Hit the Links

Are you ready for warm weather yet? If you’re a golfer, the answer is probably “Yes!” One of the great things about playing golf is that there are great courses no matter where you go! Planning to travel this season? Or maybe you want to make a special trip to try out a new course? Whatever the case, pack up your clubs and hit the road this Spring. Here is a list of some great public courses to try out.

Whistling Straits – Haven, Wisconsin

The course that is set to host the 2020 Ryder Cup has over 1,000 bunkers, so watch your step. It is set on Lake Michigan on an abandoned air base. There is a second course at Whistling Straits called the Irish Course, which is further inland.

Erin Hills – Erin, Wisconsin

Erin Hills hosted the first U.S. Open for the state of Wisconsin in 2017. In fact, modifications were made to the course in a bid to host the event. It also hosted the 2008 U.S. Women’s Public Link and the 2011 U.S. Amateur.

Arcadia Bluffs – Arcadia, Michigan

Located in the Michigan mitten’s northwest corner, Arcadia Bluffs offers a lakeside links-style course complete with deep bunkers, long grasses and challenges at every turn. Oh, and of course, picturesque views of Lake Michigan, which you can see from every hole on the course.

French Lick Resort – French Lick, Indiana

Beautifully located in Indiana’s Hoosier National Forest, the French Lick Resort went under a massive restoration a decade ago. Complete with hills at every turn, crater-like bunkers and greens that would make the pros shiver, this midwestern track is one of the best.

Cog Hill – Lemont, Illinois

Nestled in the suburbs of Chicago, Cog Hill has a relatively straightforward track, but not void of challenge. The “Sierra of the Midway,” as it’s been nicknamed, will give players an “up north” feel just outside from the hustle and bustle of the Windy City.

GreyStone Golf Club – Dickson, Tennessee

Had enough of Broadway, the Grand Ole Opry and city life in general while visiting Nashville? A short drive from the city and easily accessible to the rest of central Tennessee, GreyStone golf club pops up year after year on lists of not only the best public golf in Tennessee, but in the country.

The Harvester – Rhodes, Iowa

Rolling hills may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about the state of Iowa, but The Harvester course will make you think twice. The course takes advantage of an 80-foot elevation change and features a 60-acre lake to make it a picturesque Midwest course.

-Par Shooter

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A Better Game Awaits

New Equipment From Leading Manufacturers Can Help You Improve Your Score.
For golfers, there’s nothing like the prospect of spring. After hours in the gym and the indoor range, studying golf magazines and watching instructional videos, we’re ready to take the game to the course. To help you improve both your score and your enjoyment, consider the following equipment from some of the leading golf brands.
The big news from Callaway for 2017 is the introduction of two Great Big Bertha (GBB) drivers: GBB Epic and GBB Sub Zero. Both feature the company’s Jailbreak Technology, which includes two titanium rods behind the club face to ensure the face, crown and sole work more efficiently.
“With either club, golfers will see more ball speed across a larger area of the face, resulting in increased average distance,” explained Callaway’s Jason Finley.
For golfers who like to work the ball (or are looking to overcome an issue), Finley suggests the Epic driver. Thanks to its perimeter-weighted technology, it can be customized to deliver 21 yards of shot shape.
“If, instead, you’re looking to control the ball’s trajectory, the Epic Sub Zero is the way to go because it features two weights in the sole,” Finley added.
Consider pairing up either driver with Callaway’s new Chrome Soft X ball. It’s slightly firmer than the company’s Chrome Soft and is designed to deliver more spin from the mid- to short-irons.
“Players will note that Chrome Soft X will deliver a more piercing, more workable ball flight,” Finley said.
Golfers are always looking for feedback: how far and how well did I hit that drive? That’s why I’m anxious to get my hands on the new Cobra F7 drivers; they include Arccos sensors in the grip that, when paired with the company’s app, provide a wealth of analytical data.
“It’s the future of golf,” said Cobra’s Brian Dameron.
That’s not the only innovation found in the F7 drivers. As Dameron explained, the faces are thinner, so the ball launches faster.
“We’ve expanded the sweet zone, so golfers will see more forgiveness for off-center hits and a lot more speed,” he added.
The King F7 has the larger profile of the two drivers and is available in lofts ranging from 9 to 12 degrees. Better players will likely migrate to the King F7+. It features a smaller profile and lofts that range from 8 to 11 degrees.
Visit any golf course and you’ll see most golfers playing TaylorMade clubs. In 2017, expect these golfers and others to add one of the company’s new golf balls – TP5 and TP5x – to their bag.
“Both balls feature five-layer technology, versus three or four layers from competitors. We believe that five layers means more performance with zero compromises. That’s why we call them the most complete Tour Balls,” said TaylorMade’s Tim Ulrich.
Ulrich explained the five layers in these balls deliver the perfect combination of distance for all shots without sacrificing spin and control around the green.
The TP5 has a softer compression core – 83 – and, as with other ball manufacturers, the x model has a higher compression core of 90. This means the TP5x will launch higher and spin less, making it slightly longer than the TP5.
“We believe these are among the longest in the competitive set with the driver and, especially, with irons,” Ulrich added.
Be sure to also check out TaylorMade’s Project (a) ball. We’ve liked its performance and soft feel with every club in the bag, including the driver and putter. Ulrich described Project (a) as delivering, “Tour performance for amateurs, with tour-like spin around the green.”
Last fall, I was one of 80,000 golfers around the world who were asked to test Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x prototypes. What my fellow testers and I discovered is that both balls are better than the previous versions.
“The new Pro V1 is significantly longer than its predecessor, thanks to innovation in core technology. Golfers will experience more ball speed and less spin, resulting in a distance advance. Historically many players have chosen Pro V1x for its longer distance characteristics; that really has changed with the 2017 models. Pro V1 is now every bit as long as Pro V1x and both models continue to deliver exceptional greenside control, so golfers should focus their decision based on flight, feel and spin,” said Michael Mahoney, Titleist vice president of golf ball marketing.
If you’re looking for a ball that flies lower and feels softer, go with the Pro V1. If you’re looking for a ball that launches higher, feel slightly firmer and spins more with the mid-irons, give the Pro V1x a try.
Both Pro V1 and Pro V1x also feature new dimple patterns which produce even more consistent flight, particularly into the wind.
“We believe it’s worth investing in either Pro V1 or Pro V1x because they deliver a total performance to every golfer. The ball performs on every shot,” Mahoney added.
Golf has been described as a pastime that takes a lifetime to master. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of advancements in technology, be it in clubs or golf balls. Outfit yourself with equipment from these manufacturers to help ensure more pleasant, more rewarding rounds this year.
-Par Shooter
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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.
“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.
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.
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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Whistling Straits Hosts 2015 PGA Championship

Midwest venue offers links-Style course, jaw-dropping scenery.
The 2015 PGA Championship returns to our neck of the woods: the Straits course at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, August 13-16. The site has held numerous professional tournaments, including the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championships and the 2007 U.S. Senior Open. In 2020, it is scheduled to host the Ryder Cup.
Befitting its status as one of this year’s four PGA Tour majors, the Straits will challenge every aspect of the pros’ games.
“This is a very challenging golf course. It’s long, close to 7,800 yards from the tips, with fast greens. We have a number of 500-yard-plus par fours that will be even tougher depending on the wind,” said Mike O’Reilly, head professional at Whistling Straits.
Situated nine miles north of the village of Kohler, the course has numerous holes that feature Lake Michigan as a backdrop and the look and feel of a links course, with plenty of bunkers and dunes to capture errant shots.
Favors the Straight and Long
As one can imagine, a course such as the Straits favors players who hit their shots – especially tee shots – long and straight. Since the Ryder Cup last year, few have hit it truer than the world’s number-one golfer, Rory McIlroy. He is averaging over 305 yards on his drives and is hitting nearly seven out of 10 fairways. A lot of the credit belongs to his Nike Vapor Pro driver. It wasn’t even supposed to be a commercially available driver. After hitting it a few times, however, Rory decided he wanted it in his bag.
I’d say that was a great decision. As of the middle of May, Rory had two wins and five top ten finishes for the 2015 PGA season, which began last October. He is ranked number one in total driving and ball striking.
The Vapor Pro is one of three lines of drivers Nike introduced last year. Popular with golfers of all levels is the company’s Vapor Speed driver. It’s designed to deliver optimal distance and low aspin 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.
I tested it at my local Dunham’s Sports and found it to deliver consistent distance, even on off-center hits. Assisted by the store’s golf expert, I was able to dial in a launch option that maximized carry distance and minimized spin. Unlike drivers of even a few years ago, today’s version come pretty close to being considered custom-fit. That’s why it’s important to work with the golf professional at your local Dunham’s Sports to make sure the driver is specifically tuned to your swing.
Play Where The Pros Play
If you want to play where the pros play, Whistling Straits and its sister course, the Irish, are available to the public (excluding August 1-18). Also available are two other world-class courses: The River and The Meadow Valleys at Blackwolf Run. Their diversity ensures an enjoyable playing experience for golfers of various levels.
Whether you decide to test your mettle at the Straits or any of the three other courses, O’Reilly offers the following suggestion: “When Pete Dye designed the Straits, he wanted to test the best players while making the course playable for average players. The result is a course that is visually intimidating, but playable, with generous fairways. The key is to make sure you are playing the appropriate tees.”
O’Reilly recommends the blue tees for better players (5-10 handicap) and the green or white tees for those with a 15 handicap.
For information about playing any of the courses mentioned or attending the 2015 PGA Championship, visit www.americanclubresort.com/golf.
Wear What the Pros Wear
If you’re going to play where the pros play, it only makes sense to dress like they do. Thankfully, Dunham’s Sports has you covered with a wide range of products, styles and colors for men and women.
Most of us can’t hit a ball like Rickie Fowler, but we can wear the same Puma shirts. Be sure to also check out the company’s shorts and skorts. Dunham’s Sports also carries clothing from PGA Tour, Nike, Callaway, Canyon Creek, Under Armour, Greg Norman, Taylor Made, Adidas and many more.
Some come with a built-in Ultraviolet Protection Factor to help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and nearly all feature patented technology to wick moisture away, keeping you cooler.
No matter which manufacturer you choose, we’re certain you’ll be a hit on and off the course.
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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Advancements In Golf Technology = Better Scores

Twenty years ago, Davis Love III led the PGA Tour with an average driving distance of nearly 284 yards. Through February 9 of this year, Bubba Watson led the Tour with an average drive of 322 yards – an improvement of nearly 40 yards! To many, that speaks to significant improvements in technology. The same technology that is enabling pros to hit a driver well over 300 yards and a 7 iron 200 yards is making it easier and more enjoyable for the average person to enjoy a round of golf.
Hot Drivers
Peruse popular golf publications and you will quickly notice that every manufacturer promises a “hot” driver. How they achieve the results, which enable even amateurs to hit drives straight and long, differs by manufacturer.
Dunham’s shoppers may have noticed a similar design approach from other manufacturers to clubs other than the driver. The idea is to remove weight where it’s not needed and to enable the clubface to deflect at the moment of impact, creating said trampoline effect. TaylorMade has used this approach with its RocketBallz fairway and hybrids and is employing a different strategy with its latest drivers.
“In our driver and fairway woods, we’ve moved the center of gravity lower and forward. Golfers are realizing more ideal launch angles and lower spin conditions,” said Tom Kroll, TaylorMade golf.
Here’s a practical example of what lower spin conditions mean: a good friend and golf pro put the TaylorMade SLDR driver in his bag last fall and immediately gained 30 yards! This year, TaylorMade has introduced the JetSpeed driver.
“Compared to the SLDR, the JetSpeed is going to launch the ball higher and with more spin. The SLDR also has a sliding weight that can be adjusted to control the draw or fade bias,” Kroll added.
Get on the Green
Hitting a great drive is a great feeling. However, to truly score, you must hit the green with your approach. Today’s technology can help you here, as well.
“Owning the second shot is what Adams Golf is known for. Our heritage has been about fairway woods, hybrids and irons. We have the equipment to enable less-experienced golfers to get on the green with the second shot, to own that shot,” Wood explained.
Technological advancements have also found their way into irons.
“Five years ago we introduced our Cut Thru-Slot design, which enhances ball speed and ball flight. This design creates a very thin face that flexes when it connects with the ball. The result is a trampoline-like effect that really launches the ball. Even if you mishit the club, you’re still going to get good results,” said Jeff Wood of Adams Golf.
“If you’re playing irons that don’t have a speed pocket, you’re playing with old technology. The speed pocket gives golfers speed where they need it most, since the majority of amateurs contact the ball below the center of the clubface. This technology increases launch angle and distance,” Kroll said.
Have a Ball
Manufacturers have also spent a great deal of their R&D improving the ball we play. Many companies are promoting choosing a ball based on your individual swing speed, desired ball flight and the amount of feel you want around the green.
“TaylorMade is launching three balls this year,” Kroll said. “Our new Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X are ideal for the better player. They feature a new Soft Tech cover for improved greenside spin and control.”
If you’re a scratch player, consider the Tour Preferred X model. An intriguing option for golfers of all levels is TaylorMade’s third new ball for 2014: the Project (a).
“Project (a) is designed for amateur golfers, though we saw a lot of single-digit golfers play this ball at Pebble Beach in February,” Kroll added. The company claims greater distance with all clubs, as well as significant and consistent spin with all irons. At under $32.00, I plan on checking it out.
For 2014, Nike is expanding its RZN line of golf balls.
“We’re launching RZN Black, Platinum, White, and Red this year, each explicitly designed for specific golfers,” said Chris Coffman of Nike.
The first two are designed for golfers of moderate to higher swing speeds. Those who want maximum distance should choose the RZN Black, while those who want more feel will prefer the RZN Platinum. Golfers with moderate to slower swing speeds will find the RZN Red and the RZN White more suited to their game. The RZN Red delivers more distance, while the RZN White delivers more feel.
There’s a lot to be said for technology. It has made our cars safer, phones smaller and the game of golf more enjoyable. With the right equipment and advice from our knowledgeable staff, next time someone asks you about your golf game, you can happily reply, “It’s par for the course.”
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
-Par Shooter
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Beginner Golfers Can Play Like the Pros

With Today’s Game-Improvement Equipment
If you are old enough to remember when every golf iron was a blade and drivers were made of persimmon, then you know how difficult golf could be. And that was for seasoned golfers. For newcomers, it was easy to get frustrated enough to quit the game before they even had time to master the fundamentals. That’s not the case nowadays. Thanks to advancements in technology, new golfers can enjoy the sport from their first round. Like any new venture, you should seriously consider how much time you will truly devote to it before making a significant monetary investment. Fortunately, Dunham’s has you covered.
Choose the Right Clubs
Frankly, golf clubs have improved so much that it’s difficult to make a wrong choice. One issue I see frequently with new golfers is not getting fitted for the clubs. Often, they’ll buy clubs with shafts that are too stiff for their swing speed and can’t figure out why all their shots go to the right (for right-handed players). Many Dunham’s stores are Fairway Center stores, meaning they carry a full complement of golf equipment and are staffed with knowledgeable consultants. Some stores also have an indoor driving range where a golf professional can help you choose the right clubs based on your swing speed and predominant ball flight. This is a free service, so be sure to take full advantage of it.
Complete Sets
Many beginners find that a “boxed set” makes a great deal of sense, since it includes a full set of clubs and a golf bag. A popular brand for these is Adams Golf and its Speedline and Tight Lies models. Ideal for newer golfers, they include an oversized driver, oversized woods, irons, wedges, a putter and the aforementioned golf bag. They are available for men and women.
“We offer a range of clubs that are entry-level priced and easy to hit. They feature club heads that are a little larger than the ones the tour players play and a thicker sole (on the irons) to get you through the rough,” said Jeff Wood of Adams Golf. “These are very forgiving clubs and we’ve found that the easier it is to hit the club, the more likely you are to stay with the game.” Dunham’s also carries the Idea irons from Adams Golf.
“Our new Idea Hybrid irons are designed to make the game easier – golfers will notice their miss-hits aren’t as punishing with these. They feature our new Cut Thru-Slot design, which enhances ball speed and ball flight. Golfers of all levels will see more consistent gaps (distance) between the clubs,” Wood added.
For youngsters who want to emulate Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or Michelle Wie, Dunham’s carries two Nike VR S Junior starter sets. Size one is a five-piece set that includes an oversized driver, a 7 iron, a sand wedge, a putter and a lightweight carry bag with kickstand. This is ideal for younger children. For older children, we recommend the size two set from Nike. It adds a 4 hybrid and a 9 iron to the size one set. The clubs are longer for taller children. The Nike VR S Junior size one set is available only for right-handed players, while size two is available for left-handers, as well. Dunham’s also carries Nike products for adult golfers.
Don’t Overlook Last Year’s Models
Like the car companies, the golf industry introduces new models every year and discounts the previous-year’s models, making them ideal choices for golfers of all levels.
“The 2013 VRS Covert line of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids that some of the top players in the game have played are now a great option for all golfers (as shown at the top of the facing page). This was the first high-speed cavity-back driver in golf and promotes improved forgiveness. It has a hotter face for more distance. Since they’re last year’s model, they’re available at a significant discount,” said Chris Coffman of Nike.
“For beginner irons, I would recommend looking for either our RocketBallz set or RocketBladez since they are previous-year models. They are great irons and will be a much better price for someone just starting,” added TaylorMade’s Tom Kroll.
Also available at significant discounts are the RocketBallz driver, fairway woods and hybrids. These are some of the best clubs I have ever hit and it’s the clubs you will most frequently see on golf courses.
Have Fun
What we have yet to discuss in this article is perhaps one of the most important elements for beginner golfers – though it applies to experienced duffers, as well: have fun! This is a great sport that can be enjoyed your entire life. It’s also one of the very few sports where grandparents and grandkids can enjoy simultaneously.
“Don’t get tied up in your score,” advises Coffman. “Focus on hitting good shots and see a club professional for lessons. You would be surprised to discover how big a difference having the proper grip, aim, stance and posture will make to your game and your enjoyment of the sport.”
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
-Par Shooter
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Forget Yelling “Fore”

Find the Short Grass with Game-Improving Clubs
As a golf fanatic and part-time instructor, I’m frequently asked by new golfers, “What kind of clubs should I buy? What do you recommend in the way of beginner or complete sets?” I typically reply that it makes sense not to go overboard with their first set of clubs and to pick something that delivers performance, feels comfortable in their hands and is pleasing to their eyes. Two companies I frequently recommend are Adams Golf and PowerBilt.
Adams Golf
“Adams Golf is a leader in the area of game-improvement sets for beginner golfers,” said Randy Brown of Adams Golf.
In addition to iron-only packages, Dunham’s carries a variety of complete sets by Adams Golf, including their very popular TightLies. Ideal for newer golfers, the TightLies set includes an oversized driver, oversized woods, irons and wedges. The set also includes a putter and a golf bag. They are available for men and women.
Also popular are the company’s V3 irons, which include 4-6 hybrids in graphite shafts and 7-Approach Wedge in steel shafts.
Both the TightLies and the V3 are considered “game improvement” clubs, meaning they are designed to be easier to hit by those of us who aren’t PGA Tour players. As such, the weight has been moved away from the face and toward the sole of the club, making it easier to get the ball in the air. The oversized faces on both sets deliver a bigger sweet spot, helping to mitigate those dreaded off-center hits.
By the way, don’t think because you aren’t spending a ton of money on clubs that you are being short-changed. As Brown ex-plained, the TightLies and V3 irons feature the same components, quality and craftsmanship found in their uplevel offerings.
“Our goal is to make golf enjoyable for every golfer of every level. One way to do so is by making clubs that are easy to hit by the average, or even newer, golfer,” Brown said.
PowerBilt clubs are what we use in our afterschool golf classes. They are available in a variety of sizes and styles and for young golfers, it’s my #1 recommendation, since my students are already familiar with the clubs. They are available for children younger than three and up to age 12. Adult sets with the full complement of clubs and either a cart bag or a carry bag are also available at your local Dunham’s.
See, golf doesn’t have to be expensive … but it can be a fun activity you can play the rest of your life.
-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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