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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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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