By Ben Leeson, Sudbury Sta
Ryan Willoughby has displayed his fine form on several local golf courses, but never appeared at the Sudbury Ryder Cup prior to this year's 23rd instalment of the team-based tourney.
“It always conflicted with my schedule,” Willoughby said. “But I was able to make it happen this year.”
His teammates from Timberwolf Golf Club were thankful for that, as Willoughby's strong play Sunday helped them to a decisive victory over their rivals from Lively and the Idylwylde – Timberwolf's third title in four years.
Team Timberwolf entered the final round on their home course with a dominant lead, with seven points to Lively's three and the Idylwylde's two, so the Cup was theirs to lose, but they couldn't afford complacence against a field that includes many of the city's top pro and amateur players.
They finished with 12 points, while Lively had eight and the Idylwylde four.
“I missed yesterday, because I had a wedding, but the boys pulled through with a good day, so I just came in and did what I had to do today,” Willoughby said.
His matchup was a tough one against Ryan Bastien, who serves as head professional at the Idy and ranks as one of the best players in Northern Ontario, but Willoughby performed well.
“I love beating CPGA pros,” he said with a smile.
“It's good, because you don't usually get to play match-play format, but I play in a few weeks at the Idylwylde Invitational, which I always play in, so it's nice to get a match like this in beforehand.”
Team mainstay Tom Clark, director of instruction at Timberwolf Academy, led the group three years ago that snapped a six-year championship drought. Clark's final match with John Hastie, then on the Lively team, clinched a narrow victory for Team Timberwolf that year.
Clark walked off the course Sunday with his third title in four years, this time with Hastie as his teammate.
Jesse Graham, Brian McGarry, Chase Woitowich, Jordie Walker and Nickel Quesnel also played for Team Timberwolf.
“The neat thing is the team format,” Clark said. “A lot of guys play in individual tournaments and that's always gratifying, but the big thing here is if you don't get a point, you feel like you let the team down a little bit, maybe you get a little angry or down on yourself, but then you're part of a team and that's the neat part of it.
“It's always nice, too, to see the new guys get their names on the trophy.”
McGarry was one of those.
“It was great,” he said. “On Friday, we won three of our four matches, which was great, then on Saturday, we went four-for-four, which was pretty incredible, so we were feeling pretty good coming into today. Looking at the board, we thought we'd at least have to beat Lively twice in our matches and we had a couple of little strategy talks Saturday night, picking the teams, and it worked out for us today.
“You look down the list of guys on your team and you just say what a great roster, what a great group of guys. We all jelled together and it was a great weekend for us.”
By: Randy Pascal – Playback
With more than three decades of involvement in the business, long-time local golf pro Tom Clark is cautious before getting too giddy on any new technology in the sport.
The TrackMan might be one of the exceptions.
Discount Golf has recently purchased a pair of the cutting-edge units, top of the line consoles that benefit from the use of Doppler radar technology, more commonly found in military fields, to create a golfing simulator that can either provide invaluable information to the average golfer, or merely allow for a greater enjoyment of two hours of golfing fun.
Clark suggests that the selling point for the overwhelming majority of those who frequent local courses on a regular basis is soundly rooted in common sense. “You're trying to maximize your distance,” Clark began.
“Some of it is equipment, some of it can be done through improving your golf swing. But you're really trying to get the right shaft and the right loft to get the proper spin rate and launch angle for your particular ball speed.”
“Proper fittings”, in somewhat less technical jargon. "Really, the only thing that the golfer would see is that he/she is getting more distance," summarized Clark. Essentially, TrackMan condenses a bevy of information and produces an encapsulated chart that allows the golf pro to make the adjustments necessary to his client's clubs, while leaving aside swing mechanics for the moment.
Yet the market for TrackMan users extends beyond those who take their game seriously enough to be concerned about that extra twenty yards off the tee. Like previous simulated golf enterprises that have existed locally in the past, TrackMan offers a nice refuge from the long, cold Northern Ontario winters, only upscaled.
“What's nice is that TrackMan is the most accurate,” stated Clark. “It's not like you're hitting a ball and thinking you hit it really well, but the screen is showing that you only hit it 200 yards.”
While those who deal with golf on a daily basis are fully aware of the TrackMan, Clark believes that even casual sportsmen can appreciate the technology at play within the product.
"Some of the golfers might have heard of TrackMan, but not necessarily a great majority," concedes Clark. "It's existed for about ten years, and it's gathered a lot of data about the dynamics of what happens when a golf club hits a golf ball."
"This product is helping to debunk some myths, or coming up with some truths, and actually even changing the thinking that some of the tour players might have. It's all coming together to try and improve everyone's enjoyment of the game."
With the opening of Sudbury golfing venues (hopefully) a month or so away, Clark hopes that golfers looking to ensure that their game is course-ready prior to hitting the outdoor tees will stop by to test the new machinery.
But when the snow flies again next winter, TrackMan offers a whole new level of off-season maintenance for those who work regularly on their game. "It's an invaluable tool, especially with our longer winters," said Clark.
"If you're just hitting balls into a net, and you really don't know if there is any spin on the ball, you can hit the same spot in the net, everything feels good, and then all of a sudden, spring comes and you hit your first shot outside and the ball is going wildly right or left."
"TrackMan would let you know that well in advance." Clark is be conducting a free demonstration of the two new TrackMan units at Discount Golf on Wednesday, April 8th, from 7 p.m. Until 8 p.m.
Anyone interested in attending the demonstration is asked to register by logging on to www.golflessonssudbury.com, and following the on-line instructions.
By Bruce Heidman, Sudbury Star
There's another option in town for local duffers eager to get a game of golf in before the snow finally fades from our chilly clime.
And it can improve your game in leaps and bounds at the same time.
Discount Golf in Sudbury has purchased and set up a pair of TrackMan devices, advanced golf simulators that allow users to either play a round at one of 71 different courses programmed into the unit, or use it to break down their swing with a mind-boggling amount of information. One of the two units can even be used outdoors on the driving range, where it can track a ball's flight for up to 400 yards. The TrackMan, which is used by professional golfers the world over, uses Doppler radar, designed by the military, to track the ball and the club to give the user a mind-blowing amount of information that can be used to improve a golfer's swing or enjoy a realistic game of golf when the weather isn't cooperating.
Longtime local golf pro Tom Clark is thrilled to add the TrackMan to Discount Golf and is even more excited about how it will benefit his students.
"It's the Cadillac of launch monitors," Clark said. "Go on YouTube or TrackMan.com and you will see lots of videos from lots of instructors and tour players who have them for their personal use. A guy like (popular pro golf coach) Tom Foley would in the past say send me a video of your swing, now he says send your TrackMan numbers."
Better yet, it gives a ton of information for Clark to help his students improve their swing.
"It gives so much information about the ball flight and what the club is doing and you know it's accurate, so anytime you make a change to your swing, you can see how much it changes," he said. "The big thing is it feels real. The interesting thing is that what people feel they are doing and what they are actually doing are two different things, and that's why the ball flight isn't what they expect, but this tells them what is out of whack.
"There are 23 different parameters that it will pick up, so my job is to identify the one most out of whack, and typically what happens is if you fix that one thing, the others will get better, too, so all the ball flight gets better," he continued. "The biggest thing is you can go about it two ways with a student - you can tell them what's wrong and the numbers prove it and the ball flight shows it, so I can tell them some ideas I have to make it better, or you can let them do it themselves through self discovery and they can try it and take some of the technicals out of it because some people learn better that way and it gives you that option."
The option to take one of the machines outside to the driving range is a huge plus, Clark said.
"This is the only device that will pick up full flight of ball outdoors, and it's an expensive piece of equipment but very accurate, and when you come to play a golf course your ball flight will be close to what it was there," he said. "There's even settings for what type of ball you are playing, you input that information and it will tell you what your shot would have been with that type of ball even when using range balls."
Local golfer Jari Sundholm bought some new clubs ahead of the season and came to use the TrackMan last week to get a feel for them and get a jump on the outdoor season. He used the driving range setting to get information on his shots to see how each club was working.
"The technology is really good, and whether you're a beginner or expert, you can use as much or little of the technology as you want," he said. "The main thing is it's fun to hit an you can get as much feedback as you want or if you want to see what it looks like on a fairway.
"It's incredible, an amazing piece of equipment," he added. "I'm more technical and in the middle of making a swing change so I get to see when I hit what I have done, then Tom is able to help me with other things to adjust the swing if I need it. I've used it four times, and in the beginning you want to play the games they have, but I like the technical element to see how I'm hitting my irons because that is what I want to develop in my game."
Francine Mathieu and Claude Robillard were on the other simulator playing one of the 71 golf courses available.
"This is really interesting," Mathieu said. "It gives you a challenge and it's lots of fun and you get to golf out of season. I will get a good start on my season, if the snow ever leaves."
Robillard was equally impressed.
"It's a great way to get your game in shape before you go outside, it gets your swing on plane again," he said. "It's really good, this system is awesome. I find the graphics great, it tells me if I hit the ball square, the distance and you can see what you can do with your clubs."
TrackMan sessions are available at Discount Golf for $40 an hour.