Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category


Draw… Fade… Straight…

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

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

Adjustable Drivers

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

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

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

Are Adjustable Drivers Right For You?

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

-Par Shooter

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Put Some Color in Your Game

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

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

Get a Grip on Color

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

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

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

Pretty in Pink

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

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

New Technology, New Color

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

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

-Par Shooter

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Ten Golf Road Trip Tips

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

1. Think Light

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

2. Play the Best of Both Balls

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

3. Fit to a Tee

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

4. One Good Glove Deserves Another

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

5. Dress for Success

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

6. Drive Longer and Straighter

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

7. Get Hip to Hybrid Power

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

8. Iron Man Up

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

9. Energize Like a Pro

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

10. Play Weather or Not

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

-Par Shooter

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Golf Association of Michigan (GAM)

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

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

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

-Par Shooter

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Golf – It’s Child’s Play

At age 3 Tiger Woods beat Bob Hope in a putting contest. By 5 he had begun demonstrating his remarkable talents on national television.

Okay, Tiger Woods was a once-in-a-generation prodigy.  And the chance your kid is the next Tiger Woods is about the same as you facing Tiger in sudden death at Augusta. But that’s not the point. You enjoy golf even if you’ll never play on the PGA Tour, and you want your kids to have the same opportunity.

So When Do You Start?

There’s no “right” age to introduce a child to golf. There are prodigies and plenty of kids are playing some version of golf at age 5. Others don’t start until high school or later and still develop a lifelong attachment to the sport. What’s important, says American Junior Golf Association Media Relations Director Sarah Wagoner, is to consider the individual. “It really depends on what you are comfortable with and what your child is comfortable with.”

Nobody should force a child into any kind of activity, but exposing them to the sport will often generate an interest. Watching tournaments on television and talking about the game and players, for example. The next step could be putting on the carpet, and then maybe miniature golf and then a driving range.  At some point it should be easy to tell whether your son or daughter really wants to golf. If so, it’s time to buy a starter set.

Junior Golf Clubs

Fortunately, numerous manufacturers make starter sets for youth that fit their game and don’t cost a fortune. Here’s what to look for in buying clubs for your son or daughter.

Length

This is the first consideration. You want the right length, but with some room to grow into. Clubs that let the child choke down one to two inches will give them that flexibility. Anything beyond two inches, however, will likely force them to fundamentally change their swing, and that’s the last thing you want. Up to two inches and you’ll probably get at least another year out of the set.

Shaft Flex

The main problem with cut-down clubs for juniors is the stiffness of the shafts. When you take 4-5 inches of length off a golf club, you make the shaft extremely stiff. And this explains why juniors using cut-down clubs are unable to get any height on their shots.

One good thing with new sets is that the manufacturers are now using light weight steel and graphite to make shafts that are the right flex for kids’ swing speeds. Using light-weight steel and graphite have made junior golf clubs more playable. Bend the shafts of any clubs to make sure they are flexible.

Weight

Just like with shaft flex, most club companies make junior clubs with lighter heads and shafts. So before you buy, just make sure to check the overall weight of the clubs. You want clubs that are light enough to fit your child’s age.

Grip

In the past, adult clubs were cut down to size for juniors with little thought to the grip. But an oversized grip will cause swing problems. Look for junior clubs that have junior-sized grips. If you’re changing grips, look for a thinner core size of .50.

You already know how important your clubs are to your game. Starting your child with the right set will set the stage for a lifelong love affair with the game of golf.

What is your earliest memory of playing golf?

-Par Shooter

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Technology-The Golfer’s Friend

Golf, like everything else, has become a lot more complicated. Technology has taken over the sport. A generation or two ago a discussion on golf would include keeping your left arm straight and your eye on the ball. Now it’s as likely to include terms like “coefficient of restitution” (COR — the amount of energy transferred between the clubface and ball at moment of impact) or “moment of inertia” (MOI — the clubhead’s resistance to twisting when a ball is struck). It’s enough to make a science nerd turn in his pocket protector for a golf glove.

And nowhere has technology become more important in golf than with drivers.

What’s Your Driver Made Of?

The most dramatic change in driver technology can be attributed to golf’s “miracle metal” — titanium. Its light weight means more clubhead speed as well as a larger club face. The most noticeable result is more distance, but titanium is also more forgiving. That’s because of the larger “sweet spot,” which means you can hit the ball off-center and still have a very nice drive. The only drawback? Well, something this good has to be expensive.

Traditional steel drivers are very durable and offer a solid, consistent connection. A balance between the two materials can be found in composite designs which combine titanium and non-metal materials such as carbon. Manufacturers can vary which part of the head is titanium and which is not, aiming for the best possible weight balance.

Another technological advancement is the incorporation of plugs or weights in the head of drivers. Tungsten inserts are placed behind the face of the driver to add to the sweet spot. The position of the weight affects the way in which it works. The farther the weight is away from the face, the higher the ball flight it will produce. In more recent years companies have begun adding removable weights. Usually, up to four weights can be placed in the head of drivers to offer players different shapes and velocities. The rules of golf mean the weights cannot be changed during a round, but can be adjusted between rounds to change the player’s ball flight.

Golf Balls – Dimples, Layers and Drag

If technology is important in drivers then it’s really important in balls, because that’s what you’re trying to put in the hole. In the late 1900s golf ball dimples revolutionized the sport by helping them stay aloft and maintain trajectory. Ball manufacturers have introduced a number of multi-layer balls to optimize spin and distance.

A couple of years ago Taylor Made introduced its LDP, or “Low Drag Performance Ball” which is now part of every ball the company makes. Dean Snell, Senior Director of Golf Ball Research for the company, says it will help players at every level. The company’s research showed that players at all levels sometimes hit the ball off-center. That lowers the spin rate of the ball, sometimes more than 1,000 rpm, which causes the ball to knuckle, or simply fall out of the sky. The LDP technology counteracts that lower spin.

So, how does it work? Well, that’s a closely guarded secret, but Snell does say that “it involves varying dimple diameters, depths and edge angles in a symmetrical pattern to maintain the spin rate of the ball.” We told you this was complicated.

So, between titanium drivers and high tech golf balls, your game is going to get better; but when everybody plays with advanced equipment, it will still come down to player skill. And that hasn’t changed since the first Scotsman hit a rock with his stick.

-Par Shooter

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It All Starts with the Ball

Golf balls only look simple. Inside that tiny dimpled sphere is nothing short of a space age laboratory of high technology, all designed to make your shot do precisely what you want it to.

 

How Many Pieces?

 

One-Piece – The most basic ball, usually only used on driving ranges. Inexpensive and durable, it is typically made of a solid piece of Surlyn with dimples molded on. Because of its low compression, distance suffers.

 

Two-Piece – By far the most popular golf ball, it combines durability and distance. A solid core of high-energy acrylate or resin is then covered with a tough, cut-proof blended cover that gives maximum distance. This is a very durable ball, but that “hard” feel makes it more difficult to control than softer balls.

 

Three-Piece – These balls have a solid rubber or liquid center, a layer of enhanced rubber or a liquid produced layer and then a molded cover, typically Surlyn. The softer design takes more spin, allowing a skilled golfer more control over the ball’s flight.

 

Four-Piece – All four layers work to produce a combination of distance and soft feel. The first layer is a solid rubber center that gives explosive distance. The next layer, an inner cover, transfers energy from the strike to the core. Next is the middle cover (the “extra” layer compared to the three-piece design), designed to both maximize distance and feel for mid-irons and around the green. The outer cover is the thinnest layer, made from Urethane.

 

Putting a Spin on the Story

 

Low Spin balls decrease side spin, meaning straighter shots. While they sacrifice distance (at least in the air), they are suited for high handicappers who struggle to stay in the fairway.

 

Mid Spin balls are the middle ground that attempt to balance accuracy and distance.

 

High Spin balls increase backspin, which enhances control, especially on approach shots. That shot you see on television on Sunday that “backs up” to the flag—it’s done with a high spin ball.

 

So, How Do You Feel About Your Ball?

 

Firm Feel – These balls provide maximum distance, but sacrifice feel. Aimed at the high handicapper, they are also extremely durable.

 

Mid Feel – Again, a balance between the explosive distance of a firm ball and the control of a softer ball.

 

Soft Feel – Enables low-handicap players to work spin into their game and use the soft feel for their short game.

 

Being long off the tee is great for the ego, but it’s your irons, putter, and yes, your ball that will have the biggest impact on your score. Advancements in golf technology have given you a tremendous amount of choices. The real key is choosing the technology that best fits your game.

 

-Par Shooter

 

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PUT A SATELLITE IN YOUR GOLF BAG

p>The high technology revolution in golf has been concentrated in the manufacturing of clubs and balls. Titanium shafts, acrylate centers, four-layer ball designs — terms that have moved from the physics lab to the pro shop. But now, the ultimate for the golf geek — global positioning systems for the golf course.

Just as GPS technology has exploded in the general consumer market so that stopping for directions out of town is a thing of the past, now it is revolutionizing the game of golf. Gone are the days of, “I guess I’m 20 yards from the 150 yard marker” to, “It’s 163 yards to the front of the green.” Global positioning technology connects to orbiting satellites to tell you precisely (plus-or-minus one yard) exactly how far you are to the front, middle and back of a green, as well as the distance to bunkers, water and other hazards.

The systems are pre-programmed with information on various courses or they include subscription services to download thousands of courses worldwide.

More Than One Number

Knowing the distance to the green (actually three distances to the green — front/middle/back) is obviously a big help. But getting maximum use from GPS technology means using more than just your approach distance. Because the devices are programmed for individual courses, you also have distances to things you want to avoid — bunkers, water, etc.

For example, on your second shot on a par five, the yard marker may put you at 240 yards from the green. But GPS will add information such as those bunkers 210 yards away, so your best strategy may be to play short of the bunkers and then hit a wedge close for a possible birdie.

Different Approaches

One of the most popular GPS golf devices is SkyCaddie®, which has upped the technological ante with its patented IntelliGreen® system that enables golfers to measure the full depth and shape of the green from any angle of approach, both on or off the fairway.

Of course, no piece of golf equipment would be complete without a full range of accessories. Cart mounts, clamps, suction cups, leather cases and belt clips – low tech support for high tech golf.

GPS systems bring absolute precision to golf strategy. When you know you are exactly 187 yards from the green, you know exactly which club to use. Now, if you could just hit the ball exactly 187 yards!

-Par Shooter

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GOLF CARTS AND BAGS — NOT JUST AN AFTERTHOUGHT

Golf bags and pull/push carts are essential for the weekend golfer, even though they won’t save a single stroke on the course. Or will they? Advancements in bag and cart design have improved comfort for the golfer who carries his or her own clubs, and isn’t someone who’s less tired by the 12th hole likely to play better?

A Third Wheel Changes Things

With more attention on the benefits of exercise (to say nothing of the cost savings), many golfers are giving up electric carts in favor of pull carts. Except that pull carts are now often push carts. Bag Boy Manufacturing pioneered the push design by adding a third (front) wheel to a cart and the concept has taken over the market. “You can push the cart with one finger,” says Bag Boy . “The advantages are obvious the first time you use it.”

Despite a much higher cost, the three-wheel push cart now dwarfs sales of the old pull cart, with well over 50 percent of the market. While total sales of hand carts have remained fairly steady over the past few years, sales revenue has grown dramatically, thanks to the move to the upscale three-wheel push carts.

Can’t decide whether you want a push or pull design? Bag Boy also makes a push cart that can become a pull cart by removing the front wheel.

What’s Your Bag?

While golf bags have not changed as dramatically as carts, there continues to be a wide selection with price ranges to match.  Essentially, there are three types of bags:

Tour Bag — The ultimate golf bag, with lots of storage, but also lots of weight. This is what the touring pros use, but remember, they have caddies!

Cart Bags — Less pockets and space made with lighter materials and designed to fit in a hand cart.

Travel/Carry Bag — The smallest and lightest bag, for people who like carrying their own clubs. Dual straps make carrying more convenient, as do built-in stands that also reduce wear and tear because the bag is not constantly dropped on the ground.

Once you’ve decided on the kind of bag to buy, you’ve still got a lot to choose from in terms of colors, materials and all the little gadget holders that let you carry just about anything you want.

-Par Shooter

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