Tag: Toronto Maple Leafs

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.


Ryder Cup Idea you didn’t ask for

So having just watched the NHL Winter Classic (and yes- the humour of being a diehard fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a diehard golfer isn’t lost on me), there’s one thing that they did today that could translate to golf- the announcement of Ryder Cup teams.

During the 2nd intermission the US Women’s Olympic team was announced and the men’s team was announced after the game.

The women’s team were at the game; the men’s team were announced using kids wearing each player’s sweater (except for the three players who played in the game who made the US team who came out of the dressing room to be announced).  Great stuff.

So rather than have a press conference during midweek to announce the team (which ends up getting lost in the shuffle), why not announce the team after the US PGA Championship (on the broadcast)?  Since the PGA of America runs the tournament (and the Ryder Cup) you’d have perfect synergy.  I know- NBC has the Ryder Cup rights and CBS has the US PGA Championship…but CBS can give up 10 minutes after the tournament trophy presentation (during August when 60 minutes is in reruns) to announce the Ryder Cup team.

Have the US Ryder Cup captain announce the roster.  If a player can’t make it, have one of the kids from the local First Tee program “stand in” for said player (have each player with their Ryder Cup staff bag with their name on it).  You’re announcing a US team in front of an American audience.  You’re telling me people won’t watch on TV?  You already have a captive audience, and the people at the tournament get a little extra.

You’re telling me the players would object to having to hang around a couple hours (those that are on the team and finished earlier) to get a round of applause (at most)?  If that’s the case then that says a lot about how they really feel about it.

Oh, and for the love of 30 foot birdies can we stop with the number of captain’s picks changing every match?  Pick a number.  3 seems good.  Or 2.  Or 4.  Just pick a number and leave it the hell alone.

Thoughts nobody asked for

Finishing up my most recent round (a rather desultory affair) quicker than normal (always a good thing), I decided to stop by the practice green before heading home (putting has always been a challenge for me, and I have the 3-putts to prove it). Which got me thinking.

I grew up watching hockey and this time of year is easily my favourite- the Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing, the PGA Tour is going, and the weather is great. It was thinking about hockey (and the thought of being able to play golf this morning and watch a playoff game tonight featuring my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs). I have friends who have kids who play hockey (the cost makes golf seem cheap) and at one point I coached youth hockey in the area (at a program geared toward beginners). The league (and all youth hockey) requires that players wear full face cages and doesn’t allow fighting (and the league I coached didn’t allow body checking). Which led me back to golf, and the current furor over anchoring putters.

Every pro hockey league except the NHL requires players to wear visors, and the NCAA requires full facial protection. Even Canadian major-junior hockey requires visors (they also require the certified visors which are affixed differently than the visors you see in the NHL) and they also require kevlar neck guards and the helmets to have ear flaps. In short, different rules at different playing levels.

But what about football? Different rules. Receivers only have to have one foot in-bounds for a catch, and there’s the whole college football overtime thing. Kickoffs are different as well.

But what about basketball? Games are of different length, players have different numbers of fouls before disqualification, and the number of time-outs per game is different.

Baseball? College baseball uses aluminum/titanium/stealth bomber material bats, and yet, the pros only use wood bats.  So different rules for different levels.

And yet golf, which by every account would like to see the game grow, has its governing bodies trying to force amateurs and casual players to play under the same rules as professionals.  Most of the casual golfers I know are honorable people who play by the rules, but like everyone we have our “circle of trust/friendship” for conceded putts and during early season rounds we’ll play “winter rules” or roll it over in the fairway if it’s in a divot.

I don’t use a long putter (tried one once and hated it)…I’m fully capable of missing putts with my conventional 35-inch model…but if you (or anyone else) wants to use a long putter…have at it.

The dichotomy goes further in golf…the PGA of America has correctly pushed a “tee it forward” in order to have faster rounds.  If we followed the consistency based on the governing bodies we’d all play from the same set of tees.  I’ve had the pleasure of teeing it up at two courses used by the PGA Tour.  I’ve seen the tee boxes they use, and no thank you.  A 502 yard hole is a par 5 for me.  If Messrs Mickelson, Watson, Woods, etc. play that as a par 4 then good on them.

So yes, any events conducted by the R&A or USGA ban anchoring.  The PGA Tour should probably go that route as well along with the European Tour and LPGA Tour.  Casual golfers could then decide for themselves.  There are enough serious golfers who’d want to play using a conventional putter as they have designs on amateur championships.  But for a bunch of my fellow 10-handicappers…let them choose for themselves.   The game is hard enough as it is.  In the end, we play because we enjoy it.  It’s not our job (it’s what I do to escape from the stresses of my job).