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Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category


Olympic Golf

It’s Merits and Detriments.
 
Golf does not have a storied past in the Olympic Games. Introduced at the 1900 Paris Games, it featured 22 players from four countries (France, Greece, Great Britain and the U.S.). It was last featured four years later in St. Louis, when the U.S. fielded 77 players and Canada, the only other country participating, fielded three, including the winner, George Lyon. After a 112-year hiatus, it returns to Rio de Janeiro this year. A great deal has been written about its inclusion, both for and against it. Here we present a synopsis of both viewpoints.
 
Pros
 
The Olympics, both summer and winter versions, are among the most watched TV events in the world, with some estimating the audience in the billions. That can certainly bode well for the game as viewers from many countries where golf is not currently well-known may be intrigued enough to give it a try. The course being built in Brazil is scheduled to be used afterward as “a public facility with the chief purpose of promoting golf in Brazil,” according to the International Olympic Committee. Translation, it will be a public course for 10 years and its future unknown after that period. Golf’s entry in the Games also gives some of the world’s best golfers an opportunity to win something new: an Olympic medal.
 
Cons
 
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why golf has been missing from the Olympic Games for over a century and why its inclusion this year has drawn a great deal of criticism, beginning with the format. Unlike the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, this will not be a team event. Like nearly all golf tournaments, this will be a 72-hole individual stroke-play competition. How will it differ from Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day going head-to-head at dozens of other events this year?
 
It’s a small field, with only 60 players participating. Qualification is a bit convoluted. The top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the men and Rolex Ranking for the women will automatically qualify, as long as there are no more than four players per country. After the 15th-ranked player, the rankings will be used to determine the rest of the 60-player field, with no more than two players per country beyond the top 15 able to compete.
 
As of February 7, 2016, the U.S. would be represented by Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson on the men’s side and by Stacie Lewis, Lexi Thompson and Christie Kerr on the women’s side.
 
Rankings change constantly as one player wins and another misses a cut and it’s conceivable that a player who gets hot after the qualification deadline will not be eligible to compete. It’s also conceivable that the number one ranked golfer in the world could be pitted against one ranked 600. While anything can happen, this competition would be as fair as the U.S. going up against Jamaica in bobsledding.
 
The appeal of the Olympic Games has been national pride and the ability of the some of the world’s best athletes to represent their country. However, both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup provide this opportunity for American golfers.
 
The addition of the Olympics has further compressed a schedule that is crowded. On the PGA Tour, for example, there is an 11-week stretch where 8 of 11 events are majors, Olympics, Fed Ex Cup or the Ryder Cup. Many players will have to choose which events to play and which to skip.
 
One last concern and one that may well influence athlete participation at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and not just by golfers. Brazil, along with many South and Central American countries and a handful of U.S. southern states, is seeing a significant increase of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects. We would not be surprised if many golfers, especially women of child-bearing age, choose to opt out of this competition. Considering that golf is played outdoors in areas where mosquitos love to congregate, this situation could have dire effects for years to come unless precautions are taken to minimize exposure to this virus.
 
Conclusion
 
In addition to the 2016 Games, golf is scheduled for 2020 in Tokyo. Depending on feedback, the format may well change before Tokyo, though the point may well be moot as the game’s future beyond the 2020 Olympics is up for a vote next year.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Simply The Best

Here’s who we think will be #1 at the end of the 2016 PGA Season
 
This is an exciting time for professional golf. We have a crop of golfers in their 20s who are affable, approachable and possess all the tools to be considered the best golfer in the world, as noted by their Official Golf World Ranking. Here are the players we believe are likely to finish the 2016 PGA season ranked number one. The first three have held the number one position at some point in their career. They are presented in order of their Official Golf World Ranking as of February 7, 2016.
 
Jordan Spieth
 
The current number one, Jordan Spieth, has held this position for 14 consecutive weeks and for a total of 20 weeks. Spieth was voted PGA Player of the Year in 2015, winning the first two majors (The Masters and The U.S. Open) and coming within a shot of a playoff for the Open Championship (British Open). He won five times last year and came in second just as many times. We like the 22-year-old’s chances at remaining number one based on the following superlatives: In 2015, he led all PGA players in scoring average, finished second in number of birdies per round and third in overall strokes gained. He is also absolutely deadly with the putter, making putts from distances near and far.
 
Rory McIlroy
 
Rory McIlroy was the #1 ranked player until he hurt his ankle last year and ended up missing a good portion of the season. He has held the number one spot for a total of 95 weeks and appears to be poised for golf stardom for many years to come. Just look at his statistics for 2014: third in total driving distance with drives of over 310 yards, first in strokes gained tee to green, first in birdie average and first in scoring average. He finished that year as the money leader and is a force to be beckoned with whenever he enters a tournament. With the ankle healed and his personal life in order, we fully expect McIlroy to challenge for the top spot.
 
Jason Day
 
Jason Day could have just as easily been named 2015 Player of the Year. Like Spieth, he won five times, including the PGA Championship, the RBC Canadian Championship and the Barclays. In a two-month stretch, no one was hotter than Day last year. Like McIlroy, Day is long off the tee (313+ yards). He’s also much straighter, hitting nearly 71% of his fairways. This combination is rewarded with a lot of birdies and eagles. As long as he keeps his vertigo under control, there’s no reason why Day can’t reach golf’s pinnacle.
 
Rickie Fowler
 
Don’t let the boyish looks or edgy apparel fool you, Rickie Fowler has game. All he did in 2015 was win The Players Championship, The Scottish Open and the Deutsche Bank Championship. He followed that in 2016 with a win in Abu Dhabi and a heartbreaking second-place finish at the Waste Management Open. He gets a lot out of his small frame, averaging just under 300 yards per drive. Put all of the various aspects of the game that the PGA Tour measures, and Fowler is second overall. We believe he is determined to prove the naysayer who said that he was more style than substance wrong by reaching for the top spot.
 
Henrik Stenson
 
The elder statesman of the group at nearly 40, Henrik Stenson was ranked third in 2013 and second in 2014, so he’s familiar with the pressure and trappings of being tabbed the best player in the world. Another long hitter, Stenson has a steady, unflinching aspect to his game, which was in evidence when he won the FedEx Cup in 2013 and finished in second place in 2014. He also finished in second place five times last year, when he led the field in greens hit in regulation, total driving and total ball striking. The Swede is cool under pressure and his total game will make it easy for him to ascend to the number one ranking.
 
We mentioned that Rory held the number one spot for 95 weeks, which is impressive. However, it pales in comparison to Tiger Woods. He holds the record for the most consecutive weeks at number one (281), as well as the most total weeks in the position at 683. That’s a record we believe will never be beaten.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Lower Your Handicap

With Equipment from Nike and TaylorMade.
 
If the predictions of warmer-than-average temperatures through April are correct, we could well be hitting the links shortly. For many of us, we want to see affirmation that all we have worked on over the winter – hitting range balls in the dome, golf-specific exercises, poring through countless books and magazines and viewing just as many videos – have paid off. This is also a great time to check out new golf equipment, perhaps to overcome a weakness that makes you the par shooter in your foursome. Here’s what’s new and exciting from two of the top brand names in golf.
 
Nike
 
“We have a lot of new products in a lot of categories for the 2016 season,” said Nike’s Chris Coffman.
 
For those looking for a premium golf ball that delivers both excellent distance off the tee and optimal spin around the green, Coffman suggests checking out Nike’s RZN Tour line. It’s available in Platinum or Black and it’s ideal for those with moderate to high swing speeds. These tour-level balls are designed with Speedlock Technology that optimizes energy transfer for faster ball speed and longer drives.
 
The main difference between the two is that the Black line spins a little less. If you want your ball to check more quickly when it hits the green, go with the RZN Platinum. Conversely, if you want it to roll a little more, go with the RZN Black.
 
“Tour players are raving about how soft and long the RZN Tour golf balls are. It’s a heck of a product that will likely win majors,” he added.
 
Other golf balls worth checking out from Nike include the RZN Speed, the Hyperflight and the Crush. Dunham’s Sports and Nike are partnering on a special promotion this spring, enabling you to stock up on Hyperflight and Crush golf balls without breaking the bank. Be sure to check them out.
 
The other hot news from Nike this year is their new Vapor Fly line of drivers. It features distinctive Photo Blue finish.
 
“These drivers deliver a higher launch angle for maximum carry and reduced weight in the crown for higher ball speeds. It’s even more forgiving than our Vapor Speed drivers. Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau are bombing these drivers,” Coffman said.
 
Three options are available: the Vapor Fly delivers maximum launch angle, the Vapor Fly Pro delivers a little less spin for greater distance and the Vapor Flex 440 allows you to fine tune it to your desired ball flight.
 
TaylorMade
 
Hot on the heels of its M1 driver, TaylorMade just launched the M2 driver. They feature similar construction, including an ultralight carbon composite crown. Any time you see a PGA or LPGA professional tee up a driver with the black and white paint scheme, you know it’s either an M1 or M2.
 
“With the M1 and M2, we wanted to tell a family story. You can tell right away that they belong in the same family. We like to say that M1 is about personalization and M2 is about maximization,” said TaylorMade’s Jeff Nielander.
 
The M1 personalization is evident in the ability to alter launch angles, ball flight and loft. If you like to customize a club to your particular specifications, this is the driver for you. On the other hand, if you don’t need or want to adjust anything other than loft, the M2 is definitely fit for your game. I had an opportunity to try it at my local Dunham’s and was pleasantly surprised to discover it could deliver an extra 15 yards compared to my current driver.
 
“Both drivers feature a highly aerodynamic design and low center of gravity for maximum club head speed and carry distance. Both are also offered with a choice of over 30 shafts with no upcharge,” Nielander added.
 
I plan on comparing the new M2 irons to my current set as well. They promise more distance and a higher launch angle, ensuring more greens in regulation. On my wish list for Father’s Day is a new 3-wood. Mine is 9-10 years old and technology has advanced a great deal since then.
 
“The M2 fairway wood is the best TaylorMade fairway wood ever. It’s even better than RocketBallz fairway woods and those were pretty good,” Nielander added.
 
Like the driver, the M2 fairway woods feature the carbon crown that reminds one of the accent pieces found on many sports cars. They also feature a speed pocket for dramatic, driver-like distance and a shallow head design to make it easier to power through the rough.
 
Conclusion
 
If you are looking to lower your handicap, I strongly recommend the equipment mentioned in this article. From the high handicappers to the scratch golfers, there’s something for everyone. Be sure to speak with a knowledgeable Dunham’s Sports sales professional to ensure the equipment is ideally suited to your golf skills.
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30+ years, he has spent the last seven years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Whistling Straits Hosts 2015 PGA Championship

Midwest venue offers links-Style course, jaw-dropping scenery.
 
The 2015 PGA Championship returns to our neck of the woods: the Straits course at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, August 13-16. The site has held numerous professional tournaments, including the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championships and the 2007 U.S. Senior Open. In 2020, it is scheduled to host the Ryder Cup.
 
Befitting its status as one of this year’s four PGA Tour majors, the Straits will challenge every aspect of the pros’ games.
 
“This is a very challenging golf course. It’s long, close to 7,800 yards from the tips, with fast greens. We have a number of 500-yard-plus par fours that will be even tougher depending on the wind,” said Mike O’Reilly, head professional at Whistling Straits.
 
Situated nine miles north of the village of Kohler, the course has numerous holes that feature Lake Michigan as a backdrop and the look and feel of a links course, with plenty of bunkers and dunes to capture errant shots.
 
Favors the Straight and Long
 
As one can imagine, a course such as the Straits favors players who hit their shots – especially tee shots – long and straight. Since the Ryder Cup last year, few have hit it truer than the world’s number-one golfer, Rory McIlroy. He is averaging over 305 yards on his drives and is hitting nearly seven out of 10 fairways. A lot of the credit belongs to his Nike Vapor Pro driver. It wasn’t even supposed to be a commercially available driver. After hitting it a few times, however, Rory decided he wanted it in his bag.
 
I’d say that was a great decision. As of the middle of May, Rory had two wins and five top ten finishes for the 2015 PGA season, which began last October. He is ranked number one in total driving and ball striking.
 
The Vapor Pro is one of three lines of drivers Nike introduced last year. Popular with golfers of all levels is the company’s Vapor Speed driver. It’s designed to deliver optimal distance and low aspin by combining FlyBeam technology with a NextCor face and spreading the weight across the head and toe. It further features the company’s FlexLoft 2 for 15 different launch options.
 
I tested it at my local Dunham’s Sports and found it to deliver consistent distance, even on off-center hits. Assisted by the store’s golf expert, I was able to dial in a launch option that maximized carry distance and minimized spin. Unlike drivers of even a few years ago, today’s version come pretty close to being considered custom-fit. That’s why it’s important to work with the golf professional at your local Dunham’s Sports to make sure the driver is specifically tuned to your swing.
 
Play Where The Pros Play
 
If you want to play where the pros play, Whistling Straits and its sister course, the Irish, are available to the public (excluding August 1-18). Also available are two other world-class courses: The River and The Meadow Valleys at Blackwolf Run. Their diversity ensures an enjoyable playing experience for golfers of various levels.
 
Whether you decide to test your mettle at the Straits or any of the three other courses, O’Reilly offers the following suggestion: “When Pete Dye designed the Straits, he wanted to test the best players while making the course playable for average players. The result is a course that is visually intimidating, but playable, with generous fairways. The key is to make sure you are playing the appropriate tees.”
 
O’Reilly recommends the blue tees for better players (5-10 handicap) and the green or white tees for those with a 15 handicap.
 
For information about playing any of the courses mentioned or attending the 2015 PGA Championship, visit www.americanclubresort.com/golf.
 
Wear What the Pros Wear
 
If you’re going to play where the pros play, it only makes sense to dress like they do. Thankfully, Dunham’s Sports has you covered with a wide range of products, styles and colors for men and women.
 
Most of us can’t hit a ball like Rickie Fowler, but we can wear the same Puma shirts. Be sure to also check out the company’s shorts and skorts. Dunham’s Sports also carries clothing from PGA Tour, Nike, Callaway, Canyon Creek, Under Armour, Greg Norman, Taylor Made, Adidas and many more.
 
Some come with a built-in Ultraviolet Protection Factor to help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and nearly all feature patented technology to wick moisture away, keeping you cooler.
 
No matter which manufacturer you choose, we’re certain you’ll be a hit on and off the course.
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last six years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Horses for Courses

Pair Your equipment to the Course for Optimal Performance
 
For serious golfers living in the Midwest, winters and early spring are simply too long. We pass the time reading golf magazines, practicing indoors and watching The Golf Channel. If you are getting the itch to head somewhere warm to put into practice what you’ve learned and worked on, consider the Carolinas.
 
Pinehurst, with its nine courses, is on many golfers’ bucket list. You can find top-ranked North Carolina golf courses with breathtaking mountain views or with the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop.
 
In South Carolina, Hilton Head and Kiawah Island are frequent PGA Tour stops and for variety, it’s hard to beat Myrtle Beach. If that’s your destination, consider two terrific courses in the area. We played and enjoyed them immensely. Both are in North Carolina, just minutes from North Myrtle Beach. If you’re going to be in the area, be sure to check them out.
 
Thistle Golf Club and TaylorMade Drivers
 
The first course was the Thistle Golf Club. Situated in Sunset Beach, it features three very challenging 9-hole layouts with plenty of water, natural areas and sand bunkers. Its five sets of tees enabled each member in our foursome to play at his or her level. In addition to pristine conditions, we were duly impressed with the service, the friendliness of the staff and the 12-minute tee times. It felt like we had the course to ourselves for the most part.
 
Accuracy is extremely important at Thistle, so I recommend the new TaylorMade R15 or AeroBurner drivers. The R15 continues TaylorMade’s approach of reducing ball spin off the driver by increasing loft and moving the center of gravity toward the front of the club.
 
“To maximize driver distance, the golf ball must be launched at a higher angle and with very little backspin. A number of PGA Tour players are playing 12-degree drivers and they are among the longest on tour,” explained TaylorMade’s Jeff Nielander.
 
The R15 features even more adjustability than last year’s SLDR model, with two sliding mechanisms that can be adjusted to offset hooks, slices, maximize distance or consistency.
 
“We’ve also made the speed pocket longer and placed it a little closer to the clubface,” Nielander added. The speed pocket increases the clubface’s trampoline effect for greater distance.
 
For those who don’t need – or want – the R15’s adjustability, TaylorMade offers the AeroBurner driver. According to Nielander, it’s the company’s most aerodynamic driver ever made, resulting in increased club speed, which means more distance.
 
Crow Creek Golf and Nike Vapor Speed Driver
 
We also played and recommend Crow Creek Golf in Calabash, NC. It stretches to 7100 yards from the tips, though even good players will find the next sets of tees challenging enough. For average golfers, I recommend the white tees (just under 6100 yards). Like Thistle, there is plenty of trouble to be found at Crow Creek, though our group felt that there were fewer bunkers and more generous landing areas – if you choose your tee box wisely.
 
To give you a better chance at being on in two on some of the par 5s, I recommend the new Nike Vapor Speed driver.
 
“This is the line of drivers played by the number one golfer in the world, Rory McIlroy,” said Nike’s Chris Coffman.
 
As Coffman explained, Vapor Speed is designed to deliver optimal distance and low spin by combining FlyBeam technology with a NextCor face and spreading the weight across the head and toe. It further features the company’s FlexLoft 2 for 15 different launch options.
 
“Vapor Speed delivers consistent distance, even on off-center hits. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to hit it farther. In other words, pretty much every golfer,” Coffman added.
 
Callaway Chrome Soft Ball
 
Whether you play Thistle, Crow Creek or your favorite course, there is a new ball I recommend to players of all levels: Callaway’s new Chrome Soft. As the name implies, it’s soft (65 compression), enabling you attack fast, undulating greens and greens that require accurate approaches.
 
“This ball is going to change the category; it’s a paradigm shift for the industry,” explained Callaway’s Steve Conley. “It used to be that you had a soft ball that didn’t go far or a hard ball that would not spin on the green. Chrome Soft eliminates that compromise.”
 
Callaway believes most players will see increased distance with the driver and irons. Plus, the may get their ball do what we see pros do every weekend on TV:
 
“The low compression will allow average players to compress the ball like the pros. They’ll see the ball land and stick … maybe even back up,” Conley added.
 
Just as a good meal is truly complemented by an excellent wine, pairing your clubs with a ball that is ideally suited to your game and skill level will greatly enhance your golfing pleasure.
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last six years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Improve Your Score

With Golf Balls Specifically Engineered for Your
 
It’s common knowledge that, on average, a woman’s golf swing is slower than a man’s. Smart players (and manufacturers) recognize this and in recent years have replaced lower-lofted irons with hybrids. Frequently, however, that additional assistance is mitigated by playing a ball whose optimal performance is achieved by those with faster swing speeds.
 
The good news is that you don’t have to play the same ball as your male partner, because a number of golf ball manufacturers are offering balls designed specifically for you and your swing speed.
 
“Probably one of our most popular golf balls for women is our PD (Power Distance) Women. It features a soft ionomer cover with a modified 314-dimple pattern for longer carry. Its low-compression core delivers both longer distance and softer feel around the greens,” said Nike’s Chris Sullivan. These golf balls are available in both white and pink.
 
For the mid-handicap women players I like the Nike RZN Red and the RZN White. Both are designed for moderate to slower swing speeds. If you’re looking for more distance, try the RZN Red. Those who want a ball with more feel, resulting in more spin around the green, will find the RZN White better suited to their liking.
 
“The RZN Red and White golf balls feature a three-piece construction. The RZN core is 10 percent lighter than the conventional rubber core, allowing for heavier outer layers for optimal distance and stability,” Sullivan said.
 
Lower-handicap players are advised to consider the RZN Black and the RZN Platinum; the former delivers more distance while the latter delivers more feel. These four-piece golf balls are specifically designed for players with higher swing speeds.
 
“It’s important that all golfers – not just women – play a ball that is matched to their swing speed,” Sullivan added. “If they don’t swing fast enough to compress a higher-compression ball, they don’t get the desired trampoline effect, which maximizes distance and performance. On the other hand, if they’re playing a ball with not enough compression, the ball will almost feel like a marshmallow on the clubface.”
 
Be sure to check out the Ball Recommender on the Nike site. Simply by answering a few questions you’ll have a better idea of which ball is right for you. Of course, you may also consult with one of our knowledgeable sales professionals; they’re always eager and willing to help.
 
With the right ball in your bag, you’ll soon find yourself shooting better scores and beating your playing partners.
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Puddle Wonderful

The snow has melted, the grass is green, and it’s time to play.
 
It’s spring when the world is puddle-wonderful,” wrote poet ee cummings, heralding the season many love most. Almost everything about spring is wonderful: the greening of nature, the change from bitter cold to just right, the feeling that this is a time for new beginnings. The urge to break out the sporting gear and head out to the lakes, baseball diamonds, links and soccer fields.
 
If you don’t enjoy a sport, spring is a great time to take one up. If you’re a seasoned sportsman or sportswoman, it’s time to get up and go!
 
On the Links
 
I was a golf fanatic as a teenager, couldn’t wait to get out on the fairways come spring. And sometimes I didn’t wait. Back about half a century ago or so, a buddy and I headed out to a public course in Chicago in late March, only to find it was all mud and snow. The clubhouse was shuttered, but we tried to play a round. We made it through three holes before our feet were wet and our hands numb.
 
Getting out too early isn’t recommended, but you do want to be ready for opening day at your favorite course. If you’re just getting started and would like some helpful hints, golf instructor Nick Lico’s article, “Beginner Golfers Can Play Like the Pros,” can point you in the right direction. Nick’s tips can help you avoid the frustration that ill-prepared beginners can experience.
 
Seasoned golfers on the other hand, will want to brush up on the latest gear – equipment engineered to lower that handicap. Mr. Lico has the straight dope on what’s new for 2014. See “Advancements in Golf Technology = Better Scores.” You might be surprised to discover how much high science goes into producing low scores.
 
Batter Up!
 
Nothing says spring like the crack of a bat, and nobody knows baseball better than Dunham’s. In this issue, we sort through the needs of beginning players, helping moms and dads figure out what’s required for success in Tee Ball and Little League. It all starts with training aids and equipment geared to the needs of young players. You’ll find a review of what’s available in the article titled “Play Ball.”
 
If you’re an experienced ballplayer moving up to senior leagues, high school ball or NCAA competition, you’ll also want to move up to equipment that’s as good as your game. We talked to experts at Easton and Wilson as well as Dunham’s baseball consultants to put together a review of equipment engineered to help every player succeed in the upper levels of amateur baseball. It’s all in “Moving on Up.”
 
We’ve Been Kicking this Around
 
While baseball and football may be America’s most popular spectator sports, the game we all play is soccer. (Just to keep us confused, our friends in other countries call it football.)
But there’s really nothing confusing about soccer. The basics are simple: two goals, two teams, a ball, and no hands please. The last part is the hardest for youngsters to learn. If you watch mini-kid soccer games, you’ll hear the coaches shouting, “no hands! NO HANDS!”
 
Because it involves high-speed action, soccer is great exercise; with minimal risk of injury, it’s one of the safest sports for kids. And come spring, many kids, teens and adults can’t wait to get back out on the soccer field. Today, with indoor soccer growing in popularity, they don’t have to wait. “The Ins and Outs of Soccer“ takes a look at how the indoor game differs from outdoor soccer and reviews the equipment you or your child will need to take up the indoor game. Find all the soccer equipment you need at Dunham’s.
 
The Ice is Out, the Kayak is In
 
The ice has melted on our lakes and streams, and it’s time to get out the kayak. Or should we say the kayaks, because kayaking is an ideal family sport and many of us have several or more boats stashed in the garage, waiting for the first day of the season.
 
If you don’t have kayaks stashed in the garage, you should. Kayaking is easy with the right equipment, and it’s great exercise for the entire family. Our article, “Families Who Kayak Together Have More Fun,” offers some hints on choosing boats for one and all.
 
The Season Opener
 
Me, I’m going bass fishing on the first day of the season, which is the Saturday before Memorial Day on Michigan inland waters. I’ll probably take a baitcasting reel and rod and some crankbaits and see if I can get some love from a lunker largemouth on one of Michigan’s 10,000 lakes. If you’d like to try your hand at bass fishing, you’ll find some tips in the article titled “Tempting Mr. Bass.”
 
That’s a wrap for now, but don’t forget that Dunham’s has everything you need for every sporting season, along with the expert advice that can make your game more fun. Stop by your Dunham’s store today for everything you need to get in the game.
-Your Friends at Dunham’s
 
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Advancements In Golf Technology = Better Scores

Twenty years ago, Davis Love III led the PGA Tour with an average driving distance of nearly 284 yards. Through February 9 of this year, Bubba Watson led the Tour with an average drive of 322 yards – an improvement of nearly 40 yards! To many, that speaks to significant improvements in technology. The same technology that is enabling pros to hit a driver well over 300 yards and a 7 iron 200 yards is making it easier and more enjoyable for the average person to enjoy a round of golf.
 
Hot Drivers
 
Peruse popular golf publications and you will quickly notice that every manufacturer promises a “hot” driver. How they achieve the results, which enable even amateurs to hit drives straight and long, differs by manufacturer.
 
Dunham’s shoppers may have noticed a similar design approach from other manufacturers to clubs other than the driver. The idea is to remove weight where it’s not needed and to enable the clubface to deflect at the moment of impact, creating said trampoline effect. TaylorMade has used this approach with its RocketBallz fairway and hybrids and is employing a different strategy with its latest drivers.
 
“In our driver and fairway woods, we’ve moved the center of gravity lower and forward. Golfers are realizing more ideal launch angles and lower spin conditions,” said Tom Kroll, TaylorMade golf.
 
Here’s a practical example of what lower spin conditions mean: a good friend and golf pro put the TaylorMade SLDR driver in his bag last fall and immediately gained 30 yards! This year, TaylorMade has introduced the JetSpeed driver.
 
“Compared to the SLDR, the JetSpeed is going to launch the ball higher and with more spin. The SLDR also has a sliding weight that can be adjusted to control the draw or fade bias,” Kroll added.
 
Get on the Green
 
Hitting a great drive is a great feeling. However, to truly score, you must hit the green with your approach. Today’s technology can help you here, as well.
 
“Owning the second shot is what Adams Golf is known for. Our heritage has been about fairway woods, hybrids and irons. We have the equipment to enable less-experienced golfers to get on the green with the second shot, to own that shot,” Wood explained.
 
Technological advancements have also found their way into irons.
 
“Five years ago we introduced our Cut Thru-Slot design, which enhances ball speed and ball flight. This design creates a very thin face that flexes when it connects with the ball. The result is a trampoline-like effect that really launches the ball. Even if you mishit the club, you’re still going to get good results,” said Jeff Wood of Adams Golf.
 
“If you’re playing irons that don’t have a speed pocket, you’re playing with old technology. The speed pocket gives golfers speed where they need it most, since the majority of amateurs contact the ball below the center of the clubface. This technology increases launch angle and distance,” Kroll said.
 
Have a Ball
 
Manufacturers have also spent a great deal of their R&D improving the ball we play. Many companies are promoting choosing a ball based on your individual swing speed, desired ball flight and the amount of feel you want around the green.
 
“TaylorMade is launching three balls this year,” Kroll said. “Our new Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X are ideal for the better player. They feature a new Soft Tech cover for improved greenside spin and control.”
 
If you’re a scratch player, consider the Tour Preferred X model. An intriguing option for golfers of all levels is TaylorMade’s third new ball for 2014: the Project (a).
 
“Project (a) is designed for amateur golfers, though we saw a lot of single-digit golfers play this ball at Pebble Beach in February,” Kroll added. The company claims greater distance with all clubs, as well as significant and consistent spin with all irons. At under $32.00, I plan on checking it out.
 
For 2014, Nike is expanding its RZN line of golf balls.
 
“We’re launching RZN Black, Platinum, White, and Red this year, each explicitly designed for specific golfers,” said Chris Coffman of Nike.
 
The first two are designed for golfers of moderate to higher swing speeds. Those who want maximum distance should choose the RZN Black, while those who want more feel will prefer the RZN Platinum. Golfers with moderate to slower swing speeds will find the RZN Red and the RZN White more suited to their game. The RZN Red delivers more distance, while the RZN White delivers more feel.
 
There’s a lot to be said for technology. It has made our cars safer, phones smaller and the game of golf more enjoyable. With the right equipment and advice from our knowledgeable staff, next time someone asks you about your golf game, you can happily reply, “It’s par for the course.”
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Beginner Golfers Can Play Like the Pros

With Today’s Game-Improvement Equipment
 
If you are old enough to remember when every golf iron was a blade and drivers were made of persimmon, then you know how difficult golf could be. And that was for seasoned golfers. For newcomers, it was easy to get frustrated enough to quit the game before they even had time to master the fundamentals. That’s not the case nowadays. Thanks to advancements in technology, new golfers can enjoy the sport from their first round. Like any new venture, you should seriously consider how much time you will truly devote to it before making a significant monetary investment. Fortunately, Dunham’s has you covered.
 
Choose the Right Clubs
 
Frankly, golf clubs have improved so much that it’s difficult to make a wrong choice. One issue I see frequently with new golfers is not getting fitted for the clubs. Often, they’ll buy clubs with shafts that are too stiff for their swing speed and can’t figure out why all their shots go to the right (for right-handed players). Many Dunham’s stores are Fairway Center stores, meaning they carry a full complement of golf equipment and are staffed with knowledgeable consultants. Some stores also have an indoor driving range where a golf professional can help you choose the right clubs based on your swing speed and predominant ball flight. This is a free service, so be sure to take full advantage of it.
 
Complete Sets
 
Many beginners find that a “boxed set” makes a great deal of sense, since it includes a full set of clubs and a golf bag. A popular brand for these is Adams Golf and its Speedline and Tight Lies models. Ideal for newer golfers, they include an oversized driver, oversized woods, irons, wedges, a putter and the aforementioned golf bag. They are available for men and women.
 
“We offer a range of clubs that are entry-level priced and easy to hit. They feature club heads that are a little larger than the ones the tour players play and a thicker sole (on the irons) to get you through the rough,” said Jeff Wood of Adams Golf. “These are very forgiving clubs and we’ve found that the easier it is to hit the club, the more likely you are to stay with the game.” Dunham’s also carries the Idea irons from Adams Golf.
 
“Our new Idea Hybrid irons are designed to make the game easier – golfers will notice their miss-hits aren’t as punishing with these. They feature our new Cut Thru-Slot design, which enhances ball speed and ball flight. Golfers of all levels will see more consistent gaps (distance) between the clubs,” Wood added.
 
For youngsters who want to emulate Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or Michelle Wie, Dunham’s carries two Nike VR S Junior starter sets. Size one is a five-piece set that includes an oversized driver, a 7 iron, a sand wedge, a putter and a lightweight carry bag with kickstand. This is ideal for younger children. For older children, we recommend the size two set from Nike. It adds a 4 hybrid and a 9 iron to the size one set. The clubs are longer for taller children. The Nike VR S Junior size one set is available only for right-handed players, while size two is available for left-handers, as well. Dunham’s also carries Nike products for adult golfers.
 
Don’t Overlook Last Year’s Models
 
Like the car companies, the golf industry introduces new models every year and discounts the previous-year’s models, making them ideal choices for golfers of all levels.
 
“The 2013 VRS Covert line of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids that some of the top players in the game have played are now a great option for all golfers (as shown at the top of the facing page). This was the first high-speed cavity-back driver in golf and promotes improved forgiveness. It has a hotter face for more distance. Since they’re last year’s model, they’re available at a significant discount,” said Chris Coffman of Nike.
 
“For beginner irons, I would recommend looking for either our RocketBallz set or RocketBladez since they are previous-year models. They are great irons and will be a much better price for someone just starting,” added TaylorMade’s Tom Kroll.
 
Also available at significant discounts are the RocketBallz driver, fairway woods and hybrids. These are some of the best clubs I have ever hit and it’s the clubs you will most frequently see on golf courses.
 
Have Fun
 
What we have yet to discuss in this article is perhaps one of the most important elements for beginner golfers – though it applies to experienced duffers, as well: have fun! This is a great sport that can be enjoyed your entire life. It’s also one of the very few sports where grandparents and grandkids can enjoy simultaneously.
 
“Don’t get tied up in your score,” advises Coffman. “Focus on hitting good shots and see a club professional for lessons. You would be surprised to discover how big a difference having the proper grip, aim, stance and posture will make to your game and your enjoyment of the sport.”
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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