Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
The specialized fitting centers give amateurs a chance to be handled true PGA pros. Your clubs are shipped to you in as little as 48 hours following your fitting. The other locations: The International: The Four Seasons Resort in North San Diego, The Desert Springs Marriott in Palm Springs, The Hyatt Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Olympia Fields Country Club in Chicago and Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, GA. There are also three international locations in South Africa, Spain and Dubai.
At each Performance Lab, TaylorMade uses Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade (MAT-T). This is basically space-age motion capture technology – the same technology used to make today’s video games and movies. Golfers have 34 reflective markers put on their body as well as the shaft and clubhead to allow fitters to capture swings with the driver, iron, wedge and putter. The fittings cost $300.
Six special high-speed cameras detect the reflectors and display a three-dimensional computer-animated image of the customer viewable from every angle (you might have seen this in video game motion capture sessions). This allows the fitting professional to use your 21/2 hour session to get you into the best-fitting equipment possible.
Following the swing analysis and club recommendations, demo clubs are built on-site with the customer’s correct swing specifications and the player can then validate the system’s recommendations on the driving range.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Bag Boy, a golf company that makes golf bags and carts, is urging golfers to get out and walk more. It will host Walk the Course Day at the Crossings Golf Club in Glen Allen, Va. , Sept. 27.
Throughout the day, golfers who walk the Crossings course can use a Bag Boy push cart for free and $5 from every walker's green fee will be donated to the American Heart Association.
I hope this type promotion spreads to area courses. I'd like to see more golfers walking. Recently, our team tested two push carts and we've found they make walking much easier. And we know it's better for you. But many walkers don't like to carry their bags on their backs – for good reason.
“Research has shown that players who regularly carry golf bags are more susceptible to injuries and more likely to suffer from lower back, shoulder and ankle injuries than players who walk the course with a push cart,” said Bag Boy president Craig Ramsbottom, president of The Bag Boy Company. "Golf is historically a walking sport and we're proud to work with The Crossings to encourage golfers to re-discover the health benefits and enjoyment of walking the course."
If you only know of carts as the two-wheelers that you push, they've come a long way. We recently tested a Bag Boy 180 3-Wheel push cart ($169.99).
The Bag Boy is light and easy to push and adjustable for players of different heights. It's also easy to fold down. The third wheel bends back into the base for storage. You can have an accessible drink holder, a bag area big enough for a super size staff bag or a small stand model. There's a place for tees, pencils and scorecards and even a little coverage storage box that our testers found big enough to hold extra tees, cell phones and Sky Caddies all at the same time.
Walking with the Bag Boy was simple. You push and follow. There are electric models you control with a remote control for more than twice the price that you hardly ever have to push, but I found the Bag Boy easy to use, and it folds easily to fit in a trunk. You won't get two of these in one truck easily with two bags, however.
But it beats a pull cart or carrying your bag – and it's fun to walk the course on a nice day.
The new Rapture V2 driver is the best I've hit in six years of trying equipment.
The Rapture V2 is part of a huge new product introduction from PING that includes new Rapture titanium irons aimed at high handicappers, a new line of weighted putters and a “players' iron,” the S57, that is reported as forgiving as some of PING's traditionally easy-to-hit offerings.
But now the driver.
The Rapture V2 driver (and fairway and hybrid) uses multi-metal technology. It's a 460cc club with a titanium body. It's got weight pads in the back, near the heel and the toe. PING claims this delivers the low-spin, high launch recipe that golfers are after. And it offers the $500 club in lofts from 9 to 13.5 degrees with a stock PING shaft or an otherwise expensive Mitsubishi Diamana Blue.
Enough of that mumbo-jumbo. This thing sits dead square behind the ball and has a little neon green half-moon alignment aid. Even at nearly 46 inches long, this monster is as easy to hit as any square driver I've tried and as long as anything I've tried. Best of all, it's so straight. I was hitting balls on the range that simply went straight, straight, straight. I couldn't work it much, but to be honest, I am not trying to work the ball much when I play golf. I want to hit it straight and hit it far.
The V2 does that. It's got a silly smooth feel and inspires confidence. The price tag will scare some away, but I think you should at least give this one a try. It's knocked the old Nike Sumo2 5900 out as my favorite club. In fact, this is my favorite driver ever.
I can't say the same about the fairway woods and hybrids. Those are both made from a stainless steel body with tungsten sole plates. They felt tinny at impact. They were awful easy to hit, and I suspect once I get used to the different sound and feel, these could be winners, too. So I'll come back and give you a longer term look at those. I couldn't wait, though, to tell you about the V2 driver.
New Equipment Notes
Scotty Cameron by Titleist is debuting four new Studio Select putters, doubling the current number of offerings. The Fastback 1, Squareback 1, Newport 2.6 and Newport 2.7 have been precision milled with circular weights in the heel and toe that allows each model to be offered in five different length and weight combinations. Suggest retail price is $325.
Golf designer Linda Hipp and her company, LIJA (lijastyle.com), have debuted four sportswear collections for Spring 2009 showcasing dynamic prints, elegant silhouettes, rich fabrics and superior fits for women golfers throughout an extensive range of technical and cotton-based pieces. Titled High Society, Barefoot in the Park, An American in Paris and Roman Holiday were inspired by the glamour of Hollywood's Golden Age and the American Spirit of the 1950s. The line, priced from $65 to $135, includes more than 200 pieces.
Aeotech's new SteelFiber i125 iron shaft is a ‘pro-weighted' composite design that is designed to play like steel. The additional weight is not achieved by adding more graphite — which Aeotech says makes the shaft walls too thick and creates a ‘boardy' feel — but by adding more metal fiber which has five times the density (weight) of graphite. Info? http://www.aerotechgolfshafts.com.
Around here, golf season is just beginning, as the weather is finally beginning to warm up (now if it would only dry up, too).
Since early December, I've been able to toy around with Nike's new Victory Red irons and everyone I've let play with them, from high handicappers to single digit players, has been impressed.
There are three different models: a Tiger Woods-designed blade, half-cavity back and full cavity-back.
“This is my iron,” Woods said. “This is what I created. This is what I've been playing and now consumers get to play what I've been playing.”
Given a choice of which to try, we opted for the half-cavity ($899.99). The pure blade version, which Woods uses, seemed a little too much like a butter knife. The half-cavity is forged, like the blade, but is easier to hit high. Woods said the full cavity is even easier to launch.
“Very similar to my blade but more forgiving,” Woods said. “I think everyone who plays these irons will thoroughly enjoy playing them.”
In this case, Tiger is right. The standard grip was a little too small and a little too firm, so we swapped it out for our current favorites, the Golf Pride MultiCompound (half-cord, half-rubber) and some Rifle Flighted 5.5 shafts. After the changes, the Nikes really sung.
A lot of mid-handicappers like the look of a thinner club and this is a great option. Despite the lack of size, the Nike is awful forgiving and launches the ball well. The stock shaft performed well, but the 5.5s made this club better. Even our stronger testers preferred the 5.5s with this head, and the high handicappers simply wanted to take it home for good. One of them kept saying, “these feel like butter.”
Because winter around here was so unusually sicked, most testing was done at the range or on those rare days when the temperature was above 50. So now we're going to give these a long term spin and report back with more results, but know this: we let 13 different golfers give these a try and asked them to rate the clubs from 1-5 with 5 being high.
The lowest rating that came back was a 4.
I guess that means you should try these.
Former Nike staffer Rory Sabbatini has joined TaylorMade Golf Company. Ranked in the Top 50 of Official World Golf Rankings, Sabbatini will play TaylorMade equipment and wear TaylorMade headwear. Sabbatini played a set of TaylorMade Tour Preferred® irons (4-PW), a TaylorMade Burner® driver, an R9™ 3-wood and 56° and 60° rac™ wedges at the WGC-CA Championship. The following week at the Transitions Championship, Sabbatini switched to the new R9 driver with Flight Control Technology.
Wilson Staff's new Eco-Carry golf bag is the first on the market made from 100 percent recycled polyester fabric, offering eco-conscious golfers a fashionable and environmentally-friendly golf bag.
The 3.7 pound carry bag is made from the equivalent of 12 plastic gallon bottles, similar to two-liter soda bottles. In the initial manufacturing phase, the plastic bottles are crushed into plastic flakes. The flakes are then transformed into a stable fiber through a process called de-polymerization and re-polymerization. Lastly, the stable fibers produced from this process are woven into a filament yarn that is used as the fabric for the final product. This process reduces the release of carbon dioxide by 70 percent as compared to normal polyester production that can be harmful to the environment.
Golf icon Greg Norman has joined TaylorMade. Norman, 54, will play TaylorMade clubs, a TaylorMade TP golf ball, use a TaylorMade staff bag and display the TaylorMade logo on the side of his headwear. Norman chose on his own accord to play TaylorMade's TP Red golf ball with Low Drag Performance (LDP) Technology during his remarkable run at last year's British Open, where he held a two-stroke lead going into the final round and finished tied for third. It was his 30th career top-10 finish in a major. Soon after a conversation began between Norman and TaylorMade that resulted in the relationship announced this week