Archive for May, 2013


Hit Long Hit True

The new breed of high-tech drivers can help you master that tee shot.

You’re at the tee, in the zone, and locked in on the task at hand. You address the ball, raise your driver and swing powerfully in a graceful, perfect arc. The clubhead makes contact right on the sweet spot and square to your target. The ball soars into an azure sky before landing in the fairway, hundreds of yards away and perfectly positioned for a short and easy shot to the green.

Then the alarm clock sounds, and you wake up.

We all execute perfect tee shots in our dreams, but on the golf course it’s not that easy. Hitting that little ball hard and straight with even the best club seems nearly impossible to the novice golfer and is vexing to even experienced amateurs.

Perhaps that’s why golf club manufacturers lavish so much attention and research on the development of new drivers. And for 2013, they’re offering a bumper crop of innovative new clubs, many of them featuring adjustable heads that allow precise tailoring of loft and clubface angle. At the same time, they’ve improved materials and streamlining in order to maximize energy transferred to the ball and optimize the ease with which the clubhead moves through the air.

TaylorMade, long a major supplier of drivers for touring pros, is among those marketing an adjustable driver. Tom Ovasky, senior director of product creation, as quoted in Golf Digest, said, “With a few adjustments, golfers can improve their results in minutes.”

That’s what we like to hear.

Tech Assistance at The Tee

The new breed of adjustable high-tech drivers utilizes one or more adjustments to change the face angle, loft setting and lie. By altering those variables, the path in which the ball travels as it leaves the club can be changed, as can the direction and rotation of spin. All of those factors have an effect on how far the ball will go and where it will land.

If we were all perfect golfers, we could find the driver that’s best suited to our game and stick with it. But most of us are far from perfect when it comes to swinging a golf club consistently, and our game varies greatly from one day to the next. An adjustable club head allows compensation for those variations while compensating in part for the individual golfer’s weak points.

Some makers offer adjustable clubhead weighting as well. By moving weight inboard, a slice can often be corrected. And an uncontrollable slice is probably the most common problem that amateurs face on the tee.

Other features common to the best new drivers include wider sweet spots, weighting that optimizes the moment of inertia for longer drives, and even clubhead styling that helps golfers square the driver’s face when addressing the ball and may even make the clubhead look larger than it really is. That, say the manufacturers, can inspire confidence. And confidence is a big part of the game.

Choose Your Weapon

TaylorMade’s R1 series of drivers allow a dozen different lie, face angle and loft settings. Movable weights enable further adjustment and an adjustable soleplate can change face-angle appearance at address. The manufacturer says this driver than can be tuned to fit both Tour pros and amateurs. According to TaylorMade spokesman, Brian Murphy, the R1 is the number one driver played on the PGA Tour.

The R1 offers seven standard and five upright loft options between 8° and 12°, along with seven face-angle options. To expand the sweet spot of the clubface, TaylorMade employs Inverted Cone Technology. In addition, the clubhead is styled to help the golfer address the ball squarely. TaylorMade notes that in trying to square a conventional, unmarked clubhead, many golfers fall victim to an illusion that suggests the clubface is square when it is actually open, inviting a wicked slice.

Nike has developed an adjustable driver as well. It’s called the VRS Covert, and it features independent adjustment of loft and face angle, allowing golfers to customize the club to fit their swing, thereby maximizing distance and accuracy. Dual axis adjustment decouples the loft and face angle variables, thus multiple configurations are possible.

This conforming driver is built with a cavity back for longer, straighter shots, and the manufacturer’s Nexcor face technology provides a wider sweet spot.

The driver is available in “Tour” and “Performance” versions. The Performance club is engineered to redistribute weight into the corners, thus increasing the moment of inertia in a traditional head shape.

The Adams’ Super S driver is, in the words of its maker, “a big bomber” that allows easy adjustment of loft. Adams’ Fast Fit Adjustability provides a 2° range of loft variation, enabling golfers to change the adjustment as their game varies. A streamlined head optimizes clubhead speed through aerodynamic efficiency.

Adams says the new driver is the first with a VST expanding sweet spot that enables consistently longer drives. It’s also the most aerodynamic driver Adams has ever produced. Because the clubhead slips smoothly through the air, speed is optimized. The company has even given thought to clubhead color and says that the matte white crown and contrasting faceplate make the head appear larger, which helps with alignment while inspiring confidence.

Cobra’s adjustable driver is called the Amp Cell. The drivers MyFly™ technology provides six different loft settings over a range of 3°. The manufacturer says that its SmartPad technology squares the face at every loft setting.

A 12% larger face shape is said to deliver faster ball speed even on miss-hits. The titanium head is available in four dramatic colors.

The Amp Cell Pro model has a 440 cc head with a lower, more neutral center of gravity and is available in two colors.

-Par Shooter

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Get Up and Go-Kart

 
When the weather warms up, everyone is looking to get out of house and into the sunshine. When biking gets boring and in-line skating is dull, go-karting is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.
 
With go-karting, you won’t have any problem getting the kids outside, and you won’t hesitate to join them.
 
“There’s something about a kart in and of itself that just screams ‘active’ – it gives you the get-out-and-go mentality,” says Lindsey DeLong of American SportWorks. “It encourages families to not only explore new ways to have a blast in their own yard, but it may encourage them to find new places to adventure to (and try the kart out on, of course!).”
 
All of the American SportWorks go-kart models are two-seaters. That means more members of the family can join in on the fun! All of the American SportWorks models also come with the company’s history and expertise.
 
The models include the Marauder which comes with a 208cc, 4-stroke engine and a three-year engine warranty.
 
The Black Widow also comes with a three-year engine warranty and has a 136cc, 4-stroke engine.
 
The Carbide is a new model that features all the best parts of the retired Quantum model. This new go-kart features a speedometer, bucket seating and what DeLong calls a “buggy” style.
 
While go-karting is designed for fun, safety should come first before taking one out for a ride. As with any powered vehicle, seat belts and helmets should always be worn and riders should stay alert and be prepared for the drive.
 
The owner’s manual is a good resource to learn more about the vehicle and how to operate it safely. Before starting out, drivers should be familiar with the course and its surroundings.
 
“The best thing to remember is that it’s all about fun and not necessarily crazy stunt riding. Leave that to the pros!” says DeLong.
 
Being prepared to operate the go-kart won’t be like cramming for a test. DeLong says that operation of some of the American SportWorks go-karts are as simple as stop and go. Some models are equipped with a pull start while others have a key ignition. There are also models that come with neutral and reverse gears, but others just have brake and gas pedals.
 
So this spring, enjoy the great outdoors and experience the adventures of go-karting. It’s like fun on four wheels.
 
“Spring fever is only enhanced when you can zip around your yard in a kart,” DeLong says. “Go smell those fresh spring flowers – at 24 mph!”
 
-Off-Road Warrior
 
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The Golf Pro Sponsor Shuffle

 
The game on the links isn’t the only competition in professional golf.
 
While touring pros battle each other on the links, golf equipment manufacturers fight for their loyalty in the marketplace. Getting your clubs in the bag of a top pro is a sure way to boost sales. All of the major golf manufacturers want the highly visible pros to use their equipment, and they devote considerable effort to making that happen.
 
Why Switch?
 
Touring pros change equipment and make new sponsorship deals for a number of reasons. Often, it’s because a manufacturer offers better financial rewards, but sometimes the change is made in the interest of getting on board with an equipment maker whose products feature new technology or have been shown to be working well for other tour golfers.
 
Who’s on First?
 
Equipment and sponsorship changes generally come in the winter, as the PGA Tour’s signing season for equipment and apparel companies begins on January 1. And while not every golfer hunts down a new deal every year, enough of them move to another brand to make the first day of signing season as big a deal as the first day of hunting season.
 
This year, TaylorMade picked up six pros early on, taking Lucas Glover away from Nike and Ryan Moore from Adams. Nike, meanwhile, signed five pros who were former Titleist players, while Adams added Jeff Overton to its roster and Cobra made a deal with Jesper Parnevik.
 
Who are you wearing?
 
While golf equipment manufacturer work to get their clubs in the bags of the most visible pros, apparel manufacturers strive to get clothes on their backs. I guess they figure we duffers will don the same duds as our favorite pro. This year, Scott Percy switched from Lyle & Scott to IZOD Golf Apparel, while Webb Simpson opted for IZOD after having been dressed by Ralph Lauren at previous tour events. It’s sort of like the green carpet show of the pro tour.
 
Buy a Spot on my Hat
 
If you want to promote your product by sponsoring a participant in a sporting event, it will likely cost you about $2 million dollars to get your company’s name on the quarter panel of a top Nascar team, but it might cost you even more to get your logo on the cap of a top contender on the men’s PGA tour.
Of course caps aren’t the only place where ad space can be purchased. The sleeves and chest pocket go for big bucks as well. Even the shoes and back of the collar are for sale. And of course the bag that holds those clubs is often seen on television, so it’s valuable real estate. It’s all part of the marketing of golf and the people who play the game professionally.
 
Anyone want to buy some space on my ace bandage?
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Paddle Your Way to Adventure

 
Today’s kayaks offer safe, inexpensive fun for the entire family.
 
If you’re a frequent visitor to our lakes and streams, you’ve likely noticed that more people are enjoying the same waterways while paddling a kayak. In fact, according to The Outdoor Foundation, 32 percent more participants took up the sport between 2009 and 2011. That’s not surprising when you consider that it can be enjoyed by young and old, is relatively inexpensive and the equipment requires little maintenance.
 
“Kayaks are friendlier today than they have ever been. They are more stable, more comfortable and easier to use. They’re also safer. The cockpit opening is longer and goes past your knees, making it easier to exit the kayak in an emergency situation,” said Mark Palinsky, of Old Town.
 
If you’ve considered joining this extremely enjoyable and relaxing activity, here are a few options and suggestions.
 
Fishing and River Kayaks
 
As our experts pointed out, we’re seeing two significant kayaking trends in: people are buying them to fish and to paddle along our scenic rivers.
 
“The river kayaks are simply an extension of what people have experienced for years. They have rented kayaks and canoes at liveries and have enjoyed the experience so much that they have decided to purchase the kayak for personal use. Our Swiftwater 10.5 kayak is ideal for this use. The fishing kayaks are great for those who want to get away from fishing from shore and don’t want to use a powerboat. I recommend our Patriot or Blast models. They are designed to carry fishing rod holders and come in camouflage colors,” said Greg Larson of Confluence Water Sports.
 
Another option for anglers is Pelican International’s Castaway 100 sit-on kayak. It offers plenty of speed, capacity and storage space. Mark Palinsky, of Old Town kayaks and canoes, offers yet another approach.
 
“You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy an angler kayak. Kayaks that are serviceable, with a large cockpit and high level of stability, such as our Vapor 10 model, are very good for people who like to fish. What many of our customers have found is that it’s less expensive to buy a base model and customize it to their specific needs,” Palinsky said.
 
Kids’ Kayaks
 
As many parents are discovering, kayaking is an ideal activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including children. Before you purchase a kayak for junior, Palinsky offers the following advice:
 
“Like shoes, the kayak has to fit the child. Shoes that are too big make the child clumsy and shoes that are too small are not comfortable. Frequently, parents will buy a 9-foot boat and will have their kids grow into it. It’s not necessarily the best approach,” he said.
 
Palinsky recommends making sure the kayak is designed to accommodate the child’s weight and that the foot pegs can be easily reached, since they help provide stability.
 
Stand Up Paddleboards
 
Also extremely popular nowadays are stand up paddleboards (SUPs). In fact, The Outdoor Foundation reports that nearly 60 percent of stand up paddling participants tried the activity for the first time in 2011.
 
“SUPs are wide surfboards that you stand up and paddle with and are more versatile than kayaks. You can sit, kneel or stand up on them. Women are using them for yoga and core exercising,” said Lisa Senecal, Pelican International.
 
Dunham’s Sports carries three different Pelican International models: Vibe, for smaller paddlers (up to 120 pounds), Flow, for intermediate paddlers and Surge, for more performance-oriented paddlers.
 
“We’re seeing an increase of SUPs in river use, especially in Michigan,” Palinsky added. “What a wonderful way to go down the river; they provide a much better view of what’s in front and around you.”
 
Kayak Care
 
One of the most appealing aspects of this sport is that the equipment requires little maintenance.
 
“Pretty much all of the kayaks that Dunham’s carries are low maintenance – even no maintenance,” Senecal said.
 
“We have sun protection built into the boat, but not on the seats. We recommend using a good UV protectant to prevent sun degradation,” Larson added. All of our experts recommended storing kayaks on their side when not in use.
 
Dunham’s Sports carries a wide range of kayaks and SUPs for a variety of purposes, configurations and price points. Be sure to consult with a sales representative to help you make an informed decision so you too can enjoy our area’s wonderful waterways.
 
-Paddle Bum
 
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