Mike Besa

273 posts
A man of diverse interests; sports, the arts, travel and leisure fuel his passion for life. There aren't enough hours in the day for people like him.

Equipment lessons from 26 years in the game

Golf isn’t the easiest sport to break into. When I took up the game 26 years ago in February, it was like joining a secret society. Instruction was crude by today’s standards. It was exceedingly difficult to find a decent teaching pro without a referral and after a few failed attempts at lessons with some anonymous range pros, I gave up. I relied on my own devices, accumulating instruction books and whatever instruction material I could to school myself in the game.

You need to try this driver

Ask your average Pinoygolfer what driver is at the top of his mind and you’ll get the usual answers; Callaway, TaylorMade, Honma/Beres, Titleist, PXG or Cobra. I’ll wager precious few of you think about Cleveland Golf when it comes to choosing a new driver. That would be a mistake, because not only does Cleveland Golf build a very, very good driver in their new Launcher HB Turbo, but it comes at a price well below that of its competition.

The 2019 BusinessMirror Golf Tournament: The ‘BusinessMirror’ celebrates its 14th year

The BusinessMirror celebrated its 14th year of operations with a fabulous golf tournament at the beautiful Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club last week. There was apprehension on whether golfers would come out in support of the tournament as in years past because of the congestion on the Southern Luzon Expressway as the construction of the Skyway to Susana Heights continues.

Utility Irons: Should you have one in your bag?

Any fan of the PGA Tour will wax on fondly about touring pros’ proficiency with their long irons. Tiger’s most famous shot is probably his 2-iron stinger, brought to prominence with his win at the Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 2006. It was a surgical performance and the 2-iron Tiger’s weapon of choice.

Callaway Epic Forged Iron: Callaway’s Halo Iron

The Callaway Epic brand is Callaway Golf’s pinnacle product. It is the most technologically endowed iron that Callaway makes. It was like a concept car that you could actually buy. The original Epic iron was introduced to much fanfare but earned limited success, not just because of its price, but because the body of the original epic was cast, it made fitting options limited.

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Callaway MD5 Jaws Wedges: The most aggressive grooves in golf are back!

It’s been almost a decade since Callaway introduced golf to the original X-Forged Jaws wedges. There is no other golf club in my (admittedly failing) memory bank that was possessed of a more appropriate name. The grooves on this thing were like sharper than anything I’d ever played. Perhaps, a little too sharp; these things shredded golf balls. It got to the point that I tried to avoid hitting full shots with any of my wedges as they rendered the golf ball nearly unplayable.

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PXG 0811 Gen 2 Drivers: Bringing the unobtainable to the masses

PXG has been somewhat of a unicorn here. Although representatives of the company visit the country from time to time, you had to know someone who knew how to touch base with them to arrange a fitting appointment. Then there was the inconvenience of having to pay in foreign currency and, the wait for your club to be built and shipped to you. Not the easiest transaction.

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What to do about slow play?

Slow play is hardly a new topic in golf. In 1950 at the US Open in Merion, Ohio, the USGA put a notice up in the locker room decrying how in the previous year at the US Open in Medina, they were playing threesomes in three hours and 37 minutes, and how it was unacceptable and how it was going to ruin the game.

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Titleist updates the MB and CB

Titleist’s core customers have always been the elite golfers. It is their dedication to this market that has let to the innovations that have trickled down to the rest of the product line and indirectly benefited the rest of us.

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Callaway Apex 19 Irons: The total package

The Callaway Apex Forged iron is Callaway’s flagship franchise. Its origins date back to the original Japan-only Callaway Black Series irons which did very well in its home market, but its premium price kept it from achieving commercial success in other markets. It was revered by club geeks worldwide. It was instrumental in making Henrik Stenson the 145th Champion Golfer of the year.

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Putting Reboot

A friend of mine who has really dedicated himself to the game called me and asked for help with his putting. Wanting to help, I agreed. Before we got together, I audited my own putting fundamentals, comparing what I was doing to what the game’s best short game professionals teach their students. The process helped my putting almost as much as it did his. I’m sharing it with you today in the hopes that it will help you too.

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Why Golf Tourism?

After the piece titled, “Why Can’t Golf Tourism Take Hold in the Philippines?” ran, reactions were quite mixed. Some agreed with the need to develop the industry, others saw no value in it. Why should a private club open its fairways to tourists in the first place? Won’t that inconvenience the members and compromise the club’s exclusivity? Others say that our golf courses just aren’t good enough to compete with our neighbors in the region. So why bother?

Subic immersion golf and the rain forest

The forests of the world are home to the highest biodiversity. They are the cradle of life on our islands. Much to our shame, little of our native forestland remains. Much has been cut down to make way for agriculture and urban sprawl. The number of species that we have driven to extinction is unparalleled at any time in history after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The best tip you’ll ever get

Golf is a complex game that requires a range of skills—you need to hit the ball long off the tee, you need to control distance with your irons and you need to find a way to get the ball into the hole when on or around the green.

Why can’t golf tourism take hold in the Philippines?

When the Duterte administration took over three years ago, the Philippine tourism industry was enraptured to discover that golf tourism would be a priority project of the administration. This was tremendous news and promised so much for golf in the country and for the economy at large.

Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club: Golf’s special place in the Philippines

Let’s just get this out of the way…Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club is one of the most beautiful and engaging golf courses in the country. Full stop. Check into the hotel, walk out on the veranda where the golf course and the Malarayat mountain range in the distance paint one of the most beautiful vistas in local golf and listen to your jaw hit the floor with a thud.

Is the Fed still relevant?

On June 12, 2019, the Federation of Golf Clubs circulated a memorandum to all its member clubs which stated that on June 11, 2019, the Unified National Handicapping System (UNHS) service provider Silicon Computer Telecoms Inc. (SCTI) “unilaterally and without justification, terminated its service of providing handicaps for individual golfers belonging to the member golf clubs of the Federation of Golf Clubs Phils. Inc. (Fedgolf) effective immediately.”

Why golf?

I came to golf late in life at the ripe old age of 36. I wasn’t a junior golfer, groomed by my parents to be the next big thing in the game. I spent my childhood playing every sport that my parents would allow. It didn’t much matter what it was as long as I was outdoors running, sweating and having a good time.

Miura Golf: The unicorn of golf clubs

In the realm of golf clubs, particularly with irons, there is one name above all others. That name is Miura. Miura irons have always been a unicorn in golf. They are renown for their beauty, ease of use and unmistakable feel. They are also quite rare and famously (or infamously) expensive, which adds to their mystique. Everyone speaks reverently of them, but few know the brand’s real story and the level of commitment that it takes to produce a golf club of this quality.

Long-Term Test: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero

We previewed Callaway’s new Epic Flash drivers a couple of issues ago and noted that it was the most compelling driver in a year that every manufacturer introduced their best drivers ever. Think about it. Cobra came out with the F9, arguably their best driver ever. Mizuno introduced the ST190 and ST190G which, in addition to being Mizuno’s best drivers ever, now have a win on the PGA Tour. The last time that happened was 19 years ago. Of course, TaylorMade’s updated M-twins are always in that mix and Ping updated the formidable G400 and gave us the G410. This year, there’s a bumper crop of drivers.

Pick of the litter

Iron manufacturing used to be a simple, straightforward operation. The respective alloys were either forged or cast, then hand finished and sorted to form a set. The year 2018 saw huge gains in irons, particularly in high-performance irons or what the market now refers to as “players’ distance irons.” These irons, in the recent past, were made from two or more types of metal joined together in multiple processes.

The Most Compelling Driver of 2019

The driver wars are always the most heated in the golf industry and 2019 has produced a bumper crop of big sticks. Given the sophistication of the available technology, the drivers of 2019 are the best that the industry has ever seen. Not only is the most advanced science used to design and build the heads, but the most exotic shafts are now available, nearly across the board, from every company.

Beyond the glam, performance

Honma golf clubs have enjoyed legendary status in local golf circles but more for the exotic metals and stratospheric price that they commanded than for performance. Honma’s TW747 line of golf clubs are here to change our perception about the storied Japanese company.

One of the hottest drivers of 2019

Dominance in the driver market has traditionally been the bailiwick of the Carlsbad biggies—Callaway and TaylorMade. It’s been this way for what seems like decades. But parity seems to have caught up with golf club manufacturers. Perhaps the restrictions placed on the performance of the clubface combined with improvements in manufacturing techniques have served to make substantial gains more difficult, but last year saw some new names at the top of the driver hit parade.

Making the most of golf club technology

Golf clubs are being released at almost the same rate as mobile phones these days. While this creates sheer delight to the golf geek, it gets downright frustrating for the regular guy that doesn’t want to get too far behind the curve when it comes to his equipment.

Christmas in January

The New Year is more like Christmas for golfers because it’s at this time of the year that golf equipment companies start rolling out their new products for the new golf season, just in time for their world introduction at the PGA show in Orlando, Florida.

Controversy at Clark Sun Valley

A few days ago, a series of videos showing two unconscious caddies being carried off to seek medical attention and scuffles in the caddie locker room after one caddie was allegedly physically abused by the Korean supervisor at Clark Sun Valley were shared on the Pinoygolfer Facebook group.

A Year of Discontent at the Orchard

A little over six months ago, this column ran two articles detailing the troubles that the Orchard Golf and Country Club had experienced, including the deterioration of the condition of both golf courses, the firing of the entire management team and the conflicts and legal action taken by Orchard President Conrad Benitez against a number of members for comments made on social media.

Your golf goals for 2019

It’s that time of the year where we look back at the year that was and prepare for the year before us. Part of that process is setting goals for the New Year. Many refer to these goals as resolutions; behavior modification desired for the advancement of our greater good. Goals work better.

How to Play Our Traditional Golf Courses

Since the ’90s, Filipino golfers have become even more spoiled than usual. Not only are we attended to by caddies and umbrella girls, but we have become accustomed to immaculately manicured sandcapped fairways and lightning quick microbermuda greens. All well and good but, the great majority of golf courses in our country use carabao grass on the fairways and zoysia matrella (commonly called Manila grass) on the greens and fairways.

Equipment Review Callaway Rogue Hybrid

The driver is the most technologically gifted golf club made today. Ultra-precise CG placement, variable face thickness, adjustable hosels, graphite shafts all got their start in drivers and tricked down to the rest of the clubs in the bag.

Best Golf Clubs of 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, it is but fitting that we look back on the season that was and examine the new equipment releases that made the biggest impact this year.

Is Zoysia the future of sustainable golf in the Philippines?

SUSTAINABILITY has become a buzzword of the golf industry these days. There’s no way around the fact that golf needs a lot of resources. Golf courses use a lot of land and golf holes need to be maintained to a certain standard to remain faithful to the shot values envisioned by the course designer. To maintain an environment using imported turf grass species requires all manner of artificial means to protect the club’s precious investment—fertilizers, herbicides and other additives, as well as aggressive manual weeding in certain instances.

Teeing it up for Down

In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

A better Epic?

Callaway drivers have always been a source of fascination to me. Every one that I’ve owned was, at the time, the longest most forgiving driver that I had in the arsenal. Callaway drivers seem to have that home-run ball in them. When you hit it just so, the ball goes further than you believed you could ever hit a golf ball.

Cleveland RTX 4 Wedges : For the better player

The story of Cleveland Golf goes back to 1979 when Roger Cleveland founded the company (then called Cleveland Classics). The company made a full set of clubs but was universally acknowledged for its wedges. Its most popular model was the 588 (introduced in 1988). It was so popular that the 588 is still one of the best-selling golf clubs of all time.

How do you improve on the best?

Bob Vokey is one of the true household names in golf. He belongs to a select group of individuals who is recognized by golfers around the world for his marvelously efficient wedges. He mixes a wealth of knowledge, years of experience working with the best players in the world with boundless enthusiasm to produce arguably the best wedges on the market.

The most comfortable waterproof golf shoes ever!

ECCO is a Danish shoe company that makes some of the most comfortable shoes in the world. Its line of golf shoes is extremely well regarded in the sport and are renowned for their comfort and durability. Ecco is so passionate about its products that it processes its leather in its own tanneries to ensure the highest quality materials for its products.

The Big T’s best ever!

YOU have to admire a company like Titleist. No company in golf is more dedicated to elite and aspirational golfers. It has pursued that market segment relentlessly, regardless of what the rest of the golf industry is doing. As a result, they are sometimes a bit slow to adapt new technologies, taking more time to properly evaluate the developments and how to properly integrate them into their product line, keeping sight of the preferences of its core users.

Titleist AVX Golf Balls are here

Titleist’s latest performance golf ball, the AVX, has finally arrived in our market. AVX stands for Alternative to V and X, which, conveniently, allows us to understand where this ball fits in Titleist’s considerable line.

A preview of what could be the best driver of 2018

Callaway’s next big thing, the Rogue family of golf clubs, have been on the world market now for almost six months but have just started to make their way to the country’s proshops. Shame really. TaylorMade has gotten a big jump on Callaway’s finest since their Philippine launch several months back. They’ve made big strides in the market since the M3 and M4 have proven themselves superior to their predecessors. Has Callaway’s late entry into our market shortchanged golfers that opted to put the new M3 and M4 in their bags? Would they have been better served if they’d waited for the Rogue drivers?

Cobra F8 ONE Irons – Curiosity or a growing trend?

Cobra’s initial one length offering was well received—especially among golfers who struggle with consistent ball-striking. Return rates have been low, and while it would be overstating things to suggest there’s been widespread adoption, there remains genuine curiosity.

Long-term reports on the hottest clubs on the market

Don’t you just hate it when you test a club at the driving range and are just striping it perfectly? Take out the credit card, pay for it, and for the first round or two, it is absolute bliss. Then, by the third round or so, the magic wears off and the club just stops working. Now you’re furious because you just paid retail for what was supposed to be the latest and greatest but turned out to be a dud.

Sherwood Hills Golf Club: Still one of the best golf courses in the country

SHERWOOD Hills Golf Club had been a hideaway golf course for myself and a few of my Pinoy golfer friends over the years. It is very well run and always in tremendous condition. It is an awesome golf course with tremendous variety; enough to keep even the hardest core golfers thoroughly entertained. For the quality of golf on tap here, there are remarkably few golfers on the fairways.

Cobra F8 Driver: At par with the big boys

By virtue of sheer volume and quality of advertising and promoting their products, it’s usually difficult to look past the golf mega-manufacturers. Fortunately for the next-tier companies like Cobra Golf et al., many golfers march to their own beats and are the first to look beyond the big boys for alternative products that provide similar or superior performance to the TaylorMades and Callaways that hog public consciousness.

The Rebirth of the Mimosa Golf and Country Club

Built in the midst of the great golf-course boom of the early-1990s the Mimosa Golf and Country Club Mimosa is built on what was known as the Clark Air Base Golf Club. The original 18 was split and expanded into what are now two lovely golf courses. Redesigned in 1992 under former Mimosa Leisure Estate Chairman Antonio Gonzales by Hawaii-based course architects Robin Nelson and Neal Haworth, Mimosa now boasts two delightful golf courses, the Mountain View and Acacia-Lakeview, that exploit the varied terrain of the vast property.

Modern Rules of Golf: Growing the game

The USGA and R&A announced today the modernized Rules of Golf that will go into effect at the beginning of January 2019, ending a six-year process of discussion (and yearlong period of review).

Twist Face hits Philippine fairways!

A TaylorMade product launch is a big event and in 2018, their launch of the new M3 and M4 at the Army Driving Range in Fort Bonifacio was no exception. A huge crowd turned out to see the latest golf clubs from the golf-equipment giant from Carlsbad, California. TaylorMade Golf has a huge following here all anxious to see and test the much-hyped Twist Face Technology.

Best Modern Golf Course: Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club

From the moment we set foot on Ayala Land Premiere’s Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club, we knew it was something special. The land, the layout, the amenities…everything about it just screamed “world class.” We know that that’s a term that’s been used quite loosely in the past, but rest assured, it is entirely appropriate when applied to Anvaya Cove’s stunning golf course.

TaylorMade M3 and M4: The first of 2018’s big dogs hits our shores

Market forces being what they are, new golf clubs typically make it to our market a bit later than the larger markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Now while that delays our enjoyment of the latest and greatest that equipment manufacturers have to offer, it allows us the latitude of observing the rest of the world’s reaction to said clubs and that should allow us to make better purchasing decisions when the time comes.

Odyssey golf wants to put a mallet in your bag

Your putter is the one club in your bag that seems to defy the advancement of golf technology. Yes, there are plenty of putters that have used science to make them roll the ball better, respond better on mishits and in theory, make you a better putter. But that said, it is an indisputable fact that most golfers continue to play with putters that were fundamentally designed in the 1960s.

Are the new drivers really better?

I’ve seen it happen every year since I began writing about golf and golf clubs. Every year the equipment manufacturers introduce their latest, greatest drivers with each claiming to be longer and easier to hit than last year’s model.

The Best of Philippine Golf

The end of the good year 2017 is upon us and as is our custom, it is time to look back on the year that was and how the golf courses of the country fared.

How Many Wedges Should You Have in Your Bag?

This is a topic that gets a lot of feedback from our readers. There is so much choice that it’s confusing. Which wedge do I get? How many wedges should I carry? What lofts should I get? What’s bounce? What are the different sole designs for?

Play it right–always!

The Play it Right movement started on the 23rd of May in 2014, when an unashamed cheat took the top prize in the Mayor Erap Cup at Club Intramuros. Fortunately, members of the old Pinoygolfer forum behind and in front of him in the tournament witnessed his underhandedness.

The Resorts World Manila Masters: A retrospective

Sadly, the fifth staging of the Resorts World Manila Masters is also the last. You see, the five-year agreement between Resorts World Manila and the Asian Tour to fund the tournament as the title sponsor has come to an end. But what a glorious tournament it was!

The Other Side of Marapara Ever discover the bad side of your golf course?

Getting to know a person takes time. It takes time and patience. Lots of both. The more time you spend with the person, the more of yourself that you invest in that person, the more open you become to that person, the better you will get to know him/her. When things are going smoothly, it’s lovely. But you have to take the good with the bad. Coping with the bad side of the person is the key to the relationship.

Callaway Epic Sub-Zero Fairway Woods There’s a new sheriff in town

It’s been said before, fairway woods are the most difficult clubs in the bag to replace. Look at any touring pro’s bag and you’ll most likely find an ancient fairway wood there amid the new irons, wedges and putters. Fred Couples played a prehistoric Callaway Big Bertha 3-wood for most of his career and never swapped it out until he started his career on the Senior Tour.