Archive for April, 2011


Holy Composite Material, BAT-MAN!

There was a simpler time when all baseball bats were made of wood. Then came aluminum and a variety of alloys. In recent years, composite bats made from fiber and resin have shown up in the batter’s box. Today, the material and method used to manufacture a bat can significantly affect the velocity at which the ball comes off the bat. At higher levels, uneven bat performance can lead to statistical confusion.

For those reasons, amateur baseball sanctioning bodies test new bat designs and sometimes restrict the type of bat that can be used in competition. As examples, let’s take a look at how Little League baseball and high-school baseball sanctioning bodies have dealt with recent changes in bat design.

Little League

It wasn’t long after the introduction of composite bats that ballplayers and Little League officials noticed that high-tech composite bats got “hotter” as they were broken in. Repeated contact with the ball softened up the composite material, giving it more of a trampoline effect. The result was harder hit balls — too hard perhaps for the safety of the players in the field. So in 2010, Little League International temporarily banned the use of composite bats in all baseball divisions of Little League.

“The moratorium is not the result of Little League changing its bat standards, nor was it influenced by any relationships with bat manufacturers,” said Little League International. “The decision is based solely on the fact that scientific research showed that composite-barreled bats may exceed the performance standard that is printed on the bats, after the bats have been broken in.”

In January 2011, the organization announced wavers for some composite bats that had passed the performance test and could now be used in the Little League Majors Baseball Division and lower divisions. These bats have the 2 ¼-inch barrels that are required at those levels.

Dunham’s can equip you with a composite bat that has received a waiver and is now legal for Little League play. A Dunham’s sales representative can help you find a bat that’s right for you.

High School and College

In recent years both high school and college baseball have used bats that complied with the Ball Exit Speed Ratio or BESR standard. Some of the bats meeting that standard didn’t perform in quite the same way as the wooden bats used in professional baseball. Baseball pundits and perhaps even major league baseball owners sometimes complained that it was difficult to determine how well a college player would perform in professional baseball, since the collegiate athletes were using a different type of bat.

That may be part of the reason why NCAA college baseball officially adopted a new standard called the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution or BBCOR. That standard went into effect on January 1 of this year. The NCAA is reported to have said that the change was not done for safety reasons, but in order to get a more wood-like performance from the bats.

For 2012, high school baseball leagues will make the switch to BBCOR bats as well. California schools have already changed to the NCAA collegiate standard, but schools in other states can continue to use BESR bats through the end of 2011.

Dunham’s carries a range of bats that meet the new BBCOR specification. For help in choosing a bat that meets the requirements of the league in which you play, see your Dunham’s sales representative.

I’ve Got It!

A fielder’s facemask can help youngsters play with confidence.

It’s a sharply hit ground ball to the second baseman. The well-schooled fielder gets in position, lowers his glove, and focuses on the ball. But as it approaches the ball takes an odd bounce, and the
young ballplayer’s attention turns from the task at hand to wondering whether the ball might take another bad bounce and bop him in the nose. Distracted, he lifts his glove, and the ball rolls between his legs and into
right field.

Confidence and concentration are essential to the development of young players. Catching a baseball isn’t easy, and youngsters who are afraid of the ball will never develop proper skills. Taking necessary precautions to prevent injury is something that all youngsters should be taught, but fear doesn’t diminish the risks involved in any sport. It’s a distraction that can actually lead to injury.

The increased use of fielder’s face protection by pitchers and infielders in recent years has done much to both prevent injuries and instill confidence. Introduced in the 1990s, masks designed to protect defensive players are now becoming common in amateur baseball. The lightweight masks are engineered in such a way that they don’t restrict vision, yet they offer a substantial level of protection from batted balls. That protection helps defensive players focus on the game, so the benefits afforded by the mask are twofold: The players gain confidence, and their faces are protected.

Dunham’s stocks a number of fielder face protection masks, including Markwort’s Game Face mask, Worth’s First Face mask, and the Rip It mask.

Markwort Sporting Goods, said that the Game Face mask is ultra lightweight and offers extremely strong polycarbonate construction. Because it provides complete facial protection, it promotes player confidence. The mask can be fitted to the individual player’s face by means of pads. Lisa recommends that to ensure a proper fit, the player visit Dunham’s and try on a Game Face.

-Home Run Hitter

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Draw… Fade… Straight…

p>Most golfers naturally hit the ball right or left. A high handicapper might have a vicious slice right while the better golfer might only hit a fade to the right side. Same for those who hit left — a duck hook for high handicapper, a slight draw for the better golfer. Very few of us naturally hit the ball straight. That’s why it’s so important to concentrate on swing fundamentals —  grip, stance, follow-through and the like.

Except now, technology can have as much of an impact on the direction your ball goes off the tee as how you swing the club. Adjustable drivers will alter the face of the club and the weighting to help you correct natural flaws in how you hit the ball. You can adjust your driver so the ball flies right, left or straight.

Adjustable Drivers

The mechanics of adjustable drivers are deceptively simple. You can adjust the face of the club. Open the face and the ball will move right and at a higher trajectory. Close the face and the ball will tend left at a lower trajectory. Keep the face neutral and the ball will go straight (at least in theory). You can also adjust weighting on the club. This alters the all important center of gravity (CG) when the club strikes the ball. Adding weight to the heel of the club will enhance a draw, while weight added to the toe will tend to move the ball right.  Putting the extra weight in the center promotes a straight trajectory (again, in theory).

It’s been known for a long time that adjusting weight on the clubhead will affect direction of the ball. What’s made the new adjustable technology possible is advancements in materials. High strength titanium allows for placement of small weights without making the clubhead too large to be practical.

Making the adjustments is easy. Clubs come with a small tool (think miniature torque wrench) that loosens the hosel and lets you slide the shaft. TaylorMade has advanced the adjustable playing field with its R11 Driver that lets you adjust the loft angle and club face independently of each other. A third adjustment of the weights on the clubhead will move the flight path left or right.

Are Adjustable Drivers Right For You?

Adjustable drivers can help correct a natural fade or draw and they really do work. But they are no substitute for good swing mechanics. One other thing. You can’t make adjustments to a club during a round. USGA golf rules don’t allow that.

-Par Shooter

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Put Some Color in Your Game

Golf has always been a colorful activity. Since the first Scotsman put on a pair of knickers at St. Andrews the sport has allowed people to express themselves with colorful clothing. Yes, we’ve all seen those neon rainbows that take it to the extreme.

Now the style element in golf goes well beyond what you wear. You can make a fashion statement with the clubs you use. While golf equipment manufacturers have always emphasized a distinctive look for their clubs to enhance the brand image, they are now giving you a lot more choices in colors.

Get a Grip on Color

By far the easiest and cheapest way to color up your game is with your grips.  “We never realized how many different sports teams there are and how many different colors they represent,” says Golf Pride, a leading manufacturer of grips.  “We’ve got colors for just about every team, and they all sell like crazy.”

Of course, color will always be secondary to how well a piece of golf equipment works, and Golf Pride emphasizes that Golf Pride grips work well whether they are orange, purple or basic black. They are partially cord, which puts woven material over the palm of the upper hand to improve wear characteristics.

The explosion of color in golf grips began a few years ago, and Golf Pride expects the trend to continue. “As club manufacturers continue to bring out new colors in their products, we can match whatever they do.”

Pretty in Pink

Wilson Sporting Goods has a complete set of ladies clubs in pink, but the primary motivation isn’t really color.  Their Lady Hope Pink set recognizes the fight against breast cancer and the company has contributed more than $2 million from sales of the set to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The pink set is complete, with clubs, putter and wedge, cart bag, balls and glove. While colorful, this is a very serious set of golf clubs. “The Hope line provides our customers with premium women’s golf products and a way that they too can support breast cancer research,” says Wilson Golf .

New Technology, New Color

Golf technology is highly competitive and manufacturers constantly look for new methods to add just a little more distance and a little more accuracy to their clubs. Now, they’re also paying more attention to the look of those clubs, adding color to make them more distinctive. A perfect example is the new TaylorMade R11 adjustable driver, with the technology to independently adjust the face angle and loft, is breakthrough.  But the first thing you’ll notice about the R11 is the dramatic white color of the clubhead. Not only is it distinctive visually, but the surface is specially formulated with a non-glare finish.

Now that is a two-stroke advantage.  Improve your game and look better doing it.

-Par Shooter

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Ten Golf Road Trip Tips

The Midwest offers a wide variety of challenging public-access golf courses. Whether you’re destination is far or close to home, to one location or a number of them, for just one day, a weekend or longer, there’s a lot to consider. When you’re on the road, what’s in your bag can really make a difference. Knowing that, here are 10 tips to help make your golf road trip an unforgettable, birdie-filled and bogey-free experience.

1. Think Light

Leave your bulky, oversized club bag at home. Some courses, like Whistling Straights, are walk-only, links-style tracts. Others offer reduced twilight rates for walkers, long after power carts are put to bed. Don’t let a large heavy bag limit your golf opportunities. Great-looking, light-weight bags from Callaway and PowerBilt feature premium materials, state-of-the-art tripod stands and multiple waterproof zippered pockets to help keep everything you need exactly where you want it.

2. Play the Best of Both Balls

Don’t limit your choice of golf balls to only one type. Match the type of ball to the course you play. A two-piece ball like a Callaway Warbird offers the control you’ll need to negotiate the tight, tree-lined doglegs of the Heathers Course, along with the distance you’ll need to carry the large water hazards of the Lake Course. On the other hand, a three-piece ball like a Titleist Pro V offers the softer feel and superior greenside control you’ll need to hit and hold on the large double greens of the Gailes and devilish pin placements at Shanty Creek.

3. Fit to a Tee

All golf tees are not created equal. Remember to pack a variety. Use short 2 1/8” tees for irons, hybrids and low-profile woods. Use 2 ¾” tees for drivers under 360 cc and tees up to 3 ¼”for larger drivers. The longest allowed by the USGA is a 4” tee. Incidentally, the General Course has four tee boxes, but doesn’t use a color-coding system. Each is marked with 1, 2, 3 or 4 stars. So, you can be a “4-Star General,” at least for a day.

4. One Good Glove Deserves Another

Severe elevation changes at Meadows Valley, narrow fairways at Quail Hollow, and the field of rocks from tee to green over the 7th hole at Mystic River will all test your meddle. Stay in control of your clubs and your nerves by changing your golf glove often. Nike and Taylor Made offer a variety of good-looking, great-fitting gloves made of durable Cabretta leather or moisture-resistant, breathable fabrics.

5. Dress for Success

Why not “shoe up” in style for your golf road trip? Callaway, Nike and Adidas all offer a variety to choose from. Choose a shoe with plenty of toe room and good arch support. Choose waterproof shoes if you plan to play in the early morning on damp, dew-covered greens or at courses like The Wilds, where water is in play on nearly half the holes.

6. Drive Longer and Straighter

Do you love smashing the ball off the tee? Make your road trip one to remember with a new TaylorMade Burner, Callaway or PowerBilt Air Force One Driver. All incorporate advanced technology to help you drive longer over windswept tracts like Arcadia Bluffs and straighter on the heavily wooded fairways of Kemper Lakes.

7. Get Hip to Hybrid Power

If your “second shot” is your nemesis, new developments in hybrid design and construction can help. Nitrogen-pressurized club heads like the Powerbilt AFO hybrids and ultra-light graphite shafts like the Adams Pro Gold Hybrids are more playable and forgiving. They can help you reach more greens in regulation and be the envy of any foursome.

8. Iron Man Up

If your irons look old and tired, they probably are! Nike Slingshot 4D Irons will not only look good in your bag, they can also dramatically change your game. Packed with state-of-the-art technology Slingshot 4D irons might be the most forgiving and accurate you’ll ever hit, no matter where you play.

9. Energize Like a Pro

A challenging course or long road trip can physically drain you. Why not energize like a pro? The Phiten X30 Titanium is the official necklace of PGA Tour Professionals. A micro-titanium sphere emits a bio-electric energy field to help you overcome fatigue and muscle strain.

10. Play Weather or Not

Most golf clothing manufacturers offer a wide variety of foul weather and raingear. Remember to also pack a light jacket, extra hat or visor, and a few extra pairs of warm socks. Don’t let cool winds off the Great Lakes or unexpected rain shower rob you of an eagle, birdie or record-breaking round you’ll never forget.

-Par Shooter

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Right Glove Means Comfort, Control and Confidence

Imagine hitting a sharp liner up the gap, but barely making it to first base because your baseball pants are so large they practically fall off. Or imagine rounding third, heading for home and literally flying out of your cleats because they’re two or three sizes too large.

While those scenarios may seem unlikely, chances are your son or daughter may be playing with another piece of extremely important equipment not properly fitted to his or her age, size or level of play.

“One mistake many parents make,” says Dave White, National Account Manager for Wilson Sporting Goods, “is choosing a baseball glove that is too large for their son or daughter, with the thought that they’ll eventually grow into it. What happens then is that the player often gets discouraged because the glove falls off their hand, or because they have a hard time fielding, catching or controlling the ball.”

From Little League all the way through the big league, choosing the right glove is all about fit, feel and functionality. Here are a few guidelines to use when choosing a glove for your little leaguer:

  • Baseball gloves are measured from the top of the index finger, over the surface of the pocket and down to the heel of the glove.
  • Players under the age of 8 should use a 9-inch glove for infield play and up to an 11-inch glove for outfield play.
  • Players from 8 to early teens should use a 9- to 10-inch glove for infield play, a 10- to 11-inch glove if playing multiple positions and up to a 12-inch glove for outfield play.
  • A shallow pocket helps infielders trap and grab the ball more easily.
  • A deeper pocket helps outfielders catch and hold the ball more securely.
  • Leather gloves offer superior comfort, control and durability over gloves made of synthetic materials.

Avoid the mistake of thinking bigger is better and your little leaguer will definitely benefit from the added comfort, control and confidence they get from a smaller, properly fitted glove.

Any other suggestions you have regarding selecting a baseball glove?

-Home Run Hitter

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Golf Association of Michigan (GAM)

Dunham’s Sports is proud to highlight our partnership with the Golf Association of Michigan (GAM), and the Gold Card Membership program.

  • GAM members can enjoy discounts at more than 225 golf facilities around the state of Michigan.
  • GAM Golf Days are one of the most popular programs with members. Golf Days are casual, fun, competitive, one-day events at some of the state’s most popular private and resort courses. It is a great way to play courses you otherwise might not be able to access. You can only play if you’re a GAM member!
  • A one-year subscription to Golf Digest is part of your 2011 GAM Gold Card membership.
  • Whether you are a tournament player or a casual golfer, you can establish an official GAM/USGA handicap index through the GAM.  You can post all of your scores online through the GAM web site. If you plan to play golf in Ireland, Scotland or anywhere overseas, you need an official index to be able to tee off. An index also comes in handy for charity events and member-guest events.
  • Enjoy a discount all year long at GAM partner Dunham’s Sports. The discount can be used not only on all of the great golf equipment at Dunham’s but on camping gear, active wear, and other sporting goods. Make Dunham’s your one-stop shop for all of your sporting needs.
  • GAM members receive the comprehensive 2011 GAM Course Directory listing all of the golf courses in Michigan and listing extensive information about GAM member courses including Swing & Save discounts, slopes and ratings, contact information and more!
  • There are plenty of contests all year long for GAM members. The 2011 Golf Course of the Week contest is already underway! Log into your account and make your guess. Cool prizes are awarded each week!
  • Sign up for one of the many GAM tournaments this season. There are events for junior golfers, senior golfers, men and women.
  • GAM members get a 10% discount at Overstock.com, a discount on Detroit Pistons tickets for select games, and a discount at Qwik Park at Metro Airport.

Visit http://www.gam.org/dunhams/ to register online, or call 248.478.9242 ext. 23

-Par Shooter

*To receive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, sign up for Dunham’s Rewards.