Matt Nicolle’s nickname is “The English Enforcer,” and for very good reason. The no.1 ranked LDET player and defending tour champion delivered an unbelievable performance in 2017, earning 4 wins and another 4 top-3 finishes in his first full season on the tour (playing 8 of 9 events).
So what’s better than perfect? LDET fans may soon find out.
“I’m looking to continue my run into 2018,” Nicolle says. “I’m feeling good about the season and have a lot of events over a short period, so [I] can get into a groove.”
The 27-year-old Brute Golf athlete didn’t spend the offseason basking in glory, instead he’s approaching his LDET career with a veteran mentality. “I’ve been preparing through specific training and practice for a while now,” Nicolle says. “Lots of dynamic work and building strength, and building speed through overspeed training.” He works on his swing and equipment indoors while coaching and club fitting in central London as a PGA pro. “Dialing in my numbers, equipment and swing is an ongoing process which continues throughout the season.”
Nicolle grew up on the 9-by-5-mile UK island of Jersey, population of under 100,000. After playing football and cricket, his attention turned to golf “quite quickly.”
“Growing up in Jersey I played a links style golf course and got to a good level fast, competing as an amateur and then turning professional at 20,” Nicolle says. He’s also competed in UK South, East Regional Tours, Euro Pro Tour and French PGA events, and excited to have an organizational roll with the American Golf Championships in his home country later this year.
Now, The English Enforcer is focusing on long drive, and has his eyes on a number of LDET events in particular this season including the tour’s debut in Russia and The Nations Cup. “[LDET] is building every year and will be spectacular this season … hopefully culminating in another trip to the World Championships which is always phenomenonal,” he says.
But he also knows topping last season’s performance won’t be easy.
“I had a few good battles with Vincent Palm, Bry Roberts, Timo Petrasch and Seb Forslov last season and expect these guys to show some quality hitting this season,” Nicolle says. “Maurice Allen will return to the tour as well. Being a two-time tour champion, he knows how to win!”
Nicolle’s title defense is just one of many aspects fans can look forward to heading into the 2018 season, but he takes time to note an even more exciting big picture. “Golf is getting back to a level of growing participation,” he says. “The game is getting younger and more attractive to people looking to take up the game. Long Drive can play a huge part in this; it’s growing rapidly already and new tours have been setup globally which is fantastic for the profile of the game as a whole.”
Follow Matt Nicolle on Instagram and Twitter @mattnicollegolf, online at mattnicollegolf.com, and his battle drive for drive against other LDET players starting April 7th at the France Championships at Hotel Golf Château de Chailly.
Starting back in 2011, I had the the pleasure of working with Tiger Wood’s former swing coach, Hank Haney. Hank is big on ball flight and controlling your biggest miss. However, more than anything, I learned the importance of keeping statistics and letting those numbers tell you where you can and should improve.
We’ve all seen or clicked on those hokey pokey articles promising to shave strokes off your game; let’s be honest, we all want to shoot lower scores, but not all of us are going to. In my time coaching under Hank’s tutelage I became privy to his not-so-secret recipe for lower scores, and cutting the number of strokes down fast.
I’ll let you determine if you have what it takes.
Eliminate Penalty Shots
Eliminate 2 Chips
Eliminate 3 Putts
Get easier chips “up and down”
Miss in easier spots
Hit more greens
Hit it closer to the hole
Get hard ones up and in
Hit par 5’s in two
Easier said than done, right!?
Of course it is. But completing the entire list isn’t the point — start at the top and work your way down.
Everyone and their mom knows golf is difficult, and let’s not act like getting better is any easier, am I right?
In a recent PGA Tour podcast Brendan Steele, a PGA Tour player who already has one win in the 2018 season, says Phil Mickelson gave him a bit of advice that changed the trajectory of his career when he was a rookie. The advice was simple: Focus heavily on ONE aspect of your game each season and dedicate yourself to that specific aspect, be it putting, driving, fades, bunker shots, etc.
Essentially, we have a lifetime to practice, play and improve our games. Focusing on the way you practice, and what you practice, will have a major effect on your scores. So, rather than taking a broader approach to improving your game, narrow your vision to something like, “In 2018, I’m going to dedicate myself to finally getting rid of my slice.”
Again, sounds great, but what’s the reality of you actually following through with that statement? For most golfers it’s simply a wish, but for the golfers who take a different approach to how they practice, it’s a realistic goal. Don’t play victim to your slice. Fix it over time and with a plan, or live with it.
So where do you begin? To start, go through the list above (1-9) and realistically count how many strokes you could save in each of these categories. Let the numbers decide where you’ll see the biggest return. (Hint: The gold lies in numbers 1-4.)
Could this be the year you become a short game phenom? Write down your biggest goal of the year and put it on the fridge, office desk, or even stamp it on your forehead!
Before I close, I want to highlight no.7 in the list above, “hit it closer to the hole.” Because everyone likes and wants to hit it close to the hole (duh).
Believe it or not, the PGA tour average is roughly 38 feet from the hole. The best players average mid 20’s, in feet that is. Jordan Speith averaged 35 feet recently at Pebble Beach! Sure, they stick shots in there close frequently, but not as often as you would think. Golf is hard, remember? Before you worry about this stat, I highly encourage you to focus on the six of them that are listed prior.
Leighton Smith is the 2017 PGA Player Development Award winner for the Colorado PGA and runs his own teaching and coaching business, Leighton Smith Golf, in Colorado Springs, CO. His approach to golf instruction brings unique dynamic similar to what you’d find in a PGA Tour player entourage. His program, The TRIBE, is the ultimate resource for players looking to get to the next level. Join the TRIBE today, and enjoy clinics, and more fun social events for golfers in the area. Follow him on Instagram (@Leighton_Smith_Golf), Facebook (LeightonSmithGolf), and subscribe to his YouTube channel.
If new clubs meant you’d drive the ball 20 yards longer and drop strokes, would you reach for your credit card? This past August, Golf Magazine published a study conducted with Club Champion, the nation’s #1 premium club fitter. According to equipment editor Rob Sauerhaft, “Fitting matters! Based on data along with tester interviews, it’s clear that correctly matched clubs can help golfers of all kinds — you actually can buy a better game with properly fit clubs.” The study found golfers gained 22 yards off the tee, 15 yards with their irons and lowered their scores by an average of 3 strokes per round.
I went to Nick Sherburne, founder of Club Champion, for things you should look for when buying new equipment. Club Champion is the highly regarded expert in the field, ranked by Golf Digest among the 100 best club fitters year after year. They offer more than 35,000 hittable head and shaft combinations, the best-trained master fitters, nearly every brand in golf, plus unrivaled, in-house club building. Here are 3 tips Nick had to share.
Buy the Right Shaft
The industry taught us the head is the engine because that’s what hits the ball, but it’s the shaft that’s most important. Using that analogy, tires would be the engine of a car. Here the shaft powers the clubhead. In a golf shaft, flex can mean something different for every manufacturer. Manufacturers don’t use the same measurement scale. Sherburne tells customers, whether it’s stiff, regular or senior, it’s important to find the shaft that performs best for you. This makes it important to not just buy clubs off the rack. Find a skilled fitter with a launch monitor to show you how the right shaft will maximize your swing to its fullest potential.
Club Champion starts all fittings by looking at the shaft. It’s critical to identify not just the proper shaft flex but also the proper shaft weight. The shaft is what’s going to deliver the clubhead to the ball. To facilitate finding the right components, Club Champion, has a unique coupling system that allows golfers to hit any head and shaft combination. They deliver combinations that address a golfer’s problems and fix them. Most fitters use fitting carts provided by club manufacturers. While they offer options, golfers are unable to mix-and-match across carts to determine their ideal combinations. Club Champion offers hundreds of shafts, many not available through most other fitters and retailers.
Buy the Right Clubhead
Each brand or model of clubhead has distinctive characteristics that affect launch angle, spin rate and ball speed. Buy a driver that has the right launch, spin and forgiveness for your swing. Be sure use a launch monitor and look for the highest smash factor, ball speed and spin that generates the greatest distance.
Iron heads are more complex. Design features like offset, non-offset, blade or cavity back impact ease of playability and whether you hit a draw or fade; whether you hit it high or low. Most people overlook turf interaction, which comes from having the right lie angle, grind or camber on the sole. It affects squareness at impact, the speed you move through the ball and overall consistency. Club Champion fitters will find you the best equipment options for your swing.
Buy the Right Swingweight
Swingweight is a measurement of the weight distribution of the club or how your driver feels when you’re swinging. With widely variable shaft, grip and clubhead weighting, swingweight is more important than ever.It affects how a player swings the club and ultimately how they deliver it at impact. A heavier swingweight will make a shaft play looser; a lighter swingweight will make it play stiffer. The key application of swingweight is matching clubs within a set. If your clubs aren’t matched properly, they may feel different as you swing them.
Club Champion studios carry all the top golf club, shaft and grip manufacturers in the industry, which allows for 35,000+ equipment combinations for customers to test. Studios are equipped with advanced analysis technology and highly trained certified fitters and builders, all of whom must graduate through an extensive training program. Services include custom fitting and building for all club purchases, repair services, personalization and highly engaging corporate and personal entertainment events. For more information about Club Champion, visit clubchampiongolf.com.
The 2018 LDET season tees off in France, April 7th-8th. (Photo: courtesy LDET)
We’re mere weeks away from witnessing the raw power of European bombers with the start of the 2018 Long Drivers European Tour. There’s no shortage of storylines to follow this season, including the tour’s debut in Russia, the first-ever Nations Cup competition, 8-of-9 new host venues, and, of course, a bully list of long ball hitters.
Defending champ Matt Nicolle, who won four events and four top-three finishes in the eight events he competed in last year, will have his hands full with the 2018 field. 2nd-ranked LDET player Vincent Palm of Germany stands ready to take the crown, as is his fellow countryman and fan favorite Timo Petrasch, currently ranked no.5 on the tour. And the two-time tour champion known for his Ric Flair “whoo!” and intoxicating energy, Maurice Allen from the US, will make his return to the tour as well.
PeterHof Golf Club near St. Petersberg, Russia, hosts the tour for the first time ever on June 2nd-3rd. PeterHof Golf Manager Inar Kuramshin and his team are looking forward to the event, which will include a pro am alongside “the most exciting show in golf.”
Here’s a preview of the venue:
Hungry will be the only familiar stop on the tour’s 2018 circuit, hosting its third long drive event July 13th-14th at Zala Springs Golf Resort. The July stretch ends with the Germany Championship at Müncherner Golf Club in Munich, hometown of “The German Bomber” Timo Petrasch.
“Having a LDET tournament in my city is great,” Petrasch says in a tour release. “I want to bring a lot of people and create an amazing atmosphere.”
The tour returns to Italy once again August 26th-27th at Terre Dei Consoli near Rome before the debut of one of this season’s marquee events — the Nations Cup. International teams will compete for glory at the Château de Taulane in La Martre, France, September 21st-22nd, in a first-of-its-kind event.
The season culminates with the Masters Cup in November, at a location yet to be determined as of this writing.
Stay tuned to CGB in the weeks leading up to the France Championship for exclusive player interviews, 2018 LDET power rankings, and more throughout the rest of the 2018 LDET season.
“We have players from around the world competing — from Europe and the US, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, and more,” LDET CEO Xavier Eusebio says. “This year the level will be higher and tougher for all the competitors, so winning won’t be easy for anyone!”
With advances in club technology, most golfers could easily hit the ball further and more accurately. Yet, a Golf Magazine study found that 90% of U.S. golfers may be playing with improperly fit clubs. A Golf Digest study found that 8 out of 9 Club Champion custom fit golfers lowered their score by as much as 6 strokes per round and added an average of 21 yards off the tee.
Club Champion is the country’s premier club fitter, builder and retailer of the best brands in golf. The company delivers a Tour-quality fitting that produces longer, more accurate shots, with a nearly 100% satisfaction rate. Their approach is unbiased; no specific vendor is promoted. The only goal, for any skill level player, is to find the best combination of components to lower a golfer’s scores.
Ranked by Golf Digest among the 100 best club fitters eight times in a row, Club Champion’s unique coupling system allows them to combine any head and shaft together, so golfers can hit the precise combination to be custom built for them. Most golf stores use fitting carts provided by club manufacturers and while these carts offer options, golfers are unable to mix and match from different carts to determine ideal combinations. Club Champion offers hundreds of shafts, many not available through most other fitters and retailers.
Chuck Autry (Longmont) wrote, “I’ve taken my golf game to a new level. Being 64, I was struggling with almost every club in my bag. At the time I came to see you, I had a 13.5 handicap but was beginning to see much higher scores. You did some magic and it made an incredible difference. I have played many rounds in the past month in the 70s and of lowered my handicap to 8.3. This was the best investment I have ever made in my golf game!”
Former PGA Tour player Jay Williamson says, “I had access to every brand of shaft and head, but I never understood what they did for me. I didn’t have the opportunity to experiment like I do at Club Champion. They provide the same level of service players receive on Tour, including the newest heads and shafts and most advanced fitting technology. If you are a committed golfer at any level, I highly recommend it.” Incidentally, Club Champion was able to add an average of 15 yards to Jay’s drives.
To obtain results like Jay’s, Club Champion fittings utilize Trackman launch monitors and the Science & Motion PuttLab. Both are considered the gold standard in fitting technology and are used by Tour players around the world to improve their game.
Club Champion stands out because they actually assemble clubs in-house to exacting, unrivaled tolerances. Club variables such as shaft flex, swing weight, club length and loft/lie DO alter performance. The experience and know-how in combining these intricate parts together is what separates Club Champion from its competition. TaylorMade CEO David Abeles believes, “Club Champion truly is one of the most innovative club fitters in the business. They provide a consumer experience that is undeniably helpful for all golfers to play better. We couldn’t be more thrilled with our partnership with Club Champion.”
While any caliber of player can benefit from premium club fitting, it’s for the golfer who wants maximized performance. “I chose Club Champion due to reputation and depth of the fitting process.” wrote Michael Rowells (Lakewood). “I’ve played 19 rounds with my new clubs. I’ve also played six new golf courses, not normally good for the handicap. I’ve lowered my handicap from 8.2 to 5.6 in less than two months. My best round? A 74 with five birdies and a triple bogey on 18 (water)! I could not have improved like this without getting fitted. I implore all serious golfers, and those not so serious to get fitted for their clubs.”
Studio manager Mitch Anderson relates, “I’ve become enamored with the differences between shafts in golf clubs. I wanted to pass that knowledge down to my clients. One of the best things about working for Club Champion is the chance to offer the best possible club fitting to the client, while maintaining a brand-agnostic approach. Club Champion is the major leagues of club fitting.”
When Club Champion says you’ll add 20 yards off the tee, they mean it. Whether you’re looking to buy new clubs or optimize your current set, premium club fitting is the answer. Fitting prices range from $150 for a driver to $350 for an entire bag. The local state-of-the-art studio is conveniently located at 2670 E. County Line Rd in Highlands Ranch.
Don’t just buy clubs, buy guaranteed improvement! For more information, call 888-335-9692 or visit clubchampiongolf.com.
Creativity. It’s everything when starting a brand. That original idea that separates yours from the pack. You see an opportunity in the market. Something is missing and you know you can fill that gap. Instead of waiting for someone else to take the initiative, you start to create. All of a sudden, that idea is a reality. A rather innovative one at that.
This is the story of Daniel Erdman. A guy from the Great White North who is most certainly a creative. And with this mindset, he has taken the boring old golf towel and turned it into an art with his up-and-coming brand, Uther.
And the golf towels are just the start. Uther seems poised to follow the path set forth by renowned brands of our generation. Begin with one product, master it, and expand. Bonobos started with pants. Mizzen + Main was created around an innovative dress shirt. MVMT was founded on the basis of an affordable, stylish watch. Uther brought their unique towels into the marketplace and have some exciting products dropping in 2018.
With great ambitions for his brand, it was a pleasure speaking with Dan about his entrepreneurial journey so far. Here is what he had to say:
Photo courtesy G&E Magazine
G&E:Tell us a little about your background?
Dan: I live in Canada so golfing up here is, of course, a lot more limited than in the US. One of my first jobs was working as a back-shop attendant at a local golf course, Thornhill Club. I then later worked at a predominantly female club, Ladies Golf Club of Toronto and finally a public course called Richmond Hill Golf Club. My experience juggling around those clubs gave me a great insight into what’s working and what’s missing at clubs.
When did you first start playing golf, and why did you pick up the game?
The stereotype is true, a ton of people play hockey in Canada and if it weren’t for hockey, I probably wouldn’t haven’t started playing golf so early on. It was a natural transition for me and my hockey buddies to play golf in the summer ounce the hockey season was over.
What made you want to start Uther?
Working in the back-shop, especially private clubs, I saw rows of bags which all looked the same and knew there had to be something that can make them fun and unique. Golf towels are a necessity for golfers so thought why not make them fun and blend art and function.
So how did you come up with the name Uther?
We’ve gotten a ton of people asking how we pronounce it whether “Oother”, “U-ther” or “other”, the latter is correct but we don’t mind any other way of saying it. We set out to be the “other” brand in the marketplace and create products no other companies are creating. We’re purposeful with all the products we create and each product must have a special feature that really stands apart from other products on the market or we just won’t produce it.
Have you engaged in any other entrepreneurial ventures prior to Uther?
Late November 2015 to the start of Uther around April 2016, I worked on a training aid that didn’t make it to market. We worked on about 4 prototypes and the minimum order quantity was greater than like 10,000 pieces so I reached the point where it was best to pursue the golf towel idea.
What doors have opened as a result of Uther?
Creating relationships with people around the world. For example, it’s offered the chance to collaborate with people in Australia, Sweden and Hungry, there’s not a lot of occupations that allow that.
What is your vision for yourself and your company in the future?
It would be great to have Uther be a top golf brand in the next 5 – 10 years.
What have you learned most from starting Uther?
Probably organization. Especially as your growing, you need to have system puts in place to keep running efficiently.
How does Uther engage with the community?
We’re most active on Instagram but you can catch us on all social media channels. We also have a newsletter to stay in touch with our customers. You can sign up at the bottom of our webpage on our site.
Rapid Fire Q&A Round
Who is your greatest inspiration?
Ben Francis, owner of Gymshark. What they’ve done in such a short period of time is inspirational.
What’s your favorite time of year to play a round? Time of day?
I’m a sucker for vacation golf. In terms of time of day, nothing beats being the first on the course right when the sun is rising.
If you could play 18 with anyone, who would it be?
If anyone throughout history it has to be Arnie.
Will there be any new product releases in the near future at Uther?
We have some new hats releasing the next couple weeks. We also have a new product that we’ve been working on the last year releasing mid-January. Stay tuned!
G&E Magazine is a digital publication dedicated to the world of golf and entrepreneurship, bringing to life the journeys of people who are taking their enthusiasm for golf and are turning it into their career in remarkable fashion. Follow G&E on Instagram (@gandemagazine), Facebook (gandemagazine), and Twitter (@gandemagazine).