Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category


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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Forget Yelling “Fore”

Find the Short Grass with Game-Improving Clubs
 
As a golf fanatic and part-time instructor, I’m frequently asked by new golfers, “What kind of clubs should I buy? What do you recommend in the way of beginner or complete sets?” I typically reply that it makes sense not to go overboard with their first set of clubs and to pick something that delivers performance, feels comfortable in their hands and is pleasing to their eyes. Two companies I frequently recommend are Adams Golf and PowerBilt.
 
Adams Golf
 
“Adams Golf is a leader in the area of game-improvement sets for beginner golfers,” said Randy Brown of Adams Golf.
 
In addition to iron-only packages, Dunham’s carries a variety of complete sets by Adams Golf, including their very popular TightLies. Ideal for newer golfers, the TightLies set includes an oversized driver, oversized woods, irons and wedges. The set also includes a putter and a golf bag. They are available for men and women.
 
Also popular are the company’s V3 irons, which include 4-6 hybrids in graphite shafts and 7-Approach Wedge in steel shafts.
 
Both the TightLies and the V3 are considered “game improvement” clubs, meaning they are designed to be easier to hit by those of us who aren’t PGA Tour players. As such, the weight has been moved away from the face and toward the sole of the club, making it easier to get the ball in the air. The oversized faces on both sets deliver a bigger sweet spot, helping to mitigate those dreaded off-center hits.
 
By the way, don’t think because you aren’t spending a ton of money on clubs that you are being short-changed. As Brown ex-plained, the TightLies and V3 irons feature the same components, quality and craftsmanship found in their uplevel offerings.
“Our goal is to make golf enjoyable for every golfer of every level. One way to do so is by making clubs that are easy to hit by the average, or even newer, golfer,” Brown said.
 
PowerBilt
 
PowerBilt clubs are what we use in our afterschool golf classes. They are available in a variety of sizes and styles and for young golfers, it’s my #1 recommendation, since my students are already familiar with the clubs. They are available for children younger than three and up to age 12. Adult sets with the full complement of clubs and either a cart bag or a carry bag are also available at your local Dunham’s.
 
See, golf doesn’t have to be expensive … but it can be a fun activity you can play the rest of your life.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Don’t Fear the Fairway

Today’s long-hitting fairway woods are engineered to hit clean on everything from hardpan to long grass.
 
As a young golfer way back when, I was afraid to take the 3-wood out of my bag. That club was the golf equivalent of the monster under the bed. The very thought of trying to push it through the long grass on the public links where I played was enough to bring nightmares.
 
I’ve outgrown my fear of fairway woods, but some golfers never have, and that’s unfortunate, because today’s clubs are far easier to hit than even those of a generation ago, let alone those of the primeval epoch of which I speak.
 
New Designs, New Confidence
 
Hybrid clubs that combine features of fairway woods and irons have been the subject of more attention than fairway woods in recent years, but changes in the design of the woods promise to bring these long-hitting clubs out of the bag and back into the forefront of the game.
 
Taking a cue from hybrid technology, many of today’s new-design fairway woods feature a shallow face and low center of gravity, making them easier to hit. While the 43-inch length of a 3-wood makes it a challenge for many golfers, some makers offer what one might call a fairway/hybrid combo with a somewhat shorter shaft. Others market 4-woods, which have a shorter shaft and a bit more loft – again making them easier to hit. Models designed to produce draw can add a bit more length to fairway shots and a bit of additional loft can make any fairway wood easier to hit. And as with drivers, clubs with adjustable loft are becoming available.
 
Most of today’s best fairway woods claim a high CT or characteristic time, which is a measurement of the trampoline effect that a club produces when contacting the ball. The USGA places limits on CT, and the longest hitting fairway woods all come close to that limit.
 
Fabulous for the Fairway
 
The Adams’ Super S Fairway stainless steel wood features that maker’s cut-thru sole slot, which works with the crown slot to generate a spring-like effect that optimizes energy transferred to the ball. According to the maker, the club’s CT is just barely within the limits set by the USGA. In addition, a refined crown slot generates a higher launch angle without increasing spin. The result is long carry distance.
 
In keeping with what seems to be a trend for both fairway woods and drivers, the Super S is styled in a way that increases the perceived size of the clubhead to instill confidence and make alignment easy.
 
TalyorMade’s RocketBallz Stage 2 fairway woods are manufactured with special steel that enables a thinner face. In combination with TaylorMade’s speed pocket design, that thin face causes the contact area to flex faster, resulting in a high CT, increased ball speed and more distance. Ball speed is further enhanced by a low and forward center of gravity.
 
The Tour version of the Stage 2 fairway wood features adjustable loft. The 3-wood base loft is 14.5°, and it can be adjusted up to 16° or down to 13°.
 
Clubface styling and graphics of all TaylorMade fairway woods promote easy alignment.
 
Nike’s VRS Covert fairway woods feature a higher CT than previous models. The VRS Covert Tour has a deep face height for mid-trajectory ball travel. Loft can be varied by means of Nike’s Flex Loft adjustment system. The VRS Covert has a fixed loft angle and a standard face height for high-trajectory ball travel. 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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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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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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Gear Up Fore The Season

 
High-Tech and Bold Colors Come to Golf Apparel
 
A s snow relinquishes its grip on the Midwest, we’re finally seeing some color: green on our lawns, red on robins’ breasts and a rainbow of bright colors in Dunham’s Sports golf apparel offerings.
 
“For 2013, we’re seeing an explosion of color, with more prints on shirts and bolder colors, making it easier for fashion-conscious golfers to mix and match,” said Scott Taylor of Under Armour.
 
That sentiment is echoed by Michael Zampini of Callaway Apparel.
 
“A big trend for spring is color. We’re seeing a big push to heathered fabric,” Zampini said. “People want to have the right apparel on the course. They want their apparel to fit and have it look and feel like they belong on the course, whether they actually do or not.”
 
Finding the right golf apparel is no problem, since Dunham’s Sports carries a wide assortment of styles from the leading brands, including the aforementioned Under Armour and Callaway, as well as Adidas, Canyon Creek, FootJoy, Nike, PGA Tour and TaylorMade.
 
Like your golf clubs, today’s golf apparel is high-tech, with special materials designed to keep you comfortable year-round.
 
During the early and later parts of golf season, the key is staying warm and the brands available at your local Dunham’s Sports have you covered.
 
“Layering is extremely important to heat retention. Our HeatGear® compression products keep you warm without being bulky,” Taylor said.
 
That approach changes for the summer, when the objective is to keep you cool.
 
“We build our brand around all-performance fabrication, with moisture-management products that keep golfers cooler in warm weather,” said Roddy Millichamp of PGA TOUR.
 
“Every brand offers a polo shirt that wicks moisture. At Callaway, we go one step further, with a shirt that features a ventilated back panel. The difference it makes is significant,” Zampini said.
 
Helping keep you cool is a given. Many manufacturers also offer odor-resistant technology and a level of protection against the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Think about it: today’s golf apparel keeps you cool, fresher and protects your skin!
 
Most of the products mentioned in this article are also available for women. In fact, PGA TOUR kicked off its Ladies Tour line this year.
 
“This is a great-looking lineup that doesn’t have to be worn strictly on the course,” Millichamp said. “It includes shorts, skorts and capris. The bottoms hook up with sleeved and sleeveless tops and offer the same high-tech functionality of the men’s line.”
 
Spring, summer and fall, Dunham’s Sports has the serious golfer covered with apparel specifically designed for the season. These are the same products worn by PGA players and available to you at terrific prices, meaning there’s more money left over for additional rounds or new clubs.
 
See you on the links!
 
-Par Shooter
 

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Golf with Arnie

[Written by Arnie Kander].
 
Before you get up on the tee box and swing away, Detroit Pistons strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander suggests you take a few minutes to maximize your swing and warm up.
 
What I see, and I’ve golfed a lifetime, is there is always a rushing process when you get to the first hole. Sometimes it’s 30 seconds, a minute, do not rush the process.  Take your time; go through all of the body parts that need to be warmed up.  Golf is a sport that involves multiple joints that have to move together.  If they move together, not only will you have more flexibility in your golf swing, but you’ll have a lot more productivity and you’ll feel a whole lot better about  playing golf.  So before you get to the first hole, there are a few simple movements. You’ll need about 10 minutes to warm up:
 
1. Ankle Flexibility: Golf is a game of lowering your center of gravity and is also a game of using your ankles to begin the initiation of power.  The ankles create a pronation, supination component in golf that can only occur, that transference of power to the ankles, when the ankles have been warmed up.  Use the club as a reference tool to keep your back square, unlock your ankles and do some ankle flexes. Do 10-15 repetitions.
 
2. Small Rotations: Get into a golf stance with the club in your hands horizontally, grabbing the top and bottom of the club.  Feet are square, the club close to the body and begin to do very small rotations without turning your legs.  You’re unlocking your ribs and loosening up your shoulder blades.  Do as many as you need to until your back starts to feel warm.
 
3. Extended Rotations: Extend your arms out and continue to do rotations without turning your legs.  You’re starting to warm up the back and shoulders. This will give you the maximum flexibility through your back.
 
4. Transfer of Weight Rotations: Extend the club and let yourself shift your weight as you come through.  It’s still level to the chest, unlocking the back shoulder.  You’re beginning to transfer the weight and you’re beginning to unlock the front hip.
 
5. Lower the club: Engage the back. Lower the club down, take the movement slow, do not take it to your end range.  Slow, controlled and methodical.
 
6. Unlocking the hip: Put one foot behind, as if we’re stretching our calf out.  If it’s the right leg, hold the club in front and push the club out across so the club is actually facing the left side of your body.  What this is doing is connecting the shoulder to the chest to the hip to the calf.  In a golf swing, that translates to the ability to come through a swing and unlock it.  Then do the same on the other side.  So now we’ve warmed up the ankles, we’ve warmed the hips up, we’ve worked on the rotations, and we’ve warmed the spine, what’s left? Get on that first tee, line it up, and take the club back slowly.  You hit, you follow through and now you’ve got the maximum flexibility and the potential performance of a golfer.
 
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From the Lab to The Links

The Seasons New Golf Gear is Engineered for Distance and Accuracy
 
All winter long you’ve been itching to get back on the golf course. Well, all winter long equipment manufacturers have been re-programming their computers and adjusting their algorithms to help you hit the ball just a little bit longer and a little bit straighter.
 
Farther Down the Fairway
 

Drivers are usually the focus of attention because everybody wants to be longer off the tee. But TaylorMade is emphasizing the next club in your bag — the fairway wood. It’s called the RocketBallz™ or “RBZ,” and yes it is a club. The unusual name came when testing engineers who first used it said the ball “rocketed” off the club.
 
There are two keys to RocketBallz technology. First, the center of gravity has been moved forward to provide a higher launch angle and less spin. Second is a cavity (Speed Pocket) carved into the sole. Positioned just behind the face, it’s designed to increase flexibility of both the face and the sole. Both developments increase ball speed, and more ball speed means more distance.
 
Here’s the geeky engineering explanation, all centered around the Coefficient of Restitution (COR). In English, that means how well object A (the golf club) transfers energy to object B (the golf ball). Traditional fairway woods have had a COR of about .777, while the RocketBallz jumps to .815.
 
So what does all this engineering talk mean to you? More distance. TaylorMade is advertising that the RocketBallz fairway wood will add 17 yards of distance for a typical golfer. And if the lawyers let them say that, who can argue? (Not that any lawyer actually swung the club). What it all comes down to is hitting the ball farther, says TaylorMade’s Rob Backus. “It’s all about speed and how the ball trampolines off the face of the club.”
 
Nike has its own technology to increase distance off the tee. Its VR_S driver has what it calls NexCOR (notice how it got “COR” into the name of the product?). This concentrates on the face of the club. A multi-thickness design makes the face of the club ultrathin at the sweet spot, which — ta-da — increases ball speed off the tee.
 
“The VR_S is hot,” says Nike’s Chris Coffman. “It feels fast — I don’t know how else to describe it.”
 
Speaking of Ball Speed
 
You spend a lot more money on a new club than on a golf ball, but it’s the ball that actually determines your score. Not to fear, the golf scientists have been spending plenty of time on the little white sphere.
 
Titleist has long dominated the ball market and they are introducing four new products. Most significant is a new version of the NXT Tour, the highly popular, non-urethane cover ball first introduced a decade ago. The new ball has a slightly smaller soft center and higher volume outer core layer engineered to increase power and (of course) distance. A soft, thin Fusablend cover features a new spherically tiled octahedral design with four axis of symmetry and 302 dimples in five sizes.
 
All the laboratory work and science is important, but it’s what happens on the golf course that determines whether a product succeeds and the Titleist development process is heavy on real world application. “Our ball development process always starts with golfer testing where we identify improvement that will help golfers score better,” says Bill Morgan, Senior Vice-President, Golf Ball Research and Development.
 
Nike is introducing what it calls a radical new core technology for its 20XI ball. The core is lighter with a low density that distributes weight to the perimeter, thus increasing ball moment of inertia (MOI). That higher ball MOI maintains spin after the apex of the shot, adding yards and minimizing travel off line.
 
There are also cosmetic changes to balls. Titleist is beginning to use double digit markings on its balls. Not a revolutionary change, but it’s different and something to make your ball stand out. And the new NXT Tour S is being offered in white and yellow.  Colored balls were all the rage in the 1980s, and when Jerry Pate won the TPC at Sawgrass in ’82 with an orange ball, there was some thought golf might join tennis and leave the white ball behind. That never happened and the color craze faded.  Now colored balls are making a comeback.
 
“There’s definitely been a resurgence in color,” says Gary Humenny of Bridgestone, which has long offered many colored variations. “They are easier to see, they are distinctive and they’ve always been popular with women.”
 
Belly Up to the Putter
 
One of the hottest products in golf is the belly putter and it has very little to do with technology. The excitement stems from a day last August when Keegan Bradley won the PGA with a belly putter. Nothing sparks interest in a new club like winning a major.  “Our sales have exploded,” says Powerbilt’s Dennis Wente. “We re-introduced belly putters in October and through February we’ve sold close to 15,000.”
 
You can’t just convert a 35-inch putter to a belly putter, because the putter will be too light. That’s why 50-60 grams of weight have been added to the belly versions.
 
Belly putters have tended to be popular with older golfers and have been a staple of the Senior Tour. As people age their hands become less steady and, because the longer putters require less wrist action, in theory that means fewer putting ‘yips.’  But now that younger players are winning tournaments with belly putters, the belly putter is being validated for all golfers.
 
The grip, stance and putter itself are quite different, and Wente says not to expect overnight success and to plan on working out the kinks on the practice green. “First, get the right length and lie. And give the putter some time before you take it to the course, because it will take some time getting used to.”
 
But then, success in golf requires plenty of practice in all phases of your game, right?
 
Belly Putter Fitting
 
Determine Length
 
A belly putter of the correct length will allow the sole of the putter to rest flat on the ground, and will position your eyes directly over the ball.
 
STEP 1: Position the butt-end 2-3 inches above your belt buckle in the center of your belly.
 
Another technique is moving the butt-end 2-3 inches left of center if you’re a right-handed putter, or 2-3 inches right of center if you’re a left-handed putter, to find which position feels best.
 
STEP 2: Hold the putter just firmly enough against your belly to keep the butt-end anchored.
 
STEP 3: Check to see if putter head is flat on the ground, and your eyes are positioned just inside the ball.
 
STEP 4: Check posture — you’ll want to assume comfortable position that allows your arms to hang freely and your shoulders and body to rotate to make a pendulum-like swing.
 
TOO LONG: You’ll know the putter is too long for you if:
 
• The toe of the putter head is raised in the air.
• Your arms and hand are extended and not hanging freely.
• Your stroke starts sharply inside and finishes sharply inside.
 
TOO SHORT: You’ll know the putter is too short for you if:
• Feel hunched over in an uncomfortable position.
• Your weight is constantly falling towards your toes.
• Your stroke starts outside and swings inside.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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