Horses for Courses

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