Westchester Golf Show

bstone2

Today I went to the Westchester Golf Show in White Plains, NY.

My main objective was to see and play with some of the new equipment for the 2010 season.  While I was there I decided to try the Bridgstone Ball Fitting and also try the new Mizuno Shaft Optimizer.

The Bridgestone Ball Fitting was pretty interesting.  I was looking for a few things.

1) I wanted to see that it was conducted fairly.

2) I wanted to see what they said about my swing.

I could have signed up for an appointment but they were booked until 4:15 PM and I had stopped by the booth around 12:30.  Well, I wasn’t going to wait until after 4, so I got on the stand-by list.  It only took about 5 people in front of me before I got the chance to go.

As I watched the 3 people before me go I was listening carefully to what the Bridgestone Rep had to say.  These guys all had 90 mph swings, and moderate to large slices, with the largest slice going about 50 yards to the right.  For two of the three, the rep recommended the Bridgestone E5 to straighten out their flight, for one recommended the RX but only after the golfer answered the question of what was he willing to sacrifice.  Since he wasn’t willing to sacrifice control around the green he got the RX.  For those 3 guys, they did end up with better results.  Their slices were basically cut in half and they got 10-14 yards more of total distance.  These 3 golfers had been playing Nike One Tour, Srixon Tri-Speed, and Titleist Pro V1.

Finally it was my turn.  I had waited about 35 minutes and I was anxious to give it a go.  I had only hit a few golf balls about an hour earlier so I was far from being warmed up.  The rep asked me what ball I normally play, and I answered that I typically play the Taylormade TP Red.  We joked that it was too bad the TP Red was going away.

I stepped up an hit about 5 shots with the TP red into the net.

Then I went to the table to check the results and see what he had to say.

He said “well, you know your swing speed right? Your about 110.”  I felt pretty happy with that.

He said “There’s actually not that much we can do for you.  Do you like a softer or a harder ball?”  I told him harder because I’m playing the red. He gave me the B330 to try and I went and hit 5 more shots with it.  The results were about the same as the TP Red, with maybe a bit more distance.

He gave me 2 trial packs of the Bridgestone B330.  I appreciated his honesty in telling me that they couldn’t really improve my results with a Bridgestone ball and that makes me feel better about the company.

If you get the chance, I would suggest doing the Bridgestone fitting.  You may be surprised by the results.

The other cool thing I got to do at the show was try the Mizuno Shaft Optimizer.

With their system, a small wireless sensor is attached to the club.  As you swing it captures your swing speed, and other factors such acceleration, load pattern, swing speed, and release timing to come up with shaft recommendations.  It then list 3 choices with ordering them in relation to being the best match for your swing.

For me with a 6 irons swing speed of 94, the 3 choices were:

1) Dynamic Gold x100
2) Project X 6.5
3) KBS X-stiff

I really want to play with a set of DG x100 to see how they feel now that I’ve had this recommendation.  It’s a very cool system.  I think it reduces the guessing game of shaft fitting and I think it’s well worth trying.

The club that helped Steve Stricker get his swing back

The Medicus helped Steve Stricker, a feel player to get his swing back after 3 years of finishing outside the top 150 on the money list.  He incorporated Medicus into his practice sessions in order to improve his rhythm.

Medicus Dual Hinge 7 Iron Medicus is chosen by golf pros as top swing trainer club in the world. Try now!

How do I choose a golf simulator?

Recently a friend asked me to provide some information on golf simulators to his wife, a university golf team coach who needs to present a proposal to the school for an indoor practice room.

Whether you are looking to create a commercial facility, a team practice area, or a home practice room, there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to a golf simulator.

What I would advise anyone who is looking to buy one is to look at the following factors.  Each one will have an impact on the golf simulator actually chosen.

  1. What is your budget?
  2. How do you intend to use it?
  3. Do you intend to use it for club fitting or lessons?
  4. How much space do you have?

What is your budget?

Golf simulators range from a few hundred dollars to more than 50,000 dollars.  Interestingly some of the lower end units can rival the more expensive units for a certain type of customer.

Generally though, your budget will determine what you can actually look at, realistically for an installation.

On the lower end of the price spectrum (but nonetheless an excellent simulator) is the Optishot from Dancin’ Dogg.  You can see my review here of this golf simulator.

At the higher end of the spectrum you have something like the PGA Tour Simulator which will run you $50,000.

Another thing to consider is how many you want or need to install.  One is perfect for home use, but you may want to have 5 or 6 bays for a team practice center or commercial facility.

How do you intend to use it?

There are many excellent uses for a golf simulator.  You can use a golf simulator to stay sharp over the winter, you can use them in a commercial venture and host golf leagues, or as an add-on to a bar or restaurant, to sharpen your short game, or you can use them for lessons and club fitting.  How you intend to use it will again, affect the choices available to you.

While I wouldn’t use the Optishot for club fitting, it can certainly be used for commercial or home installations for practice, and camaraderie.  On the other hand, a launch monitor like the Vector Pro should not be used to play rounds of golf with friends as the software doesn’t support that.  It’s best use is for club fitting and lessons.

Do you intend to use it for club fitting or lessons?

Club fitters typically need more data than other users of simulators.  Club fitters need to look at things like back spin rate, side spin, angle of attack, in addition to the normal data offered by most simulators (club head speed, path, club face angle).

If you give lessons you may want a simulator or launch monitor that integrates with you V1Pro or Catalyst package.

How much space do you have?

This is an important question.  I can fit my Optishot system in a small room in my apartment or house as long as the ceiling is high enough and I have clearance.  The system is flexible so that I can start out with just the base unit connected to a computer, but at any point I can add stance mat, net, screen, projector etc, creating a system that would rival the big boys.

However if you have the funds and the space you can start out with a fully loaded system like the PGA Tour Simulator that can have 50 courses and counting, and can have multiple screens projected on them simultaneously to create a true panoramic view.  That kind of system takes up a lot of space.

Review: Thumb Caddy – stop regripping the club

Thumb Caddy_New Single BoxThe Thumb Caddy is a clever golf training aid.  It’s main purpose is to help players stop regripping the golf club.  I know that I have been guilty of this in the past.

I’m not sure what causes the regrip, but I think in my case it was a quest for more distance.  I think that when I regripped, I felt like I could come into the ball faster.  What it created though was uncertainty and inconsistency.  How in the world can you hit the ball consistently if you’re changing your grip midway through the swing?

The thumb caddy is easy enough to slip on to the club.  You open it slightly and get the club into it near the hosel where the shaft is narrow.  You then slide it up toward and onto the grip.

Using it simple. The thumb on your upper hand goes into the Thumb Caddy and stays there nice and secure throughout your swing.  If you’re used to regripping, the sensation of having your thumb stay in the same place will feel a little strange.  Because your hands are your connection to the golf club, regripping mid swing can have major consequences on the flight of the ball and the consistency of your shots.

If regripping is an issue for you, give this device a shot.  They are sold individually and sets so that you can have one on every club.  Obviously you can’t use it during tournament rounds, but for practice, or practice rounds, the Thumb Caddy is an excellent little training aid.

Thumb Caddy Website.

Review: Project X Graphite Driver Shaft

PXgraphiteThe Project X Graphite shaft is designed to provide lower spin, longer carry and a laser guided trajectory.

I got a chance to review this because I won a Project X shaft in a twitter contest that the company had.  Once I won the contest, I needed to pick out which version I wanted sent to me.

I talked to a few friends in golf, asked their opinions, than headed out to the driving range at Sterling Farms Golf Course.  They have a beautiful trackman setup in their Callaway Fitting center.  I would highly recommend going there if you are near Stamford, CT.

I tried the 6.5 shaft in a number of heads and noticed a few things.

The trajectory at which the ball was being launched was perfect.  There was no ballooning, and the picture on the trackman was beautiful to look at.  I feel like I could go after it without worrying about big hooks.  Although it was at a 6.5 frequency, I didn’t feel boardy.  It was smooth, and it is a very stable shaft.  For higher swing speed players this is a great shaft that will kill spin, and result in better rollout and longer distance overall if fitted properly.  The better a swing I put on it, the better the shaft performed.

Project X Graphite Driver Shaft Review coming soon

PXgraphite

I’m so excited.  I won a Project X driver shaft.  As soon as it gets here, I’ll have it installed and will review it.

This is one of the hottest shafts on tour and I’m pumped to see what it can do.  In the meantime enjoy the tech specs from the True Temper website.

New Technology

Project X Graphite Technology

Zonal Design Theory
Project X driver and hybrid shafts are engineered using True Temper’s proprietary Zonal Design Theory (ZDT) which divides the shaft into three zones—butt, mid and tip sections. Each zone is optimized for performance using a specific design technology.

Tip & Butt SectionButt section:

Hex-Axial Reinforcement Technology provides unmatched cross sectional stability minimizing energy lost to ovalization.

Mid section:

Constant Taper Design eliminates localized bending and creates even loading and unloading for maximum energy transfer.

Tip section:

Elongated Double Wrapped 55 MSI Reinforcement for a firmer tip section which minimizes droop and lag and reduces back spin.

Tour Launch and Spin
Project XLike the Project X iron shafts, Project X driver and hybrid shafts provide penetrating launch conditions with ultra low spin. The stiff butt, soft mid-section combine with the double reinforced tip section to maintain a strong angle of attack and greatly reduce spin, even in higher loft drivers.

Stay Tuned for the Review of the Project X Driver shaft.

Review: Dura Launcher Practice System

DL1Hitting golf ball at your local range can be a frustrating experience.  Most ranges do not have adjustable height tees, and the ones that do offer it, may have other issues with the tees.  Typically in order to switch from hitting driver to you have to manually remove the tee, go find a smaller one and install it.  The driver tee may be at a different height than you are used to, and the fairway tee may be too high as well.  In short, you can’t hit balls off the tee at the height that you do on the course.

The Dura Launcher Practice System addresses this problem.  It consists of 2 pieces, a rubber base and a special tee.   The rubber base is designed to go into any golf mat as it is a standard size.  I have tested it on the Country Club Elite Mat as well as the Birdie Turf Mat.  It provides an adjustable height tee.

Adjusting the height of the tee is as simple as pulling up on it, or pushing down on it.  What could be simpler?

In practice it works very well.  I was able to easily adjust the tee height.  I could tee the driver high, or tee it low.  I could even tee it up a little bit for iron shots too.  The neat thing is that the way it’s designed, the tee won’t fly out of the base.  It is a very well thought out system.  Your level of adjustability though, depends on the thickness of the mat.  The CCE mat is a thick mat and so it allows the tee height tee be good for an iron, up to about a medium driver.  On the thinner Birdie Turf Mat it doesn’t work so well for irons or fairway woods, but it does allow for a low driver tee, up to a very high driver tee.

DL2The only concern I have about this tee is the durability.   I have seen a range that uses them and the tees themselves got very beat up but I’m not sure that they are designed for commercial use.  A strike with driver or irons tends to push the tee and after a few strikes, you may need to adjust the base unit.  Not a big issue for individuals who bring it with them and practice, but I can see how this could become an issue on the driving range.  Overall though, I think it is a good product for the targeted user.  If your driving range mats has replaceable tees and you are unhappy with how they function, this is a good solution for you.

Review: Launcher and Launcher II Tees

LauncherTees

Having used the Zero Friction Tees for many rounds last season I became a fan of the synthetic tee.  My problem with the Zero Friction Tees was that although they can last a while, in some respects they are flimsy.  An iron can easily decapitate one of them.  They are also hard to stick into hard ground.

I was excited to try the Launcher Tees. There are 4 models.  The original Launcher tee is designed for the driver, the Launcher II is also for the driver and provides repeatable ball height, the P3 is for iron and fairway wood tee shots, and the G4 is supposed to help hit the 4th groove on iron shots.

The main difference between the Launch and Laucher II and the P3 and G4 tees is the ability to have a repeatable ball height with them.  The Launcher Tees are built from a soft composite.  I found them to be very sturdy, easy to stick in the ground and stable.  The smaller surface area of the top f the tee can make it just a bit more difficult to get the ball on there and may cause issues in a strong wind.

Overall these are excellent tees and have become my new favorite.  It is difficult to verify their claim of increased distance.  Using these tees I have hit some very long drives, fairway woods and even irons, but whether it is the tee or not, is difficult to determine.  Bu it does feel as if the ball comes off hotter.  The tees should last a very long time and don’t seem to bend and get out of shape the same way that the Zero Friction tees do.

Overall these tees are an excellent value, and a pleasure to use.  The repeatable height and durability are excellent features.  If you do like to vary tee height on your drives then you should opt for the original launcher tees.

Launcher tee website.