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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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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