Archive for the ‘Outdoors’ Category


Disc Jockey?

Remember all that fun you had throwing the Frisbee® around campus or at a picnic?  Well, the Frisbee is still a staple of casual recreation, but throwing a disc has become a whole lot more sophisticated thanks to the explosive growth of disc golf.
 
The Disc Golf Association estimates that between 8 and 12 million people have participated in the sport, with 500,000 regular players. And these aren’t all just weekend enthusiasts. A man by the name of Nikko LoCastro made just under $43,000 in 2009 on the Professional Disc Golf Association Tour. That tour features almost 1,000 events with total prize money of more than $2,000,000. Now do we have your attention?
 
Besides being a lot of fun, disc golf is a whole lot less expensive than “real” golf. There are no clubs to buy, no need to rent a cart (not even a pull cart) and there usually aren’t greens fees. (Though some municipalities, recognizing the growing popularity of the game, have created “pay-to-play” courses with highly sophisticated layouts).  The game is very easy to learn, takes less time than regular golf and still lets you exercise in the great outdoors.
 
Disc Golf – A Little History
 
The increasing popularity of disc golf isn’t surprising. Throwing a disc and watching it sail into the horizon seems to satisfy some sort of basic human desire of flight. Cavemen probably would have done it had someone invented plastic.
 
Human nature being what it is, most any popular activity will soon prompt competition. There is no definitive history of disc golf, but there are stories of “Tin Lid Golf” in Canada in the 1920’s that pre-date the Frisbee. In the mid 1960s a recreational counselor in California (isn’t that where everything starts?) set out a crude golf course for Frisbees with hula hoops as “holes.” Not long after Ed Headrick, who worked for Wham-O, the manufacturer of the Frisbee, invented the disc pole hole, still used today in competitive play. Headrick is known as the father of disc golf, and helped establish the Disc Golf Association and the Professional Disc Golf Association.
 
Just Like Golf – Mostly
 
Disc golf is just like regular golf — players see who can take the fewest throws to get their disc in the hole, which is a set of chains hanging from a holder that surrounds the center pole. At the bottom is a circular basket that serves to catch the disc. Disc courses don’t have hazards, at least not like sand traps, but there are out-of-bounds areas, as well as mandatories, or “mandies.” For example, a hole might have a “tree right mandatory” requiring the disc to pass on the right of the tree, or a one-throw penalty is assessed.
 
Disc courses take a lot less property than a normal golf course. A championship course requires about an acre per hole, with typical fairways 20-40 feet wide. Different tee placements can accommodate various skill levels. A recreational course can afford 2-3 holes per acre, depending on terrain.
 
Faster, Straighter, Longer
 
Nowhere is the sophistication of modern disc golf more apparent than in the disc itself.  Where the original recreational disc had to be slow enough to be caught, modern competitive discs are designed for speed and distance. Innova Disc Golf got its start in the 1980s when it patented a beveled edge design. “The old fashioned disc was designed to float through the air and be caught,” says Innova East Coast Sales Manager Ryan Baker. “Our designs are more aerodynamic so the disc penetrates the air and goes farther and faster.” A top professional disc golfer can throw a disc well over 400 feet (at a speed of 60 mph).
 
Just as a golfer needs different clubs for different shots, a disc golfer uses different discs depending on distance from the hole. Driving discs have the sharpest edge and will go farthest, but they are most difficult to control. Mid-range discs have a slightly sharp edge for better control, while putter discs are straight and slow. The number of discs available is mind-boggling to the neophyte, and Baker recommends a starter set of a putter, mid-range and fairway driver, with a typical retail price under $30.
 
Baker says one of the biggest reasons for the growing popularity of disc golf is that the learning curve is very short. Because you are holding the disc itself (unlike golf where there is a club in between you and the ball), you have a greater ability to correct your mistakes.  Plus, putting is much easier than regular golf. So, who doesn’t like a sport where after a couple of hours you can say ‘Hey, I’m pretty good at this!’
 
Question: Have you ever tried Disc Golf?  Would you recommend it to others?
 
-The Friz Whiz
 
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PUT A SATELLITE IN YOUR GOLF BAG

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 the GolfBuddy® World Platinum. Featuring:  30,000+ preloaded courses, high resolution full color screen, full layout mode, full statistical analysis module, automatic course and hole recognition and includes rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and swivel holster.
 
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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Put Some Spring in Your Step With Trampolines

Who knew that a piece of fabric stretched over a few hunks of metal could be so much fun? Kids, of course! A widely popular backyard pastime, bouncing on a trampoline has provided children, teens and even adults with endless hours of pure, aerial fun. Though in addition to recreational fun, trampolines are known to serve other purposes as well.

Bouncing for Sport

The first trampoline came to fruition as the brainchild of George Neilson, a student at the University of Iowa. After observing the way trapeze artists bounced onto the safety net after performing, he figured out that trampolines would make a good training tool for athletes.

In the years following, trampoline jumping gained popularity and, eventually, sporting credibility, culminating in the debut of Trampoline as an official sport in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.  The sport has been played in each summer Olympics since.

Those looking to tone up and lose weight have also turned to the trampoline for exercise.  Jumping on a trampoline (typically a mini trampoline) is known to burn calories and tone leg and core muscles, as well as improve balance and agility.

How it Works

The material that one bounces on, known as the bounce mat, is made from woven canvas or polypropylene material. The elasticity of the trampoline comes from the coiled springs that are strategically placed around the edge of the trampoline’s steel frame; they provide the rebounding force that creates the jump. The Propel 15’ Trampoline, one of the genre’s best sellers, has 108 springs on its trampoline, 20% more than other leading brands.

Safety Tips

The safest trampolines have a net surrounding the outside of the frame known as an enclosure, which protects jumpers from potential falls. At peak bounce, a fall could mean coming down from as high as 12 feet. All Propel Trampolines come with enclosures, as well as an anchor kit, which holds the trampoline in place no matter the intensity of the bounce or weather. Propel Trampolines, also recommends that all bouncers have a spotter nearby and that only one person jump at a time.

Bounce On

The most important thing to remember about trampolines is that they were built for fun! As long as precautions are taken and safety guidelines heeded, trampoline users can bounce to their heart’s desire, be it for exercise, sport or pure recreational joy. Be safe and bounce on!

-Jumping Jack

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Draw… Fade… Straight…

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

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

Adjustable Drivers

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

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

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

Are Adjustable Drivers Right For You?

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

-Par Shooter

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Put Some Color in Your Game

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

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

Get a Grip on Color

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

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

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

Pretty in Pink

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

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

New Technology, New Color

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

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

-Par Shooter

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Ten Golf Road Trip Tips

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

1. Think Light

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

2. Play the Best of Both Balls

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

3. Fit to a Tee

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

4. One Good Glove Deserves Another

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

5. Dress for Success

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

6. Drive Longer and Straighter

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

7. Get Hip to Hybrid Power

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

8. Iron Man Up

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

9. Energize Like a Pro

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

10. Play Weather or Not

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

-Par Shooter

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Right Glove Means Comfort, Control and Confidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any other suggestions you have regarding selecting a baseball glove?

-Home Run Hitter

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Golf Association of Michigan (GAM)

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

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

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

-Par Shooter

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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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