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Editors Note: I balanced the content size from Part 1 and Part 2 so the first few questions originally appeared in Part 1.

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PGT: You’ve worked with (or at least spoken to) many of the most respected golf minds in the country. Who do you think knew the most about the golf swing? What aspects, if any, did you incorporate into you own game?

AK: Mostly the stuff that confused me and came out of left field.

I watch, I listen, then I watch again, then I think about what I was just watching and listening to then if it is still appealing or important I start experimenting with it and try to figure out exactly what it is and if I can do it or even should. Then you mess with it until it works and if it works better than what you did before or at least could work better then you got something real.

Johnny Miller I think has the best truest knowledge of what makes a great move of everyone I’ve ever met but I think he’s a shill & a total sellout who cares more about ego than the game.. If the younger generations probably Keith Tycheson has it down to a science in just about every way that matters & David Hill has the best move I will ever see in my lifetime, if he would choose to cut it for a stock shot he’s better tee to green than Byron Nelson.

PGT: What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of golf?

AK: It isn’t a sport, never was never will be. It’s a gentleman’s game by the classical definition, it isn’t about swings and scores; it’s about winning and losing and the experience. Also golf would be a better game if players had to make their own clubs or at least assemble them.

PGT: Give us a few thoughts on equipment. What do you use today and why? Do you think there is a link between the state of the game (rounds played down, slow play, courses getting lengthened and more expensive, etc.) and the modern clubs and balls?

AK: It starts and ends with the golf ball. If you change the composition of the ball and have players playing different balls which have been tailored to them in competition the game is no longer golf. It is now a display of technology and the player with the lowest score is a totally irrelevant statistic. How is anyone supposed find out who is best at hitting a ball into a hole if everyone is hitting a different ball? If I drag race someone and I have a top fuel dragster and my opponent has a ’65 Mustang I’m going to obliterate him, does that make me a better drag racer? Does it mean anything  at all? I say no & no.

I use ’93 Hogan Apex irons, Wilson Staff JP wedges, a Titleist 975 driver & PT steel 3 wood right now & I’m rocking an 8802 until it gets fired which might be a while, it’s been behaving. Woods are always steel, old stock Taper Tip Dynamic Gold  X400 that hasn’t been made for years, irons X200 DG & wedges S400; grips all leather, most Neumann Calf with a few Balmforth of England here & there.

PGT: I know you place emphasis on the action of the hands through the impact area. Can you talk about what hand action you feel is best and what type of hand action can get you into trouble?

AK: Your hands are what you use to hit shots, you create with your hands and the geometry and mechanics of your golf swing are the platform you build and then rely upon. Mechanics at the end of the day become a function of the unconscious mind. The hands are the tools of the conscious mind.

PGT: What do you make of the PGA Tour today? I know you made a trip to the US Open at Olympic – Do you watch most weeks or just the majors? What do you see in modern swings compared to swings from the persimmon/steel/balata era?

AK: I couldn’t go to the Open, my wife grounded me and sent me to bed without any supper.

Where do you even start with the tour players today, holy cow.. The ball has killed the Tour, none of it makes any sense at all, it’s like watching Cirque du Soliel, it looks cool and its a visual experience but there’s no substance or redeeming value whatsoever in either one. What’s anyone supposed to learn from Dustin Johnson or Camilo Villegas?I’ve been watching them for five plus years and I can’t take anything away from either of them at all. Phil Mickelson same thing and Tiger is really depressing now, his body is failing him and the most dominant competitor I’ve ever seen has to hobble around the course now wearing little old man mallwalkers. That really sucks.

The play on tour is so strange now, so far removed from great golf that I can’t imagine why any young person would want to become a tour player other than for money & fame, there’s no skill left to attract anyone, that’s why I decided to start teaching again, because I have to pass on the knowledge I’ve acquired to other people so it doesn’t die with me.

The clubs I see only as a function of the ball, without the solid core polymer covered ball all the clubs are useless.

PGT: You spent a long time on the ABS forums and made some good contributions there before your exit. Do you have anything to say about your time spent there, your exchanges with John Erickson, or how your philosophies differ from his?

AK: Not really. Alright fine..

I asked John how many times he had played the Olympic Club when he was waxing poetic and not making any sense about the course & the US Open, he refused to answer the question and still refuses, we got in a prolonged juvenile argument which is fine, this is just a game after all and it culminated with John shutting down my account but refusing to take down my posts which I’ve asked him to do over a dozen times to date.

If he would play me you could see for yourself and come to your own conclusions but he is as of now less than willing to do so. When I suggested we go down to LA Country Club and play and film it John said he only “played courses that interest me”., Last I checked LACC was Top 50 in the world and is getting ready to host the US Amateur in a few years. I think that qualifies as “interesting” but that’s just me.

PGT: Your new project is Golf Detox (www.golfdetox.com). What is it and what are you trying to do with it? Is anyone helping you?

AK: I started GolfDETOX.com with a partner who is also a student, Matthew Jordan. This is a free forum and a vehicle I have started to service my instruction. I have no choice honestly but to teach and I am enjoying it tremendously, I must honor what has been shared with me so it isn’t lost forever and pay it forward. Strategy, mechanics, self management, training the conscious and unconscious, its all gone, replaced by meaningless toys disguised as technology and Golfing Machine gobbledygook that can never work. The people who should be preserving the essence of the game, Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino, Tom Weiskopf, Tom Watson, Butch Harmon, I don’t know what these guys are doing, they obviously know better but its like none of them care about anything but money and staying in the loop. Its disgusting. So I’m teaching the Old Ways, totally independently and without any outside influence whatsoever, it’d be the only way to be true to the process these days, and it is a team effort between each student and myself in order to meet the student’s goals.

PGT: How can potential students or interested golfers get in contact with you?

AK: aleckatzman@gmail.com lecoeurdevie@yahoo.com or register for the free forum at www.GolfDETOX.com, my handle is CrashDavis.

8 Responses to “Interview with Alec Katzman – Part 2 of 2”

  1. Avatar of hickorychris hickorychris says:

    The problem I have with the philosophy is that of the golf ball. Here we are happily using our retro gear but with an unshapable unspinnable ball, for mortals anyway. You say modern clubs are the product of the polymer ball and without them are irrelevent toys. Can I suggest that teaching the old ways using retro clubs without the means to produce the outcomes of earlier days is pretty similar in meaning to gaming a wound Dunlop 65 with a wok?
    I have been out this afternoon and enjoyed a round with my Mac persimmons and Wilson Fluid Feels and had fun. But, and its a big but, the Wilson Dx2 ball flies pretty straight and long but does not carress the pleasure buds because it can’t be worked. I’m saying this fairly tongue in cheek for I am not a ‘player’ but even we club golfers used to try to work a ball. Sometimes it came off and we felt great.
    Is there something I’m missing here in the philosophy or is there a ball you are going to recommend that fulfills the ambitions of the retro golfer, (and thus also makes retro teaching irrepressibly relevent).

    • I don’t know if Alec will respond but I know from talking to him that he has been hording the available balata golf balls off ebay for some time and has amassed enough ammo to last him a while.

      I absolutely relate to your concerns about the mismatch between the classic gear and the modern balls. It’s really one of the reasons I sometimes question what I’m even doing with this site… we have a huge supply of awesome clubs but no sustainable ball solution. The ProV1 styles are fine for bumping it around the course but we’ll never achieve what we’re really after until somebody finds a ball solution. That’s why I’ve shifted my intentions with this site from “trying to restore persimmon as the ‘one true format’ for golf” more into: persimmon is something you should be aware of, learn to swing, and fold into your overall golf game in ways that give you enjoyment. I’m more interested now in how swinging a persimmon allows your swing to evolve, how I match up against par on short, persimmon era courses, and the simple enjoyment of owning and appreciating something connected to the history of the game and designed with the care and uniqueness of a craftsman rather than a rapid prototyping CAD/CAM program.

  2. Avatar of Alec Alec says:

    Hey this is Alec, I’d be happy to answer hickorychris. I haven’t used a solid core ball since April 2010, only old stock Titleist Professionals & last gen Maxfli HTs with the synthetic covers and I buy them in bulk. Check out gemgolfballs on eBay, he’s in Yorba Linda, CA & has a big inventory of those Maxflis and if you buy at least 4 dozen at a time they’re $25/doz or less. Cheaper and better than anything new, that’s a winner in my book and they fly just the same as the day they were made.

    Now this is just me, I don’t expect anyone else to be as hardcore as I am but I don’t discourage it either. Depends on your goals and what you want to do with your game. I tailor whatever I can to each student and I can and do teach now to maximize the use of a ProV just like I don’t care if you hit PINGs. I think it makes it harder but there’s no law against it. You just Di the best you can and post the lowest score possible and get the most you can out of your move.

  3. Avatar of hickorychris hickorychris says:

    Thanks, Alec. I’ll give them a go and have ordered 4 doz. I used to go nap on hickories but you have to be soooo accurate to hit them and there were few around in the UK to share that ethic with.. not so in the US I understand.
    Am I correct in saying that with modern shafts, in particular, you can hit from the top and get away with it? Do that with hickory and you hit them out of the heel every time, and it kills shafts and persimmon heads. I think it may be something to do with the extra torque in the shaft you get with the sticks.
    Thanks again,
    Chris

  4. Avatar of Alec Alec says:

    Cool, glad to help. You should like those HTs, its not a real balata its a firmer cover but its still a real wound ball and it will get it done. The dimple pattern on it wants to sneak back when you work it but not anything like the ProV, its just noticeable sometimes. But they haven’t lost a bit of zip and its a good ball.

    That’s kind of a tough question to answer, I try to drop it as deep into the slot as I can within reason and flatten out coming into the ball so I have a nice shallow angle of attack and really flush it on just about every shot and I don’t use graphite at all, I think it’s inconsistent and feels dead but yes the lighter weight will make it less conducive to loading properly and can most certainly lead to an OTT steep strike. The head weight I think is of more importance but the head and shaft both need to be properly weighted. And not overweight either, if its too heavy you lose speed which has a bigger effect than mass everywhere and you’re just dead.

  5. Avatar of Rami Valta Rami Valta says:

    I bought a bunch of professional 90′s from gemgolfballs last winter and I’ve played a couple of rounds with them. I’m too new to the game to have played anything but the modern ball, but here’s my observations anyway. A good looking perfectly round prof 90 might be completely out of shape just a few holes in. Cuts aren’t the issue, but they just seem to lose their shape. Were they as easily wrecked when they were brand new? Mine are used but visually in fine condition.

    I need one club more on pretty much all iron shots, and distance off the tee is hurt even more. They do feel amazingly soft and spin like crazy, which is a ton of fun. Sadly I feel like I’m giving up too much playing both persimmon and the old balls, but they sure are nice for practice rounds with persimmon playing friends.

    • Avatar of Alec Alec says:

      To put it bluntly as I am known to do THAT’S THE POINT MAN!! Take the time and flip the perspective around and the entire problem sir opens to you. Now I’m guessing I am a little better tee to green and that same ball if its new I get 12-18 holes out of. I’m totally fine with that, that’s a balata & its the nature of the beast. When it goes out of round it goes right in the shag bag for chipping and bunker practice.

      As far as the distance goes YES SIR THAT SHOWS HOW MUCH FURTHER THE PROVS ARE GOING THAN THEY SHOULD. You say you’re losing distance, I say you’ve been cheating without knowing it for ten years. Depends on your perspective. BTW the ball I’m defending is the ball Ben Hogan & Jack Nicklaus used their entire careers, you got the one Rickie Fowler uses. Just saying and don’t even say Tiger, he grew up with wound balls.

    • Avatar of Alec Alec says:

      Also not a good idea to buy used ammo, esp those. They’ve already had the stuffing hit out of them.

      But to give you an idea what the score really is, in 1996 my avg was 283.6 on the Euro Challenge & in 1997 it was 279.4 on the Hooters & I didn’t hit driver on the holes they measured every time. My standard carry with the T-Zoid I was hitting back then was 285 either way. I’m almost forty now & I’ve lost about ten yards, my carry is 275 right now with those Maxflis & the Titleist 975 I’m hitting. That’s all stock shots & I got a little something extra when I need it. With those old Hogan blades my five iron number is 192 on 28°loft. I haven’t been on the gun for swing speed but I’m guessing right around 114 right now. I can play any track in the world comfortably and not feel stretched out, and what exactly is going on in the tech world or on the tour as far as anything goes should impress me at all or even come close to intimidating me? Its a joke completely. Anyone who claims to he good at all should be flying drivers 325 with shots & control, and hitting the nickel either way from 222 & not missing greens. Nobody does that, these guys can’t hit five 7000sq ft greens in a row with wedges. Its crap, all of it, and with the hot balls what they’re really doing is playing the ladies tees at anything under 7700 yds.

      There was a special on the ’62 US Open on NBCsports network the other night, they had a big still photo of Arnie, right behind him was a 8 ft sign, No 15 PAR 4 458 YARDS. He hit driver six iron on that hole, Jack driver 8 iron. Jack used to hit driver & a nine iron from 130 all the time on 9 at Pebble, 454 yds in the fog & rain & soup in Monterey on a hole set sideways.. On the tv show they had Arnie talking about the first time he & Jack played together, they started on a first home long drive contest, 330 yd four par, Arnie knocked it on the green, Jack fifteen yds over. Who says petsimmon & balata has a 250 limit or a 300 or any limit at all? You guys I’m thinkin need to hit the weight room and get the lead out because you’re in Powder Puff Land, persimmon and wound balls are a Man’s Game. And the skill isn’t just in flushing it with speed, more times than not its keeping the spin OFF that wound ball, that’s an art in itself. That’s why all the old masters came in so shallow.

      Nothing going on now is impressive at all or even interesting in more than a casual manner unfortunately, no skill involved and very little speed, when you grow up with Ayrton Senna, and have to settle twenty years later for Jimmie Johnson it isn’t even close to the same.

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