Category: Equipment Reviews

FootJoy Hyperflex II 30-Round Review

When it comes to shoes I’m fickle.  I have wide feet with high arches, and unlike most people I don’t pronate (I under-pronate or supinate).  So buying golf shoes can be a bit of a challenge at best.

My new Footjoy Hyperflex 2 Golf Shoes. From the top.

My new Footjoy Hyperflex 2 Golf Shoes. From the top.

I don’t have the Adidas shoes currently (if they made golf shoes in a EEE Width (they don’t) I’d probably buy from them since the one pair I bought was great save for the fact it wasn’t wide enough).  If your feet are normal width they have some fantastic looking product.

For me, I’ve had my best luck with Footjoy.  Not because they give me anything or because they’re nice people (they may well be) but because their product fits my foot and is comfortable.  I got 4 very productive years out of their old XPS-1 shoes (ask your parents, kids) before they started coming apart.   I tried a pair of New Balance shoes (lightweight, but not a lot of ventilation (my feet would be incredibly sweaty after a round)) and didn’t care for them at all, so this past March I went back to Footjoy.

After emailing their customer service team, they recommended the Hyperflex II as the closest thing to my beloved XPS-1’s.  Placed an order, and within a few days they showed up at my house.

From the bottom.  A lot of yellow, and a lot of fantastic grip on turf.

From the bottom. A lot of yellow, and a lot of fantastic grip on turf.

I’ve held off doing a review because initial reviews are rarely that good; most newer golf shoes are well made so they should easily hold up out of the box.  But what about after 30 rounds over the majority of a season?  Would they still feel good in October the same way they do in late March?  Read on.

Comfort:  Outstanding. When I first put them on they felt better than any golf shoes I’d ever worn before.  Slipped right on without any issues.  The last time I wore them a week ago, they still feel great.  Haven’t had any blisters or sore feet after rounds (used to have issues with my New Balance shoes).  The white cushioning is firm (good for bigger lads like myself) without being overly plush.  Even after 30 rounds they still feel good.  The cushioning hasn’t broken down and other than the spikes starting to wear down (expected) they feel as good as they did out of the box.

From the side. The white portion has firm cushioning yet is stable. Bravo.

From the side. The white portion has firm cushioning yet is stable. Bravo.

Waterproofing: Above average.  Morning rounds in dewy/wet conditions haven’t been an issue nor have a couple rounds in light/moderate rain.

Grip: Outstanding.  I’ve never slipped, and even going down steep hills I’ve never had an issue with the shoes.  They have replaceable soft-spike cleats which for the most part don’t leave a big impression on the greens.

Stability: Above average. The soles flare out a bit (it’s one of the things I loved about my XPS-1 shoes) but not that much.  I’d like it if they flared out more (I have a tendency to roll my ankle a bit in my downswing) but that’s my only quibble and it’s a minor one.

Look: Average.  They’re golf shoes.   They’re not a traditional wing-tip or a saddle shoe, but those seem to be going the way of the persimmon driver.  They’re not hideously ugly, they don’t look like Sketchers, and I like the yellow sole.

Overall: Outstanding.  I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive when I ordered these but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  It has some elements of a traditional golf shoe but with lightweight stability a

nd comfort that should be expected.  If you’re in the market for new kicks, you could do a hell of a lot worse.

Song of the Day:

Waking up to hearing about the events that happened in Las Vegas overnight was horrifying.

I have many happy memories of my visits to Las Vegas (I could probably write a novella about them); love, lust, great golf, bad decisions, and a host of other things.  This song always takes me back to a 1992 trip (back when I was living in Southern California).  Driving through the desert at sunset on a hot July evening and hearing this song on the radio.  A simpler time, when everything seemed possible.  The last 25 years have been a lot of things, but more than once I think about that car ride through the desert, hearing this song, and wondering but what if.

The Cocteau Twins were never a major commercial hit.  This is probably their most well-known song.  Always brings a smile to my face.  Hope it does the same to you.

 

 

Blue Mash Course Review (and more)

From the 4th tee at Blue Mash. Don't go left. Or long. Or right.

From the 4th tee at Blue Mash. Don’t go left. Or long. Or right.

Despite temperatures that were 30 degrees cooler than the day before, I had an enjoyable round on Sunday 3/26 at Blue Mash which remains one of the better public tracks in Central Maryland.  Unlike my 2015 visit to its sister course Waverly Woods, pace of pace was not an issue at all.  The other twosome I was paired with moved on as the cold weather was too much for them (they played the front nine and called it a day),  Playing with the guy I got paired with as a twosome, we finished 18 holes in 3 hours and 10 minutes (and that was with a your humble scribe requiring a stop for refreshments between nines).

Despite the up-and-down weather of late, for the most part, Blue Mash was in good shape when I played it with a couple notable exceptions.  The driving range is currently mats only while their green grass portion comes back (it’s currently covered with a plastic tarp).   As you can see from my photos, much of the turf-grass is still brown, but that’s not really surprising (the turf played fine; if anything it was nice that the rough wasn’t really a factor and easy to play from).  The greens rolled pretty true (it’s hard to tell but there’s a lot more break in them than it appears).

It’s been five years since I played Blue Mash so it was a bit of unfamiliar territory.  For those unfamiliar, Blue Mash doesn’t ease you into your round.  The first 3 holes are long par 4’s that are as difficult of an opening stretch that exists in the DMV.  Once you escape that, you’ve got a medium-length par 3 (photo above( to a well-protected green and a medium length par 5 that has jail the entire left side of the hole.

5th hole at Blue Mash from approx 150 out.  Trees left, water right. Whee!

5th hole at Blue Mash from approx 150 out. Trees left, water right. Whee!

The short 7th and 8th holes look inviting (and easy) enough on the scorecard, but any mistake off the tee and there’s trouble all over the place.

Once you hit the back nine, you have to contend with water for the first few holes, with 11 (a long par 3 into the prevailing wind) requiring a fairly stout carry over water to a well-protected green.

12th hole from the fairway at Blue Mash. The water on the right side isn't for decoration.

12th hole from the fairway at Blue Mash. The water on the right side isn’t for decoration.

So Blue Mash remains a stout test for area golfers.  I’m not going to claim to be Bradley Klein of Golfweek, but three notes about the course design:

1) Unless you’ve a knee that is problematic on a good day like I do, the course is a fairly easy walk.  No big distances between holes and no real elevation changes of note.  If courses want more people walking this is one way to make this happen.

2) No homes.  Not even kidding on this one.  The entire area is nothing but golf course.

3) The green complexes are all well protected; several holes have large bunkers (I know since I found my way in them) in the front of the green.  This came into play because on a cold day the ball doesn’t travel as far as it normally would and being off a few yards had some unpleasant consequences.

So all in all, Blue Mash is well worth a visit.  They have a practice green, a short game green and a range that is currently mats only but should convert to their green grass once we get into season.

SHOE REVIEW

Finally wore my Foot-Joy Hyperflex II shoes during my round at Blue Mash.  Out of the box they felt really good, but I will do a review once I get 3-5 rounds played in them.

SONG OF THE DAY

Alan Hawkshaw is a musical savant.  Put this on and if this doesn’t make you want to fix a cocktail or twelve then I can’t help you. Things are weird.  Sometimes you’ve just got to let go a bit.  This isn’t yacht rock.  It’s something else entirely.

Shoe Review- New Balance NBG2002

With the untimely demise and departure of my beloved Foot Joy XPS-1 shoes (damn you Foot Joy for discontinuing them), I was forced to look elsewhere for a new pair of shoes this year once the XPS shoes starting coming apart (to be fair, I had them for 3 years and wore them in a variety of conditions.

My options are limited because I have a very wide foot; I’ve had minimal luck with Adidas  (they were okay comfort wise but I wanted a more stable platform), so I started looking.  I’ve never had good luck with Nike (I bought a pair of their shoes 20 years ago and regretted it after one round- uncomfortable and two spikes came out mid-round) and Puma just feel terrible on my feet.

I’ve been a fan of the soft spikes since they came out, and trying on a pair of spikeless shoes, I immediately scratched this off my options.  Since I tend to play early morning rounds and given that we do get a bit of rain here, a spikeless shoe made no sense (I immediately began having concerns about safety and stability).  If I was going somewhere like Palm Springs or Scottsdale (dry areas that get little rain) I’d probably reconsider, but in our climate?  No thanks.

Seeing that New Balance were entering the golf shoe market, I was intrigued.  They make wide width sneakers that I’ve had decent luck with (currently I’ve leaned toward Asics but I still have a pair of New Balance shoes in rotation), so I did some digging.  They make a “minimal” shoe but my size and need for stability ruled that out pretty much immediately.

After some digging and research, I settled on the NBG2002 shoe (photo from New Balance) because they had it in a 4E width and it met my requirements.

New Balance 2002NBG shoes (photo New Balance)

New Balance 2002NBG shoes (photo New Balance)

I put them in rotation in late June, so the review is after a dozen rounds (a good sample size, it seems)

Comfort: Out of the box, the initial feel was very light and very comfortable.  There’s ample cushion.  They’re very light.  If you’re not used to this (and I wasn’t) it’s a bit of a pleasant surprise.  While I do ride when I play, as we know, you still end up doing a bit of walking.

Grip/support: The spike design isn’t bad (see photo below taken after 12 rounds).

Spike pattern (2 in the heel, 5 in the forefoot).

Spike pattern (2 in the heel, 5 in the forefoot).

The spikes provide plenty of grip in both flat and hilly lies as well as in the sand.  In terms of support, the base of the shoe isn’t as wide as my XPS-1 shoes were.  Ideally it would be wider but it’s not horrendously different.

Waterproofing: So far, the waterproofing has held up.  If I do have one complaint, the shoes aren’t that breathable compared to other shoes I’ve owned.  If you buy a pair and you keep them in a shoe bag, I HIGHLY recommend taking them out of the bag after your round and let them dry naturally.  They have held up in early morning rounds, but they do make my feet sweat something to beat the band.

Appearance: I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to shoes, so you’ll never see me wearing the Rickie Fowler orange.  I don’t mind a bit of colour, but from the so-called “mirror test” I’m happy with how these look.  My photos don’t really show it but I like the tone-on-tone hexagonal motif (the first picture from New Balance picks it up).

Side View NBG2002.  The yoga mat is not mine.

Side View NBG2002. The yoga mat is not mine.

Durability: After 12 rounds, frankly it’s hard to say.  They appear to be holding up okay, but being somewhat large, my added tonnage probably doesn’t help things.

Overall: The lack the shoe breathing notwithstanding, they’re comfortable.  If you wear orthotics the sockliner insert comes out (it’s the green thing you can see).  They grip fairly well (no slips so far), and are pretty comfortable.  I’m not that happy that New Balance isn’t making a 4E width in their higher-end models (seriously- WHY NOT?).  If I was to add things to my want list, I’d like to see a customize option where I could get a pair with a certain English Premier League Team logo that happens to wear New Balance (if they do that or figure out how to let me get a Maple Leafs logo…then here- just take my money).

Top view NBG2002.

Top view NBG2002.

 

Equipment Review- Odyssey Works Versa 2-Ball Fang

I have never been graced with fantastic putting skills.  I can hit the ball fairly well and my chipping and wedge play is decent, but more often than not, my putting has torpedoed more rounds than I can count.

My latest band-aid has come from the good people at Odyssey Golf, with their new Odyssey Works Versa 2-Ball Fang that they rolled out at the start of the year (all photos are mine- sorry about the lighting).  The standard model comes with a standard grip, but the one I purchased came with the larger grip (shown below).  I have found that I tend to not get as wristy or as prone to pushes and pulls with the larger grip.

My new flat stick.  The rug really ties the room together.

My new flat stick. The rug really ties the room together.

I’m not yet a putter hoarder- I have an original Ping Craz-E that someone christened “a spatula”, I have an old Ping A-Blade that was a gift from my late aunt (who introduced me to the game over 30 years ago), and I have a Scotty Cameron Newport Detour that I’ll throw in the bag (I like it enough but it’s a bit light for me- on fast greens…it’s great).

While we suffered through a long, cold, and snowy winter, I read up and researched putters.  Once the weather got nice, I headed over to Golf Galaxy (it’s literally the only option- they’re nice enough but don’t take that as an endorsement) to demo the three I found that I thought would help me: The Odyssey that I ended up buying, a Ping Scottsdale (the Carefree, which looks like the next generation of the Craz-E line), and a Scotty Cameron GoLo.

The Cameron putters are works of art and the price tag reflects this.  Unfortunately, I need more of an alignment aid than the Cameron offers.  If you’re someone who wants a blade putter and doesn’t mind dropping the coin, I cannot recommend them enough.

The Ping never felt good in my hands, and I never felt comfortable over the ball.  I kept finding that I was pulling putts, and for whatever reason it didn’t meet my eye test.  If you’re shopping for a new putter, take a look at their product- it wasn’t for me but they still make great equipment.

And I guess that’s my take-away.  Try different models.  Don’t go in locked into one model.

So back to the Odyssey.  The 2-ball putter has been around for close to a decade, and the simplicity of it really caught my eye.  It’s easy to line up (see photo below).

Odyssey Works Versa 2-Ball Fang (top of putter- looking down)

Odyssey Works Versa 2-Ball Fang (top of putter- looking down)

Standing over a putt, it’s super-easy to line up, and more than the Cameron, felt very smooth going back and at impact.  Off the face of the putter, the ball began rolling pretty quickly.  Below is the bottom of the putter.

Bottom of Putter

Bottom of Putter

I’ve used it now for five rounds and I’m definitely taking fewer putts.  More importantly, my first putt is ending up in tap-in range (or at a minimum within the Circle of Trust/Circle of Friendship that you’d like to be in), and I’m not seeing the misses because of pushes and pulls.

If you’re in the market for a new flat stick, do your homework online and don’t be afraid to try different models.  Ask questions, and hopefully make plenty of putts.

Unrelated, I watched (for 30 second) the self-indulgent crap-fest that was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony.  They’ll never get in, and their chances of reuniting for a tour are probably nil.  But for a few years in the 1980’s, The Smiths were, in my opinion, unlike anything else.  The genius was always Johnny Marr’s rickenbacker guitar, and not the lead singer.  If you’re unfamiliar, listen and you’ll see what I mean.

Where I Break Down The Perfect Club Infomercial

Being someone who watched infomercials but never bought anything from them, I’ve nonetheless had an odd fascination about them, and few commercials have held my interest quite as much as Peter Kessler narrating “The Perfect Club” infomercial.  If you watched Golf Channel at any point from 1999-2005 you probably saw it at least once.   If you have seen it, you know what I’m talking about.  If not, this was before the Sham Wow Guy, but after the wave of 1980’s/early 1990’s infomercials.  Peter Kessler narrates this magnum opus of schlock, and he’s craptastic.  Who’s Peter Kessler?  He worked for Golf Channel in its infancy as one of their studio analysts.  He always had that horrible uncomfortable way of fawning over people (so not much change from the current crop).  There are days where I’d pay money to see him back on the air if only because it would be hilarious.

Kessler staring at you.  Try looking away. You can't.

Kessler staring at you. Try looking away. You can’t.

I’m not the first person to find a weird enjoyment from obscure video.  The master (for me) is Sean McIdoe of Grantland and Down Goes Brown, who has made this a thing on a weekly basis.  Which is why he’s a better writer than I am, and has a fantastic book that you should buy if you love hockey and/or have a sense of humour and why I’m writing a blog during nights and weekends.

First off, the commercial.  Watch it.  Stare at it.  Let Peter Kessler’s narration take over your body the same way eating Taco Bell and a bottle of Thunderbird takes over your body.  Let it wash over you.

We start with Kessler wearing the triple-pleated slacks that say “damn I love nothing better than a chicken Caesar salad and bud light while speaking to a guy wearing to-the-calf socks with a woman who serves no purpose than to stand there.  Do you think phone sex ads are more degrading or less degrading than this?  I’m going to point out that this was the Big Golf era- pants were bigger, shirts were bigger, the big straw hats were in, you had housing developments with courses being built as quickly as they could, and yes- even clubs were getting bigger (the driver they’ll get to is only 370cc compared to the current 460cc that everything is built at).  It was a weird time, what can I say.

Submitted for your approval.

0.29: He’s supposed to be staring at the guy’s swing, but I’m saying he’s looking somewhere higher.  The way he says “that was better”…I mean, holy crap could that possibly be any more creepy?  If someone said that to me in that voice on the range I’m about 99% sure I’d be curled up in a room crying while listening to nothing but Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos.  If you heard that from the guy in the stall next to yours at the range, you’d run, right?  Or take up lawn bowling.

0.34: No, really dude…maybe you could waggle that thing a few more times.  I’m blaming Sergio’s waggle-fests on you.  I don’t know this for sure, but I think you’re permitted to bludgeon to death anyone in the group in front of you that waggles like that.  Say hello to five-hour rounds.

0.55: And here we go into “Peter Kessler narrates things in a creepy manner” time.  Can you imagine calling a phone sex hotline and getting this instead?  You’re welcome for that visual.  Try sleeping tonight and not hearing that.

1.06: Yes, stunning distance indeed!  Notice how the ball doesn’t stay on the green?  I hope she has an Alien Wedge!

1.40: Clearing that water hazard shouldn’t be a problem.  But the one short of the bunker?  Most 20-handicappers are putting the next one either in the sand or the next county.

1:51: Who wears long pants like that?  Is that so we don’t see the knee-high black socks?  And by the way, what level of creepy is “it will increase your fun?”  I mean, do you get a bottle of tequila and some painkillers?

2:13: I’m glad that Peter Kessler wants me to know that none of this was staged and that they were filmed during a single shoot.  Do you think that he only had to one-time the narration as well?

2:25: The perfect club is the perfect gift for the entire family?  I’m getting one for She Who Is Really In Charge.  Before she attempts to bludgeon me with it I’m telling her “but Peter Kessler said it was the perfect gift for the whole family!”

2:48: We’re now at that point where Kessler really puts on the sell as only he can.  If only he’d have thrown in that the grips were made with Fine Corinthian Leather or something.  This is someone who rubs one out to a Buick catalog.

3:08: I’m no expert but maybe if they could find a goddamn fairway off the tee they wouldn’t need this contraption.  Seriously.

3:45: Seriously.  It’s called a fairway.  Before you give Kessler your money on this thing, maybe try some lessons, the Medicus driver or something similar?  If you have this thing, the Medicus and the Alien wedge in your bag at the same time, are you legally required to use the old Ping 2-colour balls?  I feel like you should be.

4:33: If I have dinner with my mother and she asks me about The Perfect Club I’m having her committed.  There.  I said it.

5:05: Proof that no millennials will ever buy this thing- when Kessler claims his mom tells him he’s not that good.  Your average 25 year old hears this and they’re looking for a bridge to jump off or go on an unhinged rant on Twitter or Tumblr.

5:32: The stock video of this club floating around is something out of The Big Lebowski.  I mean, you want to turn away but you just stare at it.  But one correction- if you need this do-hickey to make golf fun again, you’re not trying very hard, or you haven’t tried getting your drink on during your round.

5:45: Now we’re at 100,000 golfers using this thing. Earlier is was 250K.  Did that many old geezers die during filming or something?

6:05: Wait, there’s a Perfect Plus?  How is that even possible?  Are these people on the dope or something?  Call it the Perfect Wood or Perfect Utility or Perfect Other Club.

6:24: Nice to see that they have discovered the fairway.  Good on them.

6:38: Kessler staring at you is the stuff of restraining orders.  And nightmares.  Or Kessler becoming Peter Kessler Zombie Golf Equipment Shill.

6:45: If this club is the best thing to ever happen to your game, you’re not doing it right.  Seriously.

7:13: When he says “high, long, soaring shots with” I’m honestly creeped out beyond words.  How many people bought this thing to make the commercial go away?

7:40: My favourite club is the airplane bottle of scotch.  That won’t change.

7:55: Did he get paid on how many times he used the word “perfect”?  Do you think that perfect is his safe word because I’m pretty sure it is.  Oh, and who says “4 and 5 pars”…rubes.  Hayseeds.  It’s a par-4 or a par-5.  Get it together, man.

8:20: If you haven’t noticed they’re showing the same five-six shots over and over again.

8:51: I ask, they deliver…a 370cc Perfect Driver.  And he’s not wearing the red shirt- did their production budget allow for a second shirt?

9:15: Notice they don’t show any of these shots landing.  Clearly the camera guys were too smitten by Kessler to handle this.

9:48: Oh good…guy wearing golf sandals with a handicap that starts with “about”…if you’re actually serious you know your index.  Mine just went up to 11.3 because the good rounds I had are falling off and being replaced by not-so-good ones.  And Kessler is back in the red shirt.  Awesome.

10:47: How far, exactly is that white flag that Wade is hitting it over?  Is that where he’s aiming?  Because I’ve seen plenty of guys who can hit it ten bells at the range but couldn’t find a fairway on an actual golf course.

11:15: Pin high and 20 yards left of the target is almost always an easy shot at most courses I play.  By easy I mean “two chips and three putts later you’re probably done.”  You’ll also notice that by this point Kessler has some truly spectacular man-boob (or moobs) sweat going.  And not for anything but they couldn’t do any better than a driving range adjacent to an air field?

12:25: So sandals guy doesn’t carry a driver.  I’ll bet he has two ball  retrievers and one of those suction cup do-hickey things on his putter.  And I bet he smokes giant cigars.  Because of course.

13:00: DEAR GOD WHY IS HE STARING AT ME.  MAKE IT STOP.

13:30: We get it.  Same six shots we saw before.  Oh- perfection costs $100 in steel and $125 in graphite.  And it’s 39 inches long.

14:04: Now we get to the “let’s see what D-list PGA Tour professional will appear so they don’t show the photos of him/her co-mingling with livestock…allegedly”…oh my gawd that’s Larry Rinker’s music!  Why did I have the club in his bag at Q-School?  Because I like cash money, that’s why!  Oh, and because Peter Kessler made  a smooth jazz compilation that gets the women folk all crazy.

14:50: Your buddies on the PGA Tour?  They don’t care what you’re using.  You’re missing cuts and trunk-slamming on Fridays.  “Played in 520 PGA Tour Events” translates to the equivalent of a participation trophy.  Just saying.  And can we talk about the fashion trend of having that top button buttoned on the golf shirt?  Who thought that was a good idea?  And that shirt…could it be a bit bigger?  I mean, I know that this was the thing back then but it’s not like he’s trying to hide a gut or man-boobs.

15:29: That golfer with that swing is making my eyes bleed.  You’ll notice that they don’t show the shots landing.  Gee, I wonder why that is.  Maybe because…oh, I don’t know- they’re landing in the rough?

15:51: Hateful?  Not really…in fact, none of the lies they show him hitting out of look all that bad.  I know what it’s like to have to chop out of some tall cabbage.  That ain’t it, hoss.  And by all means, let’s show those same six shots.  Back…and to the left.  Back…and to the left.

16:25: Golf is meant to be fun?  Wow…that’s some zen bullshit there.  Thanks.  You know what’s fun?  Making birdies, the way that first cold beer tastes, and piping a drive about 280 in the fairway.

17:14: If The Perfect Club is actually Perfect, why does it need a companion?  I’m calling Shenanigans!

17:33: Great shot…as it rolls off the green into god only knows what kind of trouble.  Derp derp.

17:52: I promise…it’s perfect.  Must. Stop. Looking. At. His. Eyes.

18:20: If she’s a teaching professional and has “an atrocious golf swing” maybe I’m not calling her for lessons.

19:28: I’m openly rooting for her to hit the lip and have the ball knock Kessler unconscious.  Is that wrong?  Oh, and shall we point out that her shot went from one bunker to another?  How is that successful?  Ask yourself this- would you rather have, say, 100 yards from the fairway or a tight bunker shot when anything long is in the water?

20:08: Her second shot landed 40-50 yards short of the green.  Sounds easy to me!

20:29: Ladies and gentlemen we have The Perfect Driver!  370cc of supposed driving fury!  Love the old geezer pulling one left.  He’s fascinating.  Am I the only one who thinks he’s the guy on Facebook who forwards you all the crazy-pants stuff about how the boogeyman is going to come and take your money, or how Obama is a Secret Muslim Terrorist Grand Wizard Mason who is part of a secret cartel who control the earth’s rotation?

20:41: Again- not showing the shots land.  How many did they put into that lake for this shoot?

21:19: Oh good, let’s take a gander at George.  I’m fairly certain he thinks Bigfoot is real.  He’s wearing a microphone and has the battery pack on his belt.  I’m sure that he wears that all the time.  Do you think he owns a metal detector?  I’m saying yes.

23:45: We’re still with George, the 14-handicapper at the driving range adjacent to the airport, except it’s earlier in the day than it was before.  I’ve got ten bucks that says this guy is the guy who goes into the woods looking for golf balls.  Yes, you’re aiming at the pink flag but your ball is heading toward the yellow one.  Either George here is color blind or he’s not a professional.  Sorry Peter.

24:19: Next up in  the parade of old white guys is TC.  His index is “about a ten” which is bullshit.  Your handicap index (if you have one) is a number.  No “abouts”, no “sort of’s”, “kind of’s” or anything like it.  My index, as of June 1st, is 11.3.  Not “about a ten” or “sort of an eleven” but an 11.3.  Period.  If you keep track of this (and you should) then there’s no ambiguity.  Kessler also points out that TC isn’t wearing golf shoes.  He finishes up by hitting a few shots that, to this trained eye, appear to be leaking to the right (not that I’d know or anything).

So that’s pretty much that.  That’s the Perfect Club, which, if you’re so inclined, is available on ebay.  Peter Kessler narration is extra.

Equipment Review-Titleist Cart Bag

For years I’ve used a stand bag (and still do when I travel to cut down on weight so my bag doesn’t hit any airline weight limits), but given that I ride 99.9% of the time when I play, I made the decision to go to a cart bag.

The cart bag, while heavier, has more room for balls, accessories, and the like.  So after reading numerous reviews and the like, I settled on the Titleist Lightweight Cart Bag.

I own this bag

I own this bag

It weighs 6.0 pounds, and has 14 dividers, and a nice easy-to-use slot for your umbrella.   The pouch in front is big enough for sunscreen, bug spray, and my rangefinder and the pouch on top of it (just below the handle) is perfect for gloves and my Crown Royal pouch bag of tees and ballmarkers.

The side compartments easily hold enough balls, and there’s a really nice pouch on top that’s perfect for your car keys and mobile phone.

Honestly, it’s a fantastic bag.  There’s only one thing wrong with it.

 

THE CARRY STRAP IS ON THE WRONG SIDE (it’s on the back side).  I know, this seems great:

 

Carry strap missing

Carry strap missing

Except that it isn’t.  The strap belongs on the front.  But wait…it’s easier to load on a cart, they say!  Maybe, but it’s a colossal pain in the ass to lug it from my car, because carrying it is awkward.

You’ll notice I have my putter (the big orange cover) easily accessible; the putter well is big and quite deep.  Since you’re using it every hole it makes total sense.

Overall, I like this bag a lot.  It stands up on its own so when I’m at the range it just stands there, mocking me.   If it had an option to move the carry strap to the front this bag might well be perfect.  It’s not particularly wide so if there’s two bags in the cart there’s plenty of room.

The only other issue (for some) is that there’s not a lot of brackets to hang towels and the like.  I have a Club Glove towel that slides over my alignment sticks, and it works genius (if I need a second towel I just loop it around the sticks and I’m good to go).

Hit ’em straight.

 

 

The clubfitting experience

I hate going shopping- to me, it’s a torturous exercise that I will avoid at all costs.  Be it clothes, household items, or much of anything, I’ve always taken a “go in and get done as quickly as possible” approach.

Shopping for retail items is equally loathsome.  I’ve no desire to have a relationship with a salesperson- while I respect that they have a job to do, hectoring me when I’ve indicated I’m in no need or desires of their attention is a great way to keep me from spending money.  The opposite I also find to be true- having to wait at a cash register, goods in hand, in wait for someone to take my money in exchange for said items.  I find online shopping to be a fairly reasonable option- by nature I enjoy doing research and being of reasonable intellect, I can work at my own pace before making a purchase.

However, in some instances, it’s required that one go to a store, and engage in the belly of the beast.  Buying new golf clubs is one of those instances.  Having done exhaustive research about my needs as a golfer (and unfortunately “scotch” won’t help here but not for trying), my game, my swing, and having read both Golf Magazine and Golf Digest’s issues on new clubs (porn for equipment nerds), I was off and running.

Golf Magazine continues to do a piecemeal approach that I hate, but if you need a new driver, their reviews on new drivers can be found here: http://www.golf.com/equipment/golf-magazine-clubtest-2014-drivers-best-golf-drivers-driver-reviews-golf-equipment

Golf Digest’s Hot List can be viewed here: http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-equipment/hot-list

Unfortunately my options for clubfitting were, at best, highly limited.  While Golf Galaxy has received several positive reviews from the likes of Golf Digest’s Stina Sternberg (and yes- if more golf stores would be more accessible to women it would surely be a good thing), their relationship (with Golf Galaxy having sent out a circular highlighting the Golf Digest “Gold” products I was a bit leery- I can be somewhat of a cynical, skeptical prick at the best of times) with the Hot List seemed odd, but off I went.

Being marginally old fashioned I thought I could call and make an appointment for a clubfitting.  I had done this with my previous set of irons with the now-defunct Mammoth Golf, and it worked out pretty well.  Unfortunately Golf Galaxy doesn’t take appointments; I was advised to “just show up” and they’d fit me in.  Being a hyper-organized type that’s more than a bit OCD, I wasn’t exactly fond of the idea of “just showing up” on a Saturday morning (because of work and other commitments my weekdays are all but shot) as it tends to put me into a cold sweat.

So off I went, hoping that I could find a suitable match and be done without wasting my entire Saturday inside a store.

I was greeted by a polite salesperson who asked a few basic questions and I explained what I was looking for and listed a couple models I was interested in trying.  He got me sorted out straightaway and had me hit some warm-up shots in one of their hitting bays while another gentleman was getting fitted for a driver.  After warming up and the launch monitor station emptying it was my turn.

Pretty early on I found the set I really liked, and it wasn’t the one I was expecting.  Having honed in, we then got down to the fitting.  I had my old specs from my previous set (one thing about Ping that I like is their irons are all colour-coded by measurements, so telling him that I was a “green dot” helped him dial in the set).

After hitting 30 shots on the launch monitor (I only know this because it kept count)- I hit about a dozen or so off of a board to determine if I was flat or upright- I found a fit that I liked.  Oddly enough, the stock lie/upright was what I needed, which I wasn’t expecting.  Even better, they had them in stock which meant I’d save a return trip!

One area that he was very helpful was in explaining what a graphite shaft does for you as opposed to a steel shaft (steel is cheaper, but graphite can help you gain distance but can be harder to control in terms of distance/accuracy).  He ended up steering me toward the cheaper steel shafts.

Overall, it was a positive experience but if I can impart any wisdom to anyone reading this who’s drooling over the idea of new sticks and wants to get a club fitting, it would be the following (note-I don’t work at or have a stake in any golf shop, so I don’t have a skin in the game):

1) Do your research before you go.  Read reviews (TGW.com has reader reviews that require you to have bought the item through them).

2) Do an honest assessment of your game.  What is your current handicap index, or what is your average score for 18 holes?  What do you currently have in your bag, and what would a new set ideally hope to accomplish?

3) Be honest about your budget.  No sense going into a store with a $500 budget and looking to buy a $1000 set.  Note the MSRP when you’re doing research.

4) Be honest about the makeup of your set.  The 3-iron has become a dinosaur and many of the so-called “super game improvement” sets are ditching the 4-iron as well. Do you want hybrids to replace 4 and 5 irons?  Think about shafts- your swing speed may not lend itself to a stiff shaft.  Ask about graphite, and consider the answer.  It’s not for me or anyone else to tell you what you should or shouldn’t play with.  Ultimately, it’s your call.

5) Wear shoes that you can hit shots with.  You “may” want to wear sneakers/trainers or at least a shot with some kind of tread.  Or you “may” want to bring your golf shoes with you.

6) Give yourself plenty of time.  Golf clubs aren’t cheap.  Rushing through the process could mean you end up with clubs that don’t fit.  If you go on a weekend give yourself more time as the store may be busy.

7) Ask to warm up before you do your fitting.

8) This is a club fitting, it is NOT a lesson.  Swing your regular swing.  Changing your swing during the fitting process will leave you with clubs that don’t fit.

9) Expect to pay a small fee for a club fitting (many stores will refund some or all of the cost if you buy a set of clubs).

10) If you’re confused about something, speak up and say something!  If something feels odd, say something.  I spoke to three different folks (off the record)- they all said that they want people to love their purchase (you hating it after the fact means you’re less likely to return).  It’s good for them, their store, and you.

Best of luck, and happy shopping.

New sticks

After much deliberation, debate, procrastination and “maybe” one or two glasses of Glenlivet (my current tipple of choice), I went to Golf Galaxy over the weekend and got fitted for a new set of irons (which I highly recommend).  After much debate I went with a set of Titleist 714 AP1 irons.

A review of my experience is forthcoming, but now, enjoy the majesty of them.

The pre-round food and drink experiment (Part 1)

Nutritionists like to say that what we put in our bodies is important.  While eating healthy food can help us be more productive, unhealthy eating can lead to a loss of productivity.  For golfers, this can mean the difference between a good round and a mediocre or poor one.  If you look at the professionals on the PGA, European, LPGA and Web.com tours you certainly see a lot of fit athletes engaging in healthy eating habits.  Many have nutritionists and fitness experts they work with to help them maintain peak performance.

I am not one of those people.

The reality is that most of us on the public courses have full time jobs and are trying to balance this wonderful game of golf with…well, these people I live with…do they have names or something?  I should write this stuff down.

Heck, you’re probably busy right now.  In fact, you might be reading this before you go hit the links (if you do, can I take a moment to compliment you on your world-class taste in golf blog reading?) and worse, you might be hungry and/or thirsty and you’re not sure about what to do, and the idea of taking a $10 Nassau off of that asshole coworker of yours is the only thing keeping you from committing homicide so any advantage would be more than welcome.

Or, you’re reading this on the can on your mobile at work.  Again, you have great taste reading material in bathroom category (and really, this is much better than Cousin Sally’s latest post on Facebook on LOLCats).

So in the interest of helping you, my fellow public course golfer, I did an experiment of all the popular pre-round food and drink options.  If this was on Bleacher Report I’d make a slideshow, but even a blogger like me has some standards.  So on this post I’ll go over drink options, and in Part 2 I will cover food.

Item: Airplane Bottle of Whiskey

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Size: Smaller than a sleeve of balls.  You “could” throw more than one in your golf bag and not be overly taxed.

Cost: A few dollars depending on how rich your taste runs

Taste: Scotchy scotch scotch…in my belly.  At 6:00 a.m. this isn’t for everyone, but greatness comes in many forms.  To the uninitiated, a bit like room temperature gasoline, but I like Scotch.  I’m having my (none of your damn business) ‘nth one now if you must know.

Performance: Initial reaction was “oh fuck yeah!!!” which a few holes later turned into me thinking that I need another.  Luckily they’re small so you “could” (I should note that I don’t encourage drinking to excess nor underage drinking) have another.  And another.  And…well, who’s counting?  Have another.  I can’t say that I played as well as I could have (doesn’t help when the course puts 3 goddamn flags on every hole…like I’m supposed to know which one to aim at), and maybe, just maybe, removing my pants on the 18th hole may “not” have been what you might call a good idea.

Best for:  People who think “hair of the dog” is a good hangover cure, people who are functioning alcoholics, bachelor/stag events, late day rounds when there’s nobody behind you.

Worst for: People who don’t drink.

Item: Diet Cola/Diet Coke

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Size: 12 ounces of cola goodness…fatter but a bit shorter than a sleeve of balls so easily fits in any golf bag.

Cost: varies…one can bought from a grocery store can be less than 50 cents.

Taste: Tastes like…well, cola.  A cold can of pop on a warm morning…not a bad way to go.  And, if things go sideways, I’ve been told that you “could” throw a few fingers of Jack Daniels, Crown Royal, or similar beverage in your cola and that this “might”, in some circles, be pretty good.

Performance: Most cola has caffeine so you get the stimulant of caffeine.  Always good to help you get going.  If you’re sensitive to caffeine (and I’m not) then maybe not a good idea.  Might make you jittery.  One of John Daly’s food groups.  May or may not lead to a desire to buy LoudMouth golf pants.

Best for: Warm weather rounds if coffee and golf don’t mix.

Worst for: People who don’t drink cola/soda or caffeine.

Item: Electrolyte/Isotonic drink

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Size: Varies from 12-32 ounces. Pictured is a 20-ounce bottle of PowerAde Zero.  Bigger and taller than a sleeve of balls.

Cost: Most courses I play at charge $2.50-$4.00 for a 20 ounce bottle.  I bought an 8-pack of PowerAde at Target for $4.00.  Just saying.

Taste: Opinions vary.  Ask 20 golfers about this and you could end up with 30 opinions.  I happen to like them in certain flavours.  Other people think they taste like crap.  I think other people are wrong. They come in a litany of flavours. Experiment.

Performance: Mixing with booze could induce vomiting so best not to.  For those that like them you get electrolytes and flavour and you get rehydrated.  On a warm summer day when I’m not half in the bag, it’s a great way to get energy.  For those concerned about sugar, PowerAde makes a zero-calorie version that has no sugar or calories.  Gatorade makes a version with half the calories.  You can dilute by pouring over ice in the heat.

Best for: Warm weather rounds when you need something more than water and aren’t looking to make a mixed cocktail mid-round.

Worst for: People who don’t like sports drinks. They can be spotted wearing wool slacks in July.

Item: Water

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Cost: Free out of the tap but who does that?  Anywhere from $1.00 to $5.00 depending on how badly you’re getting gouged.

Size: A 16 ounce bottle is similar in size to a sleeve of balls.  A bigger bottle is bigger.

Taste: Bottled water tastes like water.  If you can honestly tell the difference between a bottle of Deer Park and some other brand…then start a blog devoted to water and never speak of this again.  An icy cold bottle of water on a hot humid day…yeah, that doesn’t suck.

Performance: If you’re not thinking about how good a warm bucket of your saliva would taste come July, you’re probably less likely to get the nervous twitches on that 6-foot putt for par.  If you’re hydrated maybe you’ll perform better.  Probably.

Best for: People who want to appear in a commercial for one of those “I have trouble urinating” commercials (without sharing too much…I’m like a fire hydrant). Or people who want water and don’t want a soda, alcohol, or a sports drink.

Worst for: Everyone else.

Item: Beer

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Cost: All over the board, but anywhere from $4.00 and up depending on brand, course, and how much of a pervert you are to the beverage cart girl.  Seriously, egregious hitting on the beverage cart driver should be a fine.

Size: A 12-ounce can is similar in size to a sleeve of balls. Fits perfectly in your hand.  Has restorative powers.

Taste: Ideally it’ll taste like beer and not one of these fruit-infused “micro-brews” that the beer snobs trot out. Give me a Molson Canadian if at all humanly possible, but among the American macro-brews, on a hot summer day I find it hard to say not to a Miller Lite.  Even a Coors Light (known in my parts as “sex in a canoe” (because it’s fucking close to water)) on a hot day can be refreshing.  Cold beer can rescue a round going off the rails.  Experiment- after your next birdie, crack open a cold one that’s icy cold.  That first sip?  Yeah, you’re welcome.

Performance: Mixed would be a nice way to put it.  There’s alcohol which, according to “science” can dehydrate you (which by my reckoning means…that’s right- time to have another beer and ward off that dehydration!).  And alcohol “does” impair judgment (see “goggles, beer”), but is there a such thing as “beer putting”?  Methinks not.  When in down, aim at the middle flag/hole/fairway.  If you’re going to decide to hit the barley shakes like it’s going out of style, just keep moving it along.  It is possible to play fast and drunk- I’m living proof.   However, a beer can relax the nerves, so if you’re going off the rails a cold one might do the trick.  Or it might be putting gasoline on a fire.

Best for: People who like to have fun and like the taste of beer. My people.

Worst for: People who go from 0 to raging asshole after they have a few pops, recovering alcoholics, people who bet completely blotto on one beer.

Item: Energy Shot

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Cost: $2.00-$6.00 depending on brand and where you buy it.

Size: Smaller than an airplane bottle of scotch.

Taste: Red Bull is nectar of the gods by comparison.  Fruit punch?  Worst damn tasting fruit punch I’ve ever had.  I imagine this is what “Thunder Muscle” from IFC’s The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret would taste like but legal in more countries.

Performance: Sort of like drinking a few espressos, it’s a hit of instant energy and will certainly get you going.  And by going, I mean your heart rate will be up there with marathon runners and 15-year old boys driving there dad’s Porsche trying to buy beer with a fake ID.

Best for: Feeling completely sans energy and not having any other options.  Best not used if Nicotrol gum or patches are a part of your daily diet.  Seriously.  Use in small doses.  Or shit, just drink a few of them.  I’m sure your playing partners will enjoy a newly-energized you.

Worst for: Anyone who’s already hopped up.