Review: SkyPro

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

This is not your typical review. Instead of having a brief period to use the product I have had months with the SkyPro from late in the 2013 season.

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

In 2013

I was initially very excited about using the SkyPro. I took it to the range the afternoon that I bought it. At the time I didn’t have an iPhone but I did have an iPad. Actually it was an iPad 2 with a somewhat bulky case.

One of the first things that you need to do whenever you start or switch clubs is to calibrate the device. This involves putting your phone or iPad on the club face, touching and holding the sides of the screen and then rotating it around you. Even with an iPad 2 and a bulky case the calibration worked flawlessly correctly identifying my club every time.

I then started to hit shots with it. It was very exciting to see the data coming back. There were all these new things to look at. Club shaft lean at address, etc. my swings typically had a couple if warnings and I started to address them I saw things happening. Ball flight started changing, distance, contact etc. It was pretty exciting.

But there was a downside. I didn’t really know how to change certain things or really understand waft they meant. I had no drills or resources to dig deeper. Overall though the device worked as advertised.

Later on there was a glitch. I got an iPod Touch (5th generation). This thing had trouble even connecting to the sky pro at all. In the end I stopped using it with the iPod and just stuck to the iPad.

Fast forward

to now. I have an iPhone 5s and it works great with it. But until recently I still had the same issues regarding really knowing what the different things meant. I didn’t want to create bad habits but I did want to make the right kind of changes.

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An update changes everything

It’s really amazing what an update can do. And the latest update to SkyPro app really makes things great. Along with some new practice modes and tools, the best thing is clear explanations of what each thing being tracked is, what different numbers mean and video explanations from Michael Breed.

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The result is a true SkyPro. It’s feedback that really helps you improve and change your swing for the better. As we all know Michael us an exceptional teacher on the Golf Fix. But he makes each element of the swing that SkyPro measures, not only understandable, but allows to see how and why to change.

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And this is what SkyPro really needed. This is what separates it from everything else. At the end of the day we want to get better. Understanding what to do and why in a clear way makes all the difference. Based on this latest update SkyPro has become my go to practice, training and learning aid. I have not yet tried the new putting feature, but that will come in a future review.

Zen Chili Rating for Sky Pro

5 Zens out of 5

• Immediate feedback you can use
• Groove make practice easy
• Michael Breed explains things clearly

5 Chilis out of 5

• Light, it does not affect club weight
• Easy to charge
• Connects to iPhone easily
• Calibration is easy on iPhone, but a little challenging on iPad
• Useful for full swing, and putting (to be reviewed later)

To learn more about the rating system click here.

TaylorMade SLDR. Will lofting up work for me?

All across the country today, TaylorMade and Golfsmith have teamed up to provide golfers an opportunity to compare their current drivers to the TaylorMade’s flagship driver the SLDR. Their claim is that the low and forward CG promotes a high launch and low spin and fast ball speed. Certainly those things sound like they would make for some long driving. But will it work for me?

Loft up tshirt and hat

All across the country today, TaylorMade and Golfsmith have teamed up to provide golfers an opportunity to compare their current drivers to the TaylorMade’s flagship driver the SLDR.  Their claim is that the low and forward CG promotes a high launch and low spin and fast ball speed.  Certainly those things sound like they would make for some long driving. But will it work for me?

I wanted to see for myself whether they’re new driver performed for me, so I header to the closest Golfsmith with my trusty gamer.  My driver is a Ping G25 9.5 degrees with the Ping TFC 189 Tour X-Flex shaft.  When I’m swinging well I can bomb this thing.  For me a bomb is hitting out there 295 – 310, depending on course conditions.  But, that’s not my typical drive.  I would say my normal drives are from 250 to 270.

At Golfsmith I was led to the hitting bay where they took a look at my club, then brought out an SLDR at 12 degrees, stock shaft at X-Flex to match, assuring me that I should expect to see higher launches, lower spin, and longer carries.

I started warming up, and I wasn’t hitting anything too well. I went through a few rounds switching between both drivers before switching to an iron, just to get my tempo and rhythm more in sync.  Finally I was ready to do the real comparison.

Results

So did I hit it higher, with less spin and more ball speed? Not entirely.

Launch angle

Launch angle: Taylormade SLDR – 12.2, Ping G25 10.8.

TaylorMade wins the launch angle.

Spin

Spin: Taylormade SLDR – 3299, Ping G25 – 3044.

Ping wins the spin battle. Granted this is a high number regardless of which driver.  I really need to work on my swing to lower this. Some additional morsels of information.  Highest spin with SLDR was 4293 and lowest was 2384.  Highest with Ping was 3613 and lowest was 2499.  So even though one shot with the TM had lower spin than the lowest of the Ping it didn’t beat it by much, but that high spin shot was crazy high.  Again, I really need to work on my swing to lower my spin in general.

Finally, Ball Speed

Taylormade SLDR – 138.3, Ping G25 142.2.

Again not my best ball striking session but the Ping clearly beat the SLDR in terms of ball speed  Those 5 miles can make a big difference the total distance numbers bear that out.

Distance

The ping averaged 13 yards longer than the SLDR. The SLDR never came close.  The higher launch, combined with more spin. never made up for the ball speed difference for me.

Conclusion

Ping wins this round.  TaylorMade certainly is an innovative golf company.  That said, no one product can fit everybody.  This session was fairly short, and not as thorough as a real driver fitting, so with a little bit more attention and trying some different shaft combinations, results might have been very different.  However it’s certainly possible this is a great driver for you.  I would encourage you to get fitted with a PGA pro who will take the time to look at your swing characteristics and put together the combination that works best for you.  In the end I got a new t-shirt, a new TaylorMade hat, and some experience with the latest technology from TaylorMade.

New DVD available with the Taly Mindset

There’s a new video that now comes with the Taly Mindset.  The opening credits, certainly set the stage.

The Taly Mindset is a device that challenges conventional thinking in golf.  It was invented by an engineer who loved the game of golf and wanted to play better. You can read my full review here. The device is now used by many touring pros and teaching pros across the country.  One of the most famous teachers who routinely uses the Mindset to teach is Lynn Blake.

The DVD is a big improvement over what used to come with the Mindset.  Although the pamphlet the came with it before gave some indication as to how it should be used, it really was not detailed enough and left questions unanswered.  It left it up to the golfer through trial and error to figure out what to actually do and how to do it.

The new DVD answers the questions that every golfer needs answered when using the Taly Mindset.   If you can understand the thought that went into the development of the Taly Mindset then you can learn to use it effectively.  And it will change the way you approach golf.

I found the DVD gave me new insights to really understand how to use the mindset.  There is a lot more to it than the pamphlet covers the DVD is an excellent complement to the device.

The new DVD comes with purchases of the Taly Mindset for $89.99 or can be ordered from the Taly Store for $49.99. If you have a a Taly Mindset, I highly recommend the video.  Taly Williams is offering a discount to Taly Mindset owners.  They can use the coupon code “MYDVD” when checking out at the Taly Store.

Feedback from the Technical Staff at Optishot

BPsSince I’ve seen that a number of people commenting in the Optishot review had some technical issues, I decided to ask the manufacturer for a response to their complaints. I have not had any significant issues with the optishot and in fact really like the product. Over the winter it provided me with a solid golf experience at home and allowed me to work on things in a a warm environment as the snow fell outside.

Here is what the technical folks at Optishot provided. I hope it helps anyone who is having some technical issues with their unit.

The best way for an individual to get technical support is to follow the link below, fill out the form and use it to ask questions. Then we will get back to them as quickly as we can.
http://support.dancindogg.com/reportissue

However, inaccurate swing results is the most common cause of frustration. There are three possible parts to this issue, lighting in the room, Swing Pad integrity, and software adjustments.

The most common cause of inaccurate results is lighting. Following the guidelines below will help mitigate erroneous swing results.
Incandescent, halogen, and day light in even small indirect amounts will negatively affect performance.
OptiShot works best when used in a room with fluorescent lighting.
Warehouse lighting such as Sodium Vapor or Metal Halide also work very well.
Shadows from objects such as the club shaft and the golfer also may negatively affect performance.
Overhead light is generally better than light from the side of the room.
Something else to keep in mind is that irons will tend to produce more accurate results compared to woods. Drivers like the R9, R11 or the King Cobra for example do not work well with OptiShot because of the intricate design on their underside. We have found that drivers with a smooth and reflective bottom will yield more accurate results with OptiShot than those with an irregular and non reflective bottom.

If your lighting is properly set up and you are still having an issue try running OptiShot with the Swing Pad connected and turn off or at least dim all the lights in the room and observe the infrared sensors. With the exception of the Green/Red status light, every other bulb should glow faintly red. If some are out that should be lit then the Swing Pad should be replaced.

If your lighting is properly set up and you are still getting inaccurate results then you could create a custom club set (click link below). Select the actual club you are using, take a few swings and observe the results. If the results are not quite what you would expect then you may edit a number of factors that may bring your swing results in line. For instance, if your club face is always open you could try setting the club’s offset to something dramatic like -5.9 and observe the results. Then you could dial in that number bit by bit until the ball flies true. Next you might edit the club’s speed adjustment up or down from 100% (200% maximum) to bring the club head speeds in line with what you would expect. Then observe the distance the ball is traveling. If that is off you could make an adjustment to the Distance Adjustment up or down from 100% (200% maximum) until the distances are correct. You would then do this for each club.
http://support.dancindogg.com/practice-mode#clubset-configuration

Jonathan B Cole
Technical Support Lead
231.421.2397
866.941.3644 ext. 306
Dancin’Dogg Golf
Leading the Home Golf Revolution!

Review: Vharness

The Vharness is a swing trainer with the goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro.  The Vharness is endorsed by Rocco Mediate, who I think is a brilliant spokesperson for this product because of how well heconnects with average golfers.  He looks like a guy in your foursome.  But of course he has tremendous game.  His performance at Torrey Pines in the US Open made him a household name.  He plays what seems to be off the shelf game improvement clubs.  He doesn’t have the fluid easy motion of a Fred Couples, or the power of JB Holmes or Bubba Watson.  These reasons though make him ideal as a representative of this product because he, of all tour players, looks the most like an average Joe, and almost everybody can relate to him.

So does the Vharness achieve it’s lofty goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro?  No, but it is an excellent swing trainer, and if used effectively especially with some guidance from an instructor it can really help the average golfer to feel their swing better.  Frankly I don’t think there is a single device that can teach anyone to swing like a pro.  Swinging like a pro requires coordination, talent, strength and flexibility.  Provided you have those things, with a good instructor and dedication you can learn to swing like a pro.  What I did find is that the Vharness can enable you to not only create a better swing, but really feel what it feels to swing better.

I have a number of swing trainers in my collection, and they all fulfill different purposes.  I’ve been using the Vharness for about a month.  I wanted to give it a full test before I wrote about it.  The Vharness is definitely different from my other swing trainers.  It gives me feedback that I never got from anywhere else and really helped me to understand and feel my swing better.  It almost acts as a sensation amplifier and you really feel what the club head, path and hands are doing.

One of the main objectives of the Vharness is to help you feel more connected. There are a number of ways to feel more connected that I’ve seen routinely taught. Most commonly is tucking a golf glove under one or both armpits depending on how you are trying to feel the connection. Recently we have been watching players like Sean O’Hair and Justin Rose tuck their sleeves into their armpits. Both are effective ways of feeling the connection.

The Vharness approaches this concept from a different point of view.  Instead of feeling the connection through your armpits as in the other techniques you keep it by by focusing on keeping the “vcords” taut.  As you do your body naturally becomes more connected.  It feels like it is a less tense way of feeling it.

Zen Chili Rating for The VHarness

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves several aspects of the golf swing almost automatically
• Provides great feedback and sense of connection
• Delivers results

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well constructed, should last for years
• Easy to use and works with all of your golf clubs
• Comes with a stylish carrying case

But the Vharness takes it a few steps further. It naturally creates more width in the swing and keeps your hands more in front of you preventing you from getting stuck.  One of my major flaws in my swing is getting stuck.  Working with the vharness, this is dramatically improved, and with it so has my distance and accuracy.  The great thing about it for me, is that it really worked with the things I’ve been learning and working on, and it provides excellent feedback.

When ordering the Vharness you’ll be asked some questions to have it properly sized for your your height and your clubs.  I find that it fits well on all clubs.  It is very easy to transfer from one club to the next and allows you to use it with all your clubs.  The more I use the Vharness the more I enjoy using it.  Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it too.

Learn more about it on their website.

‘The Ringer’ putter and tour of KAF Manufacturing and Roll-Master Golf

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the Roll-Master putter manufacturing facilities.  During that short visit I got to see first hand how putters are designed and made. Roll-master makes the “Ringer” line of putters.  The putter is unique in that it makes a bell-like tone, much like that of fine crystal, when the ball is struck on the sweet spot of the putter.   Practicing with this putter provides instant and automatic feedback about your putting stroke.

At first the sound was unfamiliar to me.  No putter I had ever used produced a sound quite like this one.  The differences in the sound from hitting the sweet spot and hitting it off center are quite dramatic.  It really is an excellent way to know how solidly you’re stroking the putt without needing visual confirmation.  You can also see how you stroked it on the roll out of the ball.  A well struck putt from the sweet spot rolls out straight and with a solid end over end roll.  A poorly stroked putt will tend to wobble off its intended line and will have a more erratic roll.

The putter is similar to a heavy putter in its weight, although with the counterbalancing weight it feels more like a mid weight putter.  The club head weighs in at 400 grams.  A weight of 125 grams sits in the grip end to act as a counterbalance, moderating the wrists and smoothing out the stroke.  With the heavier club head the putter is easier to maintain online.  It does take a bit of getting used to.  I was told that most golfers who use the ringer, notice that in the beginning they leave putts short.  They assume that the heavier putter will pull itself through with gravity alone, but that is not the case.  A golfer still needs to make a confident stroke, but it is nothing that can’t be corrected by practice.

The last defining characteristic of the putter is that it has the first ever “EDM” face.  A process called electric discharge machining creates 30,000 dimples on a typical Ringer putter.  The resulting face is flat, non-slippery, and has a very unique feel to it.  Running your hand over the face of the putter reminds you a bit of sandpaper, but in a smoother way.  It does feel really nice and what I noticed is that it seems to grip the ball nicely and really put a beautiful end over end roll on the putts.

There is another putter in the works from Roll-Master Golf.  The new putter is a blade design and it looks like it’s going to be an excellent putter.

Creating the EDM face on”The Ringer”

The process is very interesting and cool to watch.  The putter head is secured and submerged in a machine that contains a liquid solution.  The machining element then is lowered just above the putter and what looks like mini lightning strikes the putter face over and over for nearly a minute with the electrical element jumping out of the way after each “strike”.  It certainly putts and feels differently than an insert putter.

Overall I found the putter to be an excellent piece of equipment.  I’ve never seen a putter being made before, in person.  It was a very cool experience and one that I won’t soon forget.

The putter is manufactured to very tight tolerances.  KAF Manufacturing where the Ringer putter is made, is known as a precision machine shop, building parts for scientific equipment, aerospace and other technically demanding industries.  While touring the shop they showed me a few mirrors for high end equipment.  These mirrors are so precisely manufactured that they cannot be touched by a person as that will ruin them for their intended use.

Jack Feighery, CEO of Roll-Master Golf was also kind enough to donate a putter for use in the Fore! Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation golf marathon, to be used in the $10,000 putting contest.

The expertise of the craftsmen at KAF Manufacturing includes:

  • Electrical Discharge Machining
  • Single point diamond turning
  • Precision ball and roller bearing manufacturing
  • CNC turning
  • CNC milling
  • Grinding

 

 

Review: Tifosi Golf Sunglasses


I needed to get a new pair of golf sunglasses.  I was looking for stylish frames with lenses that perform.  I also wanted to be able to wear them away from the golf course and still look good.  I found a pair I liked at my local golf shop and decided to purchase them.

I bought the Tifosi Ventoux in the gunmetal color.  These sunglasses come with a hard case, a soft case and 3 sets of interchangeable lenses.  The hard case was important to me as I might keep them in the golf bag and didn’t want them to break.  The hard case is nice and light, but still sturdy enough to give me peace of mind that they won’t break while in there.

The sunglasses came with 3 interchangeable lenses: The GT (golf and tennis) lens, the EC (extreme contrast) and the AC (All Conditions Red).  So far I’ve only worn them with the golf and tennis lenses but I am quite impressed with the quality of the lenses and the frame.

I wear these sunglasses all the time playing golf, even when it’s not as bright.  They cut down on the glare and really help me saw the ball better off the club face and in the air.  The enhanced contrast is great for reading greens.

Another benefit I’ve found  is that these lenses don’t create any distortion.  I had another pair of golf sunglasses before, and while the contrast was great, the shape of the lens actually created some distortion.  The way the lens wrapped around my face and the eye was also a bit of a problem because when I putted, it was like looking through bifocals, except that instead of blurry and sharp areas, it was areas covered by the glasses and those not covered by the glasses.  That made putting difficult.  With these Tifosi sunglasses that issue is a thing of the past for me.

The glasses come with the interchangeable lenses, a hard case, and s soft cloth bag which also doubles as a polishing cloth.  For $60, they are an excellent deal and I’m very glad that I got them.  If you’re in need of some golf sunglasses, give these a chance, they won’t disappoint.

Tifosi Optics

Shaft upgrade delivers penetrating ball fight and consistency

Golf clubsLast week I had the shafts in my irons upgraded.  The reason that I had it done was because my swing had changed and the shafts were too weak in my irons.  I noticed this on especially well struck shots where the spin put on the ball would make the balloon so much that it lost a lot of distance for me.  The other reason was that the trajectories and carries were all over the place.

After being fitted by the Mizuno fitting system, it was determined that I should be using Dynamic Gold X100 shafts, but that the heads I have (Mizuno MP52) were fine for my swing. This was a big change, as I was being switched from Project X 5.0.  I could have stayed with Project X, according to the Mizuno fitting system if I had gone to a 6.5 flex, but according to them it was my third choice.  The choice that fit my swing best was DG X100.

I’m happy to report that the change is going well.  What I like best about the new shafts is that the they are much more predictable.  My distances are no longer all over the place, the ballooning has been eliminated, and the shots really fly much more true.

I have had to make some changes in the way I swing.  I’m not really changing my technique, I’m just adjusting to a new tempo.  With these shafts I can’t go after it the way I did.  In fact, I find that with these, if the swing feels about 80%, the results are amazing and consistent.  The ball flight is much straighter and consistent than anything I have had before.  The ball explodes off the face with a very different feeling from what I had before.  It just seems much more solid and the flight is penetrating, even into some significant wind.  Even though I’m changing my tempo a bit, the change feels excellent, and I believe it will help make me a better golfer.

Now, I’m not recommending that you go out and get Dynamic Gold X100 shafts.  I would recommend a good fitting.  Having equipment that fits you really makes a big difference.  There are so many options that even a well informed golfer has a hard time self fitting.  There are may different kinds of shafts, club heads, lie angles, and lengths.  The standard off the shelf equipment may not fit you, and may be hurting your game.  I know that I was putting so much spin on the ball that it was robbing me of distance.  See your local pro for a fitting.  It can really help your game.

Getting the most out of your golf GPS rangefinder

SkyCaddie SGX GPS rangefinder

GPS rangefinders are wonderful things.  They give you the distances you need to make smart decisions.  They give you the distances to hazards, to carry over the hazards.  They give you distances to fairway targets, and of course the front, center and back of the green.

This information is vital if you want to make good decisions on the course.  What they don’t give you is the strategy based on the conditions of the day, how you’re striking the ball, and the pin placements.  They also don’t take any pressure into account if you’re playing a Nassau, a match against a buddy, or a tournament.

Some of you are lucky enough to play with caddies and if you to have a good caddy, he or she, can save you many strokes.  But for those who don’t have our own caddies or get to play routinely with caddies we need some help making those decisions.  If I’m playing a par 5, and I have 245 yards to the pin, 230 to the front, and 260 to the back I will know the distances I need to reach the green, but the rangefinder can’t tell me if it’s a smart decision.

Whether it is a smart decision depends on a number of variables.  What’s the wind doing?  If I’m playing into a 15 mph wind can I get there?  How am I hitting it that day.  Am I striping my fairway woods or hybrids?  Am I fading or drawing the ball?  Are there hazards near the green?  Where is the pin, and is it near any hazards?  How’s my wedge game that day?  If it’s really on, it may be worthwhile to lay up to my favorite full wedge.

All of these factors need to be considered because my main objective is to leave myself in the best position for the next shot and to take a high number out of the equation.

What the GPS rangefinder does, is that it gives you the numbers you need to make decisions about where your target should be.  Great course management combined with the data from the rangefinder will provide you with the best chance to shoot low scores.  Simply using the rangefinder without the course management won’t necessarily help you make good decisions.  And good decisions lead to low scores.  When you can consistently make good decisions you can play well anywhere and on any course.

Review: Penta TP Golf Ball

PentaToday I had the chance to play the Penta TP.  I bought two sleeves and headed out to meet some friends at Great River Golf Club in Milford, CT.

The Penta has 5 layers (thus the name), and each layer is supposed to make the ball react properly.

Layer 1: Feel

This layer is the urethane cover for high spin from shots of 100 and in.

Layer 2: Spin

The outer mantle layer is for delivering high spin with the short irons.

Layer 3: Control

Middle mantle layer prevents balooning for greater distance control between 140 and 170 yards.

Layer 4: Launch

Soft feel and high launch, low spin, provide ideal ideal conditions for long iron and hybrids to get the ball up in the air, land it with a steep descent angle requiring less spin to stop the ball.

Layer 5: Distance

Core is supposed to provide high launch low spin with the driver.

Putting Penta in play

I brought out the first two Pentas to putt with on the practice green.  Right away I knew I was going to like this ball for putting.  Feels great off the putter.  Not hard or clicky, and soft enough, but not too soft. It felt just right and all day I was controlling my putts well.

Throughout my round I also found the the spin layer to be very effective.  Shots from around 100 yards and in were stopping beautifully on the greens.  Partial wedges were easy to hit accurately and the feel was butter soft.

The control layer for mid irons was also really good.  I really did feel like I had good distance control in those critical distances from 140 to 170 and the ball also stopped nicely on the green with those mid irons.

The fourth layer, launch, was pretty good as well.  I did feel the launch was a bit high with the hybrid and long irons but then again I’m also dealing with softer shafts that tend to balloon the ball for me.  I’m not yet totally sold on this layer yet, but I’m willing to continue experimenting with Penta.

Layer 5, Distance.  This was actually the most disappointing layer for me.  I did feel like I lost some distance compared to other balls I’ve played with the driver.  However the other layers more than made up for this loss of distance.  I’m going to say that it was probably more a swing issue than the ball, but I’ll keep my eye on this and see if my distance with Penta improves.

If you’ve been reading this blog, than you know that I was recently fit by Bridgestone using their Ball Fitting Challenge.  They fit me into the B330.  While I liked the distance I got from the B330, the control was not like the Penta.  On all shots from 170 yards and in the Penta is my go to ball.  It performs so well in those areas that I can live with a shorter drive (but again that may be more a swing issue than the Penta).  Well done TaylorMade. This is an excellent ball.