Lower Your Handicap

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