it). This past weekend, when I was there to buy more tools for making frames, he made a goofy comment and I showed him a picture of my display cabinet – he was finally appeased.

My original visit to Home Depot included six 5′ long x 1-1/2″ wide boards for shelves (make sure they are straight, trust me), a large piece of plywood cut to 5′ long x 2′ wide, and 3″ wide boards that are cut to 5′ in length (2) and 2′ in length (2). I also picked up wood glue, 1-1/2″ wood screws, a chalk line, extra clamps (corner clamps would have been huge!), teal-colored spray paint, very dark wood stain, finishing nails, a french cleat with 200 lbs weight capacity, staining brushes and rags.

From GolfSmith, I picked up 500 tan-colored 3-1/4″ long wood tees, and from Golf Galaxy I picked up 200 yellow par three tees. If you are looking to take on a similar project, do not bother getting short tees as they are still too long for the project and will have to be cut. The longer, the better for this purpose.

I was talked in to using pine for this project, but if I were to do it again I would use oak to avoid potential bowing. I would also get a nail gun to help bind the corners more efficiently.

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The goal for my project is to be able to display more golf balls, and to have room to grow in the future. I used the dimensions of my old cabinet to get a handle on spacing and height: A 24″ tall inner cabinet holds six rows of shelves, and the bottom frame holds the same number as the shelves. While the old cabinet holds nine balls per row, the new one holds 29… Thus the number 203. I didn’t see glass as being necessary, and it would probably have taken away about 30 tees’ worth of capacity from the display.

I started by sanding the frame, then used random tools to make character marks – a screwdriver, paint can opener, ratchet and shelf base all did well to make indentations in the wooden surface that would catch spray paint and hopefully remain untouched by the dark wooden stain later.

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I spray painted these boards with the teal under-liner and allowed them to dry. I then sanded them again to prepare them for the dark wood stain. After staining, the wood was dark with a few spots of teal shining through. Another round of sanding took care of that and brought out really cool looking streaks of blue/green, as well as the rough wooden edges. I had originally planned to stain again, but as a big fan of “Fixer Upper” enjoyed the rustic look and decided to keep them as-is.

After staining the backboard of the display, I allowed it to dry sufficiently and then put it face down with heavy objects on all corners and toward the middle to keep the wood from bowing. It’s not necessary to paint or stain the back-side, as it will just lay against the wall, anyways.

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On the “Good side” of the shelf boards, I used a screwdriver with a 5/32″ drill bit to put holes 5 cm apart from one another. The holes should be favor the good/presented edges of the shelves; place wood underneath them to help keep from exploding the bottoms if/when the drill bit goes all the way through. These will otherwise require correcting at a later time.

Sand the shelves again afterwards to make sure there are no splintered spots and that the wood is prepped for additional staining…

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How to Improve Your Mental Game, by Matt from TruGolf

Even the best golf players make mistakes. What makes them the best is their capacity to forgive their own mistakes and not allow frustration to follow around the course. They do this because they know taking control of your state of mind will vastly improve the physical aspect of the game. Mastering your emotions on the golf course can feel like an uphill battle, but it’s absolutely necessary to improve your game.

There’s still some time before the snow clears up on the course and you will need to find new ways to practice. The last thing you want to do is take a four-month break and lose the skills you built up throughout the season. There are still many ways for you to gear up for the upcoming season.

Pick up a putter any time golf comes to mind. This can be as simple as taking a few minutes to putt around the house. Make a target on the corner of the wall and practice putting while focusing on your thought process. Picture the shot in your mind and imagine yourself swinging the club perfectly and placing the ball exactly where you want it. This allows you to become comfortable in this position and will keep you calm and focused when the time comes to execute on the green.

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Though practicing your full swing in the house can be challenging, you still have options. Most golf courses provide a golf simulator to practice on that will provide you with analytics on each shot such as distance, speed, and accuracy. This is a great opportunity to compare each swing and find the trends in your shot without facing the pressure of being on the course. Learn to become comfortable with yourself stepping up to the tee and remember, conservative play will benefit your mental and physical game far more than letting your frustration send the ball into the woods.

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Having a strong mental game is crucial to a successful swing. Be present in the moment. There’s a reason you’ve heard this advice 100 times over. You need to be in the here and now to bring the shot you’re imagining in your head to life. Take a deep breath before stepping up to the tee and let your thoughts and worries go. Acquiring the skillset to clear the noise from your brain is extremely challenging, but your game will improve immensely. This is also a great skill to apply to your life outside of golf.

Remember, we all started playing golf to have fun. Avoid dwelling on a bad shot at the previous hole or stressing out about the brutal par 5 waiting for you around the bend. Frustration heightens your chances of error — especially when driving. Take a moment to collect yourself before driving the ball with frustration. Golf is a mental sport and requires you get in the right state of mind to not only imagine where you want the ball to land, but to actually get it there. Don’t let your mind turn on you.

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Bio:

Matt is an avid golf enthusiast and part of the TruGolf.com team. When he’s not working on his fairway shot, you will find Matt writing about his passion for the process of the game.

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